Max Verstappen admits his performance advantage over Mercedes was unexpected after he took a comfortable victory in the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix.
Mercedes once again locked out the front row with a gap of nearly a second to Nico Hulkenberg in third, with Verstappen starting from fourth on the hard tire. That tire advantage proved crucial as he quickly ran third and put pressure on Mercedes — both Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton starting on mediums — before getting clear air when they pit and pulling away, gaining control of the race and eventually winning by over 11 seconds.
“I didn’t expect that,” Verstappen said. “I had a good start first of all, so I was straight away into P3 and that of course helps. Then I knew the first few laps maybe it would be a bit more difficult to follow, but I could see both cars in front of me were having trouble with the tires, which is quite normal when the tires are so soft. So I closed the gap a bit and once they pitted I could pick up my pace and do my own laps and basically until I pitted it just felt really good — I never really had any struggles and I could extend that first stint, which I think was key.
“Our stop was not great — I think one wheel was a bit slow so I came out behind Valtteri, but I had the softer compound and a lot more grip so I got past Valtteri and then basically the gap stayed the same — between 2.5-3s. We pitted together for that final stint and then it was a question mark of who is going to be first to the line? But straightaway the car felt good on those tires again and I never really had any trouble with the tire. That was key today.”
Verstappen says the different tire compounds used this weekend at Silverstone compared to the previous race at the same venue demonstrated how Red Bull can be more competitive on softer rubber compared to Mercedes.
“It’s difficult to speak for others but from our side everything was working well. I had a good balance in the car — we didn’t have any trouble the the tires. With such soft compounds on this track with high energies that can make a big difference, because when you look back at last week when you are driving with tires like you basically do the whole year with and you only do a one-stop, then we are still lacking pace.
“Of course I could see the Mercedes cars having a lot of blistering issues. They just struggled on the tires and then you cannot push.”
Bottas — who slipped to third at the flag — echoed Verstappen’s comments, saying there was a clear difference in the state of the tires on each car at the end of the race.
“There’s obviously something we need to improve if we compare it to Red Bull,” Bottas said. “I saw Max’s tires at the end of the race and they looked perfect. Lewis’s and mine were pretty badly blistered, so there’s a difference there. I don’t know yet what it is and we really had to manage the tires in the high-speed corners — there was quite a lot of management required but Max seemed to be pretty comfortable on the high-speed corners. It’s an unknown reason for now.”