Max Verstappen says Red Bull’s aggressive strategy was the foundation of his “incredible” win in the United States Grand Prix.
Lewis Hamilton overtook polesitter Verstappen at the start of the race in Austin, holding the lead for the first stint before an early stop from Red Bull to switch to hard tires. Having successfully made the undercut work, Verstappen again stopped early for a final time to avoid Hamilton returning the favor, but that left him having to get defensive late on as he won by just over one second.
“It was exciting,” Verstappen said. “The whole race, the pressure was on, not knowing how quick Lewis was going to get you. We went very aggressive on the first stop after losing the lead in the start, then again in the middle stint Lewis was within that undercut range so we had to respond, go early again; and then the last stint was very long, in this heat especially.
“We managed to hang on at the end, just enough within the tires to push. With two laps to go I had the Haas (of Mick Schumacher) in front of me; going into the last sector he was in front, and especially with worn tires it is not easy to follow. Of course luckily then he gave me that DRS, so whatever I lost I think it stabilized a bit because of that DRS.
“The last lap was all about trying to have a good first sector and beginning of the second sector but it wasn’t easy as the tires were really finished, but yeah, incredible to win here.”
While surprised that Hamilton got a much better start than him, Verstappen said he had to concede given his track position and focus on trying to fight back later in the race.
“I thought I had a decent start, Lewis just had a really good start, then of course as soon as he was alongside me that’s pretty much it. I went around the outside to just avoid trouble from behind, as it is quite a tight hairpin, so I decided to go the long way around.
“We tried to stay close. On the medium tire it seemed we had really good pace as I could stay in the DRS, then as soon as we went to the hard it seemed the pace wasn’t there as much which was a bit surprising. But nevertheless we managed to hang on. Of course that first stop was very early on but luckily it worked out.