At Zandvoort on Sunday, Mercedes used a strategy split between its two drivers in an attempt to pass Verstappen’s Red Bull at the front of the field. Hamilton was forced to adopt a two-stop plan, whereas Bottas attempted to make a one-stop strategy work.
Red Bull was willing to forego winning the Dutch Grand Prix in order to cover Hamilton.
Mercedes hoped that by differentiating the strategies of its two drivers, it would put Red Bull in a difficult position of having to select which one to cover. There was a time in the middle of the race, when Bottas was leading the pack, when it appeared that the Finn would have a chance to win. However, the Finn’s expectations were dashed when Verstappen was able to pass him quickly, ensuring that the one-stop strategy would not work. Mercedes went early with a second stop for Hamilton in an attempt to gain the undercut, but its dreams were dashed when the world champion emerged in traffic on his out lap, securing Verstappen’s emotional home victory. Christian Horner, the Red Bull team’s CEO, has acknowledged that what Bottas did in the race was never on his team’s radar. With the title race between Verstappen and Hamilton being so close, the most important thing for his team was to finish ahead of the leading Mercedes vehicle.
And he claims that even if losing the race win to cover Hamilton was a risk, Red Bull would have accepted it for the sake of the overall championship picture. He explained, “Our concentration was on Lewis.” “He was the closest contender, so we had to chose him between the two, even if it meant losing the race. “It was crucial to score those points against Lewis.” The important moment in the race, according to Horner, was when Verstappen wasted no time in getting by Bottas. If he had been caught behind the Finn, there was a chance that either the one-stop would have come into play properly, or Hamilton behind him would have taken advantage of the opportunity to go for an undercut to gain track position.
He explained, “We expected them [Mercedes] to split this technique, which they did.” “They had two cars in play, so we went aggressive with Lewis and long with Valtteri,” said the driver. “Because the two-stop race being the faster race, it was critical that we repassed Valtteri as soon as possible. And Max was the one who did it. This created opportunities to make the race’s second half considerably more manageable. He could have exposed us to the undercut if he had spent a lot of laps behind Valtteri.”
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