Red Bull team boss Christian Horner is clear he has no “major issue” with Lewis Hamilton’s “gamesmanship” in the final part of qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Hamilton took provisional pole after the first timed laps in Q3, sitting over half a second clear of time title rival Max Verstappen in third.
Both Mercedes drivers left their pit garages before Red Bull to head out for their final flying laps, with Hamilton slowing to try and leave a gap to team-mate Valtteri Bottas in front.
The seven-time world champion ran directly ahead of Verstappen, who attempted to gain track position but was forced to back up before the final corner.
Hamilton left it late to start his final lap, while Verstappen just beat the chequered flag, but Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez didn’t cross the line before the end of the session.
While Hamilton’s slow final sector proved a major headache for Red Bull, Horner brushed off any concerns, calling it a “bit of gamesmanship”.
“Lewis has got a hell of a lap in the bank, and then obviously he’s just backing things up, up, up, and he doesn’t want to give obviously our cars a clean run,” Horner said.
“But it’s his right to do that. He’s got the track position. We haven’t got a major issue. It’s all about tomorrow now.”
Asked if Red Bull would have done something similar had roles been reversed, Horner replied: “I think we’ve have probably focused more on the preparation of our tyre, because you can see his laptime was nowhere near his [best] qualifying time.
“He was obviously more interested in what was going on behind. But that’s part of the game.”
Hamilton failed to improve on his initial Q3 benchmark but had done enough to remain on pole ahead of Bottas, with Verstappen only finding a one-tenth to line up third on the grid.
Despite losing his second lap time, Perez held on to fourth, but explained that Red Bull believed he had enough of a margin to cross the line in time.
“Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case, and that meant that I basically lost my final attempt,” Perez told Sky Sports F1.
“I think I had a good amount of time left in the car. We did some adjustments, and here is a place where if you get one corner right, there’s just plenty of lap time in it, because there’s so many corners.
“It’s a big shame. At the end, we have a good starting position for tomorrow. But yeah, we knew Mercedes was going to be very strong.
“So I really hope tomorrow we are able to put a lot of pressure onto them.”