Max Verstappen says Red Bull Formula 1 strategist Hannah Schmitz played a key role in his Hungarian Grand Prix victory, praising her for remaining “insanely calm” on the pit wall.
Verstappen scored his eighth victory of the season in Budapest from 10th on the grid, opening up an 80-point lead in the drivers’ championship going into the summer break.
The reigning world champion’s charge was aided by Red Bull’s strategy of avoiding the hard compound tyre, which proved difficult to switch on in the cooler conditions.
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner revealed it had intended to start Verstappen and team-mate Sergio Perez on the hard tyre before changing tactics just minutes before lights out.
Asked how critical it is for a driver to rely on the pit wall for calls on strategy, Verstappen cited Schmitz’s role as “incredibly important” when fighting for a world championship.
“You can’t afford many mistakes,” Verstappen said, as quoted by Motorsport.com.
“It’s of course very hard to always be on the good side, let’s say it like that. But I think we have a lot of good guys and girls in the team.
“Today, I think Hannah, our strategist, was insanely calm. Yeah, she’s very good.”
In contrast to Red Bull’s winning strategy, Ferrari went in the wrong direction on tyre choice by fitting Charles Leclerc with the hard tyre, culminating in a drop in pace that saw him slip to sixth place by the chequered flag.
Ferrari F1 chief Mattia Binotto claimed even without his team’s strategy blunder it didn’t have a fast enough car to win, citing its struggles its the cooler temperatures.
While Red Bull outwitted Ferrari through its strategy, Verstappen felt the Italian outfit was just as quick at the Hungaroring, urging Red Bull to not sit back despite its lead in both championships.
“We know that our car is, in general, is quick but I think throughout the race, Ferrari was also very fast, just they made the wrong call with the hard tyre,” Verstappen said.
“There’s still a lot of things we can look into, what we can do better.
“I think the race itself was of course very good. I mean starting 10th, winning the race on a track like this is of course very, very good. But there are a lot of things we will analyse.
“There are always a few areas where we could have done better. But overall, of course, I’m very happy with today.”