Did team meddling influence another F1 race outcome?

By on Friday, August 9, 2019

For all the celebrity and personal honor Formula 1 drivers receive, it is worth remembering F1 is a team sport. Unfortunately, it is sometimes hard to get away from the fact that team orders can often influence the outcome of a race. Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner has denied team meddling prevented Max Verstappen from winning the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Reigning champion Lewis Hamilton passed Verstappen with just four laps of racing left, with some pointing to poor strategy from Red Bull.

Heading into the summer break, Hamilton now has a commanding lead of 62 points over Mercedes teammate Valterri Bottas. It seems a safe bet to say the five-time world champion will win his sixth F1 crown this season. Certainly, punters are backing Hamilton on F1 betting sites such as Unibet, where he is red hot favorite to win the 2019 F1 Driver’s Championship.

Horner has rejected claims Red Bull handed Hamilton another victory on his path to the championship through poor strategy. Verstappen was leading Hamilton by a second when the British driver was called in for a pit stop and used his fresh tires to make up the ground on Verstappen and overtake him.

Only after Verstappen had been passed did Red Bull call him into the pits. With his own fresh tires Verstappen posted the fastest lap of the race but was unable to overhaul Hamilton’s lead. Pitting Verstappen before Hamilton may have allowed the young driver to remain in front, but Horner disagrees.

"We had track position, but I think Mercedes just had a quicker car in the race today to just follow within a second," he told Sky Sports F1.

"That was mighty impressive and that gave them all the options with the free stop. To have pitted Max from the lead with him a second behind, it wouldn't have been a sensible call from us. Max got everything out of the car as he could.

"By the end of the second sector, Lewis would have been ahead, so we would've conceded track position which wouldn't have made any sense. The only chance was to try to hang it out.

"That was one lap when everything turned up, but to have pitted from the lead from the position we were in would have been an impossible call for the leader.

"When you're the quicker car, you're the car behind and you've got a free pit stop, you've got nothing to lose.

"But it's still been a hell of a weekend from Max. We'll brush ourselves down, he's nailed pole this weekend, was the fastest in P2 and he's closed the gap to Valtteri to seven points."

Verstappen agreed with Horner and said it seemed Mercedes simply had the faster car at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

"I think you always have to be realistic and today Mercedes were faster," Verstappen told Sky Sports.

"Lewis was pushing hard and when you're in second, you can gamble a little bit more with going for a two stop because the worst-case scenario is you stay second, and the best is you overtake me. Today, it worked out for them, but nonetheless, you could see it was hard for me to stay ahead.”

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