Red Bull’s Chief Strategy Engineer Hannah Schmitz has explained how the team helped Max Verstappen climb from 10th place to the top step of the podium in Hungary – a win she called “the one of the best of the season.
Starting 10th and 11th on the grid, Verstappen and Sergio Perez shod a set of soft tires as they looked to work their way through the grid. And speaking on Sky Sports’ Any Driven Monday show, Schmitz revealed that starting the race on softs was not the original plan.
“So because we were starting out of position, maybe one of the most classic strategies to do is to start with the hardest tire and go a lot longer, especially with the very difficult overtaking in Hungary. – so that was our plan,” Schmitz revealed.
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“But we had also talked a lot before the race about whether the conditions were a bit wet and very cool as they could have been, that we might consider the soft tire as an alternative because it might be better in those conditions and the laps .on the starting grid, both drivers were making it very clear that they had hardly any grip even though they were already on soft tyres.”
Schmitz added: “The race engineers were like ‘we don’t think hard tires are a good idea’, we all had a long discussion about it with Christian as well and decided to switch to soft tyres. There was also a bit of rain in the air, so it was definitely the better tire for that condition.
“Our concern was whether we could make enough progress in that first stint to make it worthwhile, but obviously both riders made great progress so that was definitely the case.”
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Asked about the chain of command within the team to make such a late call on strategy, Schmitz explained: “We’re all a team, so throughout the weekend it’s very collaborative to listen everyone’s different opinions and points of view because it’s not always just about numbers and data.
“The drivers also have a lot of feelings in the car, so we try to take that into account, take into account what the race engineers…they might be looking at different data for the strategist, so taking all that information on board and We discuss everything, but at the end of the day, it’s a strategic call, so we take the final call, but we try to make the final call and use as much information as possible to make those decisions.”
2022 Hungarian Grand Prix: Max Verstappen takes 10th place on the Hungaroring grid
The victory in Hungary was Red Bull’s ninth victory this season, with Verstappen himself counting eight of those victories. But Schmitz revealed a ninth victory was not the goal at the start of the day, making the result “all the sweeter”.
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“In fact, it was one of the best [wins] of the season,” she said. “Just because I think starting 10th in Hungary was not something we expected at all. I thought maybe we could get on the podium, P3, P4 was kind of the best thing coming out of the simulations.
“So that was extremely exciting. It wasn’t until the end of the race that I thought ‘wow we could really win this!’ So it was all the sweeter from where we started.”