AUSTIN, Texas — Max Verstappen said he was not convinced Red Bull’s aggressive pit-stop strategy would help him beat Lewis Hamilton victory at the U.S. Grand Prix.
Verstappen lost the lead to Hamilton in Turn 1 but overtook the Mercedes driver in the pit stops, with Red Bull calling him in earlier for their first round of stops.
That allowed Verstappen to “undercut” Hamilton by gaining on his fresh tyres before the Mercedes driver pitted, which they repeated at the second round of stops. Verstappen would never relinquish the lead after Hamilton’s second stop.
“We lost out at the start, so we had to try and do something else. The tyre wear is quite high around this track, so we did go aggressive,” Verstappen said.
“I was not sure it was going to work, but yeah, the last few laps were fun. A bit sideways through the high-speed corners, but super happy of course to hang on.”
Verstappen finished the race 1.3 seconds ahead of Hamilton to open up his championship lead to 12 points with five races to spare. The Dutch driver said the finish had been intense.
“It was exciting. The whole race, the pressure was on, not knowing how quick Lewis was going to get you.
“We went very aggressive on the first stop after losing the lead in the start, then again in the middle stint Lewis was within that undercut range so we had to respond, go early again; and then the last stint was very long, in this heat especially.
“We managed to hang on at the end, just enough within the tyres to push. With two laps to go I had the Haas in front of me; going into the last sector he was in front, and especially with worn tyres it is not easy to follow. Of course luckily then he gave me that DRS, so whatever I lost I think it stabilized a bit because of that DRS.”