Formula 1

Red Bull’s Horner Blasts McLaren’s Tire Blunder at British GP, Claims Strategy Cost Norris Victory

At the recent British Grand Prix held at Silverstone, a controversial tire strategy by McLaren sparked criticism from Christian Horner, the principal of the Red Bull Racing team. Horner pointed out what he believed was a critical error in judgment that potentially cost McLaren’s Lando Norris, who started in an impressive third position, a chance at victory.

Lando Norris showed considerable promise throughout the race, briefly leading when the team decided to switch to intermediate tires due to changing weather conditions. However, a pivotal moment came when Mercedes, racing with Lewis Hamilton, opted for slick tires just a lap before McLaren. This move allowed Hamilton to overtake and ultimately win the race, leaving Norris grappling with tire degradation issues that soon followed.

McLaren’s choice to equip Norris with soft tires for the final stint of the race became a focal point of scrutiny, especially as these tires quickly lost their effectiveness. Horner highlighted this decision as a significant misstep, noting that McLaren had unused medium tires at their disposal which could have offered a more durable solution. “They had a new medium in their pocket. Mercedes didn’t, we didn’t. Wow. I fully expected to see a yellow set of tires go on there. Maybe they will look back with hindsight…” Horner remarked, expressing his astonishment over the decision.

The race concluded with Hamilton securing a popular victory, followed by Max Verstappen in second place, who managed to navigate the complex conditions with strategic acumen. Red Bull’s decision to switch to hard tires for the final stint, observing the rapid wear of soft tires on other cars earlier in the race, played to their advantage despite an initial struggle with pace on medium tires.

Horner praised Hamilton’s performance, recognizing the emotional significance of the win at Silverstone for the seasoned racer. “You’ve got to congratulate Lewis. He is a fierce competitor, I know this one means a lot to him. A popular win, and well-deserved,” he said.

Reflecting on the race’s unexpected turns, Horner described it as “bizarre,” particularly pointing out the strategic timing of Red Bull’s tire changes. “We nearly ended up winning it. It was a bizarre race. In the first part, we just didn’t have the pace on the medium tire. Mercedes looked like they’d got it under control. Then the rain came and McLaren looked like they’d got it under control. We were dropping off the back of it. At that point, I was worried about Carlos Sainz who was having a go at Max. We made the call to go onto the inter at the right there. That one lap extra, on the inter, while it leapfrogged us into third, I think we damaged the tire a bit on that lap. Until the others got deg as well, we dropped off. We started coming back, things leveled out. Then it was about which tire you take for the final stint. We’d seen that the softs didn’t look great, doing six or seven but before falling apart for other cars at the start of the race. So we went for the hard tire. It was our best chance,” Horner explained.

As teams debrief and analyze the race data, McLaren may indeed reflect on their tire strategy with some regret, pondering what might have been had they opted for the medium tires in that crucial final segment of the Grand Prix.

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Alex Harrington

Alex started racing at a young age so certainly knows his way around a car and a track. He can just about put a sentence together too, which helps. He has a great interest in the latest models, but would throw all of his money at a rusty old French classic and a 300ZX. Contact: [email protected]

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