SPIELBERG, Austria — Christian Horner said Red Bull founder Dietrich Mateschitz mantra of “no risk, no fun” was in the back of his mind when the team pitted Max Verstappen from a comfortable lead at the end of the Austrian Grand Prix.
Verstappen 24 seconds clear of Charles Leclerc and cruising to victory with two laps to go when he asked Red Bull to stop for new tyres.
That request was initially met with some pushback by Verstappen’s race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase — the average time lost with a standard pit-stop is around 20 seconds at the Red Bull Ring, meaning a mistake or issue could hand victory to Ferrari.
Verstappen eventually pitted without drama and set the fastest lap of the race as he crossed the finish line, earning him the extra point on offer to go with the 25 for victory.
He finished just over five seconds clear of Leclerc.
When asked afterwards if the call felt like a risk, Verstappen said: “To me, not! But to team, I think they were a bit more nervous.
“I saw the gap and I was like, ‘we have to pit’, I want to go for the fastest lap when you have the opportunity and that’s what we did at the end”.
Red Bull team boss Horner said the call, and the dominant nature of Verstappen’s weekend, was the perfect tribute to Mateschitz, who died aged 78 last October.
“Stunning weekend from [Verstappen] and the first time we’ve been back here since Dietrich’s passing, it felt very poignant that it was a great team performance today,” Horner said on Sunday evening.
“We decided to go for the fastest lap on the last lap, despite the risk involved in fluffing a pit stop. It was at the back of my mind his mantra was ‘no risk, no fun’ and the mechanics have been in such great form it seemed like a low risk thing to do in the end.”
Lambiase’s radio message was the only one broadcast on the F1 world feed and without any other context suggested a disagreement over the strategy, but that was not the case.
Verstappen had been on that set of tyres for 20 laps and worried they might not make it to the finish.
Horner said that driver feedback created two very feasible options.
“There was a bit of a discussion of risk versus reward because we thought let’s cool the tyres down and do it the easier way of not taking a pit-stop, in which 400 things can go wrong in,” Horner said.
“Max was making his opinion quite clear that the tyres were f—–! He was quite focused.
“Then you start looking at your risk, do we take the risk on a below-par set of tyres? Or is it actually less risk to take the pit stop and put on a set of softs. In the end we said ‘let’s take the risk’ and he still had three seconds margin when he came out of the pit-lane.”
After confirming he made the final call to stop, Horner said: “Obviously it’s a team sport but we have effectively a chain of command to sign off on key strategic decisions.
“You’ve just got to weigh up that risk versus reward. GP was up for it. Jonathan Wheatley was up for it.
“So then it was like OK… don’t f— it up!”
Verstappen’s win extended Red Bull’s unbeaten streak this year to nine races. They have also won both the sprint races held so far this season, including on Saturday at the Red Bull Ring.
Mateschitz, who grew up in the Styria region where the circuit is located, purchased it in 2011.
The venue returned to the F1 schedule in 2014.
Mateschitz was responsible for bringing Red Bull into the sport as its own team in 2005, while also purchasing another outfit to run as the company’s junior squad. That team currently competes as AlphaTauri.
Horner added: “Coming into this circuit this weekend it was very weird not to have him with us. I think you feel his presence everywhere, whether it’s the hotels you stay in, the investment he made…I remember the delight he had at bringing this race back to Austria and the passion he just had for racing.
“Whilst not here in person his presence, you can feel it everywhere. Hopefully looking down on that race today it would have been one he really enjoyed.”
Verstappen and Red Bull are both cruising to championship victories already.
Verstappen leads teammate Sergio Perez by 81 points, while Red Bull have a huge 199 in hand over Mercedes in the constructors’ championship.
‘No risk, no fun’ Austrian GP win the perfect tribute to late Red Bull founder, says Christian Horner