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Formula 1 Belgian GP

Red Bull "didn't want egg on our face" at Spa F1 for Verstappen fastest lap

Christian Horner explained Red Bull "didn't want to end up with egg on our face" by allowing Max Verstappen to pit for the fastest lap in Formula 1's Belgian Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19, in the pits

Verstappen utterly demolished the competition in Sunday's race at Spa-Francorchamps, beating team-mate Sergio Perez by 22 seconds and putting Red Bull's nearest challenger Charles Leclerc on 33 seconds in his Ferrari.

The Dutchman's dominance was such that he soon joked with his race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase about making an extra pitstop for the fastest lap to give his crew "some extra pitstop training".

While that comment could have been taken for complacency, team principal Horner quickly shot down the idea of making an extra stop, which Verstappen last did at the Austrian Grand Prix.

When asked by Autosport if there were any concerns over Verstappen's flippant radio messages, Horner said: "No, that's why we didn't take the stop.

"We didn't want to get too greedy, because we won the sprint race yesterday, a 1-2 finish today, we didn't want to end up with egg on our face, compromising that in any way.

"To give away one point, I don't think anybody will lose too much sleep over it tonight."

Red Bull's approach of not taking any unnecessary risks was fed by concerns over tyre degradation after Verstappen stressed the soft tyres at the start of his stint more than his engineer was comfortable with.

"We got a little worried that the tyres - you could see they were starting to open up a bit - and we didn't want to get into too much depth," Horner explained. "So, it was about just closing out the race."

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19

Photo by: Michael Potts / Motorsport Images

Verstappen had started from sixth after incurring a grid penalty for taking a new gearbox. By lap 17 he overtook Perez for the lead, having passed the likes of Leclerc and Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton earlier.

He then put his eighth consecutive win of the 2023 season, one shy of Sebastian Vettel's all-time record, beyond doubt with a crushing middle stint on the medium tyres.

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"He drove an incredible race today," Horner added. "He did a great job to get up to P2 and then after the stop his race really came alive on the medium tyre where he showed incredible speed.

"Checo obviously didn't defend too hard because of the speed difference between the two of them. On the medium tyre Checo definitely wasn't as comfortable as Max was.

"We need to go through why he comparatively struggled on the medium tyre."

Additional reporting by Erwin Jaeggi

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