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Red Bull: “Doesn’t make sense” for F1 to permanently mandate pitstops

Red Bull Formula 1 boss Christian Horner says it “doesn’t make sense” to permanently mandate when drivers must pit after the enforced 2023 Qatar Grand Prix experiment.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19, in the pits

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19, in the pits

Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

Pirelli identified microscope failures in the tyre sidewall at the Losail International Circuit last weekend, a problem triggered by drivers running protractedly over new kerbs with a 50mm raised edge.

As a result, the tyre manufacturer and the FIA imposed a maximum stint length of 18 laps for the 57-lap grand prix, which compelled drivers to run a three-stop strategy.

However, this was met with criticism that it was too prescriptive and led to a predictable race. This is a sentiment shared by Horner, who therefore believes F1 should not feel the need to make it a more permanent fixture or else risk it impacting qualifying as well.

He said: “I think you've got to give the freedom and that creates the creativity.

“Mandated pitstops? It will have effects on the end of qualifying and how many laps you do in qualifying to save tyres for the race... so that to me, it doesn't make sense.

“You want to run your fastest race and whether it's a one stop or two stop or three stop. That's where we need to be at.”

Christian Horner, Team Principal, Red Bull Racing

Christian Horner, Team Principal, Red Bull Racing

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen, the newly crowned three-time world champion, led from lights to flag as he claimed victory by 4.8 seconds over McLaren rookie Oscar Piastri.

It is likely that his winning margin would have been greater had he not reduced his pace to cover a potential late safety car. Verstappen has also been notable for his tyre saving efforts aboard the RB19 this season, an aspect somewhat mitigated by the FIA restrictions.

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Horner continued: “From a safety point of view, I fully understand why they did it.

“Maybe strategically, it wasn't the optimum strategy for this race, two stop and tyre deg and some of the other things would have come into play.

“But it was a different race and it tested the strategists in a different way.

“The thing is, it made it a lot more predictable because you know what the maximum stint length for each car was.

“So for us, it was about managing the risk and exposure of a safety car within the last 10 laps, which is why we went past an optimal strategy to make sure that we had the coverage in the event the drivers behind had a free stop to give Max the best tyres possible.

“So, it was a risk limitation strategy, particularly in that last 10 [laps].”

Horner also reckoned the 18-lap stints “diluted” what Sergio Perez could have achieved, as the Mexican recovered from a pitlane start to score 10th, albeit racking up three five-second penalties for track limit offences in the process.

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