The front-left tyre removed from Max Verstappen’s Red Bull RB16 during the closing stages of Formula 1’s British Grand Prix had “about 50 little cuts”, according to team boss Christian Horner.
Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas suffered a late failure, elevating Verstappen to second, with Red Bull then opting for a precautionary stop, as well as to chase the fastest lap point.
Long-time race leader Lewis Hamilton then encountered a last-lap failure though stroked his Mercedes W11 home to take victory.
Verstappen began the final lap 34 seconds down on Hamilton and tried chasing down the ailing leader, only to fall 5.8 short, setting the fastest lap in the process.
It led to suggestions that Red Bull had squandered a potential victory by bringing Verstappen into the pits but that viewpoint was countered by team boss Horner.
“The tyre that came off the car had about 50 little cuts in it,” he said.
“It had been through debris and if we’d have stayed out we could have lost a second position with the same failure as Lewis, Carlos Sainz and Bottas. So it was right on the limit.
“We’ll be grateful for what we’ve got rather than what we’ve potentially lost.
“You can either look at the glass being half empty or being half full.
“We benefitted from Bottas’ issues, even when they had a faster car today. Very nearly had the same issues ourselves.
“If Hamilton had had the issue a lap before we’d all be patting ourselves on the back. It’s never good to benefit from others’ misfortune but I don’t think we can be upset with what happened.”
Horner added that Mercedes’ performance advantage means its main aim has to be remaining in the hunt in case such opportunities come its way.
“That first race is expensive, if you remember at the time [Verstappen] was splitting the two Mercedes then as well,” Horner said of Verstappen’s Austria retirement.
“We need to find more performance because they simply are just quicker than us at the moment.
“We’re being sharp on race strategy and his race craft, we can keep ourselves in the mix. On outright pace they have a very dominant car at the moment and we need to try and close that gap.”