Asked to pinpoint exactly why Red Bull encountered more trouble on the Medium compound than the Hard, Verstappen said: “Yeah, I didn’t know at the moment. We have to analyse why that was. Because in the long runs on Thursday, they were fine.”
Expanding further, Verstappen admitted that early in the race he became susceptible to the tyre graining the drivers had anticipated emerging in the colder evening conditions.
“I think the Hard tyre was just a bit more robust against the graining, because that was my problem on the Medium, he explained. “The tyre just started to open up and then you lose a lot of grip. So that’s what happened.
“And then on the Hard tyre I didn’t really have that problem for a long time. So that was definitely helping me.”
Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner suspects that the disparity in the side’s performance on the two harder tyre compounds was related to its setup choice.
When asked if Verstappen had been overdriving in the opening laps to compensate for the time penalty, Horner replied: “I don’t think so. I think that our setup on the Medium tyre wasn’t as good as the Ferrari was today. So, on the Hard tyre it came much more alive for us.”
Horner also downplayed the extent of the damage to Verstappen’s front wing from the clash with Russell, insisting that it wasn’t a substantial hit to his performance.
“I mean, it’s never ideal, but thankfully it wasn’t a massive shift,” he revealed.
“So we’ve seen it a few times this year where people lose that end plate and it doesn’t affect too dramatically the performance of the car.”