Max Verstappen says he was always confident of being able to managing his tyres while chasing down the Mercedes drivers in Formula 1’s 70th Anniversary Grand Prix. 

Verstappen claimed Red Bull’s first victory of the 2020 season after turning in a masterclass performance in tyre management, which enabled him to leapfrog the leading Mercedes duo and pull clear to seal his ninth career win. 

Red Bull warned Verstappen about dropping back from Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton in the first stint to conserve his tyres, but the Dutchman ignored the advice and continued to apply pressure.

Responding to the warning from over team radio, Verstappen replied: “This is the only chance of being close to the Mercedes, I’m not just sitting behind like a grandma!”

After the race, Verstappen explained his reasoning for continuing to push on, saying: “I was already managing [my tyres] but their tyres were completely gone, I could see the tyres opening up. 

“But it was also expected with these tyres especially on high fuel when the car is very heavy. I didn't want to just sit behind like I have been doing in previous races all the time so once I had the opportunity to put a bit of pressure on I want to do that so I tried.

"I had a big moment once when I was close to Lewis in Turn 13, because it is really hard to follow even when I had the grip advantage. Then it got to the point where it was impossible for them to continue so they boxed and that is where my race started.

"I hate sitting back especially when you see the car is pretty decent," he added. "Sometimes it can be a bit of suicide, killing your tyres and trying to hang on desperately but I don't think that was the case.”

Red Bull boss Christian Horner admitted the team was “very conscious” about Verstappen’s tyres getting damaged running close behind Hamilton’s Mercedes but praised his driver’s handling of the situation. 

“Max has got a great feeling for these tyres and we’ve seen on numerous occasions he’s been able to manage these tyres incredibly well,” Horner said. 

“We knew that Mercedes would pit because they were on that softer compound to begin with, so we wanted to make sure we could make hay while the sun was shining and have tyres left. 

“He was very confident that he was really protecting those tyres through the high-speed corners and was well-placed for when they did pit and he was absolutely right and he managed that incredibly well. 

“Likewise on the Medium tyres and again at the end of the race when he had pace in hand just in case Lewis started to really come back at him really aggressively on the harder tyre."

 

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