Motor Sport News - - Motorsport News - By Stephen Lick­o­r­ish

Red Bull driver Daniel Ric­cia­rdo has ques­tioned the de­ci­sion to switch him to a three-stop strat­egy in the Span­ish Grand Prix, claim­ing it cost him the win.

Ric­cia­rdo led for the first half of the race, af­ter the two Mer­cedes col­lided, un­til he pit­ted for a third time on lap 43 – six laps af­ter Fer­rari brought Se­bas­tian Vet­tel in for the third time.

The Aus­tralian dropped to fourth as a re­sult and when chas­ing down Vet­tel for a podium he picked up a punc­ture that forced him to stop again on the penul­ti­mate lap, while team-mate Max Ver­stap­pen won af­ter pit­ting only twice. This al­lowed Ver­stap­pen to win his first race af­ter re­plac­ing Daniil Kvyat in the Red Bull team.

“It’s frus­trat­ing be­cause we just threw the win away,” said the Aus­tralian. “We were lead­ing and then it was there for us. The race was in our hands.

“We went to a three-stop strat­egy, and we did it too late as well. Seb had al­ready jumped us [also on three stops]. We know we’re down on speed and it’s a hard track to pass on. It just didn’t make sense.

“I thought at the time when we did it it’s be­cause every­body else was go­ing to [three-stop] but they didn’t.

“I don’t un­der­stand why I was the one... nor­mally the guy in the lead gets the bet­ter strat­egy but it didn’t work out to­day.

“I def­i­nitely don’t want to sound like a bad sports­man – Max won to­day in his first race with the team.”

How­ever, Red Bull boss Chris­tian Horner in­sisted that the team needed to split strate­gies to cover off the threat from Vet­tel.

“The Fer­raris have had a very com­pet­i­tive car this year,” said Horner. “It was al­ways go­ing to be tricky to keep them be­hind us.

“We opted to split strate­gies be­cause it wasn’t ob­vi­ous go­ing through the sec­ond phase or af­ter the first stop which was go­ing to be the quicker route, the three-stop or the two-stop.

“We felt that Se­bas­tian in clear air looked to be the fastest car on the cir­cuit at the time so it was a ques­tion of ‘how are we go­ing to beat Vet­tel?’

“Split­ting our strate­gies from a team per­spec­tive gave us both op­tions.

“It wasn’t trans­par­ently clear. We knew the two-stop would be un­der a lot of pres­sure at the end of the race in terms of degra­da­tion.”

Ric­cia­rdo was frus­trated Punc­ture added to Ric­cia­rdo’s mis­ery

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