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RICCIARDO QUESTIONS RED BULL STRATEGY
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