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Max and Seb explain radio rows

NEWS STORY
17/08/2020

While Mercedes was to ultimately appreciate Lewis Hamilton's questioning of the team's strategy, the Briton insisting on mediums, rather than softs, for his final stint, things were not going quite so well at Red Bull and Ferrari, where Max Verstappen and Sebastian Vettel were both involved in rows over their radios.

Following last week's advice that he did not want to "drive like a Grandma", this week Verstappen told his team to focus on its own efforts rather than what Lewis Hamilton was doing up front.

Though he got the jump on Valtteri Bottas at the start, and was able to keep Hamilton well and truly in his sights, by the end of his first stint, when advised of the Briton's progress and possible strategy, the Dutchman advised his team to "focus on our race, rather than on Lewis", before subsequently adding "we were clearly not as fast as them on the softs".

As the youngster repeatedly told his team that he wanted to pit for fresh rubber, he asked "you want me to repeat again? The f******* tyres are dead", to which the team responded that there was no need to repeat the message and subsequently pitted him.

"At the end of the day, you can't control what they're doing and the only thing you can control is what we do," said Verstappen after the race, when asked about the team focussing on what Hamilton was doing. "So we just have to make sure we do the fastest strategy possible for us."

Told that his calls came across as "aggressive", he said: "I wanted to pit and they didn't call me, so I was massively struggling on the tyres and I lost quite a lot of lap time over the last two laps so yeah, I already said on the radio, I don't care if you pit me behind the Racing Points because of course I will pass them easily anyway, we are a lot faster, especially on new tyres so that was the conversation.

"I tried to follow Lewis a bit," he said of the race. "Of course, initially he was just managing tyres, so I tried to back out of it as well - but of course at one point Valtteri was back into P3, so you can't drop back too much.

"But then, as soon as Lewis started to push a bit more I just couldn't follow the same pace and he just drove off. So, from then onwards I tried to do my own pace, and I tried to do the fastest strategy we could do to stay out of Valtteri. That worked out quite well today, so I'm very happy with that. We split the two Mercedes cars again, so I don't think there is much more I can do at the moment."

Asked if the overnight change of engine had had any bearing on his race, he said: "No. We just saw something abnormal in the data so we just changed back to the other engine to be sure, so all good."

The radio calls between Sebastian Vettel and his team were equally taut, the German swearing when asked if he thought he could make it to the end of the race on the soft tyres he had fitted on lap 29.

"Ah, f*** sake!," snapped the German, "I asked you this before!"

Asked about his reaction after the race, the four-time world champion, who went on to finish seventh, said: "It's quite simple; we didn't have anything to lose. We were P11 and trying to offset until the end of the race.

"We were catching the cars in front and then they pitted for their second stop, but I was not in a rush to catch them, managing my tyres, then I was told to push. Which I did.

"Then I was asked if I could make it to the end, and I said 'well, you could have asked that a couple of laps before', because I'd asked a couple of times what's the target and how long we want to go, so I could look after my tyres. I said we'll try to make it.

"We took that risk because we had nothing to lose and it did pay off," he added, "but it was not the plan before the race to do close to 40 laps on the soft tyre."

Asked to sum up another difficult weekend, he said: "Mixed to be honest... still up and down.

"Some sessions feel better than others," he added. "The first stint was quite poor, the second stint I felt much more in control of the car, so still some work to do on my side."

Check out our Race Day gallery from Barcelona, here.

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