Max Verstappen had just three hours’ sleep the night before his Mexican Grand Prix victory, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner revealed.
Verstappen, who topped every practice session at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, was stunned by team mate Daniel Ricciardo who beat him to pole position by less than three-hundredths of a second in the final moments of qualifying.
“You could see that he was pretty upset about it,” said Horner when asked by RaceFans about Verstappen’s response to the defeat.
“It wasn’t the best second run in Q3, it was an outstanding lap from Daniel.
“[Verstappen] told me he had three hours’ sleep last night, I think it played that much on his mind.”
Horner said Verstappen’s start to the race, where he fought off Ricciardo and Lewis Hamilton to take the lead, showed his renewed determination. “From the moment that he turned up this morning you could see there was only going to be one guy coming through turns one, two and three in the lead.
“He made a great start. Daniel dropped the clutch a little too quickly and then over-compensated with the throttle and picked up quite a bit of wheelspin.
“You could see Hamilton was ahead in the [turn one] braking zone so effectively Max had to re-pass him. But it was a day Hamilton was unlikely to be taking too much risk, particularly with Verstappen on the inside of him.
“So as soon as he emerged from those first three corners in the lead the rest of it he controlled brilliantly.”
Red Bull gave Verstappen a second pit stop as a precaution but inspection of his tyres showed he didn’t need to come in a second time, said Horner.
“We stopped him again after Lewis and Sebastian [Vettel] had stopped just to cover the eventuality of a Safety Car or whatever. But theoretically, the tyres that came off his car we could see would get to the end of the race.
“Which then gave us the confidence to leave Daniel out, despite seeing the marking-up on the tyre, and say let’s go with the track position and see if we can fight Sebastian to the end of the race.”
Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and