Helmut Marko has admitted that Max Verstappen was told to hold back on his out laps on Sunday, much to the Dutchman’s consternation.
Pitting for fresh rubber on Lap 14, the world champion rejoined the fray in fourth. However, race leader, Charles Leclerc pitted a lap later, as did Sergio Perez and George Russell.
Leclerc rejoined the race still leading but Verstappen was able to mount a series of three attacks on the Monegasque, the first two of which briefly got the Red Bull driver ahead only for the Ferrari driver to immediately reclaim the lead.
When Verstappen made his second stop on lap 30, once again Leclerc responded a lap later, but this time the Dutchman was too far behind to challenge the Monegasque.
“That is two times I have taken it easy on the out-lap and not been in front,” said a clearly frustrated Verstappen. “I am never, ever doing that again.”
Helmut Marko has since admitted that the Dutchman was told to hold back on his out laps.
“It was all about the strategy from us, so it was our mistake, not Max’s,” said the Austrian, according to F1i. “Max was told to hold back during his out laps. If he had driven at a normal pace, he would have been in front of Leclerc. And when you’re in front, it’s a completely different story.
“But our tyre degradation was incredibly higher than Ferrari,” he admitted, “and the power of the Ferrari engine was very impressive as well.
“But still, if Max had been in front of Leclerc, maybe the story would have been different.”
“The problem is it’s always a balance,” added Christian Horner, “whatever you take out of the tyre early in the stint, you lose later in the stint.
“I think we underestimated the undercut, but I think Ferrari had the pace that had we got that track position, they would have made the overtake. We just didn’t quite have that pace.”