Verstappen reveals key moment he knew he could win in Hungary

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Max Verstappen says seeing title rival Charles Leclerc struggling on Hard compound tyres was the moment he knew he could win Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix.

Engine problems on Saturday meant Verstappen qualified only tenth, and though the Dutchman made his way through the pack, by the race’s half-distance mark he was still some way behind Leclerc, who had taken the lead on Lap 31 of 70 and was looking good for the win.

However, the race began to go away from Leclerc when he was fitted with Hard compound tyres during his second pit stop on Lap 40, in contrast to the Medium tyres used by Verstappen and the rest of the leading contenders.

With the Hard tyres proving difficult to get into their ideal operating window in Sunday’s cool conditions in Budapest, Leclerc was caught and passed by Verstappen on Lap 41.

Though Verstappen spun later that lap to gift the place back, the Dutchman recovered and overtook Leclerc again on Lap 45 on his way to victory.

Speaking after the race, Verstappen hailed his team’s tyre strategy, and said he had sensed Leclerc’s struggles on Hard compound rubber.

“We picked it at the right time, we put the right tyres on the car. I think that was most important today, to have the grip,” Verstappen told media including RacingNews365.com.

“Slowly we were just moving forward, then that final pit stop was very good, and then I saw Charles was struggling a lot on the Hard tyre, so that was my moment to try and attack him.

“I caught him, and then I spun 360 and lost the position again.

“It was a bit unlucky, but then we kept our heads down and got him back again, built the gap, and managed that to the end, because it started to drizzle as well.

“No more risks to take, just bring it home.”

Red Bull had not appeared as quick as Ferrari during Friday and Saturday’s running at the Hungaroring, and Verstappen said the team’s previously slow pace was caused by tyre issues.

“I think on Friday we chose the wrong tyres in the final stint. It’s just being on the right tyre,” said Verstappen.

“I think also the call we had in the beginning [of the race] to be on the Soft was a bit safer, to stay out of trouble and have a bit of grip.

While Verstappen now has a commanding 80-point lead in the Championship with over half the season gone, the Dutchman ominously suggested that there were still areas for Red Bull to improve upon.

“It’s about little details again. We just keep on working, trying to improve the car, because I think there’s still a few areas where we can work on to do better,” said Verstappen.

“After the [summer] break, we have a few races which are a bit different to this track as well, so it’ll be interesting to see how competitive we’re going to be there.”



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