Christian Horner explains Sergio Perez call that may have stopped him winning

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Christian Horner has explained that Red Bull’s decision to pit Max Verstappen before Sergio Perez at the Dutch Grand Prix was not a deliberate move to favour their lead driver. A heavy downpour at the start of the race sparked a frenzy in the pit lane, with many drivers stopping for intermediate tyres and others staying out on slicks.

Perez was among the first drivers to stop for intermediates and reaped the rewards as he sliced through the field to take an early lead. He was 15 seconds ahead of Verstappen at one stage before the Dutchman managed to cut the gap to just over four seconds.

The rain went on to ease up after a few laps at Zandvoort, prompting another round of pit stops, but this time it was Verstappen who pitted before Perez. It allowed him to swap positions with his Red Bull team-mate before going on to secure his ninth straight F1 win.

Horner later explained that an ‘extreme outlap’ from Verstappen allowed him to jump Perez, rather than the timing of their pit stops being orchestrated by Red Bull to favour the reigning world champion.

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“It was tricky because when you’re the first car, it’s very hard to make that call,” Horner told Sky Sports F1. “Checo pulled the trigger early, made a great call, got in [at the start]. The team reacted super-fast, we got him back out.

“We then got Max in immediately, others we were surprised to see stay out. Max then started coming through the field so quickly. Checo at the front had pulled a good gap as well and was focused on trying to get a pit stop over the cars behind.

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“There were a couple of reasons behind making that decision. One was that we had [Fernando] Alonso taking the slicks as well and I think it was Gasly behind him. The pace of the undercut, if we would have pitted Checo first and Max the second lap, we had the risk of coming out after that had shaken down and being first and fourth.

“His outlap was so extreme, it took us slightly by surprise that Max jumped Checo. Just so much happening in very, very variable conditions.”

Perez ended up finishing fourth at Zandvoort despite crossing the line in third place behind Verstappen and Alonso. He was handed a late penalty for speeding in the pit lane, allowing Pierre Gasly to leapfrog him and join the podium celebrations at his expense.

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