• Turkish Grand Prix

Vettel would have won with three stops - Pirelli

ESPNF1 Staff
May 9, 2011 « Kobayashi 'promised Sauber points' | »
Sebastian Vettel made his final pit stop as a precaution © Getty Images
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Sebastian Vettel's dominance at the Turkish Grand Prix was underlined after tyre supplier Pirelli revealed that he could have gone the distance on a three-stop strategy and still won the race.

Vettel looked peerless during Sunday's race, winning by a comfortable 8.8 second margin over team-mate Mark Webber. Tyre degradation was high at the punishing Istanbul Park circuit, forcing most front-runners to make four tyre changes over the course of the race. Vettel was the last of the top 10 drivers to make his final pit stop, but Pirelli said it was only as a precaution and his penultimate set of tyres were in good enough shape to last the distance.

"We actually thought that Vettel could have won the race with three stops, but the comparatively short pit lane layout here in Istanbul meant that the performance advantage of an extra stop outweighed the 20 seconds or so spent in the pit lane," motorsport director Paul Hembery said. "With the pace he had, Vettel could afford an extra stop, and that was clearly the decision taken by plenty of other teams as well."

Vettel confirmed the stop was simply to cover off all eventualities.

"In the end I think I could have afforded to stay out on my first set of prime [tyres] but then you have to be in a position for whatever comes," he said. "I thought at that time I could have easily made it to the chequered flag which gives us the pit stop of around 15 or 20 seconds, but then again if something happens - there is an accident elsewhere and a safety car comes out - then obviously you are on a used tyre. So I think it was the right thing to come in another time even though it was just a very short fourth stint after the third stop."

The news will add to the concerns of Vettel's rivals, who were not only outpaced by the reigning world champion but outdriven on all fronts.