• Japanese Grand Prix

Two stopping wasn't easy - Vettel

ESPN Staff
October 13, 2013 « Alonso delighted with points record | Webber hints at Red Bull strategy error »
Sebastian Vettel celebrates with the winner's trophy © Getty Images

Sebastian Vettel said it was not easy to pull off his two-stop strategy at the Japanese Grand Prix, which proved crucial for his victory on Sunday.

By two stopping, Vettel outfoxed team-mate Mark Webber and Lotus' Romain Grosjean, who had both been ahead of him for most of the race. Grosjean also attempted a two-stop, but had to make his final tyre change eight laps earlier than Vettel and was passed with ease by the Red Bull on lap 41. Webber, meanwhile, struggled to make a three-stop strategy pay off for him and eventually finished 7.1s off Vettel.

"To be honest, I think the decision was made in the first stint because we stayed out longer to take into account that we lapped slower than the others to save tyres and push them later in the race," he said. "We had a similar race in 2011 when I always pitted first and was under enormous pressure towards the end of the race and got passed by two cars. This time we did it the other way round and had enough pace in the car to look after the tyres and control the race.

"It was not easy to make the two-stop work, especially in the middle stint, but I think the first stint was crucial to make the decision to stay out for a two stop, which turned out to be the right move."

Vettel said the start of the race had been tricky as he got swamped by Grosjean and Lewis Hamilton.

"I'm blown away with today's race. I had a very poor start and I think it was between Romain and Lewis and I clipped a little bit [Hamilton] with the front wing. I think Lewis had a puncture after that, but I couldn't go anywhere. After that we were patient enough, looked after the tyres and enough pace towards the end. Mark beat Romain on another strategy so all in all it was fantastic and I'm so overwhelmed every time we come here."