• Japanese Grand Prix

Webber hints at Red Bull strategy error

ESPN Staff
October 13, 2013 « Two stopping wasn't easy - Vettel | 2012 crash played on Grosjean's mind at start »
Mark Webber struggled to pass Romain Grosjean late in the race © Sutton Images

Mark Webber believes Red Bull made a strategic error by switching him to a three-stop race in the Japanese Grand Prix.

Sebastian Vettel won the race on a two-stop strategy having dropped to third place behind Webber and Romain Grosjean at the start of the race. With Grosjean leading, Webber felt he had the pace to beat the Lotus and the tyre life but was surprised the team switched him to a different strategy which ultimately restricted him to second place.

"After that first stop the guys said 'We're still on two [stops], no problem, look after the tyres, we can get to the target lap'," Webber said, "That was the plan, I was looking to wait off the back of Romain and then squeeze up to the back of him between lap 28-31 or 32. Then I think on lap 25 the guys said we're going to three-stop, which is five laps shorter than the two-stop anyway.

"I asked the guys 'Are you sure this is right?' And they said 'Yes, we're going to give it a go', and we gave it a go; you've got to give it 100%."

Asked why he didn't disagree with Red Bull's decision during the race, Webber said he has to trust the team at the time when it has access to all the data.

"I don't have the whole chess match in front of me. I have what's in front of me here, I thought that Romain was strong on the option but not so strong on the prime; when I decided to pull the pin and go straight on the back of him I could do that quite straight-forward. Then I went there and thought 'OK let's wait again, we can still sit on the two-stop and wait for him to have some tyre problems at the end' but they then said 'No, we need to pit now, let's go for the three'. They had more information, they always generally do in front of them and that was it."

Webber also said he didn't feel he would have been able to beat Vettel if he had cleared Grosjean immediately.

"No, Seb stopped with 18 laps to go and the tyres are still in pretty good shape. So no, it's OK, he would have lived with the pace if I had arrived on the back of him, for sure. I mean, it would have been some advantage on my side for sure but not enough to deal with him with enough laps to go."