Red Bull admit pit gamble failure
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said Sebastian Vettel’s bad start in Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix led them to switch the defending world champion to a two-stop strategy that failed to pay off.
Horner said that after the team saw Vettel, who started on pole, passed by McLarens driven by eventual winner Lewis Hamilton and fellow-Briton Jenson Button they decided they needed a new plan to try and rescue a win.
“If we had made just three stops behind them, we probably would have stayed behind both of them. So we decided to do something different to try and beat both of them and we thought we could make it work,” Horner said.
“We came within four to five laps of doing so — and P2 is still a great result. Points are still important and it’s a long championship.
“It was a fascinating race that so nearly paid off for Sebastian. We made the decision based on him being P3 at the time behind the McLarens — we felt that was the best way to beat them and very, very nearly did it.”
Horner paid a warm tribute to Australian Mark Webber, who drove his Red Bull from 18th on the grid to third place on the podium.
“What a recovery from Mark,” Horner said. “With Mark, we ran the race in reverse and started him on the prime tyres and once he got on to the softer tyres he just got faster and faster on an aggressive three-stop strategy.
“He for sure was driver of the day.”
Horner said that Red Bull continued to have problems with their Kinetic Energy Regeneration System (KERS), which sees energy generated under braking stored in a reservoir for use as the car later accelerates.
“It worked pretty well for the first half and then we became more intermittent with its usage,” the Red Bull boss said. “We still need to improve on it and we have got three weeks between now and Istanbul to make sure.”
Third-placed Webber added: “It’s a shame for us that McLaren won in a way, but also we can’t let Seb get too far away so it was a good day for the racing, I think, and a good day for us in terms of points for the team.”