Red Bull Racing chief technical officer Adrian Newey has pointed to the energy drinks-backed outfit's policy of not backing one of its two drivers over the other during F1 2010 as the key factor in Ferrari's scrambled strategy that ultimately cost Fernando Alonso glory in Abu Dhabi last weekend.
On paper, Alonso should have walked it. Eight points ahead of Mark Webber arriving at Yas Marina for the season finale and 15 clear of Sebastian Vettel, had the trio taken the chequered flag in the same order as that in which they qualified, the Spaniard would have been crowned for a third time.
With Vettel dominating proceedings from the front, Alonso just needed to stay exactly where he was – fourth – to lift the laurels, but in paying too much attention to the pursuing Mark Webber and covering the Australian's early pit-stop with one for the Oviedo native too, Ferrari committed the fatal error of not taking into account their driver's position in the race relative to the other Red Bull driver.
Alonso might have successfully staved off Webber's bid to leapfrog him in the standings by pitting early, but in so doing he and Ferrari left themselves at the mercy of even earlier stoppers Nico Rosberg and Vitaly Petrov, with the latter going on to frustrate the double F1 World Champion's efforts all the way to the chequered flag. In focussing too much upon one RBR rival, they let the other one in.
For all the pre-race talk of Webber needing to rely upon his team-mate's support to clinch the trophy, in the circumstances it was he
who indirectly secured Vettel the title, by taking Ferrari's eye off the ball in terms of who they should be paying attention to.
And that, contend both Newey and Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner, could not have happened had they done what many believed they ought to have done in Brazil and switched the order around at Interlagos to place all of their eggs in Webber's basket.
“Obviously, with hindsight they made a mistake,” Newey reflected of Ferrari's calamitously misguided strategy. “If they'd stayed out, Fernando would probably have finished fourth – but at that stage it wasn't clear.
“It depended on whether they wanted to cover Mark for the championship or Sebastian for the championship – that's where our policy of allowing the drivers to compete got us into the position where they had to worry about two of our drivers and not just one.”
“It didn't work out for them,” concurred Horner. “They probably tried to cover us with what we were doing with Mark. Mark was at the back of the queue – we had to take a risk. He said the tyres were starting to go. We just went for it and took an early stop.”