11 June 2012
Tyre wear throws off Vettel's race strategy
Sebastian Vettel had flown to pole position on Saturday, but when it came to race day in Canada he found his plans thwarted by heavier tyre wear than expected.
For a two-time world champion, no grand prix that sees you start on pole position but only manage to finish in fourth place can be described as a rousing success. But while conceding that it had been a "difficult" day in Montreal, Sebastian Vettel still felt that he and the Red Bull team had enjoyed a decent time of it in Canada.
"All in all it was a good weekend [but] a difficult race today," he said. "We had a very smooth run up to qualifying and a very good qualifying – in the race we maybe lost some of that edge, but we were there or thereabouts."
After converting pole to an early race lead, the turning point for Red Bull's fortunes came during the first round of pit stops, as team principal Christian Horner admitted.
"Having been in the lead at the start, it was obvious early on that we were a little bit harder on the tyres, which necessitated Sebastian to pit earlier than we wanted," said Horner. "That permitted Hamilton and Alonso to get the jump on us. Then there was a dilemma as to whether we do a one or two stop race."
Vettel took up the story: "We found ourselves in third place, quite far away from Lewis. He decided to box again, but Fernando and I took the decision to stay out.
"I felt pretty comfortable on the tyres and obviously we were hoping to get the place back, but as it turned out it was the right thing to go for the second stop," he admitted.
Initially Vettel tried to tough it out to the end of the race without another stop, but in the end his hand was forced.
"We decided a few laps from the end to do a pit stop - a stop here is not so long, about 15 seconds – and in the end it was the right decision," he said. "Before the stop we were three four seconds behind Fernando, but we ended up six seconds ahead of him. It was a good call considering what you can lose with only eight laps to go."
But Vettel wouldn't be drawn into agreeing that an earlier call to switch to a two-stop strategy would have been more successful.
"It's easy now to analyse and know everything, but I think we learned a lot today and we've seen that races can be interesting until the very last lap," he said instead.
And he wasn't begrudging Lewis Hamilton a turn at the top of the podium, the seventh different driver to win a Grand prix in the seven races so far in 2012.
"We have another winner today!" he said. "I think Lewis deserved to win today, no doubt, but we have learned more and will make step forward in Valencia."
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