13 October 2013
Japanese Grand Prix: Webber surprised by change of strategy
Mark Webber's hopes of winning the Japanese Grand Prix hinged on a mid-race change of tyre strategy, and the Australian admits that he is still not entirely clear why the move was made.
Mark Webber remains a little perplexed as to why his original Japanese Grand Prix gameplan was switched mid-race, and potentially cost him a first victory of 2013.
The Australian started from his first pole of the year, having got the better of a KERS-afflicted Sebastian Vettel on Saturday afternoon, but lost the advantage almost immediately in the race as Romain Grosjean stormed through from fourth on the grid to take the lead.
While Webber would have remained confident about dealing with the Lotus having initially worked hard to save his tyres, and remained well-placed after the first round of pit-stops, he was advised that he would be switching to a three-stop strategy shortly before being called in for a second time.
Meanwhile, RBR team-mate Vettel was able to make his first stint on the option Pirelli go a little longer than the Australian and, when Webber stopped early second time around, was able to seize the upper hand by making it to the finish on only two stops.
With Grosjean also able to stretch the life of his rubber, Webber needed a return to the softer tyre for his run to the flag in order to overcome the Frenchman, but spent so long looking for a way by the Lotus that Vettel was already out of reach by the time he made it in to P2.
“We were on the back foot a bit after Romain's great start,” the Australian admitted, “I wanted to put pressure on him for the win. Sebastian was on a different strategy to me and in the end it worked out pretty similar. It's hard to know which was right, as we were trying to cover off Romain, but I did my best and, in the end, it was a good result.”
Despite the PR platitudes, however, it was clear that Webber remained puzzled by the decision to alter his gameplan mid-race, even though he would be the first to admit that he worked his tyre harder than his team-mate.
“I was trying to beat Romain on a two [stop strategy] and then, all of a sudden, we've decided to do the three,” the Australian claimed in a post-race interview, his tone betraying the fact that it wasn't his call, "I was a little bit surprised, [and] asked was it the right thing to do, because I felt we could get to the lap we were looking to get to.
“Of course, Seb was two or three laps longer, four laps maybe, but, in terms of the target lap that we looked to get to, the two-stop I thought was achievable. The three was not absolutely ridiculous, but it's a bit more high risk and you've got to clear people obviously [on the track]. In the end, Seb did a good race, [and his] strategy worked out perfect….”
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