Analysis: Did Red Bull favour Vettel over Webber in Japanese GP strategy calls?
Strategy Report
Posted By: James Allen  |  15 Oct 2013   |  5:07 pm GMT  |  549 comments

The Japanese Grand Prix was different from recent races in so far as Sebastian Vettel did not drive away from pole position and control the race. He had to come through from third in the opening stint and needed race strategy to take the victory, in the face of a particularly strong performance by Lotus’ Romain Grosjean.

Red Bull split the strategies, putting Mark Webber on three stops and leaving Sebastian Vettel on two. Here’s our in depth analysis of why they did that and whether Webber or Grosjean could have won, looking at several defining moments in the race.

The start goes wrong for Red Bull

The start of the race was important for defining what kind of race it would be; both pole sitter Webber and front row starter Vettel got away badly, allowing Grosjean to nip through and take the lead, with Webber second and Vettel third.

Lewis Hamilton’s rear tyre touched Vettel’s front wing, which gave Hamilton a puncture and also took a little performance away from Vettel’s car, but not a significant amount.

During the first stint, Vettel sat back around two seconds behind Webber from very early on, to protect the tyres. Webber, in contrast, pushed Grosjean for the first six laps, then dropped back a little. But his tyres were losing performance when he pitted on lap 11. The Lotus had been quick on the medium tyres in the first stint and at this point Lotus was still in with a chance of winning.

Grosjean pitted on lap 12 to cover Webber, who was now on a virtually new set of hard tyres. Lotus had the luxury of seeing what tyres Webber chose and went for the same choice. Arguably, as the race played out, it would have been better with hindsight to choose another set of mediums at this point and this might have given them enough pace to get second place. Because Grosjean’s pace on hards wasn’t as good as expected and this is what Red Bull spotted early in the second stint and it decided their strategy from here.

Vettel stayed out until lap 14 and then pitted for new hard tyres. The top three were in the same order as the second stint began.

The second stint – the decision is made

Once Red Bull’s strategists saw that Grosjean’s pace was not so hot on hard tyres, they decided that they would be able to win the race with Vettel on a two-stop strategy. But based on Webber’s first stint and his track record on the Pirelli tyres, it was unlikely that he would be able to beat Grosjean by staying on the same two stop strategy. This is the key to what happened next.

The only possibility for Webber to win would be to try to run close to the limit of the tyres in the second stint and then try to undercut the Lotus around lap 28/29, which would leave 25/24 laps to the finish. But the victory would hang on being able to pull off the undercut. If Lotus reacted and pitted Grosjean at the same time, Webber would have had to pass Grosjean on track wit tyres of the same age. Had they been thinking solely of what was the best way to get Webber to win the race, that’s what Red Bull would have done.

End of first stint Webber (purple dotted line) suffers clear degradation, compared to Vettel (solid purple line)

Rather than that, the team looked at it from a team point of view. The race was winnable, Webber would not be able to get the tyres to last as well as Vettel to pull off a winning two stop strategy and the German is faster.

The key to it was to pull Lotus in two different directions and play to the strengths of their drivers; give Vettel the best two stop possibility and try to use a three stop plan for Webber, which meant he could push the whole way and not worry about the tyres and make bold passes in the closing stages, which he has done many times in the past.

There is no doubt that this strategy disadvantaged Webber at the outset, because it meant that he would be behind his team mate in the final stint. That was a given.

The risk for Red Bull, given the history between the two drivers, was that Webber would come steaming up to Vettel in the closing laps and there would be a clash as he tried to pass him.

But they were prepared to take that risk – or believed they could control if it happened – because they knew from Grosjean’s pace on hards that Vettel would beat him if he ran his fastest two-stop plan. And that’s exactly how it worked out.

Moving Webber out of the way, by pitting him on lap 25, allowed Vettel to close up on the back of Grosjean. The speed with which he did this – the gap went from 3.4 seconds to 1.3 in two laps – showed Lotus that they weren’t going to be able to beat Vettel, who had too much pace.

From lap 28 onwards it is possible to get to the end of the race on a set of hard tyres, so this was the trigger point for Lotus to bring Grosjean in, to prevent Vettel undercutting him.

Once Webber is out of the way, Vettel hauls in Grosjean quickly and maintains strong pace to his second stop

This was a difficult decision for Lotus, because if they had stayed out, they would have had more chance to fight Webber for second place at the end on fresher tyres, but the win would definitely have been lost.

In that scenario, Vettel would definitely have beaten them by undercutting.

However if they pitted and cut that route off, Lotus gambled that they might be able to hold him behind them to the finish, as they almost did with Webber. In other words, they gambled for a long shot at the win, rather than to protect second place; for 10 possible extra points, rather than three points lost.

However Vettel was too strong; he was managing the tyres well and was able to run another eight quick laps after Grosjean’s stop. The undercut had been covered off, so now the route for Vettel to win was to stay out longer and then attack the Frenchman in the closing stages on much fresher tyres, which is exactly what he did.

After his stop he cut Grosjean’s three second lead to nothing in two laps and then passed him decisively. Job done.

Webber loses the win but takes second place

Most strategists in the F1 pit lane agree that Red Bull did exactly the right things strategically in Suzuka and all would have done the same thing in their shoes.

They gave their fastest driver the best chance to win the race and got their other driver into second place. As a team, you cannot do better than that.

What did not happen was Webber did not challenge Vettel in the final laps, because it took him too long after his third and final stop, to pass Grosjean. Webber not only had fresher, softer tyres than Grosjean, he also had a straight line speed advantage from running slightly less rear downforce. He should have been able to go through Grosjean in a lap or two, as Vettel did. But he couldn’t make the pass until late in the day.


The reality of the situation is that, apart from the delay in Webber passing Grosjean, this race turned out exactly as Red Bull expected it to from the moment they took a team decision around lap 20-25 to split the strategies.

Yes it is tough on Webber, who had been ahead of Vettel in qualifying and on the road in the first stint and yes, it does undermine the team agreement that the lead driver on the road gets first call on strategy. They overruled that protocol because as a team they saw the best way to get the team victory.

This is the hard reality of F1, which is sometimes hard to take for fans of particular drivers. They race for a team and their contract terms oblige them to accept that the team will make decisions in the interests of the team.

To split the strategies any other way on Sunday would not have brought the team victory with certainty.

The way they did it had the best chance of success and duly achieved the best result for the team.

And at the end of the day Formula 1 is about doing the best job as a team, rather than taking chances in order to favour one of your drivers, even if observers on the outside read it that you have favoured your lead driver, who was behind on the road.

That is the pragmatism of Formula 1.

The UBS Race Strategy Report is written by James Allen with input and data from several of the leading teams’ strategists, from JA on F1 technical adviser Mark Gillan and from Pirelli

Kindly supplied by Williams F1 Team

Horizontal axis: Number of race laps
Vertical axis: Lap time (in seconds)

Note the drop off in performance of Webber’s tyres around laps 9-10, compared with Vettel’s. Note also the pace differential between Vettel and Grosjean in the second stint, when it became clear that the Lotus wasn’t as fast relative to the Red Bull on hard tyres as it had been on mediums.

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  1. McLaren78 says:

    James, had it been the other way round, do you honestly believe that the ‘team’ would take the same decisions and end up with Webber first and Vettel second?

    I think not!

    1. James Allen says:

      What do you mean by other way around? – Vettel ahead of Webber in first stint? Webber wouldn’t have caught Vettel in that scenario and Vettel had the pace and tyre life to beat Grosjean

      Either way read the story, it’s not about the personalities, it’s about what gave the team the best chance of the win.

      1. Dan says:

        But if the exact scenario had happened with Vettel in front, they would not of switched Mark’s Strategy.

        If Vettel was running second, they’d have done everything possible to get him, as the lead driver to win.

        They favoured Vettel, we can word it, as though it was all about the team. But it’s this type of thing, that make people dislike Vettel.

      2. Juzh says:

        You do realize all top 4 teams favor 1 driver over the other? We have team raikkonen, team hamilton and team alonso. Why do you heff to be mad about red bull doing the same?

      3. JL says:

        dislike SV because he is faster, takes better care of the tyres, is smarter (not killing the tyres early) and is the best option for the team for the win?

      4. Oletros says:

        >They favoured Vettel, we can word it, as though it was all about the team. But it’s this type of thing, that make people dislike Vettel.

        So, all major F1 blogs say the same, that this strategy was the best for RBR to have a 1-2 win but people still uses that to bash Vettel?


      5. Mark Saunders says:

        Dan, in a Football game you will put the centre forward in the goal to allow the goalkeeper to shot. Vettel cared the tires much better and surpassed Grossjean much easily. With a two stop strategy Webber would have been 3rd in the best case. You see in the first stint he was unable to catch Romain and worn his tires too much. Leaving him on the road until Romain changed his tires, would have left him behind Grosjean and in third spot at podium

      6. Rayz says:

        Get over it lad. Vettel is so far ahead of Webber, its ridiculous. Webber has been destroyed in the inter-team battles this year. It took a non-functioning KERS on Seb’s car for Mark to finally out-qualify Vettel.

        And then he goes and bottles his one chance this season with a crock of a start. He has no-one to blame but himself. Seb managed his tyres much better as he always has and so he was the logical choice for the 2 stop… and lets face it, Red Bull would have been crazy not to split their strategies.

        Red Bull did the obvious thing and made the right call. Maybe Webber could have done a 2 stop if he made a good start and kept the lead. But he didnt. What a shock. Honestly, Webber has fared worse against his team-mate this year than any other driver vs his respective team-mate. (including Max Chilton amazingly)).

        Webber was lucky he retired before he got the boot. Cant wait to see Ricciardo get his chance next year. My guess is he is way quicker than Webber. And hungrier.

      7. SpaceJunk says:

        Rayz …So, you’re saying Chilton is a better driver than Webber?

        You also realise that Vettel had a crock of a start as well.

      8. Dave C says:

        Rayz I think you’re being a bit harsh on Webber there, yez obviously Vettel is a far better driver than Mark I don’t think Webber’s that poor to be honest, he is actually one of the fastest and destroyed every single 1 of his team mates that includes Rosberg, Coulthard and Heidfeld, are we not forgetting without all the bad luck and suspect team behaviour Rosberg is easily a match for Hamilton, stick Webber in that Mercedes and he would make Hamilton’s life real uncomfortable, so please don’t compare him to the likes of Chilton, who is actually probably the worst F1 driver on the grid and as goes for Ricciardo yes I agree he is a talent and will shock Seb a few times next year but overall I don’t think he’s quicker than Webber they’re about the same, I think next year will go down similar to 2009 where Vettel has the edge and consistency but Ricciardo will win a couple of races and dominate like Webber did at Nurburgring and Brazil that year.

      9. andrewbarratt says:

        I get the same feeling as the heroine in Stepford wives when she realized her best friend had been turned :o

      10. JCA says:

        James,I notice you call Vettel Red Bulls fastest driver. Freudian slip, ito STR being VERY submissive, or did you mean faster?

      11. Jay Bopara says:

        Cheers for writing a story on this latest controversy James. The decision Red Bull took in terms of strategy was fair enough. But here lies the problem. In all the years, when Webber was behind Vettel, and racing him for position, his only chance for beating him was to opt for a different strategy. As if they are on the same strategy Red Bull gives preference to which ever driver is in front (in terms of pitting them first and giving them the undercut, and the other driver then has to pit the next lap, and therefore compromise strategy).

        However, Red Bull over the year have consistently DO NOT put Webber on a strategy which may allow him to BEAT Vettel, when they are racing each other for position. Because whichever driver is leading gets the strategy call, and the driver behind is compromised. In this case Vettel would’ve been compromised by being forced to be behind Webber for the duration of the race, so instead of compromising Vettel, they decided to split strategies and give Vettel a chance to win the race.

        A rare instance where Webber was put on a different strategy, when he was racing Vettel for position was Hungary 2010. And despite Vettel being on the better strategy, Webber had a CHANCE to beat Vettel because he was on a different strategy, and therefore with so many variables in F1, one cannot always predict which strategy will be better, rather only which one will likely be better.

        And we all know what happened in Hungary 2010? Webber won at the expense of Vettel. Look at the podium, Vettel is sooking like a little child who is not allowed to play. Helmut Marko and Christian Horner are looking glum too, despite the fact that Red Bull scored a double podium.

        Webber himself, did not want to alter his strategy in Japan, look at his lap times, he thought he was comfortably managing the tyres, and with Grosjean struggling somewhat on the harder compound, a 2-stop was going to be fine, as this would also cover off Vettel for Webber. A 3-stop strategy was also fine, however, this would be risky against Vettel, therefore best to do a 2-stop to keep Vettel in line, as Vettel would be forced to stay behind Webber (much as Red Bull forces Webber to stay behind Vettel when they are racing each other for position).

        When Vettel and Webber are racing each other, Red Bull give Vettel all the tools to help Vettel, however they rarely give these tools to Webber. Indeed, in Hungary 2010, the only reason they gave Webber the tools was to beat Alonso, if Red Bull had’ve known Webber would beat Vettel, or potentially beat Vettel, then they would not have risked it.

        As I’ve said many times, Red Bull want Webber to get as many points as possible, and they will help him get those. BUT NOT at the expense of costing any points for Vettel.

      12. JCA says:

        Webber often, maybe even usually, pits before Vettel while following him on track, for the simple reason that he is harder on the tyres, so he gets his chance to undercut, he just rarely, if ever, manages it.

        Vettel would have had a tyre advantage at the end of the race, as he went longer on his options and was fast on his first set of primes, while also doing a very long stint. If he passed Webber in that circumstance, you can bet that people would be complaining that they made sure Mark had old tyres when they met on track. Webber was also looking fast at the end of his second stint, because by then he knew he didn’t need to nurse that set of tyres for long. He could then run his third stint in clean air.

        As for Hungary 2010, Vettel (wrongly) believed he got an unfair penalty, so looking angry on the podium was perfectly understandable. Would many of us have been able to just grin and bear it? Seb as an emotional person on the podium when he wins, so we can expect him to be emotional when he loses too. I also think it is slightly unfair to forevermore hold the mistakes he made as a 22/23 year old against him.

      13. Equin0x says:

        Actually what race was you watching? Webber was steuggling with both tyres look at the end of first stint, he couldn’t even close the gap to Grosjean when asked to, and Seb was just cruising up to him whilst doing tyre saving mode.

      14. You don`t get it do you.. In order for another strategy to work the driver on the other strategy has to be faster.

        If Webber had been in Vettels position in Japan and Red Bull had put Vettel on a three stopper and Webber on a two stopper Webber would have ended up in third place. Vettel would have won..

        That`s why Webber is not able to get one over Vettel on strategy, Vettel is faster and better at converting opportunity into victory..

        Domenicali said it very well. “Often Vettel reminds me of the good old days with Schumacher.” What he meant was that given the equipment and the opportunity to win he will do so almost every time, like Schumacher did. Vettel will make the strategy work whereas Wabber will be found wanting more often than not. That is the differende between a truly great driver and a very good driver.

        Don`t get me wrong, I think Webber is among the best drivers in F1 these days. He`s easily amont the best 7 drivers. But he`s not as good as Vettel is proving himself to be. And who can blame Webber, at this point in time none of the other drivers in F1 are.

      15. Jay Bopara says:

        You guys just don’t get it do you? I’m talking about a strategy which gives Webber a chance to beat Vettel. When you have two closely matched drivers in the same car, the driver coming second has almost no chance of beating the car in front if he is put on the same strategy.

        And in terms of tyre usage, just think back to Spain 2011/12, where Webber on his brand new set of tyres was required to pit early.

        Also, which race were you watching? Webber was comfortably in the tyre window when he was asked by his team to do an early second pit stop, he even said so himself. His times were consistently good at this point in the race.

        Red Bull did the right thing to maximise the chance of the victory for the team by splitting strategies. However, this is not something they would have done if Webber was behind Vettel (they would not have made Mark go for a three stopper if he was behind – unless he dropped back into traffic, as otherwise there would be a real risk he could beat Vettel, or cause problems for Vettel at the end on fresher tyres).

        Maybe now with Vettel having the championship sewn up, they will allow Webber a real chance at victory.

      16. Andrewinwork says:

        Well put. I notice there is a big PR thing going on at the moment and we’re all being encouraged to re-think our attitude to SV. Personally my viewpoint hasn’t changed, I’ve always considered him to be a highly talented driver an appreciated his acheivements however as long as he drives the fastest car for a team that favours him so heavily then his success will always be resented by those favouring a level playing field. As a fan, like many others I know who will win and watch the battle for second back

      17. UAN says:

        Jay Bopara:

        “You guys just don’t get it do you? I’m talking about a strategy which gives Webber a chance to beat Vettel.”

        Does Webber work for Lotus or Ferrari? The team wanted a strategy to win the race. Webber could barely pass Grojean on fresher options – if Webber is kept on a 2 stop strategy, how is he passing Grojean if both are on an equal set of primes?

        In this case, Vettel would have come in for a 3-stopper, passed both, won the race with Grojean in 2nd. And Webber would be saying “I should have been put on the 3-stopper.”

        You know, Webber wears his heart on his sleeve. If he’s not happy he shows it on the podium. He looked happy on the podium. Now he’s back tracking a bit.

      18. I know says:

        In fairness, I think Webber was given a chance to beat Vettel on the final stint. He caught Grosjean very quickly, and might have conceivably caught Vettel if he had passed Grosjean at the first opportunity (although we don’t know what Vettel’s true speed was at that time, he seemed to drive only to maintain the gap).

        In a 2 vs 1 situation, it is almost always a good idea to split the strategy, because the opposing team cannot cover both with a single car. And, as James Allen wrote, if you run one car one two stops, and the other on three, you will let the driver do fewer stops who looks after his tyres better.

        I am sure Webber would like to win a race, and maybe he “deserves” it, but he wouldn’t want to be gifted a victory. He even called his pole position “hollow”, and I am sure he would feel the same about a win that he gets gifted by the team. I hope he can be happy with second place, which is still a very good result.

      19. JCA says:

        China 2012, Webber did one more stop and passed Vettel on the last lap after Sebs tyres went off the cliff. They were definitely allowed to race, as there was no hint of Mark braking team orders.

        As I said, I don’t think Mark was going to beat Seb on a two stopper, as Seb had better tyre deg, so could a run longer second stint, together with a longer first stint. So he would have much newer types when he caught Mark in his third stint, and would pass Mark like he passed RoGro.

      20. Richard C says:


        Great summation. Your conclusion covers it all. As an avid Webber fan, I may be slightly disappointed, however, it appeared even on his face, that he feels the better driver won on the day. I feel a sense of resolve from Webber that he is just going to enjoy this last year/races in F1 for what it is. If wins come his way, all the better.

      21. Horno says:


        Look at your own diagram, Webber was setting similar lap-times as Vettel did.. no sign of dropoff whatsoever..
        The clearly sacrificed Webber for Vettel..

        Nothing wrong with that, as it is Vettel’s team, but they don’t need to say that Webber was burning of his rear tyres which he was cleary not, as shown in the laptimes chart.

      22. James Allen says:

        I was taking about 1 st stint when I said the tyres were gone- that is clear

        Second stint he was pulled in early to get Vettel through

        That is clearly stated

      23. Flying lap says:

        James, what is clearly stated for me is that RBR just repeted Brazil 2010 strategy: You have two drivers in front against other driver and sacrifices one to trick other team. they stop behind your first driver to stop and… Its done!… for your second one…

        In 2010 was even worse than now, it was webber’s only chance to be champion.

        If you don’t see it, you are as blind as them. theirs eyes’s problem is money and power. which is yours?

      24. Flying lap says:

        Arent 400 post enough to recognise the reality?

      25. Horno says:

        @Flying Lap,
        Check the time-line?!!

      26. Javier Marcelo says:

        Abu-Dhabi 2010, the last race of the season.

        Brasil was the second last one.

      27. Erik says:

        I was just as outraged with the Red Bull startegy untill I realised that those red tyres on the two lead cars were actually orange! Reds are super softs so I thought that Vettels tyres were stickyer than Webber’s mediums. As it turns out Vettel’s tyres were orange so they were the hard compound. Webber had the stickyer tyres at the end of the race so unfortunately no excuse for not being able to pass Grojean quicker seeing how easily Vettel dealt with the frenchman.

        Sorry to say but Webber’s best years as a racer are behind him. I think if these two were the same age then Webber could murder the Vet, look at what he did to all his teamates early in his carreer, like Rosberg who has given Hamilton a beating on his day… But I reckon performance wise Webber has been in decline since 2010. The irony for him unfortunately is that when he finally steps into a winning team he is subjected to favouritism by Helmet Marko and co. For that reason I think 2010 took a lot out of him and he eventually has had to accept that the one thing he does not have in his skillset as a driver has beaten him – politics. He cannot win politically in that team with Helmet around – must be very tough to carry that around mentally. Politics means you don’t get first parts, you don’t have as much input into development when the other guy wants to go in the opposite direction on the car, and it means that if the team has to make a strategy call it won’t be in your favour…

        Having said all that, let’s not forget that these people are all elite sportsmen and none of them are actually starving, or have a hard job to go to on Monday morning. While you and I are going to work Webber is on a private jet somewhere or training on a beach with his private trainer. He will walk away from the sport just fine. He has millions of dollars to make him feel better.

        Good luck Mark, hope you do well at Porsche.

      28. Rockie says:

        Why do people talk about Mark and Seb like they became team mates in 2010?
        Seb has has never finished behind Webber in the championship even while at TR so why do people state 2010 like they became team mates then also in ’10 if not for reliability Seb would have won the title by Japan that year reliability and mistakes made it seem close
        As Newey says till date it was his most dominant car

      29. bob says:

        James, I’m surprised.

        Are you honestly telling us that in no way, shape or form was Red Bull motivated into this strategy change to get Vettel in front?

        Total rubbish!

        Webber was NOT struggling on his second set of tires and even mentioned in the interview that he was keeping distance to Grosjean as asked and could cruise up to him at will.

        I don’t care what anyone says, if we’re all honest we know the truth. If the roles had been reversed and it was Vettel in front in the EXACT same situation as Webber was, they would have left him out on a 2 stop.

        We all know it’s true and to say otherwise is just ridiculous!

        With 10 laps to go, Webber was 14-15 seconds in front of Vettel and another 4-5 further ahead of Grosjean. He was on the prime tire with only 10 laps to go. Vettel would have to catch him at over 1.5 seconds per lap to even catch up with him, let alone pass him.

        Crap call by RedBull that was TOTALLY motivated to get Vettel in the lead.

        I guess him being able to win the WDC by coming in first if Alonso had a problem had NOTHING to do with it either.

        Go on, tell us another one!

      30. James Allen says:

        You didn’t read the report.

        It says clearly that Red Bull intended to get Vettel in front and that Webber was disadvantaged. I can’t make it any clearer!!

      31. I know says:

        When your tyres really go off, you can easily lose 5 seconds per lap, and not defend against overtaking. Webber started his second stint in lap 25 – it was clear then that, without the help of a safety car, he needed another stop.

        It could be argued that Webber’s second stint was short, but he spent most of it behind Grosjean, which won’t have done his tyres any good – and anyway, the decision to split the strategy has been discussed.

      32. bob says:

        Apologies James!

        You are correct – I’m a plonker!

      33. Flying lap says:

        Its not a question of words James!

        Don’t need to be clearer.

        Its about facts and honesty!

      34. chris says:

        I agree it’s not about the personalities. The graph is clear, MW’s pace after the last pit stop means he would have caught SV with about 2/3 laps to go. But he was slowed passing the Lotus. Nothing to do with the team. A point of interest is however why his tyres go off quicker; does the RB9 have greater lateral movement at high Gs due to his height/weight? He appears to take slightly different lines to SV.

      35. DEANO says:

        James, your analyses is one of the best post I’ve read in a long time concerning the Red Bull and Vettel/Webber issue. I have always felt that it’s up to the team to deside the strategy. Red Bull, nor any team can afford to let the personalities of the driver interfere with their decisions. I firmly believe that if Webber was leading this years championship with the same points lead over the second place driver and Vettel was mathematically out of the championship picture, they would have done the exact same thing.

    2. maria says:

      Random Vettel hatred won’t make your case stronger. Back it up with some facts or else no case just as this report by James clearly dismisses any conspiracy. Pretty much a common sense analysis really.

      1. Matt says:

        I agree a 100%. It’s clear the lead driver wasn’t favoured but that’s because the team know that if you give Vettel the best chance 9 times out of 10 he’ll make it work and give you P1.

        It’s simple. If Mark or Ricciardo prove to be better race drivers than Vettel then they’ll be the guys the team favours.

      2. Equin0x says:

        Lol Mark or Ricciardo are never going to be better than Vettel though I suspect Ricciardo might be closer, in fact no one in F1 right now can match Seb, wish Hamilton was in that Redbull so once and for all everyone can see how bad and overrated Lulu actually is.

      3. KRB says:

        He’s obsessed with Hamilton, can’t stop thinking about him. ;-)

    3. What do you mean by “the other way around”?

      He clearly said that Webber is better at just pushing hard, whereas Vettel is better at managing. Had their talents been reversed, then you bet they would have given Webber the two-stop. Had their talents been reversed, Webber would likely be a multi-time champion. How far should we go with the ifs?

      James made a clear case why Mark wouldn’t win. He had two chances to get ahead of Grosjean; he missed the first in the first stint, and he almost missed the second after laps of following. Vettel showed his worth and snatched the lead when it mattered: immediately.

      I like Webber, and my first thought was that he got shafted, but when I saw him stuck behind Grosjean for a few laps near the end, it was obvious that Red Bull made the right call.

    4. Miha Bevc says:

      If Vettel would be on a three stop strategy, and Webber on a two stop strategy, Vettel would still win the race, in my opinion. He makes strategies work, he makes whatever necessary, he delivers. Webber lost too much time behind Grojean …

      What James wrote makes perfect sense.

      1. Clarks4WheelDrift says:

        Agree it makes perfect sense and Webber does not seem to be able to challenge Seb on these Pirellis, unlike when they went head to head in 2010, but…

        I’d have loved to see them go head to head on the track, I’d have loved to see Seb trying to overtake a similar spec car, I’d have loved to see Seb handle some laps in dirty air pushing his tyres as he prepared to overtake.

        I think it would have done F1 and Seb good if it’d gone down like this as well.

        Who am I kidding though, if they were on the same strategies they would have undercut Web with Seb to make the pass off track to keep their focus on the championship and their no.1 driver.

        It was the perfect strategy for Red Bull/Marko/Horner/Seb as a team as they covered Grosjean and kept Web and Seb away from each other, avoiding the dirty air for Seb and avoiding inter team track overtakes. Optimal strategy for Seb, less so for Web, but the car is so good the 1-2 still came.

        It did grate a bit at the end though with Horner’s controlling radio message to Webber.

        Ho hum, it’s up to the other engineers to get their backsides in gear again and not only catch Newey but to actually progress throughout a season instead of stand still or even go backwards. It’s been a long time since the mid-season tyre change now (specifically looking in the direction of Ferrari and Force India)

        p.s. Can anyone estimate how much time Webber’s old chassis, at 7kg heavier, would cost him?

      2. Ronnie says:

        Since 2010, Vettel progressed, Webber stalled or regressed.

        For those who are determined to dislike Vettel, there is hardly any fact that can make a difference.

        The cars + driver all weigh the same.

      3. CYeo says:

        Lets get it straight once and for all – Webber’s 7kg heavier chassis means he has 7kg less ballast in his car. His car weighs no more than the other Red Bull.

      4. Tim says:

        @Ronnie and CYeo..

        You are both correct in stating the overall weight of the cars would be the same. However, there isn’t a driver/team in the pitlane that would opt for the heavier chassis. It’s definitely an advantage to have the lighter chassis and place the ballast in the car. Not saying that it made a great deal of difference, at the end of the day Vettel is undoubtedly the better driver of the two :-)

      5. ajag says:

        You do remember the first für races of 2010? Webber only really challenger because Vettel Bad many technical issues and breakdowns early in the season.

      6. SteveS says:

        “I’d have loved to see Seb trying to overtake a similar spec car”

        We saw that happen in Malaysia, and everyone blew a gasket because SV did not go along with RB’s attempts to hand Webber a free win. It produced some of the best racing of the season though.

    5. JCA says:

      Vettel ran long enough on the option tyres to be able to do two stints at a fast pace on the primes. Webber would have had to drive slower to make two sets of primes last the rest of the race, thus making beating RoGro a long shot. If Vettel was ahead on the road, he would have been able to do exactly what he did, either run longer than RoGro and pass him on fresh tyres, or undercut him.

      People go on about Marks pace still being good on the first set of primes, but forgetting that while doing a three stopper, you want to stop when you can get into clean air, and run faster than the guy ahead, who is running to a slower lap delta. Thus getting into the gap behind Vettel ment that he could run faster than if he was still stuck behind RoGro.

    6. Mack Brabham says:

      This controversy will rage regardless. But some things are clear to me. It is Webber who is “team” oriented , not Vettel. Evidence? The very first race this year with Vettel disobeying team orders (and no evident personal sanctions for it either).

      One may argue the cars themselves are “equal” but I know of no absolute proof of that. I do know it is Webber who has had the reliability issues, mostly KERS.

      The argument made in this blog is that Webber ran his tires off. Let’s be clear. It wasn’t the first stint at issue. Its the 2nd.

      Long story short, Webber finished 7 seconds back. A pit stop is 25 seconds. Even if Webber loses .5 seconds a lap, DO THE MATH !

      1. JCA says:

        The team was furious with Webber after Brazil last year (Autosport, 23 September, page 22). Horner said that both drivers ignored Multi21 and Mult12 orders ‘in the last 3 races’ after Malaysia. A simple deduction reveals that Mark was ordered not to challenge Seb, then did it at both the start and restart. Lets not pretend Mark has been an innocent in this relationship.

      2. Mack Brabham says:

        With all due respect, I was only using the first race this year as an example. If you wish to play the game of going back before this year then go back to 2010. Innocence in this case is a matter of degree and the truth be known, no one could fault Webber for Brazil after what he has endured over the years.

        On my chief point, by remaining silent you thus admit I am right on my ultimate conclusion that the race in Suzuka could have and should have belonged to Webber.

        And may I add this one point. I am an unabashed
        Webber fan but that does not mean I arbitrarily
        ignore the fact that Vettel is a great driver. My point is that it seems clear to an unbiased mind that the playing field has never been level between Vettel and Webber. Even David Hobbs and Steve Matchett have said that RBR designed the cars to fit Vettel’s driving style. And I am betting that there are very subtle tuning issues that favor Vettel. I suppose I am saying over the years I would have loved to see things even and simply let them race.

      3. JCA says:

        Malaysia was the second race, and Mark can certainly be blamed after Brazil, he could have cost his TEAM, not just Seb, a championship!

        To answer your main point, as has been done by myself and others on several occasions in this thread, I don’t believe Mark could have beaten either Seb or RoGro on a 2 stopper.

        His first stint was simply too short. He would have had to do two very long stints on primes. Seb had better tyre deg, as usual, and did the longest second stint of anyone. He would have run a longer stint, thus extending his existent advantage of running longer on the options. When he came up to Mark after their second stops, he would have a significant tyre advantage (probably at least 8 laps) and pass Mark as he did to RoGro, and people would be whinging that they made sure that Mark had old tyres.

        As for RoGro, Mark did not appear to have a tyre life advantage, so could not stay out significantly longer on their second stints. The moment he tries to close the gap for the undercut, Lotus would see the sector times and pit. Mark would still come out behind, and would need to pass with similar conditioned tyres, something he barely managed with much better ones.

        So as for the length of his second stint, he was stuck behind RoGro doing his pace in dirty air. By pitting when they did, they sacrificed tyre life of that set, in order to run his entire third stint in clean air where he could push harder than RoGro, who was driving to a slower lap delta, in order to extend his stint.

        Splitting strategies was clearly the right thing to do, thus turning a probable 1-3 or 2-3 into a likely 1-2, and if you do that, you give the 2 stopper to the guy with the better tyre management. And again, every other team, when asked, said that they would do the same.

        Mark had his chances to win. If he beat RoGro int the first corner, he would likely have won. If he did a sufficiently long first stint, he would have done a 2 stopper comfortably and likely win, or maybe even undercut him at the first stop and back to his first strategy. If he had passed RoGro at his first try he could still have won.

      4. Mack Brabham says:

        I’ve seen the lap times on the 2nd stint. No time drop off when he was called in on the 25th lap.

        I can’t make my point any clear than saying he lost by 7 seconds and the extra pit stop cost him 25 seconds. Any other argument to the contrary means 2 + 2 does not equal 4.

        Thanks for you allowing me my view.

      5. Bartholomew says:

        “One may argue the cars themselves are “equal” but I know of no absolute proof of that. I do know it is Webber who has had the reliability issues, mostly KERS.”

        It’s you needs definitive evidence if you’re going to claim the cars are not equal, not the the way around.

        And the idea that it’s only or largely Webber’s car that has issues is indeed a myth:

      6. Mack Brabham says:

        I never suggested it was “only” Webber having issues. But using your data, and assuming it’s accurate, then from 2012 until Monza 2013 Vettel has had 12 mechanical issues, Webber 16 meaning Webber has had 33% more reliability issues over that period of time.

        As for proof the cars are “equal”, David Hobbs and Steve Matchett have both said RBR designed the car to fit Vettel’s driving style. That speaks for itself. As for other subtle issues of tuning, one can never know that short of an admission from RBR.

        As for team strategy favoring one driver over the other, Jonathan Noble wrote in AutoSport “There’s no doubt that there have been days when Red Bull has worked in favour of Vettel, but equally there are days when both drivers are given equal opportunities …..” Thus, if favoritism is shown in strategy to a single driver its always in favor of Vettel.

      7. Bartholomew says:

        @Mack Brabham

        “I never suggested it was “only” Webber having issues.”

        Except for saying “I do know it is Webber who has had the reliability issues, mostly KERS.”

        “Webber has had 33% more reliability issues over that period of time.”

        Hardly the sort of difference Webber apologists like to make it out to be. There may even be other driver pairings with greater reliability differences.

        “As for proof the cars are “equal”, David Hobbs and Steve Matchett have both said RBR designed the car to fit Vettel’s driving style. That speaks for itself. ”

        There is a difference between a car being different, and a car suiting one driver’s style over the other. Take the same car that Webber is driving, make no changes to it (aside from any ballast/seat adjustments), put a Vettel clone in it, and it is the same. An unequal car would be one that is fundamentally, perhaps unfairly slower/faster than the other.

        “Thus, if favoritism is shown in strategy to a single driver its always in favor of Vettel.”

        And you effectively gloss over the way he said that there are days where both drivers are given equal opportunities. The Japanese Grand Prix was one of those occasions. Webber lost the race as he could not pass Grosjean on options, and could not look after the tyres sufficiently (and his strength never was in looking after these Pirellis anyway, so the 3 stopper played to his strengths).

        Also, your earlier point about Webber finishing only 7s behind is flawed- it fails to take into account that Webber was able to push on fresh tyres thanks to that strategy, while Vettel had to conserve, and probably dis so to a gretaer extent int he closing stages, with the potential pressure from Webber having subsided.

      8. SteveS says:

        Vettel and Webber have had equal reliability over the years atRred Bull. If anything it is Vettel who has had somewhat worse reliability. Why do people keep repeating this oft disproven claim that Webber’s car has been plagued with problems and Vettels has not?

    7. All revved-up says:

      Here’s my 5 cents on the Webber RB conspiracy.

      The more reasonable anti-RB F1 fans will admit that Vettel is faster and if RB were our team we would run the strategy just as RB has done.

      The main complaint being that RB state that they do not favour one driver over the other, when they in fact favour the strategy that would gain the team the most points – and this generally means favouring Vettel.

      But at this stage of the game, when Webber has no mathematical chance of winning the WDC, isn’t it correct to favour Vettel?

      1. Rockie says:

        Well said Alonso has no chance of winning the WDC except SEb stops racing and thats still not a given and Ferrari invoked team orders and people complaining about Redbull

  2. Random 79 says:

    Great analysis James, that clears up a lot of questions :)

    1. Grant H says:

      Totally agree great reading james, sums it up perfectly

    2. **Paul** says:

      Yup good analysis, but I don’t buy that RBR only siwtched Mark to a 3 stop race on lap 25. That happend prior to lap 11, when his tyres were fading fast and at that point it was obvious that Webber wouldn’t be able to do a 2 stop race. As Vettel pounded round and certain pundits couldn’t work out why the young German hadn’t stopped I thought it was pretty obvious. He was two stopping, and that was why he was told to preserve tyres on lap 6 or 7. That’s how early these calls were made in reality.

      Could Mark beat a Lotus on a 2 stopper? No chance. The Lotus is softer on rubber and Mark absolutely isn’t (and failed to get him with the undercut on lap 12). Could Mark beat the Lotus on a 3 stopper? Probably yes. The Webber side of the garage had to go for three stops, because either way Vettel was going to pass him – chances are his engineers knew it. Did RBR make the right call? Yes. They got a 1-2. If they’d put Mark on a two stop strategy I think he’d have ended up third, with Vettel probably still winning.

      The mixture of Marks lower downforce setup (as he thought he’d have to overtake, not having expected to get pole, just shows it’s not only one RBR that breaks!), along with his 7kg heaveir chassis (because his more updated one was destroyed in Korea, as Vettels wasn’t he had the marginally superior chassis in Japan) and Marks rubber heavy driving style basically had him pegged at 3 stops from the first moments of qualifying.

      Was two stops quicker? Yes. Perhaps 6-8s over the race. But, and this is a big but, in order to make that work you have to make sure the tyres last. As detailed above, Mark on lap 10/11 had already munched through his first set and had a setup which wasn’t ideal for tyre management.

      Considering how Grosjeans super tyre friendly Lotus fell off in terms of performance in the final stint, I have no doubt that Mark would have struggled to finish 2nd, and probably ended up 3rd if he’d run a 2 stop strategy.

      If Mark on his 3stopper had dispatched RG as fast as Vettel did he would have cruised up behind Seb and might have won it. That’s why Vettel was on the radio telling the team to get Sergio Perez out of the way – something which was reported as something else completely by idiotic media who don’t listen!

      1. James Allen says:

        No because he drove the first few laps of the second stint like he was in conservation mode ie 2 stop, rather thannflay out ie 3 stop That’s clear from the lap time traces

      2. marcusv says:

        Yes James and im pretty certain RBR new this was a perfect way to disadvantage Webber’s strategy plans come the 3rd stop.

  3. Dante says:

    Excellent analysis, James. Thank you.

    1. Rayz says:

      +1. This is one of my must read articles post race. Love the strategy part of F1 personally and these charts are so informative.

      Just as an aside, note Raikkonen’s pace in clear air. He has made mistakes in Q3 both in Korea and Japan. If he could get himself running in clear air, he is every bit as fast as Grosjean in race trim. In fact, despite being in traffic for most of the race, the second half of his race in traffic seems to be just as quick as Romain who was in free air.

      I think if we saw Kimi qualify where Romain has been recently. We could have seen a mega four way duel for the win. Red Bull may then not have had things all their own way.

      Also, would people get off the Max Chilton is improving wagon. He is quite clearly rubbish. Look at the state of his race pace. Still lost to Pic despite Pic having a drive through straight off the bat. Crikey!

      1. Phil Glass says:

        RG was greatly helped of course by the removal of Hamilton from the equation. LH v SV would have been a different story to SV v RG.
        Yes Romain done good, but he is not a race winner yet, and this is not just based on personality. Seb was on the back foot at the start of the race and his driving was ragged: so he is vulnerable to pressure. Webber as always is vulnerable to ‘issues’ and succombed in the latter stages.
        So this was def winnable by Lotus, but they are over the moon with p3.

      2. yugin says:

        How was RG helped by LH’s retirement? If anything Grosjean would have benefitted if Hamilton had been running ahead of Vettel and holding him up.

      3. KRB says:

        Don’t think Merc had the legs to challenge Red Bull or Lotus this past weekend. It would’ve added a bit more twist to the race, but I think the end result would’ve been the same.

        As yugin says, it likely would’ve helped Grosjean most of all, if Lewis was able to slot into 2nd at the first corner, as he looked odds-on to do, before the puncture.

  4. Arya says:

    Great read, it gives a nice insight on what is going on behind the obvious racing. At the end of the day F1 is a team sport and they took the best decision for the team as a whole.

    There is only one thing left to question: Why did they not give Mark his unused fresh tyres that he had saved? Could it possibly be to avoid him having a clash with Vettel? I’m sure Korea 2010 and Malaysia 2012 is still on the teams mind. I could see them deciding not to risk such a thing again when they already managed to outfox Lotus by getting both of their drivers ahead.

    1. James Allen says:

      Turns out the tyres he had for 2nd stint were virtually new. Other team’s sheets said he had two new sets, but the second stint set had been scrubbed, according to Pirelli when I checked this morning

      1. GWD says:

        There was mention in the braodcast (Aus gets the Sky commentary feed) that Webber’s final set of Options weren’t new/fresh. If so, how not fresh (if so) were they, and what effect would that have had in forcing Webber to not push them to death to get the pass done on Grosjean?

      2. TGS says:

        Webber didn’t have any fresh sets of mediums left, they would have been one qualifying lap old.

      3. TGS says:

        That is amazing, he had two new sets of hards after qualifying and they put a scrubbed set on? You changed my mind with that strategy report but now it’s just flipped back. Watch your back Dan!

      4. **Paul** says:

        Mark had 13 laps to do in the final stint. Gien the fuel load had dropped off and track rubbered in there is no doubt that a set of mediums (even with one qually lap on) would give a net speed (as in time) advantage over a set of new hards. This is why they were used, especially as his side of the garage were expecting Mark to chase down Vettel. Marks struggles to pass Grosjean were a massive part in costing him the race win. More so than the strategy the team gave him. Romain had one of the slowest straightline speeds of the weekend, Webber one of the highest. Blame the strategy if you will, but the race was lost more by Mark than RBR giving him a 3 stop strategy.

    2. Random 79 says:

      Korea 2010?

      Unless I’m mistaken Webber spun out on his own and then Vettel had an engine failure.

      1. Rossi says:

        I think they are referring to Turkey 2010

      2. Random 79 says:

        Reckon you’re right ;)

    3. Flying lap says:

      Im sorry but what I see from last four years of RBR makes me think they had already arrange that strategy before the race

      1. JL says:

        you mean SV being the faster driver? that is for sure the case every race

      2. Javier Marcelo says:

        I mean it is silly RBR saying they are equal on drivers treatment and doing the opposite, cynicaly. And them, as babys, asking “why do they dont love Vetel?”.

      3. Javier Marcelo says:

        He means, I think

  5. Fireman says:

    This was like a bedtime story with a lesson in the end. Good job!

    1. gpfan says:

      Who was your minder?
      Gordon Coppuck?

  6. Suresh R says:

    Thats a truly pragmatic analysis too, James. Good one! Loved every word of it……chin up !

  7. MISTER says:

    James, looking at Webber’s lap times below, could you explain, if you know, why RedBull felt the need to pit Mark so early on lap 26.

    Lap 13: 1:37.913s
    Lap 14: 1:37.978s
    Lap 15: 1:37.766s
    Lap 16: 1:38.156s
    Lap 17: 1:37.754s
    Lap 18: 1:37.919s
    Lap 19: 1:37.983s
    Lap 20: 1:37.907s
    Lap 21: 1:37.878s
    Lap 22: 1:37.747s
    Lap 23: 1:37.430s
    Lap 24: 1:37.797s

    Lap 25 does not matter as that was the lap at the end of which he pitted.

    I would also like to point out that Webber took 0.583s out of Grosjean’s lead on lap 24, showing he had plenty of pace and was only 0.9s behind Grosjean.

    Would really appreciate an answer. Thanks.

    1. James Allen says:

      As I explained in the report, to get him out of Vettel’s way so he could pressure Grosjean and make the most of his two stop plan. Mark would come into play again at the end, but he would be behind Vettel after his final stop.

      1. Godiego says:

        What if he had been allowed to race grosjean and been able to pass him before the second stop?

      2. Adam says:

        Then Vettel would probably have lost, as James said the move was about getting Vettel in front of Webber, not about fairness.

        Given RBs track record its hardly surprising they have been doing that to Webber for years now.

        Riccardio – this is your future…

      3. Ronnie says:

        If Mark were allowed to race RG, he would have finished behind RG, independent of where SV ends up, evident his inability to pass with superior tires before RG was slowed by traffic, which tells me that on similar tires, RG could hold Mark back till the finish line.

        Vettel faded at the end with two stop in 2011. That could happen to Mark if he had stayed out but not as long as Vettel did during the 2nd stint.

        For MW fans, or those who love to find any reason real or imagined to dislike SV, the harsh reality was that Webber’s best result in Japan was second based on his performance, independent of strategy.

      4. Random 79 says:


        At least Ricciardo goes into it with eyes open knowing full well what the deal is. I’d say it’d be in his contract that Vettel is the lead driver and gets preference, so for Dan it’s just a matter of being patient, biding his time and showing what he can do until Vettel (maybe) joins Ferrari.

      5. Oletros says:

        > as James said the move was about getting Vettel

        No, James has not said that was about putting Vettel first, James has said that it was about putting the fastest driver and the driver that cares more about the tyres first

      6. aniphatak says:

        Mark Webber struggled to overtake Romain Grossjen when his car was fitted with the faster Medium compound tyre. That suggests that he would have struggled to overtake Romain Grosjean when his car was fitted with the Hard compound tyre as well.

        Due to this there was a chance that the result would have been 1 VET, 2 GRO, 3 WEB or worse (1 GRO, 2 VET, 3 WEB) had Mark Webber been on the same strategy as Romain Grosjean.

        Sebastian Vettel won the race because his car was faster than the 2 cars in front. If Mark Webber had chosen a 2 stop strategy, Sebastian Vettel would have used the undercut to overtake Mark Webber (shock, horror) and then the result of the race would depend upon whether he could overtake Romain Grosjean who would have been on fresher tyres (due to the undercut).

        But this is all academic isn’t it? RBR got a 1-2 and the driver leading the title chase finished 1st. A racing team can not achieve a better result than that.

      7. Tealeaf says:

        Then Vettel would have passed Mark when told to push.

      8. so that is just a ‘conspiracy’ by another name, is it not? on what lap did horner decide that webber would go to a three stopper?

      9. JCA says:

        Stopping when they did allowed Mark to drive in clean air for his entire third stint, so he could drive faster than RoGro.

        The simple fact is that Marks first stint was too short, for which you can’t blame the team, as the tyres where gone because Mark abused them. He would have had to nurse his tyres on a two stopper, certainly more than Seb, probably more than RoGro, so winning the race would have been a long shot. As for catching RoGro before his second stop, he could push the tyres harder, knowing he would be stopping soon.

        As for when they decided to go to a three stopper, they have said that they decided to do it after inspecting his first set of tyres and finding them worse than expected, explaining the fact that he thought he was still on a two stopper after his first stop. At that stage, he still was.

      10. Kirk says:

        I think you need to read the report again, the strategy was made to get the maximum points for the team, today Webber is slower than Vettel, that is a fact.

      11. Elie says:

        Bingo James- “to get him out of te way”

      12. GWD says:

        I think we need to get some T-shirts made up for this statement now… ;)

      13. Flying lap says:

        “We were not racing Kimi, we were racing Fernando”…

      14. **Paul** says:

        Imagine a scenario, Webber stays out with Grosjean, going for two stops. Romain pits on Lap 29, Mark follows on lap 30.

        Would Webber be able to hold off Vettel and Grosjean with one set of tyres for 23 laps?

        I think the answer to that is a resounding No.

        That’s why I believe the strategy for each driver was pegged from ~lap 6 when Vettel was conserving rubber (evidently to do a 2stop) whilst Mark was trying to pass Romain.

    2. monkian says:

      More than getting him out of Vettel’s way, he needed to be in free air. Leave him out and he gets stuck behind Grosjean pretty quickly. What was he, 1.5secs behind when he stopped? To make the 3 stops work he needed plenty of time in free air lapping at his pace.

      The later they leave it the fewer laps, prior to the last stop, he spends on newer tyres than Grosjean. Thus he is required to do more catching up after the last stop, blunting his tyre advantage, before attempting the overtake

    3. Basil says:

      And, this is why people dislike Vettel and Red Bull.

      1. MISTER says:

        Yep, but is not Vettel’s fault in a way. I mean he has his faults with stuff like Malaysia and other radio messages, but RedBull are contributing alot in making fans dislike Vettel with their strategies and decissions.

        Ohh well!

      2. Elie says:

        Exactly right..But some of the other messages indicate he’s part of it..” He’s too slow.. Get him out if the way”! At Malaysia also.

        The team putting the political spin on it like ” we thought it would be best to split the strategies” te it’s all BS – these are the parts that really anger fans because they insult intelligence !

      3. Tim says:

        As another poster remarked it’s not just BS, it’s Red BS

      4. JCA says:

        Please read monkian above you, stopping when they did dropped Mark into clean air, where he could drive faster than RoGro, reducing the gap that he would have to bridge after his third stop.

        Mark would have been marginal on the tyres with a two stop strategy, as he was harder on the tyres than Seb, as well as having to do more laps on the two sets of primes, having abused his options in the first stint.

      5. Ronnie says:

        And why do people like Alonzo and Ferrari, because they ever let Massa race him on identical strategy?

        Or that is why people like Kimi, after RG was told to give the position to Kimi in Germany?

        Or that is why people like Lewis, after Rosberg was told to hold position in Malaysia?

        Or that is why people like Webber, jeopardizing his team mate’s WDC with little to gain for himself in Brazil?

        Just replace all the other lead driver’s name by Vettel’s and their team’s name by RBR, and observe the surging outrage that many people would feel.

        There is nothing wrong not to like Vettel, but don’t believe that this kind of reasoning is logical or real. It’s something else. My hypothesis is that in many people’s mind, he has had too much success too early comparing to his current and historical peers. Therefore a sense of injustice has been associated with Vettel. The more successful he is, the deeper the sense of injustice, the stronger the dislike.

      6. Random 79 says:


        Just as a note, in Brazil last year Webber did fight Vettel on the first lap, but people always seem to forget he let Vettel through later in the race.

      7. Andrew M says:

        I can tell you why I don’t like him if you want:

        1. Multi 21 – Say what you like about things, I thought this was a disgraceful show of sportsmanship, right up there with Schumacher at his worst (which is also the reason I never respected the Red Baron). He showed complete contempt for his team, his team-mate and bare-faced lied about it afterwards to try and justify himself. Granted, I wasn’t a huge Vettel fan before this, but I was pretty ambivalent to his success (I was happier he won than Alonso last year for example, and I thought it was just that he won in 2010 after all his failures). This really turned me against him (the same way Alonso’s duplicity turned me against him in 2007) – I would rather almost any of the current drivers was the standard bearer for F1 than him.

        2. Red Bull favour him. This isn’t a conspiracy or made-up fiction, a well established train of events over the last 3-4 years shows this. Don’t get me wrong, I think Vettel is a far superior driver to Webber and he would beat him anyway, but there’s a sense of entitlement there that makes it hard for me to throw my full support behind him. The fact Red Bull consistently deny this also makes me feel pretty turned off against him.

        3. I don’t believe he’s been seriously tested by a talented driver in the same car – As much as I like and respect Webber, I’ve never really rated him as a top level driver; if I had to rank the grid I’d probably put him somewhere in the lower reaches of the top half. Vettel has beaten him convincingly, but I don’t think listing him amongst the all-time greats is a just reflection of his career so far. He’s unfortunate in a sense that he’s in an era where there have been (or will be) so many WDC’s sharing teams – Hamilton/Alonso, Hamilton/Button, Alonso/Raikkonen, all of them have gone up against a proven champion and we can rank and evaluate them accordingly. I was so excited when Vettel/Alonso or Vettel/Raikkonen looked like it might happen, but they both slipped through the net, and now I doubt they ever will. Vettel’s list of vanquished foes (Webber, Liuzzi, Bordais) doesn’t exactly read like a who’s who of F1 superstars. The fact that he’s accomplishing it all in a Newey designed car doesn’t help matters.

        Just to clarify, I think Vettel is a brilliant driver (I ranked him no 1 in both 2010 and 2011 on this very site, and will have very little option but to do so again this year), but assigning him “all time great” status does go significantly at odds with what I consider to be the criteria for such an accolade.

      8. Elie says:

        Webber is better than Massa and Grosjean.

        Germany – Grosjean was being passed by Kimi anyway and Litus delaying cost Kimi a genuine chance at the win- Im still furious .

        Massa can be brilliant over 1 lap but had done a thousand “moon -walks” over the last 4 years.

      9. Random 79 says:

        If they were any ordinary F1 team I’d say they just got another win and have all but got their fourth WDC and WCCs so why would they care what you or I or anyone else thinks?

        But considering that RBR exists to promote the Red Bull brand you do have to scratch your head a bit at just how they could have let this happen.

        Nevermind, at least they still have Baumgartner. I hear next week he’s base jumping from the Moon onto Mars naked. Bookies give him 4:1.

      10. Tim says:

        But considering that RBR exists to promote the Red Bull brand you do have to scratch your head a bit at just how they could have let this happen…

        It’s odd really, they just keeping digging and the hole gets deeper :-)

      11. Random 79 says:


        It’s okay though: Since Red Bull gives you wings they can just fly out of the hole they’ve been digging ;)

      12. GWD says:

        As mentioned in a response to a previous article, to my mind there’s a disconnect with the current RB F1 team and the RB brand/associated marketing in process. Not really sure what to make of it yet, other than my cynical thoughts about using managed negativity to gain media position, then flip back to your former ‘line’ while using the public’s reluctant short memory (probably caused by consumption of their product – who knows what that stuff actually does to you!) and increase brand proliferation, increase the mighty profit. Geez, I truly am a cynical, misguided old [mod]… :(

      13. Random 79 says:

        “I truly am a cynical, misguided old what you said after I got the reply but before you were modded”

        Nothing wrong with that – I like to call it being experienced :)

  8. Joshua says:

    Fantastic report. I love this site!

  9. Excellent report James! Thank you for the insight.

  10. Harshad says:

    Excellent analysis and well put.
    It was clear that because RBR split the strategies it was difficult for Lotus to cover both of them, ensuring RBR victory in the race.
    But few people would never except this!

    1. Javier Marcelo says:

      The excelently excelent family!!!


      Im sorry I can not translate it.


      1. Javier Marcelo says:

        Sickly sweets?

  11. Laul says:

    This is the shame of modern formula 1. Period.

    1. anon says:

      “Multifunction strategy A. Multifunction strategy A. Now please.”

      Yes, it is a shame Ferrari resort to such tactics to help the Santander Samurai.

      1. Javier Marcelo says:

        It is mad. Ferrari did exactly the same as RBR, betting for theirs first driver. Exactly the same.

        And just because Ferrari puts a word after the other and RBR tricks his second driver, all us have to be stupid?.

        Change the topic, change the colour of the kristal, but can not change the facts.

        Not you, not RBR nor JA

      2. Javier Marcelo says:

        And this time it was in the same race!!!

        It makes me laugh!!!

      3. Multi 21 says:

        Ferrari don’t continually go around proclaiming that “we don’t use and never will use team orders”.

        Ferrari are quite transparent about it. Red Bull live in a fantasy land.

      4. Fireman says:

        Why the code then? Why not “Felipe-baby let Fernando pass”?

      5. Flying lap says:

        That’s the point!. +100

      6. Jorge Gaviria says:

        Fantasy land?, Real land WDC & WCC last four years!, you are waiting for a world that doesn’t exist. Live with that kid, this is the real world.

      7. Bartholomew says:

        Yeah, RBR do use team orders, and do so pretty blindly too. I don’t see why they should have done so in Sepang this year.

      8. musshan says:

        if what ferrari does is shameful then what about redbull? to say that there is no favoritism and still they break their own protocols to remove webber out of vettel’s way.

    2. Miha Bevc says:

      Yes, you are right.
      “Fernando is faster than you” is nothing compared to this.
      Same goes to “spy gate” and “crash gate”.
      A team covering both strategies to maximize their chances of winning and getting 1-2 in the end, that truly is a shame.

      1. Laul says:

        Yep you got it. Red Bull is not a single bit better now than Alonso’s or Briatore’s teams. The same political intrigues and manipulations.

        So sad. It was a different story back in 2005-2010 up to the Turkish GP.

      2. musshan says:

        ferrari are atleast honest with their strategy. how would you ever believe what horner says again?

      3. Bartholomew says:

        Let’s not act like it was impossible for Webber to win the race. Webber had a golden chance, but didn’t take it. His start, and his dilly-dallying in the closing stages were key to him losing it.

    3. Netmonger says:

      It’s not the shame of modern Formula 1, unless you consider modern since 1950. It has been happening all along, since Fangio took Moss’ car when Fangio’s car failed so he could get the win. I have been watching since 1973 and it is a staple of the industry. Team first. Ask Ferrari.

    4. Scott says:

      No it isn’t. It’s always been thus.

    5. Kirk says:

      You should be new in watching F1, this is nothing, the best strategy to favor the team, I have seen many things worse than this, this was just a very good race and a very good strategy deployed by a very good driver. Period.

  12. Hansb says:

    Nice report of what happend.
    The graphs show a very good pace from Alonso and especially Räikkönen on the harder tyre, equal or better than Grosjean. If they only qualified better…..

  13. Valois says:

    Great article, James. Thanks for the in-depth analysis.

    Still, the race ending could have been great if Web had got past Gro in his first attempt! If not for a catch, at least for the chase.

  14. Ray says:

    The analysis of the race was more interesting than the race itself….

      1. Elie says:

        You sure that’s a good thing.. Lol

  15. Mike says:

    An excellent analysis and write up.

  16. deancassady says:

    I am a big Webber fan.
    But after a. failing to go into the first corner in the lead, mostly a tribute to Grosjean’s ability to seize the split second initiative from the Bulls, and b. using up his tires failing to get by Grosjean in the first stint, the best Webber was going to get was 2nd, and he ended up getting second.
    It was clear during the race, towards Webber’s first pit stop, that his tires had started to go off.
    I am becoming a bit of a believer is Grosjean, after his weathering of difficulties, firstly of his own causing, then afterwards, mostly by prejudice, based on his earlier difficulties.
    (Contrasts Perez, going in the other direction).
    What I failed to duly note in the race, as it is becoming commonplace, was Vettel’s storm past Grosjean, as described in the excellent report, above, “After his stop he cut Grosjean’s three second lead to nothing in two laps and then passed him decisively.”
    I’m just left shaking my head; Vettel seems to always have something in the bag, and it is lately, always a lot in hand to use when he needs it.
    I’ll write it again, and it is the decisive reason why Vettel won this race, he is the smartest strategic driver on the grid, and has all of the tools to use when he needs it.
    Webber ought to be recognized as a good benchmark, and Vettel looked to have litttle problems out racing him in Japan.

    1. pargo says:

      I’m a big Webber fan too, but sometimes you have to call a spade a spade – Vettel is clearly a league above the rest.

      First it was “Vettel can’t overtake” then “cracks under pressure” and now “it’s Newey’s car, not Vettel”.

      Wonder what the next one will be…

      1. Omniprescient says:

        There is the next one, quite popular already – “Go to another (read: non-Newey) team and prove yourself once again”. I suppose that’s the ultimate one, and it will not happen before 2016. Intellingent haters begin to understand it, and probably prefer to remain silent for a season or two. The rest simply can enjoy and otherwise appreciate the racecraft of him.

      2. bearforce says:

        Its great to see people acknowledging Vettels skills.

        To be fair to Webber this is his last year. I think Webber is leaving at the right time because of his age and maybe being a little slower than he used to be. Further poor Mark is racing Vettel who is on fire and at his peak and Mark is being compared to this. I suppose I am saying Webber looks a lot worse than he actually is for a few reasons.

    2. bearforce says:

      I think what you say is right. The main point is that Webber would not have won the race on any strategy. No matter what strategy RBR put Mark on e was never going to be able to pas FatJohn.

      Great report as always.

      Best news is that as Vettel fan I can see the huge difference between the amount of haters and deniers today compared to a couple of years ago. It is nice to have most people acknowledging Vettel as being a great driver as it cuts out most of the rubbish posts and agro.

    3. Wade Parmino says:

      Romain Grosjean seems a bit like Jody Schecter so far in his career. Schecter turned around his crash-magnet reputation and went on to become champion. I think Grosjean will be one of the serious protagonists in F1 in a couple of years time.

  17. goferet says:

    For sure as a team, Red Bull made the decision with the intended purpose of making sure Vettel wraps up the title in Suzuka (where a good number of legends have done) and so winning in Suzuka had a sentimental attachment as the drivers would like to seal their championship with a win on track.

    And so we had a situation were Vettel got the better strategy because the championship was on the line.

    Also as noted above, Webber too was given a pretty decent strategy with the faster tyre for the last stint but alas he couldn’t make it work because he got stack behind Grosjean for way too long.

    Having said that, Red Bull missed a chance to score some major PR points for when they realized Alonso was still in the points on the last lap, they should have asked Vettel to move over and gift Webber the win as a sort of payback for Malaysia 2013 plus a goodbye present after the years of service.

    Anyway, as for Lotus, I guess if the track temperatures were too hot, Grosjean would have been safe but nice try by the team and more importantly was the fact Grosjean didn’t crack under the huge Red Bull pressure.

    The Sauber strategists did well to get both cars in the points in addition to the fact they were able to make sure Alonso and Kimi didn’t jump Hulkenburg in the pits.

    Thanks to the Torro Rosso strategists who kept Ricciardo out and so we had a pretty interesting battle between a number of drivers as a train developed behind the Torro Rosso.

    As for Mclaren, I was pretty surprised to see they’re still having pitstops problems and as long as this problem remains, the team can forget fighting for championships as this has already been proven to be a sure way to lose.

    Overall, what the race reminded the fans is that with a superior car, any strategy can work for the pace of the car can see off the threat.

    1. Andrew M says:

      “Having said that, Red Bull missed a chance to score some major PR points for when they realized Alonso was still in the points on the last lap, they should have asked Vettel to move over and gift Webber the win as a sort of payback for Malaysia 2013 plus a goodbye present after the years of service.”

      I doubt that would have satisfied many people, and I doubt Vettel would have done so anyway.

      1. Vyaname says:

        Is this how you say goodby to a world-class race driver? I am sure WEB would disagree with your suggestion as well. Don’t bring past races in the picture selectively; if you must, bring all the races involved and then articulate your conclusions.

      2. Andrew M says:

        I wasn’t bringing any races in, let alone any selectively…

      3. k5enny says:

        Sure – didnt Vettel pull over at the last race of 2011 — to let Webber have a win….

      4. GWD says:

        @k5enny: Not so much as pulled him over as informed him of a less than real oil pressure problem, wasn’t it? Multifunction ‘Good Boy All Year Reward’ lol :)

      5. gpfan says:

        “Seb-baby. Multi-function M.
        Pull the heck over and let
        Webbo through.
        We wanna look like good guys.
        Multi-function ‘throw Mark a
        Do you understand?”

        “Get stuffed!”

      6. Ronnie says:

        I’d be totally offended if I were Webber.

      7. Wade Parmino says:

        Considering that Webber is the rightful winner of the Malaysian GP, he shouldn’t be offended if a win of Vettel’s was given to him. This would restore the tally of wins to the correct drivers. After all, Vettel stole the Malaysia win. I just do not understand why people can’t understand this.

        Obviously this is with retrospect however, had Senna and Prost had an honored agreement with each other (in the super dominant years at McLaren) where they would alternate wins and alternate championships, there could have been the most successful and harmonious partnership in all sporting history rather than a vicious bitter rivalry. When this type of scenario finally happens in Formula 1 it will be great.

        Winning is a byproduct of driving a supreme race car effectively. Winning should not be the be all and end all of the sport, even if it is the obvious aim of the game. To take a second place to your team-mate when you could just as easily have the win is probably the most honorable thing a driver can do within the sport, aside from pulling over when in the lead to assist a driver in an accident.

      8. Bartholomew says:

        @Wade – Webber wasn’t the “rightful owner” of the Mal GP. He took the lead through a mistimed stop for his teammate, having struggled to dispatch Alonso (sans front wing) in the opening stages, and needed the team orders to hold onto the lead.

      9. Jordan says:

        Seb is looking at Schuey’s 91 race wins and is thinking, “Well I could do 100″

        So VET will not be moving over for WEB as a gift. He has his beloved stats to think about.

        Webber will only be gifted a win if RBR tell Seb to short shift when he doesn’t need to. But I doubt that will happen cos Mark is not in the top three.

    2. Hanns says:

      Do you realy believe moving over for webber would create positive pr for Vettel?
      I doubt it.
      Haters gonna hate ;).
      And why should he. Vettel and Webber don´t like each other. And a gifted win is realy not what Webber wants.

    3. JL says:

      payback for Malaysia 2013? i think Malaysia 2013 was the payback for Brazil 2012, and a cheap payback in my opinion

    4. Miha Bevc says:

      Webber would never want to win like that. He didn’t even enjoy to be on pole because of Vettel’s KERS failure.

      1. Ronnie says:

        Mark gained lots of respect from me by both a great job and calling it a hollow pole when he did not have to say so.

      2. All revved-up says:

        +10. Love Webber’s no bullxxxx honest comments. He will be much missed.

        Hope Ricciardo brings more of the same.

    5. **Paul** says:

      With the greatest of respect, Vettel paid as much attention in Malaysia 2013 as Webber did at Silverstone 2011.

      Why do people only chose to remember one incident and not the other?

      It’d be like looking at the Hungary incident between Lewis and Fernando in 2007 and blaming the whole thing on Fernando.

      What goes around comes around.

  18. anon says:

    I agree with the assessment. I think the three stopper was optimal for Webber. He trashes his tyres compared to Vettel and complains he can’t drive on the limit.

    The only difference of opinion with JA is that I believe Vettel would have won if he had to push on a three stopper. Webber would have been third doing a two stopper since he couldn’t get past Grosjean in either the first or second stint despite getting the undercut.

    The only people who disagree are frustrated fans of the samurai.

    1. Juzh says:

      agree 100%

    2. Tim says:

      The problem is the Team made the choice to go 3 stops half way through the race not right after the first stop. That was the error as Webber could have pushed harder on his second set knowing he was going 3 stops, instead he lapped at a 2 stop pace – which is why he said the damage was done in the middle part of the race.

      1. Elie says:

        A very good point Tim

      2. anon says:

        It became clear during the second stint that Webber wasn’t going to catch, let alone pass Grosjean. He struggled to even get past Grosjean when he had relatively new mediums compared to Grosjean’s older hard tyres.

      3. James Allen says:

        That is correct. If Webber had always planned a 3 stop he would have been able to maximise the stint lengths which wasn’t possible with a decision made on or around lap 25

      4. aniphatak says:

        If Webber had pushed in the 2nd stint, wouldn’t he face the same problem as the 1st stint? He had to stay approx. 2 seconds behind Grosjean to protect the tyres. His lap times improved only when he drove in clear air in the 3rd stint.

      5. UAN says:

        But even if Webber had planned a 3 stopper from the beginning so he could push harder, he still wasn’t going to get pass Grojean and he’d still be pitting about lap 25. If he couldn’t do it with relatively fresh options, how was he going to do with tires the same age as RG?

        The 3 stop strategy really came into play as Ricciardo was holding up the pack and creating a gap for one of the Red Bulls to drop back into clean. That’s not something that can be planned for from the outset.

    3. Ronnie says:

      +1, minus the Alonso part :-)

    4. Tyemz says:

      Despite the three stopper being estimated to be slower than the two stopper by about 7 or eight seconds? If that was the case why didn’t RB make Vettel do the three stopper instead.

      1. Kirk says:

        Well, the race shown something different, if Webber had passed Grosjean quickly he should be just behind Vettel at the end. It finally was 7 seconds slower because of the traffic which is a different thing.

    5. JohnBt says:

      [The only people who disagree are frustrated fans of the samurai.]

      I think you got it wrong there, the samurai was no where near RB at all and he’s conceded to the WDC for sure.

      You’re no difference from A Vettel, Hamilton or Alonso prejudice fan.

  19. Phil says:

    Clear, concise and really clears things up after all the melodramatic ‘stories’ elsewhere. Great example of why your site is so popular.

    Sad example of why these current tyres have gone too far though. Sit behind a car for half a dozen laps and your tyres are too knackered to overtake, even if you’ve got KERS, DRS, and a car with the highest top speed on the track.

  20. AJ says:

    The issue some people take is with Red Bull’s previous position – that the lead driver get’s offered the strategy/pit stop choices.

    Here they had Webber in front and now have to conceive of a different rationale which leads people to believe the team favour Vettel – which they rightly do – but continually deny.

    1. Adam says:

      And that I think is the problem -does anyone have a problem with Ferrari having a definitive no1 driver that is favoured?

      RB’s and maybe Seb’s image problem is due to the fact they try and keep up the pretence that they give equal treatment when they clearly favour Seb.

      They should just be honest about it…

      1. Me says:

        “They should just be honest about it…”

        Why?… they’re hardly gonna placate the Alonso/Hamilton fans/disciples, and the people who support them aren’t particularly worried, so why bother?

      2. Elie says:

        Because us fans don’t f/en like it that’s why ! It insults our intelligence when we know someone is lying.

      3. Me says:

        You’ll get over it…

    2. JCA says:

      The problem is that, because of his short first stint after abusing the option tyres, going to a three stop strategy was probably the only way he was going to beat RoGro, so they probably chose tho optimum stratagy for him as well.

      Seb was apparently looking to run a long second stint, so if he passed Mark in his third, people would be complaining that they made sure Mark had old tyres when Seb got to him. Seb would have to pass RoGro regardless.

    3. Ronnie says:

      3 stop was the best strategy for Webber. The fact it helped Vettel doesn’t make it less so.

      1. Tyemz says:

        Yes three stops was the best strategy for him because RB treat him no better than the family dog. Tell me which of the top teams seriously considered three stops for their leading driver when it was estimated to be 7-8 seconds slower than two stops

      2. Ronnie says:

        Estimates did not show that Webber will have a slow start (though not a bad bet), cannot pass Ro Gro initially, and towards the end for as many laps as it took.

        Webber has not been a leading driver contender for any of the top teams post 2010. Where do you suggest that he could have gone to where an equal to or better than the RBR treatment would have been awaiting him with a better car?

      3. JCA says:

        They would seriously consider a three stopper if their leading driver had abused his first set of tyres, thus having to stop too early.

        They would consider the fact that said leading driver has historically been much harder on his tyres than his teammate, who was showing better tyre deg in this race, and would have to do significantly more laps on his remaining two sets of tyres, if he stayed on a two stopper.

        Lastly, they would consider that the car in front could match him for tyre strategy, and if he pushed to close the gap to undercut, the team in front would simply pit their driver at once, making the undercut a very long shot.

        Incidentally, all the other teams who were asked, said they would do exactly the same, answering your question nicely.

  21. Hugy says:

    Great article, thanks. Very interesting strategies from both teams and I like how RB played their strengths to their favour, Lotus had a hard time, indeed.

  22. Really appreciate the clarity of your story and in particular the “reasoning” in the cooler light of a new day.

    It is clear how the comentators can color one’s own reasoning and (the NBCS dippy guy’s irrelevant plather aside) though Hobbs and Machett usually see through the raw TV Feed on these things. Apparently they either didn’t have the detail timing data available, missed a nuance or were being fed different information by the producers.

    Thanks much!

    1. Ronnie says:

      Agreed. The US folks were usually quite good. It was a surprising move, pulling Webber in so early, and it was not clear to me until after watching it twice. I remember being outraged that RBR would so blatantly sabotage Mark to give Seb a chance to win. I felt so much better after realizing that was the best way for Mark to pass Ro Gro.

      1. Flying lap says:

        then, wacht it for a trird time please. and before, raed this:

  23. pete says:

    Looking at the time sheet on teds notebook and at the graph given above had they brought webber in for his final stop 3 laps later on his second stop his times were still quick enough to be a match and maybe we would have had a closer battle with webber and vettel.

    1. UAN says:

      Folks keep talking about if RB did this or that we would have had a closer battle between Webber and Vettel. They are on the same team. The team (any team really) doesn’t want to have a close battle between their drivers, and not because they are afraid they will crash into each other, they want to win the race. They also wanted a 1-2 finish.

      The best chance for the win was switching Webber to a 3-stopper. It’s hard for Webber because it’s basically the team saying you’re not fast enough to win, but as David Coulthard wrote, that’s the reality.

  24. Mikeboy0001 says:

    James, I’m afraid your point on article won’t be enough to persuade Vettel’s [mod] on how good he is
    It makes me angry people saying his car is a spaceship, and any other driver would win championships on it. What about Webber?
    Oh, I forgot, his car is being sabotaged for the last 5 years, and yet he’s a close friend of Red Bull owner, who always backed him for the RB seat, and will continue to do so on Porche LMP1!!!!
    I think most people who say this are either aged under 16, or don’t have a clue about Formula 1/Motorsports
    There hasn’t been a driver who won the World Championship in a bad car, but there have been a few who lost it in great ones
    And this is coming from a Hamilton fan, I wished it was him up there
    But since God gave me a brain not just to carry around, I do not let myself turn from fan, to fanatic, and try to see reality beyond what I hoped it to be

    1. Snailtrail says:

      Vettel does have a spaceship of a car – and he has the full support of the team unlike Webber.
      Read the article – there is a lot more to Vettel winning than his very impressive driving.

      You put any of the top drivers in the redbull and they may be able to do the same job IF they could drive to the cars strengths but whose to say that a Vettel in a red car would not serve as a Alonso supporter…

      1. Mikeboy0001 says:

        Read my comment
        Webber also has always been backed up by Red Bull top man and owner, Dietrich Mateschitz, and will continue to do so beyond F1, so it can’t get much better than that, can it?
        And what does that matter anyway, it’s not like they drive different cars, do they. Whoever thinks this, should either stop watching Hollywood nonsense, or start taking medication
        In 1977 Carlos Reutemann was the favoured guy at Ferrari, following Niki Lauda’s withdrew from the 1976 Japanese Grand Prix, but Niki’s driving made the talks, and he won the championship that year
        When Senna joined Mclaren, the Nr.1 driver at the team was Prost, just like when Hamilton joined in, Alonso was to be obviously Nr.1, but we all know how those stories turned out
        If Vettel has a higher status inside Red Bull F1 team, it was achieved by himself, because had he not performed, and he would have been ditched like so many others in Toro Rosso. In fact, I’m afraid if Riccardo doesn’t up his game, he won’t be around for long
        This isn’t something new in F1 or in any other sport or comercial business, the best guy is treated like the crown jewels, just like Messi at Barcelona and Ronaldo at Madrid
        I think people in general, teams, drivers, and Webber particularly, should stop whining, and up their game. Enough with the cry baby.

    2. Ronnie says:

      Webber is a good driver who consistently beat his team mate until Seb.

      Heart broken for HAM in 2007.

      1. Mikeboy0001 says:

        Yes, he should have had 2 in the bag now
        Such a great season, still hurts to realise he lost it!!!
        He thoroughly deserved it that year
        I hope to see that joyful Lewis back
        Press and lack of sucess, have made him to depressing

  25. iain says:

    So the answer to your question is Yes

  26. SteveS says:

    It seems obvious that Webber had several opportunities to win this race on his own merits, and he failed to deliver. There was not much more RB could have done to help him.

    A lot of the “RB favored SV” reasoning is post hoc. Knowing the outcome (Vettel won) people work backwards searching for some “favoritism” explanation for it. If SV had won on a 3-stopper and MW come second on a 2-stopper there would still be grumbling that SV got the better strategy. It’s the outcome which has some people upset, not the strategy as such.

    But even if we assume, hypothetically, that RB DID deliberately favor Vettel … so what? Why does this possibility drive so many people bananas? It’s not as if all the other teams don’t routinely favor one driver over another. Mercedes, Lotus and Ferrari, just to look at the other top four, have all shown greater favoritism for their “number one” this year than RB have. And nobody raises a word of protest about it. Why the wide-spread obsession with rooting out any real or imagined favoritism at RB? It’s quite strange.

    1. Andrew M says:

      Because Red Bull have said time and again that they didn’t favour one driver over another, and were at the head of the queue to condemn Ferrari’s team orders in Hockenheim 2010. It smacks of hypocrisy.

      1. SteveS says:

        Brawn has said that Mercedes do not favor Hamilton over Rosberg, and they clearly do so. They do so much more obviously then RB favor Vettel over Webber. And yet, as I say, the people who worry about “favoritism” confine their worry exclusively to one team – Red Bull.

        It’s not just the fans, the press has had an obsession with “favoritism at Red Bull” for years now. In fact the fans only harp on about it because they read about or hear about it in the press. I’ve seen at least half a dozen articles now dissecting the question “Was Vettel favored/Webber disadvantaged in Suzuka?”. All seem to agree the answer is no, but it is interesting that the question gets asked.

        It’s been this way with Vettel throughout his F1 career. Things which are so normal as to not even be worth mentioning with respect to other drivers get blown up into immense scandals where he is concerned. If Hamilton was in SV’s place and Rosberg in Webbers, how many columns would be spent dissecting the question “Is Hamilton being favored over Rosberg?” I suspect the primary concern would be that Hamilton was not being favored *enough*.

        Teams in F1 often favor one driver over another, sometimes deliberately and sometimes inadvertently. When you come to a fork in the car development road and one way favors driver A and the other driver B, you can only go one way. A team can’t pit two drivers simultaneously, they have to pit one before the other. Sometimes the driver in first gets the advantage, sometimes the driver who pits second gets it, and it is often not clear which is the better strategy until the flag drops. It’s just the nature of the game, it is impossible for any team to treat their two drivers with perfect equality at all times. And by and large people do understand all of this … until the topic is Vettel.

      2. Andrew M says:

        Merc have overtly favoured Hamilton over Rosberg once, and that was a pretty understandable “hold position” instruction to secure the team’s first podium of the season and a strong result for the team.

        There are several examples of Red Bull favouring Vettel over Webber – the muted reaction to Webber’s first win in 2009, the reaction to the clash in Turkey 2010, the front wing swap in Silverstone 2010, endless quotes from Marko in official Red Bull articles/press releases etc. Even if Red Bull’s intention has been to be even handed to both drivers, they’ve done a lousy job of it and left themselves open to this criticism. And it’s only natural that Vettel/Webber gets more attention than other intra-team battles – Red Bull have the fastest car and have been the front-runners for 4 (arguably 5) years now.

        “It’s been this way with Vettel throughout his F1 career.”

        Funny that…

      3. Ronnie says:

        Repeating my earlier hypothesis here – people feel that Vettel has had too many wins too early comparing to his current and historic peers. A sense of injustice arises. The more success Vettel has, the deeper the sense of injustice, the stronger the dislike against Vettel. All the other stuff are supporting actors in the matter. The feeling can be visceral thus trumps reasons.

        Those non Vettel fans who don’t let his success get to their heads seem to have strong front lobe control. And I find more of them here than elsewhere :-)

      4. SteveS says:

        “Merc have overtly favoured Hamilton over Rosberg once”

        Leaving aside for the moment that RB have never overtly favored Vettel over Webber, Mercedes have ordered Rosberg to stay behind once, they have also ordered Rosberg to move over and allow Hamilton past, they have frequently made some rather odd strategy calls for Rosberg, and his car has had FAR more mechanical issues then has Hamiltons. If the conspiracy minded here applied their thinking consistently they would have to conclude that Hamilton is being very heavily favored over Rosberg. So it’s interesting that they prefer to stay away from the topic completely.

      5. Andrew M says:

        “Leaving aside for the moment that RB have never overtly favored Vettel over Webber”

        Except for all the times they have.

        “they have also ordered Rosberg to move over and allow Hamilton past”

        When was that?

        “they have frequently made some rather odd strategy calls for Rosberg”

        Example please.

        “his car has had FAR more mechanical issues then has Hamiltons.”

        Rosberg has had more reliability failures, but that’s hardly proof of favouring one team mate over another. Hamilton had far more reliability problems than Button last year, Vettel had more than Webber in 2010, and it would be a brave man
        to suggest either of those were evidence of favouring the driver with fewer instances.

        “If the conspiracy minded here applied their thinking consistently they would have to conclude that Hamilton is being very heavily favored over Rosberg.”

        Not at all, the evidence isn’t nearly as strong, there’s far less of it and it spans a far shorter period of time.

        “So it’s interesting that they prefer to stay away from the topic completely.”

        I’m not staying away from it :)

      6. KRB says:

        SteveS, you can’t be serious! (actually, I take that back)

        RB have never overtly favoured Vettel?!?! They took the front wing off the other car, at Silverstone ’10! Then there’s Silverstone ’11 … it was team orders, but it was not a tight WDC race. Considering to what lengths they went in 2010 to say they weren’t a team that would use team orders, it was more than a little odd.

        Imagine if Vettel was ahead in the 2010 standings but Webber was just ahead of him in the races at Canada ’10, Japan ’10, or Brazil ’10 … do you really think RBR wouldn’t employ team orders and swap them ’round? I’m sure they would’ve, but they didn’t help Webber at all, that’s for sure.

        RBR sailed very close to the wind on numerous occasions in 2010, all obstensibly to aid Vettel’s DWC bid. If they had lost out of the DWC that year, it would’ve been criminal.

        Merc called team orders in Malaysia, that’s clear. If they had swapped them, it wouldn’t have bothered me at all. The team result would’ve been the same of course. Job 1 was just making sure they didn’t take each other off while dicing for 3rd.

        But ordering Rosberg to let Hamilton past?! If you mean Germany, then you are either dim, or a sophist. They were on different race strategies, so of course Rosberg should’ve been letting him through! As I recall, it took Nico at least 2 laps to let him through, by which time Kimi was all over the back of Lewis, as Nico held them both up. Yeah, thanks a lot Rosberg!

        As I’ve said before, I’m sure the team have noted this tendency from Rosberg, and will adjust accordingly.

        Please do tell about the strange strategy calls for Rosberg.

        Rosberg’s has had 3 mechanical DNF’s. He’s finished 12 of the races, Hamilton’s finished 14. In the races, in terms of other bad luck (non-mech), Hamilton’s had it harder, with the tire blowout at Silverstone, and the puncture in Japan.

      7. JCA says:

        Well, Ferrari appeared to purposely embarrass the FIA in 2010. Team orders were banned at that time, teams would still tell their drivers to hold position, but that could be explained as preserving the car/tyres or saving fuel. Ordering one driver to let the other pass was so blatantly braking the rule, that it smacked of contempt for the rules and rule makers. At least use some subterfuge, a phantom engine problem or something. Yes that is just as much of a rule violation, but at least it is not throwing your middle finger in everyone’s faces, there is plausible deniability, thus preserving everyones dignity.

      8. JCA says:

        @Ronnie, how very typical of certain types of fan to question the intelligence of fans of drivers who they think are ‘unworthy’ of their success, ‘strong front lobe control’ of those that agree with them, whatever do you mean by that, if not that we are less intelligent than non-fans of Seb? Its like those who say that any ‘real’ fans would agree with them, just purposefully denigrating those that disagree with you.

      9. JCA says:

        Sorry, that last one was ment to be posted in response to SteveS second post for Ronnie.

      10. All revved-up says:

        I believe a sensible interpretation of that statement is that “we don’t favor one driver over the other unless one driver no longer has a mathematical chance to win the WDC”.

        If any of us were running an F1 team, we would surely favour the driver with a better chance of winning the WDC.

        Let’s be honest – we ourselves would run the team in a manner that favours the team’s chances of winning WCC and if possible WDC. Why on earth would we favour the driver with no mathematical chance of WDC? Surely no sensible person runs a team to keep fans happy.

        Fans are fickle. It’s results that have enduring benefits to the team and the sponsorship and money that comes with success, and the bonus to all engineers and pit crew; and of course the drivers. These considerations must surely take priority over how certain segment of F1 fans feel.

      11. Andrew M says:

        Of course, but that’s not the issue here. Red Bull have clearly favoured Vettel in situations where the title was still very much alive (Silverstone 2010 springs to mind) but claimed they treated both drivers equally. I thought what Ferrari did at the Nurburgring 2010 and Austria 2002 was wrong, but I thought giving Kimi the win in 2007 and getting him to move over for Felipe in China 2008 were perfectly sensible.

    2. Tornillo Amarillo says:

      Because favoritism tell me that next time VETTEL will win and not WEBBER, and that’s not funny…

      1. Me says:

        Should it be funny?

      2. Tornillo Amarillo says:

        Yes, it should or people will turn the TV off.

      3. Me says:

        @Tornillo Amarillo

        Good riddance to ‘em…

  27. Augie says:

    Great analysis, as always James. On the graph, it’s also interesting to see the impact of Ricciardo’s dotted brown line between laps 13-21. It created such a gap between ALO, MAS, RAI, PER and GUT to the leaders.

  28. Dave P says:

    I am generally not a fan of the post race analysis..but this was really excellent.

    I think ifMark thinks about it he will see there were oportunities open to him througout the race to make it himself.. he just didn’t take them… such as
    A better start.
    Not running so close at the beginning

    Also RB could not say for certain that Grosjean was going to follow Mark in and if he had not he would have held up Seb, meaning advantage Mark…

    All the fun of F1

  29. Hanns says:

    Tx, for the nice analysis. Can you please explain what the graph shows?
    I don´t see any unit mentioned.

    1. Netmonger says:

      Horizontal axis is lap number. Vertical axis is lap time. Positions are counted from the top, first place, second place, etc. Color and solid line is team 1st car driver, dashed line 2nd car driver.

  30. Tornillo Amarillo says:

    Why? –
    “Webber… his tyres were losing performance when he pitted on lap 11… Vettel stayed out until lap 14…”

    ps: The picture crowns VETTEL as a King!

    1. Sebee says:

      5 pointed crown, I guess it has been decided by Schumi rules that due to the photo 2014 is already a foregone conclusion.

    2. Ronnie says:

      That was the first thing (crown) I noticed. James, was it deliberate?

    3. GWD says:

      James, I thought Tiaras were supposed to be located at the front of the head??? ;)

    4. Giorgio says:

      That’s for 2nd time SV is “crowned” in such a way on this JA site :) that’s quite funny.

  31. Martin says:

    Hi James,

    Looking at the charts your analysis looks right to me. Hulkenberg struggled to get home from lap 28, but Alonso was okay from a lap later, so that seems to be where the Red Bull window opened.

    Do you have any sense of how many laps Grosjean could have realistically run on the mediums for the final stint and been as fast or faster than the hards?


    1. James Allen says:

      About 19-20 laps I’m told

  32. Geno says:

    “Most strategists in the F1 pit lane agree that Red Bull did exactly the right things strategically in Suzuka and all would have done the same thing in their shoes.”

    They wish they would have done the same.
    I would’nt care if RB win most of races til 2020 as long as it is with that good strategic thinking.

    What a race!

  33. Marc says:

    Vettel clearly a better racing driver than Webber, but I just can’t get myself to appreciate his obvious qualities. Newey and the team are the real stars in my view. Vettel looks like the icing on the cake and the public representative of all this fantastic success. Of course I’m wrong to see Vettel this way but I just can’t help it. I guess I’ll fully appreciate his talent once he’ll be in the grid’s 2nd, 3rd or 4th best team.

    1. JL says:

      he won with a torro rosso, which was obviously not part of the best 4 teams

    2. SteveS says:

      We’ve already seen him in the grids 2nd best team (RB, 2009), the 6th best team (TR, 2008) and the 7th best team (TR, 2007). He looked impressive in all three.

    3. James says:

      Youngest points scorer in a BMW & youngest race winner in a Toro Rosso.

      Nuff said.

      1. mac_nh says:

        He was also fastest among F1 drivers in Top Gear’s “Star in a reasonably priced car”. Nuff said

      2. Greg (Aus) says:

        Erm, actually, didn’t Webber recently beat his time on that segment?

      3. mac_nh says:

        sorry you’re right. thanks for the update, just found out that after SEB, HAM and WEB (after 2nd attempt) set the faster lap than SEB.
        but my point was, it is hard for some people to suck up what they don’t like already, although presented with bunch of facts.
        i’m not saying that it’s impossible.
        in short, haters will (usually) hate.

        i was also k.o. disappointed what SEB did in malaysia.
        i still remember and admire how WEB almost certainly smashed his team mate’s lap time, he’s quick in single lap performance, but lack of delivering wins in race. this kind of driver reminds me of Truli.

    4. Clarks4WheelDrift says:

      Yeah, just like Rossi leaving the all conquering Honda and winning for Yamaha.

      You’ll certainly get it if Seb moves to Ferrari, if they keep going as they are.

      The Torro Rosso win was impressive, but it was a great wet weather car, great Ferrari engine for speed at Monza, plus back then was a direct Newey customer car and even looks identical. Think Bourdais in the other TR, despite starting from the pit lane also set the 2nd fastest lap of the race. Plus the RB in 2009 was the best car by the end of the season. That awesome in season development by Neweys team as seen every year since and really helped hand Seb the titles in 2010 and 2012 in the final races.

      1. Ronnie says:

        Last I checked, in 2008 Monza, everyone had the same rain, the Ferrari that won the championship had a Ferrari engine in it. And on that day, people were cheering for Vettel, not just the Italians. Things certainly changed after he won more and more races. People are having a hard time seeing what the see, and look for any reason true or imagined to discredit him.

      2. bearforce says:

        NO mate. Vettel had heaps better rain. In fact RBR even then sabotaged Webber’s rain in favour of Vettel. Also Vettel rain was different to Webbers rain in that his rain was 7kgs lighter that Webbers extra heavy inferior rain.

      3. Clarks4WheelDrift says:

        As I said the win was impressive.

        As you say… people were cheering for Vettel-things certainly changed after he won more and more races… but things changed even more after the Malaysian multi21 mess on track and the days afterwards.

        Also as you say… People are having a hard time seeing what the see… That’s because Seb is doing an excellent job but it is impossible to know just how good Seb is compared to say Fernando, Lewis or Kimi, primarily because Newey’s machines are now so good. The cars are not even in a similar ballpark. It’s hard comparing him to Webber as he had gone backwards on Pirellis and is nearing the end of his F1 career.

        ..and bearforce, last I checked in 2008 Seb and Mark were in different teams. Seb did try and join Webber in Fuji 2007, under the safety car I believe, perhaps his rain was too heavy then, but Red Bull made him wait till 2009. ;)

      4. JCA says:

        I believe the STR of 2008 used a 2007 RBR chassis, which hardly set the world on fire. In any case, the first thing they had to do was to redesign the back for a different (less compact) engine, obviously impacting aerodynamics. The aero development, though superficially the same, was not done by Newey, but by Giorgio Ascanelli, so they could not benefit from one of RBRs great strengths over their championship run, superior in season development. To dismiss the win as being in a Newey car is very simplistic.

      5. Ronnie says:

        Great point.

        In 2008, there were 3 other drivers also in the so-called-Newey-car, 2 of which were driving the Newey car under Newey’s care. I wonder what team order STR gave RBR to sabotage Webber in order to favor Vettel then. VET:BOU:WEB:COU = 35:4:21:8.

        The fact that Vettel had 2 more points than all those 3 drivers combined in his 1st full F1 season @ age 21, speaks volumes to his potential and the difference Vettel made.

        The fact that people look for reasons to dismiss Vettle’s accomplishment in 2008 speaks volumes to their ilogical biasis.

        The commentatory’s monolog was great here. Does anyone know who that was?

      6. Alex W says:

        Totally incorrect, The TR was identical to the RB, engine excepted. The chassis was a Newey testbed designed to accommodate either engine.

      7. JCA says:

        @alex w, not according to Alfonso de Orleans-Borbon, who owns Racing Engineering, a spanish racing team that has competed in european f3 and GP2.

        ‘The chassis could have been designed by Newey, but the rest, especially the aero package, which does make a massive difference, was not. Also the whole rear of the car is designed for a different engine, which Red Bull had no input, especially since different engine contracts prohibit any interaction or technical exchange. So yes, Newey designed maybe 25%, but the other 75% was done by Ascanelli and Tost.’

        (Some swearing in the article in the link)

      8. SteveS says:

        “the RB in 2009 was the best car by the end of the season.”

        It wasn’t, the McLaren was.

      9. Andrew M says:

        Red Bull won the last three races. Even if Hamilton hadn’t retired in Abu Dhabi, I think the best you could argue is they were even.

      10. JCA says:

        Yes, I seem to recall that the cars with kers had a distinct advantage off the line (they can’t use kers of the line now, they have to reach a certain speed first). So when Mclaren and Ferrari caught up somewhat aerodynamically, they could beat the Red Bulls and Brauns (and a Force India once) into the first corner, and the double diffuser ment that the cars created much dirtier air than the 2009 regs intended. Also, iirc, Vettel was running out of engines and was only doing one run per session in quali.

      11. Rachael says:

        Are you sure? The results show Red Bull won the last three races of 2009 and even scored a 1-2 at the last race in Abu Dhabi.

      12. KRB says:

        Laps led, in the last 3 races of 2009:

        VET 92
        WEB 51
        BAR 20
        HAM 16

        Yeah, the McLaren ended 2009 as the best car, ha!

  34. Sammy says:

    Interesting stuff.
    Thanks James.

  35. Owen Brooker says:

    Fantastic, impartial analysis – thank you.

  36. Richard says:

    I still think Red Bull favour Vettel because he is their “star” driver and is winning the championship. I don’t think Vettel is necessarily any faster than Webber par se, but with the current type of car with exhaust enhanced rear end Vettel is faster, and it is quite clear they have based the car around Vettel’s strengths with a very stable back end. When the car was “looser” Webber was often the faster of the two, but in these tyre conservative times a loose back end is a bad thing. The other thing is that Webber wore out his tyres quicker because he was challenging Grosjean whereas Vettel hung back hence preserving his tyres and lengthening his first stint. Vettel passed Grosjean on fresher tyres as the gap was much smaller, whereas Webber had a bigger gap to make up, and therefore when he reached Grosjean the best of his tyre performance had gone. As I have said many times the Pirelli era will go down as one of the worst examples of inverted racing it is our misfortune to experience as it is not a race but a tyre set up, strategy and conservation exerise.

    1. SteveS says:

      “with the current type of car with exhaust enhanced rear end Vettel is faster, and it is quite clear they have based the car around Vettel’s strengths with a very stable back end. When the car was “looser” Webber was often the faster of the two”

      I see a lot of people making this claim but it has no basis in fact. There has never been a time when Webber was faster than Vettel. Even at the start of 2009 when the RB car had no EBD at all, had been designed around Webber and not Vettel and Vettel was just 21 years old, Vettel was still the faster of the two.

  37. Darren says:

    Fantastic analysis as ever James. As much a fan as I am of the Red Bull conspiracy against Webber it does indeed look like the correct thing for them to have done. I don’t think there was a lot in the strategies time wise but the key things were Vettels ability to cruise up to then pass Grosjean immediately after his stop, that won him the race. Webbers not being able to pass Grosjean immediately lost him the race, or a chance to win the race. Although I doubt he would have passed Vettel, Vettel flew past Grosjean but Webber struggled. Would have been fantastic to see the two of them head to head in the last few laps though!

    1. Darren says:

      p.s. What do you think of Lotus strategy? It looks to me like poor decision making, if they shot for 2nd they would have got it. They were covering the wrong Red Bull for the win, by the time they realised this they made a stop at a strange time that lost them 2nd place too.

      1. James Allen says:

        They weren’t covering the wrong Red Bull, they didn’t react to Webbers 2nd stop

        As explained they gambled on the win

        Could possibly have had 2nd if they’d run mediums in 2nd stint with hindsight of how it turned out

  38. Chris says:

    I am not a Vettel fan, not even convinced here is the second coming yet either and I will sorely miss Webber on the grid next year.

    But if I ran Redbull I would always bet on Vettel, sorry Mark. This current F1 with the current Redbull rocket ship just suits him better and he is a much safer better.

    Good write up James, Thanks!

    1. Richard says:

      If by 2015 Michelin replaced Pirelli with their durable tyres then I suspect things would be rather different. These tyre conservative times have reigned in the hard racers and put the tyre whisperers in control. – Assuming they have a car that will do the job!

  39. ferggsa says:

    Good info as usual James, but I do have one comment:
    With Vettel and Red Bull already clear of the rest, could future reports focus more on the runner ups and midfield?
    There is some very interesting racing there and sometimes it does not show details in the worldwide TV transmission

    1. James Allen says:

      The strategy report normally does cover the lower teams as week bit as there was so much interest in the Red Bull story we focused on that in depth

  40. luqa says:

    As soon as I saw MW hogging RG’s exhaust pipes in the first stint, I knew he wouldn’t win. Either overtake, or fall back and save tires and try for the undercut.

    The second place MW blew it was not being able to get past RG with better and younger tires after his final stop. Hate to say it, but MW had his chance and chocked.

    RB did the right thing. Rocky even pointed out to SV MW would be a problem in the final stint.

    Excellent report JA- Thanks!

  41. roberto marquez says:

    RB does not give a damn about Webber, your numbers might show something different but I do not trust them. Thanks anyway.

    1. roberto marquez says:

      When I say “them” is RBR not you James.

  42. Peter W says:

    The only problem with these graphs is that they show the lap times the drivers did, not what they were cabable of at the time. By that, I mean RBR had instructed Webber to drop back 2 seconds behind Grosjean when it became clear he couldn’t get by in the first stint. I imagine the drivers would largely do this by estimation and then try to maintain a visual gap with assistance from the pit wall timing. The lap times are therefore a reflection of strategy, it doesn’t mean that is the raw pace of the car/driver. Certainly, my understanding of what Webber has said is that his tyres weren’t “gone” by lap 11.

    1. that is a very valid point but doesn’t seem to have picked up. that was my understanding as well.

    2. OffCourse says:

      You make an interesting point. Mark did make the point that he could have gone further and that he had the pace to close on RG at will. He made the point that the team told him after the first stop that a two stopper was still no problem. He made the point that DRS is not effective towards the end of the race because he is bouncing off the limiter, and not sure on this last point, but I thought I heard that his last set of options were not new. Perhaps I should not believe what Mark Webber says, because everything in this analysis points to Mark not knowing what he is talking about.

    3. Elie says:

      That and the fact they told him drop back 2s very early- lap 7 or 8. Why would you do that when your doing the undercut on tyres that still had life in them..then switch him to a three stop. If people can’t smell the BS they ought to get their nostrils checked.

      Fact is if they wanted the undercut they would be screaming attack on that first in lap and even more so on the out lap especially if they were less than a second behind..Fact Mark could not understand why they pitted him early on the second stop either. There was no fuss no bother, no comment- All this from a driver challenging for the win…tells me he was never in this race. If you add a few more laps to each stint he would not have needed the 3rd stop and the RB9 was always faster than the lotus on low fuel..I’m no Webber fan and Seb is the faster driver but I just wish Red Bull don’t play silly buggers by all this “strategy” call and say it like it is.

      1. absolutely correct. check out the lap times for webbers second stint?

    4. KARTRACE says:

      For a clearer picture and to have some relevance it would be necessary to get much more complex telemetry data, which we do not have.

      This what we have is a mere graph of the race that we visually saw, nothing more. Yes you are very much right. it is clear that Weber is shortchanged for so many races by not, not only in Suzuka, but it is the most recent and mot obvious.

      And I may even say I have no problem with that if that is in the interest of the tam but then they must stop pretending that their drivers receive equal treatment. It’s simply not true.

  43. Rich C says:

    Nice choice of pictures to use, James, with the Rolex “Crown” appearing right on Vettel’s head!

  44. gpfan says:

    To all the Webber fans.
    To all the Vettel fans.
    But, most importantly, to all
    those here that have a problem
    with Red Bull or Seb-baby:

    Please read David Coulthard’s
    latest opus in BBC sport.

    Took ole’ DC years of retirement
    to finally admit it to himself.
    Now he is telling us and Mark
    what, deep down, we all know in
    our hearts.

    1. Will says:

      DC – ‘The question marks over the strategy are a nice news story for those who want to stir the pot, but Mark is on the floor. He has done four re-matches with Sebastian in the same car and each time he has come up short’

      Pretty simple really, if I was in Horners shoes I’d be ‘favouring’ the fastest driver in my TEAM to ensure the best possible result in this TEAM sport.

      Go get ‘em Seb, good lad!!!

    2. Robin says:

      This is a great piece by Coulthard there is an interview with him on a similar vein on YouTube. I think you really can’t admit to yourself that you’re not the fastest while you’re driving or you will lose what edge you have. Hindsight is a good thing for later.
      Anyway, thanks for the outstanding analysis James. I can remember such an absorbing strategy race in a long time.

      1. bearforce says:

        This. This is why I believe Massa can’t be racing to his potential. How can Massa race as fast as he can and mentally fight when he is told to slow down or give up his place or break seals on a gearbox and lose grid places. I can’t expect anyone to continue to have the killer – fight fight fight instinct whilst being treated the was Massa has.

  45. Robert N says:

    Excellent analysis, James.

    I love the foto, too! Although Vettel will have to wait until India to finally be crowned 2014 champion. :)

    1. kfzmeister says:


  46. Bart says:

    “That is the pragmatism of Formula 1.”
    When you invest that much money you probably get painfully pragmatic

  47. Brace says:

    Why does this reminds me of Barcelona 2009? :)

    The wrong guy got ahead, but team then decide that he will be “better off” on a three stopper, and promptly lost him the lead, while his teammate who was behind him, kept a two stop strategy which was always the first choice because it was simply faster.

    The fact that they always plan to do 2-stopper tells you that they know that 3-stopper is great way to slow down your driver if he is not the one whom you want to be in front. :)

    Lessons learned long ago and they keep coming back. :)

    1. maybe james should also re read this report that he wrote then apply the same logic [in general] to the suzuka race.

      1. Me says:

        …to fit what you believe should be reported?…

        I don’t think it works that way.

      2. not at all…just be consistent with the strategy analysis.

  48. CHornerhatesWebber says:

    Thanks James for the great analysis, the answer to the question is Yes Webber gets screwed again. Whether is KERs failure, water leaks or like twice this season the wheels falling off (literally) I’m looking forward to Webber being out of F1 because I think he will spill the beans on the reality of being Red Bulls number 2 and all the other dodgy things that have gone on.
    I wonder if RB are already plotting on how to slow Ricciardo down and disrupt his practices/qualifying/races so a 4 time world champion who by the way was beaten comfortably by Di Resta in F3 in the same car can continue winning. They say what goes around comes around so lets hope for 4 dnf’s for Vettel in the last 4 races, Alonso wins 3 and is second in Brazil until the last lap when Webber lets him through.

    1. GRLap says:

      Is that hat tin foil or carbon fiber?

  49. Guy says:

    Love the crown on vettels head in main pic!

  50. jay harte says:

    do you think red bull or seb will gift mark a win once they have won both championships ?

    1. James Allen says:

      Probably. He’d like one more win – to get into double figures – before he retires. He’s always very quick in Brazil anyway.

      1. bbobeckyj says:

        I love how that can be read as slightly ambiguous, like you’re almost suggesting that Red Bull can plan in which race they will gift a win to a driver. But they are making it look that easy.
        As for this article, possibly my favourite one that you’ve written, thank you. I enjoy the thinking behind all of the strategy, often it’s a detailed study of what happened, this has more of the why it happened.

      2. Glennb says:

        I doubt Mark would accept being gifted a win. Who wants a hollow trophy in the cabinet? If he’s good enough, he will win one legitimately. Good luck to him.

  51. Cedgy says:

    Like James said Vettel was faster doesn’t matter if he was behind or in front of Webber. Webber had pole and mucked it up at the start, he can only blame himself for that.

    1. Ronnie says:

      Imagine Webber’s KERS had problem in qualify, the out cry of injustice would be deafening!

      1. Damien says:

        You have a short memory Ronnie ! Webber has had numerous issues in qualy this year Kers more than once. A lot of the time its put down to his size and the packaging constraints but it is what it is. The kers is about 3 to1 actually and anyone that says different is not is not watching F1.


  52. Bayan says:

    To be honest, I think Webber was lucky to get second. I believe that if it weren’t for the lapped traffic, he wouldn’t have passed Grosjean. I guess experience is as effective as DRS sometimes.

  53. Marybeth says:

    This is why I am glad that Kimi did not sign with RBR.

    1. Ronnie says:

      Kimi said himself that Seb was faster after James asked him to respond to Vettel’s compliment on Kimi.

      People do not like to admit, but Kimi does care about MONEY.

      1. Harshad says:

        And which driver on the grid drives for free?

      2. Promugger says:

        The pay drivers pay to drive

      3. Elie says:

        Kimi Only Cares About Winning.. !! Of course Sebastian is faster in the RB9 than he is in that Lotus- Kimi did not break it down he just states the obvious as he always does.

        His first request from Lotus was technical guarantees that they could continue to develop their 2014 car and that the funding promised by Infinity partners that would support this was sealed- it hasn’t happened.

        Technically speaking also is that a manufacturer team will have a slight advantage with engines and chassis development done inhouse- hence Ferrari was a logical choice given it was the only works team.

        His second request was that they pay his salary and that they could pay his salary in 2014. Given they haven’t paid him his 2013 salary and they delayed him all of 2012– I don’t think it’s too much to ask — is it.

        Lotus failed to give both– do you remember they were talking about the infinity deal back in May- 5 months later nothing and several staff have left them.!Raikkonen is not stupid and if it was just his pay he would have waited like he did last year- Next year and the development money and new powertrains – favouring manufacturer are huge expense increases- any person with half a brain would want some assurances.

      4. Marybeth says:

        @Ronnie, If Kimi did not know the importance of money in F1 before Santander bought his seat at Ferrari & put FA, a pay-driver, in it…he did after.
        Happy Birthday, Kimi! :)

      5. Sujith says:

        Lewis signs a contract with Merc last year… Everybody said.. he is going for the money…

        Kimi signing a Ferrari contract, again he is in it for the money…

        2014.. new rules new power-train…Where would a world champion wanna be? A works team!!

        Nobody ever sees that. Kimi Raikkonen is more of a racer than any other especially finger boy who has been given a car that can start on only the front 2 rows. What happened when he started from the back in his front wing damaged while passing cars that were way slower! Hit the DRS board while running behind the safety car, had all four wheels off the track to overtake Grosjean… he looked like a stupid immature kid… and with everybody else crashing around him with a lot of Safetycars he could manage only P3… Where do you see a racer in here?

      6. Sujith says:

        the only thing he did good was that overtake on Button to get 3rd.

  54. ‘the lead driver gets the call on strategy and they, red bull undermined that protocol’. these are your words james. you call it strategy i call it ‘conspiracy to defraud’. webber was never going to be allowed to win and this is actual proof of that assumption.

    1. James Allen says:

      I think you need to look at this a little more calmly.

      Study the race history chart, look at Webber’s tyre deg, consider that every other F1 strategist says that he would have done exactly the same thing in the circumstances.

      1. Rachael says:

        In a journalistic sense, this “analysis” has two major flaws.
        1. It assumes that Webber could not make his hard tyres last long enough to complete a two-stop race.
        2. It assumes that Vettel was faster than Mark on the day.

        There is not one shred of evidence from the race that supports either assumption. Instead it is purely speculative.

        The analysts have attempted to distort their assumptions by focussing on the opening stint. The argument that Mark could not make a two-stop race because his option tyres dropped off quickly, is FALSE. The facts are:
        1 ALL cars found their option tyres wearing out sooner than anticipated in the opening stint.
        2 The Lotus was happier than the Red Bull on options. On primes, that situation had reversed itself in Mark’s favour.

        In his second stint, Mark was in a race-winning position. His pace was good and his tyres were holding up well. The leading Lotus was struggling, and Mark was preparing to pounce at around lap 30.

        Viewed purely on the basis of this race alone, as the pole-man, and the leading Red Bull, Mark should have been allowed the opportunity to have a crack at winning the race.

        However, the team opted to move Mark out of the way, to improve Vettel’s chances. Some say this action is justifiable some say it is unfair. The jury is out on this point.

        Given the championship situation and the history of these two drivers, perhaps it is understandable. However, the thing that has upset race fans is Red Bull’s denial of the truth.

        The reality is that Red Bull took Mark out from a race-wining position, put him in an unfavourable strategy and then later claimed that it is Mark’s own fault.

      2. James Allen says:

        The information comes from F1 strategists….

      3. Rachael says:

        …who are paid by F1 teams.

      4. Doug says:

        You make very good points and you are not alone:

      5. Craig D says:

        It’s already been explained the strategy choice was based on a team one, albeit a team one that would likely give Vettel the greater chance of victory (and certainly track position, which is what happened).

        If Webber had stayed on a 2 stop, perhaps he’d have beaten Grosjean but he may also have not been able to jump in. But it would also have made it far less likely Vettel would have been able to jump Grosjean too, since he wouldn’t have been as close to Romain with Webber being their sandwich meat.

        With 1 stop to go for Grosjean, Red Bull managed to get both cars ahead of the Lotus. The team strategy brought them a 1-2, you can’t do better than that. Did it compromise Webber, yes but so what, the team cared more about the team.

        People want to get upset about this but the team got a 1-2 out of it (only their second this season). They did the right thing, even though I wanted Webber to win; Vettel’s pace and stint consistency throughout the race showed he was the faster driver however.

      6. Richard says:

        I think you are probably both right, but James does not present the complete picture only commenting on how long the tyres lasted, but of course it depends on the usage. Webber for example did far more pushing in the first stint trying to catch Grosjean and would therefore use his tyres up more quickly. One could argue that Vettel’s engineers gave him better advice on how to run the race as I don’t suppose the team anticipated Grosjean overtaking them initially. The tyres are rubbish basically as a few sqirts and they are gone.

      7. Jason Norwood says:

        Webber still had the chance to win but couldn’t get past the lotus like Vettel did.
        That is where the top class drivers in my opinion show there class. Lewis in Germany 08, Alonso in Valencia 12, Kimi in Japan 05. If Mark had got past 1st or 2nd attempt he would have had a chance but didnt do it fast enough.

      8. Elie says:

        Good on you Rachael- your 100% correct.
        Strategies can only work if they are based on the truth. That word is very much interchangeable with “strategy” ,”money” “motivation” in the upper echelons of F1.

        Without rubbishing the team Webber clearly said his tyres were fine at the second stint and “not sure why I was called to pit, my tyres were still good” this is supported by his lap times improving. Not dropping!.

        There are too many naive people on this site who just blindly believe– Im certainly not one of them.

      9. Clarks4WheelDrift says:

        Spot on Rachael, well put.

        It was the claiming it was Mark’s own fault that annoys the most, right from Horner’s radio message as soon Mark crossed the line and in his post race interviews. The fact Horner did this is the most telling thing, he knew Mark was not given an optimal strategy, to help Seb. Horner should have just said the focus was on the Championship so we executed the perfect strategy for Seb plus still took a 1,2 -and not panned Webbo to hide his strategy calls.

        By the way Vetlovers, this is not Seb hatin’ , it’s mild Horner bashing, so don’t get yer lovely bleached blonde locks in a twist ;)

      10. Rachael says:

        “Study the race history chart, look at Webber’s tyre deg, consider that every other F1 strategist says that he would have done exactly the same thing in the circumstances.”

        The race history chart shows that the only times when Vettel’s lap times were better than Mark’s, was when Mark was caught behind Grosjean. This proves that Romain was slower than Mark (especially on hard tyres), it does not prove that Vettel was faster than Webber, on the day.

        Webber only suffered tyre degradation on lap 10. We know that his car was less happy on the option tyre. This does not prove that Mark would suffer the same degradation on hard tyres. On the contrary, the lap charts show that Mark suffered no degradation on hard tyres.

        Consider also that on lap 11 Vettel made no ground on Grosjean, even with Mark in the pits. On hard tyres, both Mark and Sebastion were able to close up on Romain at will.

        And the answer to the final point, is that of course every other strategist in F1 would do the same, what with Red Bull management leaning on their shoulder saying, “Get Mark out of the way”.

      11. rachael, that is an excellent post/summary of the true situation and it has been put logically.

        james, i don’t need to look at this ‘more calmly’ as you so succinctly put it. what i am saying is, in effect, there was no way redbull were going to let webber win despite him getting pole and despite their ‘protocol’. do you actually understand the meaning of ‘protocol’? it means an ‘established method of procedure’. no manner of weasel words can detract from the principle of what occurred.

        horner et al all knew that they had to engineer a scenario to take webber out of contention in a certain manner otherwise the booing would be out of control.

        i would urge you to reconsider your approach to sanitize the results by stating that ‘all other strategists’ would’ve done the same. yes they may well have done as the original goal was to make certain that vettel won, by fair means or foul.

        the vettel fans simply cannot accept this fact. poor show really but not unexpected.

      12. bk says:

        Degradation and tyre life are different things.
        No one did more than 23 lap on the hards, more like 18,19,20, because they wear out.
        on some tracks the tyre performance drop and fuel loss performance gain turn out about equal as in Japan. It does not mean that Webber’s tyres would last more than 19 laps. He would do consistent Times until ‘cliff time’… With 42 laps to do he could not Do those laps quickly enough on 2 sets of hards. He doesn’t make the tyres last as well as vettel. He was switched at a time when a gap in traffic permitted, not due to lap times.

      13. Rockie says:

        What a silly analysis from your keyboard you feel you know better than F1 strategist yes they are paid by F1 teams but I assume your disdain towards Vettel has no impact on your analysis what a joke of a response, as in it is getting ridiculous reading posts like this case in point Webber was only slower than Vettel because he was stuck behind Grosjean and then you say he would have won on the 2 stop strategy how exactly would he have won being stuck behind on same strategy as you have not stated that from your post its easy to see that you would have preffered Grosjean to win rather than Vettel winning as Webber was not winning that race whichever way!

      14. Scuderia McLaren says:

        James, people prefer conspiracies, even in the face of robust qualitative and quantitative analysis (you) and rival strategy experts occurring with the strategies in question.

        It’s just people can’t cope with what they see as implausible domination by a driver they have a subconscious prejudice and dislike for.

        Schumacher had this, Prost, Lauda, Senna at times too.

        Truth be told, Alonso can rarely do anything right in my eyes based on his abhorrent off track tricks. That’s the way it goes in sport.

      15. Doug says:

        Unfortunately there are other experts who see things differently: so please save us the lectures!

      16. OffCourse says:

        I have no problems with Seb’s dominance. I think he is the faster driver. I also have no problem with the rest of the teams saying that they would run the same strategy. However, I don’t think RBR put Mark on the best strategy for Mark to win the race. He was never going to run down Seb on a 3 stop strategy. Could hee have won on a two stop strategy? We will never know, but he thinks that he could have and a number of people have raised issues with his strategy that have not been addressed in this article. At the end of the day RBR did what was best for RBR, and that’s fine. It’s just that I, and I suspect many others feel like they are not being honest, or more to the point straight forward with us. We feel like we are being fed spin. Perhaps that is also the nature of F1.

      17. BRad says:

        Spot on Doug!

      18. BRad says:

        “robust qualitative and quantitative analysis”. Please, robust perhaps, but the other two are lacking……at least this time.

        How’s your tongue anyhow, a bit chaffed?

      19. Elie says:

        ScudMac- It does not detract from the fact that everything Rachael said is true.

        Do you honestly believe Mark Webber was ever going to be allowed to jeaopardise Sebs victory…?? Even from pole position – Seriously?

        All the fans want is some honesty and transperancy not some pompous nonsense coming out of Horners mouth. Everyone knows Seb is quicker but the very few times Mark is in a position to attack he is taken out. All for the sake of a one finger salute at the end of a race. No one is fussed by who wins really — it’s just the constant lies that Red Bull throw at us. Boo Boo Boo – there ya go.!!

    2. bearforce says:

      I think the short simple version of James most excellent report is that Webber would not have won on either strategy.

      Webber was not able to pass FatJohn even on superior tyres and with a faster car. Two stops or three stops Webber sadly would have come second at best.

    3. JCA says:

      ‘Conspiracy to defraud’ is a criminal offence, feel free to contact the Japanese police. You might want to calm down before accusing someone of criminal wrongdoing.

      As many, if not most, analysts have said (even if they don’t agree), it can legitimately be argued that a three stopper was the best strategy for Webber after his short first stint. I also argue that, if Webber had done a normal two stopper, Vettel would still have run a longer second stint (in fact, he ran the longest second stint of the grid), thus meaning he would still have significantly newer tyres when he came out after his second stop, and people would be complaining that they made sure Webber had old tyres when they met on track. It is also highly doubtful that he could run as long or longer than Seb on the primes, unless you disregard all the comparative data of the last 3 years.

      Most news sites also say that every team they asked, said they would have done the same, as splitting the strategies turned a probable 2-3 or 1-3 into a 1-2.

    4. JCA says:

      Lets say Horner comes on the radio at the start of lap 25, and tells Mark that they are splitting strategies and asks which one he wants, in code obviously.

      Knowing that he has to do two long stints on primes, meaning that he has to nurse the tyres at the end, like RoGro, and that Seb has been mega in clean air the last halve of the season, and would catch him with much newer tyres at the end, does he choose the three stopper or two stopper?

      I believe the answer is obvious, which goes along with my belief that, given a split strategy, at that stage the three stopper was the best strategy for him, even if they made the choice for him. And splitting strategies was also the obvious thing to do, after the gap opened up behind Seb.

  55. Trent says:

    If Vettel wraps up the championship in India, and circumstances allow, can you see a Redbull strategy revolving around trying to get a final Webber win before the end of the season? Would Vettel go along with this? I will be watching with intrigue!

    1. Glennb says:

      I don’t see it happening for several reasons. Winning the WDC is only one of SV’s goals. Every race he seems to be going for some new record or another and the team support this.
      Most race wins in a row.
      Most poles in a season.
      Most fastest laps.
      Most wins in a leap year.
      Youngest driver to win…..
      2nd youngest driver to…..
      Youngest German to….
      2nd youngest German to….
      First blonde hair driver to….
      The records are endless.
      I dont think Mark would want a gifted win and I dont think Seb would give it to him either. Fair play.
      IF Mark accepted a gifted win, I would be booing inside.

      1. SteveS says:

        Mark has already “”accepted” a gifted win. Brazil 2011.

      2. Glennb says:

        That may well be but I doubt he thought that anything was dodgy. I reckon he was under the assumption that the #1 car was suffering a mechanical problem. If that’s the case, big difference.
        From memory, Mark said over the team radio that he could ‘smell’ Seb’s gearbox whilst running behind him. That makes a stronger case that there may well have been a genuine problem. Maybe not a game changer but a problem none the less.
        I really dont think you will find too many instances of Mark knowingly accepting a win whilst not leading the race. You need to look towards the Schumi’s and Alonso’s for stuff like that. Guys who were in contention for WDC’s, or at least guys who were ‘owed’ a return win.

    2. Ronnie says:

      How will Mark feel about a gifted win? “Hollow”?

      1. Trent says:

        Depends on the type of ‘gift’. A preferential strategy is different to someone pulling over at the final corner, a la Senna/Berger, to let the other guy win. I don’t think the latter would sit well with Webber but surely no one would consider the former scenario hollow?

    3. bearforce says:

      No I think RedBull wil stick with Vettel if he is still on the winning streak. Vettel is collecting one of the most rare statistics and that is consecutive wins. RedBull and Vettel won’t give up a chance at nine wins in a row.

      Webber would reject charity or in other words a pity win.

  56. Rishi says:

    Really good article this; didn’t disappoint. Broke down the race into all the key moments that helped determine the direction Red Bull took and examined why they did so. Also liked the graphs showing laptime drop-off near the end of the stints and also the insight into Grosjean’s strategy (about him possibly being better-off on the mediums and about Lotus still holding out for victory when they pitted him a bit early in the 2nd stint). Credit to Lotus for going for it as well.

  57. Bono says:

    This kind of silly “stick to the party line” editorializing is what ruins the sport. The truth is RBR ALWAYS favors Vettel as (a) Vettel is the better driver, better suited for the car, etc., and it doesn’t hurt that (b) the horrifying white guy that’s M’s man in the pits has a slightly uncomfortable “man crush” on Vettel, that has been perpetually on display for years.

  58. Mark says:

    The biggest shame is yet again it’s all about tires, I’ve honestly not watched a whole race this year for the first time in 20 odd years.

    I feel for Webber, in 2010 he was just as quick as Vettel as the tires and car suited him, since then the car has gone Vettels way along with the tires.

    It’s very boring watching who is getting the best out of tires.

    1. Me says:

      “I’ve honestly not watched a whole race this year for the first time in 20 odd years.”

      And yet you feel the need to post and tell people this…

      1. Mark says:

        Yes I’d love to watch and be excited like i used to be….welcome to the Internet btw where we make comments.

      2. Me says:

        Of course, and the races you watched 20 years ago when all the same things were happening then, where were the commenters?

      3. Mark says:

        The same things back then? no, racing was completely different, you didn’t have to tip toe round trying to look after tires or worry about them being the deciding factor.

        Bring back manual gearboxes and all the rest, driver skill was much more demanding and entertaining to watch.

      4. Rockie says:

        Sad part is the racing then was based on perception that they were driving flat out and commentators keep talking about yester years like it was better watched enough to know this is the best era unfortunately Seb has raised the bar as in, if you dont win the race he’s going to win it!

      5. Netmonger says:

        Sorry, but I have been watching F1 since 1973. I was at Watkins Glen the weekend Francois Cevert died and JYS, not yet Sir, withdrew. I have seen refuelling, turbos, and tire changes come and go and come back again. There were times when tire changes were limited to replacing punctures and drivers had to run on unbalanced sets if they had to stop to change a puncture. Driving a race on one set of tires made tire management an art, so nothing new, just a replay. F1 has changed many times. Enjoy the racing under the rules of the current formula. And, FYI, during those times Pirelli made rock hard tires that did last a full race. Just ask Rene Arnoux.

  59. Mark says:

    James, when Webber pitted for stop 3, he was approx 14sec clear of Vettel with 10 laps to go and his lap times as good as Vettel from what I can tell, why not just leave him out? If RBR thought he best to get second, what difference if he came third if tyres not hold up. I think he could have held on for last 10 laps.
    I for one, want drivers to race hard and not have to drop back a few seconds to save tyres, let them race hard and see who wins.
    Vettel is a gun driver and deserves his championships but it is clear Webber gets shafted, can’t wait for the book from Webber!
    By the way, your articles and assessment of F1 is fanatastic.

    1. Netmonger says:

      Yeah, the US commentators mention that. Steve Matchett, a former Benneton race engineer reckoned that, if he were in Webber’s place, he would have stayed out to see how long the tires would last. What would the team do if he didn’t stop, fire him?

  60. Gary Vaughan says:

    Firstly – I am an Australian and a big Webber fan.

    Do I think RB favoured Vettel – Yes
    Do I think that they originally planned to, in this case – No

    But when the opportunity presented itself they took full advantage of it to make sure that they (RB) protected their interests – and at present that is for Vettel to win the WDC.

    I have been quite intrigued by this ( and some of Webbers past issues ) , but this morning I am starting to think that in this case its more to do with business than sport.

  61. Andrew says:

    Hi James who just out of interest is the main strategy man at Red Bull? I know they have a team of people with computers back in HQ with dozens of plans for every possible outcome but who is on the wall making the calls?

  62. Rick says:

    I don’t understand why Mark didn’t just stay out and try to finish the race on his second set of tires. The race analysis was amazing as always.

  63. kfzmeister says:

    “They race for a team and their contract terms oblige them to accept that the team will make decisions in the interests of the team.”

    Was Seb told this in Malaysia?
    Hypothetical question. Really :-)

    1. obviously not. vettel made horner a laughing stock in sepang and i might add he continues to do so. just witness horners idolatry of the golden child.

      1. Rach says:

        Brazil 2012. Have you not learnt from reading this blog that there is always more to the story……

    2. Luke Smith says:

      Well said.

  64. ozmark says:

    From the Conclusion: “this race turned out exactly as Red Bull expected it to from the moment they took a team decision around lap 20-25 to split the strategies”.

    So to answer the article’s question “Did Red Bull favour Vettel over Webber in Japanese GP strategy calls?”, the answer is “yes”, RB made a decision to favour SV. Forget whether MW could or should have won, the question is whether RB favoured SV at MW’s expense. The answer is yes.

    1. Spyros says:

      …yes, done and dusted. And RBR sees nothing wrong with it, naturally. I mean yes, the championships are both in the bag, but that’s no reason why they should not chase a few extra records, surely! Vettel needs to sort out the ‘Most Consecutive Wins Ever’ entry… it’s already his, of course, but you never know.

      Now, if they could sort out the complete mystery of why their favored gets booed on the podium, things would be great..!

    2. accurate and clearly stated. i fully agree.

  65. Vivek says:


    Not sure if this is already covered. I would think Lotus started the race, not expecting to lead for as long as they did. Their original strategy ought to have been a 2 stopper, closely matching the stints that Vettel eventually did.

    Had they stuck with it, instead of reacting to Mark’s first stop, do you think they could have taken second place in Suzuka?


  66. Spyros says:

    Makes sense, I guess.

    It doesn’t really address the whole “why do people boo Vettel in the podium?” issue, though.

    1. James Allen says:

      It wasn’t trying to. It’s an analysis of the Japanese GP!!

      1. Spyros says:

        I’m sorry, I was too vague, my comment wasn’t a criticism towards you James, your report is excellent, as always. I was being a bit snide about RBR’s approach. That’s what “Makes sense”, but..?

      2. yes james, it is an analysis of the race but it lacks impartiality as you are stating that redbull achieved the right result for red bull but that assumption leaves out the fact that the decisions in principle were made well before the race. they wanted vettel to win and how they achieved that was of no consequence irrspective of webber starting on pole and the ‘protocol’you say that they abandoned. even then you support the team so in effect you are saying that you support the treatment of webber.

      3. James Allen says:

        I dislike the suggestion that it lacks impartiality

        What you are saying is that you don’t like it because I don’t criticise the team for what they did

        I live in the world of Motorsport and F1. The real world of racing, where winning and losing isn’t down to which driver you like, it’s down to making decisions to achieve your best team result

        All the other teams’ strategists I have spoken to, who were racing on Sunday, said that they would do the same, given the situation

        I spelled it out. Red Bull saw the most certain way to win and took it and that disadvantaged Webber.

        How much more impartial can one be?

      4. Scott says:

        The team opted for strategies that produced a 1-2 finish. Their aim is the best possible finish for the team. Getting Vettel ahead of Webber obviously afforded the best chance of that happening. Webber may have started on pole, but he lost it into the first corner after his now customary bad start and Grosjean being thrown into the mix clearly demanded a change of strategy. I don’t really see what there is to complain about.

      5. Richard says:

        At this point in the season teams are likely to back the driver in the most advantageous position in respect of the championship. As things are it’s a no brainer. I do think webbers engineers could have given him better advice with regard to Grosjean.

      6. gpfan says:

        James Allen!

        How can you look in the mirror?
        How can you be so partial?

        “All the other teams’ strategists I have spoken to”.

        What about the team strategists you
        did not talk to? What about their
        opinions? I notice you conveniently
        left them out.

        The problem with this site is that
        everyone here has an opinion on a
        favorite driver; Alo, Kimi, Seb-baby,
        Hammer and so on. WELL, you are all

        The best is obvious:

        Taki-baby Inoue !

    2. Doug says:

      It does, didnt you get the “Get him out of the way” part?

    3. Me says:

      “why do people boo Vettel in the podium?”

      Ignorance, bitterness, the thought that their favoured driver hasn’t won… again…

      1. Richard says:

        In my view it is because of the poor sportsmanship Vettel has displayed from time to time. Fans have long memories!

    4. Random 79 says:

      Has to do with something about people being a word that starts with w, rhymes with bankers, and would probably be modded if I said it outright.

      Don’t like Vettel? Fine. Don’t like to see him on the podium. Fine.

      Just leave.

  67. musshan says:

    bernie is a masterclass. he has taken the sport to lots of different countries with so many ignorant fans who are so easy to manipulate. total naivity to believe that vettel’s 2+sec advantage vanished in japan all of a sudden after 2 streaky domianant races.

    bernie: chris, comon man dont spoil the show.
    horner: what do want me to do. we have done a brilliant job with blessings of FIA and pirelli.
    bernie: vettel winning the championship is guaranteed now. so y dont you turn of the traction advantage on his car?
    horner: no way. then we might lose first place and $$$’s.
    bernie: alright how about this, switch it on after halfway mark in the race so people dont turn off tv in first 10 laps. 1)it gives credibility to your “it’s not the car it’s vettel’s driving” propoganda. 2)gives you 1st place and $$$’s in the end. 3) we dont loose TV audiance and $$$’s too.
    horner: sounds brilliant.

    and people go who says F1 is boring and blah blah blah.

    earlier ferrari had blessings of max they dominated technologically. and now todt wants to screw ferrari thus he lets redbull get away with bending the rules technologies and they are dominating. come one mercedes and mclaren get you man to be next fia prez. dont you want to dominate too?

    1. JCA says:

      How many times must it be said that the 2 seconds a lap advantage in Singapore was down to circumstance? At the restart, Vettel was going flat out with a mechanically sound car,in clean air, while Rosberg had rubber stuck in the slot gaps of his front wing, Garry Anderson reconned it would cost him around 1.5 seconds a lap, right there. Then later, Alonso was trying to do 5 to 6 laps more than what Ferrari thought was possible on a set of primes, so he was going slowly, to preserve the tyres. Vettel was going as fast as he could on a set of options. So in a like for like situation with both cars on the same strategy with no mechanical problems, there is no way RBR were 2 seconds a lap faster.

  68. Doug says:

    Alternative analysis from other experts at Sky: After the race Christian Horner suggested the decision to move Webber onto a three-stopper had been triggered by the Australian having “gone through the tyres” in the first stint – and therefore the likelihood of it happening again in the next. Since Pirelli and their fast-degrading tyres entered F1 in 2011, Webber has usually proved more prone to higher degradation than Vettel, so the need for him to make an additional visit to the pits was not particularly unusual. However, was it definitely required on this occasion? Starting with that first stint which Horner suggested was key to the decision, here are the respective laptimes of the close-running top three in the five laps up to Webber’s lap-11 stop:

    Lap six: Grosjean 1:38.548/ Webber 1:38.838/ Vettel 1:39.460
    Lap seven: Grosjean 1:38.907/ Webber 1:39.182/ Vettel 1:38.871
    Lap eight: Grosjean 1:38.958/ Webber 1:39.321/ Vettel 1:38.835
    Lap nine: Grosjean 1:38.830/ Webber 1:39.170/ Vettel 1:39.721
    Lap ten: Grosjean 1:39.016/ Webber 1:39.419/ Vettel 1:39.107
    Lap 11: Webber pits.

    Webber’s second stint

    Lap 12 – Outlap
    Lap 13 – 1:37.913
    Lap 14 – 1:37.978
    Lap 15 – 1:37.786
    Lap 16 – 1:38.156
    Lap 17 – 1:37.754
    Lap 18 – 1:37.919
    Lap 19 – 1:37.983
    Lap 20 – 1:37.907
    Lap 21 – 1:37.878
    Lap 22 – 1:37.747
    Lap 23 – 1:37.430
    Lap 24 -1:37.797
    Lap 25 – Pitstop

    As Ted Kravitz mused in his post-race Notebook, it was the timing of that lap-25 stop that proved particularly puzzling given Webber’s very consistent pace at the time.

    Certainly the radio message to Vettel two laps later from his race engineer of “You’re not racing Mark, you’re racing Grosjean” would appear to suggest that, from the German’s side of the garage at least, they considered the World Champion to now be in the box seat with Webber locked into a riskier three-stopper.

    1. yes,doug, you are quite right there. webber was not displaying any need for that stop at that particular time. your assumptions are being rubbished by a lot of people but in the end the figures tell the true story, that is, the story we have been given access to.

    2. JCA says:

      When making an extra stop, running in clean air becomes the most important thing. So, instead of lapping at GROs pace,even with decent tyres, RBR dropped WEB into the gap between VET and RIC. He could then push hard in clean air for the whole stint, with the knowledge that GRO had to maintain a slower lap delta. If you are doing the same number of stops as the guy you are racing, then using the full effective lifetime of the tyres becomes more important, as VET did.

      I believe WEB was never going to beat VET on a two stopper, as VET had better tyre deg and could average shorter stints on the primes, as he went longer on the options. He would probably run a longer second stint than WEB, then attack him with much newer tyres at the end, like he got GRO. This would probably have handed GRO the win.

  69. Chris in the morning says:

    I always really appreciate your insight and fairness in a discussion JA. A point of issue and a question or two though. You state “Note the drop off in performance of Webber’s tyres around laps 9-10″ but the graph isn’t sophisticated enough to tell that story. It is potentially the limit of the accuracy of the graph however could the increase in lap time be due to an error on Mark’s part during the lap or represent the added ‘pit in’ time at the end of the 9th lap? I believe it was noted by Brundle\Croft that the options didn’t appear to have much graining when they were removed. Did you have access to them after the race?

    Also I heard during my coverage a radio message from Seb saying “keep him away from me”, Perez was near him at the time (though I understand that there is a delay in these things) but surely he was referring to Mark and not Checo?


    1. Fireman says:

      For the latter, Seb was referring to Perez, who was getting blue flags. This can be confirmed from the radio messages.

  70. Hans says:

    Sorry to bother you, but can s/o please explain what the y-axis in the graphs above stands for?

    1. Netmonger says:

      Lap times, first position at the top to lowest position at the bottom.

  71. Matt W says:

    James, I don’t think it is worth doing the analysis to be honest. People who believe in the conspiracy theories will not accept evidence to the contrary.

    Webber lost the race when he lost the lead at the start and then was unable to get by Grosjean effectively later on. The conspiracy mob will always claim he was robbed, but had he cleared Grosjean straight away he would have had a relatively clear crack at Vettel on better tyres.

    1. James Allen says:

      Well I believe in thoroughness and impartiality

      1. no james, that is not necessarily the case. no one doubts your thoroughness but your impartiality has some question marks.

        you have taken me to task on this subject but you fail, like most others, to understand that sometimes you need to look behind the days events for the real story.

        what i am saying is simply this, for the umpteenth time. irrespective of webber getting pole there was no will on the behalf of redbull to even consider webber as a potential winner. they abandoned their ‘supposed’ protocol in order to engineer vettels win, as you have acknowledged. apparently you support this along with other strategists. that simply does not make it right and attempts to factor in unknowns make it even more suspect.

        finally, i have always accepted and acknowledged that you write an exceptionally good story and run a really good site. that said, i am disappointed that you didn’t look at the developing story, and a great deal of the facts and see that webber was shafted before the race even started. is this what you see as being impartial?

        your comments re dougs figures would be appreciated as they do appear to support a lot of the theory behind the people who question the results and how they were achieved.

      2. Francis Ulridge says:

        Irrespective of Webber getting pole, the end of the first lap saw him not in the lead, so it was game on for Red Bull to do what is needed in order to secure maximum results.

      3. OffCourse says:


      4. tim says:

        Kenneth, your parsing the facts is starting to sound like a Dr. Frankenstein’s experiment. And now you question the partiality of our own Mr. Allen? Take a deep breath.

      5. SteveS says:

        “irrespective of webber getting pole there was no will on the behalf of redbull to even consider webber as a potential winner”

        You are hammering the facts out of shape to fit your preconceived version of events. Red Bull did not botch Webber’s start, he did it for himself. They did not make him chew through his first set of tyres quickly, he did that for himself. RB dd not make Webber sit behind Gorojean for eight laps on his final stint, he did that for himself. He had many opportunities to win this race and he fluffed them all on his own.

        You seem to think that RB should have done everything possible to save Mark from his own mistakes, which is a very different thing from treating him fairly and equally.

      6. musshan says:

        @kenneth you have reflected my thoughts exactly. +1

    2. Robert N says:

      The “people who believe in the conspiracy theories” aspect got me thinking: Is it actually possible to create an outcome of the Japanese GP in which Vettel wins, and in which certain fans do not smell a conspiracy?

      I don’t think it is!!! Here are some scenarios:

      1) Vettel overtakes Webber at the start -> RBR have sabotaged Webber’s start (as usual).

      2) Vettel does 3 stops to Webbers 2 -> RBR gave Vettel the faster strategy, and failed to tell Vettel to hold station behind Webber towards the end of the race.

      3) Webber’s engine blows up 5 laps from the end -> RBR have sabotaged Webber’s car so that Vettel can clinch WDC a bit earlier.

      The possibilities are endless…

  72. The Spanish Inquisitor says:

    RBR/Vettel’s next objective is to overcome Ascari’s record, therefore, they will try to avoid any contact between Vettel and Weber. The RBR’s strategy in the next races will explain the last race result.

  73. Krishna says:

    On another note, fantastic picture of Vettel at the top of the page!

    The crown coming off his head is a tremendous picture!

  74. Nick_F1 says:

    Webber had his chance to win but he didn’t pass Grosjean straight away as Vettel did.

    For me this is the most important moment, this is the difference between Vettel and Mark – to deliver when it’s needed. This is the same for Alonso & Massa, etc …

    1. Krischar says:

      You cannot compare Alonso and massa situationThen you are clearly kidding yourself.

      Webber is miles quicker than massa. Yet RBR have screwed webber at every chance and favored their golden boy vettel (examples are plenty) yet webber have matched vettel for pace except 2011. Webber have got the big points when required and helped RBR to win 4 WCC.

      To say webber has not delivered anything is a complete nonsense. While in massa’s case yes it’s true to the core. He has been wasteful and lucky to have the ferrari seat.

      It is very easy to criticize webber yet he has done a the job for RBR. However personally it is quite stressful for webber though

      1. Nick_F1 says:

        I am not sure if Webber is clear faster than Massa.

        If you take a look at 2008,2009 and even now vs Alonso – then it’s clear that Massa is a quick driver. But this is not enough – you have to manage other things (tyres, strategy, youself, etc …) to win.

        In Webber case – it’s clear that he can’t manage tyres and “starts”. In Massa case more “tyre” issue not “starts”. And of course both have mental issue – Webber about Vettel and Massa about Alonso.

        More about Webber – yes, the team favours Vettel as they believe that they have the highest chance with him and not with Webber. Although Webber has the same car and could deliver a win if he only could pick up the following: classification+start+tyre management+ability to deliver at the right moment (like to overtake Grosjean within 1 lap).

        Just imagine whom you personnaly will favour, taking into the account if you pay yourself’s money on horse racing, to a horse who takes more than 35+ pole positions or a just only when the stars assent ???

        Webber needs to work hard and not to see what his team mate does, he has to check how it does Kimi.

      2. Krischar says:

        “If you take a look at 2008,2009 and even now vs Alonso – then it’s clear that Massa is a quick driver” – Complete joke

        So you still believe massa is quicker than alonso ? if that is the case you are in wonderland

        Massa not achieved anything in his F1 career. Your comparison between massa and alonso between 2008-2009 does not make any sense. ALonso drove for the Renault trucks while massa clearly had the quickest car in 2008 and yet failed to win the WDC. Massa back then in 2008 had the team support and kimi let him through in china 2008 as well. Yet Lewis won the WDC in a slower Mclaren

        Massa is quicker than alonso is complete mockery

        Alonso is miles quicker than massa and so does webber. During the 07-09 stint even Kimi was quicker than massa and delivered WDC for Ferrari

        Finally webber is lot closer to vettel in relation to pace when compared with alonso / massa combo.

        Webber has certainly done a commendable job for RBR (4 WCC). yes he failed to win WDC personally yet he never let the team down. While massa has done nothing for Ferrari or nor for himself

      3. Nick_F1 says:

        To Krischar:

        You’ve got me wrong – during 2008, 2009 – I was talking about Massa vs Kimi, not Alonso and Massa.

        Right now Massa is quite good vs Alonso as for the classification.

      4. Bartholomew says:

        Webber matched Vettel for pace except 2011? Pass me whatever you’re smoking. MW hasn’t been close over the course of a season to Vettel since 2010, and even that was because Vettel had numerous mechanical failures while leading.

    2. Netmonger says:

      Yeah, I agree, those were the two defining moments of the race. Nice that someone said it out loud. Regards.

  75. Bruce says:

    That’s the problem with F1 right now. Analysis, strategy, favouritism. Why couldn’t they just let the two of them race, on the same strategy. The title is won. What angers people is: MW radio: Multi 3, Mark. (What’s that???). SV radio: “Get him out of my way!” then “Sebastian, we are racing Grosjean, not Mark”.
    Call that racing? I certainly don’t.

    1. to says:

      did you watch the race?

      the “get him out of my way” was for Sergio Perez McLaren when Vettel was lapping him… had nothing to do with webber (but the commentators sure took it as so, and few people bother to think and pay attention to what it was…).

  76. Krischar says:

    RBR could have easily allowed webber and vettel to race in japan. Yet they were not interested and decided to play it safe to avoid another scenario like turkey 2010

    RBR had the Victory covered from both ends (Vettel & Webber). Though grosjean drove a good race lotus struggled for pace with harder tyres.

    RBR do favour vettel at all costs, anyone who deny this are simply delusional. Japan was classic example which clearly reflected RBR never want webber to get in the way of vettel. Despite the WDC and WCC sewn up. RBR screws webber at every chance. RBR are a clear disgrace to the sport. Worse than any other team including ferrari in the history of sport

    1. Please move for the championship….
      never heard this comment from Rbr….

      1. Random 79 says:

        It’s much more subtle than that – nothing that could be proved outright (like Ferrari for example), but just a general attitude or pattern that’s developed over the years.

        Of course it’s possible all that may be wrong; maybe RBR do treat their drivers equally, maybe Vettel really is that good and maybe Webber really is that unlucky.

    2. krischar, be very careful with your comments or you will be labelled [like me] as a conspiracy theorist. i like to think that i am in some small way supporting a driver who does his best at all times to achieve a result but can never achieve that as his team have no belief in him as a winner.

      japan was a prime example of this if you ever needed one. none of the media are game to swim against the redbull tide for fear that they will be locked out. that is how it appears to me anyway.

      1. James Allen says:

        Now you are off on another wrong tangent. Read the pages on this site – I’ve been critical of Red Bull on many occasions- eg their refusal to work with other teams on the RRA, Malaysia Multi 21 etc.

        There is no concern about being critical as long as it’s constructive and not blind insult – a similar principle to the one we apply here to comments on the site

      2. well james, i am not off on any tangent whatsoever. yes, you have been critical of RB in the past, so when they, ‘undermine their own protocol’ why don’t you similarly criticise them?

        the lap charts produced here by other poaters tell a somewhat interesting story yet you don’t appear to have provided any answer to them? webbers second stint was terminated too early and yet there has been no real explanation for that?.

        finally, there was no blind insult, either stated or implied. what i am saying still stands.IMO, and that of many others, webber was never going to be allowed to win in japan and no manner of puffery will convince me otherwise. actions always speak louder than words….or they do to me anyway.

      3. Krischar says:

        @ Kenneth chapman

        I am no way a conspiracy theorist

        On other hand it seems like you are delusional at best

        Normally lead car on the track will have strategy advantage however in Japan RBR have put webber at disadvantage (I have no issues if you disagree with me) on this. Webber lead from vettel and was right behind grosjean. Hence RBR should have tried a two stopper for webber and I am very sure webber would have atleast held off the challenges in race later on

        RBR want vettel to win at all costs and they have exactly done it in japan through strategy game. Webber knows it and termed it as strategy mistake was made by RBR later. Vettel knows it was a hollow victory

        RBR have won WDC and WCC even before japan, hence they could have let webber and vettel to race towards the last stint of the GP. Lotus never stood a chance to win the Japanese GP. RBR wanted vettel to win and they were aware a 2 stop strategy for webber will risk the chances of vettel win. Simply RBR do not want vettel and webber to race in close prximity towards the final stint of the race.

        You need to be a realist and objective to sense the truth.

        Blind vettel fans praise their driver for nothing here Funny …….

      4. krischar…..i was agreeing with you!!!

      5. gpfan says:


        Kenny-Baby is delusional?

        You should meet me or my best
        pal, Sam Posey. Now, THAT is

        Go Luca-Baby Badoer!

      6. Krischar says:

        @ Kenneth chapman

        yes i read it incorrectly

        My apologies mate.

      7. thats all cool krishchar.

    3. Random 79 says:

      “RBR could have easily allowed webber and vettel to race in japan. Yet they were not interested and decided to play it safe to avoid another scenario like turkey 2010″

      Not ideal, but can you blame them?

      If you were team principal and you knew one of your drivers was catching the other fast, you knew he was maybe looking for payback, and you knew it was probably going to end in tears all over again, what would you do?

    4. Nuno says:

      Any other team would have done the same. For RedBull both titles are guaranteed for a long time.
      Favouring the team means more money, and that´s what every team is looking for. Favouring the best man is like betting on the best horse. It’s less risky.

      1. Doug says:

        In that case then people must not go on and on about how Vettel is a prodigy, best ever blah blah, if its all about the team, and the drivers’ personal achievements are irrelevant. You cant have it both ways;i.e. put Vettel on a pedastal at one instance, then turn around and say, actually, personal achievement is irrelevant its all about the team when pple want the same for Webber.

      2. Oletros says:

        Where has he said that personal achievements are irrelevant or that is all about the team?

  77. Damien K says:

    Marks failure in F1 amounts to not being in the right car at the right time ie before Seb came along. I would have loved to have seen them race at the same age against each other but its not to be.

    While still an extremely fast driver he has lost a step. He is the oldest person in the paddock and 11yrs Seb’s senior a fact that is overlooked all the time. And as stated elsewhere that since the change to Pirelli he has not found it as easy as Seb. 2010 on Bridgestone they were all but the same.

    Fastest laps 3 a piece
    Wins 5 to 4 Seb
    Qualy dif – 0.05 sec to Seb
    Laps led both over 300 with Seb by 60 next best JB 145 !

    Was Schumacher remembered for his final years. Look at Valentino Rossi 4 years younger than Mark is now and can’t mix it with MotoGP’s finest, where as Mark 4 yrs ago was toe to toe with a man who could be the successor to Michael who was arguably the sports best ever.

    I don’t think Mark gets enough credit for his skill/speed in f1, would that be a fair comment guys/ James ? Or are we going to remember all the greats at the end of their careers in the same vain ? Washed up has-beens or crap drivers in great cars (when winning) because thats how Nico towelled up legend isn’t it ?

    Face it guys anyone on that grid is an extremely fast racing driver and the ones that get paid to be there let alone 11/12yrs service are exceptional, bar none.


    1. Greg (Aus) says:

      Good comment DK. His early career moves were good but it started to come undone with the timing of his move to Williams for a period when they really struggled with reliability on the car. How might it have gone if he went to Enstone to partner Fernando?

  78. Mr Squiggle says:

    Philosophy, analysis and facts, all in the one post !! Thank you James.

    Webber’s ‘track record on Pirelli tyres’. Fair enough. The flipside of that coin is that he has been, at times, quicker on the harder compounds than Seb.

    It was the second stint that sealed Webber’s fate. He drove more than 10 laps in tyre conservation mode on tyres that did not need conservation.

    If you took the speed he showed on hard tyres just after he was told of the change in strategy (was it Mutli 3?) and multiplied that by the number of laps in his 2nd stint up to that point, my guess is you would find him ahead of Grosjean in the last stint, possibly ahead of Vettel too.

    RB didn’t just con Webber onto their non-preferred strategy. They also put him on a heavily compromised version of the three stop strategy.

    RB have form on this point. I recall hearing Horner after Spa explain how they had chosen a strategy for Mark that put him behind Nico, with softer tyres and then expected him to pass.

    Most teams use pitstop strategies to gain track position. RB use it to give MW’s track position away.

    This is the second time in 2013 Webber’s efforts have revealed Red Bull’s true colours to discerning and informed F1 fans.

    Webber is a proven winner. His nine wins at RB are worth three times as many wins from Vettel.

    I wish him a happy retirement from F1 and hope that Porsche give him the quality race management he needs.

    He sure as sh*t isn’t finding it at RedBull F1.

    1. well put. i fully agree with this.

    2. SteveS says:

      “Webber is a proven winner. His nine wins at RB are worth three times as many wins from Vettel.”

      That’s just rampant fanboyism. I see people complaining about the lack of quality in the comments here, and that has to be Exhibit A.

  79. Vernier Caliper says:

    The team would have obviously favoured Vettel, he is the faster of the two. Maybe he did not hook up the quali. lap, but on out right race pace he was quicker. Just look at the graphs.

    If I were running my team I would have done the same.

    The numbers don’t lie. ;)

  80. All comments are over emotional….
    Webber could not pass GRO with fresh medium tires…when GRO had older tires…
    Vetter did this directly without any hesitation and delay..

    If Webber and Vettel would have changed the strategy, then Webber would not have passed GRO and Vettel would have charged up behind Web and Gro and passed both of them…unlike Web did….
    There is a reason why Vet will win his 4:th WC title and Web will finish F1 without any…

    1. OffCourse says:

      Why does everyone ignore what Webber said. “In the closing laps DRS is not effective because he is bouncing off the limiter”. The maths always said he would struggle to pass RG quickly and would have no hope of passing SV.

      1. Well because he is talking about the problems instead of seeing the solutions.

        1- Unbelivably…..he managed to pass GRO even if he is bunching of the limiter…so the pass was obviously possible and the talk is just bull…he was too slow

        2- With newer tires…you should not need the DRS and limiters and bull…just use the HIGHER grip of the tires to accelerate out of the corners faster thus passing before even having to use to much of the DRS

        James, btw, best F1 site by a MILE!, thanks a lot for your work mate.

      2. the posters that take delight in dissing on webber are purposely avoiding this issue. did they even watch the race and understand what was preventing webber from making the pass? no, of they didn’t. they then choose to see this as a weakness on webbers part. absolute tosh.

      3. Bartholomew says:

        MW had a striaght line speed advanatage, as stated in the article.

      4. uan says:

        @kenneth chapman – If Webber stayed on a two-stopper, how was Webber going to pass Grojean on primes that’d give him less traction out of corners and less of a speed advantage over all?

      5. SteveS says:

        And yet Vettel had zero problem passing Grosjean. Or is the new theory that SV has a higher rev limiter in his car than MW does in his?

      6. Kimi4WDC says:

        Webber’s attack on Grosjean was very impatient. You can understand him coming very close to him at the chicane when he caught him and destroying his chances for the straight line overtake. But doing so repeatedly just to give Grosjean early exit advantage is no a great drive, not something I think he himself would be happy about after the fact.

  81. Cutu says:

    At the end of the day the answer to the headline (Did RBR favor SV?) is: yes they did favour SV on top of MW. The answer is in the report when James Allen says that the only chance to win for MW was a 2 stop strategy (“Had they been thinking solely of what was the best way to get Webber to win the race, that’s what Red Bull would have done”). For me thats perfectly legitimate so far as SV is the leader of the team and they had a chance to finish off the championship. Gambling for the slight chances of a MW win (only with 2 stops) would undermine Vettel’s chance to win.
    The problem for some of us is how RBR struggle to call things by its name. Whats the problem with addmiting that they play for Vettel?, thats what they should always do, as he is one of the top 3-4 drivers of the moment (only time will tell if one of the all time greats).

  82. L says:

    I have read another analysis (Autosport) that agrees with yours James but that also suggests that even if Vettel had been out of contention for the win Red Bull would still have had to convert Webber to three stops to beat Grosjean, as Webber was never going to beat Grosjean on a two stopper as Lotus would have just covered the undercut and Webber would always have been on older tyres.

  83. gadfly says:

    The frenzied vitriole, compulsive nit-picking over-analysis and conspiratorial bilge hurled at Vettel (and RBR) this season has almost made me a Vettel fan!

    I’ve been watching F1 for 30 years and have always considered myself pretty much a ‘neutral’ (with an admittedly historic fondness for Ferrari), but the blind hatred espoused for Vettel at every turn this year has lost all sense of proportion – it has become sickening and embarrassing. He’s a super-talented multiple world champion with the world at his feet, and yet I find myself in the odd position of actually feeling sorry for the guy. Perverse as it might sound, for me he has now become the underdog – most particularly in the cruel world of public (and media) opinion.

    This latest post-Suzuka barrage appears, this time, to be more targeted at RBR, but at heart, it is yet another attempt to undermine Vettel. RBR’s strategy at Suzuka was entirely logical from a ‘team’ perspective, which was to get the best possible team result (a 1-2) – and the facts and figures bear this view out. But the simple truth is facts and figures don’t cut it anymore, but are drowned out by the chorus of shrill histrionics and infantile obsession with personalities that has subsumed F1 fandom these days.

    1. Dai Dactic says:

      Well written and accurate . . .

      Regretfully the internet is custom-made for those who prefer to focus on personalities rather than technicalities. Uncritical and inaccurate opinion is far more easily developed and expressed on the former and establishes the basis for what currently defines ‘entertainment’ – regardless of the topic of interest.

      Constructive criticism takes time, effort and discipline so inevitably loses out to mindless vitriol.

  84. Kris says:

    The discussion about whether Webber gets/got stiffed or not is becoming boring. He’s not as good as Vettel – that has been proven over five years now. Why on earth would you favour your decidedly weaker drivers.

    All that being said, splitting the strategies made perfect sense. The leader can’t cover two different strategies. From Red Bull’s perspective, splitting the strategy the way they did was a no-brainer. Webber has done nothing in the last couple of years to show that he would have had any chance of making the Pirellis last, while Vettel has. Why on earth would the team let sentiment get in the way of common sense and risk throwing away the win?

    1. Doug says:

      Just be open about it like Ferrari and no one will have a problem. Just dont try and sell the we tried our best to make Webber win line cos you piss pple off for taking them for fools.Simple.

  85. ttwan says:

    Hi James,

    Do you think Alonso qualifying is rubbish? How much do you think his result was down to the car poor qualy form?

    Personally I feel Ferrari over their peak for few years and not too outstanding compare to smaller budget teams. Why do you think great driver like Kimi prefers the team? Is it down to they lack of good captain or they not able to adopt to the new requirements?

    A bit off topics. Just want to hear your views on above. Tq.

    1. James Allen says:

      The Ferrari is clearly not a great car over a single lap, but Alonso is also not getting the maximum from it either. Massa has beaten him on several occasions recently, I don’t think he’s lost it, but he’s certainly not on form in quali trim

      1. KARTRACE says:

        What facts are looking at to come to this conclusion. Massa beat Alonso. When and how many times, sounds somehow pretty biased. Massa since the accident was just a “ball and chain” to SF. However the guilty one was LDM. That is why Ferrari wasn’t developing at the proper rate as his data was most of the time useless. The only meaningful data was gathered utilizing Alo’s car. In the environment where they may not test cars that is detrimental. I am glad he is on his way out. Only if we could find some island far, far away for Domenicali and LDM. It would be perfect scenario.

      2. Krischar says:

        @ James

        “Alonso is also not getting the maximum from it” – Complete myth

        What alonso has done to Ferrari since 2010 is incomparable and he has exhibited his greatness time and time again.

        Massa beat alonso ? Complete joke

        Alonso has trounced massa for the last 4 seasons in a row. On other hand massa hardly did anything for the team or himself except germany 2010.

        If massa is that good, why he has not recieved any offers for the next year drive ? Fact is massa is the worst driver in the grid since 2010 even poorer than the likes of Pic, pastor and many young drivers.

        Ferrari have produced crap and terrible cars ever since 2009. Ferrari are a mid table team at best without the Wizard Alonso

        Ferrari simply lay the blame on alonso as if he has not drove well in qualifiying and i am sure they will have to face the Repercussion

      3. 69bhp says:

        James was talking about qualifying in particular. The fact that Alonso keeps getting out qualified by Massa makes it pretty obvious that Alonso is not getting the most from the car in qualifying.

      4. DaveF1 says:

        Read the comments again, more carefully this time. They are talking about qualifying, in which Massa has beaten Alonso 6 of 9 times. So it’s clear that Alonso isn’t getting the 100% of the car every time in qualifying.

        Reading (and understanding!) it’s vital to follow a discussion :-)

      5. Sujith says:

        Maybe instead of questioning Kimi’s motivation, we should question Alonso’s :P

        Look at all his recent press statements, he does not simply care. He is looking ahead to 2014.

        He can go quicker, he just does not care.

    2. The Spanish Inquisitor says:

      Perhaps Ferrari’s front suspension (pull rod) is the key of this question. Ask McLaren….

  86. sorry to double dip here but i have just got around to reading the next thread re ferrari/massa and team orders.

    it seems as though alonso is as aware, as a lot of others are,that redbull shafted webber with his comments re ‘two stops/ three stops to achieve a planned result’.

    alonso would be far more aware and informed that 99.9% of posters and, dare i say, media reporters.

    cue 1, i now fully expect that all the vettel supporters will rush in to say, ‘well he would say that wouldn’t he as he is a friend of webbers’.

    1. JCA says:

      Well he would say that, wouldn’t he, as he is a friend of Webber.

    2. Greg (Aus) says:

      I’ve read your comments and must say that on the in general I agree with many of them (on other topics on this website). I think where I differ on this race is that I don’t believe it was pre-ordained that they would put Vettel in the position for the win at Mark’s expense.

      It’s clear they did it during the race, but I think it was a reaction to how the race was unfolding – for instance they could not have predicted that Hamilton would not be a factor in the battle for the lead/podium.

    3. 69bhp says:

      Kenneth, you’re really grasping at straws. Give it a rest.

    4. Oletros says:

      Can you link to those declarations? Thanks

  87. dren says:

    Good analysis as always James. Ahh what could have been if Hamilton had stayed in the mix and Rosberg didn’t get the penalty. We may have seen a little more action for the bottom of the podium.

  88. Simon says:

    I think the point that everyone missing is this. RBR state that at the first tyre change they knew Webber could not get to the end on a 2stop strategy. If they had told him he was on a three stop straight away, he would have driventhe ears off the car in the second stint and probably passed Grosjean and pulled out lead on him before his second stop. However they let him think that he would be 2 stopping so he drove conservatively trying to protect his tyres. At the last moment they tell him he is three stopping.This prevents Webber pulling out a large gap over Vettel, and ensuring that he drops behind Vettel and puts the Lotus between him and Vettel THis ensures that Vettel wins if he can preserve his tyres, which he does. Why did RBR not tell him immediately that he was on a 3 stopper? Answer: they wanted Vettel to win , and to prevent a repeat of Turkey 2010 when Webber would have to try to overtake him.

    1. KARTRACE says:

      Exactly. That’s how things are done at Seb Vettel Team. God help Ricardo in 2014.

      1. SteveS says:

        Thanks for that insightful piece of analysts. Try dialing down your emotions a notch or ten.

      2. KARTRACE says:

        My pleasure, and BTW please tell those F1 fans to stop booing Seb.

    2. Elvin says:

      It took Webber more than 8 laps on medium and fresher tyres to pass Gros in the last stint, do you expect he can pass Gros on harder and older tyres(by 2 laps) in the 2nd stint? If he did thta, what would had happened would be both Gros and him destroyed their typres and Vet can easily pass them.

    3. JCA says:

      It was extremely difficult to pass a car with similar pace, unless they made a mistake, like Alonso on Massa. Fernando and Kimi only passed Hulk when his tyres dropped off late in the race, RIC held up faster cars with fresher tyres for a long time, creating the gap that Webber could drop into. Even with a significant tyre advantage, it took Webber a long time to pass RoGro. And again, every team asked by reporters after the race said that they would do exactly the same thing if they were in Red Bulls position.

    4. BRad says:

      It’s a simple analysis that most people missed, but they’ll tell you the data tells a different story. Lots of events during the race were not analysed. Good thing there are followers using both eyes.

  89. fox says:

    yes they did.

    Webber had the chance to win earlier, when Vettel was immature. Now RB is Vettel’s team. “Get Webber out of my way!”

    1. Oletros says:

      > “Get Webber out of my way!

      When did Vettel said that?

  90. Wes says:

    Hi james,

    Whats your or mark gil view on the red bull floor on seeing gary andersons piece with the thermal camera on bbc?

  91. Stephen Taylor says:

    Great read. James can you do a piece on why ‘blown’ bodywork is beneficial?

  92. Alexander Supertramp says:

    Off course Webber was disadvanteged. RB went for the best chance of a 1-2 and that was with Seb as the best chance for P1. I agree Seb was the best chance for victory, I just don’t like Horner’s phoniness. But Seb fully deserves to be number one in the team, Mark’s clumsiness is one of the main reasons why F1 hasn’t had a real fight for the WDC in the past 3 years. Imagine the Senna/Prost-like battles we could have experienced if Mark had been up to the task.

  93. OffCourse says:

    James, I’m not actually sure that you answered the articles question in your Conclusions so:

    1) Is it Yes or NO?


    2) Was Horner entirely candid in his interviews as to the reasons for changing MW to a 3 stop strategy?

    1. JB says:

      RB favoured a strategy that best ensure that the team gets a 1-2. They were not favouring one driver over the other. Their aim was to get Grosjean 3rd while placing their two drivers on top.

      Vettel maximised the strategy given to him by overtaking Grosjean in the shortest possible time.

      Webber could have done the same and the team gave him the best possible chance with the best car on grid; fresher, stickier tyres and better top speed. Still Webber took a long 6 laps to overtake Grosjean who had worned out tires on a slower car with no DRS.

      If Webber had wasted less time on Grosjean, he would have been able to challenge Vettel. I mean why not?

      If you’re asking why not put Vettel on 3 stops and Webber on 2 stops? That’s is just plain retarded because Vettel on 3 stops will be deliberately asking the team to loose out. And Webber may not be able to make the tyres last. That’s a total failure in strategy.

      So why not 2 stops for both of them? Again there is a good chance where Webber would used up all his tyres leaving him vurnerable to Grosjean or other drivers.

      So the safest strategy for a 1-2 finish was the one executed by the team. Bravo! They did a splendid job!

    2. Greg (Aus) says:

      His comments that it was the first stop that led them to decide on a 3 stop strategy ring hollow as Mark has stated that he was told he was still on for a 2 stop race after the first stop.

    3. off course, can you point me to a site where i can view horners interviews? i can’t seem to track them.

      1. Netmonger says:

        Try the espn story. Link here. Regards.

  94. Tiga says:

    Thanks for the insite! I just wonder… So, it would appear Grosjean’s tires went off at the end of his first stint, but it would be very interesting to know if that slower lap was due to the flat spot, and if he hadn’t flat spotted, would the tires have lasted long enough for a more optimal, Vettel type of two stopper….

    Also seemed amazingly difficult for Webber to pass Gro, couldn’t time the exit from the chicane to get any kind of jump down the straight, in fact the reverse – just like Hamilton behind Hulkenberg at the previous race… what’s up there?

  95. Michael S says:

    Even if they did it makes sense… They have one guy about to win a title and one guy in 5th place. I am sure Ferrari would do the same with Alonso as well as any other team trying to wrap up a title.

    In fairness if Webber could have passed Grosjean as fast as Vettel did there might have been a battle for the win.

  96. Markie says:

    Am I the only person that is wondering why most drivers get slower as the race progresses?

    1. Hanns says:

      They don´t get slower. But i and someone else with similar name asked already for an explanation what the graphs show. Until now without answer.

      1. Seifenkistler says:

        Perhaps how the graph has to be interpreted should be copied below it each time:

        The 0 line is for a ghost car driving with the average speed of the winner: total time divided by number of laps. The graph shows the time difference in seconds to this ghost car at each lap.

        Without a savety car the graph should always be below the 0line.
        In each case the winner should reach the 0 line at the end of the race.

        If the graph is parallel to the x-axis for a while: the driver was just driving with the average speed of the winner in this phase.
        If the graph climbs he was faster than the average speed of the winner in this phase.
        If the graph drops: He was slower than the average speed of the winner.

        What the graph shows is that Vettel was not cruising at the end as normal. His graph flattens only in the last lap. So his average speed for the already done laps climbs: Race time divided per laps driven.
        So it is to be exspected that the graphs for slower cars drop.

      2. Seifenkistler says:

        Should be savety car or rain, or whatever causes extremly slow rounds for a while: like oil on the track.

  97. BooBird says:

    Red Bull has the constructor’s wrapped up. Vettel will be the driver’s champion. The only thing left for Weber is to win. If rbr gave a damn for MW they would have left him on a two-stop strategy, his only chance to win. At this point for Weber 2d or 22d doesn’t matter.

  98. Bullish says:


    There has been much talk about drivers weight. how much of Vettel’s advantage can be contributed to weight?

    Good to see Vettel’s true colours during the race insisting on team order if Webber was going to catch.

    1. Damien K says:

      The difference is ballast weight and packaging. Marks packaging is a lot tighter than Seb’s due to 4 inches and 11kgs and this has been the explanation why his kers is less reliable than Sebs.

      As for the weight the cars weigh the same but Mark has 11kgs less ballast to place on the car to find that perfect balance and drivability. 11kgs towards the rear of the car would be very beneficial for traction on tighter tracks for example. In a sport of grams and 10ths of a second this is a significant amount, his centre of gravity would be higher as well i imagine.

      You too also heard the “keep him away from me” on the team radio then ?

    2. SteveS says:

      A lie gets half-way around the world while the truth is still pulling on its boots.

    3. Oletros says:

      > Good to see Vettel’s true colours during the race insisting on team order if Webber was going to catch.

      The was no such talking.

  99. Nick4 says:

    For all of the apparent brilliance of the RB strategy (made easy when you are in such a dominant groove), have we not all overlooked the fact that Lotus and particularly RG were able to take the fight to RB? Lotus is a team running on a much smaller budget yet it is able to fight it out with RB when the BIG NAMES like Ferrari, Merc and Mc have failed dismally to rein in the RBs. From the days of pre-WC glory in 2005/06 with FA, Renault then and now Lotus have demonstrated an ability to be kind to their tyres and have consistently made good use of their resources. Yes, they are using KR’s unpaid wages one could argue, but the team comes first….

  100. BRad says:

    Nice piece James. Certainly got your followers revved up.

  101. Dean says:

    If Webber didnt make such a bad start, this article wouldnt have been written. Its as simple as that.

    1. but then again in webbers words, ‘both of us had a very bad start’…

      1. Dean says:

        ..wich is irrelevant to the discussion if Webbers strategy was inferior to Vettel’s. If Webber made a good start, it wouldnt have mattered if Vettel had a good or bad one.

      2. Oletros says:

        And? Webber would have been in front of GRO and VET

  102. Wade Parmino says:

    At this stage in the championship, shouldn’t Red Bull be trying to limit the amount of points by which they win the Constructor’s title?

  103. Lachlan Mackinnon says:

    Good report James. Based upon the responses this reiterates the emotions that surrounds F1, teams and their drivers……fantastic!
    On a lighter note – has anyone picked up on the photo of Vettel? Yellow crown on his head…….yes the king of F1 at the moment on his way to a fourth title :-)

  104. Daryl says:

    If only we could get transcripts of the RBR team radio communications to both drivers!

  105. JohnBt says:

    Vettel and Horner always claim they don’t know how many points they have…..unbelievable. Simply because Vettel is aiming to break as much records as possible, if only they admit their targets Vettel will get more respect which I’m afraid it’s not case.

    Webber can forget any win before he departs F1 as Marko will make sure he dosen’t achieve it. I can’t imagine what will happen Ricciardo next year.

    But I did enjoy the race though.

    1. JL says:

      given that SV almost lost the title in Brazil because of his reckless driving, he can be happy to still be driving that car in my opinion.

  106. Rachael says:

    James, I would like to think that there remains a sporting element to F1. It can’t be all hard-nosed business, can it?

    What’s wrong with having a favourite driver? I admit, my favourite driver is Mark Webber, for the sole reason that I am Australian. I shouldn’t have to apologise for that.

    Every fan gets excited to see their compatriot racing to win. Nobody cares that he’s driving a car painted to look like a packet of cigarettes, or a can of fizzy drink.

    There has always been a strong nationalistic aspect to Grand Prix racing. In the days of Nuvolari vs Carracciola or Fangio vs Ascari, national-pride played a huge part in the early success of the sport.

    Formula 1 must retain a sporting aspect. It needs a sporting aspect. For without its fan-base, F1 is nothing.

    1. James Allen says:

      There is nothing wrong with having a favourite driver that passion is what makes it special

      My point is that sometimes this conflicts with the pragmatism of the team game and this was one if those times

      1. you see james, it is your last sentence that i have a problem with. what you call ‘pragmatism’ i see as ‘being disingenous’.

        the team will use whatever tools they need to keep webber and vettel separated. they know that there is payback due to what they condoned in sepang.

        i think that webber made it quite clear, post quali, that he was going to race for the win as he did in brazil. he is quite honest and up front. horner et al are not. they created a scenario whereby webber was neutered and they could concoct a story to hide this fact. i think webber actually said something along the lines when questioned as to how he felt being switched to three stopper, that ‘it wasn’t quite ridiculous’, leaving the question open to interpretation.

        i think i have said more than enough on this subject so it is time to move on. looking forward to seeing how they treat webber in india, maybe a ‘doctored’ curry!

      2. SteveS says:

        Webber and Vettel were not separated by Red Bull, but by Webbers poor driving. If he had managed to get past Grosjean quickly, as Vettel did, we could have seen the two fight for the win.

        “i think that webber made it quite clear, post quali, that he was going to race for the win as he did in brazil”

        In other words, not very well.

      3. JL says:

        did you read the article? saying that either way MW would have lost out given how he was killing his tyres by driving too closely. SV is much smarter racing driver… given what MW did in Brazil, he can be happy still to be driving for the team, so if they move him out of the way of the faster driver to avoid any unpredictable accident/behaviour, is the issue with the team or with MW?

      4. KARTRACE says:

        Then BRB must stop pretending they are equal drivers. What is left for Ricardo ? Shame

  107. Jolgas says:

    Why ask a rhetorical question?
    They always favour Vettel ie stripping Webber’s car when necessary.
    Why should they behave differently now?
    Of course they did.
    Anyway thanks for such a fabulous web site.
    Jo Lgas.

    1. DaveF1 says:

      Shouldn’t you at least read an article before commenting, bringing up points that are unrelated to the current topic?

  108. Giorgio says:

    Thanks JA for this great inside. That’s the first time (IMO) it’s not straight but multianalysis and gives clear answer to some questions.

  109. Bart says:

    Some people could think about this: if you had a real possibility to earn 1 milion £ today or maybe in a week, would go for it now or “maybe” next week?

  110. Alex says:

    Does it even matter any more?

  111. Big Al B says:

    Webber got pole, but said in the press conference etc that it was a bit of a hollow pole. This is because he is a solid guy who like a fair fight. That is why I like him. Seb is happy to use team orders to favour his needs at the expense of his teammate, and polish his ego. He is a great driver, but unfortunately he has no honour, as he showed earlier this year. That is why NOBODY likes him.

    So, to those that have defended Vettel’s behaviour this year, don’t understand you! Would love to see what would happen if Webber was on a different / comparable team as number one driver. I imagine all you Vettel fans wouldn’t much care for that scenario, as like your idol, you prefer a fight where the opposition is tied up.

    Lastly, as for those of you who keep piping on about the good of the team… You don’t award the driver’s championship to a team. It goes to a driver. One driver. The needs of the team are represented by the constructors, which Red Bull have already won. Use your brain. It’s actually great fun.

    1. SteveS says:

      I’ve noticed that for people like you, a “fair fight” is always by definition one which Vettel loses. If he wins … then it wasn’t a fair fight! Malaysia was a fair fight, and Webber lost. So he whined to his buddies in the press, who whined to the fans, and the rest is history.

    2. JL says:

      your arguments don’t really hold… either SV is faster than its team mates, which seems to be demonstrated by results, or he is not – in that case, the superior results can only come from the team giving him a faster car. But why would a team give a faster car to the slower driver? do you think they are so dumb?

    3. Bartholomew says:

      You’ve written a giant post attempting to have a go at Vettel and his fans for some reason, but it was Vettel actually being tied up in Malaysia, being forced to give up a win as early as the second round of the year. Yet RBR get little stick for using team orders in comparison to say, the British GP 2011, where team orders were still the worst thing imaginable (probably because they favoured SV on that occasion?). I fail to see how if Webber had won in Sepang by team orders, how that would have been such a great or “honourable” victory.

      The team want the best possible result, and as the analysis shows, without splitting the strategies, RBR may not have had a 1-2, as MW, despite being ahead on the road, wasn’t likely to have used his Pirellis well enough to pass Grosjean.

  112. Giorgio says:

    what do you think is the key opportunity MW didn’t (couldn’t) use to win the race, where he did lost the ground, 1) overtaking RG at 1st stint? crucial tire management (1st stint)?
    Ironically, if not the factor of RG had MW had more chance to win the race?

  113. Rossco says:

    Hi James. Were my eyes deceiving me at the end of the race? I thought Button passed Massa after the finish line but, even if not, the official times between the two show a gap of almost 9 seconds?!?! I hadn’t raised it until now as I was sure something would come of it. I’d be really grateful if you (or someone else) would please put me out of my confused mysery ((if I’m wrong) or provide an explanation…9 seconds is clearly not right is it?

    1. RedFive says:

      I thought I was seeing things – glad I wasn’t the only one

  114. Wombat says:

    James, you describe what happened with great clarity but not necessarily fully why. Webber, when it matters, has shown himself quite capable of overtaking in the past unless compromised in some way. So why was he so slow to do it in the last stint, especially if, supposedly, he had a speed advantage. There has to have been something else in this equation.

  115. aveli says:

    in football, when the manager knows that a player is leaving to at the end of the season, he parks the player on the bench just like webber was parked on the bench in japan. webber winning is of no significance to the team but vettel has the chance of breaking recordas for the team. the only motive for them to park webber.
    we all saw how much faster the redbull was than the lotus throughout the race, apart from at the start.

  116. SteveS says:

    The radio transcripts are available here, and they simply do not support Webbers version of events.

    Webber being assured he was on a two stop strategy after his first stop? Did not happen. Webber questioning his team about the three stop strategy? Did not happen. Vettel saying “Keep him away from me” about either Webber or Perez? Did not happen.

    It’s too bad that a lie can get half way around the world while the truth is till getting out of bed.

    1. Praveen says:

      Thanks for this!

    2. Oletros says:

      In total fairness, not all messages are broadcasted.

      1. James Allen says:

        Only a tiny % are broadcast

      2. steveS seems to think that the comments made were all lies? pity that.

      3. Oletros says:

        > kenneth chapman

        steveS is correct in saying that there was no message from Vettel about Webber

      4. @ oletros, you are just plain wrong here. vettel made the comments that were attributed to him. the ‘construction’ that they were directed at webber was something concocted by the media. in fact, if you check the comments coming from brundle/croft you may see what i am talking about.

        that being the case then steveS is in error but i haven’t seen him retract his ‘all lies’ comment. not that it matters really as the case has been made and prosecuted.

    3. Cutu says:

      That transcript means nothing (in any direction) as it is just an extract. The proof is that there’s nothing about FA. We all know that he’s so aloof but, that much? not a Word to his team in the whole race?

      I’m an FA fan (but also rate SV very high), don’t buy conspiracy theory’s but think that, as the race evolved, RBR played the best card they had: for a SV win, which went against MW chances (less chances to win than SV). Its the most sensible thing to do by RBR and MW had no choice but to asume it (as much as I would prefer him to win).

  117. TimW says:

    At some point the Webber fans and Vettel haters are going to have to realise that if as a team you have one driver who can look after his tyres while lapping faster than the other driver, it is going to be very difficult to keep him from winning. I’m no Vettel fan, and I have a lot of respect for Mark, but speed will out, and Seb is quicker.

    1. well if that is the case why not let them race, free of all constraints. this strategy confection is/was designed to favour one driver and that was not mark webber. most people would take the variables into account if horner et al were being straight with them. the fact is that this strategy blew up in their face but so long as vettel gets his win they couldn’t give a rats ass really.

  118. A.Green says:

    How come I’m the only one that noticed Vettel saying on the radio..”Keep him away from me, even if he is on fresher tires”…

    Thats b.t.w. why people don’t like Vettle. Really don’t get that journoos and the paddock can’t comprihend that racing morals are not the same as human social morals.

    1. Oletros says:

      > How come I’m the only one that noticed Vettel saying on the radio..”Keep him away from me, even if he is on fresher tires”…

      Perhaps you didn’t notice that that was about Perez, not Webber.

    2. KARTRACE says:

      Maybe Seb is arrogant from time to time but ain’t stupid. And do not forget doctor factor, ever.

  119. FernandoLeg says:

    Mr. Allen: I still believe that 3 stop strategy was better than 2 stop strategy because puts the driver in the last stint with a 1 sec faster car and 6 sec behind de leader, with almost 11 laps to go.
    I believe too that, looking at the times per laps, if Vettel had not to take care about his tires as he was ordered to do, he would overtake both Webber and Grosjean in track, and it would be another facts, indeed.
    However, assuming Vettel were in the last stint in the same conditions Webber was, in the same situation: do you think Vettel would have won the race?
    In my opinion, I think Yes, and probably now we would be talking about that RBR’s better strategy was for Vettel, exactly like we are now.
    In my opinion, the only reason why Webber wasn´t won the race was his inability to overtake Grosjeasn in the erlier laps after he leave the pits in the last stint having a 1 sec faster car, and even almost 1 sec faster than Vettel’s car.
    I’ll apreciate your opinion. Thanks.

    1. James Allen says:

      I asked the same question and it’s very hard to say without working through the maths and the lap times etc.

  120. Tay says:

    I’ve grown tired of that this is even a debate. I think James covered it well. This shouldn’t even be an issue. Being a Webber fan doesn’t give license to ignore reality, such as Vettel is the championship leader, and Webber is in retirement honorary driver mode. That’s even looking past the fact that Vettel is plainly a more consistent, better driver than Webber is. They have the same car during qualifying. Vettel out-qualifies Webber almost every time. Let it go already. It got so bad that even after Vettel ignored team orders and overtook Webber, Webber’s father had a Daddy moment and publicly commented against Vettel. It’s getting embarrassing. He should just enjoy his last races, as James said he is doing.

  121. C.Delfino says:

    Dear James;
    I have been reading your website since so many years ago.
    In 2010, I had the chance to meet you at paddock of Spa-Francorchamps where I thanked your work in journalism.
    I have never written any comments in this blog, but since this unprecedented attack to you impartiality and professionalism, I could not help sending a hugh and warm hug to highlight what I said at that time.
    It´s an excellent post, as usual!
    From Argentina,

    C. Delfino

    1. James Allen says:

      Thanks for that

      It’s not that serious!

      It’s good that people are passionate about the sport, even if that does make things a little weird sometimes!

  122. you are right james. despite the fact that feelings/passions run deep it is, afterall, only a motor racing event. that said, i do see the erosion of the term ‘racing’from what it used to mean.

    what i would like to see is a tyre that is able to last for marginally more than half race distance with a compound between med and hard. a tyre that could be pushed really hard for at least 90% of the stint[half race distance] so that we see drivers really being able to showcase their exceptional talents.

    will it happen? i very much doubt it.

  123. Dave Bowker says:

    Any driver who has his team conspiring against him will never win.
    Vettel lost all respect as a driver from me after the Malaysian Grand Prix.

    I strongly thing this is also the reason for the boo’s and not the fact that he keeps winning.

    1. SteveS says:

      The driver who had his team conspiring against him in Malaysia was Vettel, not Webber. The driver you should be booing is Webber, not Vettel.

      1. Dave Bowker says:

        I don’t boo any one.
        Webber backed off in Malaysia as per team orders, Vettel ignored team orders, the saying should be there’s no team in Vettel instead of no “I”

      2. yst_01 says:

        Webber backed off in Malaysia?

        Did you see how hard they fought?
        MSC got a grid penalty for that, because
        he forced Barichello towards the wall in Budapest.

        Canada 2010 Webber was told not to attack Vettel, coz he had gear box issues. Webber disobeyed team orders.

        Webber was favoured in Silverstone 2011. He was behind Vettel and got the first pit stop. He disobeyed team orders in the end.

        In Sao Paolo 2012 even Newey didn’t like Webber’s behavior.

        Webber had his chances in the Korean GP 2010 and in Abu Dhabi Q3. He malfunctioned.

        That’s it.

  124. Dave Bowker says:

    OK you just carry on living in your vettel world. Lets see what happens with the engine change next year eh

  125. Dave Bowker says:

    Sorry missed a point, just got in from pub, yes they fought but the fact is they should not, webber had done the job, team orders were telling vettel to stay put, if you think any different you really need to start watching the race.

  126. vb says:


    (Sorry for my english.)
    I have a theory about Vettel’s overtaking on Grojean. On this track it was hard to overtake so it’s naturel Webber getting stuck behind. Look around the others guys also have difficulties as for example with Ricciardo in the beginning. What is unnatural is Vettel’s passing.

    Well here is my contention (with figures to back it up):
    Every Vettels fans said he prepared his move long before etc, and his passage in the chicane was masterly and Webber’s were ridiculous.

    Now here is the gap between SV and RG on the cross line just before the overtaking : 0.756 s.

    Now the gap between MW and RG in the lap of his overtaking and five laps before :
    0.529 (overtaking)

    So the gaps were the same ! Add Webber, with fresher tyres and peharps greater top speed could not be close enough to achieve his move ! To achieve it he needs to be closer than that, that is to say : O,5 sec.

    So my contention is that RG left SV passed him because his target was Webber, and he don’t want to be delayed by SV thinking that he could’nt remained ahead of him till the end of the race.

    Here are RG lap times :

    Here are SV’s :

    What is obvious is that RG began to push very hard after Vettel overtaked him. His pace was tremendous if you think it changed from 1’37.0 to 1’36.0 although with worn tyres. So he was faster when Webber caught him than when Vettel caught him by almost 1 sec ! With worn tyres. In fact Grosjean was faster now than at the beginning of his stint, and he was as fast as Webber was in his previous stint before his last stop at lap 42. That it’s to say that he was surely nursing his tires from lap 30 to make certain he could finished the race. He pushed hard at the end to challenge Webber, and Webber only.

    Now the POINT : at lap 41 SV overtake RG who make a very bad lap time. 1’37.7 when Vettel is in 1’35.7. Why such a bad time ? (his following lap shall be 1’36.3.) Because he slowed down in the beginning of the straight to make sure SV will overtake him, that’s my argument. He make no attempt to resist to Vettel, you can see that the gap between himself and SV was the same that the one between himself and MW on the finish line. He should not have lost much time in this lap since he had nothing to do at all. How could SV gained 1 sec upon him along this straight ? SV was 0.75 behind him at the beginning of the straight and something like 0.2 or 0.3 ahead of him at the end of the straight? Why ? Why RG began to be faster just after this overtaking ? So much faster than the difference of pace between the two was reduced to 0.7 sec, that is to say half what it was just before. Simple : because Vettel was not a target for RG. He was simply fighting against Webber. That’s why he was so disappointed at the end of the race because Webber had passed him.
    So Vettel’s overtaking has nothing special in it. It was not even an overtaking. And much important than all : it would prove that Vettels fans are only goose telling nonsense when they explain to us that Vettel had prepared his overtaking and that Webber had blundered his one etc. Already we KNOW that he wasn’t closer than Mark on the finish line, and it’s not a small matter to know this.

    What do you think of this ?
    I should like to know RG and SV top speeds in the straight in lap 41 and some laps before and after. That would be decisive I think. Can somebody get this information ?

  127. vb says:

    I want to add that the top speed would perhaps not be the good thing to have, because of the limitor…

  128. clyde says:

    Hi James you say ” Most strategists in the F1 pit lane agree that Red Bull did exactly the right things strategically in Suzuka and all would have done the same thing in their shoes “.

    However Gary Anderson says ”
    Vettel won after Red Bull switched his team-mate Mark Webber, who was ahead of him for the first half of the race, to do an extra stop. And you have to question why they did that
    The team said they were forced to put Webber on a three-stop because he made a relatively early first pit stop to change tyres on lap 11. The early stop, they said, was because he had “run out of tyres”, as Red Bull team principal Christian Horner put it.

    But in my view Webber was not really struggling performance-wise at that point.

    OK, he had lost 0.4 seconds to leader Romain Grosjean’s Lotus on lap 10, but his lap time was basically the same as he had done on lap eight, which does not suggest his tyres had gone.
    What do you make of these two divergent views ?


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