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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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!


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?


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


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 !


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?


"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:


@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.


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.



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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?


"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.


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.


@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 🙂


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


He's obsessed with Hamilton, can't stop thinking about him. 😉


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!


Its not a question of words James!

Don't need to be clearer.

Its about facts and honesty!


Apologies James!

You are correct - I'm a plonker!


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.


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!!


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.


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



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.


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

Brasil was the second last one.


@Flying Lap,

Check the time-line?!!


Arent 400 post enough to recognise the reality?


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?


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



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


>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?



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?


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?


Great analysis James, that clears up a lot of questions 🙂


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!


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


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


Totally agree great reading james, sums it up perfectly


Excellent analysis, James. Thank you.


+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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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


He means, I think


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?".


Korea 2010?

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


I think they are referring to Turkey 2010


Reckon you're right 😉


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


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.


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!



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?


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


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


Who was your minder?

Gordon Coppuck?


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


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.


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


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.


"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 🙂


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]... 🙁



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


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 🙂


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.


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.


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.



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.


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.


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!



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



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 !


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


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.


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.


Bingo James- "to get him out of te way"


"We were not racing Kimi, we were racing Fernando"...


I think we need to get some T-shirts made up for this statement now... 😉


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?


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.


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.


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


Then Vettel would have passed Mark when told to push.


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.


> 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



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.


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.


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...


Fantastic report. I love this site!


Excellent report James! Thank you for the insight.


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!


The excelently excelent family!!!


Im sorry I can not translate it.



Sickly sweets?


This is the shame of modern formula 1. Period.


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.


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


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


"Multifunction strategy A. Multifunction strategy A. Now please."

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


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.


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.


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.


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.


That's the point!. +100


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


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


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

It makes me laugh!!!


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.....


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.


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


You sure that's a good thing.. Lol


An excellent analysis and write up.


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.


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.


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.


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...


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.


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.


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.


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.


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



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.


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

Hope Ricciardo brings more of the same.


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


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.


"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.


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.


I'd be totally offended if I were Webber.


@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.


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.


"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!"


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.


@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 🙂


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


I wasn't bringing any races in, let alone any selectively...


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.


[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.


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.


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.


+1, minus the Alonso part 🙂


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


A very good point Tim


agree 100%


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.


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.


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


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


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.


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?


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.


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...


"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?


You'll get over it...


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


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.


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!


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.


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


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.


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.


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


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

Heart broken for HAM in 2007.


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


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...


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.


So the answer to your question is Yes


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.

Tornillo Amarillo

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


Should it be funny?


@Tornillo Amarillo

Good riddance to 'em...

Tornillo Amarillo

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


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.


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.


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.


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


@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.


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.


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.


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.


"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 🙂


"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.


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 🙂


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...


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.


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


Tx, for the nice analysis. Can you please explain what the graph shows?

I don´t see any unit mentioned.


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.

Tornillo Amarillo

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!


That's for 2nd time SV is "crowned" in such a way on this JA site 🙂 that's quite funny.


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


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


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


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?




About 19-20 laps I'm told


"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!


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.


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.


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

It wasn't, the McLaren was.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


@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)


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


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?


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.


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. 😉


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.


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

Nuff said.


He was also fastest among F1 drivers in Top Gear's "Star in a reasonably priced car". Nuff said


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.


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


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.


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


Interesting stuff.

Thanks James.


Fantastic, impartial analysis - thank you.


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.


"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.


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!


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.


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


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!


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!


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


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


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!


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


When I say "them" is RBR not you James.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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



Nice choice of pictures to use, James, with the Rolex "Crown" appearing right on Vettel's head!


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.


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.


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.



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!!!


Excellent analysis, James.

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




"That is the pragmatism of Formula 1."

When you invest that much money you probably get painfully pragmatic


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. 🙂


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

290 fit what you believe should be reported?...

I don't think it works that way.


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


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.


Is that hat tin foil or carbon fiber?


Love the crown on vettels head in main pic!



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


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


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.


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.


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.


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


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.



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.


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