Mark Webber feels three-stop strategy switch was a mistake
Red Bull Racing
Posted By: James Allen  |  14 Oct 2013   |  1:33 pm GMT  |  235 comments

Red Bull’s Mark Webber feels the decision to switch to a three-stop strategy in Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix was a mistake.

The Australian, who is leaving the sport at the end of the year to race for Porsche in sportscars, was running second behind the Lotus of Romain Grosjean, after a slow getaway from pole, when the call was made.

As a result, the 37-year-old had to do one more stop than Grosjean and race winner Sebastian Vettel – which surprised the Australian.

Webber said: “After that first stop the guys said ‘We’re still on two [stops] – no problem, look after the tyres, we can get to the target lap’. That was the plan, I was looking to wait off the back of Romain and then squeeze up to the back of him between lap 28-31 or 32.

“Then I think on lap 25 the guys said we’re going to three-stop, which is five laps shorter than the two-stop anyway. I asked the guys ‘Are you sure this is right?’ And they said ‘Yes, we’re going to give it a go’, and we gave it a go; you’ve got to give it 100%.”

The third stop left him with fresher softer tyres in the final stint but lost time when he was unable to pass Grosjean for second. Once he got through, he didn’t have enough laps left to chase down leader Vettel.

Webber, who has scored five podiums this season, said he didn’t ask to overrule the team’s decision because he trusted that they were making the right call based on the data available to them.

“I don’t have the whole chess match in front of me,” he said. “I have what’s in front of me here, I thought that Romain was strong on the option but not so strong on the prime. When I decided to pull the pin and go straight on the back of him I could do that quite straight-forward.

“Then I went there and thought ‘OK let’s wait again, we can still sit on the two-stop and wait for him to have some tyre problems at the end’ but they then said ‘No, we need to pit now, let’s go for the three’. They had more information, they always generally do in front of them and that was it.”

After the “Multi 21” fiasco in Malaysia this year, where Vettel ignored team orders and passed Webber for the win, many observers are on red alert for signs of Red Bull favouring their lead driver over the Australian. And plenty of fans see conspiracy in every move.

Having taken pole position on Saturday, albeit with Vettel suffering from a loss of KERS at a key moment, he was confident that the two drivers would be allowed to race each other on Sunday. Neither made a good start and Grosjean took the lead. So Red Bull was thinking about how to attack Grosjean and that dictated strategy from there.

Horner said it was a combination of Webber’s heavier use of the tyres in the first stint and the delay in getting past Grosjean in the final stint which ended his hopes of winning the race.

Horner said: “The key aspect was obviously the first stint. We went in to the race hoping and thinking it would be marginal for a two-stop but we believed that probably in clear air we could do that. I think the first stint dictated everything for us when Mark put Grosjean under quite a lot of pressure and went through the tyre phases pretty quickly to the point that he’d run out of tyres by the lap he pitted on.

“That was pretty early in the race, which was too short for us in our own minds to make a two-stop really work because you’d effectively run out of tyres in that last stint.

“So as the race opened up for Mark and [Toro Rosso’s Daniel] Ricciardo held the rest of the field back, some clear track space opened up. While Sebastian was able to do the opposite, Grosjean pitted to cover Mark and Sebastian was able in clear air to run at a very quick pace having conserved his tyres.

“That happened again during the second stint and as the gap opened up for Mark effectively it was a free stop. We felt that was the best way to attack and pass Grosjean with Mark and do the opposite with Sebastian. Of course that then puts Lotus in a very difficult decision because which car do they cover?

“Effectively you’ve got a bit of a chess game going on strategically, but with the benefit of clear air Mark was able to run a very quick pace. Sebastian, having conserved his tyres, went about five laps longer than we expected him to, so when Sebastian pitted and came out behind Grosjean he used those tyres incredibly well to pass him very quickly.

“He closed on him and passed him immediately with a very brave move down the pit straight – and then knew that he was effectively racing Mark who was going to be on a different strategy and a softer, quicker tyre at the end of the grand prix.

“When Mark pitted, I think with 10 or 11 laps to go, and went on to the softer tyre, obviously he closed in on Grosjean pretty quickly but then came across a bit of traffic and unfortunately didn’t go past Grosjean too quickly and that killed off any chance he had of winning the race. But it was great to see him make the move on Grosjean and obviously fantastic for the team to get a one-two finish.”

Is Webber correct? Watch out for our UBS Race Strategy Report tomorrow, for analysis of Red Bull’s split strategy decision

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To Oletros

(I don’t know why, but I cannot reply under your answer)

Now I see who you are, now I see where you come from.

There is no use discussing this topic with you. Something worse than Alonsism (as you call it) is ‘Lobatism’, but even worse is ‘anti-Alonsism’. If anything, it’s you who are full of hatred. Do you really think Alonso fans hate anti-Alonsists? Isn’t it the other way round?

In the three links you commented earlier, I only see insults in one of them, the second one. As as I said before, ‘He has got one enemy, though: Bernie Ecclestone. Maybe what you call hatred is just what he (and many people inside and outside of Spain) thinks is wrong about FIA, FOM and the business side of F1’. Ok, I grant it to you, I was mistaken and there are insults.

But after reading the other two posts, can you keep saying it is full of hatred and nonsense? Tell me, where are the insults in ‘For the same reason I like Fernando, Kimi or Lewis, or even Romain, Nico, Sergio and Jules, and why not Mark, because in them I see the only possible epic in this scenario, that of those who bite the dust for an empty can lying on the floor of the right place, let’s say a mass concert, to give the impression that much more product has been sold than what has really been consumed’? Or in ‘The thing is that Sebastian Vettel is only numbers and records (…) He is just a child but he deserves to be treated like a man because he earned his stripes among men, and I refer to that because otherwise I would be disrespectful’. Insults? Yeah, right.

I leave it here. I know I didn’t change your mind (I wasn’t trying to). I have many times confirmed that it is useless to try to reason with those who are blindfolded, who have no respect whatsoever, who interfere in other people’s comments like a bull in a china shop without any argument. Let me be, let my ideas be, since I didn’t try to change yours. I’m really sick of people who put their noses in other people’s business without being called. So long!


Webber feels he is done in F1


“keep Mark away from me, keep him away”

He may be winning championships but he is not a deserving champ, not with comments like that.


The problem is that Vettel didn’t said that


He certainly did (at Suzuka) and its not the first time either


>He certainly did (at Suzuka) and its not the first time either

Can you point where in the radio transcripts he said that? They are available here

Perhaps you’re using his call about Perez to bash him, but facts are facts


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

bernie: chris, comon man dont spoil the show.

horner: what do want me to do. we have done a brilliant job with blessings of FIA and pirelli.

bernie: vettel winning the championship is guaranteed now. so y dont you turn of the traction advantage on his car?

horner: no way. then we might lose first place and $$$’s.

bernie: alright how about this, switch it on after halfway mark in the race so people dont turn off tv in first 10 laps. 1)it gives credibility to your “it’s not the car it’s vettel’s driving” propoganda. 2)gives you 1st place and $$$’s in the end. 3) we dont loose TV audiance and $$$’s too.

horner: sounds brilliant.

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

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


I’m just hoping that Webber will refuse any win “gifted” to him after SV has wrapped up the championship. It would be truly sad to see a crumb or two tossed his way by the team.


The strategies are very difficult to analyse with the little information that we have as viewers. But I will try anyway.

Mark’s car was probably set-up in way that would allow him to do the “Open a 2 second gap at the front before DRS is enabled” trick.

The problem at the start meant that the original strategy was not possible. RBR tried to bring Mark in early and were probably hoping that Lotus would ignore Mark and would try to cover Sebastian.

If this had happened, Mark could have won the race (with a bit of luck). Unfortunately, when Lotus chose to cover Mark, RBR probably felt that Mark needed fresher tyres to overtake the Lotus (and possibly Sebastian) due to the set-up of the car. Hence they switched Mark’s strategy to 3-stops.

In the end, Mark struggled to get ahead of Romain with the faster medium compound tyre when the Lotus was on worn hard tyres.

Without the change in strategy, Mark would have probably finished 3rd behind Romain.


strategise -> strategies


If people remove the “Blinkers” no matter what driver one supports they will discover Mark Webber was well and truly “@#$%^&”


Some facts and numbers:

On the lap 46 Webber was 5 secs behind Vettel, less than 1sec behind Grosjean, it was 8 laps to go and the Mark’s pace was 1sec pro lap faster.

If he could quickly pass Grosjean he could get Vettel in 5 laps, overtake him and win the race.

He could overtake, it was not the fault of the team or mistake in stategy, it was the fault of Mark Webber.

These number above tell us the both strategies should cross 3 laps before finish. And Mark had fresher softer tyres. Nobody to blame except Mark Webber.


Some facts and numbers:

On the lap 46 Webber was 5 secs behind Vettel, less than 1sec behind it was 8 laps to go and the Mark’s pace was 1sec pro lap faster.

If he could quickly pass Grosjean he could get Vettel in 5 laps, overtake him and win the race.

He could overtake, it was not the fault of the team or mistake in stategy, it was the fault of Mark Webber.

These number above tell us the both strategies should cross 3 laps before finish. And Mark had fresher softer tyres. Nobody to blame except Mark Webber.


James, do you know this blog?

What do you think of this theory, saying Vettel’s car is set up for running away at the front and Webber’s for holding back rivals? If it is true then it would explain why Weeber had such a hard time overtaking Grosjean.

(If you need any help with the translation just ask 🙂 )


AS JA has said, nonsense. And nonsense and hatred like very much all the other posts in that blog.

Spanish Alsonsism is doing a lot of harm to F! in Spain and, I think, to Alonso himself


Oletros, what you say just shows you really don’t read THAT blog, or the other this guy maintains:

Show me just one sign of hatred you can read there. He admires Hamilton (surprise!), Massa, Hulkenberg, Vettel… a lot of pilots, actually. He sees both good and bad things, even in Alonso. He is the most temperate blogger in Spain, and the one that writes best. He has got one enemy, though: Bernie Ecclestone. Maybe what you call hatred is just what he (and many people inside and outside of Spain) thinks is wrong about FIA, FOM and the business side of F1. Nonsense? Maybe, but I’ve been following this blog for years and have never read an insult, or a name called. Do I agree with everything he says? Of course not, but credit where credit’s due.

You really should read it. As long as you can do it without Google Translator, that is 😉


If you can say with a straight face that this:


or this

That there is no hatred, that there are no insults is because we have a very different meaning for those things. And those are just some random links I have clicked.

And yes, I repeat, Alonsism and the Lobato’s church are doing a lot of harm to F1 in Spain.




Webber should have insisted on the same strategy as Vettel – is it really any surprise that Vettel’s strategy was the right one and Webber’s was flawed.


I don’t see the problem. If Mark had cleared Grosjean quicker then he would have cruised up to the back of Vettel and would have had a pretty fair crack at the win with a large advantage on the tyres. The strategy failed because he was unable to clear Grosjean.

If he had stayed on a two stop, he would likely have lost out to Vettel in the undercut and had no tyre advantage to assist overtaking him.

Webber lost this on the race track through his inability to clear Grosjean quick enough.


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, his only chance for beating him was to opt for a different strategy, but Red Bull consistently DO NOT put Webber on a strategy which may allow him to BEAT Vettel. Because whichever driver is leading gets the strategy call, and the driver behind is comprimised. In this case Vettel would’ve been comprimised, so instead of compromising Vettel, they decided to split strategies and give Vettel a chance to win the race.

The rare instance where Webber was put on a different strategy was Hungary 2010. And despite Vettel being quicker and 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? No. Webber won at the expense of Vettel. Look at the podium, Vettel is sooking like a little child who is not allowed to play.

Easy to be gracious when you have the championship sewn up. Red Bull play team games all the time against Webber, they rarely give him a chance to win the race through strategy, and yet again they cost him the win by allowing Vettel a different strategy and not to simply pit the lap after Webber.


I should point out “different strategy” being, when both Vettel and Webber are racing against each other. In many ways this reminds me a bit of the Barrichello, Button debacle that was Spain 2009. And I posted a very detailed analysis of that here in the Winter of 2009/2010, which showed clearly Rubens had been screwed over by the team.

This time, it was nowhere near as bad as what Brawn did to Rubens, however the major problem is, 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.


One guy passes Grosjean easily, the other initially can’t and then takes too long. Guess who won the race…


Clearly Webbers ‘heavier’ (new) chassis and less wing made overtaking Grosjean more difficult. Watch a replay. This was plainly obvious at the final chicane – Grosjean drove away from Webber at this important point on all of those critical laps and got out of drs range. Webber only ‘got him’ to take 2nd after Grosjean was baulked by traffic at the chicane.

Webber also commented in his post race interview with ‘Pinks’ that he didn’t think he would have caught Seb, even had he got past Grosjean early in that final stint.

Webber lost his chance for a win at the start, where both RB’s made bad starts, a Grosjean had a stunner. It’s interesting that no comments have been made about the RB starts – given Seb’s start, it’s obvious it is not just a driver (Webber) issue……


Not sure why we’re discussing this? I mean Vettel is leading the Championship. If this would have happened three races into the season, yeah.


James it just doesn’t make any sense to me that Webber was brought in on lap 25 for the second stop, he certainly didn’t seem to be struggling at that point and it’s hard to believe that the more durable Prime tyres were getting to critical temperatures. Wouldn’t leaving it till later have given the team a clearer picture? Why commit before you need to?

I suggest that it’s certainly worth some analysis in the strategy report.


i too would like some clarity on this.


Try to be realistic. There is no proof if this and no one can speak freely about it even if they could prove it. Webber irked some ppl at RB. It is as simple as that and this problem let to the exact same thing that was at Ferrari during Schumi era:

No matter what, Vettel wins. I hate to say it and I repeat, I have no proof and I do agree that Web doesn’t come anywhere near Vet as a driver, but too many questionable things has happened to him, which leads me to the previous statement. Simply put: at Ferrari you had clear orders, at RB it is hidden, yet visible: Webb…g**o out of the way and that’s it!!


I think every opinion has already been voiced here, but one thing I find is that given the actions of Red Bull it is hard not to think of conspiracy theories, even if they are being genuine.

Since the multi 21 saga all I have wanted to see all season is a one on one fight between Vettel and Webber on track, and through either luck or design this hasn’t happened yet. Fingers crossed for the next couple of races.


Webbo was very wary of crazy RoGro, that’s why he had trouble getting past. RoGro will cause a big accident with his late blocking moves. He tried to do it to Kimi last race, and tried twice this week with Seb and Webbo.


Mark second stint was to short. But if i were Mark i wouldn´t stop and take the risk of going to the end. The 4th place were more than 30 seconds away so de podium was safe.


Less wing didn’t work for Senna in 89 and it didn’t work this week for Webber. If he’d had higher down force I suspect he’d have a better race result.

It’s just a shame we never got to see the two RBR’s having a go in to the chicane!


Reminds me of Hungary 96 when Williams pulled the same strategy switch on Hill, who all of a sudden gad an extra stop to make over his team mate… And Hill was leaving the team at the end of the year too…


Let’s not forget that Mark had pole position yet again he mucked it up at the start and that’s were in my opinion he lost the race.


Poor Ricciardo, in the best F1 team for next year but the ceiling has already been set.


Webber chewed up his tyres in the 1st stint so had to pit earlier. If they had put him on a 2 stop strategy, the chances are that he would have run out of tyres before the end of the race. Then people would be saying that knowing Webber is hard on his tyres, the team purposely put him on a two stop strategy.

With fresher and faster tyres, Webber struggled to overtake Grosjean who was on older tyres. So what is the probability that he would have overtaken him on a 2 stop strategy?

In my opinion, the three stop strategy was a much better option for Webber but he ran out of talent.

Can remember Vettel did a 4 stop last year and then went on to win. Also, several years ago Schumacher also did a 4 stop (as opposed to others’ 2 or 3) and went on to win.

I will wait for the Strategy Report.

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