Vettel questions Red Bull tactics

Vettel lost out to team mate Webber on strategy

Vettel lost out to team mate Webber on strategy

Sebastian Vettel had doubts that Red Bull got his strategy right in the Turkish Grand Prix and made his displeasure plain in the post-race press conference.

And the team trod a fine line with the rule book by issuing a covert order to Vettel late in the race preventing him from overtaking team mate Mark Webber.

Vettel’s race was thrown into disarray when he ran wide on the first lap, letting Jenson Button into the lead.

That left the team searching for a way to get around the Brawn and they elected to use a three-stop strategy to do it. That rested on Vettel overtaking Button on the track – which didn’t happen – and the further time loss relegated Vettel to third behind team mate Webber.

In many ways, this was a repeat of what happened to Rubens Barrichello at Spain, when a three-stop strategy dropped him from first to second behind team mate Button.

In the closing stages of the race Vettel quickly closed in on Webber, cutting his lead to a little over a second. This reality was contradicted by the team, who told Vettel that Webber was quicker:

Mark is faster, mark is faster. Sebastian: save your car, save your car. Mark is faster.

The sub-text to the message was unmistakeable – Vettel was being ordered not to overtake Webber.

Most F1 fans have an opinion about whether team orders like this are good for the sport or not. But Horner muddied the water further immediately after the race by insisting “the pace was identical”. He added that, with new engines in the RB5s, they wanted to take the opportunity to preserve them.

After what happened to McLaren at Australia, he might want to take more care about offering a consistent explanation for what happened – and not picking a version of events so obviously at odds with the facts. Here’s how his drivers’ lap times compared after Vettel completed his final pit stop:

Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber's lap times (click to enlarge)

Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber's lap times (click to enlarge)

After the race Vettel was more concerned about the strategy mistake:

I was quite surprised we stayed on a three-stop strategy at the first pit stop. From what we had discussed before the race, if we found ourself behind Jenson it made no sense to stay on a three-stop.

Vettel stuck to the team’s version of events regarding the Webber instruction:

They didn’t really say not to pass Mark. I got the message ‘Mark is faster than you’. I thought I better keep this one for myself.

There seems little doubt that Red Bull got Vettel’s strategy wrong. But was ordering him not to pass Webber the right thing to do?

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77 comments on Vettel questions Red Bull tactics

  1. Tom said on 8th June 2009, 9:04

    i think vettel still makes too many rooke errors and it would have been stupid for rbr to let him have a dig ar webber in the final laps. seb stuffed his race up on the fist lap and should just accept that and move on. dont blame the team. besides, webber’s had enough stradegy woes in the pass. good to see him being favoured.

  2. Chaz said on 8th June 2009, 9:14

    Vettel was not a happy bunny after the race thats for sure. I like to think that like with Button’s experience in preventing Vettel passing him, Webber would have been just as tactful at keeping Vettel at bay, that is if the team orders were not put into play, and it sure would have been nice to see that scrap…

  3. Too Bad said on 8th June 2009, 9:17

    i think that Vettel should have started on the soft option tyres right from the start of the race since the team were already planning to get him in on lap 15, which is pretty early in the race. Vettel has not had a problem with the soft tyres ( the Monaco one was the super soft btw ).
    i think it was bearing on the impossible for Red Bull to think that Vettel could run away with their car, which was inferior, or at best, on par with the Brawn cars. i think that Button could have gone past Vettel anyway without Vettel’s mistake since his Brawn was way faster than the Red Bull. Granted that Vettel should have been more aggressive to past Button on the 2nd stint, it would not have changed the end result as it is not probable that the Red Bull car could work out a big enough gap against Brawn to take in 1 more pit stop.

    Schumacher could pull off such amazing stints because he had a car that was far more superior than his competitors, and of course, he was a great and very experienced driver.

    The way i see it, the race had already been lost even before it even started.

  4. PJA said on 8th June 2009, 12:59

    Although Red Bull got the strategy wrong by not changing to a two stopper after Button took the lead on the opening lap, they were right to tell Vettel not to pass Webber.

    If they were racing for position both Webber and Vettel would have been pushing the car to the limit and as Vettel showed earlier he couldn’t pass Button even when he closed on him quickly, so there was no guarantee he would even of been able to get past Webber.

  5. Brian said on 8th June 2009, 20:23

    Vettel is my fav driver but in this case he has no one to blame but himself. It was his mistake that messed up his race.
    Yes, Red Bull’s strategy may have made it hard to swallow, but he made the initial mistake.
    I lost valuable points in my pool because of him, but he is young and will make mistakes.
    Red Bull got both cars home safely, and that is all that really matters.
    Vettel will get over this and be ready for the next race. It would be great to see him win in Britain!

  6. Dane said on 9th June 2009, 0:50

    There is no way that Vettel would have been able to pass Webber for 2nd

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