Mark Webber, Red Bull, Interlagos, 2011

Red Bull: Gearbox glitch hands win to Webber

2011 Brazilian GP team reviewPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Red Bull said Vettel was told to short-shift in second and third from lap five.

Sebastian Vettel Mark Webber
Qualifying position 1 2
Qualifying time comparison (Q3) 1’11.918 (-0.181) 1’12.099
Race position 2 1
Laps 71/71 71/71
Pit stops 3 3

Red Bull drivers’ lap times throughout the race (in seconds):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71
Sebastian Vettel 82.384 78.24 78.239 77.784 77.879 77.89 77.845 78.002 77.806 78.207 78.12 78.595 78.549 78.628 78.867 78.807 82.721 92.532 78.073 78.169 78.161 77.805 77.303 77.625 77.458 77.333 77.64 78.056 77.59 79.136 78.129 77.601 77.191 77.178 77.269 77.635 77.288 77.704 81.214 90.99 76.989 76.953 77.072 76.776 76.31 76.479 76.917 76.474 76.652 76.817 76.77 77.067 76.982 76.751 76.747 76.519 76.473 76.774 80.195 92.657 79.157 76.42 76.191 76.364 76.652 76.266 76.235 76.076 76.159 76.569 76.341
Mark Webber 83.527 79.337 78.273 78.033 78.165 78.055 78.17 78.038 78.26 78.247 78.074 78.219 78.422 78.342 78.54 78.975 79.044 82.827 92.398 77.769 77.612 77.654 77.484 77.564 77.03 77.055 77.03 77.167 77.696 77.208 77.812 77.145 76.959 77.038 77.137 77.462 77.31 81.07 91.288 76.484 76.6 76.395 77.083 76.939 76.375 76.831 76.69 76.325 76.115 76.228 76.301 76.721 76.654 76.445 76.114 76.315 76.136 80.419 91.771 77.131 75.492 75.893 75.919 76.018 75.952 76.418 76.215 75.758 75.487 75.48 75.324

Sebastian Vettel

Red Bull, Interlagos, 2011
Red Bull, Interlagos, 2011
Start tyre Soft
Pit stop 1 Soft 20.927s
Pit stop 2 Soft 20.652s
Pit stop 3 Medium 22.094s

Not for the first time this year, Vettel wasn’t completely happy with his car on Friday, but was satisfied with it on Saturday and claimed his record-breaking 15th pole position of the year.

According to his team mate, there were concerns the evening before the race about Vettel’s gearbox. Webber said during the press conference: “I know how hard the guys worked on [Sebastian’s] gearbox last night because it wasn?t completely smooth.”

As early as lap five Red Bull detected the gearbox was losing oil, and instructed Vettel to short-shift in second and third gears to reduce stress on it – the lower gears put the box under greatest stress.

Vettel said: “It was during the first stint, at some stage, that I got the message ‘we have a gearbox issue’. It sounded pretty strong, pretty severe, so I turned down the engine and then immediately started to short shift and it just kept getting worse.

“I got through the first pit stop and obviously gained a little bit on Mark, because I came in a lap earlier but then at some stage I realised that it was still pretty early in the race, our main priority is to finish the race and Mark would be catching up and the most important thing would be to help the team to win the race.

“I tried to be very clear on the radio that I cannot keep first position with the pace that we were going or whatever they asked me to do, what was required to manage the gearbox and then I told them ‘OK, but obviously advise Mark’ or ‘tell Mark that I would let him through’, to give him the chance to keep pushing, don?t lose any time getting past me because at that stage I didn?t know whether I would see the chequered flag or not.”

Vettel said he was glad to make it to the end of the race: “I then just kept losing more and more time towards the end, so I had to be more and more conservative. At some stage I said that ‘I feel like Senna in 1991 when he had to manage the gearbox problem around here’. Obviously it was totally different for him, he was Brazilian and he still managed to win the race.

“I was forced to push in areas where I was allowed to, in the corners, but as soon as I went on the straight, I obviously had to shift earlier. I don?t know if you have walked the track or have run the track, but getting out of the last corner is pretty steep so there was no chance to really… I tried to stay with Mark as well as I could, in case the problem solved itself and we could go again, but in the end I was just trying to keep the gap.”

He ran wide and lost time following his final pit stop: “I was a bit surprised when I got onto the [mediums] and warm-up was a bit poor and then I think I just got caught out with the traffic ahead and lost too much at the front with a little bit of warm-up.”

Following questions over whether Red Bull pretended Vettel had a problem to help Webber win the race, Red Bull showed data from the gearbox to some journalists, who were satisfied Vettel had experienced a fault.

Sebastian Vettel 2011 form guide

Mark Webber

Mark Webber, Red Bull, Interlagos, 2011
Mark Webber, Red Bull, Interlagos, 2011
Start tyre Soft
Pit stop 1 Soft 20.755s
Pit stop 2 Soft 20.99s
Pit stop 3 Medium 20.781s

Webber completed Red Bull’s sixth front row lockout of 2011, less than two-tenths off his team mate on one of the shortest circuits on the calendar.

Vettel scorched away to a 2.2 second lead in the first two laps, and Webber was 3.8s behind at lap ten. Webber pitted after Vettel the first time around, and Vettel’s lead peaked at 5.2s.

It then fell rapidly and by lap 28 Webber was within half a second of his team mate. Two laps later he was through into the lead.

Webber said: “I thought he was either in tyre trouble way earlier than he should be or no KERS or something was going on, because one thing [Sebastian] doesn?t do is forget how to drive from one lap to the other.

“When I started to take a pretty big chunk out of him per lap, I thought something might have been going down and then Ciaron [Pilbeam] informed me that he had a gearbox problem and I think I could smell it a little bit when I got close, and there was also a little bit of fluid.”

Webber entertained himself in the closing laps by trying to improve his fastest lap, setting the quickest tour with his last effort: “It was getting a bit frustrating because I kept pinching the front a little bit into turn eight.

“On the last lap I got it a little bit better otherwise I was probably going to bail a bit earlier, but I kept pushing pretty hard.

“Yeah, that?s what it?s about, isn?t it, pushing yourself and backing yourself and having a crack. I was only racing myself at that point so it was a nice little feeling, as I say, to have the car working well underneath me.”

He added: “I want to dedicate this win to a close friend of myself and my family, Bob Woods, who?s a very ill man at the moment, so this win is for him.”

Mark Webber 2011 form guide

2011 Brazilian Grand Prix

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Image ?? Red Bull/Getty images