Webber still has doubts over Japanese GP strategy

2013 Japanese Grand Prix

Mark Webber, Red Bull, Suzuka, 2013Mark Webber remains unsure that his mid-race switch to a three-stop strategy in the Japanese Grand Prix was the right decision.

Red Bull split their drivers’ strategies at Suzuka after both fell behind Romain Grosjean at the start. Webber finished second after passing Grosjean in the final stint.

But Sebastian Vettel, who stayed on a two-stop strategy, moved ahead of his team mate in the pits and also passed the Lotus to claim victory.

Speaking at the press conference for the Indian Grand Prix Webber said he hadn’t looked into why his strategy was changed.

“I haven’t gone over any data from the last race whatsoever,” he said. “I still stand by what I said at the time that I was a bit surprised that we elected to do that.”

“Having to three-stop you’ve got to pass three cars to win the race against that of maybe sticking to a two where you’re just focused on trying to beat Romain.”

2013 Japanese Grand Prix

Browse all 2013 Japanese Grand Prix articles

Image ?é?® Red Bull/Getty

Advert | Go Ad-free

98 comments on Webber still has doubts over Japanese GP strategy

  1. AdrianMorse (@adrianmorse) said on 24th October 2013, 11:15

    His best chance of beating Grosjean was a three-stopper; his best chance of winning the race was a two-stopper. The three-stop strategy was obviously the way to go for the team.

    • Jarnooo (@jarnooo) said on 24th October 2013, 11:19

      The best way to hand the win to Seb without using team orders lol.

      • Malik (@malik) said on 24th October 2013, 12:20

        Facts for those who can see only:
        as teammates:
        Wins: Vettel 34, Webber 9
        Poles: Vettel 41, Webber 12
        Fastest laps: Vettel 21, Webber 18
        Podiums: Vettel 57, Webber 37
        Champion: Vettel 3, Webber 0
        Runner-up: Vettel 1, Webber 0

        • stefano (@alfa145) said on 24th October 2013, 12:31

          we all know that, so what.
          in japan the team decided for the victory of sebastian, I think it’s self-evident

          • Malik (@malik) said on 24th October 2013, 12:34

            My comment above was for those who can see only :) :) :)

          • Deej92 (@deej92) said on 24th October 2013, 15:30

            Vettel looked after his tyres better in the first stint than Webber did. Red Bull were then trying to get the best result for Webber after that stint, which they did. It’s evident Vettel earnt the victory. Don’t be bitter.

    • Eric (@baron-2) said on 24th October 2013, 11:21

      His best chance of winning the race was to get a good start.

      With a two stop strategy he would’ve been stuck behind Grosjean at the end as well.

    • darkenforca (@darkenforca) said on 24th October 2013, 11:25

      Did you read Keith’s article about the strategies at play during the Japanese Grand Prix?

      Red Bull went for a 1-2, which they got. Had of the kept WEB on a 2 stopper not only would he have held up VET towards the end of his stint I doubt that WEB had the outright pace to pass GRO on circuit without the tire advantage he had.

    • Diego (@ironcito) said on 24th October 2013, 11:25

      If the roles had been reversed, with Vettel on fresh mediums like Webber was at the end, he (Seb) would’ve probably won the race. Then the critics would be saying that the team benefitted Vettel by giving him the best strategy. Webber just didn’t make the most of what he had.

      • renton said on 24th October 2013, 15:06

        +1

      • Loup Garou (@loup-garou) said on 24th October 2013, 15:13

        Precisely. If the roles of the RBR drivers had been reversed but Grosjean stayed put as he did, we can guess what would have happened based on what actually did happen. Webber(instead of Vettel), on prime tryes after his second stop, would not have been able to “go & get” Grosjean as easily as Vettel did (A fair assumption considering that Webber could not manage that with options). He would still be struggling to pass the Frenchman when Vettel, on fresh options after his third stop, would have caught both of them with around 6 laps to go, passed them and went on to win the race. In all liklihood, Webber would not have been able to pass Grosjean at all and ended-up third.

      • @ironcito precisely. When you consider everything, the chances are Vettel would have won anyway. So by achieving second, which was realistically the highest position he could attain, he made the best of his race in terms of position. I don’t see what the problem is personally and why this is an ongoing debate.

    • One thing, Webber followed Grosjean for quite a few laps at start, but couldn’t get pass. Webber isn’t guaranteed to be able to get pass Grosjean even in 2 stops. So RBR split the strategy up, confuses Lotus. At the same time maximize Webber’s chance of getting pass Grosjean.

      So why not Vettel 3 stops, Webber 2 stops, that’s arguable. But I think 3 stops works better having the lower gap from Grosjean because it’s racing “on the track”. And 2 stops just need to maintain tyres and keep pace up. So obviously, Webber in the front, and this could be the reason they gave Webber the 3 stops not Vettel. Ofc, it’s just my speculation.

      • @afya

        So why not Vettel 3 stops, Webber 2 stops, that’s arguable. But I think 3 stops works better having the lower gap from Grosjean because it’s racing “on the track”.

        Not even as complicated as that. Quite simply, Vettel’s tyres were lasting longer than Webber’s, so it made sense to leave the driver best able to conserve them on a 2.

  2. Chris (@tophercheese21) said on 24th October 2013, 11:26

    His first stint couldn’t have been any longer because he would’ve lost too much time if he had gone longer.
    I do think they pitted him too soon on his second stint. I mean, he only did 14 laps. They must’ve decided on the 3 stopper very quickly.

    If he went longer on the second stint, then I think he could’ve won the race.

    • Chris (@tophercheese21) said on 24th October 2013, 11:28

      Or Atleast had a better chance of winning.

      I would love to see Web and Vet racing wheel to wheel once more before Webber is gone.

    • Eric (@baron-2) said on 24th October 2013, 11:36

      He would have remained behind Grosjean as the same strategy wouldn’t have given him track position.
      And seeing as he struggled to pass Grosjean on much better tyres I’m quite certain he would have not passed Grosjean at all with the same compound and tyre life.

  3. Thomas (@infi24r) said on 24th October 2013, 11:32

    Had he went with a 2 stopper Seb would have had to pass him if he wanted to beat him. No chance Red Bull would do that. They wanted Mark out of the way.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 24th October 2013, 11:37

      @infi24r The same could have been true had Vettel been on the three-stopper and you would be making the same argument.

      Unless you’re saying Red Bull should have kept both their drivers on two-stops which would have reduced their chance of beating Lotus.

    • robbyvert said on 24th October 2013, 11:46

      i don’t think so
      couple of laps before weber pit, he got fastest lap, he was away ahead grosjean
      he stop only 1 lap before grosjean.
      By the time vettel near him, not enough lap to overtake weber

    • TMF (@tmf42) said on 24th October 2013, 15:22

      RBRs best chance for a 1-2 was to split the strategy and there was no reason to keep them both on the same strategy due to the huge gap to 4th. It would have been foolish by them to not do what they did.
      Mark slandered all his chances throughout the race – at the start – with a rather short first stint and failing to overtake GRO quickly. And I think he knows it – as this is the usual reaction in such cases.

  4. KeeleyObsessed (@keeleyobsessed) said on 24th October 2013, 11:32

    He’s not still moaning, is he?

    By putting each driver on a different strategy, Grosjean and Lotus could only cover off one driver. Webber drew the short straw and had to do the work to overtake Grosjean. It’s not as if Vettel had to overtake Grosjean aswell..

    Oh, wait…

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 24th October 2013, 11:35

      @keeleyobsessed He was asked a question and he answered it. I wouldn’t call that “moaning”.

      Though I did find it curious that despite his scepticism about his strategy he apparently wasn’t interested in investigating it further.

      • KeeleyObsessed (@keeleyobsessed) said on 24th October 2013, 13:00

        @keithcollantine He could quite easily have avoided the question. There was no reason for him to add fuel to the fire. A simple “I’m not interested in it” (Which was pretty much what he said afterwards) would have been easy to say, and this whole debate would have been forgotten.

        • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 24th October 2013, 15:08

          @keeleyobsessed I have more respect for drivers like Webber who give straight answers to straight questions instead of trying to weasel out of them with PR words or mumble some non-committal drivel.

          • celeste (@celeste) said on 24th October 2013, 17:38

            The problem is that he don´t give a straight answer… he answer in a way that made the team look bad and made him look like a victim…

          • Mike (@mike) said on 25th October 2013, 2:16

            @celeste

            If you were trying to get Webber to win, would you have pitted him?

            Webber thinks that he shouldn’t have pitted, so from that you can see that he does think he was the victim.

            This doesn’t mean that he is saying his team screwed him, just that he thinks the strategy decision was wrong.

            He is talking about the two stop being better, because it gives you track position.

      • sumedh said on 24th October 2013, 20:45

        Indeed. Webber has no interest in working with his engineers to find out why his strategy was wrong. On the other hand, he wants to continue telling the media that the strategy was wrong.

        His behavior is as silly as Fernando’s 1571 points celebration.

        • Mike (@mike) said on 25th October 2013, 2:22

          I think you’re taking his comment out of context.

          “I haven’t gone over any data from the last race whatsoever,”

          What he means is, he still thinks what he thought at the time, that the two stopper was the better strategy, however, he starts by saying that he hasn’t been over the data, meaning that he can’t be sure if he’s right.

    • Loup Garou (@loup-garou) said on 24th October 2013, 15:05

      Of course he is still moaning! And note the choice of words – he does not come out and say that he is sure that he could have won on a 2-stopper but just expresses his “doubts”. It is that sort of cat-on-the-fence attitude that makes me dislike Webber. He always has this ‘fall guy’ expression on him, knowing full well that the likes of hopping Eddie Jordan and others will be taken in by such things.

      Perhaps someone should ask Webber why it took him almost 7 laps to pass Grosjean’s Lotus struggling on worn tyres when he himself had relatively fresh options. That after his teammate passed the same driver for the lead when he had primes and when Grosjean’s tyres were in a slightly better condition than when he kept fighting off Webber later?

      • Damon said on 24th October 2013, 16:35

        Webber had a lower downforce configuration than Vettel, maybe that was the reason he couldn’t get close enough out of the final corner.

        • David-A (@david-a) said on 24th October 2013, 17:19

          But that should have given Webber a better run on the back straight approaching the chicane. He couldn’t even manage that.

          • Damon said on 24th October 2013, 17:44

            That’s because the lack of downforce wouldn’t allow him to get close enough through the spoon curve

          • 130R isn’t always flat in the races though: he shoudk have recovered the deficit down the straight to 130R and through to the braking zone for the chicane. From there, his lower downforce should have helped him overtake into T1.

            How I saw it, Vettel clearly planned his move before the chicane, leading Grosjean to take a compromised line into it and allowing Vettel to out-traction him. Webber couldn’t (or didn’t) pull the same stunt.

          • Damon said on 24th October 2013, 19:12

            Clearly planned his move?? How did he go about that then, at that stage of the race it was easy flat for the both of them. I’m guessing the spoon curve is where Webber couldn’t get close enough

      • Krichelle (@krichelle) said on 24th October 2013, 19:34

        Mate, Webber had poorer traction than the Lotus of Grosjean out of the chicane, that’s why he couldn’t overtook Romain, and in fact even though Webber’s car was “lower downforced” it was still faster than Grosjean in qualifying and in the race through the second sector.

  5. wsrgo (@wsrgo) said on 24th October 2013, 11:35

    You know, it doesn’t take a Brainiac to work out the utility of the three-stop. Red Bull realised that the only way to have one car on the top step was to go for a two-pronged strategy to confuse Lotus and leave them guessing. Obviously, you’d want to give your less-stop strategy to a guy who can make his tyres last, and Webber isn’t that guy so..
    Seriously, the only place where he can find fault in his team is that the switch was made rather late and that Webber’s race was lost in the first stint itself.

    • Mike Dee (@mike-dee) said on 24th October 2013, 12:14

      @wsrgo

      I think the opportunity for the three-stop really only opened up because there was suddenly a large gap behind Vettel. Had the race panned out more normally (without Hamilton retiring, Rosberg getting a drive-through and Ricciardo being able to hold up the other front-runners) Rosberg, Webber would have had to overtake at least three or four cars more.

  6. Mads (@mads) said on 24th October 2013, 11:36

    He hasn’t got any data from the last race? What is that supposed to mean? Wasn’t he invited to the debrief? Seems odd as he isn’t on his way to another team or anything like that…
    Anyway, on the topic of his strategy, then I am quite surprised he hasn’t got it yet. Considering he, him self, sat behind Grosjean lap after lap on tyres which were some 1 second quicker then his.
    On a two stop, Webber would have to beat Grosjean, not only on the “same” tyres, but due to his higher degradation and earlier pitstop, on worse tyres. How on earth would that ever work? And risk getting nailed later in the race by Vettel.
    Even with the benefit of hindsight, I think it is quite clear that the three stop strategy was Webber’s only option, unless he wanted to settle for a 3rd.

    • OEL F1 (@oel-f1) said on 24th October 2013, 20:59

      He hasn’t got any data from the last race? What is that supposed to mean? Wasn’t he invited to the debrief? Seems odd as he isn’t on his way to another team or anything like that…

      Remember Rubens in Germany 2009? “I don’t wanna talk to anybody in the team cause I don’t wanna understand, there’s gonna be a lot of blah blah blah blah blah and I don’t wanna hear that.”

  7. Florin G (@floring) said on 24th October 2013, 11:49

    So basically: I don’t need to look at this silly thing called data. I don’t care what the reality is, I know one thing, and I stick to it. Mark has played the victim – sharp tongue comeback routine for a long time now. He is the eternal unlucky guy, the eternal abused team member, the eternal might have been.

    • Mike (@mike) said on 25th October 2013, 2:49

      A reporter asked him a question…. He said he still thought what he did last week, but clarified by saying he hasn’t looked at data so he can’t know for sure.

      I think you’re taking things out of context.

  8. Mike Dee (@mike-dee) said on 24th October 2013, 11:54

    Webber is incorrect: “Having to three-stop you’ve got to pass three cars to win the race against that of maybe sticking to a two where you’re just focused on trying to beat Romain.”

    He would have had to pass two cars, not three for a win. This was due to the unusual circumstances with the large gap behind the top 3. Usually, stopping once more than most other drivers means you have significant traffic to deal with. In this case, it was just one additional car -this made the three-stop much more attractive than usual. Still think it was the right choice for Webber, and definitely the right choice for the team.

    If Webber had insisted on two-stop, they would have put Vettel on the three-stop. Not sure that would have been better for Webber…

    • Mads (@mads) said on 24th October 2013, 12:08

      @mike-dee

      If Webber had insisted on two-stop, they would have put Vettel on the three-stop. Not sure that would have been better for Webber…

      I agree. Webber would likely have been unable to pass Grosjean due to his significantly worse tyre degradation and looking how Vettel was able to breeze past Grosjean on not that much newer tyres, I suspect that Vettel would have made mincemeat out of both of them in the last few laps.

    • Deb Luhi (@debeluhi) said on 25th October 2013, 0:34

      “If Webber had insisted on two-stop, they would have put Vettel on the three-stop. Not sure that would have been better for Webber…”
      But it would’ve been better for us, spectators. Vettel would’ve done another Singapore stile race.

  9. TheBass (@) said on 24th October 2013, 13:16

    Vettel showed superior tyre management, better overtaking skills and in general better performance than Webber that weekend.

    Had it been the other way around (Webber 2 stops, Vettel 3), Webber would have struggled a lot more to pass Grosjean due to having older tyres (assuming he would have passed him at all) – let’s not forget how much did Webber struggle to pass him on newer tyres, being 2s/lap faster -. Vettel, on the other side, would have most likely have passed both, since he had newer tyres.

    If the result had been GRO-VET-WEB or VET-GRO-WEB, then there would still be drama about it.

  10. Corrado (@corrado-dub) said on 24th October 2013, 13:29

    I think Mark is wrong ! Time to go for him, indeed. He’s in F1 for quite some years already (since 2002), so he had enough time to prove he’s a top driver and he deserves full backup from the team. Unfortunately for him, he’s just a 2nd tier driver, just like Massa, Barrichello, Coulthard etc. It’s more than obvious now. When you finish 6th in the standings at the end of the champ (see 2012) while your team mate is WDC… there’s nothing left to question the team ! Same thing applies to Massa.

  11. splinky said on 24th October 2013, 15:53

    I think Webber should give it a rest. What is done is done. Move on and focus on the job at hand. Giving comments that questions team strategies and efforts without checking the race data is quite incomprehensible to me.
    Webber has a big problem with “moving on”. Alonso’s taxi ride is an example of this. He did wrong and got a penalty. Instead of accepting the decision and moving on, he remonstrated long after the incident. Same with the infamous Multi-21. It was blown way out of proportioned. **** happens. Seek closure and move on. Of course this is easier said than done but I do think Webber has a big chip on his shoulder and he can be a better driver if he could sort out the psychological demons in his head.

    • Mike (@mike) said on 25th October 2013, 2:52

      Keep in mind he was asked about it… It was an answer more than a comment.

      **** happens

      Yeah…. but I think it’s fair to say it’s happening to Webber more than Vettel. You can’t blame him for not liking that.

  12. oliveiraz33 (@oliveiraz33) said on 24th October 2013, 16:00

    What a surprise….. Webber still had pace in the first sting, he could do at least another lap or 2

  13. antifia (@antifia) said on 24th October 2013, 16:34

    Webber lost that race when he sat behind Grosjean for 7 laps, even though he was on a set of medium tyres that were 14 laps younger than those of the Lotus driver. When he got behind Grosjean, Vettel was just 4.5 secs ahead, on hard tyres, which where 6 laps older than Webber’s – and there were still 8 laps to go. In other words, he had all the tools Redbull could have given him to win the race and he blew it – himself.

    • Damon said on 24th October 2013, 16:50

      He just was not getting the traction off the final corner to get close enough, he had a different setup to Vettel. What makes you so sure Vettel could have got by driving Webbers car??

      • David-A (@david-a) said on 24th October 2013, 17:22

        Vettel would have used the extra top speed to vet by in the DRS zone or even get by going into the chicane (in fact, Vettel got alongside Grosjean going into the chicane, before passing him on the pit straight). Vettel would have won in a doddle in Webber’s car.

        • Damon said on 24th October 2013, 17:41

          Say again??

          • Webber had a lower downforce set-up, meaning he could get a greater benefit from the DRS and a higher top speed. Didn’t you get the memo?

          • Damon said on 24th October 2013, 18:46

            I know all that Einstein! Through the spoon curve he couldn’t get close enough to mount a challenge down the back straight, and after the final chichal he wasn’t getting the traction to overtake down the pit straight. From what i can remember it was only due to backmarkers that he finally managed to get by.

          • David-A (@david-a) said on 24th October 2013, 19:12

            @damon1995

            Say again??

            Vettel would have used the extra top speed to vet by in the DRS zone or even get by going into the chicane (in fact, Vettel got alongside Grosjean going into the chicane, before passing him on the pit straight). Vettel would have won in a doddle in Webber’s car.

          • Damon said on 24th October 2013, 19:37

            What are you talking about? Was not webber trying to use that top speed to get by? He’s one of the best overtakers in the game, Vettel wouldn’t be able to teach him any tricks in that department

          • Deej92 (@deej92) said on 25th October 2013, 0:20

            You didn’t see Monza 2011 then.

          • David-A (@david-a) said on 25th October 2013, 0:35

            He’s one of the best overtakers in the game, Vettel wouldn’t be able to teach him any tricks in that department

            Sorry mate if it sounds harsh, but yes he could.

            @deej92 ‘s Monza 2011 example is good: Vettel passed Alonso brilliantly, Webber meanwhile, smashed into Massa.

            There was also Spa 2012: Senna in front of Webber, in front of Vettel. Webber can’t pass Bruno. Vettel passes Webber. Vettel passes Bruno Senna. Webber gets past Bruno Senna… through the pitstops.

            Those are not my only examples. Webber has done well at times and can be one of the best, like China 2011 or Silverstone 2013, but those days are few and far between compared to his teammate, Alonso, Hamilton or Raikkonen. On one of Vettel’s scruffier days, Hamilton especially would’ve got past Grosjean quickly in MW’S shoes and put pressure on Vettel at the end, as Rockie/Seb were expecting.

      • Mads (@mads) said on 24th October 2013, 20:14

        First of all, even with the slightly lower DF on Webber’s car, that would be nothing compared to the mountain of traction he would have from the nice and fresh soft tyres. Webber undoubtedly had more actual traction then Vettel at that point in the race.
        But the overtake had nothing to do with traction.
        What mattered was that Vettel put Grosjean out of position into the chicane. THAT gave Vettel a significant speed advantage out of the chicane which enabled him to drive straight around Grosjean.
        Webber wasn’t able to replicate that and therefore had to rely solely on a traction advantage from the soft tyres and the DRS to make the move.

        • Damon said on 24th October 2013, 20:27

          And how could Vettel put Romain out of position and not Webber? Maybe because he couldn’t get close enough up the back straight and through 130R??

          • Mads (@mads) said on 25th October 2013, 7:13

            And why should that be?
            He had higher top speed which would help him close up prior to 130R, and down the main straight, and with the new soft tyres I see no reason why he shouldn’t be able to carry just as much speed through 130R as Vettel could. Webber was 1-2 seconds quicker then Vettel at that point in the race. Pace which all came from having more grip with the tyres.

        • HoHum (@hohum) said on 24th October 2013, 21:24

          @mads, sounds simple but you are not taking into account that Webber not only had to pass GRO he had to get to the finish on those option tyres, something that would not have been possible had he been swarming all over the back of Gro.

          • Loup Garou (@loup-garou) said on 24th October 2013, 22:11

            The point is that with the tyres Webber had and considering that Grosjean’s tyres were even more worn than when Vettel passed him, Webber should never have needed to “swarm all over” Grosjean. Those fresh options were provided to him for a reason – to attack Grosjean and pass him – a task which Webber failed to do for more than 6 laps.

          • Mads (@mads) said on 25th October 2013, 7:26

            @hohum
            Yes, yes, but did you watch it? Webber was all over Grosjean for most of those 6 laps. Ruining his tyres.
            Vettel on the other hand only spend a lap or so in the dirty air from the Lotus, and then he could get on with managing his tyres.
            I am certain that Vettel’s solution was a lot more tyre friendly then Webbers.

  14. celeste (@celeste) said on 24th October 2013, 17:34

    Man, I can´t wait for Webber to leave F1… to become a bitter ex driver criticizing the sport he was never able to be the best of.

    If Webber has doubt why don´t he look at the data? Webber playing the victim again and frankly and I´m really tired of it…

  15. uan (@uan) said on 24th October 2013, 19:36

    Webber appears to be the only one who still has doubts …

    To be fair to Webber, it’s gotta be tough to acknowledge (as David Coulthard brought up) that he’s slower than his teammate. Or to realize he’s being overly optimistic that he would have got by Romain on a 2 stopper. In fact, what would have happened is that Webber would have gone to lap 32 (as he mentioned) and RG probably would have come in a lap or 2 earlier and got the undercut on him.

Add your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments must abide by the comment policy. Comments may be moderated.
Want to post off-topic? Head to the forum.
See the FAQ for more information.