Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Albert Park, 2016

Vettel not blaming Ferrari over red flag tyre call

2016 Australian Grand PrixPosted on Author Keith Collantine

Sebastian Vettel says he isn’t blaming his Ferrari team for a strategy decision which might have cost him victory in the Australian Grand Prix.

A red flag interruption during the race offered all drivers the chance to change tyres without having to make a pit stop. Ferrari kept Vettel, who was leading at the time, on super-softs which meant he could have to make another stop.

However Mercedes put Nico Rosberg onto a set of medium tyres which allowed him to complete the race without pitting again. Vettel not only dropped behind Rosberg but also Lewis Hamilton, who pitted for mediums earlier on.

“You can argue the red flag didn’t help us,” said Vettel, “but equally one time it plays into your favour, the other time it catches you out a bit. Today I think, nevertheless, we had a great race.”

“We went for the aggressive route – maybe with hindsight we could have done something else but I’m not willing to blame anything or anyone. We are a team, we win as a team and I think today we won 15 points.”

Vettel said Ferrari did not expect to see Mercedes switch to the medium compound tyre.

“We didn’t expect probably what both of them did going on let’s say the hardest compound and going to the end. So we tried to go more aggressive. Maybe it didn’t work but ultimately very happy with third.”

Vettel said he was encouraged to see Ferrari were “a lot closer” on pace to Mercedes.

“Last year this was one of our worst tracks so there’s plenty of positives. Surely we expected to be a bit stronger in qualifying, it wasn’t the case but I think we had a bit of a rough session yesterday. So I think today was a lot better for us, we were a lot closer.”

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34 comments on “Vettel not blaming Ferrari over red flag tyre call”

  1. Interestingly before the red flag, Vettel was 1.2-1.4s faster than Rosberg in softs (laps 15-17). After the restart difference was only 0.2-0.7s with Rosberg in mediums.

    1. Yeah. Does this have something to do with heat cycles? It was quite unexpected. Maybe that’s why they were surprised as well…

    2. Rosberg was losing time behind Raikkonen in the first stint.

      1. another mistake on Ferraris part, they should have covered off Rosberg in the first stops with Raikonnen, there start was so amazing, and they had the perfect opportunity to win this race, even though they were not fastest. the red flag and raikonnen blowup changed it all anyway. Vettel spun trying to line a pass on Hamilton, but I doubt he would have got close enough anyway with the dirty air and merc engine – just look at how much trouble Hamilton had passing slower cars because of dirty air.

        1. It was so obvious that he just couldn’t get any closer to Hamilton. It seriously looked like physically not possible lol. I’m laughing when I should be crying I guess *sigh*.

    3. It looked to me as if Vettel was driving very carefully to save his tires, yet he got massive degradation after five laps or so. Possibly the medium tire was much better than everyone expected it to be (most drivers preferred the softs and the supersofts) because it was durable and not very slow (usually the medium tire is something like 1½ seconds slower than the supersofts or even the softs, but not this time). Or maybe Mercedes are even more dominant than last year…

      1. Vettel had to do the longest stint on supersofts.

    4. Vettel was just as fast after the restart I think. But apparently Rosberg was faster on medium than he was on soft. He was matching Vettel while he was using new mediums and Seb was using used supersofts.

  2. The red flag didn’t do Ferrari any favours at all. The decision to go for used super softs was a curious one though: I would’ve thought the softs would allow them to equalise the stints more and thus enable them to push harder – perhaps bringing Vettel out much closer to Hamilton.

    1. Slow and problematic pit stop didn’t do Ferrari any favors either. IIRC this is Vettel’s 4th problematic pit stop with Ferrari over these last two years.

      1. Operationally they’re usually pretty sound, so I’m quite surprised by that!

        They’ll have the opportunity most likely to get some solid running on the mediums in Bahrain, so hopefully they’ll have gained the confidence to run on all compounds. They can’t afford to squander too many points to Mercedes if they are serious about title ambitions.

        Although I have to say that their Australia form is cause for mild optimism, given the very large deficit last season at the same circuit.

    2. @vettel1 No, there’s no reason to put soft if they think they can do 2 set of super-softs. I think the plan was trying to push hard and get 25s gap needed to pit to 2nd set while Rosberg must drive more slowly to nurse his tires until finish line. What they unexpected was Rosberg only 0.3-0.4s slower on the mediums and Hamilton actually catching them quickly after he get clean air.

      1. Admittedly I was surprised that the performance was quite so poor relative to the mediums, but it did seem that it was a compromise: extending the stint on the super softs in order to run closer to the limit on the softs.

        Which leads me to conclude that it would have been beneficial perhaps to push hard on new softs.

    3. It should also be noted that fitting softs followed by super softs was also a (safer) possibility.

  3. Cool guy. Their post race antics with Hamilton (Cap 2.0) and later on with Webber on the podium were amusing as well. From what I’ve seen so far he’s a credit to Formula 1, RedBull driver program, and his family of course.
    Lots of brilliant young people in Formula 1.

    1. RaceProUK (@)
      20th March 2016, 15:57

      And to think, two/three years ago the general consensus on Vettel was he was a whinger and detrimental to the sport; now, he’s the life and soul of a sport in desperate need of personality.

      1. Grosjean used to be considered a disaster now he is considered to be very high class which I think is right. What current drivers get lambasted who may be loved in 2 or 3 years? Bottas?

        I always am suspicious of Ricciardo for some reason but today he was awesome.

        To address the article I thought what Ferrari did was fine at the time but hindsight is awesome. Imagine if Friday was dry and they realised what could be done with the mediums Hamilton would not of had new mediums for Sunday. Also Red Flag a few laps after Ferrari pitted for what was their ace the new ss tyres why would they not stick with them but after the event the answer is obvious.

      2. Michael Brown
        20th March 2016, 23:39

        He always was an easygoing guy, just that when he was winning it was considered “arrogance.”

        1. RaceProUK (@)
          22nd March 2016, 19:19

          He always was an easygoing guy

          As anyone who saw him on Top Gear will know :)

  4. Yeah, it was an aggressive strategy that just didn’t work out. Trying to paint it as a bad one reeks of hindsight bias. When you have track position, opponents that are on a tyre that had barely seen any on-track action at Melbourne this year and the best driver in the world today, trying to do an aggressive strategy is not a bad move per se.

    1. > Trying to paint it as a bad one reeks of hindsight bias.

      The thing is, Ferrari have a team of people whose job is to optimise strategies. They are there explicitly to avoid that sort of mistake. Well paid people, with tools to run simulations and optimise strategies to maximise points. That they failed to pick the correct strategy, when almost all other teams did (and most have much less advanced tools) is not acceptable at that level.

    2. You mentionend it: Track position. Why not picking a strategy to defend it at all costs? The Mercs were only ever going to the end and that the mdiums would perform well shouldn’t be that much of a surprise to a top team given the tools they have available to them.

  5. Even though Ferrari’s tyre call was a bit of a faux pas, we had an enjoyable grand prix today because of the different tyre calls.

    Different cars on different tyres on different strategies at different times and in different stages of the tyres life, makes for exciting racing.

    Hopefully we get to experiment with different tyre/pit-stop rules even more in the future, and add even more excitement to the grand prix’s :).

    1. I think it would have been truly amazing if it wasn’t for the red flag too.

      1. Yep.

        I personally think it would be great if Pirelli made ALL compounds available at ALL circuits, and doubled the ultra-soft tyre up as a “qualifying-only” tyre on permanent circuits.

        I think there’s a lot of merit to be had in making the fastest cars in qualifying start on the softest compound of the weekend, and giving the slowest guys total freedom of choice. Mid-pack obviously somewhere inbetween the 2.

        I also think we can implement DRS a lot better to give this a little added extra “kick.” Not to say thst I like DRS for 1 second, but while we have it, let’s at least optimise it. Something like, do away with the DRS zones, permit it as an offensive AND defensive tool, 30 deployments per race. Done. Got some strategy to it then :).

        Ban it’s use in quali aswell, get some D/F off the car.

        1. Hmmm, I like your DRS idea. During the race I thought it should either be unrestricted (let’s see whose got the balls, shall we?) or gotten rid of completely, but your ’30 deployments’ suggestion seems pretty sound. Let’s hope someone’s listening, eh?

  6. Hamilton&Verstappen complaining about their teammates threads are a stark contrast to Alonso&Vettel not blaming anyone threads LOL

  7. Worryingly I fear this could be the new tyre regs not working to plan. Vettel should have pulled away from rosberg after the red flag presumably why he went on that strategy. If Merc are able to keep pace with softest tyres on the hardest ones we’re in for another boring seadon of merc domination with one stop strategys and no infighting between the two.
    People have already said pirelli got the ultra soft wrong, but perhaps looking at this they got they whole lot wrong…

    1. Actually, I’d argue that’s exactly the intent of these tyre regulations, and they’re working perfectly.

  8. Vettel seems to have not analysed WHY he won the title at Abu Dhabi in 2010. This was a repeat of the poor strategic choices from Ferrari. Taking Mediums at the red flag was a no-brainer: defend track position.

    1. Exactly what I thought. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but it was utterly predictable that the Mercs were going to the end especially after Hamilton had already put on the mediums even before the red flag.

  9. Ferrari’s strategy was sound but for some weird reason it did not work.
    We can all agree that Ferrari is closer to Mercedes than it was last year. Given that that the supersofts and softs should have given Seb at least a 1 sec a lap advantage and that would have been plenty enough for the extra stop; see Malaysia last year; at times he was 2.5 sec faster on a tyre one step softer than the Mercs. But for some reason, in this race, on the new softs he was now only marginal faster 0.6-0.7 at the best against the mercs used mediums.
    Either the Mercs are mighty on that medium (i hope not because then this is an open and shut season) or Ferrari was not able to keep these softer tyres warm enough. See Richiardo’s times in the last stint. Those were the lap times we and Ferrari were expecting.
    Those 3 extra seconds for the final stop did not help either. It meant it took Seb 5-6 more laps to catch Lewis. Seb had to catch and pass the mercs while his last tyres were still fresh to have a big performance difference to be able to pass. Otherwise it would have been difficult to pass anyway. Unfortunately that did not happen.
    Well, i can’t wait for Bahrain!
    And i’m so sorry for Kimi; somebody out there must be using a voodoo doll!

  10. I personally think we shouldn’t be able to change tyres during a red flag period. It neutralises the race, allowing teams to put the optimum compounds on to the end and the whole thing kinda dies of death tbh.

    Obviously this throws up the issue of, “what if a team was planning to stop on that lap,” and true enough that is an issue, by likewise that can be easily solved.

    A simple radio message to the driver to pit (which the FIA can hear aswell) the lap before the red flag would permit you to change your tyres to the aforementioned compound during the red flag period. No radio, no tyre change.

    Keeps the excitement in the race. Keeps it fair :).

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