I’ve been watching Formula 1 regularly (= every race) since 1994 now, and I must say that I am quite impressed with Red Bull’s (race) strategic intelligence.
The top teams used to be more apart than nowadays, and never was the field so close to each other than in the last few years, in terms of qualifying and race pace. Adding to that the number of WDCs on the grid in those years, it is astonishing that Sebastian Vettel has won the last three titles.
I o believe it has a lot to do with strategy, since the pace advantage is very slim (if at all, in many races). RBR has had some upper hand in qualifying, but not in the margins seen in the 90s or 2000s – and not this year. But even so, they have been able to plan a strategy based on Friday training and try to max the points on Sunday, mostly with sucess for Seb (and not so much for Mark). His main ability might be the overall skill of putting his talent to work within a framework of a weekend strategy. The last two races are good examples of this. No good qualy pace, so focus on race saving up tyres and starting on the harder type – maximizing points that the car was able of delivering. Yesterday, after saving up the mediums for the race, passing Alonso and Rosberg without DRS and controlling the race from the front, saving tyres and being able to win easily due to some luck (Alonso) and better strategy (Lotus, who were stronger in race pace).
Is this just an impression or is the real Red Bull superiority their strategic team, more so than their car? No one would put the Red Bull on top this year, but they are still leading both Championships…
Judging by their tire wear, it is more down to Vettel ‘only’ being able to work with those decisions, knowing when he can beat the living daylights out of his tires, and when and more importantly how, to be both conservative and fast. Webber’s not quite the maestro of tire conservation.
It amazes me that teams like McLaren and Ferrari, whom both have vast experience are outdone by Red Bull on so many occasions. But yes, Red Bull are the best team out there on strategy currently, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see Red Bull win it again for that sole reason.
Ferrari seem to be having a McLaren year. They have a good car, but are throwing it away with mistakes and technical errors. Alonso should be a lot closer than he is now, given the pace that car has during the races.
Actually, I don’t even think there’s much wrong with Webber’s strategies. In China for instance, the strategy on Sunday was fine, it got him way up the field, until Webber’s brainless lunge at Vergne. In Malaysian qualifying, he was set up to be the last over the line, but chose to slow down and let Hamilton through. It’s more like Webber often failing to make his strategies work.
So yeah, the Red Bull guys are good at strategy most of the time.