Mark Webber admits he questioned Red Bull’s decision to place him on a three-stop strategy in the Japanese Grand Prix, saying he was confident he could have matched Sebastian Vettel’s winning two-stop plan.
While he failed to convert his first pole of his farewell Formula 1 campaign into an early lead as Romain Grosjean jumped ahead, Webber was able to beat Vettel away from the line and headed his teammate for the first half of the race.
Red Bull opted to split their strategies, however, which Webber admits was a surprise as he felt capable of reaching the same two-stop targets that Vettel was able to execute.
“I was a little bit surprised [by] the switch to three [stops],” Webber said after finishing second to his teammate. “I asked was it the right thing to do?
“Seb went a bit longer, but the target for two stops was achievable. I felt we could get to the laps we were looking to get to. In the end Seb did a good race, [his] strategy worked out perfectly. Three [stops was] not absolutely ridiculous but it is high risk and you have to clear people. We were piggy in the middle and got back to position but Seb jumped both of us.
“I didn’t think the battle was going to be with Seb, [but] it was pretty much done when we didn’t do enough damage on the three-stop against Seb’s pace on two.”
Though Webber was still ostensibly in the victory hunt following his final stop, he said passing Grosjean was always likely to be a significant hindrance.
“At the end of the race, DRS is not as effective as you are on the limiter,” he explained. “When you arrive on someone you want to get the job done pretty quickly.
“I hoped to get it done a bit earlier, knowing his tires were going to be quite tight towards the end of the race, [but] I was quite low on wing when I arrived on him.”