Red Bull Racing had a mixed day at the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai. Sebastian Vettel was able to charge through the pack from ninth to finish fourth, but a terrible weekend ended in a retirement for Mark Webber.
Sebastian Vettel’s differing strategy saw him quickly move up the order and led for a time, but dropped back after having to make a final pit stop for the softer option tyres. Released on fresh tyres however, and Vettel quickly closed on the back of Hamilton. An error on the final lap as his tyres degraded ultimately cost him any chance of making the podium.
“After the last stop, the team told me there was quite a big gap to the cars ahead, but also a big gap behind, so we thought we should go for it in the closing stages. When I came on to the long straight and saw Lewis at the other end turning into the hair pin I thought ‘well, that’s a bit too far’, but obviously we had much more speed on the fresher tyres. It was a little bit disappointing to lose out by such a tiny bit; a few corners more and we could have tried something,” the triple champion said.
“Nonetheless, our strategy seemed to work today. We knew it would be difficult and that it was crucial to get clean laps, but we didn’t in the first stint. I was faster than Nico [Hulkenberg] but if you follow another car you lean on your front tyres too much and it was hard to find the right compromise, but overall we can be happy.”
Team mate Webber’s weekend went from bad to worse in the weekend. He made a decent start from the back of the grid, but later clashed with Jean-Eric Vergne and required a pit stop for a new front wing. He was then released with a loose wheel which eventually came adrift on a slow lap back to the pits and retired.
Webber was handed a grid penalty for next weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix for his involvement in the Vergne accident.
“The start of the race was going okay; we elected to get rid of the soft tyre quite quickly and then came back through the field pretty well. Regarding the incident with Jean-Eric, I was coming from a reasonable distance behind, Jean-Eric was really wide, but when we came close to the apex he wanted to hit it, which he is entitled to do, but by then I was committed to the inside and the incident happened,” he explained.
“It was a couple of laps before our pit stop window, so I had to come in early. The guys thought the tyre was fixed when we left the stop, but it came off on the out lap. We have had a few problems this weekend; I think we could have done something from our start position today, but it wasn’t meant to be.”