Champion admits Red Bull's two-stop strategy backfired
Sebastian Vettel took his first defeat of 2011 on the chin, and was adamant that second place in the Chinese Grand Prix was no disappointment on an afternoon when a bold, two-stop strategy failed to pay off.
"My start was not the best and for some reason it seems the left-hand side of the grid is worse here than the right-hand side," he said. "It wasn't brilliant and I lost positions to Jenson [Button] and Lewis [Hamilton]. After that it was about being patient.
"I think we treated the tyres better in the first stint. We could have stayed out, but there wasn't reason to at that time, so I came into the box and came out first. It was a surprise that Jenson came into my garage in front of me!
"We came out in the lead and tried hard to stay on two stops. The middle stint should really have been a little longer, but at the end I found myself out on the hard tyre and could see Lewis coming closer and closer. I tried to defend as best I could, without losing too much time to the guys behind, but he found his way past.
"It was a difficult race and we had a couple of mistakes, but we still finished second and third, which is a strong result. Congratulations to Lewis and McLaren, they did a good job and it just shows that in one race, if you try something a bit different and make a small mistake, there is someone to beat you."
On a three-stop run, Vettel's team-mate Mark Webber was one of the men of the race as he fought his way up from 18th on the grid to a brilliant third place. "We decided to start on the prime tyre, which we know is not the most desired as it doesn't have the characteristics of the hard tyre in terms of duration," he said.
"So we got that out of the way, but it was quite tricky actually, as even with the guys I was with, everyone was using DRS at the same time. I made a mistake in turn two on my in-lap and then we came in as there wasn't much left in the tyres and our race started from there.
"To see P17 on your board after 15 laps you think it might not happen, but suddenly I felt very comfortable with the car. I had a few sets of softer-option tyres left from qualifying, so that helped – and maybe that's the way to do it: miss qualifying and go from there! But, all joking aside, I think the guys have done an incredible job – it's a back-to-back race and we haven't had the smoothest run with my car, but I haven't given up. That drive today was for them and everyone back at the factory."
Jenson Button admitted that he simply didn't have the pace after leading the opening stint. "It was one of those races where there was a lot of overtaking and action involved," he said, "so it was good fun to be part of, but I wasn't quick enough."
Explaining the snafu where he momentarily parked in Red Bull's pit instead of McLaren's on the 13th lap, he said: "I made it difficult for them. I was actually looking down when I came into the pits and went into the wrong pit spot."
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