Fernando Alonso would have been a sitting duck against the Red Bull no matter what strategy he would have opted for at the British Grand Prix on Sunday.
The Ferrari driver, who started from pole position, lost the lead of the race at Silverstone four laps from the end to Mark Webber, who went on to win the race from the Spaniard.
The double world champion had opted to start the race on the hard tyres, with his next stint raced on prime again and finally ended on the soft compound after his second pit stop, a tactic Ferrari was relatively certain would work.
“I was confident in the tyres, to be honest, because Felipe (Massa) used the soft tyre in the first stint and I think he did 14 laps, so 14 laps with maybe a heavy car in the first stint and we were 15 laps to the end with a light car,” Alonso went on to explain.
“So we were quite convinced the softs were OK but they were a little bit slower, obviously a little bit too much understeer, so the balanced changed and killed the performance of the car a little bit and we were a bit too slow.
“We knew, more or less, that the soft was a little bit slower, so we needed to open up a gap in the first two stints when we were on different tyres to Mark and we knew that that gap was for sure getting closer and closer at the end when we put on the softs, and what we opened up at the beginning was not enough,” he pointed out.
Alonso pitted on lap 15 for the primes and on lap 37 for the options which suggested perhaps he could have gone longer on the hard tyres he started with.
The choice of tyre strategy was admittedly determined by the pace in the final practice session on Saturday - where Ferrari concluded it was more confident with the hard tyre – in what was the only dry running the teams were able to get ahead of the largely wet weekend.
But BBC F1’s technical analyst Gary Anderson, a former technical director of Jordan, Stewart and Jaguar, believes that if Alonso would have gone longer on the first set of primes, Webber would have taken the lead after the first round of pit stops.
“They did it because Webber was starting to catch them at about half a second a lap and they wanted to ensure Alonso came out of the pits still comfortably ahead,” Anderson wrote in his column on the BBC website.
“But Webber was closing so fast because he was on new tyres at the time. That edge would have gone away pretty quickly,” he reasoned.
However, Webber was willing to take no chances although the team was certain that Alonso was starting to struggle.
“Fernando was not quite out of touch and after the last stop, my engineer Ciaron (Pilbeam) came on the radio saying that Fernando was not doing much on the option tyres,” Webber said. “But I know Fernando is a wily old fox, I thought he was looking after the tyres and just waiting to pull the pin and go a little bit. But when I got within two seconds I thought maybe he’s in a little bit of trouble and it was real.
“That’s when you’ve got to smell the blood and you’ve got to go for it,” he added putting his faith in the pit wall.