|© AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama
Mark Webber claims that he could have challenged Sebastian Vettel for victory at the Japanese Grand Prix had Red Bull not changed his strategy in the race on Sunday.
The Australian driver started the race from pole position and although Lotus’ Romain Grosjean jumped into the lead at the start, Webber was able to slot into second ahead of his teammate.
Red Bull had planned a two-stopper for Webber but decided to split strategies between its drivers in an attempt to catch Grosjean.
"We tried to race Romain at the start and then in the end we switched to the three. So I was the meat in the sandwich, trying to beat Romain on a two and then all of a sudden we decided to do a three," Webber explained. "I was a little bit surprised. I asked was it the right thing to do because I felt we could get to the lap we were looking to get to.
"Of course Seb was two or three laps longer, four laps maybe but in terms of the target lap that we looked to get for the two-stop I thought was achievable but in the end Seb did a good race, the strategy worked out perfect and yeah, the three was... not absolutely ridiculous but it's a bit more high risk we know, and you have to clear people obviously, so yeah, piggy in the middle, trying to do both.
"In the end, we got back to where we were in terms of position but Seb jumped both of us," he added.
Webber reckoned that he could have executed the original strategy despite pitting early after his first stint.
"We were more or less in the window for a two stop," he said. "As soon as I pitted after the prime, the guys said 'yeah, we're on a two stop, it's no problem. Look after the tyres and we'll stay on two.' And then I was on two and then we switched to three so I think they just saw that it was just a quicker way for me to do three stops."