Vettel made call to stay out, says Horner

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Christian Horner says Sebastian Vettel made the call not to change his soft tyres during the Monaco Grand Prix.

Vettel ended up running a 56-lap stint on the tyres. Horner said:

“Everything was under control until the pit stop, where we had a radio issue where the communication from the engineers just didn’t get received by the guys downstairs. So he came into the pits and they didn’t know what tyres they needed to be putting on the car.

“So he ended up with a set of primes on the car which weren’t what we intended. So we said ‘OK, now we need to engineer our way out of this’.”

The BBC’s Ted Kravitz, who saw the pit stop takes place, has disputed the claim Vettel received the wrong tyres.

Horner said Vettel chose to stay on the soft tyres after he had been given them:

“It wasn’t a bad thing because the prime [soft], we thought, ‘we’ll use it in the middle of the race and put the [super-] softs on at the end’.

“But Sebastian managed to make the prime work. We called him in and he said ‘no, no, no these tyres are fine, they’re fine’.

“So we said ‘OK, leave it’. And it was almost like going up to the casino and putting everything on red. And he made it work.

“It was down to his driving today and he managed to make the tyres go that long. In the end there was the accident, that very nasty accident that he managed to avoid.

“And the restart on the [super-] soft tyres was pretty comfortable for him in the end. But even without that I think he would have held on to win the Grand Prix.”

Horner doubts Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button could have overtaken Vettel even without the red flag towards the end of the race which allowed them to change his tyres:

“They were pushing so hard, and their tyres were obviously younger than Sebastian’s.

“But he was very smart because he kept pushing in the areas he needed to be quick. He needed to be quick onto the pit straight and he needed to be quick in the tunnel.

“On the rest of the track they weren’t going to overtake him. So he would back them up and then have a very clean exit and for me it was the most intelligent drive I’ve seen him race in his short career.”

Horner also praised Mark Webber’s recovery drive after being held up in the pits:

“Unfortunately at the pit stop we called them both on the same lap because there was a big enough gap and the radio, because it affected Seb it also affected Mark. His stop was delayed also.

“He lost out because of that but he gained back the time through, again, going very, very long on that middle stint and then a great number of passing moves at the end of the race. To come back to fourth from 15th, again, was a fantastic drive.”

Read the full review of Red Bull’s Monaco Grand Prix weekend here:

More from Horner in the video above.

2011 Monaco Grand Prix

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    47 comments on “Vettel made call to stay out, says Horner”

    1. That’s all well and good, but Red Bull need to stop putting Webber into positions from which he has to make these recovery drives.

      1. Well said, they do seem to have trouble working with two different strategies succesfully – if both are ahead they do sort of fine (although even then Webber tends to have to deal with less than ideal strategy, but part of that is him being usually behind), but when they are running their own race, the 2nd driver quite often seems to not have a well thought out strategy at all.

    2. Very sensible choice by Vettel. He obvoiusly knew that whatever option he chose, the worst he would finish was second. Mclaren didn’t realise that in Monaco, track position is king, hence they tried to qualify Hamilton with a single lap, then made Button do three stops in the race when others were going for fewer.

      1. Indeed. McLaren need to realise one day that computing power and strength in numbers should not always override the common sense of an individual human mind.

        Unfortunately, the culture of the business doesn’t seem to accommodate this.

      2. But there was also the possibility that with his tyres so worn he would put it in the barrier.

    3. Had it been Button who tried such a risky one-stop strategy, people would have hailed it as an ‘inspired strategy’, but when Vettel does it, people think of it as ‘lucky’ that his tyres worked well for so long.

      Vettel’s tyre preservation has been a silent hallmark of his driving for quite some time now. He has needed one less pit-stop than Webber at most races. He was also the driver who drove the entire Monza 2010 on a set of softs and gained 2 places too as a result of that.
      It is not lucky that Vettel’s tyres worked, it is Vettel’s composed driving which allowed him to complete that many laps on the softs.

      1. It is lucky that he gone the wrong (softs) on in that stop though, otherwise he would have needed to pit again and ceded track position to Button, no?

        1. got not gone!

        2. Thanks to the mistake and the safety car right after Button’s 2nd stop, for 9 laps from lap 39 to Button’s third stop on lap 48, Button’s tyres were softer and fresher than Vettel’s.

          It was upto Button to overtake Vettel with such a massive advantage, build a gap to the slow Vettel to allow a pit-stop for the soft tyres. But did he?

          1. You try doing that on Monaco. Don’t forget that at that point, Vettel had good tyres so the pace Button had over him at the end didn’t exist.

      2. I don’t think anyone is saying Vettel’s conservation of tyres and strategy was lucky. He was a little lucky for two reasons:

        a) The wrong set was put on that actually enabled him to win the race

        b) The safety car came out at just the right time before he wore his tyres down to the canvas.

        Remember 2008? Hamilton hit the barrier, switched to the right tyres and was lucky – something most people acknowledged. It seems similar to me, although I do acknowledge that Vettel doesn’t seem to get the credit he deserves sometimes.

        1. a) The wrong set enabled him to win only because Vettel conserved his ‘wrong’ tyres. Not many drivers on the grid can convert a mistake into their advantage.
          Vettel did not get an advantage by taking on softs. He got an advantage by making his softs last.

          b) This one is an assumption. Vettel was doing a stellar job of defending for the 15 laps before the safety car and eventual red flag. There is no reason to believe that the final laps would have been any different. Button confessed in the interview that he wasn’t going to try anything crazy to overtake Vettel.

          Vettel not getting credit has been a recurring trend. I guess it has something to do with his driving at Silverstone and Spa last year. Unfortunately, people don’t seem to remember his driving at Monza that year and his car failures at Bahrain, Australia and Korea.
          5 wins and he is yet to win the ‘driver of the weekend’ poll on this website.

          1. By a stellar job of defending for the 15 laps, I see it as the Red Bull having rediculous traction out of a corner. Whether their EBD and engine helped the exit or not, you could see how quickly the car got away from the Ferrari. This was something similar to what happened in Spain for it’s long straight. Monaco’s unusual layout didn’t help Alonso at all.

        2. Ted Kravitz said that it wasn’t actually Seb who got the wrong tyres but it was Mark. That’s why it took them so long to put it on. (via

          1. That link is in the article already.

          2. I can’t see the link (not in UK), but the way I understood it, due to the communication failure, the team for Vettel ended up putting on the choice of tyres they had made for Webber (but they were Vettel’s set of them), and they then weren’t ready for Webber due to taking long with Vettel in the confusion.

            I don’t think they actually then also put the wrong tyres on Webber’s car, after having to get them from the garage in a hurry.

      3. Exactly sumedh. Not heard anyone go on about what an amazing call it was, like Button’s in Australia and China 2010.

        His defensive driving was also brilliant. It was similar to Senna in Monaco 1992 and no one would dare say he was lucky.

        1. The reason no-one is lauding it is because we don’t really know what the natural conclusion would have been. Would the tyres have lasted until the end? His times were slipping all the time and as we saw in China, even great defensive driving will only serve you so far – but much further if you’re in Monaco. The cars were a bit wider in Senna’s day too, not that it changes Vettel’s defensive abilities much.

          Then there is the knowledge that with the Pirellis, there is little a driver can do beyond the set-up of the car to extend their life. Quite rightly, we don’t see people saying Webber has suddenly became rubbish at managing tyres. Button’s reputation has survived even though he hasn’t made one less stop than Hamilton on all of the races and in fact in Turkey he couldn’t make the tyres last long enough to gain a place.

          Of course Button’s plaudits are over-hyped anyway, so I have no quibbles with saying Vettel “did a Button”.

      4. Mark Hitchcock
        31st May 2011, 14:49

        Had it been Button who tried such a risky one-stop strategy, people would have hailed it as an ‘inspired strategy’

        Not sure that’s true. Every time he makes a great call on the strategy and gets a good result people say things like “he just sleeps the whole race and wakes up on the podium”. Or that he only wins with lucky strategy calls.
        A Lot of people are very hard on Button because he’s good at conserving his tyres and uses it to his advantage rather than doing a Hamilton and throwing the car down the inside at every opportunity.

    4. There’s no taking away from Vettel that he conserved his tyres very well, which was key to him taking the win. But he was fortunate that the error the team made in putting the softs on when he pitted allowed him to run a one stop strategy and demonstrate his tyre conservation.

      1. this is a reply to sumedh

    5. Haha, Christian sounds drunk in that interview :)

      1. He does!

        And he looks like he’s got a bit of a ‘glowing head’ (it’s a dutch expression from the area I’m from: gloeiende kop), you know when you had some drinks and it’s sunny and you really feel your head. Not as in headache, but you really got one.

    6. I dont know why people keep making out as if it was a Button vs Vettel battle at the end of the race for first.

      Clearly it was only between Vettel and Alonso. Button was in third and would have had to overtake two drivers in 6 laps in Monaco.

      1. Exactly. Plus Button didn’t once have a go. Alonso was going for it and he was more liekly to beat Vettel not Button.

    7. I think Pirelli should do like Bridgestone: indentify their tyres as “soft” and “hard”, even if the soft tyres is, for instance, super-soft. Bringing the soft and super-soft tyres forces us to call the soft hard and the super-soft soft, making confusion for who doesn’t know if we’re referring to the actual compound (soft and super-soft) or the difference between them (hard and soft). They should have a soft tyre with yellow markings and a hard tyre with silver markings and then maybe change the softs with super-softs but leave yellow markings.

      1. Completely disagree. It’s much more useful to be able to follow which compounds they’re actually using, not just confuse everything by sticking the same labels on different tyres.

        Bringing the soft and super-soft tyres forces us to call the soft hard and the super-soft soft,

        No it doesn’t, just call them what they are: soft and super-soft. What’s so confusing about that?

        1. Or call them by the colour used for the marking: ie., in Monaco, the red and yellow, the earlier races this season yellow and white etc. I personally tend to keep it together by doing that in my mind.

        2. Because the soft could be softs in one race and hards in another.

          I’d rather call them primes and options. :)

          1. Because the soft could be softs in one race and hards in another.

            No they couldn’t. The softs that were softs in Monaco were also softs in Spain.

            1. But they’re not the softER tyre relative to the super-softs. Which is a key difference. In Monaco, they’re the relative hard tyre.

            2. But you know the other tyres are super-softs, so there’s no confusion – until certain people come along and start calling the soft tyres ‘hard’!

            3. But I don’t always know when they bring the super-softs. So when I see softs, I automatically assume they’re the softer tyre. But in the case of Monaco, it wasn’t. Again, this is why I prefer we just call them primes and options.

            4. But I don’t always know when they bring the super-softs.

              It’s not as if there aren’t loads of opportunities for you to find that out. It’s often mentioned in the broadcasts.

              Whenever the tyre allocations are announced it’s always reported here (here are the most recent ones), they’re always noted in the pre-race programme which is available via the bar on the home page throughout race weekends up until the race finishes, and they’re on the circuit information pages as well.

              ‘Prime’ and ‘option’ works fine from the point of view of the rules but it’s obviously less useful from a point of view of understanding what sort of tyres have been brought for each circuit.

              If I were to tell you the Ferraris struggled on the primes in Spain you might think they’d solved the problem in Monaco. When, of course, we know that the prime was not the same tyre at those two races – hard in Spain and soft in Monaco.

              The current system is very clear: four different tyres each with their own name. I see no reason to confuse that by changing their names depending on what race we’re talking about.

            5. It may help in analysis, but it does not help when people discuss it and use soft as a relative term and soft as a tyre compound interchangeably. Brundle and DC may not make that mistake very often, but not everyone is as good as them in describing it. And the tyre colors are going to tell you what the compound is anyway, so why do we need to have different names for it too?

              We’re looking at it from two opposite angles, and our priorities are clearly different. We’re going to have to agree to disagree on this one.

            6. To add more fuel to the fire, I recall some drivers referring to the softs in Monaco as ‘hards’!

    8. Random thought: we’ve already heard first Button then Vettel make brave strategy calls on tyres. On the other hand, the team have been much firmer to tell Hamilton what to do on strategy. I’m not criticizing Lewis here, I’m just giving my observation. Why doesn’t Lewis have the same flexibility Button and Vettel have?

      1. because he is a dumbass…..He does not have the ability to make decisions on his own, only criticize them later!

        1. But I’m not totally sure McLaren are giving him the opportunity to make those calls. Are they?

      2. It might help that Jenson has a proven track record for a smooth, tyre-preserving style?

      3. They have a room of computer geeks who’s job it is to calaculate strategy.
        Lewis is the pro driver, they are the pro strategy team.

    9. ‘It’s like putting all your money on red in the casino’

      Don’t you mean yellow in this case, Christian? ;)

      1. There aren’t any yellow spaces on a roulette wheel (the reference I figure Horner was after), only red and black.

        1. Oh I know :) I was referring to the tyres.

    10. I believe it all goes back to how Hamilton made it into F1. He was dependent on the team for advice and they don’t yet realise that he has grown up. He also is highly rated that they trust he can execute the optimum strategy.
      He really will need to change teams for this kind mentality to change. You often find him in situations when the team doesn’t listen to him and try force a contrary opinion to his. Probably why he often out of frustration questions the team’s actions publicly.
      Lets not forget that those who make the key decions are few but with authority.

    11. One mistaken assumption Brundle kept going on and on with, was that Hamilton’s accident induced safety car was what lost Button the race.
      Well that is way out if it. For one, after Button made his first stop and Vettel did likewise, Button was ahead by about 15 seconds, then he chose to make a second stop just befor the safety car, while Glocks car was still stranded. This brought him back about 5 seconds behind Vettel. He was thus already running in second plce when Hamilton and Massa had their coming together.

      Secondly, after his first stop, Vettel had satisfied the rule of using both sets of tyres, while Button had not. So even if anything, the first safety car, brought Button closer to Vettel.

    12. I agree with Horner as every time the Ferrari was getting closer to the Red Bull out of the last corner with was coming out with massive wheel spin but it would have been a awesome finish just like 92 Monaco.

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