Red Bull: Gearbox glitch hands win to Webber

2011 Brazilian GP team review

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Red Bull said Vettel was told to short-shift in second and third from lap five.

Sebastian VettelMark Webber
Qualifying position12
Qualifying time comparison (Q3)1’11.918 (-0.181)1’12.099
Race position21
Pit stops33

Red Bull drivers’ lap times throughout the race (in seconds):

Sebastian Vettel82.38478.2478.23977.78477.87977.8977.84578.00277.80678.20778.1278.59578.54978.62878.86778.80782.72192.53278.07378.16978.16177.80577.30377.62577.45877.33377.6478.05677.5979.13678.12977.60177.19177.17877.26977.63577.28877.70481.21490.9976.98976.95377.07276.77676.3176.47976.91776.47476.65276.81776.7777.06776.98276.75176.74776.51976.47376.77480.19592.65779.15776.4276.19176.36476.65276.26676.23576.07676.15976.56976.341
Mark Webber83.52779.33778.27378.03378.16578.05578.1778.03878.2678.24778.07478.21978.42278.34278.5478.97579.04482.82792.39877.76977.61277.65477.48477.56477.0377.05577.0377.16777.69677.20877.81277.14576.95977.03877.13777.46277.3181.0791.28876.48476.676.39577.08376.93976.37576.83176.6976.32576.11576.22876.30176.72176.65476.44576.11476.31576.13680.41991.77177.13175.49275.89375.91976.01875.95276.41876.21575.75875.48775.4875.324

Sebastian Vettel

Red Bull, Interlagos, 2011
Start tyreSoft
Pit stop 1Soft 20.927s
Pit stop 2Soft 20.652s
Pit stop 3Medium 22.094s

Not for the first time this year, Vettel wasn’t completely happy with his car on Friday, but was satisfied with it on Saturday and claimed his record-breaking 15th pole position of the year.

According to his team mate, there were concerns the evening before the race about Vettel’s gearbox. Webber said during the press conference: “I know how hard the guys worked on [Sebastian’s] gearbox last night because it wasn’t completely smooth.”

As early as lap five Red Bull detected the gearbox was losing oil, and instructed Vettel to short-shift in second and third gears to reduce stress on it – the lower gears put the box under greatest stress.

Vettel said: “It was during the first stint, at some stage, that I got the message ‘we have a gearbox issue’. It sounded pretty strong, pretty severe, so I turned down the engine and then immediately started to short shift and it just kept getting worse.

“I got through the first pit stop and obviously gained a little bit on Mark, because I came in a lap earlier but then at some stage I realised that it was still pretty early in the race, our main priority is to finish the race and Mark would be catching up and the most important thing would be to help the team to win the race.

“I tried to be very clear on the radio that I cannot keep first position with the pace that we were going or whatever they asked me to do, what was required to manage the gearbox and then I told them ‘OK, but obviously advise Mark’ or ‘tell Mark that I would let him through’, to give him the chance to keep pushing, don’t lose any time getting past me because at that stage I didn’t know whether I would see the chequered flag or not.”

Vettel said he was glad to make it to the end of the race: “I then just kept losing more and more time towards the end, so I had to be more and more conservative. At some stage I said that ‘I feel like Senna in 1991 when he had to manage the gearbox problem around here’. Obviously it was totally different for him, he was Brazilian and he still managed to win the race.

“I was forced to push in areas where I was allowed to, in the corners, but as soon as I went on the straight, I obviously had to shift earlier. I don’t know if you have walked the track or have run the track, but getting out of the last corner is pretty steep so there was no chance to really… I tried to stay with Mark as well as I could, in case the problem solved itself and we could go again, but in the end I was just trying to keep the gap.”

He ran wide and lost time following his final pit stop: “I was a bit surprised when I got onto the [mediums] and warm-up was a bit poor and then I think I just got caught out with the traffic ahead and lost too much at the front with a little bit of warm-up.”

Following questions over whether Red Bull pretended Vettel had a problem to help Webber win the race, Red Bull showed data from the gearbox to some journalists, who were satisfied Vettel had experienced a fault.

Sebastian Vettel 2011 form guide

Mark Webber

Mark Webber, Red Bull, Interlagos, 2011
Start tyreSoft
Pit stop 1Soft 20.755s
Pit stop 2Soft 20.99s
Pit stop 3Medium 20.781s

Webber completed Red Bull’s sixth front row lockout of 2011, less than two-tenths off his team mate on one of the shortest circuits on the calendar.

Vettel scorched away to a 2.2 second lead in the first two laps, and Webber was 3.8s behind at lap ten. Webber pitted after Vettel the first time around, and Vettel’s lead peaked at 5.2s.

It then fell rapidly and by lap 28 Webber was within half a second of his team mate. Two laps later he was through into the lead.

Webber said: “I thought he was either in tyre trouble way earlier than he should be or no KERS or something was going on, because one thing [Sebastian] doesn’t do is forget how to drive from one lap to the other.

“When I started to take a pretty big chunk out of him per lap, I thought something might have been going down and then Ciaron [Pilbeam] informed me that he had a gearbox problem and I think I could smell it a little bit when I got close, and there was also a little bit of fluid.”

Webber entertained himself in the closing laps by trying to improve his fastest lap, setting the quickest tour with his last effort: “It was getting a bit frustrating because I kept pinching the front a little bit into turn eight.

“On the last lap I got it a little bit better otherwise I was probably going to bail a bit earlier, but I kept pushing pretty hard.

“Yeah, that’s what it’s about, isn’t it, pushing yourself and backing yourself and having a crack. I was only racing myself at that point so it was a nice little feeling, as I say, to have the car working well underneath me.”

He added: “I want to dedicate this win to a close friend of myself and my family, Bob Woods, who’s a very ill man at the moment, so this win is for him.”

Mark Webber 2011 form guide

2011 Brazilian Grand Prix

    Browse all 2011 Brazilian Grand Prix articles

    Image © Red Bull/Getty images

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    Keith Collantine
    Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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    24 comments on “Red Bull: Gearbox glitch hands win to Webber”

    1. So Webber seems to have been a bit suspicious of what was going on as well during the race. It did make it a bit less of a superb feeling, I guess, that he got into the lead only when his teammate had a technical problem, but it still was a really good drive by Webber.

      Vettel seems to be really unsatisfied with every little bit that is not perfect, that must be what makes him so good, as he just irons these things out and then gets in his stunning laps!

      1. @BasCB Regardless of the situation with Vettel, I think that was the best drive of the season from Webber. He managed to retain position at the start for once.

        1. Yeah, fully agree with that @andrewtanner, thats exactly what i wrote about Webber in my thoughts about driver of the weekend.
          He did everything right to be there to take this chance and claim his race win.

    2. Keith, as being also a lot on the French websites & Forums, I want just to tell you that 99% of the French public, think this was a scam, and a set-up to get Webber to gain positions on the WDC and get one win for 2011.
      As far as what Vettel said about “feeling like Senna in ’91”, he has forgotten that 20 years of industrial developments separate them, Senna was certainly not jiggling himself like a young buck like Sebastian did, ’cause, well, he could barely lift his trophy !
      M. Vettel, as good as he might be, is overestimating himself, IMHO.

      1. We’ve got a poll on that here:

        Was Vettel’s ‘gearbox problem’ team orders in disguise?

        I see at the moment 56% of people don’t think Red Bull were covertly using team orders. As I explained in that article, nor do I.

        1. Thanks Keith, went over that one, sorry !

      2. I wanted to add, to clarify, that I was talking about the French public, not my humble-self, so I voted no, no disguised orders. But, hell, in F1, ya never know ! :)

    3. Nah, Webber’s first win of the season is a little overshadowed by the fact that Vettel suffered from gearbox problem. Still it’s good to Webber’s confidence and I hope he would be serious threat to Vettel again.

      1. It would’ve been sad for him not to win. He drove superbly.

        1. And I have to say that it’s good to hear Webber say that finally this year he was just racing himself, doing better and better with a perfectly working car.

          If only he had that earlier in the year, but good he felt it before the end!

    4. Knowing Red Bull have now shared the data, I wish I could change my vote. I was suspicious at first after having initially lost trust in them after Silverstone, but I’m not so paranoid as to believe they’d go so far as fake data or deliberately sabotage Vettel’s car.

    5. …and then Ciaron [Pilbeam] informed me that he had a gearbox problem and I think I could smell it a little bit when I got close, and there was also a little bit of fluid.

      Clearly, Webber was also in on the conspiracy with his outlandish tales of smelling oil; and with Vettel feeling like Ayrton Senna, I think Red Bull have gone a bit over the top with this one.

      1. if he was really feeling like Ayrton Senna in 1991 he would be screaming like a child!!!!!!!!!!
        Ayrton has finished that race with a car stuck in 6 gear he couldn’t even get out of the car what a man!!!!

    6. i don’t know why but once again RedBull team are trying to look like idiots
      maybe they don’t want to use team orders because they criticized Ferrari last year but they have to anyway
      When Webber passed Vettel that was too easy if Seb has really a gearbox problem why he would loose time to 3rd place (alonso at that stage of the race) when letting mark passed him but after that he hasn’t any problem maintaining his 2nd place but he went even more than that he scored a fastest lap of the race (with gearbox problem) & that can have only 2 explanation:
      1 The RB7 is a very very very fast car & has even a major potential so when Vettel has a gearbox problem & with loss of performance the car still very fast
      2 or the redbull team used team orders
      what if Vettel has won 13 races & Interlagos was his last chance to break MSC’s record of the most wins in one season would the RedBull team let mark passing seb?

    7. No Gearbox Glitch for vettel just really good planning before the race. would have been something like if marks not infront by lap lets say 6 we tell seb there’s a problem with the gearbox. Get mark infront keep coming over the radio to try and convince us watching that he(vettel) Had a problem. i dont know i could be wrong i most likely am. BUT Still christian horner is a very sly man.

      1. What if it rained? What if there was a safety car? What if Marks car failed? What if a back marker took Mark out? What if Mark finds out? What if it turns into a PR disaster?

        And you said it was pre-planned so…….

        What if there Mclaren’s had been faster?

        It’s a ridiculous notion. If Red Bull wanted to use team orders they wouldn’t have hid it. And we’d have heard from Mark. Give him some credit, he’s better than that.

      2. Jack Flash (Aust)
        29th November 2011, 3:27

        Anti-RBR eh?
        No ‘axe to grind’ on the offered opinion then?

        James Allen was shown the telemetry by RBR engineer. JA confirmed this clearly on his website. Seb’s gearbox was losing oil level (more than normal) and temperaturees were highly elevated above normal. There were a number of teams suffering similar problems with gearbox heat/oil at the Interlagos track on Sunday. The slow down and shortshift direction from pitwall engineer (Cairon Pilbeam) to Vettel was to ensure he made it to the end of the race, and brought in a 1-2 finish for RBR. Vettel would not have felt anything wrong whilst driving with such a developing temp/oil level problem, but the pit could see it in their monitoring of telemetry. The issue would not have prevented him from driving 100% for a lap or two, but if he did the problem would get worse at a rate which may just lose all oil and probably fail prior to race end (a la Hamilton). So this is where you take off the “tin foil hat of conspiracy theorists”. JF

        1. +1

          RBR have openly issued team orders this season already so it makes no sense for them to suddenly plot an ellaborate undercover operation to do it this time.

        2. Jack Flash (Aust)
          30th November 2011, 6:36

          Correction. Rocky (Seb’s Engineer) delivered the pitwall messages – not Cairon P. JF

      3. @matt2208 Predictable that you would suggest that, don’t you think?

        I think that is so far fetched that it’s not even worth RBR’s time of day to go to the hassle of orchestrating it. What did they gain?

    8. “hands the win to webber”? Thats a pretty rough headline Keith. Hamilton got a “returns to winning ways” headline for winning Abu Dhabi in not dissimilar circumstances.

      1. @Thecollaroyboys Webber won in the fastest and most reliable car. Hamilton didn’t.

        This quibbling over headlines is beyond tiresome now.

        1. Hi Keith

          I’ll respectfully disagree with your first statement, that’s fine, that’s opinion.

          I don’t know about “quibbling over headlines” though, it’s the first time I’ve mentioned it – what did I do? I don’t think I’ve ever seen a criticism about headlines in the comments, typos maybe. I know that this is a blog and not a journalistic enterprise as such but I thought it was a fair and, potentially, constructive comment. In any case I’ll **** and let you get on with the good work we enjoy.

          1. @thecollarboys

            I don’t think I’ve ever seen a criticism about headlines in the comments

            Sometimes it feels like all I do is reply to comments about headlines.

    Comments are closed.