Red Bull showed they are about much more than just a fast car after a very controlled, strategical performance at the Japanese Grand Prix.
Both Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber lost out at the start as Romain Grosjean came through from fourth to lead into the first corner, however by knowing when to push and when to back off, Red Bull were able to pick off the Frenchman for another 1-2 result.
With the unexpected scenario of a Lotus in front, Red Bull were able to readjust their approach and played the long game knowing the car had the speed when needed.
Aware of Lotus' fabled ability to look after the tyres Red Bull knew that pushing early in an attempt to pass Grosjean would do more harm than good if their bid failed and the tyres went off.
As a result the team told their drivers to pull back by two seconds, conserve the tyres and push towards the end of the stint.
With the first attempted undercut thwarted by Grosjean at the initial round of stops, Red Bull then decided to put the drivers onto a split strategy, Webber on three stops, Vettel on two. From there it would be hard for Lotus to find an optimum strategy that didn't keep at least one of the Red Bull's behind.
Some will see the decision by Red Bull to change Webber onto a three-stop as a way of the team holding the Australian back to allow Vettel to come through, however because Mark was the car nearest to Grosjean he would have the best chance to make that strategy work.
The biggest challenge Webber faced with the change of strategy was closing in on Grosjean and Vettel in the time between his second stop and their final stop, the closer Webber was the bigger the advantage he would have when they pitted.
Despite lapping over a second per lap quicker in the time, Webber was unable to create a big enough gap to pit and rejoin ahead of Grosjean, indeed when he did pit he was around seven seconds behind.
However, on the faster medium tyres and with superior car pace the task of closing and passing Grosjean should have been fairly straight forward as for Vettel staying on a similar strategy to Grosjean meant he would have to overtake the Lotus at some point.
By having the split strategy the Enstone team were forced to pit Grosjean probably two or three laps earlier than they would have wanted in a bid to cover the fast gaining Webber, but that put them at risk from Vettel when he pitted several laps after Grosjean and therefore had fresher tyres.
Then came the critical difference and the reason Vettel won. The German was much more decisive when going wheel-to-wheel with Grosjean, despite being on the same tyres which were of similar age, Vettel was able to use the extra speed of his RB9 to pass Grosjean at the first attempt using DRS.
As for Webber, if Vettel had passed Grosjean with ease, surely his move would be even easier with fresher, faster tyres and a faster car. Instead Webber was a lot less decisive than Vettel in the wheel-to-wheel situation and therefore where it had taken one lap for Vettel to pass, it took Webber four and while he had a second per lap advantage over Vettel late in the race, he had too big a gap and not enough laps to challenge.
At the end of the day the issue of whether Red Bull would let Webber and Vettel race would have come up even if Webber had stuck to a two-stop strategy. As it is, because of his speed and aggression with Grosjean, Vettel never gave him the chance.
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