Mark Webber seeks to capitalise on strategic ploy on medium tyres
Aussie in a strong position to claim farewell victory in India
By Pete Gill
Last Updated: 27/10/13 9:52am
Having seen team-mate Sebastian Vettel, who duly went on to claim the 43rd pole position of his career, go fastest in each of the three warm-up practice sessions on the fast but fragile soft tyres, Webber threw a strategic curveball into the Q3 shoot-out by choosing to run the slower but longer-lasting mediums.
After then exceeding expectations by hustling his Red Bull to fourth on the grid, Webber is thus likely to lead the race after the opening exchanges once Vettel, along with the two Mercedes cars of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, stops for new rubber. With the trio of frontrunners at risk of returning into traffic, a good start - a rare thing for the Australian in his final year in F1 - would thus offer Webber an unexpectedly strong opportunity with which to claim his first victory of the season.
"I thought it was worth trying something different," the veteran told Sky Sports F1. "We didn't think we'd end up on the second row, we thought we'd be a little further back than that. In the end, it turned out to be a pretty good session for us and we're in a good position to capitalise because we know the option tyre isn't a great piece of work.
"It will look quite exciting at the start of the race, but obviously I've got to get that tyre out of the way at some stage of the race."
With such a vast difference between both the pace and durability of the soft and medium compounds, the wisdom of Webber's ploy will only be revealed at the conclusion of Sunday's race when he finally bolts on the soft tyres and, all being well, returns to the track to fight for victory.
"Nobody knows what was best in this session," conceded Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali after his team also split strategies with Felipe Massa running on the softs and Fernando Alonso using the mediums. "We wanted to cover both because with the information we have had so far it is impossible to predict."