Christian Horner says that Red Bull learned a lot in China by fielding its cars with two different exhaust configurations.
Sebastian Vettel ran the older spec, with which he felt more comfortable, while Mark Webber had the newer version.
The latter obviously proved more effective in qualifying, then in the race matters were confused by Vettel making a bad start and running two stops while Webber was on three. In the end the Aussie snuck ahead as his team mate’s tyres went past their best.
“There were some characteristics about the upgraded car which weren’t particularly suited to Seb’s style of driving, which is to carry a lot of speed into the corner,” said Horner after the race. “The decision to come here [with two specs] was very much Adrian and a technical decision, because we want to make sure we get a direction and a clear comparison.
“We’ve had that, it’s been a really useful exercise this weekend. The drivers were happy to go the routes that they did. Now we’ve got an awful lot of information from three days of running to settle on a direction moving forward.
“Ideally you want the characteristics from both solutions, so that’s now the challenge.”
Horner said that there was no firm verdict yet on what specs it would field in Bahrain next weekend.
“We’ll make a decision over the next couple of days. With a race worth of data to go through there’s a good sample there in low fuel/high fuel configurations.”
Asked by this writer how things could turn around at the front of the field in the hotter temperatures of Bahrain, Horner said it was impossible to predict.
“Today the temperatures had another effect. And yes, we’ve probably got another 20 degrees of track temperature to deal with next weekend. That’s the great challenge at the moment. It’s going to be a fascinating championship this one, I think it’s going to ebb and flow through the year.
“The grid has concertinaed. If you look at all the different configurations of car that were in the top 10 yesterday, there was no way that they were within 3% of downforce configuration, yet they were within 3% of lap time. The biggest common dominator within all of that is getting the tyres to work.”