Christian Horner says he doesn’t know why Red Bull lost performance in China after being so strong in the first two races, but expects form to ebb and flow each weekend.
It was lack of one-lap pace relative to the opposition that ultimate tipped RBR towards starting on the medium tyre and using the soft at the end.
“I’m not sure, to be honest with you,” said Horner when asked about the car’s Shanghai form. “The last couple of years this track hasn’t been out strongest. It has a heavy emphasis on front wear and degradation, you tend to be front limited here rather than rear. So we’ll see next weekend whether things move around in Bahrain.
“I think we’re seeing that qualifying is paying less of a premium than trying to preserve the tyres. Our car performs very, very well, it’s a quick car, but a quick car abuses the tyre more, and the tyres can’t cope with that.
“Obviously then we have to adapt our approach and set-up and the way that we operate the car to ensure that we get more out of the tyres. It’s the same for everybody, it’s just a different way of going about things.”
Meanwhile Horner insisted that Vettel would have been at least third in China had he not got caught behind Nico Hulkenberg in the opening stint.
“Seb managed to pass Jenson, who he knew he had to clear quickly, but then Hulkenberg cruised past both of them, and that cost him quite a bit of time in that first stint.
“If Sebastian had found one more second in that first stint and not been locked up behind him his race would have been quite different. He would certainly have been on the podium, and maybe even second. I think it was the right thing to do, it was worth giving it a go.”