Christian Horner expects Sebastian Vettel to get to the bottom of the problems that have held him back thus far in 2014.
The World Champion is not fully comfortable with the RB10, and has been suffering through being harder on the tyres than team mate Daniel Ricciardo.
In China Vettel was asked to move over and let the Australian past, and a discussion followed before the pair finally changed places.
“Obviously Sebastian is having a tough time at the moment, because he hasn’t got that feeling from the car that he’s looking for,” said Horner. “He’s tremendously sensitive to certain aspects of the set-up, and he’s not getting the feedback from the car that he wants. And then the compound effect of that is that he’s damaging the tyre more.
“Which is very unusual for Seb, as we’ve seen since Pirellis were introduced. It’s highly unusual for him to be going through the tyre life quicker than the average. That’s just the culmination of the issues that he’s currently got, and as soon as we’ve worked those out he’ll be back with a bang.
“He’s just going through the tyre quicker, the tyre’s opening up quicker with him because he’s not found that sweet spot that he requires. Whereas Daniel as we saw on Friday had extremely good tyre degradation, and did so again today.”
Horner said he understood why Vettel was initially reluctant to let his team mate past.
“He’s a racer, and of course he asked us first of all what tye is Daniel on? And then at that point what he didn’t realise was that we were looking at a different strategy, because Seb was going through the tyre phases quicker, to convert Sebastian onto a three-stop. As soon as he understood that he immediately let him through, and you could see that he simply didn’t have the pace to hold him back. Therefore it was pointless.
“The situation was that his tyres were quite a bit older at that stage, he was going through the tyre quicker, and it looked like a three-stop. The problem was that the windows of traffic weren’t opening up for him behind. We could see that with our lack of straightline pace that overtaking, despite fresher tyres, would be difficult. So therefore in the end we concluded that a two-stop would be the best strategy for him as well.”
On the pitfalls of team orders he said: “We’re doing our best as a team, and obviously we’re trying to beat the cars ahead of us. It’s not just about out guys racing themselves. They race for a team at the end of the day, and they both understand that. Our objective is to maximise our chances, and our best chance in the race today was with Daniel.”
Meanwhile Horner was full of praise for Ricciardo’s performance.
“It was a massive performance by Dan, he’s been hugely impressive all weekend. He’s really been outstanding this season, in all four Grands Prix this year I think he’s done a tremendous job. His confidence is growing.
“He seems so calm in the car, his feedback is exceptional when he talks on the radio it’s like he’s having a coffee in a coffee shop up the road, especially with the lack of noise now you can hear it perfectly. And he’s enjoying what he’s doing, he’s enjoying being a Grand Prix driver, he’s enjoying driving for the team.”