June 11, 2012
Mark Webber snookered in the hairpin by Sahara Force India Mercedes driver Nick Hulkenberg. Photo: AFP
Mark Webber and Reb Bull teammate Sebastian Vettel admit they struggled to find the right strategy as they finished off the podium in the Canadian Grand Prix won by British driver Lewis Hamilton.
Australian Webber battled to seventh while world champion Vettel praised his team's late decision after a last minute pitstop helped the German to salvage fourth place in Montreal.
McLaren driver Hamilton's victory made it a record seven different winners from the seven Formula One races this season.
Frenchman Romain Grosjean of Lotus was second after a well-judged race with Mexican Sergio Perez of Sauber third.
Two-time champion Fernando Alonso of Ferrari was fifth while German Nico Rosberg of Mercedes was sixth.
Webber said he went into the race expecting a challenging tactical battle and acknowledged the pit strategy ended up working against him.
"I knew it was going to be mixed up today, but not that mixed up," Webber said.
"In the first 10 laps, we had a small issue with the engine which we had to manage, but then I settled into the pace. We pitted and came out behind the one-stoppers.
"It's hard to get it right here — if you push to try and pass you kill the tyres but if you wait, then you find you're on the same strategy and finish behind them anyway.
"With hindsight we could have done a different strategy, but it's easy to say that now and I've had worse days than today."
The 24-year-old Vettel, who started in pole position, had planned a one-stop strategy and was challenging Alonso and Hamilton for the lead for most of the race.
However, Vettel's car began to lose speed and grip in the latter stages of the race and he was unable to fend off challenges from rival drivers.
As a result, his team called him into the pits in a bid to stop him slipping further behind — a decision that paid off as he was able to re-take some positions he had lost.
The double-champion praised his team's decision, saying, "We could have (done something differently) but now it is easy to say that.
"In the end Lewis decided to go for the second stop — I think we tried then to get the place back by going for one-stop, the same as Ferrari.
"But it turned out to be the wrong call, so we decided to come in again, which I think was a good call, and a great call at the time, given the position and what you can lose."
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said in Webber's case it was clear earlier on that they needed to go to a two-stop strategy.
"But unfortunately the one-stoppers managed to get ahead," said Horner. "So, a tactical race, a tricky race, but nonetheless we have still managed to salvage respectable points."
Hamilton produced a superbly judged race to seize his first win of the year.
It was his 18th career victory after his triumphs in 2007 and 2010 and hoisted him back into serious contention for the drivers' title in this year of unexpected results and unpredictable racing.
"I was thinking they (Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso) were falling behind and I assumed they were doing a one-stop so I decided to keep pushing," Hamilton said.
"We had a couple of problems during the stops, they may have been my fault I don't know, but otherwise it was a great race."
Hamilton leads the standings with 88 points ahead of Alonso on 86 with Vettel one point back in third while Webber is fourth on 79.