Tyre trouble for Red Bull

By on Saturday, March 24, 2012

Sebastian Vettel

FIA - Both Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel had tyre issues in Malaysian qualifying and will start fourth and fifth.

Webber qualified fourth, though his session nearly ended very early thanks to a bad set of tyres. With his initial time falling down the order and coming perilously close to elimination, Webber was forced to go out again on fresh rubber. He immediately went into P1, but at the cost of having used an extra set of Pirellis. "It was bloody frustrating to have to go again,” he concedes. “That’s a little bit disappointing for tomorrow but I’m happier to be on the second row, with one lap old primes, rather than 17th. I’d prefer to have two fresh sets of primes but it’s not make or break."

Despite his travails, Webber was pleasantly surprised with his times in comparison the competition. “Today went a bit better than we thought in terms of pace,” he said. “We still are not quick enough to challenge for the pole position, there are areas where we need to improve – straight line speed and a few things like that, but in general we had a better showing here today and I think we’ll be better in the race tomorrow. I’m very surprised to be a tenth off Jenson Button. Lewis did a good job for pole and Michael’s up there so we’ll see tomorrow, let’s see how the grand prix unfolds.”

Vettel, meanwhile, qualified sixth but will start fifth with Kimi Räikkönen taking a grid penalty for a gearbox change. Unlike his rivals, the reigning world champion will start on the hard compound tyre. He later explained he had been uncomfortable on the medium compound and so switched to the harder rubber for his final Q3 run. When asked if it would give him an advantage in the race, Vettel claimed to be in the dark. “I’d love to give you and answer but I don’t know,” he said. “Hopefully I can go longer and hopefully it does give me a bit more flexibility and range in the first stint.

“Our race pace looks promising and we are here to fight. It’s not as if we come here to finish fifth or sixth. Qualifying sixth was the best I could do today. We have to accept that, move on and focus on the race tomorrow.”

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