Red Bull’s Mark Webber could emerge as the dark horse contender for the win in Sunday’s Indian Grand Prix, with the Australian starting on the second row of the grid on the more durable medium compound tyre.
Webber chose to use the harder of the two tyre compounds Pirelli has brought to India in the final part of qualifying rather than run the quicker soft tyre and will start on the same rubber as rules require a driver to start on the tyre on which he has set his fastest time in the final shootout in qualifying.
Though the strategic gamble without a doubt allowed the two Mercedes of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton to beat him to second and third on the grid, Webber’s choice could well play into his hands as the race progresses, allowing the 37-year old to potentially run a significantly longer first stint and leapfrog the cars ahead of him with the softer option tyre not expected to last long.
“We thought we would probably be a bit further back than the second row to be honest, so it turned out to be a good session for us,” Webber said after qualifying.
“It’s not easy to manage the primes when you just get a look at them in Q3, but I think we did a good job and we didn’t leave too much out there. We’re in a good position to capitalise on a different approach tomorrow,” the straight-talking Aussie, who is bowing out of Formula One at the end of the year, said.
The two Mercedes drivers know their pace in qualifying was flattered by Webber’s choice to run the primes and are aware of the threat the second Red Bull is likely to pose in the race.
“I just wanted to qualify ‘best of the rest’ today so I’m really happy with second place and starting on the front row,” Rosberg said.
“The race will be tough against Mark tomorrow, though, as he has the quicker car and is on a different strategy, but we’ll give it our all.”
Image courtesy Octane Photographic