Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner has revealed that the new front wing parts that helped Sebastian Vettel claim a sensational pole position for the Japanese Grand Prix only arrived at the track 30 minutes before qualifying.
Vettel broke his only version of the front wing with an off during first practice on Friday, so the team had to push ahead with work at the Milton Keynes, UK factory to prepare new endplates. These were then put on a commercial plane from London to Nagoya overnight, before being couriered by helicopter to the Suzuka track shortly before qualifying got under way.
With the team believing the wing was worth a few tenths, having the new parts on the car almost certainly helped Vettel maintain Red Bull Racing's sweep of pole positions so far this season.
Speaking about the wing situation, Horner said: "It was the epitome of team work. We were short of a component on Friday, which is why Sebastian looked a little bit distressed with himself because the one bit of the car that he didn't want to damage was the front wing on Friday. But the guys back at base made a Herculean effort to bring forward the production of another component, get it onto a flight and get it to the circuit only half an hour before qualifying itself. It was phenomenal.
"The part came out here with a carrier, then to Nagoya and helicopter from there. It was a fantastic effort. The main thing was that wing, we were not due to see it before Korea, so the effort that went in overnight back in Milton Keynes was just phenomenal and hats off to the boys and girls for doing that."
Although Vettel is aiming to clinch his second world title at Suzuka this weekend, Horner said no thought was given to taking the new wing off Mark Webber's car, bearing in mind the controversy that happened at Silverstone last year when the team did exactly that.
"No, because it was a different situation," he said. "The failure at Silverstone was a component failure, and the situation yesterday was quite clearly a driver error, so there was never any question of taking the wing off Mark's car. So Sebastian ran an older specification prior to that."
Horner praised Vettel's effort in the closing stages of qualifying as he edged out Jenson Button by just nine thousandths of a second.
"It definitely required something a bit special from him on that last run and he duly delivered it," he said. "It was a phenomenal lap to get the pole. He should be very pleased with that one; I think it was one of his best laps of the year."
When asked if he thought McLaren's strong single-lap pace this weekend had put pole position out of Red Bull Racing's grasp before qualifying, Horner said: "I thought the McLarens particularly were going to be very hard to beat today.
"They have looked pretty quick over one lap all weekend, and it is a matter of trying to find that balance between race pace and qualifying, trying not to abuse the tire too much. And that is what we have focused on, but we will see tomorrow. Hopefully we can have a very strong race pace tomorrow."