Red Bull Racing technical chief Adrian Newey reckons the lack of assistance Mark Webber got from Jaime Alguersuari in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix actually proved a vital factor in helping Sebastian Vettel win the title.
Webber made an early stop for prime tires at the Yas Marina circuit, and it was Ferrari's response to cover him that ultimately left the Spaniard down the order and stuck behind Vitaly Petrov's Renault. Although Webber lost the chance to overhaul Alonso by losing time behind Alguersuari for a while as he emerged from the pits, Newey thinks it was this factor that forced Ferrari's hand.
"The irony was that had Alguersuari not held Mark up, then Ferrari would probably not have bothered covering because it would have been too late," said Newey after seeing Vettel's glory add the drivers' crown to the constructors' championship his team has already won. "It is only because Mark got held up that they were able to go for the cover, so actually STR did us a real favor – rather unwittingly I suspect."
Newey reckoned that another factor in Ferrari's strategy decision in Abu Dhabi was that it was complicated by the fact that Alonso was fighting two Red Bull Racing drivers – because Red Bull had refused steadfastly to back one man.
Speaking about the call Ferrari made to cover Webber, Newey said: "With hindsight they [Ferrari] almost certainly made a mistake, because if Fernando stayed out then he would probably have finished fourth. At that stage of the race, it wasn't clear. I guess it depended on which one they wanted to focus on – if they wanted to focus on covering Mark for the championship or Seb for the championship. That is where our policy of allowing our drivers to compete against each other got us into the position where they had to worry about two and not one."
When asked if having two drivers still in the hunt had an important role to plan in Vettel's success, Newey said: "That had to be key, because they did not know which one to cover.
"As it happened, they chose to cover the wrong one. But in fairness to Ferrari, it would have been hard to predict that at the time."