Christian Horner is hoping that Red Bull's decision to take an alternative approach to tire use in qualifying will pay off in tomorrow's Korean Grand Prix.
With high degradation expected in Sunday's race, Red Bull took the unusual decision to burn through a set of fresh super-soft option tires during the initial phase of qualifying rather than use up freshness of one its prime sets.
While Sebastian Vettel just missed out on pole, which went to Lewis Hamilton, and Red Bull failed to secure the top slot for the first time since the penultimate race of last season, Horner remains confident the team will be able to compete with McLaren, which has had the upper hand on pace throughout the weekend.
"We took a different approach to qualifying so obviously the guys didn't take too much out of the first set of the super-soft tires in Q1," Horner said. "They drove to a target lap time and we will see. The McLarens have been very quick here this weekend and in all honesty we didn't expect to get close to them.
"[It was a] phenomenal lap by Seb in the end to get himself on the front row. Although it's the first time since Brazil last year that we've not been on the pole I think we are in good shape for tomorrow."
Horner added that the strategy was pre-planned and that the team is very much race-focused this weekend, with tire wear rates remaining a mystery largely due to the lack of dry running on Friday. Pirelli has brought its softest combination of tires to Yeongam and no one is quite sure how long they will last.
"This race with the tire choice that Pirelli have elected here, it's going to be very strategic, and I think it will be crucial," said Horner. "We've got our cars on the first two rows. Looking at McLaren's performance yesterday we weren't expecting that, so I think we are content and can hopefully mount a good challenge tomorrow.
"The strategy was something we discussed beforehand and we'll see if it works. Theoretically McLaren have put five laps on that set of primes that we have the equivalent as new. If we end up using those tires, hopefully that will be an advantage."