Sebastian Vettel had a much bigger advantage in Korea than his tire-conserving display suggested, claims Pirelli.
The World Championship leader was urged to look after his tires in the closing stages because of fears that he would wear out his tires and rob himself of a vital victory. However, post-race inspection of the tires by Pirelli revealed that there was nothing to worry about with any of his sets of tires.
With Red Bull currently in dominant form, having won the last three grands prix, Pirelli's assessment will be bad news for the team's rivals who had hoped that Vettel's problems may have indicated how close the team were.
Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery said: "We didn't see an issue. We don't know where that came from. If there is a team that is pretty well placed with degradation and tire wear, it is Red Bull. It was in line and there was no reason for having a drama."
When asked whether the final set of tires were as marginal as the ones he had swapped after running off the track, Hembery said: "No, not really. On the radio they were described as 'beautiful' by my engineer. I remember the comments.
"We always go and check with the top teams just to make sure as they tend to push to the limits so much more than anybody else. He was lapping as the fastest car on the track when he was coming in because he didn't seem to lose too much pace, so was in negative degradation.
"Certainly we have not had more than a five-second discussion about it, it is not anything that we have seen that gives us any concern."
Hembery believes that Red Bull's ultimate pace was disguised by the fact the team was keen to not put itself in a situation where it needed to make more stops than necessary.
"I think it was more caution," he said. "They had a big margin. At every race we are always talking about three or four laps being the margin between one or two-stop strategy or a two and three, so when you have got such an advantage and you are trying to win a championship it is probably the correct thing to do."