Newey: One-stop was very close
Adrian Newey has revealed Red Bull were "tantalisingly close" to not pitting Sebastian Vettel for tyres for a second time in the Abu Dhabi GP.
Amid his fightback through the field from his grid demotion in Sunday's 55-lap race, Vettel pitted for the first time for tyres and a change of front wing following damage while the race was behind first safety car on lap 13.
With the cars ahead all pitting for their own scheduled single stops more than ten laps later, Vettel suddenly found himself ahead of title rival Fernando Alonso in second place on the road, raising the spectre of Red Bull trying to complete a 42-lap stint on the soft tyres in a bid to hold the position and against all the odds increase their driver's title lead.
But, with 18 laps to go, Red Bull opted to bring Vettel in for a second time, the stop dropping the German back to fourth, and although in the closing laps he passed Jenson Button for third place, ultimately ran out of time to make an impression on Alonso.
Speaking to Sky Sports F1's Ted Kravitz after the race, Newey admitted the one-stop option had been a seriously consideration on the Red Bull pit wall but that they ultimately decided that they couldn't quite make the tyres last the distance.
"We had the debate of course and we looked at the wear from Mark [Webber]'s tyres once they came off," he told Ted.
"It was tantalisingly close that's for sure but as we've so often seen, if you overcook it then suddenly you've thrown away crunch loads of time and instead of finishing, as it turned out, third he could have ended up back in eighth again or something.
"So we didn't think we were quite going to make it, unless there was another safety car, but we couldn't take that gamble. So as soon as he was clear of [Romain] Grosjean then we elected to pit."
Although there ultimately was a second safety car almost immediately after Vettel rejoined the circuit, Newey confirmed that, given the caution period ultimately proved relatively short, they would have needed "another one beyond that one" to have made any one-stop plan work.