Inconsistent car the root of Red Bull woes

The Red Bull team cross-swapping tyres on Whincup's car in Race 15

The Red Bull team cross-swapping tyres on Whincup’s car in Race 15

Red Bull’s problems on Sunday at Hidden Valley can be traced back to the team’s weekend long struggle to find a ‘user-friendly’ set-up for its drivers, says team manager Mark Dutton.

Craig Lowndes and Jamie Whincup finished just 15th and 22nd respectively in Race 15 after identical tyre problems forced third pitstops for both cars in the 200km race.

The inside shoulder of the right-front soft compound Dunlops began delaminating on both cars after approximately the same number of laps, pointing to a team-specific set-up issue.

“It’s down to us not making the right set-up for the day in one little area,” Dutton told of the failures.

“The biggest thing was that the car wasn’t consistent enough, so therefore you spend much more time focussing on making it consistent instead of fine tuning it and working on strategy.

“There’s only a certain number of hours in a day and if you put an extra four hours into the set-up of the car, that’s another four hours you’re not putting into strategy and how that combines with your set-up.

“It all just comes back down to car consistency and pace and we didn’t have consistency and user-friendliness in our car all weekend.”

Lowndes had been running an almost identical soft-hard-soft strategy to that of eventual winner David Reynolds and was in third place at the time of his problem.

Red Bull however raised eyebrows by attempting to run Whincup on the same set of soft tyres for the entire 200km.

Whincup’s car took fuel-only in a lap one pitstop, before the tyres were cross-swapped on lap 29 ahead of the eventual failure 16 laps later.

The seemingly radical strategy had been brought into play by the low wearing nature of the new surface.

Notably, teams had more soft tyre data before Sunday’s race than usual thanks to the addition of the alternate compound to the Saturday format.

Red Bull’s extrapolation of that information from 21 to 70 laps, however, failed to show up the potential to boil the compound on the inside edge of the tyre.

“The surface here showed the least wear anywhere we’ve ever been anywhere in the world,” said Dutton.

“It was crazy when you look at the (ambient) temps we had, the wear was still so low, it was unbelievable.

“The wear was fine, it was just how we managed the heat in the tyres that we got wrong on both cars.

“In the end the (Whincup) strategy wasn’t quick enough because we underestimated the hard tyre pace,” he added.

“On Saturday the hard tyre was nowhere compared to the soft tyre and Sunday it was a lot closer.

“There were people on hard tyres going quicker for longer than we thought.”

Whincup slipped to eighth in the championship due to the lowly finish.

“I can’t think of another time we’ve had a day as tough as that,” said Whincup.

“We’re a fair way off the lead now and we can’t afford any more mistakes, so we’ll look forward to hopefully turning it around in Townsville.”

VIDEO: More from Whincup and Lowndes post-race

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