Red Bull Racing has confirmed it has changed its pit stop procedures for this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix, after claims made by senior advisor Dr Helmut Marko that Ferrari had committed “espionage” by copying its pit stop moves at last weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix, accusing the team of hacking its pit-to-car radio frequency.
Mark Webber finished a distant fourth after being trapped behind Fernando Alonso for much of the Grand Prix, finding himself unable to leapfrog the Ferrari when the Italian team called its driver into the pits on each occasion that Webber headed in to change tyres.
And while Marko’s views have not been publically supported by other figures within the team, it would seem that the team held some suspicions of Ferrari’s behaviour when it issued a dummy-call to pit for Webber’s final pit stop, to which Ferrari responded and Webber stayed out for a few laps longer. This change allowed Webber to finally pass Alonso to finish fourth.
And in the hope that it doesn’t fall foul of a similar trap this weekend, Red Bull team boss Christian Horner confirmed that the team has changed its procedures for this weekend, believing that Ferrari was in fact using perfectly legitimate means to mirror his team’s strategy.
“Pit stops are all part of the game and Ferrari’s only way to beat Mark was to cover him in the pit stops,” he told reporters on Wednesday.
“They saw something we were doing that was giving away when we were going to stop, and would call Fernando in – because it couldn’t be coincidence that he just happened to stop every time that we called Mark in. That is within the regulations.
“In the end, we made a dummy call. Fernando came in and Mark stayed out, but unfortunately by that time, he had lost so much time to Jenson [Button] and Lewis [Hamilton] that the podium was not possible.
“But it is all part of the game and all part of being a team sport – it is only like a dummy pass in a rugby match or any other sporting activity.”
With Horner reiterating that its calls to Webber to pit were made at the last possible moment, the only way that Ferrari could have reacted was through cottoning on to the behaviour of the team’s mechanics in the Red Bull garage.
“We have changed our procedures this weekend,” Horner added. “I don’t know if mechanics were putting their hands in their pockets at the wrong time, or it was someone picking a tyre up.
“But anyway, we have changed our procedures this weekend to be less transparent.”
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