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Pole position not as important in 2011 - Horner

ESPNF1 Staff
April 25, 2011 « 'Lewis wants to stay with McLaren' - Whitmarsh | »
Mark Webber's drive through the field in China has made Red Bull question the value of starting from pole position © Getty Images
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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner believes qualifying on pole position is no longer the key to winning at certain circuits.

A combination of new tyres and overtaking aids has made it easier to pass for position this season and put an onus on pit strategy. At the recent Chinese Grand Prix Red Bull driver Mark Webber failed to make it out of the first round of qualifying, but raced from 18th to third on Sunday. He was helped by the fresh sets of soft tyres he saved by not taking part in the final two stages of qualifying and Horner has admitted Webber's performance has made his team rethink its approach to grand prix weekends.

"It makes you question the value of qualifying," Horner told the Sunday Times. "Now the cars can overtake and with such a big difference between old and new tyres, we are going to have to reassess at each track how important it is to get to the front of the grid. Our strategists will look at how we should be structuring our race weekends."

Each driver has three sets of soft tyres and three sets of hard tyres available to them for qualifying and the race. At most races last year front-running drivers used all three sets of soft tyres in qualifying, carrying the final set in to the race before stopping once for hard tyres.

However, with this year's Pirellis degrading more quickly, Horner believes drivers could be better off saving fresh sets of soft tyres for the race, even if it compromises grid position.

"According to the characteristics of the track and the tyres at any given weekend, you might want to tilt the whole thing in favour of having fast, new tyres at key parts of the race, maybe at the expense of qualifying," he added. "You have to do a lot of overtaking to make it work, but Mark showed it can be done. You could say he needed a couple more laps to have won. With two laps less we could have won with Sebastian, using a conventional strategy, based on good grid position."

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