Pole no longer crucial in 2011 – Horner image

(GMM) Pole position is less important in 2011 than in previous years, according to Red Bull team boss Christian Horner.

Sebastian Vettel secured a clean sweep of poles so far this season in China recently, but was beaten to the chequered flag by McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton, who focused conservatively all weekend on his tyre strategy for the race.

Similarly, Vettel’s teammate Mark Webber bowed out in Q1 in Shanghai, but with his cache of fresh tyres was able to scythe through the field and finish on the podium and within sight of the pole-sitting sister RB7.

“Maybe that’s the best way to do it all the time,” joked the Australian.

Jokes aside, with overtaking more common now and Pirelli’s tyres needing to be changed multiple times per race, the best qualifying strategy in 2011 arguably involves a much firmer focus on the grand prix.

“Mark’s race demonstrates that, given the marked difference between new and used tyres and the greater ability to overtake, qualifying position is not as crucial,” Horner is quoted in Italian by Tuttosport.

He added: “With a few more laps (in China) Mark would have won, and with a few laps less Sebastian would have won from pole.

“We will have to see, race by race, what will be the right approach,” said Horner.