Red Bull team manager Mark Dutton says that his crew was right to chase the win on Sunday with a strategy that driver Jamie Whincup labelled ‘too aggressive’.
Whincup led the race through the middle stages but eventually finished fourth, losing further ground to Scott McLaughlin in the championship battle.
The #88 Holden jumped eventual winner Chaz Mostert in the first stops with a slightly shorter fuel fill but narrowly missed out on holding the place the second time around.
It was the decision to make the second stop with 30 laps to go, however, that Whincup questioned after proving unable to resist McLaughlin’s advances in the final stint.
Whincup dropped a further place following a late-race Safety Car to team-mate Shane van Gisbergen, whose tyres were a full eight-laps fresher.
“We were too aggressive in my opinion,” Whincup said immediately after the race.
“We were trying to win a race we probably weren’t going to win and it cost us a podium.
“Some days you’ve just got to consolidate and just try to get a podium and maximise what you’ve got.
“We didn’t quite have the pace (of Chaz) but we were the second or third quickest car and we should have got that.
“I’m not sure why we pitted so early. He was always going to get passed us, we probably should have been covering McLaughlin more.”
Having been just fractions away from retaining the lead over Mostert in the seconds stops, Dutton told Supercars.com that chasing the win was the right call.
“I believe we did the right strategy. We came in behind and got out in front. We lost a little bit of time in the first stop with not the best take-off. We’ve got to look at that,” he said.
“Then we didn’t quite have the tyre life in that second stint. If we hadn’t of lost that time in the stop we would have had a little bit more gap.
“Jamie had still gapped him enough for the fuel deficit but in the very last few laps Mostert got enough back. He had 1.3s and needed 1.5s. That’s what it came down to.
“You saw in the middle stint he stayed in front of Mostert, so I believe we had the car and the strategy to win. It was just a few quarter-percenters that didn’t get nailed.”
Dutton meanwhile confirmed that the decision for Whincup to let van Gisbergen through in the dying laps was made by the six-time champion himself.
While Whincup, who is 132 points ahead of his team-mate in the championship, lost points as a result, Dutton says it’s “way too early” for the team to intervene in such matters.
“(Race engineer David) Cauchi gave him a rundown of everyone to paint the picture for him,” explained Dutton.
“He knew there was a group of three cars with better tyres and then a group with the same tyres.
“We gave him that info and told him to make the best of it. There was no team orders, he was just being sensible knowing that Shane had better tyres.
“It’s a high-deg circuit and eight laps is a big difference. I was happy he only lost the spot to Shane. I was expecting three cars to pass him.”
Whincup entered the weekend just six points behind McLaughlin but is now 129 adrift due largely to a difficult Saturday that included a bungled pitstop.