Posted on March 29, 2011
A deep dive into the race strategies in Melbourne | James Allen on F1 – The official James Allen website on F1
The Strategy Report

Making the right decisions at the right time is crucial to success in F1. The race unfolds in a blur and it is very easy to make a bad decision.

As we saw in Abu Dhabi last year a bad strategy call can cost a world championship and with so many new variables this season, the opening round of the 2011 World Championship, the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne was something of an experiment for all the teams in terms of race strategy, with the tyres being the dominant factor. We had no safety car this year in Melbourne, another important influencer on strategy.

The most important factor in strategic decisions this season is the fact that the new Pirelli tyres degrade much more quickly than the Bridgestones used in recent years and that when they start to go off the performance drops very quickly and severely. So managing that process and making quick decisions was the key on Sunday.

All indications before the weekend were that several pit stops would be needed to complete the race. But it turned out not to be the case in Melbourne, partly because the track surface is smooth.

From a strategy point of view Melbourne was interesting because it had plenty of variety; in the top seven finishers we had one car which stopped just once, two cars stopped three times while the podium finishers all stopped twice.

On race day, the simulations showed that two stops was the ideal and the variations we saw were due to brave gamble on the one hand (Perez; 1 stop) and a forced change of plans on the other, due to setbacks (Alonso and Webber; 3 stops).

The key to navigating through was flexibility and willingness to change tactics.

Meanwhile at the front Sebastian Vettel showed that when you have a dominant car you can make the strategy bend to your will.

Perez: Risk paid off (Sauber)


In depth case studies – Sergio Perez,

The 21 year old Mexican, on his debut, was the talk of Melbourne with his bold strategy of stopping just once. After winter testing this seemed almost inconceivable, but the Sauber is the most gentle car on its tyres and Perez drove expertly to make a set of soft tyres last 35 laps.

Having qualified outside the top ten he had a free choice of tyres on which to start the race. He was the only one to opt for hard tyres. This meant that he would run a longer first stint than everyone else. He was 14th on the first lap. His pace on the hard tyres was over a second slower than his team mate Kobayashi on the soft tyres. When the cars in front made their first stops, he moved up the order and was 7th when he made his stop on lap 23.

At this stage he was put onto soft tyres, with the intention of stopping again for another set of softs later in the race. The expectation was that this would give him 10th place at the end.

As he drove he found that he could manage the tyres and that contrary to expectations, the track was rubbering in, which punished the tyres less. The team strategists decided to try to get him to the finish without stopping again, targeting a better finish than 10th thanks to being able to save the 25 seconds it takes to make a pit stop.

But it was a very risky tactic – at any moment his tyre performance could suddenly drop off by two seconds or more, ruining his race. He managed the process brilliantly and was even faster than the cars in the top three at around three quarter distance. As his rivals, like Kobayashi, Buemi, Sutil and Di Resta went for their second stop he stayed out and moved into seventh place, which he held to the flag. Sadly the Sauber’s rear wing was found to be illegal and he was disqualified from the results. The team has decided not to appeal.

Perez’s bold gamble has nevertheless made strategists realise that they should have spent more time doing a long run on the soft tyre in Friday practice to learn about it, rather than just testing it out briefly at the end. They were thinking that the hard and soft would behave as they had in the Barcelona test in terms of relative degradation, but it wasn’t the case. We will see all teams doing a long run on Friday in Malaysia as a result. And we could see more drivers “doing a Perez” as the year goes on.

Alonso battles Petrov (Ferrari)


Massa and Alonso: Ferrari on the back foot

Testing had indicated that the Ferrari was the second fastest car behind the Red Bull, with Ferrari competitive on long runs. But in Melbourne the car proved to be harder on its tyres than its rivals and this pushed them down the road of having to stop three times. They will have to get on top of this problem quickly if they are to compete for the title this year.

Alonso started fifth on the grid, but lost four places at the start. He passed Rosberg and Massa and gained another place when Button was penalised for an illegal overtake. But the Ferrari was proving hard on its tyres and he suddenly lost performance around lap 10/11. He had to stop on lap 12, coming out behind Petrov. Despite his setback at the start he was in the hunt for a podium against Webber and Petrov, who was only going to stop twice. Normally when you have a bad start you try to stop less often than your rivals, to regain track position, but that wasn’t an option for Ferrari.

The three stopper did allow him to push hard in each stint and it got him ahead of Webber at the final stop.

Renault could see what Alonso was doing, but did not react and stuck to their plan to stop twice. Alonso pushed hard, closing the gap to Petrov to 19 seconds, when the Russian pitted for the second time on lap 36. Alonso’s plan at this stage was to pit again leaving him enough laps at the end to catch Petrov using the advantage of new tyres against old ones. First he had to jump Webber and he managed that by staying out one lap longer before the final stop on lap 42.

Alonso then caught Petrov at over a second a lap in the closing stages, but the plan didn’t work because the soft tyres on the Renault held up well enough now that the car was running light on fuel and the track was rubbering in and being kinder to tyres. Petrov held his nerve and Alonso ran out of laps in which to pass him.

Webber: Tough call (Red Bull)

Webber: strategy call didn’t work

Mark Webber left Melbourne with much to reflect on and analyse. Driving the same Red Bull RB7 car as race winner Sebastian Vettel, Webber finished fifth, a full 38 seconds behind his team mate. The reason was that he was very hard on his tyres and the team made a call at his first stop which didn’t work out.

Third on the opening lap, he nevertheless clearly had the pace in the car to get ahead of Lewis Hamilton through strategy. But his tyre wear was savage; he was the first to pit on lap 11 after his tyres suddenly lost two seconds of performance on lap 10. Switching to the hard tyre his plan was to run a long middle stint and then a final soft tyre stint. This was also an evaluation exercise for the team so they would have some advance information on the hard tyre for Vettel’s last stint.

But it proved the wrong decision for Webber as the hard tyres were degrading as much if not more than the softs, were hard to warm up and had no pace. It set him up to be jumped by Alonso later in the race. Webber did just 15 laps on the hards and then two more stints on soft tyres.


A deep dive into the race strategies in Melbourne
236 Responses

  1.   1. Posted By: Derek Lorimer
        Date: March 29th, 2011 @ 9:31 am 

    James,

    As always great analysis. I expected Jenson Button to benefit from the new tyres as he is easier on his tyres than his team mates. However his race was compromised by been behind Massa who in my opinion weaved in a very unsportsmanlike way.

    Mark Webber driving style may have contributed to his been harder on tyres and therefore finishing down the field. If, however, there was a problem with the car and he was overdriving to compensate then this may have caused the tyre wear.

    Mercedes do not seem to have improved on last year. I think Schumacher seems to be in a holding pattern with no real improvement on last season. This may be his last year in F1

    [Reply]

    snafuracer Reply:

    Derek, I think there was a problem with Mark’s car, as he stopped right after the race final, on the grass. This morning I read reports that he felt something was wrong with either the car or the setup, so he wanted to compensate that disability with harder push, as you mentioned. Webber claims that the car will be stripped down to the bones to check for possible issues. Ferrari, on the other hand, have to think of achieving two stops race, if they want to fight for the title.

    [Reply]

    Derek Lorimer Reply:

    Thanks for the information. Mark and Sebastian were very closely matched last season so a car or setup issue seems a reasonable explanation for the difference in performance at the Australian GP

    [Reply]

    Geo Reply:

    Does anyone else think that Webbber seemed to be very down towards the end of last season? That seems to have continued this year as well. Even when leading the championship he seemed rather withdrawn.

    Obviously he had problems with the car on Sunday, but there just doesn’t seem to be the fired up Mark Webber that was at Monaco 2010.

    Eddie Jordan described him as very relaxed, but it seems a bit more than that?

    James Allen Reply:

    He didn’t look relaxed to me this weekend. He looked harrassed

    Alex W Reply:

    It has been confirmed by a pit crew member that a problem has been found that accounted for the lack of performance, and tyre degredation in Webbers car, it will be fixed in time for Malaysia.

    wayne Reply:

    I think this season will be the year of the unofficial number one drivers at McLaren, Ferrari and RBR. I fully expect Hamilton and Vetell to step up to Alonso’s level and become ‘complete’ racing drivers. Further I expect the respective gaps between these three and their team mates to be wider than ever. I think it will be phenominal to watch Hamilton and Vetell mature and ‘come of age’ this year and see the thjree top drivers in F1 really show their class.

    Lilla My Reply:

    I’m starting to believe that the whole Button is gentle for his tyres while Hamilton is not argument is a bit exaggerated. Yes, Button is the silky smooth style driver, but I don’t think Hamilton is as bad on his tyres as many say. He had 2 stops and managed to get a partially broken car to the finish line second. Not a bad result for somebody who is said to be unable to look after the tyres IMHO ;-) .

    I didn’t notice Massa weaving. I think he defended his position pretty agressively but everything within the rules. Ferrari though was a big disappointment. After the number of miles they covered in the winter testing, their car should be really one of the best on tyres.

    Re Schumacher – I know this is an old argument, BUT – it was only the first race. People were already sending him back to retirement last year, but he stayed. I would give him some time again. Mercedes struggled in general this weekend. Rosberg did better than Schumacher, but it still was far from a great performance. So let’s wait and see if they can sort their problems out and then we’ll be able to see what’s up with Schumacher. Right now the whole team seems to be on a back foot.

    [Reply]

    Geo Reply:

    I think that Schumacher returned to F1 to fight for the Championship, not score a few points in the midfield.

    If the team has not improved significantly enough to challenge for podiums/race wins by the end of the season and therefore push on to challenge for the title next season, I would be very surprised to see him in F1 after 2012.

    The age issue is a nonsense, he is a fit as anybody in an F1 car, and was always much fitter than his oponents in his dominant years, ofter jumping out the car after a race without a drop of sweat on him.

    But, he must surely be very frustrated at the moment and perhaps considering his position?

    [Reply]

    Steve Reply:

    I think age accounts for a big percentage of the problem Schumacher has now. In no physical demanding sports, F-1 is one of them, that a 40+ years old person can 20 some years old without any disadvantage. Its just a fact of live and it has nothing to shame about with. It certiently does not disprove anything Schumacher has achieved.

    Lilla My Reply:

    I’m pretty sure that if you’re called Michael Schumacher you want to win and you’re not satisfied with scoring 2,4 or 6 points per race ;-) . And I’m also sure most people (maybe apart from full-blooded haters) would like to see MSC fighting for the wins even if they’re not his particular fans. After all – this is Schumacher. Personally it hurts me sometimes to see him struggle. The only problem here is that people keep on sending him to retirement. He’s a grown-up and he (hopefully) knows what he’s doing, so I guess we should leave him alone without forcing him to retire again (apart from the fact that I’m sure Schumacher wouldn’t listen to a bunch of F1 fans on an Internet forum;-)). I only hope that it’s not a situation where he sees that he’s made a mistake with the return but is too proud to admit it, so he’ll struggle till the end of his 3-year contract only to show everybody that they’re wrong and he enjoys driving without winning.
    Basically for me Schumacher doesn’t have to prove anything, because he’s already achieved more than anybody else, so he can do whatever he wants and if that depended on me, I’d give him as much time as he wants. Though I’m not really sure if the Mercedes management thinks this way ;-) .

    Peter C Reply:

    I agree re.Hamilton/Button, although it may be because Hamilton has learned a thing or two about how to make tyres last longer? As he’s getting older,perhaps he is beginning to drive with his head rather than too much aggression.

    He could have picked up a few tips from Button, but maybe JB could now pick up some more aggression (especially at the start!)

    [Reply]

    Mario Reply:

    I agree. Hamilton would rather go all out all the time, but his strategists taught him that saving tyres is important, perhaps more important that ever with the pirrellis. So we are likely to see Lewis cruising more this year and in general we should see more cruising.

    I understand the need to manage tyres, but this much cruising is too much for me.

    Lilla My Reply:

    Button definitely picked up some of Hamiltons habits in Australia :) . Not that I didn’t like it, but they looked as if they actually exchanged their (stereotypical) roles at some moments in Melbourne ;-) .

    Shane Pinnell Reply:

    I seldom buy into the sound bytes coming from the various news outlets regarding which driver is capable of doing what.

    It is like the argument that Jensen likes a car with understeer, that is simply not the case. He has said himself that he prefers a car with less oversteer than his rivals, a car that is a little more neutral. Less oversteer does not equal understeer. Button has said that his driving style induces understeer into the chassis which is what allows him to preserve his tires when need be. We often see other driver’s rear tires being destroyed by wheelspin coming out of a corner which Button’s driving style is able to avoid. This must be at the expense of his front tires, but the front tires seem to see considerably less abuse than the rears, probably has to do with having 700+hp being pushed through them.

    The same goes for Hamilton being tough on tires, this was not an issue with the media until he teamed up with Button who apparently treats his tires like they are down filled, silken pillows. Rubbish… Hamilton is able to destroy his tires or preserve them or any degree of tire abuse between the two, just like every other F1 driver. People don’t get to this level of autosport without knowing how to properly manage the wear of their tires. Perhaps some drivers are able to get a little more speed out of treating their tires gently, or are able to go a little farther while flogging them, but the difference is sure to be relatively minute.

    [Reply]

    unoc vII Reply:

    Hamilton’s was a problem in the media after China 07. Youtube it

    Azri Reply:

    I think Lewis and Jenson spent a lot of time with the tyre simulator that they developed over the winter. That is why in my opinion Lewis doesn’t seem so effected a lot, although he did complaint before about the degradation rate.

    [Reply]

    Andy C Reply:

    I thought Massa weaved as well, but as its a narrow track its less obvious.

    Clearly its better to drive into the side of someone than to avoid them (re button).

    If you do a Rubens you get off scott free, but if you avoid a collision you get penalised. Theres irony in there somewhere ;-)

    [Reply]

    Damian J Reply:

    And if your Vettel, you are allowed to go four wheels off the circuit…..the advantage of that speed allowed him to overtake Button!

    One could argue that a hard barrier on that bend would have altered Vettel’s speed.

    [Reply]

    mtb Reply:

    If Massa had changed line more than once, then both Button and Whitmarsh would have made an issue of it. Button said that Massa was hard to overtake, but never accused Massa of breaking any rule.

    [Reply]

    Galapago555 Reply:

    Fair point.

    J

    Galapago555 Reply:

    (sorry, the previous message was unintentionally sent; this is what I wanted to post:)

    Fair point.

    Jenson only talked about the timing for the Ferraris to pit, that meant he could not give back position and thence he was forced to serve a drive through penalty.

    He didn’t mention anything about waving.

    mtb Reply:

    What Button, and many journalists, neglected to mention was that Massa pitted two laps after the incident i.e. over three minutes later. Therefore, Button had over three minutes in which to hand the position back to Massa. Rather than attempt to hand the position back, he informed his team that he was ahead of Massa going into the corner. This suggests to me that Button had no intention of handing the position back.

    Damian J Reply:

    Massa defended his position with credit against Button. It’s a shame that a solid driver has been relegated to becoming nothing more than a support driver. No wonder he lacks motivation. A driver’s raison d’etre in a top team is to win the championship.

    mtb Reply:

    I would have thought that a demotivated driver wouldn’t have bothered putting up a fight.

    Massa was driving a discernibly slower car. If he was lacking motivation, then what does that say about Button’s inability to pass him on the track?

    James Reply:

    Webber has never driven well there though. It’s just not a circuit he’s good on for some reason.

    [Reply]

    unoc vII Reply:

    he was only 0.07 seconds off Vettel last year in Quali 3 (final quali).

    And he had the old chassis from testing while Vettel had a new one (since Bahrain).

    Same chassis deal here aswell

    [Reply]


  2.   2. Posted By: Bevan
        Date: March 29th, 2011 @ 10:02 am 

    These Pirelli tyres are the best new addition to F1 in long time,in fact IMO they were all that was needed to spice the show up,ditch the KERS & DRS,they seem a worthless distraction in hindsight,I couldn’t see any speed differential from them worth writing home about.
    Also the 1080p High Def upgrade is a fantastic albeit long overdue upgrade for us fans,its looking to be a really great year,at last.

    [Reply]

    craigdaly77 Reply:

    I’ll have to take your word for the hi-def picture. Whilst I have hd sky, my tv brought it in last months earthquake we had here in NZ. so hd on an old CRT just ain’t the same!!!

    [Reply]

    Born 1950 Reply:

    Yes, but it’s a pity the in-car camers are still SD.

    Can you find out when they’re going to upgrade them for us, James?

    [Reply]

    Shane Pinnell Reply:

    +1 for the HD signal!!!

    As for DRS and KERS, I say keep KERS and dump DRS. The only benefit I can see for DRS is that it allowed the front runners to get past the mid-field more easily after their pit stops. Maybe that enhances the spectacle, maybe not. What it did not do was allow similarly quick cars to pass each other. When the car in front is able to maintain a gap, passing is still and rightly so a very difficult task. So good on them for not allowing F1 to be turned into a mockery of a sport.

    [Reply]

    Ahmed Reply:

    Unfortunately Sky HD services are only broadcast in 1080i which is a bummer but still at least Bernie’s finally adopted it even if its 5 years late.

    [Reply]

    Michael Grievson Reply:

    HD broadcasts are in 720p.

    [Reply]


  3.   3. Posted By: Andy W
        Date: March 29th, 2011 @ 10:14 am 

    Whilst Webber’s tyre call might have played out ‘badly’ it should be pointed out that had he been able to make the hard tyre work for longer he would have been in a better position later in the race. Alonso on the other hand went soft, soft, soft, hard meaning that when he made his second stop Ferrari had to stop him a 3rd time so that he could use both compounds of tyre. This was also a risky strategy that paid some dividends for them but pretty much guaranteed that the chances of Alonso getting a podium were always going to be slim as he couldn’t adapt his strategy to deal with twice stopping cars in front.

    [Reply]

    James Allen Reply:

    Had he been able to make tyre last longer generally he’d have been in better shape

    [Reply]

    Derek Lorimer Reply:

    James. The Pirelli tyres must be very soft. My BMW has Pirelli tyres that are nearly five years old and have plenty of life left in them.

    [Reply]

    snafuracer Reply:

    Nice remark :) I also have almost 5 years old Pirellis on my Honda (P6 model), with full length protector, but they are slowly fading away, currently feel like plastic on smooth tarmac, very good grip on a damp surface, though. They are built with durability in mind, as opposed to their road P Zero series, which are usually tied with most powerful road-going cars.
    The F1 tires, however, are totally different, but they will become prime factor this year – I’ve read so many different positions on tire management, but I still can’t get the big picture, Oz race quite often has been misleading for the actual fit of the teams. Also worth noticing that temperatures will play great role in tire wear, so I’m impatiently awaiting Sepang.
    I kind of agree with Lilla My’s comment above us, that Button being silky smooth vs. the aggressive Lewis may be a bit exaggerated statement these days, but let’s see.

    aaron parsons Reply:

    I hope this is a tongue in cheek comment! Your BMW doesn’t average 130 MPH – you’ll be lucky to average 30, your tyres won’t be too hot to touch without gloves, you have practically zero downforce, you go nice and slowly (comparatively) around corners, your brakes will not slow you from 200mph to 50 mph in 2 seconds. Take your BMW around the Nurburgring at full pelt for 2 hours and then come back and tell us what shape your tyres are in (let alone the rest of the car!)

    Craig D Reply:

    You can’t compare F1and road tyres at all. Everything about their construction is different. We don’t people to think Pirelli do rubbish tyres when they’re trying to improve the racing, else we’ll be back to the Bridgestone days!

    Born 1950 Reply:

    There’s absolutely no comparison between race tyres and road tyres (well, apart from them being round and black). Chalk and cheese, Derek.

    If you ever touch a hot race tyre you’ll be astonished — it’s more like bread dough than rubber!

    Shane Pinnell Reply:

    These aren’t road tires… Think of them more like that tacky stuff you use to affix things to walls and shelves.

    To say that your BMW’s Pirellis are 5 years old ignores the fact that those tires have never had 700hp or 5Gs of lateral acceleration put through them. Well, unless you have the fastest BMW every made.

    Jean-Christophe Reply:

    It’s actually easier to make a tyre last the entire race than one that degrades to a certain extent.

    Marcus Reply:

    LOL!

    RickeeBoy Reply:

    James
    My Pirelli’s on my Tractor last 10 years perhaps Fernando should use my Tractor !

    Geo Reply:

    You are incorrect Shane…

    He does have 700hp and regularly puts 5G into the tyres, he just has Jenson Button as his Cheuffer to compensate :)

    TheLegend Reply:

    Fernando had not tyre problems. Ferrari said that he could have done only two pits, but rysking to be on traffic with old tyres. Fernando didn’t complain about tyres, it simply was the best strategy for him. Felipe, the other way, wasn’t able to warm up his tyres enough and wasted them a lot, specially the rear ones.

    [Reply]

    Azri Reply:

    Felipe made a lot of us believed that this year will be better than last year, blaming his inability to adopt his driving style with the bridgestone tyres. But last weekend it seems he struggled even more. He was around the same pace as Alnso during the winter testing, so I can’t really comprehend where he stands right now.

    unoc vII Reply:

    IF Webber wasn’t fighting the car the whole time he wouldn’t have been so low on fuel he had to stop, and he would have been able to drive with the tyres rather than pushing for speed.

    [Reply]


  4.   4. Posted By: goferet
        Date: March 29th, 2011 @ 10:28 am 

    Hahaa I like that. So anybody that manages to make a one stop work this year will from now onwards be said to be ”doing a Perez”
    Yes that’s the stuff of legends.

    Meanwhile it appears Mclaren’s gamble to miss the first test at Jerez has paid off in that apart from Sauber, Mclaren is the best car at looking after it’s tyres.

    Next time, Hammy should cover Vettel’s strategy in that before Vettel pitted the first time, Hammy was just 1.2s back.

    And when Hammy made his stop & came back out, Vettel was about 7 seconds ahead

    [Reply]

    aaron parsons Reply:

    Only because Vettel cheated by going off track to pass Button. Mind you, I reckon Vettel was just faster and would have had enough in the car to pass Lewis anyway – or force Lewis to push harder and his car to be forced to retire.

    [Reply]

    Shane Pinnell Reply:

    Yes! That drives me nuts! Why do the stewards penalize one driver for going off track and not the other. Last I checked there was no rule related to the magnitude of the off track excursion. I don’t think there is any conspiracy happening here, it is just that they don’t consider what Vettel did whilst passing Button an infraction even though Vettel clearly had all four tires far outside the defined racing surface. Vettel should have received a drive through for overtaking off the track.

    And Vettel’s infraction wasn’t the only one…

    [Reply]

    Jean-Christophe Reply:

    The FIA had said it was acceptable at turn 4

    Rich C Reply:

    They all do that all the time. They fly over the curbs and technically go off-track almost every lap.
    Only one way to stop it: big ol’ concrete walls.

    Damian J Reply:

    Rich C,

    Going over the curbs is typically two wheels. The FIA ruling refers to four wheels.

    Aaron Parsons Reply:

    When did they say it was acceptable to put four wheels off the track to make a pass?

    unoc vII Reply:

    The issue is that shortening the track has always been braking the rules, while lengthening the track, i.e. what Vettel did to pass button has been in the past OK as the idea was that he was making it longer for himself.

    Due to run offs it is actually faster at some tracks (Abu Dhabi for example) to take more speed in, go off the track and return further ahead in the lap thanotherwise even though you extended the distance.

    Raikkonen in 09 I think did this at Spa at the very beginning jumping ahead.

    The question is why didn’t Vettel get penalised and I’m guessing because they didn’t think about it. It would be stupid to suddenly decide on that straight you can. Personally I think he should have been told to get back behind Button but at that Stage it would have become a nightmare.

    Given that Vettel was faster then and Button was able to do a drive through, imagine if Vettel either had to basically stop and wait at the end of the lap for 5 seconds or get a drive through to follow Button’s drive through.

    That would have taken the piss out of F1 completely… Vettel losing this year because of a pass technicality.

    mtb Reply:

    Thankfully the well-like Johnny Herbert was the driver steward on this occasion. Imagine the outcry if Emmanuele Pirro had been the driver steward!

    (If you don’t know what I am talking about, then check out this piece of “journalism”.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/formulaone/article-1328833/The-Italians-job-Abu-Dhabi-stewards-link-Ferrari–Fernando-Alonso.html

    )

    As Martin Brundle pointed out on BBC’s F1 forum, Vettel had already passed Button when he went wide. Additionally, as he went wide, rather than cutting a corner (as in button’s case) he travelled further, which most likely means that he lost, rather than gained, time.

    The buemi incident is more interesting. The conclusion may have been that Buemi was pushed wide mid-corner during the manoeuvre when the two cars were side-by-side, and that he was on the racing line. (Remember that Barrichello, strictly speaking, was in breach of the sporting regulations at the Hungaroring when he used the pit lane exit to overtake Schumacher.) My personal view is that Buemi was probably a bit lucky to escape any sanction, however there hasn’t been a great deal of noise coming out of Force India’s headquarters, so perhaps the correct decision was made.

    As for all of the talk of Raikkonen going wide at Spa, many drivers have done that without comment. If differs significantly from the Hamilton incident in 2008, where Hamilton cut the chicane and gained a significant advantage that would have been easily apparent from analysis of sector times. Remember that tracks are actually divided into ten sectors for the benefit of teams and officials, even though we only get to see three sectors on TV. (The FIA driver tracker that we have access to records when a driver passes the transponder at each of these 10 sectors and interpolates the location of the car when the car somewhere on the track that is between two consecutive transponders. That is why things go a bit crazy at the start of the race, when pit stops are made, and during safety car periods.)

    As the issue of Raikkonen at Spa in 2009 has been raised, it should be pointed out that Hamilton overtook Massa at Monza in 2007 at the first chicane by cutting the chicane completely (all four wheels off the track), yet the incident wasn’t even investigated. Alguersuari was involved in a similar incident last year, and received a drive-through penalty.

    It appears to me that some fans of the sport are far more inconsistent than any stewarding decisions.

    Shane Pinnell Reply:

    @mtb I suppose my frustration is with the apparent inconsistencies in the application of this rule. Perhaps the rule needs to be re-written?

    In my opinion, any off-track excursion, for whatever reason, should result in a defined penalty. I don’t care if you were forced off, were avoiding an accident or if you were trying to pass.

    The increased run-off areas have been great for safety, but they allow the drivers to push too hard. Vettel was able to pass Button by carrying more speed into that corner than his car was capable of handling, he compensated for this by taking the car wide off the track.

    If he had done that on a track that did not have a paved run off area his race could very well have been over, a drive through is certainly less of a penalty than not finishing.

    How about, if you go off track you must come to a complete stop to ensure that it is safe for you to rejoin? Failure to comply could result in a drive through.

    mtb Reply:

    FIA Sporting Regulation 20.3

    …”Should a car leave the track for any reason the driver may rejoin. However, this may only be done when it is safe to do so and without gaining any advantage.”

    James Allen Reply:

    Please stop addressing comments to individuals, this is an open comment area for all – Mod

    Damian J Reply:

    It would seem that there are fans that are inconsistent about Spa 2008, possibly because they favour a Ferrari.

    No one has questioned the fact that Hamilton cut the chicane. The debate was whether he handed back the position to Raikkonen which he did by falling behind the rear tail of the Ferrari, the accepted custom and practice at that time. That is what Hamilton did. FACT.
    In the circumstances, what more was Hamilton supposed to do after complying with the existing rules on handback?

    So we than have some fans who favour red cars invent spurious arguments about the need to fall back a further ‘unspecified’ distance further back.

    It’s interesting that a post on this website one can quote Brundle on this issue and yet Brundle himself would disagree with that same view about Spa. Brundle still refers to Hamilton as the moral champion of Spa 2008!

    mtb Reply:

    Nobody questioned the fact that Hamilton handed back the position at Spa in 2008. The issue was whether or not he sacrificed the advantage gained by cutting the chicane. The sporting regulation did not state that a driver had to surrender any position gained, instead it stated that a driver had to surrender any advantage gained.

    By analysing sector times, the stewards could have estimated how much of an advantage Hamilton gained, and whether or not he subsequently sacrificed this advantage.

    The fact that McLaren felt the need to contact Whiting indicated that they were not sure whether or not Hamilton had sacrificed the advantage gained. If the rule had stated that a driver only needed to hand the position back, then McLaren would not have bothered contacting Whiting. And why would McLaren have suspected that Hamilton might not have been deemed to have sacrificed any advantage gained? The answer is that there was a precedent for the FIA penalising drivers who gained an advantage by driving off the track and not subsequently surrendering this advantage.

    Anybody who saw the 2001 Japanese Grand Prix should be able to recall that Ralf Schumacher received a 10 second stop-go penalty for cutting a chicane, despite not overtaking any cars in the process. The reason – he gained an advantage, which he did not subsequently surrender. (Reference to the penalty can be found on p. 253 of the 2001-2 edition of Autocourse.) Enrique Bernoldi received the same penalty in that race for the same reason. Michael Schumacher cut the chicane on one occasion during the race, but was not penalised as he slowed down in the following sector in order to negate the advantage that he obtained. (Yet another example of what an astute individual he is.)

    Anybody who saw the 2005 Japanese Grand Prix should be able to recall that Alonso was involved in a similar incident to Hamilton/Raikkonen, and was asked to hand his position back to Christian Klien by the stewards two laps later.

    Interestingly, Alex Wurz, who worked as an FIA driver steward last season, stated on ITV at Monza in 2008 that, as far as he was concerned, the Hamilton penalty was justified.
    To my knowledge, nobody has ever stated that Hamilton should have dropped back an “unspecified distance”. He should have ensured that his subsequent sector time was lowered by an amount that was commensurate with the gain that had been made by cutting the chicane.
    Some people have questioned whether Vettel would have overtaken Button in Melbourne last weekend if a wall had been located at the edge of the track. The same logic can be applied to the Spa incident. If a wall had been situated at the end of the section of track in question, what would Hamilton have done? If he had taken evasive action, would he have been in a position to have overtaken Raikkonen where/when he did? It is most unlikely that the answer to the question is in the affirmative.

    I, like most people, do not have such information at my disposal, however it is interesting to note that McLaren never publicly demonstrated that Hamilton sacrificed his advantage. One of the McLaren communications staff made a statement about Hamilton travelling 7 or 8 km/h slower than Raikkonen at the start/finish line. However, the team never used sector time information to prove that Hamilton had surrendered his advantage. Furthermore, the squad never produced a simulation comparing what would have happened had Hamilton remained on the track, with what actually happened.


  5.   5. Posted By: Ashwin
        Date: March 29th, 2011 @ 10:28 am 

    Hello James,

    Wonderful article as always.

    McLaren had a dog of a car during winter testing right down till the last day of last test.

    They hired Pedro de la Rosa back.

    Car is going much faster. Agreed they made changes to exhaust.But, could Pedro have been of significant input to get more downforce on to the car?

    McLaren right from the beginning were focussed on getting the best simulation model for the Pirelli tyres, since they believed that the strategies this season fell on the tyres.

    I believe that Pedro had given wonderful feedback due to the depth he has about testing to Pirelli while they were developing the tyres on a mod’ed Toyota.

    [Reply]

    Matt H Reply:

    Unless Pedro made the decision to stop using the octo-exhaust and then personally redesigned the new floor/exhaust system then i’d say no, Pedro didnt find all the extra downforce.

    A good point raised though, much Kudos must go to Gary Paffet and his endless hours in the simulator. More than likely the unsung hero of many projects at McLaren

    [Reply]

    Kenny Carwash Reply:

    Have to agree that it’s more the designers and Paffett who should take the plaudits for McLaren’s improvement. It’s possible de la Rosa helped them improve their tyre simulation model though.

    [Reply]

    RickeeBoy Reply:

    Perhaps McLaren are now running a mod’ed Toyota under the the bodywork ??

    [Reply]


  6.   6. Posted By: NamedMyKidAyrton
        Date: March 29th, 2011 @ 10:33 am 

    James,

    Fantastic post; thank you. The. Technical and strategic analysis is where this site really stands out from the rest.

    [Reply]


  7.   7. Posted By: Stevie P
        Date: March 29th, 2011 @ 10:43 am 

    Oh Sergio, Sergio, what have you done!!!?!!! You’ve made it clear to the top teams that one-stop races can be done on the Pirelli’s :-(

    [Reply]

    Jodum5 Reply:

    It;’s actually a very good thing. It shows there is room for various strategies. A car and driver easy on its tires (Sauber and Perez) can do a 1 stopper – depending on the track. Those that aren’t (Ferrari, Webber) will have to do more.

    Sounds a lot better than all drivers and all teams doing 3-4 stops.

    [Reply]

    rfs Reply:

    So melodramatic, lol.

    The top teams will only do one stop if the car is kind to its tyres like the Sauber.

    [Reply]

    Stevie P Reply:

    My comment was made somewhat in jest :-)

    I thought Perez’s performance was excellent and I was glad to see different strategies at play.

    However… until Australia, everyone (and I mean everyone) was suggesting that a one-stop strategy was simply not possible on Pirelli tyres – even the Pirelli engineers were amazed! Now that Sauber\Perez has shown it’s possible all the other teams will strive to do the same. For as we all know, if you can stop less than your rivals, without destroying your tyres, whilst maintaining a decent pace (as Perez did) you’re in a great position.

    [Reply]


  8.   8. Posted By: matthew cheshire
        Date: March 29th, 2011 @ 10:47 am 

    In the Australian press Mark Webber has claimed RB mechanics are trying to find a mystery ailment in his car. He has admitted Perez’s effort was astonishing in contrast. Could Webber’s set up cause such a marked problem? He was as good as anyone at preserving his tyres last year.

    [Reply]

    Aaron95 Reply:

    Yes, it’s not surprising that Vettel beat Webber, but it was very strange that Webber was so far behind both during qualifying and the race.

    [Reply]

    R. Reply:

    Webber probably stubbed his toe or something, wait for his book at the end of the season. Be assured there will be an excuse and everyone will feel sorry for him again.

    [Reply]

    unoc vII Reply:

    He did Hungary last year lapping madly faster than Vettel on the softs he qualified on. He is nice on tyres and last year he was 0.07 behind Vettel in Qualifying in Australia.

    I’m guessing that the 1 second behind and destroying tyres just might have a reason behind it.

    Put it this way if Hamilton was suddenly 8-9 tenths behind button in quali and then blew his tyres in a matter of laps you would say there was a problem with the car wouldn’t you?

    [Reply]


  9.   9. Posted By: Paul J
        Date: March 29th, 2011 @ 11:09 am 

    James,

    I’m new to the comments so this is not a question about strategy, it’s to do with the rules for activating the DRS during the race.

    I understand that only the car behind can activate it’s DRS when it is less than a second behind the car in front, but what happens in the senario where 3 cars are separated by less than 2 seconds? In this situation there are two cars within a second of the car immediately in front of them; Therefore can they both use their DRS? This would mean the second car (the car in the middle) would be able to use the DRS to defend it’s position from the third car. If this is true, the situation almost seems unfair in comparison to the leading car (first car) not been able to use it’s DRS to defend it’s position from the second car?

    P.S. love the website, keep up the good work!

    Cheers,
    Paul J

    [Reply]

    The other Ian Reply:

    In a train of cars all less than one second apart, only the first car is NOT allowed to use DRS. All the others can.
    In my opinion, DRS simply allows the chasing cars to overcome the “dirty air” from the car in front. It is then up to the driver to perform the passing manoeuvre, if they can. Not many did in Melbourne.

    [Reply]

    aaron parsons Reply:

    I asked this a while ago – all but the leading car can use DRS. Unfair perhaps, but that’s the rule!

    [Reply]

    seifenkistler Reply:

    All cars who are closer than 1 second to the car in front can use DRS. So if there is a line of 10 cars each half a second behind another the last 9 could use it (not first 2 rounds after start and savety car).

    I think this is fair. Why to punish car number 2 if the only reason car 3 might have closed up was a slow car 1?

    [Reply]

    Born 1950 Reply:

    In the scenario you describe, there’s nothing in the rules that says cars two and three can’t both use DRS. After Melbourne though it doesn’t appear it would help much. Be interesting to see if it has any effect on other circuits with longer straights. I suspect that when one car is in another car’s dirty air, DRS has very little effect.

    I think all drivers should be able to use their DRS all the time. That should show who’s the most skilled.

    [Reply]

    Naparsei Reply:

    They did last year, didn’t they? They just called it the “F-duct”. It was functionally the same (removing drag with the DRS or stalling the wing).

    [Reply]

    Jean-Christophe Reply:

    And the 3rd car could use the slipstream of both cars in front. I think Hakkinen did that to pass Schumacher at Spa in what is to me the best passing move ever.

    [Reply]


  10.   10. Posted By: Jack
        Date: March 29th, 2011 @ 11:12 am 

    this was great James, it can be hard to follow what everybody is doing when the race is actually going on so it’s really interesting to be able to read an explanation of exactly what happened. Still can’t get my head around how Perez eeked out those tyres though!

    [Reply]

    Geo Reply:

    The fact he did is quite a relief to me. I did not want to see a situation where 4+ stops a race was the norm and drivers were nervously nursing their cars around instead of racing!

    This was 1 of a few surprises after the weekend was over…

    1. Perez only doing 1 stop.
    2. Mercedes not improved by as much as expected.
    3. Williams not as fast as expected.
    4. Sauber making a big leap forward.

    Not a surprise:-

    1. Hispania not making the grid after posting below 107% times.

    [Reply]

    Jack Reply:

    don’t you think them trying to get round on one set of tyres would make them more likely to drive slowly? I think a big drop off in tyre performance encourages racing because you have to get your laps in when in matters rather than just waiting like you could on the Bridgestones. Decisions have to be made quickly and on the fly, which I reckon’s a good thing.

    [Reply]

    Geo Reply:

    I did not think of it that way, you are quite correct about that Jack.

    Do you think the front runners could afford to hold back and only do 1 stop as Perez did and still win the race? Would like to see some data as to whether a driver who 1 stops loses 23+ seconds over the course of the race, from driving slower, that he would otherwise lose pitting for a 2nd time.

    Martin Brundle made the point last season during a wet race (can’t remember which one) that a driver who stays out on slicks too long, will lose time trying to stay on the track vs a driver on wets which lap significantly slower than slicks.

    I guess the teams wrestle with finding the balance in every race. Strategy will seem to play a bigger part this season.


  11.   11. Posted By: Galapago555
        Date: March 29th, 2011 @ 11:12 am 

    Fantastic stuff, James.

    Re Pérez performance: is it possible that there is any cause – effect relationship between the rear wing issue and the lower wear rate on the softs? I mean, more down force with less drag, or somethin like that.

    Slightly off topic: it’s great to feel the season is back. Your last Sunday’s article “Vettel in control…” has 429 comments so far, and counting. :O

    Keep up the good work!

    [Reply]

    Charlie B Reply:

    I doubt it, from what I heard it was 3mm out of the regulations and Sauber claim the defect was not performance enhancing.

    [Reply]

    Born 1950 Reply:

    Yes, but rules is rules. Once you start working to ‘near enough’ you open up a can of worms.

    By the way, I hear that Red Bull are working on a rear wing that widens on high-speed corners — to go with their front wing that lowers towards the ground.

    [Reply]

    Damian J Reply:

    Flexi car?

    Rich C Reply:

    It wasn’t really that much anyway. It was supposedly 5mm short of a 100mm radius for the wing’s curvature. *I wouldn’t be able to see any diff between a 95 vs 100mm radius on that short a section!

    So, truly a microscopic error, if confirmed.

    [Reply]

    KenC Reply:

    Didn’t F1 used to have a 5mm build tolerance level, that was controversial a bunch of years ago regarding some barge board Ferrari had?

    [Reply]


  12.   12. Posted By: .
        Date: March 29th, 2011 @ 11:24 am 

    Let’s just call it what it is: Webber can’t drive on these tires, he doesn’t know how to preserve them, he can’t handle the Pirelli characteristics like oversteer, the car moving around much more than on Bridgestones, heavier on the front tires, less in the back, etc…..that is why he was nowhere.

    Let’s not make excuses and blame RBR strategy (they listened to what Webber was saying and called him in because he was saying in a panicking manner the tires were gone) or make up conspiracy theories that Webber got a worse car than Vettel (to RBR constructors championship is much more important than drivers championship and they need to give Webber the best too), or blame aliens shooting laser beams blocking his vision, etc.

    No it is Webber.

    Also the reason Webber complains so much about the DRS is because he is probably very bad at it, hence also the gap between him and Vettel (who also was vocal about it, but he gets on with it). I mean look at the qualifying laps of everyone, Vettel used it almost everywhere while still pushing very hard. Webber used it the least of everyone.

    If Webber had been 1st and Vettel 5th, with almost 1 second gap in qualifying in favor of Webber, people would hail Webber as the new Messiah and never make excuses for Vettel like now with Webber. It has gotten lame now the way Webber is being defended all the time.

    There is always someone or something else to blame for his poor performance, isn’t there?

    [Reply]

    Owen Reply:

    .

    Marko has admitted that Webber’s chassis was damaged. Webber has always been close to Vettel, not as fast, we all know that deep down.

    Nevertheless he’s not that far away from Seb in the same car.

    Lets see what the strip down reveals before we rip into a bloke who led the world championship last year – which is more than most fellas achieve when they jump into an F1 car.

    One Swallow does not make…..

    [Reply]

    . Reply:

    Do you remember last season when Marko, in fact the entire team said, that Vettel’s chassis was damaged, hence his poor performance in the last 2-3 races?

    And how most people then said ‘no, those are excuses, Vettel isn’t good, Webber is just faster, do not believe a word RBR says about this, especially Marko’, etc?

    Those *same* people now grab this Marko comment to defend Webber all over forums….

    This shows the hypocrisy I was talking about in my first post.

    So when something can be used to only defend Webber, it is legit, but when it is the same thing and it can be used to defend Vettel, it is not legit.

    And Webber only led the championship because Vettel lost 76 (!) points through mechanical failures, while Webber lost 7. The only races Webber won is when Vettel had mechanical problems or flat tire. The real diffeernce between him and Vettel is 69 points more than what you see.

    I mean, I am not a Vettel fan, yet I get irritated by this anti-Vettel nonsense. I do not understand this hate towards him and the bending of facts to twist everything to make him look like he is some amateur driver who can’t turn a wheel. While in fact he is the best driver in the grid together with Hamilton and Alonso.

    People even tried to take away his awesome overtake on Button in Melbourne, round the outside, totally humiliating Button.

    [Reply]

    Martin P Reply:

    Blimey, are you sure you’ll last the whole season before busting a blood vessel?

    mvi Reply:

    I guess you don’t think there is anything wrong with going off the track to pass somebody, although it is against the rules.

    Questioning Vettel’s move does not put a comment into ‘anti-Vettel nonsense’ and ‘hate towards him’ categories.

    Jean-Christophe Reply:

    The speed difference was great. Passing Button at that time wasn’t an extraordinary move.
    How skillfull is he in passing ? Remember Turkey last year and the lack of humility he showed after the incident. How many cars has he taken out in his career?
    How many races has he won starting from the midfield? How good is he in the rain ?
    He’s good. No question about that. But he’s in a far superior car just like Schumacher during the Brawn – Todt era.
    It’s not that we hate him (I speak for me), it’s the clear favoritism he gets that I don’t like.

    Mr Squiggle Reply:

    Good call Owen,

    James Allen used a phrase last year — ” a webber track’. I think MW has a style that is suited to some of the older style circuits like Spa or Silverstone. He simply seems to struggle on the newer tracks like Abu Dhabi, or Malaysia.

    Unfortunately, Albert Park doesn’t seem to fit easily into either category, it clearly isn’t an old style track (except perhaps the back straight), and yet there is no way you would say it is similar to Singapore or Bahrain. It seems to sit in an ‘inbetween’ category.

    I think MW simply hasn’t quite got the style for this track, and the combination of home pressure, new tyres, DRS etc..saw him push too hard and chew up his tyres. I wish I knew more about his style to work out why some tracks work for him and others do not. Surely he is working on this himself? Being a Mark Webber fan is like being a St Kilda football club member, we come so close, but somehow it just seems out of reach!!

    [Reply]

    Mathew Mann Reply:

    and being both is agony

    Jack Reply:

    yeah exactly, let’s not make sweeping statements 1 race into a 19 race season

    [Reply]

    Andy C Reply:

    Indeed, only Ferrari fans are allowed to do that ;-)

    james b Reply:

    Agree. Last year everyone scoffed when Vettel had a problem with his chassis and webber won. Webber has cleverly manipulated the media to his advantage in much the same way that button hamilton are portrayed. I mean imagine if Button out qual Hamilton with no kers jake humphrey would be like one of pavlov’s dogs and then we would hear about how smooth he is on his tyres…………

    [Reply]

    Mark Reply:

    I think what you’re missing here is the term “baseline”, something that can be compared to when things go exceedingly well or worse. Mark’s baseline when compared to Seb last year was usually less than a tenth. No one is saying Mark is the better driver, but to be so far behind it gives good reason to investigate the problem. Also it’s big news because they are the number one team. I’m afraid you will have to hear about Webber all year, sorry.

    [Reply]

    James Reply:

    Funny that you mention Webber not using the DRS as much. I noticed a few times last year that Vettel was using his F-Duct almost everywhere in qualifying, yet Webber, not so much.

    [Reply]

    Born 1950 Reply:

    “It has gotten lame now the way Webber is being defended all the time.”

    Really? I would say it’s lame now the way armchair critics rubbish drivers at the pinnacle of their sport. It would be wise to wait to find out what the outcome of the analysis is, rather than jump to conclusions about Webber’s lack of performance.

    [Reply]

    Owen Reply:

    Exactly my point earlier!

    Imagine .’s reaction when Webber does match or beat SV.

    [Reply]

    Andy C Reply:

    Come on Helmut. We all know its you! Why don’t you post under your real name :-)

    [Reply]


  13.   13. Posted By: Koby fan
        Date: March 29th, 2011 @ 11:32 am 

    Perez’s 1 stopper was a very impressive debut…Sauber will be thrilled, Koby will be feeling a bit more pressure, the rest of the field will key this data into their simulators..if 1 stoppers become viable again will Pirelli do the right thing with their softs?

    Its hard not to have some mixed feelings about how the regs allowed this to happen…by failing to qualify in Q3; Perez had a extra set of tyres and the choice of starting tyre – so by a combination of car, driver and track he managed to cruise and manage his set of softs without being unduly pressured by any cars behind. What is the true spirit of F1 – encouraging balls to the walls racing and overtaking or encouraging clever pit strategies and car/tyre/speed/engine conservation? Are Q1 qualifiers being penalised unfairly by the current tyre regs? Are P10-P12 qualifiers actually better off than P7-P9 qualifiers? I don’t have the answer – maybe there be a minimum of 2 mandated stops instead?

    Bernie E get your sprinkler system ready! Lets hope in rains again in Malaysia…

    [Reply]

    aaron parsons Reply:

    Track position is king, Always will be. The tyre regs allowing those behind to choose their starting compound are there to encourage closer racing between those at the bottom half of the grid and those higher up. Doesn’t always work, but that is the purpose of it.

    [Reply]


  14.   14. Posted By: H-Bomb
        Date: March 29th, 2011 @ 11:32 am 

    Enjoy your analysis as always James.
    Wonder if the Pirelli tyres are prone to blistering if driven aggressively due to heat or just slightly faster degradation?
    I am wondering about Red Bull and KERS?
    We have assumed that the issues with KERS are cooling problems within the unit and therefore making it unreliable and the further possibility of cooking other components, so they left it off.
    Is there be another reason, could KERS have a marked effect on the Red Bull tyre wear as seen on Friday the tyres were pretty chewed up?
    Leaving it off meant they could obtain better race balance and improved tyre wear, but a track with longer straights could leave them vulnerable.
    Next race should be very interesting?

    [Reply]


  15.   15. Posted By: Eamonn Mc Cauley
        Date: March 29th, 2011 @ 11:45 am 

    Well done Rubins. It’s sad that you’re the most experienced driver, with even a shot of a title and Kubica will probably never even get a chance. That’s the main thing that this sport needs to sort out. Drivers like Rubins and Massa getting drives just because they come from a country with a large population and thus large spending power.

    [Reply]

    Martin P Reply:

    I don’t think it’s reasonable to suggest either driver is a “pay driver” or not there on merit. Both are multiple grand-prix winners and both have been within a whisker of winning a title. I think you’re underestimating the the talent, commitment and hard work it takes to achieve that. One win you can luck into if you have some talent, the right car and the right circumstances… but that doesn’t happen ten or twelve times to the same man.

    [Reply]

    aaron parsons Reply:

    I think we can safely say that Rubens has been in the highest division of motor racing for 20 years because he is a very good driver. He drove for Ferrari – they don’t just employ anyone!
    Massa was one overtake (lewis on Glock) from being world champion for goodness sake. He is there on merit (admittedly since the bump on his head he has struggled a bit…)

    [Reply]

    Matt H Reply:

    Utter drivel. Both of them have given world class performances over their respective careers.

    [Reply]


  16.   16. Posted By: Toby
        Date: March 29th, 2011 @ 12:06 pm 

    If that were true, why did it only happen in Australia, and not all the testing days in the pre-season? Webber was often faster, and drove more laps than Vettel. Even Christian said he was surprised by the difference in the pace between the two drivers/cars. If it was Webber’s ‘style’ then it would have been no surprise at all to any of them.

    [Reply]

    . Reply:

    I followed all the tests, Vettel was always faster, except 1 or 2 days because of track conditions or testing programme.

    The race sims, Vettel was on an average 7-9 tenths faster than Webber during the tests.

    [Reply]


  17.   17. Posted By: Matt
        Date: March 29th, 2011 @ 12:40 pm 

    Nice review James as always.

    I was told something today thats seems rather curious, a rumor more then likely but intriguing all the same.

    Whilst catching up with some mates who attended the GP, one of them told a story of how they had been told whilst touring the pitlane, that Vettel had been supplied a new front wing that had been air freight in and fitted to his car on Saturday morning. Yeah right i thought, however the more i think about it, the more it seems to add up.

    There are 3 things that lead me to believe that there could be some truth to this;
    1. At the conclusion of qualifying Mark Webber had a long hard look at the front of Vettel’s car as he walked down the back down pit lane. It appeared to be an odd thing to do at the time. Why would he look over his teammates car?
    2. There is an abundance of Vettel/McLaren front wing flexing comparison photos, i can’t however find any photos of Webbers car displaying equal amounts of front wing flex.
    3. I suppose the final thing would be the huge difference in performance between the team mates, in an interview Webber was asked if he had an idea on why he was slower, to which he replied something along the lines of “there is one area that we have identified” the front wing perhaps?

    I was hoping someone could shed some light as to whether there is some substance to this or it’s just wishful thinking.

    Thanks

    Matt

    [Reply]

    James Allen Reply:

    Both cars had a lot of front wing end plate scrape damage in practice. I stood outside the garage and watched Rob Marshall (a big man) get down on his hands and knees to examine the underneath of Webber’s left front wing endplate. A few fans have commented on the way Webber examined the wing, but after Silverstone last year I think we’d have heard about it if they shipped a special one in for Sebastian only

    [Reply]

    Rich C Reply:

    One of the photos on another of your posts showed the Renault on a corner with what looked like the entire left half of the wing on the track, so perhaps a lot of ppl had that issue?

    [Reply]

    Trent Reply:

    I assume they don’t use titanium skids on the wings because it would highlight how low the wing is running (ie draw attention to it)?

    [Reply]

    Paul B Reply:

    Funny, I noticed Web having a good old look at Sebs front wing after qualifying, but didn’t think too much of it. On the back of earlier comments, I thought Mark seemed extremely relaxed and upbeat on Friday morning, but things sure did change as the weekend progressed!

    [Reply]


  18.   18. Posted By: vivamansell
        Date: March 29th, 2011 @ 1:25 pm 

    Great analisys, so many thanks. For me the key is Ferrari tyre degradation. We can see on qualify that they have problems to get right temperature and in the race they have high degradation. If this conclusion is right I think they are lost for whole year, usually tyre manage is nature from chasis. Sorry for my bad english…

    [Reply]


  19.   19. Posted By: Kenny Carwash
        Date: March 29th, 2011 @ 1:27 pm 

    Excellent in-depth analysis, James. Really impressive.

    I especially like the lap time graph, I’d really like to get hold of the data so I could chop it around myself. Just a thought, but it might be a bit easier to read if you omitted the in and out laps for each driver, that way the individual stints would be easier to pick out.

    Looking at the graph there are two things that strike me: Vettel and Hamilton’s pace at the start was really ferocious and what a measured and mature drive Vitaly Petrov put in. He has his detractors but he possesses good pace and maybe he can evolve into a well rounded driver in 2011.

    [Reply]


  20.   20. Posted By: aaron parsons
        Date: March 29th, 2011 @ 1:30 pm 

    Hey James – loving the graph comparing lap times, although it does get a bit scrambled at times. Is there an interactive version anywhere so we can compare any 2 drivers we like?

    [Reply]


  21.   21. Posted By: james b
        Date: March 29th, 2011 @ 1:35 pm 

    James, do you think it could have been possible for Hamilton to have done a one stop? I know it would have been risky as his tyres could have gone off the cliff but if they didn’t (and he didn’t have a problem with his floor) would he possibly have beaten vettel?

    [Reply]

    James Allen Reply:

    I’m not sure, but Petrov told me he could have done one if needed. But as he was on for a podium and had the chance to stop again, there was no point taking a risk.

    [Reply]

    Martin P Reply:

    James, it’s early days but Petrov’s performance appears to be a revelation – akin to Massa’s transformation from his early Sauber days.

    But re the tyre strategy… how “harrassed” were Perez and Petrov in the race? We didn’t see much of either after the start apart from a few key moments with Alonso & Petrov. Surely how long the tyres last is dependent on how hard you have to drive the car to defend or attack?

    If you plan for one-stop suerly you’re boxing yourself in, just as if you go lean on fuel? Plan for two-stops though and you have the opportunity to capitalise on a one-stop if you’re in clear air or there’s a safety car.

    Or am I missing something?

    [Reply]

    Damian J Reply:

    I guess he also wanted to prove that he can become Alonso’s nemesis more than once!

    [Reply]


  22.   22. Posted By: Dale
        Date: March 29th, 2011 @ 1:38 pm 

    Super article James, well done.
    You are obviously close to many in F1, question – do you feel this hinders you sometimes in reporting certain aspects in F1 – for example I have not seen any comment re Vettels illegal move on Button, a move that had it not happened may have given a McLaren win had he been held behind Button for some time?

    [Reply]


  23.   23. Posted By: Iain
        Date: March 29th, 2011 @ 1:42 pm 

    Slightly off topic but what I thought it was interesting was it seemed like Massa was almost holding Button up to allow Alonso to catch the 2 of them and then once that happened and Button ran off, it seemed perfect timing for Massa to allow Alonso scoot by unnoticed. To me looked like team orders were in play but no one else seem to notice.

    [Reply]

    Born 1950 Reply:

    I think you read it right; but it was not illegal — team orders are permitted this year. I think we are going to see some teams — like Ferrari — making good use of them. Massa is definitely Alonso’s sacrificial wing man.

    [Reply]

    Rich C Reply:

    Watch for *more “hot brakes” messages in future.

    [Reply]

    Shane Pinnell Reply:

    Team orders or smart driving on Massa’s part? Massa knew that Button must give the position back, why not allow your teammate through to secure the maximum points against one of your primary rivals? The difference this time is that he didn’t need to be told 3 times, act like a child by slowing down too much or have his race engineer apologize for asking him to do what Ferrari pay him millions a year to do.

    Also consider that Alonso out qualified him and was lapping considerably faster at that point. Alonso has established himself as the teams number one driver, on merit. I don’t feel bad for Massa, that position in the team is his for the taking. Ferrari don’t back one driver over another without reason, they back whichever driver serves the needs of the Scuderia best.

    [Reply]

    Damian J Reply:

    So it’s official then that Massa is now Ferrari’s support driver. That didn’t take long!

    I wonder if Massa already knew his place in the Ferrari pecking order even before all the red lights disappeared at Melbourne?

    [Reply]

    Galapago555 Reply:

    “I wonder if Massa already knew his place”

    I bet he did.

    [Reply]

    mtb Reply:

    Only a handful of people know what Massa’s official position in Ferrari is. One thing that we can be sure of is that on Sunday he admirably held off a much faster rival for several laps. The only way that Button was able to get past was by breaching the sporting regulations.

    Massa knew that Alonso was much faster, he also would have known both his and Alonso’s strategies, hence letting Alonso past made perfect sense. If he hadn’t done so, Alonso would never have passed Webber.

    Chances are that Massa hadn’t been able to hold Button off, then Button would have finished ahead of Webber, hence MAssa helped to minimise the points differential between Ferrari and McLaren in the constructors’ championship. the way things are looking, 2nd place is the best that Ferrari and McLAren can hope for.

    [Reply]


  24.   24. Posted By: jonrob
        Date: March 29th, 2011 @ 1:55 pm 

    Whilst Jenson finally passed Massa illegally, it was ruled, the footage from Jenson’s car supports his assertion that he was pushed out.
    (though I would love to see that from Massa’s car) Nonetheless we have to accept the stewards ruling, however it is very annoying that Vettel was not punished for overtaking off track twice with all four wheels well over the line, yet not a whisper! I suspect he would still have won, but it would have been a lot fairer.
    (This is not just me, the footage was shown and re-shown on the BBC coverage and discussed at the time)
    The DRS certainly did not seem to give the advantage that had been it’s purpose, or Button would have been past Massa easily, it looked like the McLaren was missing a lot of horsepower, I am beginning to suspect that a close following car with flap open, improves the trailing aero separation for the leading car.

    [Reply]

    Rich C Reply:

    Has anyone considered what happens to the aero of the 3rd or 4th car? The open wing ahead of them must change *their aero somehow.

    [Reply]

    jonrob Reply:

    This is interesting because in theory with the flap open it must lower the turbulence from the main wing, whose upwash is normally shot upwards and replaced by the upwash from the diffuser and from the side vortices but with the top part effectively lowered (or maybe just reduced) any car following one with it’s flap open must be in different turbulence to normal. The three tornadoes which a following car drives into must be changed in some way.

    Of course the teams will have researched this in wind tunnels, but for some of us pedants it would be interesting to hear a detailed technical view from a team aero guy.

    [Reply]

    Phil C Reply:

    The FIA stated that overtaking with wheels off the track at turn four was acceptable. If two cars had gone into it side by side, there would have possibly been no escape, and a big accident. The FIA wanted to cut down the chances of needing the safety car this year. Button did use an escape road to pass Massa!

    [Reply]

    jonrob Reply:

    Thanks Phil C.
    Can you show me where the FIA said this please?
    The same argument could apply in many places, though probably with only two wheels of track.

    [Reply]


  25.   25. Posted By: azac21
        Date: March 29th, 2011 @ 2:43 pm 

    James,
    thanks for the analysis. The graph worths a billion words!

    [Reply]


  26.   26. Posted By: Spark
        Date: March 29th, 2011 @ 3:08 pm 

    James, firstly thanks for the deep dive info on the various strategies. It gives much more insight for coming races.

    There is however one thing that isn’t mentioned anywhere, and that is the way Alonso got passed Massa when Button also got past Massa. Massa just moved over for Alonso.

    I am not being critical on either driver from Ferrari or Ferrari, just being curious. Is it so that Massa is the 2nd driver right from the start of the season? Or has this to do with their qualifying positions like Mika and David did so many years ago? Or was it done because Massa and Alonso were supposed to have different strategies? Can you shed some light on this?

    [Reply]

    Azri Reply:

    Wow, so many variables that you came up with. In my opinion, Ferrari is now behind Fernando, which is a wise decision since he is clearly faster and definitely more consistent. Oh yeah, he is also more ruthless and a bold one too. Remember his pass on Massa at the pit entry last year and his breathtaking pass on Micheal at 130R in 2005? only exceptional drivers do that.

    [Reply]

    Phil C Reply:

    I’m not sure. Alonso was due to stop in a lap or two. Ferrari knew that Button would have to give the place back to Massa, so they got Alonso in front. That way, Button would have to let both cars pass, Alonso could have a bit of free air, pit, and come out ahead of the McLaren after it’s stop.

    It’s just that Button didn’t play ball with that one.

    [Reply]

    MISTER Reply:

    I am a Ferrari fan, but Massa didn’t let Alonso pass. If you look at the GP highlights, you will see that just after Button took the shortcut, Alonso was right behind Massa and tried to pass him but failed in one turn, but got a better exit at the next turn and was able to pass Massa.
    Having said that, Massa didn’t look to make it too difficult for Alonso like he did with Button.
    Just my opinion on that.

    [Reply]


  27.   27. Posted By: devilsadvocate
        Date: March 29th, 2011 @ 3:17 pm 

    I think everyone should pump the brakes a little bit in their fear of one stop races coming back. I doubt RBR and Mclaren are jumping at the reigns to pull a 1stop race to finish 7th and 66seconds off lead. It’s cool that he did it but lets not get so carried away acting like he challenged for the podium. The midfield are probably rightfully worried but those fighting for wins are going to continue doing so with 2 or 3 stops until someone manages a one stopper while challenging for a win. I think everyone needs to calm down about the tires and allow themselves to be surprised.

    [Reply]


  28.   28. Posted By: Russel
        Date: March 29th, 2011 @ 4:07 pm 

    Last year Seb’s car had a problem with the chassis and he struggled with it.

    Webber might have a similar problem and everyone is jumping on him instantly for not performing.

    Good grief!

    [Reply]


  29.   29. Posted By: Red5
        Date: March 29th, 2011 @ 4:14 pm 

    Will be interesting to see how strategy evolves throughout the season.

    All the teams have very limited data available regarding tyre wear coming into the first race.

    It’s good to have you, James, breaking this down to a language fans can understand.

    [Reply]


  30.   30. Posted By: Mark Crooks
        Date: March 29th, 2011 @ 4:19 pm 

    Looking at the graph I’m very impressed with how smooth and rounded Hamilton’s line appears compared to the others, there are very few sharp spikes.

    This to me shows he was trying to be gentle and consistant on the tires and suggests that maybe McLaren were playing it a bit conservative and have a bit more speed under their belt.

    [Reply]

    James Allen Reply:

    And bear in mind he had a broken floor to deal with

    [Reply]

    Shane Pinnell Reply:

    I don’t understand how his floor was able to pass scrutineering after the race. I was under the impression that it was not allowed to flex? I understand the race damage aspect, but what is to prevent a team from engineering a stay that breaks easily but whose result is a performance gain? Is it because there was no appreciable performance gain to be had from dragging the front of the floor around the track?

    [Reply]

    Mark Crooks Reply:

    Well you are assuming that only one factor is taken into consideration at scrutineering AND that a performance gain was somehow made.

    With multiple factors taken into consideration it is easier to understand how the car was able to pass.

    cjf Reply:

    The floor didn’t pass scrutineering, Hamiltons car was the only top 10 finisher excluded from the set of tests that included the skid block measurment (a pdf is available on the fia website detailing post race scrutineering).

    In 1994 Schumacher was disqualified from a race for a damaged skid block as a result of running over a kerb. To my mind running off track is driver error rather than an accident. I think the fia wanted to avoid the fallout that would result from disqualifying Hamilton.

    I wondered about the whole performance gain thing, similarly parts that have broken off can be replaced when the car is weighed so a car could run a race effectivly underweight with any inherant performance advantage and then get the weight added back on later.

    Azri Reply:

    The floor was broken and it slowed him down, so there were no advantages gained. That is why he was not penalized.

    Phil C Reply:

    every time the floor hit the track, the airflow beneath the car to the diffuser would have been interrupted, causing the airflow to ‘stall’ and the car to lose downforce as a result. No performance gain there.

    If a team were to shed parts on purpose, just to run underweight, I think a hefty punishment would follow…

    Chapor Reply:

    The reason why Lewis didn’t have such a great drop off with the broken floor can most probably attributed to the L-shaped side pods. The RBR feeds a lot of the air that flows over the top of the rear diffuser around it’s side pods from the front splitter were as the McLaren gets the main airflow from over the sidepods. If the splitter on the RBR had broken like that, the performance drop off might have been greater. IMHO.


  31.   31. Posted By: Red5
        Date: March 29th, 2011 @ 4:20 pm 

    Looking at the graph, Perez just about made the strategy work.

    Up to lap 22 he was running significantly slower than the rest and was perhaps lucky not to get caught up in traffic or behind Massa….

    [Reply]

    James Allen Reply:

    That’s right

    [Reply]


  32.   32. Posted By: Shane Pinnell
        Date: March 29th, 2011 @ 5:04 pm 

    James, is there any talk about the obviously illegal passes made throughout the race? An example of which was Vettel’s pass on Button. Vettel clearly went off track and yet nothing was done. Surely this will be looked at in the future?

    [Reply]


  33.   33. Posted By: Franko
        Date: March 29th, 2011 @ 5:09 pm 

    Mr Allen a suberb analisis of Melbourne GP.
    10, points,however I still believe Ferrari/
    Allonso will be one to beat.
    If I am corect the fastes laps were done by
    Allonso,Like the qoute by Mr,Pat Fry no
    shooting from the hip,we were not good enough
    it must be improved and it will be done by
    next raound,like the guy like his cnfidance.

    [Reply]

    Shiro Reply:

    That’s because Alonso stopped 3 times and Massa stopped 4 times, McLaren Petrov and Vettel stopped twice.

    [Reply]

    KenC Reply:

    Ever since F1 went to no-refueling, fast laps have lost their meaning, as the times are distorted by a driver taking fresh tires near the end of the race on light fuel. Just look at the lap time trace. Towards the end of the race, everyone was faster. If you slap on fresh tires, you’re going to set fast lap. It no longer has meaning.

    [Reply]

    Azri Reply:

    By stopping more Alonso had the luxury of using fresh tyres more often than the guys in front of him, so basically he was able to push more. But it seems that Ferrari was more harsh on its tyres compared to their rivals, so that really ruins everything. A F1 GP racing is not just about sprinting, its a combination of race strategy, durability, and, sprinting, of course.

    [Reply]


  34.   34. Posted By: Glory Kodzo Dzramedo
        Date: March 29th, 2011 @ 5:15 pm 

    Very good analysis and graph. It made things more interesting and a bit clearer. Keep up the good work. I am sure Malaysia will reveal some suprises as well.

    [Reply]


  35.   35. Posted By: Dan Binns
        Date: March 29th, 2011 @ 5:29 pm 

    I’d echo the comments about the chart of lap-times. It’s really enlightening. I remember Martin Brundle commenting at one point early on that Hamilton had taken 6/10ths out of Vettel on one lap – I think that must have been lap 9, but what’s interesting looking at the chart is that it was a slow lap from Seb rather than a quick one from Lewis. Given that when the tyres go off is going to be an important indicator this year, it would be great if one of the real-time lap-time websites or apps (there are a few now I think) could present the info in a graph like this.

    [Reply]


  36.   36. Posted By: Born 1950
        Date: March 29th, 2011 @ 5:47 pm 

    I’m convinced this RB front wing controversy is going to come back with a vengeance.
    Hamilton is already making noises…

    http://www.planet-f1.com/news/3213/6841380/Hamilton-questions-RBR-front-wing

    Compare these two pics. No wonder Hamilton is suspicious.

    http://www.f1-site.com/wallpapers/2011/f1/australia/practice/melbourne-f1-wallpaper-2011-13.jpg

    http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/vett_redb_melb_2011-32.jpg

    Then look at the video…

    http://www.totalf1.com/full_story/view/371435/How_Red_Bull_passes_the_front_wing_flexing_test/

    [Reply]

    KenC Reply:

    I’ve looked at your links and they look no different than the evidence we saw last season.

    I’m more convinced that ever that it’s the central pylons that are twisting under aero load that leads to much of the bending. Reminds me a bit of a windsurfer sail that twists the leech at the top under heavy load. That also reminds me that Newey was interested in designing America’s Cup sailboats when he was at McLaren. Of course AC boats now use sails that were patterned after ideas seen in high-speed windsurfing.

    Just look at the RBR pylons. They are asymmetric, thicker at the top, narrower at the bottom. Certainly better suited to twisting. It wouldn’t take much, just a millimeter here, a millimeter there, and you’d see much greater differences on the wingplane.

    [Reply]

    Dale Reply:

    Excellent call, yes much can be leant from both sail craft as well as top flight gliders. As usual Newey is ahead of the game but the other will catch up and it’ll take some more FIA rule changes for Newey to move ahead again.

    [Reply]


  37.   37. Posted By: jonrob
        Date: March 29th, 2011 @ 5:52 pm 

    An additional thought to my post above re why DRS was not seen to be working very well for Jenson.
    It could be that with the slot open, (DRS activated) the car was already on the rev limiter, thus in order to utilise the DRS in future teams may have to lengthen the top gear ratio so that a speed greater than the “normal” calculated “flat out on a straight” is possible. This would mean that on other straights the engine is not on the limiter and not at max power (we move into complicated territory here with torque curves vs power curves but the max rpm is set at 18000 in the regs so we cannot go faster without altering the total drive ratio ~(gears plus diff)) However it could be that the max torque was hit 12kph slower than the max power which could be ideal, but then I’m just an old git and it is 30 years since I looked at the relevant graphs and 10,000 rpm was on the edge of explosion.

    [Reply]


  38.   38. Posted By: Mario
        Date: March 29th, 2011 @ 6:00 pm 

    My question is are we seeing F1 become a full scale strategy game?

    It seems that there is still some racing going on, but only as much as it is required by the strategy. Drivers are asked to manage this, save that for the sake of race/season long strategy plan.
    I understand this is part of the game, but with all the resources restrictions and this years fragile tyres on top of that are we going to see the spirit of racing gradually diminish, illustrated by Lewis Hamilton having to learn tyre management skills? Or, is this what racing really is about and I just need to redefine my idea of it?

    [Reply]

    James Allen Reply:

    I think it’s both. We had some good wheel to wheel action on Sunday, battles etc. A few more laps and Alonso would have caught Petrov. F1 is more than cars in circles and it’s also more than numbers on a spreadsheet, the blend of the two is what makes it interesting

    [Reply]


  39.   39. Posted By: Jeroen
        Date: March 29th, 2011 @ 6:09 pm 

    Just on a side note here (hope you don’t mind James). I just saw that Raikonnen is going to race NASCAR in the summer, starting with truck series! I almost fell of my chair, what is he thinking?? I can’t see reasons why he is so desperate to ruin his career. Fine if he just wants a bit of fun and all but NASCAR?, what is wrong with rallying Kimi? Also the americans will very quickly get fed up with his ‘I don’t talk or do PR’ attitude. If there is one country where they don’t accept that distant approach it’s the US. Anyways, good luck Kimi.

    [Reply]

    Rich C Reply:

    Thats just insane. Rallying must be really boring.

    [Reply]

    Aaron95 Reply:

    It’s insane, but it might be fun.

    He’s still doing the rallying, this is presumably just a bit of fun. I think people need to stop hoping Kimi will return to F1. He’s clearly fed up with it and doing things he enjoys instead.

    [Reply]

    Magnus Malmnäs Reply:

    Come on guys imagine to go rallying F1 and nascar. I can imagine it would be a hole lot of fun. Hard to see it would be anything near boring.

    Rich C Reply:

    I your idea of fun is to be dropped into a completely alien world, then maybe so.

    According to reports it’s even be a completely new *team.

    So, brand new team, new ‘cars’, new tracks, new style of racing, new country, new weird fans… a heck of a challenge!


  40.   40. Posted By: Jo Torrent
        Date: March 29th, 2011 @ 6:40 pm 

    Hamilton is loosing his cool once more. Since reaching the 2nd place of the GrandPrix, he starts to brag by suggesting that Alonso is his Alain Prost, which means that he considers himself the Senna of his era.

    Not only that be he suggested that Vettel is barely the Nigel Mansell. He added that Vettel needed the strongest car to win and that he had to lead from the start for that.

    Let me try to translate. In doing so he first and foremost dismissed Webber and mainly Button. His team mate will appreciate.

    Secondly, after hitting at RedBull he launched a bigger attack on Vettel. There’s some jealousy in that as Vettel is the youngest driver to achieve pole, victory and WC. I agree with him in that I see Vettel weaker than both Hamilton and Alonso but he is still growing and not finished yet.
    Besides, even if he is right in what he says, he shouldn’t say it. Maybe his new manager advice is showing.

    Finally, he said what he strives to say for sooooooooo long : he’s the new Senna. Given that nobody suggested it (neither journalists nor team bosses), he couldn’t resist but to say it himself disguising it as a comparison between himself and Alonso.

    [Reply]

    Jean-Christophe Reply:

    Mind games. Just trying to destabilise Vettel and make him try too hard.

    [Reply]

    Jean-Christophe Reply:

    Besides, he chose Senna because he loved Senna. The comparison is in term of rivalry, not quality?

    “Just because of my history, when I started out. I see him as my Prost, if we were Prost and Senna. If you were to say ‘choose a driver’ that I would like to be I would clearly choose Ayrton. And maybe I would put him as Prost,” he added.
    “But is not Vettel his true nemesis now? “I don’t think so. If he continues to have a car like he does now then, maybe, but I think when we get equal pace then we will see some serious racing. Maybe he [Vettel] is the new Mansell? Not that I would rate him like I do Mansell.” Ouch.”

    [Reply]

    drums Reply:

    I agree with J.Torrent. Hammy statement is at least a strange one. In his/her own mind a champion should be unique, shouldn’t it be? Sort of ‘Let the media or the historians to make the comparisons, I’m above that.’

    [Reply]

    Andy C Reply:

    Jo,
    can you point me in the direction of Lewis quotes? I hadnt seen them.

    [Reply]

    drums Reply:

    My apologies for answering to a question adressed to Jo, but I’ve read it in The Guardian: Lewis Hamilton sees fight with Fernando Alonso as new ‘Senna v Prost. 28 Mar 2011: Lewis Hamilton has cast himself as Ayrton Senna in an imagined revival of the brilliant Brazilian’s biggest battle. http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2011/mar/28/lewis-hamilton-ayrton-senna-alain-prost

    [Reply]

    Andy C Reply:

    Many thanks for the link!

    Cheers
    Andy

    Andy C Reply:

    Wow, I just read it. Loved the bit about Vettel being the mansell, not that I rate him as highly as mansell.

    Hilarious ;-)

    I personally dont rate the Hamilton-Alonso anywhere near as bad as the Senna-Prost years. They went for a period of blanking each other than lasted for years.

    I always thought it was fitting however, that they had a bit of a reconciliation just before Imola.


  41.   41. Posted By: malcolm.strachan
        Date: March 29th, 2011 @ 7:08 pm 

    Has everyone in F1 forgotten that most tires tend to last a little longer if they have a heat-cycle on them?

    Any racer on a budget that’s had to buy their own tires definitely knows this, and will usually scrub a set before using them. Gives up that two-lap window of awesomeness in exchange for a longer life of usefulness…

    Perez certainly benefited from that.

    [Reply]

    KenC Reply:

    I thought it was reported in testing that heat cycling the tires did not improve longevity.

    [Reply]

    malcolm.strachan Reply:

    It was also reported that the tires were wearing excessively in testing because they were outside of their proper working temperature. Perhaps once they are inside that window, the effects of heat cycling become more evident.

    [Reply]

    drums Reply:

    Pedro De la Rosa and Marc Gene pointed in La Sexta (Spanish TV) to the same matter, that is, that these Pirellis tend to last a little longer if they have a heat-cycle on them.

    [Reply]

    KenC Reply:

    Okay, but it seemed to me that everyone was using scrubbed tires with a heat cycle in them.

    [Reply]


  42.   42. Posted By: Anand
        Date: March 29th, 2011 @ 7:44 pm 

    OFF TOPIC:

    Read (as in I read ) an article on Red Bull Front Wing Flexing

    http://spontoncristiano.wordpress.com/2011/03/26/ali-flessibili-stagione-2011/

    what is interesting was the contours extracted and superimposed.
    What I am not clear is that why the media is not interested in FW during pre race coverage but wanted to have a look at the rear end which the mechanics are still trying to hide.

    Mclaren have started complaining about the FW flexing as they have sorted out their problems and find themselves behind RB.
    When Ferrari and hopefully Mercedes find pace, they will join Mclaren. I doubt Renault (the F1 team ) joining these teams as Eric does not appear to complain about anything in general. Moreover, Renault supplies engines to Red Bull.

    The solution to this situation is
    1. teams find how this is done
    2. FIA ( personnel) find tests to find flex.

    I find this situation of teams complaining similar to Korea where drivers were complaining over team Radios so that FIA would listen and “ACT”.

    Until someone acts, it will be another Red Bull season.

    [Reply]

    KenC Reply:

    It seems to me simple physics. RBR attaches the winglets to the endplate area of the wings, providing maximum aero leverage at the point furthest away from the center attachment point.

    The other teams have stronger supports on both sides of the winglets, meaning that the aero load is not providing maximum leverage away from the center attachment point.

    If you design your wing to withstand the static load of the FIA test, but not the dynamic aero load which is much higher, then you get bending.

    As for the way the nose seems to droop, perhaps the two central mounting points are designed to twist under load, stiffer carbon towards the front, and less carbon towards the back, so that the flex is a slight twist. Would be nice to see the car clearly under load and no load from the front to see if there is a twist. Most pictures I’ve seen are not comparable since the camera lens length is not the same.

    [Reply]

    Born 1950 Reply:

    I’ve actually written a comment about this topic with some, I think, useful links to photos (supposedly post 36 on this thread) but it’s been sitting there, apparently awaiting moderation, since 5pm yesterday. James?

    [Reply]

    KenC Reply:

    Thanks, I read the posts from the bottom up last night, so I saw post 42 before yours.

    Personally, I don’t think there’s any controversy. The RBR passes the static load test, which arguably, is not stringent enough. The other teams need to follow suit, and it seemed like McLaren was testing this concept when they ran that wingflex measuring device in testing.

    The only argument is one over safety. If a wing were to flex too much and snap. So far, it hasn’t happened.

    MikiG Reply:

    I think it is not related 100% to the aero, because allways only on side of the wing is close to the ground and it is not hapening on the straight line even with higher speed and load.

    [Reply]

    MikiG Reply:

    James,

    the FIA measurement is performed with front wheels in straight position or like the position during the corners? Are they measuring the distance from the ground? Is it possible when the front wheels are turned allowing one side of the front of the car closer to the ground like on the pictures?

    [Reply]

    CartRider Reply:

    Isn’t it funny that we are talking about Red Bull wings? I guess their advertising campaigns are worldwide – what do they say? Red Bull gives you wings? They could use their bending front wing in their commercials!

    [Reply]


  43.   43. Posted By: Darren
        Date: March 29th, 2011 @ 9:54 pm 

    Key things for me,

    Ferraris pace (or lack there of)

    Webbers poor performance

    Sauber

    Petrov & Renault

    Red Bull & KERS

    Does DRS Work?

    Ferrari did not show anything like the pace they have done in testing. I dont think we should be getting too carried away with that though. As James & others have alluded too Melbourne is a very strange track for some reason. Look at 97 & 98 where Williams & Mclaren respectively crushed their opposition in quali, although both times the teams won the championship the margin for the rest of the races was nothing like as big. Ferrari exploited the Button penalty very well, its for reasons like this that team orders should be allowed. Unsporting I hear you say? Well yes but if Mclaren were in the slightest doubt that Button had sinned then he should have given the position straight back. I like to think that Massa let Alonso through on his own without being told to. Thats how team mates operated back in the day, get the rest of them out of the way then we can duel

    Webber has never done well at his home race for some reason, his best result is 5th three times (one of which was on his debut in a Minardi if memory serves). Webber seems to be one of those kind of drivers that if the track does not suit him or if things are not going well he will be fairly anonymous (a la Button Barrichello etc). Theres also the issue that his car is defective, remember Vettel complaining about this last year, when he got a new one he flew. I dont know what to make of this front wing issue, surely Red Bull wouldnt do it again. Although maybe it was done in a better way so Mark didnt spit the dummy this time?

    Sauber
    Good on them, I like their policy of going for two decent young drivers rather than the conservative “better the devil you know” driver policy most of the teams seem to be taking. Im gutted they got disqualified, I hope that the wing wasnt the cause for their good performance and that they can replicate it.

    Renault
    Well done Petrov, although I was not convinced on him either last year im pleased he has managed to stuff it to all the people who rubbished him as a typical pay driver. Not to take anything away from a great drive by him but you have to wonder where that Renault would have been with Kubica behind the wheel…

    Red Bull
    Im surprised everyones making such a big deal about this. We saw in 2009 that KERS did not necessarily make your car faster. When Ferrari & McLaren got their cars sorted out towards the end of the season it started to pay dividends but there was no clear advantage to using it. That said I dont think Melbourne is a KERS track, bigger benefits should be seen next time out.

    DRS
    Inconclusive is my summary. Melbourne is not known for its overtaking. We saw a couple of good overtakes using it, im glad in that the drivers still had to work for it though. I think the “zone” should have been from turn 1 – 3 though as thats a far better overtaking place. Again we will see next time out with some long straights just how well it works.

    Summary
    Not a classic race to start the season. A lot of questions were answered (yes the Red Bull is quick, no the Mercedes is not) but a lot remain unanswered (how good are Williams, they had a scrappy weekend rather than a slow car I think). I cant wait for the next one!

    [Reply]

    glen Reply:

    I suspect if Red Bull continue to race without KERS then in future races there are going to be disagreements about the DRS zone. Red Bull are going to want a DRS zone which disadvantages the KERS & DRS equipped cars.

    [Reply]

    Hisham Akhtar Reply:

    You have to remember they changed the rules to support the use of KERS (like the weight distribution of the cars, etc)…so in theory using it this time has a much bigger benefit than 2009

    [Reply]


  44.   44. Posted By: Tom
        Date: March 29th, 2011 @ 10:54 pm 

    James,

    I find the Ferrari “high tyre wear” situation rather perplexing.

    For a start, it doesn’t fit with what I would consider to be Ferrari’s only problem with tyres over the last few years – the “can we get it up to temperature over a single lap” syndrome.

    Then, there’s the fact that the Sauber is considered the lightest on its tyres (as demonstrated by Perez). The rear end of that car is all Ferrari, including the suspension layout.

    Do you have any further light to shed?

    [Reply]

    James Allen Reply:

    It is perplexing as on Saturday Massa spun because he couldn’t get heat into the tyres. That said, most teams had warm up issues on the hard tyre at the weekend

    [Reply]

    Martin Reply:

    Hi Tim,

    if the tyres are not in the operating temperature range then they don’t have the friction co-efficient. The tyre surface can get hot, but if it just immediately strips off the surface the hot rubber sticks to the road, rather than generating surface temperature. As the overall grip level is less, there is also less load through the sideways, so the heat isn’t generated there either. Less significantly, the brakes cannot be used quite as hard, so less heat would come from these.

    I’m not a tyre expert, but if the Ferrari is an even better version of the Sauber, then this could be the reason.

    Cheers,

    Martin

    [Reply]


  45.   45. Posted By: KenC
        Date: March 29th, 2011 @ 11:37 pm 

    Thanks for the analysis James. I would just point out that the easy-on-the-tires Sauber was also a phenomenon from last season when Kobayashi did some extremely long early stints in a race, and then swapped tires at the very end.

    Ferrari was an interesting case since the drivers complained of not getting heat into the tires, and yet they tore up their tires. Usually setups that don’t generate heat are the ones that are gentle on the tires. They seem to have the worst of both.

    The lap time trace is interesting since it contrasts sharply with the one you put up for the last Barcelona test.

    And lastly, why does Button’s trace not show up in the chart?

    [Reply]

    MISTER Reply:

    Is the other way around my friend.
    Pirreli said their tyres work best when they are at the right temperature. Actually that’s the case with all tyres. That’s why they put heat into tyres before they put them on cars.
    So not getting heat into tyres, means higher degradation.

    Glad to help!

    [Reply]


  46.   46. Posted By: mtb
        Date: March 30th, 2011 @ 12:10 am 

    A couple of things i have just read.

    1. Alguersuari was quoted as saying that buemi drove into Heidfeld on the first lap.

    2. Barrichello wasn’t able to deploy his DRS for the first 12 laps

    [Reply]


  47.   47. Posted By: mtb
        Date: March 30th, 2011 @ 12:54 am 

    Heidfeld’s sidepod after the race.

    http://yfrog.com/h3r8fuej

    [Reply]

    Chapor Reply:

    Woah! That is hectic…

    Thank you, been searching all over for such a picture. At least he didn’t seem to suffer from over heating… lol

    [Reply]

    mtb Reply:

    “he didn’t seem to suffer from over heating”

    Exactly what I was thinking!

    Adam Cooper made some comment about a grenade going off inside!

    It took me a while to find the picture. Eventually this link was provided on the team’s twitter feed.

    [Reply]


  48.   48. Posted By: RickeeBoy
        Date: March 30th, 2011 @ 1:45 am 

    James
    A Superb article and exactly what was wanted.

    Ozzy smooth track – therefore some tracks will have 4/5 changes of tyres. So stop worrying about 1 stops.

    RBR – Has no extra holes for cooling KERS – Its a short, properly weight balanced car without extra length for KERS – It has no KERS and probably won’t have all season. Will KERS bugger your rears ?? .. possibly on rougher tracks.

    Was Seb sandbagging and could he have gone a lot faster if he knew his tyres better. Possibly – ( Astonishing first lap )

    Rookies – Perez showed before the race he is superb but The Pastor did good as well. They showed instant Play Station skills ( concentration and speed ) so it’s about time we had a clear out.

    Could the Toro try a Renault exhaust easily – possibly – and still retain the separate floor – it still did well. I’d expect more from this car with a bit of development as it really has no exhaust help.

    Pleased the Renault did well from a radical solution – brilliant. ( Miss you Robert )

    ONE OF THE BEST YEARS FOR TECHNICAL DIFFERENCES AND ALL SEEM TO WORK FAIRLY WELL – IT’S LIKE CAN-AM OR F1 IN THE 70′S BRILLIANT.

    WHOOPEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

    [Reply]


  49.   49. Posted By: RickeeBoy
        Date: March 30th, 2011 @ 1:59 am 

    James

    Examining the lap times of just Seb and Lewis and Fernando and taking into account the damaged floor. ( Lewis’s are like clockwork as per Fernando. )

    Do you think we could be in for a closer year than was originally envisaged – and just how close.

    [Reply]

    James Allen Reply:

    Red Bull has an advantage, that’s clear. But it’s car is also more developed than the McLaren and Ferrari. I think it will close up, yes. But I also think Vettel is on a roll and will be very hard to beat

    [Reply]


  50.   50. Posted By: Bart
        Date: March 30th, 2011 @ 8:55 am 

    James, is there a lot of talking in the paddock about the flex-wing of Red Bull? It is almost scraping the tarmac, ridiculous if you compare it with McLaren or Ferrari.

    [Reply]

    James Allen Reply:

    Yes

    [Reply]


  51.   51. Posted By: Matt Devenish
        Date: March 30th, 2011 @ 9:34 am 

    James,

    What happened to Hamilton during Vettel’s first pit stop? The F1.com timing screens weren’t working properly, but I was anticipating Hamilton to emerge ahead. Was it that McLaren left him out for too many laps? Because I think pre-stop the gap to Vettel was under 1.5 seconds, but post stop it had increased to +6s. Granted the McLaren stop was slower, but I didn’t think by more than half a second.

    Also have they identified what component failed on the floor and the reason behind it? – was it an off or contact with debris?

    [Reply]

    James Allen Reply:

    He was 1.5s behind on the lap before Vettel’s stop, managing the tyres better at that stage. His lap time on L14 when Vettel pitted was 1,32.984, then on L15 was 1,33.186 (he lost two secs there). His in lap was identical to Vettel’s, but his outlap was over a second slower. Add it all up and that’s the increased gap after the stops.

    [Reply]


  52.   52. Posted By: MISTER
        Date: March 30th, 2011 @ 1:59 pm 

    What’s up with Webber stopping right after finish line? As I remember last year when Hamilton had to push his car back to the pits, he got a fine and people said that was not legal. The car has to have enough fuel to get back into the pits.
    What would stop the rest of the teams to do the same and everybody to stop immediately after finish line?

    I was very very surprised at the comments M Brundle made after the race in regards to the overtake moves which some of the drivers did on the outside of the yellow line. How could the marshals miss that? Martin Bundle is very good at picking up things like that.
    Well done Martin!

    [Reply]

    James Draper Reply:

    I think the fuel rule applies to qualifying. Good memory though that did happen to Lewis last year.

    There is a reason why Martin is where he is I agree.

    [Reply]


  53.   53. Posted By: enzo carrelli
        Date: March 30th, 2011 @ 2:57 pm 

    Hi James. I just saw a headline that James key from Sauber has been fired , can u confirm.
    thanxs
    Enzo

    [Reply]

    Andy C Reply:

    I just saw that on twitter. Surely not!

    Its unconfirmed at the moment though… so may just be internet chatter.

    [Reply]

    Andy C Reply:

    Enzo

    Peter has come out and said its not true by the way. Which is what I was expecting to hear.

    He’s not a man to make rash decisions, so I was very surprised/didnt believe the rumours.

    Regards
    Andy

    [Reply]


  54.   54. Posted By: Magnus Malmnäs
        Date: March 30th, 2011 @ 6:31 pm 

    I just looked at the video on f1technical about the flexing nose cone not just wing on the Red Bull. Clever and interesting could you comment on if its totally legal and if Ferrari is up the same ally and if the others are aware and developing the same solution.
    Love your site and books, keep it up. I miss Kimi.

    [Reply]

    James Allen Reply:

    I’m looking into it

    [Reply]

    Dale Reply:

    Must say James that your site is attracting many true F1 fans, love it.
    Only downside (as I see it) is that you maybe hold back if reporting is likely to upset those you’re closest to such as Vettel’s overtake of Button.
    That said, a great F1 site and a must for any F1 fan

    [Reply]

    Jo Torrent Reply:

    Did you see a nose flexing because I didn’t

    [Reply]

    Rich C Reply:

    *My nose flexes constantly, I am told, but I cant see *it either,

    [Reply]

    Magnus Malmnäs Reply:

    I admit its hard to tell but you can clearly see that the wing parts close to the wheels are moving and since the wing has been tested not to move under pressure more than others it has to be the whole cone or th wing attachments to the cones.Looking on the video it its very hard too tell but any tiny movement between attachment of the whole cone and rest of the body would make a big move out where the wings are. So right now my feeling is that this is the case which explains things and the passing of tests.

    [Reply]


  55.   55. Posted By: Jo Torrent
        Date: March 31st, 2011 @ 12:06 am 

    An interesting photo comparaison between Alonso and Vettel shows that Ferrari is suffring from understeer which explains why it was underperforming and eating its tyres.

    Here’s the link http://spontoncristiano.wordpress.com/2011/03/30/sottosterzo-ferrari-confronto-alonso-vs-vettel-onboard/

    [Reply]


  56.   56. Posted By: CJD
        Date: March 31st, 2011 @ 9:56 am 

    for all the “laptimes junkies” out there, FIA always offers the Timesheets, but only for a short time:

    http://fialive.fiacommunications.com/en-GB/mediacentre/f1_media/Pages/timing.aspx

    have fun

    greetings from Austria
    CJD

    [Reply]

    Dale Reply:

    Excellent post

    [Reply]


  57.   57. Posted By: DeepFlux
        Date: March 31st, 2011 @ 10:30 am 

    Great analysis James! I miss the good ol’ days when you were commentating. The BBC coverage is fine, but it’s becoming a glitz and chum fest, and doesn’t have the same petrol-head die hard fan feel it did on the ITV (despite the annoying adverts). Crofty-Ant are amazing commentators, and my preferred commentary, but I would happily revert to an Allen/Brundle pairing.

    Here’s the reason for my comment. I’d like to echo what Mr C pointed out on sidepodcast in case it has missed your attention as it was a very good point I have never considered before.

    If the Sauber part was not legal, it was also not legal on Saturday and Friday as well. Why isn’t scrutineering done at the start of the weekend as well, to disqualify cars that break the rules instead of only disqualifying them long after the race is over and people think they know the results. As a long term die hard fan I don’t mind the result changing after the event, but I can see how this is very frustrating to many people, especially casual fans who don’t seem to realise this is a technical sport.

    The new enforced team-members-not-allowed-in-the-paddock-at-night rules (with 4 exceptions) mean that the cars are completely alone and unworked on for large chunks of time during the weekend. Surely this is an ideal time to do scrutineering and filter out any illegal cars at the earliest opportunity before they start the race, and long before the illegal cars finish the race in headline positions.

    Obviously scrutineering still needs to be done after the race in case there are components that wear down to give an advantage, or in case damage makes a car illegal, but that process may be made simpler by the fact that scrutineering has already been done earlier in the weekend.

    It seems blatantly obvious and very positive step. I don’t know how we can bring this to the attention of the powers -that-be, but bringing it to the attention of journalist like yourself and trying to promote discussion amongst fans is a start I guess.

    [Reply]


  58.   58. Posted By: mtb
        Date: March 31st, 2011 @ 2:53 pm 

    One of the ironies of events in Melbourne is that the same people who criticised Massa for moving aside for Alonso in Germany last year are now criticising him for defending his position in Melbourne this year.

    [Reply]

    Damian J Reply:

    I don’t see that criticism at all and certainly not from me!

    But interesting that Massa has fallen into the traditional Ferrari no 2 drover role of becoming a patsy.

    [Reply]

    mtb Reply:

    You are clearly an exception!

    As for “the traditional Ferrari no 2 drover role of becoming a patsy”, perhaps you should read up on the manner in which Enzo managed his drivers.

    It will be interesting to see how long it will be before the pecking order becomes apparent at some of the teams which always gloat that they don’t have no.1 and no.2 drivers? Of course, some teams like to use the term “third driver” instead of “reserve driver” – this implies that such teams have a number 1 and number 2 driver!

    [Reply]


  59.   59. Posted By: Frankie
        Date: March 31st, 2011 @ 3:34 pm 

    The most important factor we saw in Melbourne were that the Pirelli’s lasted far longer than predicted at the start of the season.

    That Vettel with all his massive lap advantage could not shake off a damaged Hamilton, because of the difference between how the two cars handled the tyres.

    The main point from Perez comes in the possibilities should tyre degradation become far worse. The strategy of a top car starting on hards would make a lot of sense as it means those starting on softs would emerge back in the pack and that with a rubbered in track you would more than likely get away with 2 stops rather than 3.

    [Reply]

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