A deep dive into race strategies from F1 Malaysian Grand Prix
Insight
A deep dive into race strategies from F1 Malaysian Grand Prix
Strategy Report
Posted By: James Allen  |  12 Apr 2011   |  9:17 am GMT  |  167 comments

As in Melbourne the renewed importance of race strategy was highlighted in Malaysia on Sunday. The tyre degradation was much worse than Melbourne and so reacting and making quick decisions and correct decisions was vital.

“A lot of it is getting the strategy right, which is up to the team but also the driver,” said Jenson Button after the race. How right he was.

Places won and lost at start (Red Bull)


But tyres weren’t the only strategic consideration; the adjustable DRS wing and the difference between cars with KERS and those without was also a far more significant factor in the way the racing played out than in round one. With Sepang’s long straights, it was relatively easy to overtake, especially for cars with KERS and this contributed to strategic thinking.

With the data from Melbourne to work from, the strategy for Malaysia worked out pretty much as the simulators said it would. We had a mix of two, three and four stop strategies. Those doing four stops like Mark Webber, used five sets of tyres in the race, when the total allocation for qualifying and race is six sets.

The total time for a pit stop was just 21 seconds, which is 7 seconds less than Melbourne. So if you could run unimpeded then three stops was the fastest way to go in Sepang. But only race winner Sebastian Vettel really had that luxury. For most other drivers, making three stops inevitably meant coming out of the pits in traffic at some point. Being able to overtake a car on older tyres was crucial at such moments to making the strategy work and we saw a lot of that, for example Hamilton on Petrov on lap 26.

The three podium finishers all did subtle variations on the same strategy with three stops, using soft tyres for the first three stints and then hard tyres for the final stint. This was the winning strategy, but there were plenty of significant variations.

At its hottest the track temperature was 54 degrees on Friday and that did two things; it skewed people’s attitudes towards tyre degradation, pushing some of them into planning shorter stints and more pit stops and it also made them believe that the hard tyre wouldn’t last much longer than the soft and that it was a second a lap slower. However Mark Webber’s long run on Saturday morning provided a counter argument for those willing to gamble on making a set of hard tyres last 18 laps or more.

Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi managed to do the race with just two stops, making a set of soft tyres last 19 laps and a set of hards last 20 laps. Williams was also planning two stops for both its cars. To contemplate it you needed to be able to do a minimum of 18 laps on a set of tyres. Not everyone can do that.

Hamilton confers before race (McLaren)


Lewis Hamilton: Team Strategy decisions questioned

Lewis Hamilton questioned some of his McLaren team’s decisions after the race. He felt that he was brought in prematurely for some of his stops and it contributed to him being forced to make a fourth stop, at his request, just four laps from the end. Had he been able to stay out a little longer on his first two stints, that could have been avoided. The team argued that he used up his tyres in pushing hard in the opening phases of the race to catch Vettel. It shows how finely balanced the decision making is and how an extra couple of laps on the early stints can make all the difference at the end of the race.

Hamilton was also the victim of a slow pit stop on lap 37, which cost him a place to his team mate Jenson Button. What could have been a second place ended up being 8th place.

Hamilton lost a place at the start to Nick Heidfeld. He was unable to repass as the Renault had the fastest car through the speed trap.

Running third in the opening stint he pitted relatively early on lap 12. He took a second set of soft tyres at this point and managed to undercut Heidfeld, who stopped two laps later. Now in second place, Hamilton began closing on race leader Vettel, bringing the gap down from 9 seconds to 3.9 seconds by lap 23. The team appear to have felt that he took too much out of the tyres in this quest, which hurt him later. One could argue also that it was a vain quest anyway, as Vettel was clearly not pushing his car at all and could have gone faster whenever he needed to. But Hamilton is a racer and that’s the way he chose to play it.

Still catching Vettel he came in for his second stop on lap 24, prematurely he felt and looking at the lap times you’d have to agree. He was put on the hard tyre.

Why did they do this? Several reasons; Hamilton had flat spotted a set of soft tyres in qualifying, so had less soft tyres available than others. But also the team was looking at the example of Adrian Sutil in the Force India, who was running on hard tyres at this point and was going slightly faster than team mate Paul di Resta who was on softs.

Also for those who noticed it, Webber had done a long run on hard tyres on Saturday morning which was very fast. So the hard maybe wasn’t such a bad idea.

It was clear that Hamilton was trying to make a three stop plan work, but he lost time at that second stop and then struggled with the balance of the car on hard tyres and started losing ground. A collision with Fernando Alonso damaged the floor of the car. Having pitted on lap 37 he felt unable to make his hard tyres last 19 laps to reach the finish. Although he was lapping in the 1m 43s, he felt that he had to stop again and in doing so he lost track positions to Heidfeld, Webber, Massa and Alonso. A costly decision.

In contrast Button managed to make his set of hard tyres last 18 laps and they were still fast at the end.

One of four for Webber (Red Bull)


Mark Webber: Zigging while the others zag

Mark Webber did something different from the rest in Melbourne; stopping three times when the winning call was two stops. In Malaysia he was at it again, despite driving the fastest car in the field. So why is he having problems with strategy while team mate Vettel is cruising at the front?

In Melbourne it was down to him being harder on the tyres than Vettel. In Sepang there was more to it. Webber’s race was compromised by a poor start due to a clutch problem and then no KERS to help him. Once they hit 100km/h after the start (the point at which they can use KERS) the cars behind him shot past; Massa, Alonso, Heidfeld, Petrov and Schumacher. From third on the grid he was ninth on the opening lap and 10th on lap three when Kobayashi passed him.

Without KERS to help him pass cars, he and his engineer were forced to think outside the box. If they did the same as everyone else, went the thinking, they would end up ninth. So they decided at the end of lap one to switch from a three to a four stop strategy. This allowed him to push hard in four of the five stints; he lost a lot of time in the opening stint behind Kobayashi, who was two seconds a lap slower than the leader, Vettel. Such is the pace of the Red Bull however that, once in clear air, Webber was able to progress.

It paid off in the sense that he was able to recover and finish fourth. The strategy, giving him either clear track to run on or new tyres with which to pass cars after his stop, helped to get him ahead of Kobayashi, Schumacher, Petrov and Massa. He pulled off some great moves on new tyres. But he was also helped by Hamilton and Alonso’s problems.

Kamui Kobayashi: Sauber makes tyres last again

Kamui Kobayashi pulled off quite a feat on Sunday. He managed to be racy, overtaking cars in spectacular style, whilst at the same time managing to make his tyres last long enough to get away with a two stop strategy. And that was quite impressive.

Mindful of Sergio Perez’ performance in Melbourne , where he gained track positions by stopping only once, it was in the minds of a number of teams to do the minimum and stop twice in Sepang. The tyre degradation was too severe to contemplate one stop. The lap times would drop off suddenly and that would be costly. Kovalainen, Glock and Alguersuari managed it, but the most effective was Kobayashi who got a 7th place finish from a 10th place start.

However this was more of a survival strategy by Kobayashi than anything else. Looking to go to lap 17 on his first set of soft tyres his pace was not great in the opening stint. On the soft tyre again in the middle stint he was racing against Michael Schumacher, who was on a three stopper. Kobayashi did well to make his final set of hard tyres last 20 laps. He made it work and got ahead when Schumacher made his third stop. He also gained a place when Lewis Hamilton was penalised after the race.

Graph 1 – Race History showing gaps behind leader The zero line is simply the race winner’s average lap time (total race time divided by the number of race laps). This is why his curve can go above the line if he’s lapping faster than his average, and below the line if he’s slower than his average or doing a pitstop.

Graph 2 – Leading car lap times- note steep drop off at end of stint

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167 Comments
  1. Daniel says:

    Very nice read.

    I think Nick heidfeld joining Sauber last year after being pirelli test driver has to do with the Team ability to conserve the tyres. First Perez,now Kobayashi, no brainer here.

    Lewis race was ruined, somehow, in Q2. Correct me if i’m wrong, all the front runners had one set of fresh hards except Lewis.In Q2 while the front runners only used softs. Lewis did his first time lap on hards but had to do another lap on softs and flat spotted them. he wasted 2 sets of tyres in Q2.

    It was a nice race! Bring on China!!

    1. BA says:

      Hamilton’s race was also ruined by Vettel making two defensive moves at a time entering first corner (without being penalised).

      1. devilsadvocate says:

        looking at overhead shots that follow Vettel all the way from the line, what he did was actually genius (albeit a little bit low). When he starts the first direction he goes straight out of his starting box making the smallest twitch to the right and then holding that course, he allows Hamilton to get into his tow and then holds perfectly still but all the while his line is taking him way inside for the first corner. When Hamilton jumps out of the tow Seb makes his one and only defensive move which is sort of a reverse chop, an abrupt and aggressive move to the left which then puts him perfectly on the racing line for corner entry, Hamilton could not fully take advantage of his tow at this point because he would have hit Heidfeld.
        Strictly speaking it was legal because the bobble to right was almost immediately after he started and could be explained as wheelspin or any number of things other than a defensive move (all things which make penalties difficult to apply), he was significantly helped by the grid position putting pole on the inside, that way he doesnt have to move onto the line and defend, he can do both with one move. The move to the right looked so much because such a small twitch at the start dragged all the way to the end of the pit straight actually had him halfway over the pit exit line, but if you look very carefully he doesnt change steering angle at all, the line on pit exit just gives a reference point to see how much his initial move on the startline had affected his trajectory but he doesnt actually make another move. Again, its really quite brilliant, in a slightly dirty Schumacheresque way, if that was his intention because he basically pulled Hamilton way off the racing line and then waited. I bet Hamilton was smiling ear to ear the whole way down the straight in the tow and smelling champagne the whole way and the “bam”

    2. wayne says:

      Yes, interesting if frantic race!

      Honestly, (and this from a devoted LH fan) I wonder if Hamilton came in for that last stop out of sheer petulance to ‘punish’ his team for their ‘bad’ decisions. I have wondered this from the moment Whitmarsh said the stop was Lewis’ idea. It was like Lewis was trying to make a point.

      As for the rest, it is clear that the idea touted before the season that qualifying and therefore track position would not be so important this year is completely wrong in at least one regard. Pole Position is as important as ever (as indeed it should be), I’m not so sure Vetell would have won either of these two races had he not started from Pole. I also think that Ferrari have the race pace to challenge but are nerfed by quali. For me, track position is still king.

      1. Lockster says:

        Having previously won and lost WDC’s on the basis of 1 point difference over an entire season, I think Lewis knows the value of every point better than most.

        I really can’t see him deliberately making a stop which loses him race positions just to prove a point or to punish the team…

      2. alex says:

        Pole is very important. Senna won 29 from Pole. :)

      3. Ade says:

        I sometimes get the idea that Hamilton can be petulant and throw his toys. His interview afterwards was almost like a teenager rather than an F1 driver…

    3. OldIron says:

      Just wondering, how much are fresh soft tyres worth (for their peace in the race)? Red bull and Mclaren both used 2 soft sets in Q3 – would it prolong their life in the race to keep them fresh (enough to be worth the risk of slipping down a grid slot or two)?

  2. iceman says:

    I don’t understand the “gaps behind the leader” graph. Why does it show Vettel as between -10 and -30 seconds when he was leading the race? What was he 10-30 seconds behind?

    1. Gavin says:

      I think Graph one is actually a seconds behind average fastest lap graph

    2. Born 1950 says:

      I would guess that the ’0′ line is the average fastest lap time based on the lead car’s speed. This means that Vettel drops behind his own average each time he makes a pit stop. He finally catches up with his average again at the very end.

      I’d be interested to know whether I’ve guessed correctly.

    3. Mee says:

      He was 10-30 seconds behind his own average lap time (*56).

      He would be bang on the zero-line if he drove 56 laps with the same laptime. However, after his first pitstop he is 30 seconds behind his “ideal” time, but he makes that up in the following stints. The steeper the angle of the lines, the faster he goes.

      This gives a slightly difficult view of his laptimes (but you can clearly see he was a lot quicker in his last stint than in his first), hence the second graph with the lap times.

      This graph gives a very clear image of the difference between the drivers though, you just have to bear in mind that the zero-line is always the line when a driver drives a whole race at the same rate.

      Here’s an example (from a simulator) without a pitstop: http://tinyurl.com/5t62qwe
      Here the leaders lapped more or less at the same rate, so they are very close to the zero-line.

      1. Gavin says:

        Haha Sim Racing, that’s where I know this graph from too. A couple of leagues I’ve been involved in use it.

      2. Mee says:

        A friend in our league made the software for those ;).

    4. iceman says:

      Thanks everyone, that makes sense.

    5. James Allen says:

      The zero line is simply the race winners average lap time (total race time divided by the number of race laps). This is why his curve can go above the line if he’s lapping faster than his average, and below the line if he’s slower than his average or doing a pitstop.

      1. BurgerF1 says:

        If the zero line is Vettel’s average lap time, including pit-stops, then why does his laptime trace spend so many laps below zero then above it?

        I would’ve expected the zero line to be in the middle of his trace approximately (i.e. the definition of average).

  3. Luke A says:

    Hi James,

    It’s like you say with Hamilton, when he pitted around lap 23 to change to hard tyres, it didn’t make much sense, he was lapping faster than anyone and had not had any notable drop off at that point in time, suggesting he could keep on pounding out fastest laps.

    I think the reason they really pitted him is they thought they might be able to undercut Vettel by pitting Lewis earlier on to a new set of tyres.

    This was a bit of a mistake because Lewis was just no where on the hard tyres, but during his first stint on them, he was OK, I think the fatel error then came when they pitted him for his 2nd set of hard tyres way too early. This left him a 20 or 21 (more than Jenson actually) lap stint to do on his final set of hards, which were clearly badly damamged from the word go, seeming as he was 2 seconds off the pace.

    Hopefully McLaren will learn from this, but what is also apparent is that Lewis would have been better off just going for one run on soft tyres in Q2, like Jenson did, thus preserving a unused set of hard tyres for the race. If you remember, Lewis ran on hard tyres at the beggining of Q2, which was kind of pointless, when he had to run on softs to get into Q3, due to the huge time difference in the compounds.

    It just goes to show how important new sets of tyres for the race can be, when you’re pitting 3 or 4 times.

    1. Jo Torrent says:

      Why what you called fatal error didn’t cost Button who stopped one lap earlier than Hamilton in the 2nd pit stops ?

      1. Jonny White says:

        Jo,

        Luke said the fatel error was “when they pitted him for his 2nd set of hard tyres way too early”, i.e. his 3rd stop, which was one lap BEFORE Button, and crucially took over 3 seconds longer than button’s subsequent stop a lap later, thus enabling Button to jump ahead without passing him on the track.

        Button, up until this point in the race, whilst on the same tyre, had not been quicker than Hamilton at any point in the race. Indeed Button was at best only a couple of tenths quicker whilst on the option tyre and Hamilton was on his first set of primes.

        James, have you heard any rumours as to why Hamilton was so slow on his second set of primes – was it merely because they had been used previously in either free practice 3 or qualifying?

      2. Luke A says:

        Jenson pitted for his last set of tyres (hard) either 1 or 2 laps after Lewis. Also, it was quite obvious that when Lewis went onto his 2nd set of hard tyres at that stop, that they were in very bad condition from the word go and he didn’t go off track or lock up, so no, don’t turn around and say “he must have destroyed them straight away”. The team are allowed to inspect the tyres, so they must have known that they weren’t in great knick, whereas Jenson had a brand new set of hard tyres!

      3. Luke A says:

        What I love is when Jenson ruins his tyres, which he often does, no one mentions it or brings it up, but then when he does a good long stint on tyres, everyone is going crazy about it. It is the exact opposite for Hamilton who often manages his tyres better than Jenson, but then the few times his tyres go off, he gets tons of stick. No wonder he gets annoyed about it and the press asking him constant questions about his tyre management.

    2. Sossoliso says:

      If a driver is doing 20 odd laps in Quali, with all sorts of trye combinations, it gives one the impression there is no “PLAN” at McLaren during Quali? Is ist just a free for all? Did Leis not have a Plan of SAction ith his Engineers during Quali or as he allwoed to do whatever he liked? Sounds Like Chaos to me and JB could have fallen into the same trap if he had not held back I suspect.

      1. Luke A says:

        I agree, the team shouldn’t have let him run that set of hard tyres in Q2. Big mistake – hopefully they’ll learn for the future.

    3. James Draper says:

      He put hards on lap 36, suspect a typo.

      1. Luke A says:

        I think you are referring to when he put his 2nd set of hard tyres on (lap 36/37). I think he did soft, soft and then pitted for hard tyres on lap 23/24.

        The point is that when he pitted on lap 23/24 he was the fastest guy on the track, only 3 odd seconds behind Vettel, catching him every lap and his soft tyres had shown no signs of degradation! So what James says about his team saying he took too much out of those softs on that stint is a load of rubbish, im afraid. Not you James – I mean if the team said that.

        When he came in on lap 36/37, his tyres were again showing no significant signs of drop off and that then left him 20 laps to do on his final set of hard tyres, which clearly from the go, were not in good condition.

        Everyone has gone on about how Jenson managed 19 laps on hard tyres, but that was a brand new set.

  4. Jonathan says:

    Please could you explain the “gap behind leader” graph? Given that there is always a leader, I’m struggling to understand why on laps 12-53 there is nothing on the “0″ line. For example, on lap 42 Vettel is at “-30″… what is this time difference compared to?

  5. Henry says:

    Great analysis; very interesting, thank you!

    Loved Kobayashi’s drive – the best thing about him is that despite making very brave overtakes and sometimes dangerous moves, he nearly always manages to make them without crashing into people. Its rare that you hear another driver after the race complaining about one of his moves, he never gets too aggressive, just hard and fair. Great to watch. Managing that aggressive driving without ruining those tyres is testament to both his and his engineers skills!

  6. Jonathan Powell says:

    Hi James,
    This isnt in relation to the article but can you please tell me what DRS stands for as ive been trying to find out but have had no luck?

    Thanks for all the great info and reports as usual over the weekend.

    Keep up the great work,
    Jonathan

    1. Born 1950 says:

      I wonder how many people will now reply ‘drag reduction system’?

      I prefer ‘the flap’ — I hate TLAs.

      1. Matt Cheshire says:

        The irony was probably lost there- but DRS is initials rather than an acronym- unless you try to pronounce it as “doctors”.

        But some may get that confused with “fixing”?!

        Before F1 hijacked it, DRS was Disaster Recovery System. Maybe that’s what Webber had.

    2. Henry says:

      Drag Reduction System

    3. Dan says:

      DRS = Drag Reduction System

    4. jonrob says:

      Drag Reduction System. or “The Flap!!!”

    5. Jonathan Powell says:

      Cheers guys, thanks for the replies.

  7. **Paul** says:

    RE: Webber “If they did the same as everyone else, went the thinking, they would end up ninth. ”

    Absolutely disagree ;) With no KERS this strategy relies on Mark being able to overtake more cars not less as you don’t have track position, and with no KERS track position becomes important! Given that Alonso, Petrov and Hamilton all had issues and gave places away Mark could have taken an easy podium on three stops had the tyres allowed it. Mark wasn’t dropped into clean air very much during this race.

    I would suggest that given this is the second race running where we’ve seen him comment very early on about rear grip degrading that tyre wear on the car wearing number 2 is higher than a lot of it’s peers and this highly influenced the four stop decision.

    1. devilsadvocate says:

      Given 4 stops instead of 3 statistically your tires are always newer than the rest of the field which in overtaking is a bigger boost than KERS and DRS combined.

      1. Sossoliso says:

        4 is better than 3 as long as you are running out in Front and much faster than everyone else.. Like Schumacher used to do in the yester years. Being Stuck behind someone while planning to do an extra pit stop sounds like a plot from the Marx Brothers.

      2. Landon says:

        Precisely, and with red bull having the fastest pit stops by a long ways, it’s easy to see how AMW could make this pay off.

  8. tank says:

    I love this site. Fantastic work.

    1. Jonny White says:

      Same here!

  9. This is a great strategic look of the race. I have a question: What is the rules of the tire usage of the race? Do the drivers allowed just six set of tires during qualify and race? It says: ‘A further eight sets will then be at their disposal for the rest of the weekend, although one set of each specification must be handed back before qualifying’ in the rule book. So isn’t it eight set of tires or do i misunderstand the rule?

  10. DonSimón says:

    Legendary datasets. Thankyou so much for this

  11. jmv says:

    I am puzzled about something at mclaren, James, maybe you could clarify:

    Why is Hamilton ordered by the team to come in prematurely for a stop… while it seems that they were praising Button for doing almost 19 lap (on the hard tire)?

    Is it (praising Jenson) because it was the end of the race? And he managed quite the unthinkable?

    But then it sounds like Jenson has more to say about pitting than Lewis?

    We saw this in Melbourne last year as well. Can it be confirmed that Jenson gets more slack for making his own choices, while Lewis does not (because maybe earlier experiences where it went wrong…i.e. his calls were not correct?)

    Although China 2007 was rather the team’s call.. I dont know about other experiences. Turkey 2007?

    Is there a pattern in Lewis having a slight more need for ‘pit-choice-care’ by the team?

    1. MISTER says:

      I like Lewis and wish he would’ve done better, but he did not show too often he can make good decissions. For example he asked for a 4th pit stop with 3-4 laps to go? Why? At that time he was in 3rd place. Unfortunately atm I don’t know the gap to 4th, 5th & 6th place and how much slower he was compared to those behind him.
      After the contact with Alonso, he did not seem to be dropping alot in times and McLaren said the pressure in his rear right tyre was ok. At that time I thought he could finish on those tyres and get a better position then 7th.

      1. Stewart says:

        Im pretty sure Lewis was In 4th before the pit stop due to running wide at a corner, I assume this was due to tyre ware, it looked to me like he had no other choice at that moment

    2. Russel says:

      Seems Lewis ALWAYS complains about his teams strategy and they should let him make his own calls and see how good that works for him, IE he would be pitting every five laps.

      I don’t know how many times I’ve heard him tell his team the tires are going off, the team tells him to stay out, then he sets faster laps, on tires that had gone off.

      Let him make his own calls and then bitch about that as well!

    3. nick says:

      Yes I wondered about that too. Hamilton does appear to go along with the team’s decisions without question, then throw his toys out of the pram when they’re shown to be wrong. Whereas you get the impression JB takes a more active role in the decision making process. He is a much more experienced driver I suppose.

  12. Born 1950 says:

    It’s becoming clear to me that one of the benefits of being in pole and pulling out a lead at the start is that the leading driver is able to lessen tyre degradation, producing a virtuous circle where he should be able to reduce the necessity to stop for a tyre changes and thus be able to stretch his lead and further limit tyre degradation.

    For a chasing driver the reverse is true — he gets involved in attempts to overtake and defend and consequently increases tyre degradation, thus needing to stop prematurely for tyre changes.

    Vettel was an example of the former and Hamilton was an example of the latter — though in qualifying they were both very closely matched on pace.

    Perhaps Button did well because he managed to pace himself and keep away from the other cars most of the time so as to travel in clean air?

    1. Andy C says:

      Thats one of the things JB appears to be able to do, pace himself and leave enough of the tyres at the end of a stint.

    2. Jo Torrent says:

      no it’s only a matter of speed. Hamilton and Button had exactly the same strategy with only one lap difference in pit stops. The difference is the speed.

      1. Jonny White says:

        they did not have the same strategy, as Button had an additional set of option tyres whilst Hamilton’s alternative was a set of used primes.

        Consequently, the plan for Hamilton was to go:
        Option – option – prime – used prime.

        Button: option – option – option – prime.

        For me, it doesn’t matter if it’s Pirelli tyres, Bridgestones, or wheelbarrow tyres, Lewis Hamilton is innately faster than Jenson Button, but as circumstances can dictate, this will not always equate to Hamilton beating Button in a race – although IMO he will more often than not.

        If I needed rushing to hospital I know who I would want driving the ambulance, and, whilst I like Button, I know which one of them it is I get up at 6am on a Saturday and Sunday to watch!

      2. lee says:

        Absolutely right Johnny – Lewis is the faster driver of the two. I dont think that need much debating – and of course Jenson is fine driver too not just as fast as Lewis. And there will be races where things would just go all wrong for you and I think Malaysia was one for Lewis and other races everyhting will fall into place. As with any sports, you need a bit luck now and again to triumph.

    3. iceman says:

      Very true about Button’s race. His reaction to being passed by Alonso is a good example of that I think. On the lap he was passed, he dropped about 2s behind Alonso, and he dropped back so quickly that the commentators speculated he might have a problem. But the next lap he was straight back on Alonso’s pace and maintained the gap. I guess he’d just decided to give himself some clear air, preserve the tyres and play the long game. Which worked out very well in the end as we saw.

    4. jmv says:

      I wonder if there is any similarity in Senna’s style of racing from pole… always using the first laps to build a gap and then from there to control. While Prost was saving the best for last.

      I wonder if the same rules to racing from the 80s apply here as well. Was tire-degradation also as high as now?

      If so, then add to the equation that back in the days there was no devices to control the spin (diffs etc) and add to that the turbo engines… 1000+ bhp to control.

      And on top of that conserving fuel by minimizing turbo usage.

      The 80s rocked in terms of asking the right stuff from drivers. Plus on top of that 3 pedal operators.. vulnerable gearboxes..

  13. Jo Torrent says:

    I have a question James. What is confusing about this race ?

    As far as I can tell nothing. From the cars fighting for points only Kobayashi went for 2 stops. Most people people chose 3 stops with the exception of Webber due to traffic and Hamilton due to killed set of tires.

    Of course, compared to last year’s single pit-stop it’s busier but nothing new in the horizon in terms of creative strategies or whatever.

  14. Jo Torrent says:

    I think that the FOM should help us understand pit stops now that it’s busier down the pit lane. In the same way they’re showing gap between drivers and lap times, at the end of a series of pit stops they should display how much time every-driver spent in the pitlane in order to help us understand who lost or gained in the process and which team is the most efficient in that task.

    With the way it is done now, we have the pit time of the driver shown exiting the box only. That piece of information is worthless if not compared to the drivers fighting against him.

    Even with F1 live timing iphone or pc, you can’t figure it out, so the FOM should spend a bit more on bringing more relevant informations to the tv viewers.

    1. Jonny White says:

      Very true and with these new regs it is a crucial piece of information which is presently missing.

      Since the ban on refuelling my own impression is that the Mercedes crew generally seem to be the quickest, Vettel nearly always gets a better deal of it than Webber, and Button has benefited directly on a couple of occasions from botched Hamilton pit stops.

      We could also do with an onscreen graphic of which tyre each driver is on, as at present, with the current markings of the Pirelli tyres it is very difficult to make out – particularly the primes.

      1. marc says:

        I believe Pirelli is working with FOM on some form of graphic or feed to enlighten us or the commentators on the type of tyre each driver is on

  15. Jo Torrent says:

    James, do you think from his lap times that Kobayashi would have had a better race with 3 stops or not.

  16. BMG says:

    Great article James, I thought Hamilton and Alonso came together more because of the pressure Webber was putting on Alonso, at that time Webber was 2 seconds a lap faster and would have been challenging him in a lap or 2 . Alonso may have felt that he needed to get passed Hamilton, who at time was holding him up.

    1. jmv says:

      i was also rubbing hands for a huge fight for third place

  17. Chris Kerr says:

    James, an excellent read as per usual.

    Just out of interest, with the recent talk about KERS adding to tyre degradation, do we know as a percentage per lap what the KERS system reduces in terms of grip?

  18. Jo Torrent says:

    The argument that Hamilton had a poor race due to early pit-stops is an inappropriate argument because if you compare his pit stops to those of Button there’s only one lap gap between them on every occasion & as team mates they can’t pit on the same lap.

    12/13 24/23 37/38 52/*

    In those 3 pit-stops Hamilton spent 3,2s more in the pit-lane than Button due to that problem in the 3rd stop. Hardly anything that can wreck a race.

    The real difference between them was how hard Hamilton punished his tyres on Saturday and how good was Button on the primes on Sunday.

    The last pit-stop of Hamilton is a mistake in my view because with 22s in the pitlane and 4 laps to go Hamilton had to have a pace drop of 5,5 seconds per lap at least to make his pit stop relevant which he didn’t have.

    I think that the decision which was his call was more due to his anger with the situation than anything else. What surprised me then was why did the team accept to yield and let him in ?

    1. OldIron says:

      Well, Ham pitted second (of the two) on the second round of stops (despite apparently going perfectly well on those tyres). He could have delayed that stop, Jens had pitted already.

      Curiously, he fitted (new) hard tyres at that stop, then managed two laps less than Jens (again, apparently going perfectly well; was that stop necessary?)

      The next set was the big disaster – very slow right from the beginning, and wore out quickly. Does this point to something Jens alluded to afterwards, that in trying to be gentle with them you risk destroying them even faster?

    2. javanutsy says:

      Excellent point re: Hamilton’s last pit stop. I’d like to know the answers as well.

    3. Axu says:

      Great observation on Hamilton’s last 4 laps, Jo.

      1. Jonny White says:

        He had just gone off the track the previous lap and done a 1:51, and even without an off, as the tyres had “gone off the cliff”, he was probably not going to do better than 1:47′s. He pitted, and did the last 4 laps in the 1:41s, thus saving approximately 24 seconds – i.e. a few seconds more than the additional pit stop.

        That said, I think there was an element of making a point to the team, and either way, IMO, he would not have finished any higher than 7th (8th with the penalty added on).

        I wouldn’t be surprised if from now on, especially now his Dad is back alongside him, Hamilton starts to be more proactive with strategic decisions – it is the one facet he is presently missing in comparison to the likes of Schumacher, Alonso and Button, and lets face it McLaren have already cost him one championship by not listening to the driver and taking too much notice of their computers!

  19. Martin says:

    With Hamilton, on his fourth set of tyres he had gone off the road giving up a place to Webber, so it is possible that this contributed to his view that he needed new tyres if he was giving up places and risking a race-ending crash.

  20. Jo Torrent says:

    Another Ferrari weakness : PIT STOPS
    *******************************

    Lewis Hamilton had a problem during a pit stop. Alonso had none yet the spaniard spent 0,3s more in the pit lane more than Hamilton after 3 pit stops. He spent 3s more than Button or Vettel 4s more than Webber. We’re only talking about the Ferrari with straightforward pit stops here.

    Ferrari wasn’t particularly sharp in this exercise last year and doesn’t seem to be addressing the issue till now.

    Another weakness in the Ferrari armor to add to the qualifying. The armor is starting to look like a strainer !

    1. Speed F1 says:

      Ferrari’s issue with pit lane has been going on for a few years now. Kimi suffered heaps in his 3 years & massa basically lost the only opportunity to win the WDC partly because of the pit lane performance. This season so far their performance is not bad except the time delay is really hurting the drivers.

  21. Jack says:

    I’m loving these graphs James, really fascinating, although it is quite a lot of information to take it at once. Is there perhaps a sort of interactive version where you just select which drivers you want displayed? Great blog though.

    1. Jo Torrent says:

      +1

      1. João Hornburg says:

        +1

    2. Stevie P says:

      Yep, great stuff!! On the first graph, you can really see how Vettel paced himself to whoever was in 2nd spot and how much Button and Webber both pushed from roughly lap 41 onwards… those two and Seb have the steepest lines :-)

      In a lot of cases, “pictures” are much easier to understand than lots n lots of words… however, the breakdown (as ever), with hindsight, is good.

  22. Speed F1 says:

    Well so far it seems to be more luck than making strategic decisions effectively. There was a time when the tyre wear was more or less the same for everybody. Back then the team bosses, race engineers and the drivers together used to make great decision about how much fuel they should have and use un various circumstances. Not having anything like KERS or DRS were also very important back than. Drivers actually had to show more skills, teams also used to use strategy more effectively than in recent years.

    A little bit of tyre wear of course makes the show look more fun because there are a lot more action. But it seems that technologies have basically taken over the skills of the individual driver abilities. The amount of rubber on the track in Malaysia was quite unreal. The jump by Petrov over the curve was scary (track management should fix this), but at the same time turning into any corner started to become a bit dangerous for drivers. Pirelli is not to blame, FIA and Bernie wanted this to attract more first time F1 viewers than people that have around for 60 years.

    We always talk about cutting costs in F1. But it seems like FIA either lost a lot of control or just made bad decisions a bit too much when it comes to rule changing and cutting cost. Teams spent millions to build a good KERS system in 09 that failed miserably. So, it was banned in 2010. Double difuser & F-Duct another two examples. Teams spent millions on those too. Now they are spending even more or less the same money to implement the new changes effectively. There were a lot of talk about reducing the downforce in F1 cars as well. I think we all agree that there is more downforce in the F1 cars now than ever. Anyway, realting my view of changes in F1 to this article JA is that the strategists may have more work to do in terms of thinking, but the solution to their thinking seem to fail miserably because there are too many fake stuff in F1 now than ever. Viewers can’t even tell which compound of tyres the cars are using these days, unless Martin Brundle is pin pointing out every single thing on TV we can’t even understand when they do or don’t use DRS or KERS. So, what I get out of the modern F1 is strategy is ‘strategies must have been the right one if the race outcome converts into the points you want’; everybody else had bad strategies. By the way, if the car isn’t competitive or reliable enough, no strategy will work. Incompetitive and unrliable car always catches up with the lucky runs in the races.

    1. Stevie P says:

      “There was a time when the tyre wear was more or less the same for everybody” – the teams will get back to that level as their experience with Pirelli’s thru the season continues.

      As James has pointed out many, many times thru pre-season, whoever makes the tyres work best and reaches that point the quickest is very much in the box seat.

      1. Speed F1 says:

        My point is that F1 shouldn’t be the field for experiments. Experiments should be done before entering into this level. It might be great for new viewers but not fair on most of the viewers that loved the sport for as long as F1 has been around.

      2. Stevie P says:

        Well, you’re entitled to your opinion… but I would suggest that F1 is all about experimentation; wings, ground-force effect and skirts, fan cars, 6 wheelers… to name a few in a multitude of ideas and innovation.

        However, if what you are saying is that the teams should already know what the tyres are going to do, well think again… everytime a new tyre manufacturer (as a sole supplier or dual supplier e.g. Bridgestone and Michelin) has arrived in F1 there has been a learning curve (for the teams) whlst they “experiment” on what can and can’t be achieved. Obviously massive amounts of track testing helped this, but of course that’s no longer allowed, hence the need for computer simulators.

        However, if you are saying that the tyres have never fallen apart like that before (with such big marbles) you need to go back and examine some footage from the 70′s :-)

        F1 is claimed as the pinnacle of motorsport for several reasons, best drivers, best teams and new \ innovative technology… in other words they are all prototypes.

    2. Jo Torrent says:

      can’t disagree more on pretty much everything.

      Tyre wear was never the same. Recall the Ferrari/McLaren with Ham/Raik/Massa with the temperature shifting the balance from one team to the other.

      On money, team spend all the money they have. That’s the way the go about the buisness. The only way to stop them spending is by enforcing a resource restriction agreeement. If KERS wasn’t here, they’ll spend more money on different technological areas.

    3. Dan says:

      KERS wasn’t banned in 2010, FOTA took a decision not to use it to save money.

      1. Rich C says:

        No they did it because only McLaren could make it work well.

  23. Steve W says:

    It’s fascinating to see how many different factors are coming into play this year. It seems that Hamilton was already in trouble during qualifying, as by ruining a set of his option tyres, his race strategy was already compromised by having to switch to primes earlier than everybody else. Certainly it seems that there are more opportunities this year for drivers who fail to reach Q3 scoring strong results due to having more fresh tyres available for the race. Hopefully we are going to see a lot of races where the finishing order is vastly different that of qualifying.

    1. KinoNoNo says:

      I agree it seems that this year tyre use in quali is just as important as in the race.

      Take for example Sauber in Auz.

      Koby lost out in Q3 due to not having any new softs available.So had a double whammy of not only possibly quailfing higher if he had fresh(quicker) tyre,also translated to a slower tyre in the first stint.

      Whereas Perez didn’t make the top ten in quali was able to play tortoise to everybody else’s hare.

  24. Ben G says:

    Fascinating, thanks.

    If it wasn’t for super Seb, I’d say it could be Jenson’s year.

    The excitement of the new tyres and regulations makes me weep for all those years wasted in the snooze-inducing refuelling era.

    1. Andy C says:

      Seb in the UK is odds on favourite now, but I think Kers will be a real weak point this year for them.

      If you remember in the year kers was around first time, Ferrari struggled to get it working then took it off.

      Only McLaren really got it this year.

      I’ve got every faith that McLaren can do it this year (file that one under blind faith perhaps). So I’m off down to the bookmakers to bet on JB or Lewis winning the WDC. Got to be worth a punt. Lewis I think is 3/1 and JB is 16/1….

      1. Andy C says:

        Only McLaren really got it working that year I meant…

      2. Jo Torrent says:

        you mean only Mercedes. They build KERS

      3. Damian J says:

        I believe McLaren were having problems with KERS in the weeks prior to the first race. It’s different in some way from the 2009 version.

        I think they have re designed it, possibly to more evenly distribute the weight for a more tightly shrink wrapped car.

  25. StefMeister says:

    Like I said in the artivle you posted yesterday, I think there was a bit too much focus on the pit lane at Sepang.

    One of the biggest frustrations was watching something happening on the track & then suddenly having the image switched to a car coming down the pit lane.

    Since were likely to see similar through the year I think its crucial for FOM to add some sort of Picture-In-Picture so a pit stop can be covered without having to cut away from something happening on the track.

    They used a PIP in this was back at Bahrain in 2005 to cover race leader Alonso’s pit stop while staying with a 3 car fight for position on the track, It worked well & I never understood why the PIP vanished after that.

    I made this quick Mock-Up to show how a PIP system could work to show a pit stop & the track action:
    http://yfrog.com/48pipkj

    1. Jonny White says:

      Excellent idea – James are there any plans for something along these lines?

  26. Andy C says:

    James,

    Its interesting to me as a McLaren fan to see the two (what I percieve to be) different ways Lewis and Jenson seem to have views on strategy and who makes the decisions.

    Clearly Jenson has gained from the number of years he’s been in F1, and hes generally accredited with being decent on his tyres due to his driving style.

    Because we don’t hear all of the pit/driver messages I cant really evaluate it properly, but it looks to me that Lewis is a lot more reliant on the team, than perhaps a more experienced driver like Jenson is.

    Is that a fair comment, or do you hear more during the race (i.e both are very interactive and involved in the decision).

    I think its great that the tyres have introduced the rabbit and the hare analogy back into F1. Someone doing a banzai 4 lap stop, could possibly hunt down a driver out in the lead on a 3 stopper. I can’t wait for the rest of the year!

    1. Jo Torrent says:

      I don’t agree with the Button/Hamilton. Both had the same strategy and Button was faster. I explained it in a post before yours. That strategy was decided by the team in my view.

      In mixed conditions, the driver has the last word because he feels the grip and that’s where Button showed how good he was. In the dry it’s mainly a team call, they have the data of all the drivers around

      1. Vinola says:

        I just wish you rely on facts when you make declarative statements. Here’s a good graph of Button/Hamilton during the race. You might note that Hamilton was generally quicker including his first hard tires when Button was on softs. The outlier here was his stint on the 2nd set of primes. He was way off the pace right away- as others have pointed out- and that to me indicates a bad set of tires de novo. I hope our host wouldn’t mind me attaching this link. I like it because the scale is right, in the thousandths thus more discerning. http://bprf1.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/mal-race-analysis-lineplot5.gif

    2. Jonny White says:

      I have the live McLaren feed up during the race, and in a lot of the races they appear to communicate a similar amount with their race engineers.

      Where they differ noticeably, is that Button appears to have a greater thirst for knowledge of exactly what is going on around him – quite often behind him. E.g. on Sunday when Alonso was gaining on him he was asking what tyre he was on. I’m not saying he’s an Alain Prost but he seems to have a wide appreciation of what is going on around him.

      Hamilton, as a charger, is usually more concerned with who is infront of him, and where he can gain time on them.

      As Valencia showed, Alonso just wants to know where Hamilton is! Just kiding Ferrari fans!

      1. Andy C says:

        Thanks Jonny, good insight there….

        I havent actually been watching that feedb, but I probably should :-)

      2. Jonny White says:

        Yeah it’s a good tool and there appears to be only a couple of seconds delay. I doubt we get to hear everything but it’s useful all the same.

  27. matthew cheshire says:

    In Graph 1 Vettel’s results are Interesting. The peaks before his stops are the sharpest. This means he was not loosing performance before he pitted. The drop off was only the pit time on the one lap. This is ideal and he did it better than anyone. He only made his first stop too late. Sharp learning curve.

    1. Born 1950 says:

      See my comment at #12.

      I think because he was in clean air and didn’t need to be defensive, he could control tyre wear better. He knew he had to make three stops but instead of being forced to come in due to tyre degradation, he could choose his own time to pit before the tyres fell away.

      1. Matt Cheshire says:

        So this indicates he had significant wear left on his second and third sets at least.

        So-A comfortable gap to second, no need for KERS and tyre wear to spare. Ominous.

      2. Born 1950 says:

        Even if a car is out on its own, KERS will always be useful if used at the start of any long straight as it accelerates the car up to maximum speed quicker, without any negative effects such as tyre wear. As such it must be worth several tenths on each and every lap — and that’s without it’s use for overtaking or defending a position.

        Interestingly, KERS seems best used by a following driver if he can force the car in front to use up his KERS to defend early in a lap and then save his KERS to use later in the lap, when he can use it to overtake more easily — particularly if he can combine it with ‘the flap’.

  28. matthew cheshire says:

    I’m intruiged that Webber had the fastest lap of the race with no KERS. Was this a lap with some time shaved off using the rear wing?

    If KERS was only usefull at the start, even in Malaysia, then its hardly worth the weight penalty, surely?

    Also, would the 4 stop strategy be better if it rained? Far more chance to change to wets on or near a scheduled stop. Could Webber have benefitted even more with rain?

    Hamilton’s lap times were revealing- competative in the first sets of tyres but worse on the hards while the rest of the field were improving dramatically. You say he chose to come in for the fouth stop but the big “off” he had when Webber got through means he had no choice at all. His tyes were finished.

    1. Jo Torrent says:

      There’s no weight penalty with KERS. There’s penalty on weight distribution (maybe), on breaking for sure and on hypothetically on gear ratios choice.

    2. Stevie P says:

      Matthew, there is no weight penalty. If you don’t run KERS, you run with ballast – although I believe “the ballast” can be placed in a more advantageous position in terms of weight distribution.

  29. Conrad M. Sathirweth says:

    James, I do not get this ‘Hamilton’s race was ruined by him pitting early’ excuse because Hamilton and Button pitted within a lap of each other for the first three pitstops and Button did more stints on the option tyre and yet he only needed to pit 3 times while Hamilton still had to pit 4 times. So surley what wrecked Hamilton’s race was his inabilty to look after his tyres while Button was able to conserve his tyres while still maintaining a fast pace.

  30. Peter C says:

    James

    You said that Hamilton had a damaged floor from the collision with Alonso.

    How can this be?

    Alonso broke his left front wing on LHs right rear tyre. How would the floor be damaged?

    Perhaps it hadn’t been repaired properly after Australia.

    1. Born 1950 says:

      As I understand it, it was LH’s diffuser that was damaged. I suppose in theory the diffuser is considered a rearwards extension of the floor?

      1. Peter C says:

        Thanks.

  31. eric weinraub says:

    Launch only KERS on a fast car like the RB seems like the way to go… Had both Webber and Vettel gotten away, disengaged the system to eliminate the drag, they both still would have disappeared. I honestly find it hard to believe that all the RB speed is from the rake of the car. Sure, cars like the Mercedes and Williams just plain suck. In the case of Mercedes, you bought the Honda team which were horrible and one trick device like the double diffuser made them look great. If Mercedes plans on staying, they need to clean house and start over… But back to the RB, they have an inherintaly superior platform which will take several seasons by Ferrari, Renault, and McLaren to catch.

    1. Landon says:

      Actually most of the Brawn car was allegedly the secret project of the late Super Aguri team, if you look at Super Aguri 08′s nose and front wing, then the Honda 08 nose and wing, and then compare to the Brawn car, you will easily see the design heritage of the Aguri.

      1. Xman says:

        You do realise the front wings of 08 and 09 has as much in common as my grandmother has with scarlet Johansen! hahaha

  32. rfs says:

    Well then, Lewis will just have to do a better job at preserving the softs this weekend. I’d really hate to see him dropping down the field like a stone again because of bad tyre management.

    1. Jonny White says:

      I think Hamilton will be very circumspect with the use of his tyres in P3 and qualifying this weekend.

      With the long straight at Shanghai, if Malaysia is truly indicative of the relative pace of Red Bull and McLaren, he is capable of getting pole and then attempting to charge from the front.

      Whilst I don’t think Hamilton is generally as hard on his tyres as he was early on in his career, and his critics maintain he still is, I feel he may be best served this season, presuming he can keep getting it on the front row, planning on making one additional stop to the anticpated norm, and charging from the outset. A bit like the 3-stopper he did at Turkey in 2008 and Germany 2008.

      I have a feeling that this weekend may come to define Hamilton’s season and I think he will do everything within his powers to win it!

  33. Alistair says:

    One key point, not mentioned in the article, is that (according to Martin Brundell)Button took extra wing at each stop to extend the life of his tyres and get a better ballance. Apparently, Lewis didn’t do this. Perhaps he should do so, from now on.

    He also needs to just look after his tyres, using as few as possible during the weekend, and stop pushing. It may be contrary to his nature; but he will have to do it this year. F1 doesn’t reward overtaking. If it goes even slightly wrong, the stewards throw the book at you. And the chances of crashing and the consequential loss of points is too great. With these weak tyres, the key to doing well is to take the tortoise approach, not that of the hare. I.e., follow Jenson Button’s example: take no risks; don’t overtake; look after the tyres, all race. Hope for the best.

    1. Tommy K. says:

      Can’t agree more!! U r absolutely right! F1 has become a procession game. Maybe we don’t see it yet, but teams will start to understand it soon enough and will not let their drivers playing around with overtakes….what a shame for F1…

    2. Peter C says:

      Buttons & Hamiltons cars were not set up the same

      from the start. Button chose to run with less

      front wing, but he realised this was wrong &

      wound on more wing at each pitstop. He then had

      a car he was REALLY happy with.

  34. Dale says:

    If McLaren don’t start to deliver Hamilton will be off.
    Didn’t enjoy the race and the stewards decision to penalize Hamilton is just a joke when Massa did worse in Australia as did Vettel at they start.
    Farce.

    The ‘drs’ thing is just stupid in the way only the chasing driver can use it, defending is just as much an art (well almost) as overtaking

    1. Tommy K. says:

      ABSOLUTELY CORRECT!! DRS should be allowed at any time for the drivers and KERS should be allowed to produce even more horsepower. That would make races even better!

    2. Gavin says:

      Except in recent years it’s been stupidly easy to defend due to dirty air and therefore very one sides.

      DRS is a leveller that is all.

      1. Dale says:

        A leveler? Me thinks you maybe don’t understand the DRS?
        A leveler it ain’t A huge advantage to the man behind it is and that isn’t F1 racing as it should be, it is completely artificial.

      2. Gavin says:

        A huge advantage is what the car in front has been enjoying for the past who knows how many years.

        The DRS did not make any of the moves seen in either of the first two races a certainty. All it did was give the driver behind a chance to get alongside.

        So yes actually it is a leveller. It has levelled out the massive advantage the lead car had, no the fights can go either way.

        Whereas before it was so often the case that a car 2-3 seconds a lap faster than the car in front would cruise up behind that car and then what…. then it would get stuck in the dirty air and follow until the pitstops or follow until the race ended. Sorry but that was never how it was supposed to be.

        We want racing and although the DRS isn’t the ideal solution, it’s the first solution we’ve seen since 1994 that has actually worked.

      3. Gavin says:

        Below from grip the apex website Year and Average number of passes per DRY grand prix.

        Year Passes
        1982 39.9
        1983 41.5
        1984 43.2
        1985 39.5
        1986 36.3
        1987 34.9
        1988 27.4
        1989 33
        1990 29.5
        1991 28.7
        1992 24.3
        1993 24.8
        1994 18.9
        1995 13.3
        1996 11.2
        1997 13.4
        1998 11.6
        1999 13.4
        2000 11.4
        2001 12.7
        2002 11.9
        2003 15.4
        2004 12.6
        2005 9.9
        2006 13.6
        2007 11.2
        2008 10.5
        2009 10.4
        2010 21.3
        2011 42.5

        The overtaking figures for each race (across all data sets) do not include:

        * Position changes on the first lap of the race
        * Position changes due to drivers lapping backmarkers
        * Positions gained in the pits
        * Positions gained due to drivers yielding
        * Positions gained when a car has a serious technical problem; e.g. puncture, accident damage, etc.

        Far as I see it. Tyres, KERS and DRS have fixed F1. The people who liked the short sprints on durable tyres with passing in the pits due to fuel stops had want that wanted 1994-2011. So that means the ones who want wheel to wheel action can have that until 2028

      4. MISTER says:

        We want overtaking, right?
        Allowing the car in front to use DRS also, is not gonna make overtaking better. They will cancel each other and we will be back as we were last season.
        You have to make a compromise, and as we saw in Australia (JB trying to overtake Massa) is not as easy to overtake as some of you think.

      5. Dale says:

        “I know that the engineers, with whom I’ve been in touch a lot over these past days, have discovered the problem and fixed it. If the system had worked, I could comfortably have got past Hamilton on the pit straight and I would not have found myself having to fight him wheel to wheel and taking risks”.

        I think ghe quote from Alonso above says it all.
        Overtaking in F1 (for me) should be risky!!!!!!!

  35. Chris Chong says:

    Nothing much to add. Just wanted to say that I love these post-race strategy articles, James.

    Just wondering, do you have any numbers on Team Lotus and how close they were to the midfield teams in race trim?

  36. Alexandre Pires says:

    James,
    Please, split the Graph 2 in two or more graphs. It is unreadable. I suggest a graph with the lap times of McLaren and Red Bull’s duos.
    Congrats. Your analyses are awesome.

  37. Ben bailey says:

    Looking at the McL team review at http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2011/04/11/2011-malaysian-grand-prix-mclaren/
    you can clearly see that it wasnt that Lewis want quick on hard tyres (his fastest lap was was within .3sec of Buttons with a damaged car after alonso crash in last stint) but that his first set of hards were rubbish for some reason. Button was way 3 seconds quicker staight away then 2 secsonds faster than Lewis. I dont think not having softs was the problem it was just a slow stop and then a duff set of hards that lead to his downfall. Lewis mistaken to pit with only 4 laps to go but hed just gone off so he was really in no win situation… Maybe it would have been better if he’d got a puncture and pitted with Alonso on lap 45. Great drive by Button none the less.

  38. Red5 says:

    Very interesting to see relative performance all on one graph. Its potentially confusing that the leader is not always setting the fastest lap times.

    Compare Webber and Hamilton lines and you can understand why Lewis was downbeat after the race. Mark was able to make strong progress in the final stint, just like Alonso, Button and Vettel (low fuel + new tyres).

  39. Gary C-G says:

    Tire conservation is taking over. Personally I’d have liked to see the drivers battling hard, wheel to wheel, in other words racing instead of this exercise is tire management. This is spoiling what could and should be very exciting.

    It’s great that the tires drop off, that adds to the fun but what’s with the excessively limited number o sets they have available? If Lewis’ race was ruined because he’d run out of soft tires then what’s the point of the whole thing?

    It’s ridiculous as is the whole charade of “going green”. If they are restricting the number of tire sets to save the planet then why design them to wear out so fast? If they want smaller engines and KERS then why all these middle-eastern fly-away races?

    It’s not just the insult to our intelligence that smarts, now it is really spoiling the racing. Why are drivers having to drive slowly to conserve tires in the “pinnacle of motorsport”?

    1. justin lewis says:

      Driving slowly doesn’t necessarily conserve the tyres. It’s all about the balance of speed and downforce.

    2. Axu says:

      Re: tire management:
      Button said right after the race that he had to push all the time, because he never knew the strategy of others and he lost awareness of others’ track positions very soon after the start.
      It appears that excepting Vettel, no one was managing gaps.

    3. Jo Torrent says:

      Drivers are battling wheel to wheel thanks to these tyres. Contrarily to what you suggest, it’s when the tyres are perfect that drivers can’t fight wheel to wheel because there’s only one ideal line on the circuit.

      1. Gary C-G says:

        I don’t really have a problem with the tires, just with the restriction on the nubler of sets available. The drivers should be able to pit and put on a new set of whatever tire is working best, not jut the old flat-spotted set remaining from quali that’s the wrong compound.

  40. azac21 says:

    If I was McL or Ferrari driver I would let the Renaults qualify for the race at 2nd and 3rd spots behind Vettel.

    With the excellent start that Renaults have shown far, they could overtake Vettel at the start of the race and put him under pressure by the following MCLs and Ferraris. I know it sounds a bit far fetched but anybody else has any better ideas of how to beat Vettel? :)

    1. Tommy K. says:

      Actually that is a masterpiece thinking! well done!! maybe the best idea i’ve read for a while!!

    2. Damian J says:

      Vettel pulled away from Heidfeld in Sepang but managed to hold Hamilton back from challenging Vettel.

      I doubt FIA will clip Vettel’s wings either.

    3. TheLegend says:

      Sunday, if Button, Hamilton or Alonso had been 2nd at turn 2, they could have fought Vettel for vitory. Vettel has had very “relxed” races, and this way with such a fast car it’s easy to win races. They must put preasure on him, and then we will see.

      1. BMG says:

        Agree, Webber is the only one that can take it to Vettel. The team are not going to allow what happened last year, happen again. It’s clear Webber is number 2 and Vettel is number 1.

    4. Rich C says:

      Some kinda stealth missile comes to mind…

      1. azac21 says:

        Yes… ;)
        Stealth missile in “black and gold” colours!

    5. Jo Torrent says:

      Bright idea. What a rocket off the line this Renault !

  41. Serkan says:

    is it really necessary to show the in-laps and out-laps in graph 2? removing the vertical lines caused by these would definitely make the chart easier to follow and interpret, as would splitting it up and color coding a little better…

  42. Russel says:

    I don’t think Hamilton will go to RBR.

    RBR don’t pay the HEFTY retainers Ferrari and McLaren do.

    Hamilton does need to stop second guessing his team. McLaren have been around far longer than Lewis and he needs to stop acting like the spoiled brat and get on with the job, like Jenson does.

    If I ran McLaren, I would have told that punk to shove off.

    1. Paul Kirk says:

      I totally agree, Russel !!
      PK.

    2. kostre says:

      The thing is you will never run a mclaren team and the reason why they don’t do that either is that they know how right he is to be disapointed!

  43. Stephen Morris says:

    Looking at the first graph you can see how it went wrong for Hamilton at the third pit stop. Not only was the stop slow, giving a place to Button, but his pace was immediately slower than it had been prior to the stop, and much slower than Button. If he had been able to continue at this slower pace he would have finished in about the same time as Heidfeld and, assuming he could fight off Heidfeld, finished fourth behind Alonso.
    However after the collision with Alonso he slowed down even more making him vulnerable to Heidfeld and Webber. This could have been the tyres but it looks like damage from the collision.
    I wondered if he should have made a much earlier fourth pit stop, recognising the tires weren’t working. In this case I think he could have easily beaten Massa, which would have put him sixth, as Alonso would not have broken his nose.

    By the way I love these graphs. However they are a bit tricky to read as images. As others have asked is it possible to have an interactive version, for example publishing them on Google Docs?

    I completely understand if you need to protect your IP, you’ve obviously put some work into them.

    Are the datasets publicly available? It would be great to crowd-source this.

    1. James Draper says:

      I agree the tyres he put on for the third stint were the used hards from Q2. To me it looks like these new tyres don’t reheat very well, meaning it costs 1.5-2 seconds for a second stint on the refries. Surly all the teams will notice this and all the top teams will only do 1 flying lap in Q1 and Q2 thus saving virgin tyres.

  44. Nick Hipkin says:

    I still believe sundays race wasnt the classic some made it out to be.
    A problem for tv is the director always seems to cut to the pitlane whenever there is a pitstop regardless of its relevance to the actual race going on.
    They need to learn that some pitstops just arent important and concentrate on the race on the track.
    Another thing that worries me are the tyres, if these pirelli’s are going to wear out quickly then fine but lets see all the teams being supplied with more sets.
    Drivers shouldnt have to conserve tyres in practice and if they choose/need to make 3-4 stops lets make sure they always have new tyres.
    Drivers’ races being ruined by having to use used tyres just makes Formula 1 look silly and frankly, a bit amateurish!

    I worry that these pirelli’s are going to discourage racing at the very front although I acknowledge they have only made the tyres they were asked to so i do not blame them.

    1. Lockster says:

      I agree about the TV director not always having to show the pitstops from lower-ranked teams/drivers.

      I guess they feel that they need to make the viewers aware of when these stops are made.

      I would suggest that for these “not so important” pitstops, they should continue to show the action on the track, but have a smaller picture (picture-in-picture) with “Trulli Pit Stop” or “Glock Pit Stop” which shows the pitstop happening in a much smaller window so that we know when drivers are pitting, but without taking away from the on-track action.

      Obviously when the higher-placed drivers come in, they would still cut to their pitstops as they are more relevent to the overall race results…

      Any chance of passing on this suggestion James??

      1. James Allen says:

        Sure, but they don’t go for split screens or picture in window on the world feed much.

  45. Frankie says:

    I agree with McLaren, I believe that Hamilton took too much out of his tyres too early. I thought Hamilton had this sussed when he went out in Q3 and really took care of his tyres before unleashing a great charge that nearly got him pole.

    Whilst I have no trouble believing this was Hamilton’s own mistake, I really question the restriction on tyres. We all want to see racing, tyre restrictions denies us of that for some nursing tactic that really does not add to the racing. There is too much nowadays that detracts from the racing, rather then add to it.

  46. BMG says:

    I read an interview with Webber early January, he and Vettel would be on differant stratagies. He went on to say that they would not come together until the end of the race.I think what we have seen is just 2 team mates on different stratagies having a 50/50 bet.

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes, you saw it here in a video interview with Webber on JA on F1!

      1. Lockster says:

        “Remember, you saw it here first!!” :)

        So James, does that mean that Red Bull are going to try to keep these two drivers on different strategies as much as possible?

        Wouldn’t there be an “ideal” strategy and that would mean that one of them is inherently going to be on the “slower” strategy?

        How would they manage that? Would the higher qualifying driver get first choice?? Or perhaps they alternate on getting the choice of strategies??

      2. Andy C says:

        Yes, Seb on the winning strategy and Mark on the losing strategy ;-)

      3. BMG says:

        Well then James, I think you win the Chocolate.

  47. tblincoe says:

    Hey James, great article most of which I agree with; but if you look at the times a bit closer, after his second stop for the prime tire, Hamilton pretty much matched Button on the options. You can see it clearly here in this line plot: http://bprf1.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/mal-race-analysis-lineplot5.gif

    It really wasn’t until Hamilton’s third pitstop for his second set of primes (when Button was also on primes) that he really began to lose time to those around him. I wrote up my own theories as to why, but I’m not at all sure what caused the substantial difference in performance between the two McLaren teammates in the last 1/4 of the race.

  48. Todd Duncan says:

    So James,

    Is there any link between the Saubers being easy on tyres and Nick Heidfeld, Pirelli tester/turned Sauber driver last year??

  49. Paul Kirk says:

    An excelent analitical artical, thanks James. One thing about the currant direction F1 seems to be heading in, that concerns me, is the need, seemingly above all other priorities, to make the tyres last. To do that drivers must drive smoothely and not as fast as they are capable of going! This seems to me to be against the spirit of motor racing, except maybe Le Mans 24 hours, and similar races. Seems strange that a driver spends all his previous career comming up through the ranks driving as fast as he/she can, then having to slow down when getting into F1!
    PK.

  50. James Draper says:

    I loved the race, there was so much going on that even Martin Brundle had to give up trying to explain stuff to keep up with things.

    Great charts James, I wish they were interactive.

    For my pool this week I am picking the following race order please comment groupies!

    VET HAM WEB BUT ALO HEI MAS KOB SCH PET

  51. James Draper says:

    Looking at the start again

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZnLuxy6NErI

    I am not sure why JB tucked behind LH. If he would have taken the outside he would have ended up in second.

  52. VM says:

    I picked up a comment on the BBC telecast that Webber did not have KERS working during qualifying. Is this true? It explains why he looked relatively satisfied (or less dissatisfied than prior week) with his position on the grid, knowing with KERS he could match or better Vettel.
    Also for my curiosity I compared the differences between qualifying times between Webber and Vettel over the last season, took away their worst differential times to remove anomalies, and found that in the aggregate Webber was ahead of Vettel overall. Vettel managed more poles of course, but over the season Mark out qualified Vettel in the aggregate (a stat that does nothing for Sundays but RBR must know this to value Webber accordingly). They are closer than what we think.

  53. Xman says:

    While listening to Formula 1 Blog latest podcast I had an epiphany in regards to the awesome traction and starts by the Lotus Renault. My technical knowledge is limited but those front exiting exausts must have something to do with their awesome traction out of corners and those amazing starts just like the Renault in 04-05!

  54. Andy W says:

    Hi James
    Were red bull contemplating four stops for Seb then ?
    I ask because on the team radio they said to Vettel they were changing to plan B. I wonder if they were thinking of using the strategy that you have said MW did, expecting to be challenged a lot more than they were, but by being so far at the front that they could run easier and save a pit stop.

    1. Nando says:

      BBC commentators suggested that plan A was two stops. They said switch to plan B not long after Seb said his tyres were going off.

  55. Hannah says:

    Hi James

    Is it possible to have a post on the marbles that pirelli make in comparison to bridgestone tyres and the issue of them becoming as vettel called them ‘rubber bullets’ thanks

  56. murray says:

    Is the use of KERS from 100km/h upwards regulated, a technical limitation of electrical systems, or regulated to lower the technical bar?

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