In Malaysia, observed Felipe Massa, there was “a lot of overtaking in the final laps. That is why the strategy is even more important now, in order to get the tyre change sequence just right, so that you can avoid finding yourself fighting for position in the last few laps, while dealing with tyres that are no longer at their best.”
Interestingly, the FIA is considering single detection, double activation DRS, whereby once enabled, the wing could be used at two points on the lap instead of just one. Taking Melbourne as an example. The DRS would be enabled if the car were within the one second gap at the penultimate corner, then you have a first activation point on the pit straight and a second one between Turns 2 and 3. It wouldn’t suit some circuits, but it would work in some places, like Istanbul coming up next month, for example.
Many technical people in F1 think it’s a good idea. The only people who would be likely to argue against double activation would be Red Bull, on the basis that if you are the fastest, you don’t want to give anything away and offer the people behind two chances to use the wing to pass you.
Massa highlighted the end of the race, where Lewis Hamilton came a cropper, for example, because he couldn’t get the tyres to last the whole of the final stint. But the start of the race is also critical and has a big bearing on strategy.
Here we have seen an interesting trend already this season with Renault the outstanding starters. In the two Grands Prix to date, the two drivers have made up a total of 14 places. Admittedly some of Nick Heidfeld’s nine places gained were slower cars down the field after he qualified poorly in Melbourne, but in Sepang he shocked the front runners while Vitaly Petrov’s five places gained in two starts are all against the fastest cars in the field. These strong moves from Renault are forcing drivers from McLaren, Ferrari and Red Bull to have to rethink their strategy almost as soon as the race has started.
Less obvious, but also impressive, is the start performance of Force India, which has seen Adrian Sutil gain five places at the start and Paul di Resta four.
Interestingly at Ferrari, Massa has gained four places on the opening laps of the first two races while Fernando Alonso has lost six, the same amount as Mark Webber. Only one man has held position in both races at the start and that’s Webber’s team mate Sebastian Vettel.
For more details like these, an in depth look at the strategy considerations and likely race strategies in Shanghai go to myUBS Strategy Preview Click on “Microsite Special” and then click on the map of Shanghai circuit
Additional reporting: Tom Clarkson