Insight: Singapore race strategy a knife edge balance
Insight
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Posted By: James Allen  |  20 Sep 2011   |  10:55 am GMT  |  90 comments

This weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix will be absolutely fascinating from a strategy point of view. Find out how some teams will try to do the race with only one stop, how much effect the Safety Car can have on the outcome and check out a new feature: the League Table of Team’s Pit Stop Performance; there are some surprises here!

Contents – The Key Strategy considerations

• Track characteristics
• Form guide
• Weather forecast
• Likely tyre performance
• Number and likely timing of pit stops
• Chance of a safety car
• Recent start performance & Pit Stop League Table


Track characteristics

Marina Bay, Singapore – 5.073 kilometres. Race distance – 61 laps = 309.3 kilometres. 23 corners in total.. Street circuit around Singapore’s Marina Bay area.

Aerodynamic setup – High downforce. Top speed 305km/h (with Drag Reduction System active on rear wing) – 290km/h without.

Full throttle – 43% of the lap time (low). Total fuel needed for race distance – 152.5 kilos (high). Fuel consumption – 2.5 kg per lap (high)

Time spent braking: 21% of lap. Number of brake zones – 16. Brake wear- Very high. Toughest race of season for brakes as no cooling opportunities.

Loss time for a Pit stop = 24 seconds (very high)
Total time needed for pit stop: 26 seconds (very high)

Fuel effect (cost in lap time per 10kg of fuel carried): 0.35 seconds (high)

In just three years the Singapore Grand Prix, F1’s only night race, has established itself alongside Monaco as one of the two most important races on the calendar for the sport, the teams and sponsors.

But the race on the Marina Bay Circuit is also one of the longest and toughest of the year for cars and drivers. The race can last up to two hours and with high temperatures , humidity and constant braking and turning, it is a real hardcore marathon. There have been internal discussions among teams and administrators about possibly shortening the race.

It is also one of the hardest races of the season for the brakes, not because of big stops from high to low speeds, but because of the frequent brake use and no straights to for the brakes to cool. This places an extra strain on the tyres as the red hot brakes inside the wheels cook the tyres from the inside.

As the track is at sea level, the air pressure is higher, the air is more dense and this means that the fuel consumption is higher. The stop and start nature of the track further adds to this. So the cars start heavier than at many places with 150+ kilos of fuel on board – more than the average. This adds to the punishment of the tyres in the early stages of the race.

We are likely to see plenty of new development parts on the cars this weekend. This will be the last race at which we see teams bring significant upgrade packages to their cars. As the first of a series of six flyaway races to close the season and with the championship more or less decided, there will only be some minor development steps after this.


Form Guide

The Singapore Grand Prix is the 14th round of the 2011 FIA F1 World Championship. With Sebastian Vettel winning in Spa and Monza, he is in a position to be crowned world champion for the second consecutive season if he wins here with neither Fernando Alonso or Jenson Button on the podium.

Vettel and Alonso battled for the win at Marina Bay last season in a close fight throughout the race, which was won by Alonso, the only two time winner here.

Amazingly, Red Bull’s 100% record in qualifying this season remains, with only seven rounds to go, could they possibly go a whole season owning pole position?

As far as drivers’ and teams’ form at Singapore is concerned; Alonso won the race in 2008 with Renault and 2010 with Ferrari, Lewis Hamilton won the 2009 edition for McLaren.

Weather Forecast

The weather forecast for this weekend is for high temperatures, around 31 degrees, with thunderstorms forecast for each day and a 60% chance of rain. Given the frequency of evening rain in the region it is amazing that it has yet to affect the Singapore Grand Prix.


Likely tyre performance and other considerations

Pirelli tyre choice for Singapore: Soft (yellow markings) and supersoft (red markings). This combination was seen in Monaco, Montreal and Budapest.

In Singapore the great challenge is to look after the rear tyres, which get damaged by the constant stopping and accelerating at the circuit’s 23 corners. Meanwhile the fastest corner on the circuit is taken at only 170km/h so it is difficult for driver to get energy into the front tyres and get them ‘switched on’. Add in the factor of the red hot brakes cooking the tyres from the inside and tyre management becomes a huge challenge.

In Budapest the Pirelli supersoft tyre was expected to last 20 laps, but after the track was cleaned by rain before the race they only went for 14 laps. The Marina Bay circuit ramps up in grip over the weekend, but teams will closely monitor its performance in Friday and Saturday practice to see how far they can push it.

After the controversy over camber angles in Spa and the subsequent FIA edict in Monza, Pirelli have relaxed their recommendation for Singapore and teams can run up to 4 ¼ degrees camber. There are no sustained high wheel rotation speeds to worry about so blistering will not be a problem. The edict in Monza would have been very hard to enforce, incidentally, because there is a big difference between when the car is stationary and when it is at speed and any team on the wrong side of the FIA would have appealed. In that process it would have been up to the other teams to prove they would have complied.

Number and likely timing of pit stops

This is set to be a fascinating race, as the strategy models say that the most attractive way is to make only making one pit stop; the time lost from making a pit stop is huge in Singapore at 26 seconds. This will be very hard to achieve for cars which do not have a new set of supersoft tyres – ie drivers in the top ten who will be obliged to start on the supersofts on which they qualify.

Teams like Sauber and Toro Rosso and even Ferrari, which are gentler on their tyres, could have a strong result here. Qualifying outside the top ten, it is not hard to envisage a Sauber or Toro Rosso starting on a new set of soft tyres and making one stop for a new set of supersofts. The chance of a Safety Car is very high (see below) and six or seven laps behind the safety car would be a real bonus to one stoppers, extending the tyre life.

Safety cars can make or break your race depending on when they fall. They are bad news for anyone attempting a multi-stop strategy, but with the long pit lane at Marina Bay this isn’t likely.

But should a safety car fall at an opportune moment for a driver aiming to make a two stop strategy, it could be ideal. The front runners are likely to be planning to divide the first half of the race into two stints on supersoft with a switch to softs for the remainder of the race, but will stay flexible in case a Safety Car helps them out.

Chance of a Safety Car

The chance of a Safety Car at Singapore is very high. There has been at least one Safety Car at every Singapore GP so far with an average of 6.7 laps spent under Safety Car. This will further encourage teams hoping to one stop in the races.

Recent start performance

Starts are a critical part of the race and strategy can be badly compromised by a poor start, while good starts can make strategists change their plans in the hope of a good result.

Michael Schumacher is having a great year off the start line, with another great start in Monza gaining four places. In total he has gained 35 places on the first lap this season, but he has also lost 14 giving him an aggregate gain of 21 places.

The importance of the start is also well illustrated by Jaime Alguersuari in Monza – he gained seven places from 18th on the grid and got ahead of his team mate Buemi and Bruno Senna. He was able to carry this through to the chequered flag to record a career best 7th place.

As far as 2011 start performance is concerned drivers have gained (+) or lost (-) places off the start line this season on aggregate as follows:

Gained

+21 Schumacher *

+19 Buemi #
+16 Glock
+13 Liuzzi

+9 Ricciardo
+8 Alonso***, Kobayashi**,
+6 Trulli, Kovalainen, Heidfeld ******,
+5 Di Resta,
+4 Massa
+3 D’Ambrosio

Held position
-

Lost places
-2, Chandhok
-4 Hamilton, Vettel
-5 Alguersuari####
-9 Sutil ##
-10 Button,
-11 Rosberg*****, Maldonado
-12 Senna
-13 Perez ###
-15 Petrov,****

-18 Barrichello
- 22 Webber

* Schumacher had one bad start in Australia, losing 8 places but since then has been the season’s outstanding starter. He gained 9 places in Spa and four in Monza.

** Kobayashi lost 10 places in Spain, prior to that he had gained 8 in 4 starts.

*** After losing places in the first three races, Alonso has reversed that trend. His starts in Barcelona and Monza were outstanding.

**** Petrov had a good record until he lost 4 places at the start in Valencia. He was on a +2 balance before Monza where he was taken out at the start.

***** Rosberg lost four places at the start in Silverstone and was on a +6 balance before Monza where he was taken out in the first corner

****** Heidfeld had gained 20 places but lost 12 at the start in Germany

******* Di Resta had consistent start form and gained 7 places in the first nine races, but lost 12 at the start in Germany.

# Buemi made up nine places at the start in Hungary having started 23rd on the grid

## Sutil had a positive start balance until Hungary where he lost 12 places at the start

### Perez lost nine places off the start in Hungary.

#### Alguersuari was doing well with a +6 record prior to Spa, where he was hit by another car and lost 18 places. In Monza he gained 7 places at the start.

Bonus Feature – Pit Stop League Table

Of course good strategy planning also requires good pit stop execution by the mechanics. We have seen tyre stops of under three seconds this season. Here, with thanks to our friends at Mercedes GP Petronas is the league table of average of the stops made (taking out all anomalies)

The table allows for an average amount of time for the loss time of travelling down the pit lane: for example Monza was 17.6 secs:

1. Red Bull – 21.81
2. Mercedes – 21.94
3. McLaren – 22.06
4. Ferrari – 22.36
5. Force India – 22.48
6. Lotus – 22.71
7. Renault – 22.72
8. Sauber – 22.81
9. Williams – 22.96
10. Toro Rosso – 23.05
11. Virgin – 23.65
12. HRT – 25.14

The things which stand out here are a) Force India and Lotus punch well above their weight in terms of pits stop performance compared to car performance and championship position. Look at the gap in performance between Lotus and the other new teams; b) Red Bull and Mercedes are consistently the fastest at pit stops; c) remember that the speed of a stop is not just about the pit crews, it is also about the drivers hitting their marks. It’s about discipline as a team.

The UBS Strategy Briefing is written by JA on F1 with input and data from strategists and engineers from several leading F1 teams.

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90 Comments
  1. Ben Radcliff says:

    Wow! Your stats are awesome! keep up the great work JA

  2. f1a says:

    Interesting.

    Vettel to get first of 7 DNFs ;)

    1. Brisbane Bill says:

      Mate – I’ll have a pint of what you’ve been drinking!!! With the pressure starting to ease then Vettel and Red Bull will only continue to perform well. I am tipping Alonso for pole at Singapore though, just to break the Red Bull record. I would also tip him to win, unless he gets wrong-footed on a pit call when a safety car is deployed.

      1. Borg says:

        I think you’re already drinking those pints! Alonso on pole? Alonso winning? Just how much help do you think Massa will provide? Don’t put all of Alonso’s Brazilian teammates into the same column.

        Vettel will continue his steam roller act. One thing that’s certain, the boy wins Championships the right way – by winning races end of season. Regardless of his points position.

      2. Brisbane Bill says:

        I don’t think Alonso needs any help from Massa. Alonso just seems to like this track – admittedly, his first win was with help but the Renault wasn’t competitive at all so needed the contrived safety car but the Ferrari is far more competitive.

        But I agree – Vettel is winning the championship in style and not just scraping enough points together or trying to hold on to an early advantage. I think he is going to get even stronger, mentally, from this year’s performance and is going to be tough to beat for a few years – particularly if Adrian Newey stays at Red Bull for a while.

      3. dom jones says:

        Hmm. I doubt Alonso will get caught out by the safety car. He seems to have a good instinct for safety car issues here ;-) If Massa crashes, get the stewards on stand by!

      4. Borg says:

        Is there a Ferrari engine at the back of the field in one of the back markers?

        DRS, KERS, night, street, possibley rain. Whoever wins will be either lucky or really really good.

        Go Michael! (lucky, and good)

  3. MISTER says:

    Fantastic article James.
    I was already excited about this race but now after I read your article I cannot wait for it.
    It is so much more interesting when you have a decent amount of knowledge about the track and possible scenarios.

    Thank you James.

    Looking forward to a race full of events.

  4. Robert says:

    Thanks James for the insight.

    We could see a driver leading with worn tyres fending off an attack from another driver on fresher tyres , ala Monaco this year before the red flag came out.

    Drooling at the prospect…

  5. Tshepo Molokomme says:

    yeepee i hope i am the first one to comment. great blog james keep up the good work. i am from south africa, f1 has a big following here. as for the race i hope no rain comes as i foresee carnage if it arrives…

    1. Jeff says:

      I was fortunate enough to spend a couple of days in Singapore, beginning with a rather exciting last-minute aborted landing due to an early morning thunderstorm beating us to the runway by less than 1/2 a mile.

      If my visit was anything to go by, when it rains in Singapore, it’s a gully-washer. If they do get hit by a typical Singapore storm, I’d expect a red flag. If you’re recording this one off live TV, set your DVR to run at least 2 hours over.

      What do you think of the possibility of Cape Town hosting a GP, Tshepo? Do they have a suitable track, or will they have to build a new one?

      1. Brad says:

        Don’t know Jeff… It will certainly be very picturesque at GreenPoint, but I really wonder if the infrastructure to host is really there. We’de have to spend a fortune. Have a look at the proposed street circuit with this link, it would be really great if it happens!!!
        http://www.iol.co.za/motoring/f1-grand-prix/big-boost-for-cape-town-grand-prix-1.1136570

      2. Jeff says:

        I have to admit to not being a fan of street circuits in general. They’re typically canyon blasts between armco barriers with little or no chance to overtake. When there is a crash, then the race has to be interrupted by a safety car, which adds another artificial adjustment to the result. It also provides the potential for fixing the race, as in Singapore with ‘Crashgate’.

        It would be great to see a race in S.A. again, though. Kylami was the first race at which the Jordan ran a Semi-auto gearbox, ride height and traction control electronics box that I was lead hardware engineer on. I still have one of the A/V mounts from the wreckage of Ivan Capelli’s car (not my bit that caused the wreck, BTW)

      3. Peter Freeman says:

        I fear for SA, I suspect there will be a ton of money spent that we can’t afford, and then the ticket prices will be so high the race will run at a loss… Hopefully not, hopefully the tourists fly in to watch, but with so many races on the calendar why would people particularly fly to Cape Town, which is not the cheapest place to fly too… I think Bernie is the winner and the hosts are the loosers at most of the F1 venues… I could be wrong, but its what I suspect.

      4. Surya says:

        The Inagural singapore GP was also my first visit to a F1 GP. sitting a mere 25 meters from Where Nelson crashed his renault also made the event scarier at the same time thrilling to watch. I hope Mclaren put a brake on Vettel and the championship is extended for another two more GPs.

        Btw it will be very Intresting to have a GP In SA , Running up to the table mountains enroute covering the football stadium & V&A waterfront.

  6. DiegoP says:

    Wow! As always, great piece of information! I wonder if it is also possible to get a pit stop league table for driver.

    Thanks in advance.

  7. Richard says:

    I think Alonso could be on the podium or even bag a win. He’s an ace around this track. Would be good for TV too as it’s just a matter of time before we crown Seb as this year’s WDC.

  8. Laura says:

    I’d say, if you start at the back, the only way is forward and vice versa!

  9. Paul H says:

    What a great breakdown, is there anywhere that shows similar information for the other tracks? Always wondered what are the specific differences between tracks and the way in which the strategists operate over the course of a weekend – be great to follow a race weekend form a strategists perspective. Tracks often appear very similar often superficially have a totally different optimum strategy and here you can start to see the margins which create options. Is there a track where there is no clear best strategy?

    Been very curious over the last couple of seasons just how much strategy is decided by software and how much is gut reaction by the team members. We went through a few seasons with the refuelling where it was just so obvious when a car would box whereas with full tanks and the tyre degradation it seems like they have a window they can stop and then it is up to leaving it as late as possible, tyres and traffic permitting. Just feels like there is more of a human element in the decision making than there was a couple of seasons back.

    1. gonzeche says:

      Here you can read about the other tracks.
      http://www.ubs.com/2/e/f1/index.html

      1. Paul H says:

        Brilliant!!! Thank you very much for that, it’s straight on the favourites list for sure!

  10. Cool insight, as always, James! Do we have any solid information on how the teams perform in terms of fuel consumption this year? Who’s best, who’s worse etc?

  11. Alex W says:

    Vettel needs only to win and have Alonso off the podium, even if Jenson is 2nd Vettel still wins I belive (by more wins)

    Interesting that the pit crew performance roughly matches overall performance, you would have thought the HRT’s of the world could concentrate and make up time in this apparently less techincal area, but apparently not.

    1. iceman says:

      Yes it is interesting isn’t it. Looks like Lotus have taken the route you suggested. Apart from that the list really closely matches the teams’ car performance – I wonder why. One possible reason might be the better resourced teams can afford to spend more time practicing, while in the smaller teams the pit crews have to spend more time on their day jobs. Or maybe it’s all down to the top teams’ fancy wheel nuts!

  12. goferet says:

    Oh boy if the Singapore race is all about tyre wear, this has to mean the winners’ trophy has Jenson’s name written on it, more so thanks to 2011 Pirelli tyres.

    In addition, I believe we’re finally going to get a wet/damp track come race day tailor made for the damp-meister himself.

    Okay, am so not looking forward to this, more so, as it looks like a number of teams can get through the entire race by making one pit stop.

    Now wouldn’t it be funny that the person that brings out the safety car out this time is non other than the 2011-elect champ – For sure that would be priceless & very memorable!

    And no, I refuse to believe that Red Bull can & go the entire season on pole – It’s just a matter of when & not if & since Hammy narrowly missed out on Singapore like tracks – Monaco & Hungary, I would say Singapore is the last chance to beat Red Bull (third time lucky & all of that).

    N.B.

    Oh, the record books say Alonso has won this race twice but the moral books state otherwise

    1. Carlos E. Del Valle says:

      Yeah I completely agree regarding Singapore 2008, “a Grand Prix which will live in infamy”.

    2. gonzeche says:

      So who does your moral book state as Singapore’s 2008 winner?!

      1. Martin says:

        You could argue Massa as the pitstop would have been a different time and there would have been no stacking of cars, but then you get into a mess with the 2008 Championship… and Goferet is a Hamilton fan.

      2. F1Fan4Life says:

        Nice one on calling out goferet as a Hamilton fan, at least I’m not the only one spotting the obvious. If we got into morals in past F1 races a lot would be rewritten, Alonso was one of the fastest guys that day and he’s outperformed his car at every Singaporean GP.

        I really hope it doesn’t rain. Being from Singapore, even a medium shower here I feel would lead to a red flag. That said, it doesn’t rain very often at the time of the race. Is it bad that I’m hoping Vettel doesn’t finish the next few races? Tired of watching the cakewalk that is this season. Would love to see an underdog win a race. Hope Schumacher can string together another good race.

      3. Rebecca says:

        Morally, the race result should really have been declared null and void. However, I think the FIA didn’t do this to avoid the drama of it affecting the result of the championship. Can you imagine the uproar if Hamilton had been stripped of the championship almost a year after winning it?? And ultimately, I think the championship result was the right one in the end – this essentially cancelled out the Spa fiasco (and this is coming from a Massa fan).

        I don’t think you could retrospectively change the result of the race, as no one can possibly know how the race would have panned out following Piquet’s crash.

  13. Raymond says:

    I’m sorry James, but I must correct you on your championship calculations. If Vettel wins and Button is 3rd Vettel can still be champion. it is NOT a requirement for Button to be off the podium. Here’s a summary to help out (I can triple-guarantee this is correct; I calculated this myself 5 times over on my self-designed spreadsheet points calculator.

    Vettel will be champion if –
    If Vettel wins; Alonso is off the podium, Button/Webber doesn’t finish 2nd.
    If Vettel finishes 2nd; Alonso finishes no higher than 8th; Jenson/Webber finishes no higher than 5th; Hamilton doesn’t win.
    If Vettel finishes 3rd; Alonso finishes no higher than 9th; Jenson/Webber finishes no higher than 7th; Hamilton is off the podium
    If Vettel finishes off the podium; he will not be able to clinch the title

    1. Alex W says:

      If Vettel wins and Alonso is off the podium, how can Jenson or Webber win? Only Jenson can draw on points, and loses on countback of wins.

      1. iceman says:

        If Vettel wins and Button is second, Button will be 124 points behind with 125 available. The same goes for Webber since he’s currently level on points with Button.
        If Vettel wins and Alonso is third, Alonso will be 122 points behind. If Alonso is fourth he’ll be 125 points behind but would of course lose on countback if he did make up those 125 points.

      2. Martin says:

        Hi Alex,

        Vettel is 117 points ahead now of both Webber and Button. First to second gap is 7 points, so if either Webber or Button is second to Vettel they are 124 points behing with 125 available to someone who wins the last five straight.

        Cheers,

        Martin

      3. Kyle says:

        If Button or Webber finish 2nd to Vettel’s victory:

        BUT/WEB – 167 + 18 = 185
        VET – 284 + 25 = 309

        309-185 = 124, therefore with 125 points on the table countback doesn’t come into it yet. 5 non-scores for Vettel from there, 5 wins for the challenger, and it could still be lost.

  14. Nadeem says:

    If they want to shorten this race I hope thu extend others. Monza and spa were too quick races should at least last for 90 minutes in the dry at the minimum.

  15. Dan Ede says:

    Excellent report James, looking forward to attending my first race after being an obsessed fan for 10 years.

    What are your thoughts on the DRS zone and it’s effectiveness at Singapore in terms of aiding overtaking? We are sitting at turn seven – I am guessing (hoping) that the DRS zone will be on the straight leading up to this corner?

    1. Carlos E. Del Valle says:

      I heard DRS will be engaged after turn 5, so you’ll be in the perfect spot. I would like to hear from James about DRS. I believe it will be effective, because the cars will be in high-downforce configuration, so there’ll be quite a drag to shed.

      Regarding your first GP, I was a hardcore fan since childhood, and I can assure you that you’ll be the happiest guy of the world there, and will promise to return every year from now! My first Interlagos in 2007 was pure joy

      1. Dan Efe says:

        Hope so :-)

    2. Martin says:

      Hi Dan,

      The effectiveness of DRS is very speed dependent – the effect is greatest at high speeds as much more engine power is used to overcome the drag. If you recall in Valencia the DRS zones were not very effective as they were after slow corners. Turkey was the opposite with the DRS after a guick corner and easy passing. China was similar too.

      I think it will be a case of being pretty tight, with DRS-assisted rather than DRS-assured passes. If there is an undercut situation where one of the front runners needs to pass a car that hasn’t stop then that is likely to be another opportunity.

      Cheers,

      Martin

      1. Dan Efe says:

        Thanks for the insights…

        I guess the fact that there was some overtaking there last year (Webber/Hamilton) bodes well…

  16. “In just three years the Singapore Grand Prix, F1’s only night race, has established itself alongside Monaco as one of the two most important races on the calendar for the sport, the teams and sponsors.”

    And the spectators too. There’s a real buzz about this event. The word of mouth wouldn’t work if the organisers did not manage a superb job.

    3rd year in a row as far as I am concerned. The grand prix has a unique carnival atmosphere, and provides a very different experience to either Malaysia or further afield, Melbourne.

  17. Dan says:

    Is Red Bull’s pit stop performance aided by their favourable position as 1st garage (most of the time). I’d imagine there’s more time to be lost in the entry to the box than the exit.

    As I write this I’m actually wondering if all the tracks have the same garage order. i.e winnning constructor 1st. Do some place the leading team in the last garage?

    1. Jeff says:

      Given the speed of acceleration of an F1 car, I think that even with their pit stop position, the Red Bulls will be hitting the speed limiter before they pass the pit exit line at every track. In other words, each team has the same acceleration and deceleration penalty for a pitstop, regardless of pit location.

      I don’t think position in the pits has anything to do with their ranking in the pistop table. They’ve just been incredibly quick this year. I think they even pulled a sub-3 second wheel change at Monza.

      Great stats. Nice to see Team Lotus (Caterham?) doing so well compared to the other new teams in pitstop timing. How much of this is Mike Gascoyne’s influence and experience, I wonder?

      In terms of ‘Wheels stopped to Wheels Moving’ pitstop timing, do you know which team holds the record this year?

      1. Dan says:

        i was alluding more to the fact that with the 1st garage (closest to pit entry), you can approach the pit box with wheels straight and concentrate on braking and stopping exactly adjacent to the mechanics.

      2. Alex W says:

        And waiting for last years champ to get out of the way!!!!

    2. g says:

      wining constuctor is first

    3. Martin says:

      Hi Dan,

      To cover your two questions, at some tracks the leading team is last, such as at Melbourne, but for most they are the first team in the pit lane.

      Having a straight drive in would help in spotting the marks and not turning and braking at the same time would also help slightly. Stopping in the right place is critical. This is really only an advantage when the teams around them are also stopping, otherwise the drivers try to take as gentle a curve as possible.

      The geometric distance will be slightly shorter (except at Imola where first was a big advantage, probably saving about 5 m), but it is probably the stop that is the big thing, particularly indicating when to go.

      Cheers,

      Martin

  18. AshleyRLS says:

    Great article James, lots of depth,

    My first reaction was this would be an exciting race with re-fuelling, as it is a stop-start track like Monaco and Hungary, but actually two-stopping with refuelling would only be ~11 seconds faster, which is more than wiped out by the long pit-time

    What do you think? Did I get my sums right?

    1. Raymond says:

      I’m intrigued by your 11s. How do you come to that? Surely it should be faster; what with the tyre wear also being less (due to lighter cars) as well as the cars being lighter for each stint.

      If we take 165kg (from above) as the full race fuel; let’s keep it simple and split the race in 3 equal stints of 55kg.

      That means that, tit for tat, 2-stop non-refuelling, for the first stint the cars would be 110kg lighter for 1/3 of the race; and in the 2nd stint the cars would be 55kg lighter; for 1/3 of the race. Nominally it’s about equal to spending the whole race 55kg lighter (over 61 laps; that is; using 0.35 from above; 1.925s quicker; per lap) 1.925s x 61 laps is about 1 minute, 57.425s quicker.

      If you then factor in the time for refueling you’d get maybe 5 additional seconds per stop; about 10 seconds total. That means a 2 stop non-refuel, vs 2 stop refuel, is about 1 minute, 47.425s quicker.

      1. AshleyRLS says:

        Hey Raymond,
        Sorry, my first post contained an error and was also unclear!

        1. I compared 1 stop with refuelling (87.5 kg fuel at start and after stop) with 2 stop w/refuel (55kg as you say), given the one mandatory stop to change tyres.

        2. Thanks to your calculations, I can see that I forgot to scale the 10kg figure up to the actual difference in weight.

        3. Having drew a few graphs of fuel vs.lap number, I think the weight advantage of stopping more frequently is wiped out after the last stop of the more frequent stopper. To put it intuitively, both strategies finish the last few laps with the same amount of fuel. So the difference between, e.g., 0 and 1 stop is not 61 laps but 30 or 31. Am I right?

        So, to hopefully clarify/correct:

        Difference in fuel weight: 87.5 – 55 = 32.5kg / lap

        Gain per lap due to fuel diff: (32.5/10) * 0.35 = 1.1375

        Number of laps difference occurs: 61 – 21 = 40 (i.e., 2/3 race distance)

        Time gain:
        1.1375 x 40 = 45

        Final time difference (incl. pit stop time):
        45 – 24 = 21 secs

        So 2 stop w/refuel is faster than 1 stop w/refuel. This ignores potentially longer stop for refuel than the number James gives (which is for tyres-only stop) and the effect of tire wear.
        It also assumes equal distribution of pit stops throughout the race

        Phew: that is a lot of effort for a moot discussion! I can see why teams have computer programs to calculate this!

      2. …also factor in that the stint on the prime tire will be shorter than the options, since it is slower and teams will therefore want to minimize the time spent on the slower tire.

        You then have to balance that with not getting too far into phase two with the options…

        Finally, an early first stop might be beneficial to get rid of the primes, perhaps only after 8-10 laps, as a safety car is very likely. It’s usually best to pit before the safety car, but preferably once the field is spread out to avoid losing too much track position. It’s best to pit JUST as the safety car comes out, but that’s more down to luck than anything.

        So, my bet would either be to tell the driver to thrash the primes in the first stint for 8 laps, and then go as far as possible on the options until phase two really sets in, swap to fresh options and sprint to the finish… or run conservatively on primes until it’s possible to switch to options and make it to the end without getting too far into phase two. I’d likely choose the latter, as it would provide good track position in the race, which might be a benefit on such a tight circuit.

  19. Robert McKay says:

    I don’t think they should shorten the race at Singapore. It lasts about the same as Monaco, really, doesn’t it, and that’s part of the challenge!

    It makes a nice contrast to have one or two really long races with the shortest one of Monza.

    1. iceman says:

      I agree it shouldn’t be shortened. The drivers are fit enough to cope with it nowadays. If you think back to the ground effect days, you’d sometimes see drivers getting out of the car utterly spent, barely able to stand. You never see that now, even after the most gruelling race. The fact that they don’t prepare for the race with a glass of red wine and a Gitanes any more probably helps!

  20. Eric Weinraub says:

    I found the data fascinating and sadly more interesting than the likely procession behind the Red Bulls. With the exception of an accident, it is hard to imagine that we will not see a RB on pole and possible victor… though you never know what McLaren have up their sleave.

  21. Quercus says:

    Given that, as you say, the championship is all but decided, I would have thought that it makes sense for the teams to use the remaining races to start testing some of the ideas they are coming up with to meet next year’s rules.

    Is there anything in the regs to say they can’t do that — provided, of course, that any new components or configurations still meet the 2011 regs?

    1. thats what i have been thinking .. maybe they are and they dont really say … i suppose for the big teams is they dont want to now give any BIG clues to what they have planned for next year…

      but people like Lotus/HRT/virgin surley might as well keep testing parts etc … ?

      allthough they are the ones that might not be able to afford to send new parts to the next fly away races etc ..

      i think in the end , these teams say they have started working on next years car , but what every the produce/make/learn in the current car will be carried over/added to next years design

      Matt

    2. RobH says:

      You’ve answered your own question there Quercus!
      If it complies with 2011 regs it’s allowed.

    3. Alex W says:

      I would love to see the Fez start running unblown diffusers 2012 style, would be awesome to see Alonso fighting the Williams, just knowing they are gaining a huge headstart for 2012!

  22. Bruce says:

    Hi James,
    These articles you do on strategy are really interesting and informative, so thanks for taking the time to put them together, and thanks to the strategists and engineers from the several leading F1 teams that you ask!
    However, as I am not a mathematician and cannot work out KM/H to MP/H, I again ask you to please put down the speeds in MP/H as well as KP/H, as you insist on doing!
    Thanks, Bruce

    1. 100 km/h = 62 mph

      If you want to calculate it, take your number in km/h, multiply by 0.62, and that will give you your result in mph.

      300 km/h * 0.62 = 186 mph

      1. Bruce says:

        Thanks for this but, as I wrote, I am not any good at maths and I cannot see why James cannot put down the speeds in MP/H as well. After all, the majority of the readers are British.
        I don’t want to try to work out the speeds in MP/H whilst reading the article!

      2. Kyle says:

        Top tip, you could enter it into google search and the calculator will give you an instant conversion, for example:

        150 kph in mph
        250 lbs in kg
        10 feet in inches
        150 gbp in usd

      3. Paulo Miranda says:

        As James stated before about 60% of the reader of this website are from outside UK, so no the majority is not English. I’m ok with James posting in MP/h because even if i don’t remember of how to do it out of my head, google is sometimes our friend.

        So paste this on google and see the result in Mp/H.
        “270 km/h to mph”

        Without the quotes, and replace 270 with another value. Before the results you will see the speed in Mph.

      4. James Allen says:

        I will endeavour to put both, time permitting

      5. Bruce says:

        Thanks James, I really would appreciate that as, I’m sure, a lot of your readers would as well. As you can see from the above replies there are ways of converting, which I will try to find.
        Cheers!

  23. Jarv027 says:

    Interesting to see some teams thinking of shortening the race from a gruelling 2 hour race. I think all f1 races should have a 90minute time limit myself.

  24. JohnBt says:

    Thanks James for the updated start performances. If Shumi had a better car I’m sure he’ll be on quite a few podiums.

    Sky has been grey with late mornings and early afternoons shower daily and nights much cooler with no rain at all. With three dry races, would be good for a change this year. Maybe a damp track could show up on raceday or even wet. But you can never trust the weather predictions.

    Singapore would like Vettel to claim his WDC for historical purposes and it’s possible. It’s gonna be exciting I’m sure.

  25. malli says:

    thank u james

  26. jonrob says:

    “As the track is at sea level, the air pressure is higher, the air is more dense and this means that the fuel consumption is higher” Interesting, since the denser air at sea level normally gives more power, but this may be negated by the high temperature,(it may not be denser if temp is high) so it will come down to the specific gravity of the air. This also affects the amount of downforce and drag.

    Will McLaren get the gears right on Hamilton’s car this time, in Monza he was on the limiter as soon as the DRS opened.

  27. Rob Newman says:

    Great article James. Thanks for the detailed analysis. We can read these kind of in depth report only on ‘JA on F1′.

    I have a feeling it is going to be a rainy one this time in Singapore. For some reason Vettel is not that strong in wet condtion this season. Webber can be stronger this time around.

    McLaren is very strong in wet weather. Actually it is not Button or Hamilton better in wet weather but the McLaren car works well in bad weather. McLaren should be the team to watch.

    DRS will be effective here. The soft and super soft will suit the Ferraris well. They can end up in the podium if there are no problems for Red Bull or McLaren.

  28. Fred says:

    Hi James,

    On a totally unrelated note. Have you heard anything on the rumours linking Raikkonen with Williams?

    1. Craig says:

      James, I also request any info you have on this.

    2. Lynn says:

      Williams spokesman confirm the visit.
      But it has nothing to do with a F1 drive.
      Not going to happen.
      Its partial WRC & Le Mans for Raikkonen next year.

  29. PeteM says:

    The longer the race the more strategy needed, the more tyre degridation and the more loss of focus. To me this equals more excitement. I hope in future the length of the race is not compremised.
    Im also hoping Vettel can win this round and maybe take the championship to get it out the way. Reason being we might be able to see if Webber is allowed to then go for a win and team orders and priority shift.
    What are the odds on Webber loosing 4-5 positions by end of first lap.? Those stats James are telling and there is no denying Webber would probably hold a comfortable second in the championship had he been able to start the car of the line like most others around him.

  30. Grabyrdy says:

    Great stuff as usual. One little thing about the start stats : rather than adding all the footnotes, wouldn’t it be fairer to not penalise drivers taken out through no fault of their own like Nico and Petrov in Monza – give them a neutral, for example.

    Hope it rains. Come on Jenson !

  31. CJM says:

    Hang on a minute everyone. Much as I think this is the most insightful blog about F1, there is some quite frankly laughable copy and paste of PR drivel. Hands up who believes this:
    “Singapore…has established itself alongside Monaco as one of the two most important races on the calendar for the sport, the teams and sponsors”

    Ridiculous.

    1. James Allen says:

      It’s not cut and paste, I wrote it from personal experience. Trust me, Singapore is a VERY important race for F1 now. Perhaps if you went there during GP weekend, saw who was there and what was going on, you would see it for yourself.

  32. Jose - Perth says:

    Thank you !

    In regard to pit stop times I guess the larger or more skilled the dedicated pit crew is the faster the pit stop. That is where HRT are struggling possibly.

  33. Lurk says:

    How is calculate Pit Stop League Table? Do you calculate average per team per gp then average of these averages? Or you directly do an average with all pit stop of all GPs?
    In the second case, the table will be false.

    Here’s an example:
    If a driver did 3 pit stops on a track with long pit lane then 2 pit stops on a track with short pit lane, and a second driver did the opposite. We could have something like:

    Driver #1: 3*30s + 2*20s = 130s
    -> Average: 130/5 = 26s

    Driver #2: 2*31s + 3*21s = 125s
    -> Average: 125/5 = 25s

    #2 has a better average but worse pit stops.

    BTW waht do you mean by “taking out all anomalies”? Is it only when a driver change need also to change is wing or are the several problems encountered by Massa taking out too?
    I think the seconds should count because it shows that Ferrari (or other teams) have really some troubles with their pit stop, even if they could be fast.

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes, the long stops where something goes wrong and skews the sample

  34. James Beck says:

    I have done some analysis of the data from Monza, and there are a number of interesting things to note. Thought I’d post it here as this is where those interested in strategy are.

    Firstly on the data from James: the fuel effect is only about 70% of that quoted in the Monza briefing, so either everyone was saving fuel big time in the middle stint having been seriously underfuelled, or the numbers were a little conservative. Also the pit stop loss time is closer to 24s, but part of this will be warming up the tyres on the out lap in my model.

    I had some trouble fitting Vettel’s data, but having successfully modelled other cars, it is clear that Seb was cruising after the first stop, I reckon that he had more than 15s race time in his pocket before he slowed on the last couple of laps, based on his first stint – about 0.5s per lap on the McLarens (on options), 0.7s on the Ferraris. Therefore, had Lewis got ahead of him at the start, Seb would still have won – the pace advantage is sufficient that they could have jumped the McLaren by stopping earlier, or later and get him at the second stop. Seems like Red Bull have made a good step over the summer in race pace – at least in low dowmforce mode.

    Also, some interesting notes on tyre usage come from Schumacher’s race trace. At the end of stint 1 and for the first half of stint 2, Michael’s pace was slower than the car could go due to defending. No big surprise. Once past, Lewis sped up to about the McLaren’s true pace, but Michael also sped up to a pace beyond that which is suggested by his other stints. By the time he stopped, he had just about got back the time lost in the first part of the stint. This goes back to the words from Phil Prew at McLaren who talked about tyre resource and how it gets used differently by Jenson and Lewis. Michael used the tyres sparingly in the first part of the stint as he was going slower and then had pace and longevity on them later in the stint. Intuitively, this seems odd, and warrants some more analysis from other races. I think this is essentially how the Saubers and Toro Rossos are able to pick up pace later in the stints as they are faster in races than the cars they qualify behind. Therefore they can run longer and use their pace advantage at the end of the stints. If you can do one less stop then it pays off.

    Another interesting thing is the step change in pace from Hamilton after he was told he could catch Alonso. My analysis shows that he would have caught the Ferrari around three laps from the end had he been on it after his last stop. A missed opportunity. By the way the Ferrari medium tyre struggles are not as bad as they seem. The lap time difference to the soft tyre they see is about what we see from the Mercedes and midfield cars. What we can see is that the McLaren is 0.3s faster relatively on the medium tyre – so this looks like a good job from the Woking boys, rather than a poor job done in Maranello.

    I’m thinking of writing a tool (nice graphical output) which makes this analysis easier to do. I think I can probably do this in real time, so we can see these nuances during the race. The stuff posted here is a first go and scratching the surface of what can be done.

    James, would the guys in the specialist media/press be interested in being able to do this analysis in real time straight after the race? Is there already something which provides significant added value to the live timing and race history charts?

    1. Kyle says:

      Great insight, thanks for that.

      If James can’t help you I suggest you get in touch with Keith Collantine over at F1Fanatic and see what he thinks about it.

      They have a live update feature/application on the site each race which is quite nifty, perhaps your analysis could be incorporated into that to some extent.

  35. Eamonn says:

    Don’t shorten the races.So they have to drive for an extra half hour.

  36. James F says:

    Vettel must be due a DNF (or 5).

  37. Ralf F says:

    James is there a pit stop table by driver? I’d be interesting to see what difference the driver can make in a pitstop ie are rookies slowing down their crew by not parking in the correct way? thank you!

    1. James Allen says:

      There is and I will post it soon

  38. Kit says:

    The great thing about a road track is you have these cars buzzing past you about 6-7 meters away. Close stuff action. It took me a while to realise this as a differentiating feature, after attending 2 Singapore GPs.Duh!

    My favourite spot is at Turn 14. This is where you can see the brake disc glow clearly (Williams brakes glowed the brightest of all!), quick downshift revs, sound of blown diffusers kicking in(McLarens have the loudest and most distinctive sound last year) and breathtaking acceleration out of the corner.

  39. Paul Mc says:

    I think Vettel will secure the championship this weekend, i cant see him not getting pole and not running away on Sunday. Fight for the remaining positions will be interesting though.

  40. Raid Polski says:

    The idea of shortening the race is a wierd way of problem solving, but very typical to F1.

    The brake wear is too high? Drive slower then, it is a question of choice. Or maybe the engineers should find a way round.
    Driving in Singapore makes drivers sweat? Again, there are more ways to cope than just making the distance shorter. Drive to the pits for a nap, pick up a new “hobby” or work harder on your fitness…Not set the bar lower all the time with rule changes. Drivers coping with difficulties make spectacle too, just as Pirelli tyres do. 2 hour race is traditional and a very fine balance between dragrace and endurance.

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