A deep dive into race strategies from Indian Grand Prix
Insight
Red Bull
Strategy Report
Posted By: James Allen  |  01 Nov 2011   |  1:24 pm GMT  |  108 comments

Although this was not a thrilling race, it was an intriguing one from a strategy point of view because of the difference between the two types of tyres each driver had to use. Like many races this year, it didn’t turn out the way pre-race expectations had predicted. In fact it was quite a surprise.

At the front, Vettel always had something in hand over Button. Although the McLaren was closer at the start of each stint, the Red Bull had the raw pace to ease away each time into a five second cushion. This was a margin Vettel was comfortable with in this race, allowing him to lose a second to Button by stopping a lap later and giving him a couple of seconds to play with in case of a poor pit stop. Generally this season he’s wanted to have a bigger cushion of more like seven or eight seconds so the five that he held on Sunday over Button for most of the race indicates that Button was pressing him. So it wasn’t as easy as it might have looked from the outside.

The thinking behind Vettel’s gap management tactic is that he doesn’t want to push too hard to open a larger gap for fear of damaging the tyres and as the leader is always the last to make a stop, covering the cars behind, he doesn’t want to put himself in a position where he has nothing left in the tyres.

With a performance gap between hard and soft tyres, the key as always was recognising the point at which a new set of hard tyres was quicker than a used set of softs.


Webber on the back foot over strategy
Mark Webber’s race summed up his season in many ways. He lost a place at the start, then had worse tyre wear than his rivals, so was forced onto the back foot strategy wise.

Webber was battling for 3rd place with Fernando Alonso, who got ahead of him at the second round of pit stops. Alonso said after the race that he was ‘surprised’ that Webber stopped so early. Webber had a gap of around two seconds over the Ferrari on lap 35, when his tyres started to go off. On lap 36 he lost a second to Alonso.

Webber’s middle stint was just 21 laps before his tyres started to go off, which is 7 laps less than Vettel’s in the same car and also than Button’s. This is his Achilles Heel this season. Alonso took two laps to push hard and then was able to pit and rejoin ahead of the Australian.

Webber’s plight seems all the more strange given that the Pirelli tyres were far more durable this weekend than expected. Michael Schumacher did 32 laps on a set of softs in his middle stint (albeit they were a new set, with no qualifying laps on them).

With the benefit of hindsight, Pirelli could have brought the soft and supersoft tyres this weekend, but they didn’t have any knowledge of the circuit. Also the temperatures could have been a lot higher, so it was probably best to play it safe.

Although he has had good pace at times, the story of Webber’s season is that he’s had poor starts, which have put him in traffic and this has hurt his tyres more. Without strong top speed he also finds it more difficult to pass. He has also lost the strategic freedom by having higher tyre wear, so he has to stop earlier each time.


How Schumacher beat Rosberg
This was another strong race for Michael Schumacher, who beat team mate Nico Rosberg for the third time in recent races where both have finished. Schumacher started 11th on the grid, four places behind Rosberg, but again got an excellent start to run right behind him in eighth place. He pitted on lap later at the end of the first stint and put on a set of new soft tyres, as did Rosberg. Schumacher’s middle stint was what won it for him; he did 32 laps on that set, four laps more than Rosberg. When Rosberg switched to hard tyres on lap 45, he should have been faster than Schumacher on used softs for the five laps before he stopped. But Schumacher kept the pace up, lapping in the 1m 29s, while Rosberg didn’t get the speed on the new tyres, so when Schumacher pitted on lap 50 he jumped his younger team mate.

The pair were told they could race, but Schumacher got the hard tyres up to speed more quickly than Rosberg and held him at bay. Mercedes were in a lonely race of their own, too slow to race the leaders, but faster than the midfield.

And it was again more evidence that Schumacher is back on form and ready to shine if Mercedes can build him a good car next year.


Di Resta – Counter strategy doesn’t work out this time
Although pre race predictions suggested that the gap between the soft and hard tyre would mean that drivers would want to run the hard as little as possible, in fact it didn’t turn out that way and the hard wasn’t a bad race tyre at all.

But that only became apparent after Paul di Resta, Vitaly Petrov and Sergio Perez, who started on the hard tyre, had pitted early to remove it. Di Resta pitted on lap 2 and was clearly hoping that the time he had lost by doing it this way, would be made up by a safety car period at some stage of the race. We’ve had five recently. Also teams felt that with inexperienced marshals, who had taken a long time to clear debris during practice, race director Charlie Whiting wouldn’t want to take any chances in the race if an incident needed clearing up. It didn’t happen.

Di Resta was now committed to the soft tyre for the rest of the race. But instead of stopping just once more, as Perez and Petrov did, dividing the race into half, he was forced to stop twice more, because he couldn’t make the tyres last long enough.

Early evidence that the hard tyre was in fact pretty quick came from Rubens Barrichello in the Williams. After a collision at the start, he was forced onto the hard tyre on lap 1 and once in clear air his lap times were competitive. So Di Resta, Petrov and Perez could have run a more normal length first stint on it.

On the first lap Di Resta was 13th behind the Toro Rossos and with a normal strategy would have finished behind them, along with Sutil. It’s a big call to put yourself out of the game by pitting that early in the race, in the hope of a safety car, especially when you are in a competitive position. Force India have a quick car which has scored points consistently and even beaten Mercedes a couple of times. But they were aware that in their championship battle with Toro Rosso, they couldn’t afford to give away a lot of points, if a Safety Car changed the game.

So they went for a gamble here, based on the premise that we’ve seen a spate of safety cars lately and this was a case of strategists trying to second guess the race director. It was a gamble over a point, so not much was lost, but arguably it was a risk worth taking if a safety car had come along and potentially changed the game for Toro Rosso.


Toro Rosso’s massive strides
Alguersuari had another very strong run to eighth. The Toro Rosso again had low tyre wear, but the surprising thing in India was that he was able to drive away from Sutil’s Force India car in the middle stint (compare the brown dotted line in the graph to the yellow line below it). Given that a few races ago Force India was beating Mercedes, it shows how far Toro Rosso has come.

Since Singapore their progress has been amazing. The combination of new front and rear wings, new floor and maximising the exhausts and engine maps has transformed the car. I’ll do a separate post on that shortly.

The UBS Strategy Report is prepared by James Allen with input and data from strategists from several F1 teams.

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108 Comments
  1. F1Fan4Life says:

    Hi James, not that I would ever disagree with you, but I wanted to note that I don’t think Sebastien Vettel was really pushed at all by Button. According to Christian Horner, in the closing laps Red Bull tried to slow Vettel down by turning down all the engine modes and shutting down his KERs from the pit wall. That however wasn’t enough to stop the greatest ever driver (absolute sarcasm) from setting the fastest laps of the race in the last two laps.

    My thought is he was coasting and could easily have built up a bigger cushion anytime he wanted, given that information. Just linking the article with Christian Horner here:
    http://en.espnf1.com/redbull/motorsport/story/63134.html

    1. ...... says:

      Why sarcasm?

      You do know Fangio and Prost and Senna were driving in the best cars when winning their titles right?

      This anti-Vettel talk is just silly by the sour grapes lovers.

      And Horner said they did that in the last laps to stop Vettel from pushing the car over the limit, unnecessarily stressing the mechanical parts of the car…there are still 2 races to go.

    2. madmax says:

      I tend to agree, maybe the reason he was content with a slightly less cushion was with the amount of incidents in practice Red Bull figured a safety car was a high probability so no point pushing the tyres for a bigger gap.

      Read somewhere the reason Red Bull are so concerned about Vettel not going for fastest laps at the end of GPs isn’t because they are afraid of him crashing but that they don’t want to reveal just how good their car is to the competition for fear of more accusations of cheating under cost restriction agreement.

      1. JB says:

        I’m not sure if Horner was just ordering Vettel to slow down. I imagine he would have done the same to Webber. Webber had already showed RebBull’s capability to be 0.4second ahead (lap 59).

        There is no point for Webber to chase Alonso down on the final few laps anyway since he couldn’t overtake in Korea against Hamilton and the same story here India with Alonso.

        IMO, Vettel and Webber both showed RB7′s fast pace. The only difference is that Vettel also showed that he is also 0.3 secs ahead of Webber, which of course is well-known to everyone already.

    3. iceman says:

      They can’t control the KERS and engine modes from the pit wall of course, the driver has to do that from within the car, but they’d have known if he hadn’t made the adjustments they’d requested.

      Certainly does make it look like he had plenty in hand though. That fastest lap was three quarters of a second faster than anyone not in a Red Bull managed.

    4. Jose Arellano says:

      i dont think its legal to make any changes to the car from the pitwall. the driver has to make them

      1. Douglas says:

        That’s my understanding also.

      2. Craig in SG says:

        Correct. From the technical regulations;

        8.5.2 Pit to car telemetry is prohibited.

    5. Shane says:

      I am not sure that these comments from Horner mean as much as everyone thinks they do. I think the teams all run with a good amount of performance in hand.

      I think that what Horner meant was that they had enough reserve performance to answer any challenge from McLaren. That being said, McLaren were (most likely) not running at 100% either. McLaren aren’t fighting for P1, they are fighting for P2 with the knowledge that P1 may come their way if Vettel has a failure. They push hard enough to keep Vettel honest and maybe a little more at times to test them, but McLaren has to finish the race too. The best McLaren or Ferrari can hope for at this point is to be in a position to capitalize on a RBR failure.

    6. Speed F1 says:

      Best car doesn’t always win without the best driver. Jack Villeneuve had the best car in at least 2 different seasons. He didn’t capitalize the opportunity. McLaren had the best car in more than just a few races this year, but neithe JB nor LH managed to challange Vettel. Also no matter how badley Webber is treated in RBR, Webber still didn’t manage to get anything out of his 3 pole position and more than a few front row starts. So, not liking Vettel is completely your choice, but not admiting the quality of this exceptational driver is cowardly.

      As far race strategy goes, 2006 season is probably the best season in the last decade. The qualifying, refuelling, tyre rules and two different tyre suppliers made everything more than just a fast car and fast driver. I was watching the 2006 season preview on the dvd the other day & realized how exciting it would be to see the same kind of rules and regulation with the current drivers line up!!! Indian grand prix was good, but not great as far as entertainment goes. The entire season has been boring, but I guess FIA won’t change it’s mind about cost cutting no matter how bored we get watching a normal dry race. Cost cutting is a bit of a joke anyway. If the teams have money they should be allowed to spend whatever they want. For example, do we go out there and tell a billioniare to live on McDonalds for a week rather than fancy food or stay in a back packers rather than a 5 star hotel? Do we also walk up to a Aventador or Daytona or Enzo or Veyron driver and ask him/her to drive a Hybrid Camry instead and use the left over money for world peace? No we don’t. So, I don’t understand what this cost cutting waste of time strategy of FIA is. At the end of the day, it limits everything including an exciting racing weekend with lots of exciting strategies to make F1 worthy of watching.

      1. terryshep says:

        I agree entirely with your second paragraph. Why does F1, alone among world sports, have to represent this supposedly ‘Green’ aspect? We’ll leave aside the fact that there is a strong body of scientific opinion which doesn’t agree with all the doomsayers – I mean, where were the Ferraris pouring out CO2 when the last Ice Age came to an end? So the temperature rose? A good thing, I should think, if you were around then.

        No, the truth is that there is now a bureaucracy running racing. People appointed to positions of power who feel they have to stamp their authority on history. Where is the pressure to use less resources in F1, use less money, use less people? Who is making these demands? The truth is that no-one is questioning F1′s use of resources at all. It’s all a confidence trick. When was there ever a comparison between F1 and the airlines? The all-night lighting of empty motorways? The blaze of advertising signs in every city in the world? It’s all nonsense, if the teams have got the money they should be allowed to spend it and give us what they are supposed to, genuine racing, not Mobil economy runs.

    7. Tealeaf says:

      Your sarcasm might just be proven right in the coming years, he needs another 3 titles and maybe 1 of them in a Ferrari to cement his legacy but saying all that, Seb is the best driver of his generation and that’s no sarcasm.

    8. Duke says:

      Super spot on comments about Schumi — we are all praying that he gets a better car,now that he has hit form again.
      Also noticed how many new 2nd phase Schumi fans are posting.
      Driver of the weekend again.
      Merc PLEASE get your act together for MSC.

  2. k9 major says:

    Interesting comment from JB post race in reference to Webber, “we broke his tyres’. This ‘Achilles heel’ of Webbers has been one of the reliable features of the races this season, and JB placed himself perfectly to exploit it this time. He knew that Webber would only be a threat behind him for 5 or 6 laps, didn’t panic and then pulled a gap. Such is the quality of Jensons racecraft this season that his drive in India has gone largely unapplauded, as if it is what we have come to expect from him. To have turned around a fairly dismal qualifying into a workable race strategy deserves some credit as well.

    1. Carl Craven says:

      Interesting point of view. I didn’t see the post race interviews. Button’s race craft goes unapplauded all round yet it’s put him in a strong position.

      I often prefer a poor qualifying to see what he’s capable of.

    2. Adrian Harris says:

      k9 major – that is so true. JB is brilliant and I reckon he would beat Vettel in the same machinery. Definately deserves more credit for the job he is doing. I am excited by the prospect of him being first brit in goodness knows how many years to be a double world champion. He has it in him.

      1. Doug says:

        As a LH fan I’m somewhat gutted to admit that
        I think you’re right. I think JB is the best driver on a Sunday this year…I posted that this was the probably the reason Lewis’s head had dropped a few months ago…it’s nice to have McLaren confirm this.

        As Martin Brundle says “In F1, you’re either giving pressure or taking it”

        In Canada Jenson cracked Vettel, in India he cracked Mark & Alonso and his season has cracked Lewis. Unless LH gets his head around Jenson coming into his house & running off with the Silver, I fear it could ruin him at McLaren.
        Jenson accepts that Lewis is quicker but looks at the long game & stays cool. Lewis can’t seem to cope with Jenson’s relentless race pace.

        Great article James, keep up the fantastic work.

  3. KGBVD says:

    Sutil is the orange line there mate.

  4. DanielH says:

    James, great article as usual, but you haven’t told us what I’m sure we all want to know: how many mechanics and engineers got struck by Delhi Belly and had to be replaced? Did Immodium play a key role in Vettel’s victory?

    1. Speed F1 says:

      Mustn’t be many because outside of India England has the highest number of Indian restaurants and cafes in the world. And britts live on curries. Plus most of the F1 teams are somewhat based on England as well. So, it won’t be woth mentioning I reckon.

  5. wayne says:

    How many times do the pre-race tyre predictions about the harder tyre being vastly slower than the softer tyre need to be proven false before they actually start to expect the unexpected?

    Quite apart from all the track evolution factors, the hard tyre is usually pitted against a warn set of soft during the final transition phase so the difference is always marginal and by the time thye are all on hard tyres it no longer matters.

    1. James Allen says:

      It’s happened a few times, less as the teams have learned more. But here the track was the unknown

      1. James Beck says:

        How competitive do you think that the hard tyre was? I reckon that it was order 0.8s slower than the soft from my analysis. This is about half the difference seen in qualifying – which is a pretty accurate trend over the last few races (if you ignore Singapore). Sutil was about 0.6s slower on it – and he was about the best. Look how much faster Di Resta is on softs in the last stint.

        The softs had very little degradation – look at the curve of Schuey’s second stint, usually the lines are pretty straight as the degradation time loss is about the gain from fuel burn off.

      2. Justin says:

        It makes complete sense that they would be half as slow as in qual. they’re only run in the beginning of quali 1, then quali 2 and 3 happen, and then ~45 laps of racing. of course the gap is gonna be way smaller there’s so much more rubber down.

      3. James Beck says:

        Is this obvious? Why is the pace of the softer tyres not increased by the same amount due to the circuit rubbering in so the gap stays constant? James – can this be explained by the Pirelli guys?

        Also, Barrichello was on hards from lap 2 and saw the same reduced gap with just the rubber down from qualifying. I tend to think it’s more to do with the care needed to make softer tyres last for a stint (or equivalently more extra performance is gained from softer tyres by thrashing them for a lap), but I’d be interested to see some more detail on the rubbering in idea.

      4. wayne says:

        Yes and that is my point exactly.

    2. Speed F1 says:

      Well no matter what tyre was used, the outcome of the result as far as race winner goes would not have changed. Particularly Vettel can adapt to any conditions and also Pirelli tyres in general really well. Vettel will probably have a good hard crack at Schumi’s highest number of race wins in a calander year. He is already the new Schumacher. That will just be another tick in the box for him.

    3. Rishi says:

      I was going to mention this too. You’d have thought that by now the teams would have built the track evolution etc. factors into their strategic models by now (although from James’s comment it sounds like they are doing that now and this hard-tyre underprediction thing is becoming less common).

  6. Jonathan Strutt says:

    been watching for about forty years now. Convinced that 1/ Massa lured Hamilton into the collision or cared not if he hit him, being convinced that either both of them or possibly Lewis only would get a drive through.

    Also that he deliberately hit the kerb later in his anger. I am not a Lewis fan nor have anything against Massa but it is character that frays when things go against us and he let it all get to him.

    He will not be at Ferrari next season

    1. Quercus says:

      I agree. Massa wasn’t bothered whether the situation ended with a collision and — based on previous incidents — was pretty sure Hamilton would receive any penalty. The BBC have quite a good analysis of the incident but didn’t go so far as to say what we’ve both just said. http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/formula_one/15524661.stm

    2. wayne says:

      Even the venerable, long suffering Smedly had a ‘I give up look’ on his face when Massa hit the Kerb.

      1. kirbs85 says:

        The reason why Massa was given the penalty is because he turned in on Hamilton and braced himself for the bump which duly came. He knew full well that there was going to be a collision and because of the history between them either didn’t care or thought Hamilton would either break his car or receive a drive thru.
        What people don’t allude to is that 1) Hamilton can’t simply disappear into thin air despite both him and the telemetary showing he tried to back out and 2) no one is saying that Massa has to drive off the track. Clearly he was in front after braking later, but as it was clear Hamilton would still be there all Massa had to do was leave 1 car width at the apex. If he had done this he would have still exited the corner in front of Hamilton – sure probably slower on the exit, but this was the start of a complex where there is nowhere to pass so should have been able to stay ahead till the next straight.
        The fact that Massa left no room at the apex meant the collision was inevitable when if he had left some room it would have been avoidable hence the penalty (even thou this was probably a bit harsh and should have gone down as a racing incident).

    3. MISTER says:

      I don’t agree with you.
      After the drive-tru, Massa was still ahead of LH. Massa did pit after and ended up behind Lewis, but by the end of the race Lewis would have to pit anyway.

      So why would Massa hit the kerb intentionally to ruin his race? If he wants to race with Ferrari or any other team, he needs to show that he still has something good in him, not that he can break the car down.

      Also, saying Massa wanted a collision or didn’t care is plain stupid. No offence ofc.
      I don’t believe there’s any driver in F1 who doesn’t want to finish a race or who would prefer to crash then be overtaken. That’s just silly.

      1. Jonathan Strutt says:

        Massa was only ahead of Lewis because LH had needed a nosecone. It is too late for Massa to impress Ferrari, he has had years to do that and been brilliant and poor, but never consistent.

        There is quite a high proportion of deliberate or reckless collisions over the decades. Very few drivers excepted. Possibly Button or years back, John Watson. ‘Losers limp’ is the phrase when the protagonist pretends that he is the worst injured to cover for foolishness.

        Still say he didn’t care about the kerb. Everybody else missed it, including Massa, until his race was already ruined. He was announcing it on the radio before his car had even slid across the track. His anger wasn’t at Hamilton then, but the race stewards or perhaps even Ferrari if he knows something we don’t.

    4. Speed F1 says:

      Have you supported any Ferrari driver in 40 years or anybody other than a Britt?

      It was marginally Filipe’s fault (only if you think Lewis had the inside line), but the track is wide enough for two drivers to stay side by side in a corner (probably the real racing line for Indian track). If anything it should’ve been considered as a racing incident as the BBC commentators mentioned. Except Nelson Piquet Jr nobody in the history wakes up thinking about crashing another driver and himself out of a race.

      1. Jonathan Strutt says:

        I am a Schumacher and Vettel fan whoever they drive for. My comments were meant to be objective opinion and yes I am English but since Mansell days have always followed a driver who really ‘went for it’
        Lewis sulks, which rather spoils his brilliance.

  7. Vinoo says:

    the fact that schumi has consistently outperformed rosberg in the races recently and moreover he seems to have figured out how to make these tyres work for him in the race…if he can learn to turn on the tyres for the one lap performance…and merc build a competitive car next year..we could see schumi shine…fingers crossed..

    1. Speed F1 says:

      If anything Schumi should be racing till he is 50. He took 5 years to win championship at Ferrari. Who knows, he might do it again with Merc! Wouldn’t that bring millions more viewers back in F1!!!

      1. Tealeaf says:

        Yes you’re right within 5 years Schumi could win Mercedes that title but the only problem is Schumi hasn’t got that long left and maybe if he was a decade younger he could have pulled this off but not now, he could still win if the car was like a 1992 Williams or 1988 Mclaren.

      2. F1 Fan says:

        I think Schui is so fit & has been this way for so long that at 50 he would still competitive if he chose to be. A strong argument could be made also that any outright slight loss of reactions (if there was any, people said he would not be able to drive in THIS comback & look at what he is doing) etc would be more than countered by the wealth of driving experience he has. :-)

        Go Schu!

  8. Stuart Harrison says:

    James – is there any chance you would be willing to release the raw data you use to generate these graphs?

    Another great insight into the complex strategies of F1 – fine post!

    1. James Allen says:

      It’s available as the Race History on FIA website, under timing information on home page

  9. madmax says:

    Really like these after race analysis posts. Especially the Schumi, Rosberg situation was explained well. With some websites hinting that Mercedes wrecked Rosberg’s race on purpose you give more informed information to explain a more intelligent viewpoint.

    Explaining that Rosberg was expected to be faster on the new hard than old soft’s and the forgotten fact that Schumacher’s tyres hadn’t been run in qualifying.

    Is their any point in asking what everyone is eager to hear about, anymore Kimi to Williams news?? One British website is reporting it is already signed and another reporting it is Barrichelo signed for next year again instead.

    1. James Allen says:

      Williams hasn’t decided yet and no-one is signed. I think it will be a few weeks. Raikkonen remains a strong possibility

      1. irish con says:

        would everybody not like to see a fully firing kimi in f1 again. i know i miss him at his best.

      2. Athlander says:

        But would Kimi be motivated in a Williams?

      3. madmax says:

        Cheers James, Hope it happens and the good thing for Kimi if it does is at least he will have a lot weaker team mate to come back to than Schumi did even if the car isn’t up to scratch.

        Not to say that Raikkonen can’t contend with any team mate it’s just look how long it has taken Schumacher to get up to speed.

  10. jmv says:

    concerning Toro Rosso.. I think is time for Giorgio Ascanelli to be promoted to run Ferrari race weekends.

  11. Marcus in Canada says:

    I’m just not convinced that beating Rosberg in a few recent races means that Schumacher “is back”. I freely admit that I was never a fan of his (quite the opposite actually…), but beating Rosberg in a few races is setting the bar pretty low to measure Schumacher’s performance. Nothing against Nico, I just think Schumacher needs to do much better than that to be “back”. Michael’s comeback has been so lacklustre that it makes ANY success seem better than it is; I mean, before last season started who would have said that beating Nico in a few races after almost two seasons back was “success”?
    For that matter, does anyone really think he will ever be able to regularly beat Alonso, Vettel, Button, Hamilton now?

    1. Sebee says:

      You see anyone else challanging the pecking order of Red Bull Domination this year? Even with a few wins, McLaren is some 150 points adrift. Let’s be realistic about importance of car. Give him a car and watch what happens.

      Personally, I think everyone should get used to the taste of Red Bull for some time to come. And isn’t Vettel the new Schumi anyway? Check Vettel’s wiki page and note the similarities. If Vettel wins 3 in a row next year, the trend of Vettel following Schumi’s mold will finally be broken.

    2. eric weinraub says:

      Given him a car on par with Alonso, Hamilton, Vettel and watch him fly…. The car Merc has given him is slower, comparitively, then the 1996 Ferrari F310

    3. jonnyd says:

      well lets look at the evidence? rosberg consistently performs and gets what is expected out of that mercedes, pretty much all the time. schumacher has had several scrappy races this season, (Turkey, silverstone), and seems to have trouble with the giant front wings still…he also struggled to make the tyres last, early in the season. Mid-season was a turning point, and since then his race performances have consistently been stronger than Rosbergs, and even coming within closing distance of the leading 3 teams’ cars on a number of occasions at the end of the race (something rosberg hasn’t managed to do all season), which is now why he’s only 5 points behind Rosberg, after a poor start to the season (including the DNF in singapore).

      And, it seems, in japan and india, he’s finally worked out how to make the tyres last – this has been crucial.

      If alonso, vettel, button or hamilton were sat in a mercedes they’d all be performing to the same level as rosberg/schumi. There is nothing to suggest that schumacher (or even rosberg) would be winning if they weren’t sat in a redbull (that goes for most drivers on the grid, anyway)

      Given that schumacher was still beating alonso at the end of his previous career, and that he’s now beating nico rosberg consistently, in his new career, why would he not be able to still mix it with vettel etc. with a decent car?

      time will tell.

      1. Justin says:

        The only reason he beat Nico in this race is because he didn’t make it to quali 3 so his 2nd set of tires were brand new while nico’s had quali laps on them. Michael’s lasted 4 laps longer and let him get the jump on nico. Though his starts have made this strategy work even better some times, most of his results lately have simply been because he can’t qualify as well as nico. so when he gets by the people between him and nico, because the MB is so much faster than FI, TR, etc, he can use his new tyres to leap frog nico since he’s been directly behind him the whole time. if he gets held up in traffic he only manages to close the gap down a bit and ends up behind nico at the end. he is basically destined to finish 7th or 8th, assuming no incidents, and it just depends on how much he gets held up in the first stint, all because he has the new set of tires from not being in the top 10, unlike nico, who qualifies FASTER.

      2. miro says:

        according to:
        http://www.pitpass.com/45111-Indian-GP-Driver-Tyre-Strategies

        NR and MS had same tyre strategies.
        first stint on used soft
        second stint on new soft

      3. Mark V says:

        Being only five points behind his teammate is no “evidence” that Schumacher still “has it”, especially since he won 91 GP’s and 7 WDC’s when he once “had it”, while his current teammate has not won a single race let alone a WDC in his entire career. Nico Rosberg is either the greatest driver in history to never have won an F1 race, or Michael Schumacher’s comeback is little more than a Bavarian holiday in fireproof Lederhosen.

      4. jonnyd says:

        well…comparing this to his last career is pointless, because in that he was in a top car for most of it….no one can win in that mercedes currently. that was some of the point i was trying to make.

        92/93 benetton was the 3rd fastest car. 94 it was 2nd or equal to the williams. same scenario in 95. in 96 it was the 3rd best, and then from 97 all the way to 2004 it was either the best or 2nd best car on the grid…..
        thats not taking anything away from michael, he engineered that situation and then had the motivation and commitment to keep pushing for all those years at the top.
        2005 he had the 3rd best car again, and 2006 it was pretty equal in the end, between the renault and ferrari.

        mercedes is clearly the 4th best team, has been for the last 2 seasons. So you simply cannot compare the points and positions this year to his previous career………

    4. MISTER says:

      Schumi is fast and Mercedes need to get the car sorted.
      Nico is not slow, so don’t say that beating Nico is not big deal in Schumi’s case. Nico is fast also, put him in a top car and will shine.
      Nico never got a chance to show what he can do in a top car.

      Look at Bruno Senna. After last year at Hispania, I would never guess he has the speed that he is showing now, after jumping in the car mid season. The car plays a very important role in someone’s performance.

      I wish Nico would go to Ferrari in 2013 and Schumi to be on the podium this year.

    5. Jonathan Strutt says:

      You perhaps forget that Schuey has already whopped Alonso and Button, and Webber years back in similar equipment. Lewis was not around then. To be fair, Alonso has also beaten Schuey.

      Can Schuey beat Vettel? I doubt it. They are peas in a pod but Vettel has the youth advantage.
      Testing is what made Schuey invincible thousands and thousands of laps of it. If anyone can get the Merc working , he can. And yes, it does mean that Nico is better than probably everyone else except Schuey and Vettel

      1. Tealeaf says:

        I wouldn’t agree Nico is better than everyone except Vettel and an on form Schumi, I’d say Alonso, Hamilton, Button and Webber are better than Nico, remember Webber beat Rosberg when both were at Williams in 2006.

    6. For sure says:

      Well, Schumi certainly still has some weaknesses to work on. But you have to remember that different cars demand different skill set,he is building a new skill sets. But the trend is there, that’s JA’s point.
      I ask you one simple question, where do you think Alonso or Vettel would finish in that Mercedes? 4th?
      In the past 5 races, he had two accidents (one not his fault) and his worse result is 6.

    7. Marcus in Canada says:

      My point was not that Michael is no good, or that he is not improving, just that this is surely not the yardstick people envisaged when his comeback was announced. Sure he has beaten these guys, but that was before the comeback, my point is: he is not “back”.

  12. grigved says:

    Sorry to say but Massa really needs a break now…

  13. Matt Larkin says:

    I still don’t get these graphs!!

    Help me out – the zero line is the average lap time for the winning driver, which I get. So say this was 1m29s. The way I read the graph is that on lap 19 (say) Vettels lap time was 20s slower than his average. Now I know that must be a mistaken reading of the graph, and what it is actually trying to show is gaps between drivers.

    Wouldn’t it be simpler to plot this the other way up – zero to 300 on the vertical axis, and then the plots simply being the distance behind the leader on each lap?

    Matt

    1. Sebee says:

      Just stare at the lines and enjoy the colors. I find it hypnotizing and calming. Like waves coming ashore.

      1. madmax says:

        Haha Sebee, the mind guru!

    2. Richard says:

      Another confusion is that Button & Hamilton seem to have the same trace; shouldn’t Button be dotted?

    3. CAinCA says:

      Yes, please post a link on how to read these charts.

      Thanks!

      Chris

      1. Sebee says:

        I suggest you jump to any of the previous strategy reports, where the charts have been discussed and explained.

        As you can see below, they are explained again.

    4. Quercus says:

      No, you’re right; on lap 19, Vettel was 20s behind his race average.

      The reason the graph tends to fall from the left hand edge is that after the start they’re heavy with fuel and therefore fall behind the overall average. Then as the race progresses and they burn off the fuel, they slowly speed up until at the very end the winning car is back up to the zero line.

      If there were no pit stops, the race winner’s trace (assuming no safety cars) would look like a washing line strung between two posts.

      1. Sam says:

        The 0 line can’t be Vettel’s average lap time, otherwise Vettel’s graph would go above 0, on account of the fact that some laps must be faster than average, and some must be slower than average.

        Surely the 0 line should be Vettel’s fastest lap time?

      2. Sam says:

        Scrap that! Just read Aaron Parson’s post below, makes more sense now!

    5. James Beck says:

      I like these charts (and the colours…)

      If Vettel did every lap at the same speed, with the same total race time, his line would sit on the zero line. So when the chart shows him at -20s on lap 19, he would be 20s behind a car which did the race at constant speed. The cars fall behind the zero line due to the high fuel load at the start – the second half of the race is faster than the first (weather/safety cars permitting).

      The idea of doing the chart this way is to provide a constant reference. If you plot relative to the leader it’s like having a moving target. With the fixed reference speed, the gradient of the line tells you how fast the car is, changes in gradient give you increases or decreases in pace. For example, the lines being steeper at the end of the race than the beginning show the fuel effect.

      Hope this helps.

    6. Aaron Parsons says:

      What it shows is the distance between each driver on each lap, their speed relative to each other over the course of the race, when they pitted, whether and when there was a safety car and DNFs. It’s a much more complete representation of the race than showing how far behind the leader each person was.
      On lap 19 Vettel was 20s behind a mythical super car that produced his average lap time every lap for the entire race.

  14. irish con says:

    im abit dissapointed in webber. like how many races does he need to learn these tyres. same story every week and i like the guy so it bugs me. he must be one of the worst on these tyres compared to last year.

    1. er,go says:

      Me too mate. I get the feeling that he has given up on the season, but I don’t believe nor, if it’s true, respect that too much, especially when you look at his teammate setting fastest laps at the end of a race à la Kimi Raikkonen; just so he doesn’t get bored.

      If you realise that the car won’t change much next year, I reckon he would still be going for it, because if he can’t get pace this year, next year will not be different. Is his car a test-bed for Newey to experiment with? Possibly but I really don’t think so. Is he holding back? To answer a question with a question: What racer holds back? Are the tyres, his weak point I believe, going to be different next year? No, developement not change, so he’s not waiting for an opportunity to get up to speed faster than Vettel after a big engineering change, and won’t anyway.

      So I don’t know. But he has a contract next year, so himself and Mateschitz reckon it’s a good thing. Good luck to him. Hope he gets it together.

    2. iceman says:

      I agree with er,go; it’s not a problem with the tyres, it’s a problem with motivation. He seems to have accepted that he’ll always be forced to play second fiddle at Red Bull, and it’s dampened his spirit. I can’t see things changing next year either.

  15. Rob Newman says:

    I couldn’t understand why Hamilton was not competetive on the first stint. He was never a threat to the front runners at that point. Don’t no if the tyre pressure had anything to do with that.

    It is sad that Webber is still struggling to get the tyres sorted and we are almost at the end of the season. Even Schumi seems to have mastered the Pirellis. Webber is one of the best drivers on the grid and beaten only by one team mate.

    I would like to see how the Red Bull drivers will perform without the hot air blowing thing next year because when that was restricted at Silverstone, Webber was doing well. Not sure if Vettel has some secret in the hot air area.

    1. Spinodontosaurus says:

      Vettel and Heidfeld = 1?
      (Heidfeld was ahead in 2005 until he got injured 4 races from the end of the season).

      1. Alex W says:

        Heidfeld was given advantages to try keep BMW, the udercut at monaco was the most blatent.

    2. well says:

      Webber was close to Vettel at Silverstone because Vettel’s KERS was not working and RBR disadvantaged Vettel in strategy to help Webber out.

    3. Raymond U says:

      Mark has an advantage with the exhaust placement this year. Without special blowing maps, downforce changes with how much your right foot is pressing the pedal. Mark’s technique allows him to maximise the amount of time his foot is on throttle (producing more exhaust gas for more downforce). Vettel neer quite got his head around this technique.

      If there are blowing maps in place, then downforce will be the same on and off throttle. So how much you press on the throttle has no effect on downforce. When exhausts become aero neutral next year, this is basically the same as this year, with less downforce.

      Before teams started using exhaust blowing maps, Mark had the advantage (as in Spain/Monaco 2010) as he was basically enjoying more downforce than Seb overall, with his special technique.

      So next year should see the competitive order stay the same. It’s not that Seb has an advantage with blowing because he doesn’t. It’s that Mark has an advantage with the current exhausts and no blowing.

      1. Tealeaf says:

        No at Spain and Monaco last year Vettel’s chassis was cracked and was estimated to be half a second a lap slower so that explains that, also Redbull didn’t have blown exhaust in 2009 and Vettel beat Webber that year as well, just face it Seb’s on a different level to Mark.

  16. D. says:

    There is no question in my mind that Vettel’s car is outside the specs. Even though Webber is no more (and no less) than a mediocre driver, there is no way Vettel is **consistently** half a second faster in every Q and almost a second per lap faster in race, especially in the beginning of a stint. There is just no way this happens if they have identical cars. Q after Q, we see Vettel just sitting in the garage in Q3, watching what everyone does, then goes out for a single run and betters the top time by half a second. And in the race, builds a 5-sec lead within 4 laps. On every track, regardless of characteristics, weather and who is behind him on the starting grid. I have had this opinion since early in the season, but now I am concinced, because there is plenty of hard evidence (not proof, but evidence, as in “data”) to back this up. Newey has done something that is clearly (at a minimum) a stretch of the rules, if not an outright violation of them.

    1. Dave says:

      Thats quite an accusation, but it is strange how Vettel seems to have such a margin over EVERYONE else this season, including his team mate Webber.

      If you look at the relative performance of the drivers and cars this season compared to last, not much has changed in the pecking order other than Vettel seems to have at least 0.5 secs a lap over all the other drivers, regardless of weather conditions, track characteristics or any another such variable.

      It is unbelievable how consistently better Vettel is over Webber this season given they were so close just 12 months ago.

    2. Liam says:

      What? No seriously, are you for real?

      Let me see… Hamilton crushes Kovalainen, Alonso crushes Fisichella & Trulli, Schumacher crushes Barrichello, Senna crushes Prost, Mansell crushes Patrese.. and the list goes on. These were all in identical cars and at the time the drivers were praised for their excellence.

      Vettel crushes Webber and the team is giving him a better car. Come on, are you for real?

      The reason the gap is as big as it is is simply that Mark can’t get to grips with the tyres… He’s admitted as much himself and we all know Mark wouldn’t say that if it wasn’t true. But that is pretty much irrelevant… The fastest driver\car combo under a set of regulations is the best driver\car combo. Why do people have to make these things more complicated than they really are with stupid accusations and assumptions?

      1. Joe says:

        I guess the accusations are stupid until proven some point down the line – I question your reality when you’re not seeing that Webber is getting a raw deal this year next to Vettel. I know some people like to fete success and be blindly happy when someone’s winning, and over-exaggerate what this success means, but there’s been more than enough incidents over the last two seasons to suggest that RB is fully behind Vettel, at Webber’s expense. Which is fine – Ferrari made sure of that. But to pretend otherwise is denying yourself the bigger picture.

        If that’s the case, why did Webber sign on for RB next year? Well, he signed up again some time after Silverstone, and the announced blown diffuser ban for 2012. And we all saw what happened to the ‘excellent’ Vettel’s speed advantage there…

  17. James Beck says:

    Not sure I agree with the assessment of Di Resta’s race. The early stop worked for Perez, and Di Resta was ahead of him for the first 20 laps. The problem for the Force Indias was that they had the worst degradation on the softs and Di Resta had to make two further stops, where Perez/Petrov only made one.

    Their switching of Sutil onto the hard worked for them, though. I’m sure the plan was to stop much later (like for example Senna did – and do the opposite of Di Resta’s race), but they had to respond to the stops of the cars around them to keep track postion and go on to the hards if they didn’t want to stop again.

    1. James Allen says:

      The piece makes it clear that the problem for Di Resta was tyre wear and that after the initial stop to get rid of the hard tyre, he stopped twice more, while Perez and Petrov stopped just once.

  18. Left Philangie says:

    With regards to Webber its interesting to note for the last two races they changed the software for his starts back to a setup from last year and since both starts have been good off the line. So much so he had to back off after nearly rear ending Vettel. This surely gives him a better chance of clean air and to look after his tyres.
    Id really like to see Vettel 3 or 4 cars back and fighting for a few laps to see what tyre degradation he has.
    For Webber now the team FINALLY seems to have fixed the starts (why did it take so long) i think he should be more optimistic about the last two races and next season.

    1. well says:

      The start is 90% driver.

  19. SNB says:

    James,

    Question did Webber sign too early , should he have opted to try and engineer a move to McLaren or Ferrari.

    I hear Webber mentioning too often his relationship with the owner, it appears apparent that Vettel is a freak of nature that is going to be hard to beat for quite some time consistently.

    RB’s failure to deliver top end and harnessing of KER’s issues is a quandry to Webber only!

    How far would Vettel win by if they both worked at the same time.

    Should Webber try and swap ?

    1. James Allen says:

      No, I think Webber did the right thing. He needs to come back stronger next year, focus on the areas that need work, like the tyres

      1. C Lin says:

        Yes, I also think Webber did the right thing.

        He dislikes being no.2 driver if he joins Ferrari (presumbly replacing Massa) he will need to accept no.2 role & not be able to speak openly about his unhappiness like he did in Red Bull.

        As for McLaren I don’t think they will swap any one of their 2 very strong driver for Webber.

    2. SNB says:

      I do sadly as a loyal Aussie Webber supporter agree.

      But consider this , a swap , Hamilton for Webber and no team orders giddyup ! Then we will see some fireworks

      How do you reckon Seb and Lethal Lewie would get on as teamates ?? I bet by mid season there would be a 20mm piece of sheet plate steel separating the 2 pit bays.

      Button + Webber together would be brilliant both boys respect each other and the racing internally would be awesome.

      F1 is a show and that would put bums on seats

  20. Laurence H says:

    Tyres, tyres, tyres, tyres, tyres, yawn…

  21. Dan Ede says:

    Great report as usual James. Quick question regarding Toro Rosso; with the team and both drivers doing well of late, is it still expected that Ricciardo will get a seat there next year, or could Bueimi and Alguersuari be retained?

  22. Mr Squiggle says:

    Webber gave an interview on Australian TV last week where he said the team had given him back last year’s start system/steering wheel. His last really bad start was Spa.

    If you look at his in-car footage pole lap at Monaco last year, he is always twitching away at the wheel, basically trying to feel the limits of grip. Vettel by comparison does not do this as much, he is more confident of the car’s grip. I wonder if Webber’s twitchy style contributes to this tyre wear problem.

  23. schorsch says:

    Watching the mercedes during the race I noticed that MSC was catching ROS for quite a while before ROS pitted for the second time and pulled away again on the harder tyre. ROS pulled that gap in the first stint and in the pitstop. From then on MSC was faster. Maybe MSC has more problems getting the car to the limit in a short time (i.e first stint an quali) but is faster in the long run?
    I also noticed that both MSC and ROS increased the gap to HAM on the hard tyres. I thought (so did HAM race-engineer) that the mercedes would be slower on the harder tyre. Or did HAM give up? BUT was still quicker than both mercedes on the harder tyre.
    Torro Rosso look really strong – wonder what they will manage in the remaining races. Thay made Force India look really bad in their home GP.

  24. Andrew says:

    Hi James after reading your comments about Toro Rosso’s progess in the last couple of races was wondering who you felt have made the most progess in developing their car this year?

    From where it looks Red Bull have kept a step ahead while Mclaren and Ferrari seem to have been playing catch up most of the year, Mercedes have been limbo land (not fast enough to challenge for wins but faster usually than those behind), Renault have been a disgrace in my mind and stood still in developing their car, Force India have done a good solid job it seems, Sauber have run out of steam in the last couple of races, Toro Rosso have come on foam as you mentioned tho it helps that I believe both drivers raised their game, Lotus are closer but still a gap to their rivals while HRT and Virgin are both hanging around at the back.

    1. James Allen says:

      I’ll do a post on this shortly

  25. Guy says:

    Off topic – James, why has there been no mainstream interviews with Kubica nor indeed any photos of him since the accident?

  26. Am I the only one bothered by how smoggy and polluted India is?

  27. For Sure says:

    Off topic, if Nico is leaving for Ferrari seat Kimi should join Mercedes, that would be epic.

  28. Andrew Flemington says:

    The cars are in three classes. The top 3, the bottom 3 & the midfield.
    The drivers are in three classes. Vettel way out on his own. Hamilton, Webber, Alonso & Button scrabbling for second place. Massa & the rest.!!
    The BIG picture is that Vettel has made the rest look very average this year, including his team mate. I am sick of all the excuses from McLaren, Ferrari and their drivers. Webber is not complaining, just circumspect at letting Vettel get such a huge lead. Anyone who thinks Vettel will not match any of these drivers in the same car or indeed continue to win in a Ferrari or a McLaren is missing the point. The RBR drivers have made the car look unbeatable for the last two years, not Adrian Newey. He is just a key figure in one of the three top teams.
    The ignorance of most of the F1 fans is no surprise to me. They are often one eyed in support of their favourite driver or team. What surprises me is the majority of professional sports writers who have been fooled by all the “superior car” hype.
    Wake up and smell the coffee please.!!
    Andrew

  29. Simon says:

    I was curious about Rosberg’s last stop. The mechanics seemed to have finished, the wheels were on but it stayed up on the jacks for maybe an extra second or so before getting released.
    Schumacher’s stop was perfect, and then he emerged from the pits about a second or so ahead of Rosberg.
    I’m not claiming the team held Rosberg up deliberately, I’m just wondering whether I was seeing things. If there was an issue with a wheel or something which held him up during his final stop, did anyone see what it was? It wasn’t traffic because his car was still in the air.
    Rosberg’s pit stop time was longer than usual (over 5 or 6 seconds, I think) but I don’t think the BBC commentators mentioned it.
    I don’t have it recorded so I can’t go back and check.

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