Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to be acid test for 2011 overtaking aids
Insight
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Posted By: James Allen  |  08 Nov 2011   |  4:07 pm GMT  |  78 comments


Last season’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix showed how critical Race Strategy is in F1 and how a bad call can cost the World Championship. Following a strategic blunder by the Ferrari team, Fernando Alonso came out of a pit stop behind two slower cars, which he could not then overtake.

So this year’s Abu Dhabi race will be the ultimate acid test of the extent to which the DRS wing and Pirelli tyres have improved overtaking opportunities in Formula 1. There are two DRS zones on the circuit and with the long back straight out of the hairpin, overtaking slower cars at least should be no problem.

After the 2010 event, the Yas Marina Circuit organizers were going to make changes to the circuit to improve overtaking, but with the success of the DRS wing and Pirelli tyres they decided not to do so.

Yas Marina is a Herman Tilke designed circuit with two long straights and some tight turns which take the track underneath the landmark Yas Hotel and around the marina. The Yas Marina Circuit features six corners below 100 kph – only Monaco, Singapore and Valencia have more. But there are also four straights of 275km/h or above, as in Monza.

So here are the considerations the teams’ strategy engineers will use when deciding how best to attack this weekend’s qualifying and race.


Track characteristics

Yas Marina – 5.554 kilometres. Race distance – 55 laps = 305.361 kilometres. 21 corners in total. Average speed 197km/h. A marina based circuit hosting its third F1 Grand Prix.

Aerodynamic setup – Med/High downforce. Top speed 320km/h (with DRS open) 307km/h without.

Full throttle – 60% of the lap time (ave/high). Total fuel needed for race distance – 151.25 kilos (ave/high). Fuel consumption – 2.75 kg per lap (ave/high)

Brake wear- medium. Number of braking events – 12, Time spent braking – 16% of the lap.

Loss time for a Pit stop = 16 seconds
Total time needed for a pit stop: 21.2 seconds

Fuel effect (cost in lap time per 10kg of fuel carried): 0.4 seconds (ave/high)

Form Guide
The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is the penultimate round of 19 in the 2011 FIA F1 World Championship. Sebastian Vettel is the only driver to have won at Yas Marina, taking the 2009 and 2010 races. He has already clinched his second consecutive world championship and won five of the last six races. In India he also broke the record for most laps led with 711. No other driver has surpassed 100 laps in the lead this year.

Red Bull has been on pole position for 16 of the 17 rounds to date this year, which establishes a new record for a team in one year. For the past two years Red Bull and McLaren have been the form teams at Yas Marina Circuit.

Lewis Hamilton has finished on the podium once in Abu Dhabi and had a pole position, while team mate Jenson Button has twice finished on the podium here.

Only 7 drivers have finished on the podium in 2011 – a very low number – and if that remains the case after the final round at Brazil it would tie the record low in one year, set in 1992, 2000 and 2002.


Weather Forecast
The forecast for the weekend is stable with temperatures in the low 30 degrees C. But as this is a dusk/night race it’s worth noting that the night time temperature is set to fall to 19 degrees C.

Likely tyre performance and other considerations
Pirelli tyre choice for India: Soft (yellow markings) and Medium (white markings). This combination was seen in Valencia, Germany, Belgium, Italy and Japan.

Although it is their first year in F1, this is a circuit that Pirelli knows a lot about as it conducted extensive testing here in 2010. The track tends to be covered in sand at the start of the weekend and again each morning, but the improvement is significant and once plenty of rubber goes down the lap times tumble.

It is therefore very important to get the timing right in qualifying so you are on the track at the end of the session, when it is at its fastest.

The performance gap between the soft and medium Pirelli tyre is going to be critical to race strategy. This is an area where the teams are still finding surprises after almost a whole season on the Pirellis. Recently they have been finding that the harder compound tyre is more competitive than expected in the final stages of the race.

However in Germany the gap between soft and medium was 1.5 seconds per lap and team strategists tried to run on the soft tyre for as much of the race as possible, taking the medium tyre briefly at the end – with the extreme solution by Vettel and Massa of pitting on the last lap for the mediums. In Japan the difference from soft to hard was 1.2 seconds.

The cooler temperatures of the evening for qualifying and the race will help boost tyre life, so the data the teams gather on tyre wear in Free Practice 1 and 3, where the temperatures will be much higher, will not be as relevant as the Free Practice 2 session on Friday evening.

Number and likely timing of pit stops
The last time these two tyre compounds were used in Japan, the top three finishers all did three stops with a final stint on mediums. But Suzuka has more high energy corners, which takes the life out of the tyres, than Yas Marina. So it’s more likely that we will see two stops being the favoured way. Also the lower temperatures in the evening should help with tyre life.

Although the overtaking situation should be easier with DRS Wings, the strategists for the top teams will nevertheless be watching out for the gap to the midfield cars in the first stint, to make sure that their driver does not come out of the first stop and lose time behind a Mercedes or a Toro Rosso which is running a long first stint on the soft tyres. So they will want to build a gap of well over 20 seconds before stopping.

Chance of a Safety Car
There have been two races at Yas Marina Circuit, the first did not feature a safety car, while the second one featured five laps under the safety car after a crash at the start of the race.


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.

In India, the winners off the line were Ricciardo (gained 5 places) and Senna (gained 4 places), while Button gained a crucial two places to leap from fourth to second. The losers were Barrichello, Kobayashi and Trulli who were involved in first lap incidents and Buemi who lost 3 places after qualifying strongly in the top ten.

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

+28 Schumacher *

+14 Buemi #
+16 Glock
+15 Ricciardo
+14 Kovalainen
+13 Liuzzi
+10 Alonso***
+8 Di Resta,
+7 Massa,
+5 D’Ambrosio
+4 Trulli, Heidfeld ******

Lost places
-2, Chandhok, +5 Kobayashi**

-3 Vettel
-8, Rosberg*****
-9 Hamilton
-10 Sutil ##, Maldonado
-11 Button,
-12 Alguersuari####
-14 Perez ###
-15 Petrov,****, Senna

- 24 Webber
-25 Barrichello #####

* 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. He lost 7 places in an incident at the start in India.

*** 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.

##### Barrichello lost 7 places at the start in India

Pit Stop League Table

Of course good strategy planning also requires good pit stop execution by the mechanics and there have been some amazing performances; we have seen tyre stops carried out in less than two and a half seconds this year.

The league table below shows order of the pit crews based on their average time for a stop through the first 17 rounds of the world championship.

1= Red Bull Best
1= Mercedes Best
3 McLaren + 0.3s
4 Force India + 0.4s
5 Ferrari + 0.5s
6 Renault + 0.9s
7 Williams + 1.1s
8= Lotus + 1.3s
8= Sauber + 1.3s
8= Toro Rosso + 1.3s
11 Virgin + 1.6s
12 HRT + 3.2s

The UBS Strategy Briefing is prepared by JA on F1, with input and data from several F1 teams.

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78 Comments
  1. Dave says:

    Pretty comprehensive! Good work.

    1. James Allen says:

      You read it already? That was quick!

      1. Davexxx says:

        See how we hang on your every word, James!
        No Pressure….. ;-)

  2. Nick says:

    Wow @ Schumacher’s starts.

    If only Mercedes had a fast car…

    1. Rubinho's Keyfob says:

      I agree – though of course it’s all relative. FWIW I’m not a fan particularly, but I’d love to see him at least take a podium in the interests of the sport’s history etc – the result in Canada this year was a travesty (courtesy of DRS) IMHO.

      WRT wishing for a faster car – there’s a reason that VET’s stats are negative. You can only make up positions if you had a bad qualifying in the first place ;) Faster car generally means worse stats. Except for Rubens :(

    2. K says:

      Well Merc is fast in a straight line, as evident in Monza where Hamilton had a pretty hard time in trying to overtake Schu =)

      I guess it’s the handling of the car that’s not so good and pulling back the Merc drivers.

  3. Mohammed Al-Momen says:

    Will be heading there this weekend so EXCITED !!! :D

  4. Raymond U says:

    James, Williams is quoting 2.9kg/lap, and 0.2s/10kg. Quite a big difference from the fuel effect you’re quoting…
    Here: http://www.williamsf1.com/news/view/1989

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes. They tend to have higher values, mine are an average of a few teams’

      1. James Beck says:

        I do calcs based on the race laptimes, and I can get the fuel effect out from this (same tyre, same stage of stint, different load), and James’ values check out pretty well on the whole.

        Williams figures suggest ~3.2s over the race, James’ figures ~6s. Based on last year, Petrov gained over 4s in 40 laps which gives nearly 5.5s for the race or more if the tyres degrade a bit. Evidence says to go with James’ numbers here.

  5. JamesF1 says:

    James,

    How do you calculate the +/- figures for places gained/lost off the start? Is it simply the difference between the driver’s position at the end of lap 1 versus their grid position?

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes. You add up all the places gained, then take away the places lost

      1. Neil says:

        You could drop the best and worst starts for each driver (to get rid of one-off anomalies).

        Might also reduce the number of footnotes!

        Neil.

  6. James B says:

    Nicely written, should be a decent race!

  7. Pyrope says:

    Nice summary JA, thank you.

    I’m a little annoyed at the Yas Marina authorities for not adjusting the track. Both the previous races have shown that this is a deeply flawed design (what a surprise) and doesn’t come anywhere near fulfilling its design brief, at least as far as F1 racing is concerned. At the very least, and with almost no cost, they could have eliminated the chicane before turn 7. With that monstrosity in place, instead of cars emerging onto the long straight in close formation they are well strung out, so I’m not sure how much effect even the DRS is going to have. Ditching the current turns 5 and 6 would mean a much more interesting entry to the straight, and may even provide an additional overtaking opportunity into the current turn 7.

    Quite why they haven’t even taken this very simple step to improve the track is beyond me. Any insights?

    1. CH says:

      Good points. I sighed when I read “they’ve not made any changes…”

    2. Gene says:

      Lack of runoff area most likely. I remember reading that one of the features of the track they wanted to incorporate was having the fans as close as possible to the action. The chicane slows the cars down, and allows for very little runoff area at the hairpin meaning the seats are closer to the track. I agree, it’d be a huge improvement to the track, but there it is.

    3. Trent says:

      I think it was probably the right decision to leave the track as is. DRS will make passing on the long straight fairly easy (hopefully not too easy) so will eliminate the frustrations from last year. With a couple of other straights to deploy KERS, it could be a good layout for the 2011 rules.

      I do agree, though, that turns 5/6 seem completely pointless and the circuit would be much better without them. And the tarmac is already there to do that.

      1. Spinodontosaurus says:

        The track is terrible, any excuse to alter should have been taken without question.

  8. Douglas says:

    Schumachers’ start stats are amazing. Somebody give the man a competitive car!

    1. David B says:

      He’s been very good, but always after a poor qually, it is easier to make up places.. Start on Pole and you can only go backwards, hence Vettel on -3.

      Ps Excellent summary/preview as always.

    2. John T. says:

      Or maybe he should just qualify better so he doesn’t find himself surrounded by slower cars.

      1. Dominic J says:

        Does that mean Rubens should qualify worse, to give himself a chance of improving his stats?

    3. K says:

      Personally, I don’t like Schu much, but you gotta take the hat off to this guy for being still as skilled as he was before, so applause to him. It’s down to the car at the moment really.

    4. Pyaare says:

      That places gained information is bit of misleading. Every races Schumi and Massa make up lots of places on the race start (hence the + signs), but from look of it eat away into their tyres while doing so. As a result they look very fiesty and competitive in the first few laps and then fade over the race length.

      Michael/Mercedes seems to have resolved the Tyre issues last recent races and as a result Schumi has been finishing in good positions.

      Massa/Ferrari have still not come to terms with the Pirelli tyres, every single race you get a feeling Massa/Ferrari seems to be running atleast 3-4 laps more every stint and losing race places in those extra laps stayed out on dead tyres.

  9. Karatanthala says:

    James, if the lap time difference between the two compounds of tyre are high, would it be possible for a team at the beginning of the pit lane to pit at the end of the final lap, change to the harder tyre and cross the finishing line still in the pit lane?

    1. James Beck says:

      Have you noticed that the finish line seems to be at the beginning of the pit straight in most places? – and not where the start line is. I always thought this was odd. The exception is in Monaco where it is after the pit lane.

      Is this done on purpose to stop this happening? Which I would guess is a reaction to Silverstone 98.

    2. K says:

      I recall the rules says you must do at least a lap on a different compound for both tires to be used. Changing the tyres and crossing the line immediately on the final lap isn’t doing a lap so…

      Correct me if I’m wrong.

  10. Richard says:

    Excellent article, but we have already seen how the Pirelli tyres can do the unexpected.
    Abu Dhabi seemingly has great facilities, but boring track circuit so perhaps KERS, DRS, and tyres can make a difference. I say KERS because how it is used can make a difference particularly if your competitor has used all his up elsewhere on the track.

  11. Vincent says:

    Every time I read the ‘Recent Start Performance’, I think it might be a little more informative if it was presented alongside a table of ‘average grid position’ and ‘average position after start’. This would highlight whether Schumacher, for example, is only gaining so many places relative to Rosberg because his average qualifying position is lower down the order.

  12. Andrew Cumbria says:

    Interesting James. So will Red Bull go for a racey setup with lower top speeds that we have seen in similar races this year, or will they try and stay with the McLaren which tend to be faster in a straight line.

  13. Rob Newman says:

    Nice report James but sorry, I don’t agree that it was the Ferrari strategy which cost Alonso the world championship.

    First of all the championship is not just one race. The over-rated Alonso didn’t win because he couldn’t overtake the car in front. That is what cost him the championship. Looking back, last year he benefited mainly because of failures from Red Bull and not by any of his skills.

    I am not sure if DRS is going to be that much effective in Abu Dhabi. We all saw how it was in the last two races. DRS is boring and should be banned. Let’s see if the Pirellis can make the race any interesting.

    1. Justin Bieber says:

      1. Alonso is not overrated(according to most team bosses & pundits)

      2. Its true that the championship is not just one race. But if a driver and/or team makes a big mistake during the last race and it cost team the WC then It’s acceptable wisdom to say they lost it there.

      3. Alonso didn’t overtake Petrov and Hamilton didn’t overtake Kubica because the Renault was unpassable due to their top speed in the straights. Lack of talent was not an issue.

      4. Alonso did benefit from failures in Barein and Korea. But lets not forget the amazing drives he had in Monza/Singapor just to name a few. F1 is a constructor formula, some built fast and fragile cars other build slightly slow reliable car. Its all about find the right balance.

      5. DRS is not boring but it needs to tweaked. Some DRS zone were far too long and others did not improve overtaking by much(ex: Barcelona). I would prefer a more durable tire with DRS than having no DRS at all.

      1. K says:

        -1 on Rob Newman
        +1 on Justin

      2. Spinodontosaurus says:

        DRS is boring and artificial. All exiting moments in races this year in terms of passing have ben outside the DRS zone. Get rid of it.

    2. Dave_F1 says:

      Alonso Over-Rated?

      By saying that you select to ignore every race engineer in F1 who all rate Alonso extremely highly & do so having far more data avaliable than you or I.

      Let us also not forget that Lewis Hamilton also failed to overtake Robert Kubica’s Renault at Abu-Dhabi last season & was also put in championship contention based off Red Bull’s unreliability, Guess he’s also over-rated!

      If Alonso is over-rated explain some of his drives in the uncompetitive Minardi, Drives which got him recognised by bigger teams. How about some of his performances in the uncompetitive Renault’s of 2008/2009?

      Maybe you should actually look at the data & listen to the opinions of those who actually know how to rate a driver’s ability before making dumb comments like calling a double world champion over-rated!

      1. K says:

        +1, totally agree with Dave_F1
        Not to mention he beat Schumacher to the world championship during his peak, plus amazing overtaking moves like 130R in Japan on the previous F1 master.

    3. StallionGP F1 says:

      Good observation as Vettel’s engine blew up at korea when he had the measure of everybody in that race also we have to remember the incident in germany

    4. Liam in Sydney says:

      @ Rob: your comment is silly. Yes, Fernando did benefit from RB car failures, and yes he didn’t just lose the championship on the back of getting stuck behind Petrov. But mate, he won a string of races to close out the season, scored more points than anyone in the second half of the season. What more did you want the guy do? If you were handing out free drivers to each team each season, I bet FA would be the first picked.

    5. Brad says:

      Good one Rob. At least you can see thru the b$llsh*t. Alonso fans can be just as whiny as him, judging by the comments above.

      BTW, So much for his development skills, seems the Ferrari is going backwards every year. I bet Vettel put a huge dent in him being the so-called complete driver this year. and him beating Schumacher at his height, Kimi was named driver of the year 2005 in Alonso’s first championshipyear, what a laugh… and massdamper illegal assist in his 2nd championship year…WOW..

      1. Anup Kadam says:

        [mod]Fernando Alonso was the man who made the Mclaren 6 – 8 tenths faster than the 2006 version of Mclaren in 2007.
        Read the comments made by Martin Whirthmarsh when Fernando sign Ferrari in 2009.
        He said that it was our biggest mistake ever made that we were not able to keep Fernando at Mclaren…

      2. Brad says:

        It was not made by Martin Whitmarsh, it was made by Alonso himself. Which makes the claim even more hilarious!!! So what excactly happened when he left the Mclaren team for Renault? It became a midfield team!!! What about Ferrari’s situation, they are becoming worse year after year. That they actaully fired Aldo shows me they are clueless as to how to build a modern aerodynamic efficient car. At least Aldo knew how to make a car faster!!! I foresee nothing but doom for the red team, and their president’s threats is going to get even more ridiculous come the next few years when they realise they can’t succeed!

      3. Anup Kadam says:

        Ohhh..so now i came to know how much you know about formula 1.Who`s responsibility it is to make car faster, Drivers or Engineers ?. Ferrari have already said that they are lagging in aerodynamics front. So its Fernando`s fault. If today Redbull is faster then its all bcoz of Sebastian Vettel and not Adrian Newey as per your saying. What the hellll!!… If Aldo costa knewed how to make a car faster then why he didn`t make the 2011 Ferrari faster….And for your kind info i am sharing the link where Martin Whitmarsh made his comments have a look at it….
        http://eyugoslavia.com/featured/22/mclaren-still-cries-over-alonsos-exit-massive-regret-2210249/

        Even today Fernando Alonso is the only driver highly rated by all the F1 pundits..are they all mad…? They all say that he is the complete package….

    6. wayne says:

      Alonso overrated? So almost the entire F1 world is wrong? No.

      You need to watch what Alonso does in the races a little more closely. He consistently maximises or outperforms the car he is driving. He has probably had the third quickest car this year in most races and has often finsihed 4th (the car’s potential) or above (He’s been on the podium 8 times this year). I do not think he is the outright fastest over 1 lap but if I were going to bet my house on any driver winning the wdc (all things being equal) it would be Alonso.

      All things being equal, this is how I think the top three drivers (in my opinion) would (on average) qualy and finish a race in the same car:

      Qualy:
      Hamilton
      Vettel
      Alonso

      Race:
      Alonso
      Vettel
      Hamilton (taking into account this year’s poor form)

      I would also reverse your call on DRS and tyres. Keep DRS as it only allows faster cars to pass inherrently slower cars anyway and get rid of the joke-shop tyres.

    7. Rob Newman says:

      I was expecting a beating from Alonso fans. Alonso won a couple of championship thanks to Bridgestone giving Schumacher square tyres as requested by the FIA. We all know they wanted to end the Schumi domination.

      If Alonso is any better, then who is the benchmark? Don’t tell me it is Masssa. Alonso was beaten fair and square by Hamilton and Alonso doesn’t like a strong team mate so he threw all his toys out of the pram and ran back to Renault. What has Alonso achieved since 2006? Nothing! Has he done anything impressive? No! I have seen better overtakes than the one on the 130R and just a single overtake does not make a driver great. He struggles to overtake his own team mates. He expects them to move over by way of team orders whenever he comes behind them.

      There were many overtake in Abu Dhabi last year. I saw Alonso going backward from the very first corner. And people still want to say it is the strategy which cost him the race. Please …

      1. Matthew says:

        [mod]

        Reasoned, considered opinion is what makes this blog great. At least try and think of the other side of the coin!

      2. wayne says:

        I am not an Alonso fan but they guy has to be given his due. Surely? It is a cheap shot to try and explain away everyone who disagrees with you as simply ‘Alosno fans’.

      3. James Allen says:

        Enough of this, it’s getting tedious now

      4. Justin Bieber says:

        Rob.. you didn’t get a beating from Alonso fans. What you got was few well informed F1 fans reminding you a few FACTS about F1 and Alonso. Your disdain for Alonso is clouding your judgment. Its one thing not to like a driver but its quite another to dismiss his talent and acheviements based on your personal dislike of him. Give respect when respect is due.

        As for your claim that Alonso was beaten “fair and square” by Hamilton in 2007.. well, when 2 drivers finish the year with the same amount of points, its called a DRAW.

        I’ll give you few example of drivers beating their team mates “fair and square”: Vettle/Webber 2011, Alonso/Massa 2011-2010, Hamilton/Button 2010.

        I rest my case ;-)

      5. Brad says:

        “There were many overtake in Abu Dhabi last year. I saw Alonso going backward from the very first corner. And people still want to say it is the strategy which cost him the race.” LOL, must be one of the funniest comments I ever read. Classic!

    8. KRB says:

      Ferrari reacted to Webber coming in … they only thought about covering him off. But with that they hurt themselves and gave it to Vettel.

  14. Buck61 says:

    Amazing info James. Well done

  15. Time to see how my psychic powers are working (actually, just trying to extrapolate upon the season using last year’s race as additional weight).

    I can see Hamilton doing well this weekend. He’s had a rough season, but he’s bound to improve at some point or another, and he’s traditionally been fast here. I can see him snagging pole and having a good race.

    I can also see Senna getting beaten by Petrov here, before the roles get reversed in Brazil (provided they don’t throw in Grosjean for the final round… but I can’t see them pulling Senna for the Brazilian GP; however, F1 is a ruthless business).

    I can’t see Webber’s fortunes improving much… though I’d like to see it happen. Vettel just has too much going for him right now, and he tends to kill it at any Tilkedrome.

    As for whether Hamilton beats Vettel or not, I’m up in the air. I could see Vettel getting a killer start and then Hamilton catching him near the end… but in that case, I could also just see Vettel controlling the gap again; he’s not the type to waste his car early in the race.

    So much for psychic abilities. :-P

    1. Liam in Sydney says:

      Of course I could be wrong! But I don’t see Lewis doing overly well. His mind is not on the job, I fear.

      1. Hmm, I guess I wasn’t far off! ;-)

  16. miuzi05 says:

    I think my favourite part of these briefings is the ratings about fuel consumption, brake wear, etc. I enjoy knowing where one circuit stands in relation to the rest regarding what it puts the car and driver through.

  17. jmv says:

    Indeed you highlighted it:
    Ferrari lost last years WDC by failing to overtake to “slower cars”.

    That must still hurt.

  18. James Beck says:

    A thought. Alonso’s pace advantage over Petrov last year was about 1.1s (from qualifying). We’ve seen a lot of overtaking this year, but old tyres vs. new tyres is often more than 2s in pace difference.

    Perhaps after the race we can analyse what pace advantage is needed to get past in order to say whether it is easier/harder. I hope it’s slightly easier, but not too much…

    Actually, maybe this is a way to assess the best overtaker in F1 – not number of overtakes, but minimum pace advantage needed to get by.

  19. Ted the Mechanic says:

    James, have you done a study on Hermann Tilke track designs in regards to overtaking? It seems that despite his vast experience designing and building F1 tracks with a brief to facilitate overtaking his record of achieving this objective is pretty poor. I have nothing to back this up apart from recurring comments in blogs and commentaries to that effect (although dust is cited as the main factor in India despite drivers liking the new track). He seems to still be Bernie’s go-to man (India, Austin, New Jersey) but with Apex designing the new French track are we likely to see more Apex designs? Their website cites confidentiality agreements that prevent them from disclosing details of their 25 new projects in the pipeline.
    P.S. Congratulations to Schumi for his getaway stats.

  20. Dan Orsino says:

    Interesting to see Ferrari doing so badly in the pit-stop speed stakes: 4th really is ok for the them? Then we hear about titles lost because Alonso came out of a pit-stop behind slow cars.
    Now if it was Kobayashi in that car…… just a thought.

  21. Dizzy says:

    I think DRS should be banned in one of the final 2 races (Ideally this weekend) in order to get a proper read on if it needs to be carried over into 2012.

    Reason I feel this is that it seems a lot of people tend to believe the tyres have done more for the racing this season. Banning DRS for a race would give good feedback on just how much of an effect the tyres alone have had & would be a good read on what direction to go for 2012.

  22. Rudy Pyatt says:

    With Sauber, Force India and STR so close on points, the pit stop table indicates that the pit crews will play the crucial role in their respective positions in the WCC. Presumably, Force India’s rapid stops have given them consistently better track position than their rivals – position that they’ve been able to maintain through the race and into bigger points.

    Force India has perhaps a slightly faster car than STR and Sauber, and those two are (or were) evenly matched. STR has clearly taken steps forward, enough, I think, to overhaul Sauber in the WCC on pace. But if they get another double showing in Q3; and IF they improve their pit stops enough to gain and maintain advantage in track position after a long first stint; STR will jump Sauber for good, and get close enough to Force India to make Brazil very interesting.

    It’s also interesting, and slightly sad, that Williams has faster stops than the Sauber/STR/FI trio, but it does them no good. Can’t make up for the car…

  23. goferet says:

    Eh, but I thought Valencia had already been the acid test for the 2011 regulations and from what I recall, they didn’t exactly pass with flying colours & to make matters worse now, teams have come to grips with the new regs & are now just covering themselves when it comes to the pit stops.

    But anyway I have high hopes for Abu-Dhabi this time around for Vettel has done a lot of winning at Abu-Dhabi & this season in general that it’s about time he was sent packing & any race that hasn’t been won by Sebi has inevitably ended up being a cracker because only special drives have managed to beat that raging bull (at least we have a Britney Spears concert as a consolation, if the track happens not to deliver )

    One thing though, I love about this track is the unique pit exist (its about time somebody crashed in there already) and the gradual darkening of the skies & with temperatures expected to plummet, I guess we can also look forward to more Ferrari threats from Luca after the race.

    Say, weren’t we all pleasantly surprised to see it chucking it down last year during free practice. Heck, I thought it never rains in the desert.

    I really hope the skies do us all another favour come race day for I can’t believe we have only had three wet races this year & interestingly whenever it has rained, Vettel hasn’t won so it appears the Wunderkid isn’t the rainmeister as we were all lead to believe after Monza 2008 (At least that’s one box ticked)

    P.s.

    I have placed a fiver with the bookies betting that Jenson Button will DNF in these last two races of the season and all the people said… Amen!

    1. Brad says:

      very funny haha. Even being a Vettel fan I enjoy your comments.

      let’s hope for rain yes, so Vettel can disapprove you again… :-P

      1. KRB says:

        Disapprove him? I didn’t know he cared.

  24. Adrian Newey Jnr says:

    James – overtaking at the Indian GP seemed to be affected by the conditions offline. Do you think this will be repeated at Yas Marina? This could stiffle the impact of DRS.

  25. Anil says:

    James, can I just ask what your opinion on this track is? Most fans seem to regard it as the worst track of the season, below Valencia. What is your opinion of it? Most of the drivers and team bosses just give us a media trained answer of ‘Yeah the facilities are amazing’..I wish they’d actually say what they thought :/

    1. James Allen says:

      I really like it. It’s a great place to work and they try really hard to make everything work for us when we are there. It looks great on TV and the day/night effect is magic. Singapore should have done that, so you get to see the place before the light drops.

      I’ve driven many laps on the track too and I like it, apart from the fiddly bit in sector 3 with the chicane and the tight turns that pass under the Yas Hotel.

      The fast bit after Turn 1 leading down to the hairpin is great.

      1. Anil says:

        Very interesting to hear your thoughts on it James, much appreciated. Definitely agree with your comment about sector 3 which is all a bit ‘mickey mouse’. The only proper disappointment with it in my view is the chicane before the hairpin and the chicane after the main straight combined make it almost impossible for a faster car to get ahead, especially with sector 3 only having 1 racing line.

        Thanks again for your thoughts. One of the reasons why your blog is followed by fans so much is simply because you make the effort to engage with us. Keep it up!

  26. Nadeem says:

    Problem with Abu Dhabi and other circuits like it it has a slow corner follwed by long straight into slow corner. What would help overtaking is a semi fast corner (where aero starts to work but not too much then long straight into wide slow corner. With slow corner onto long straight slipstreaming takes a while to work and with engines on rev limits it is harder to overtake

  27. Julie says:

    Finally, Webber is off the bottom of the worst starts list! Maybe that will inspire him to have a good race

  28. Mr Squiggle says:

    Thanks for the analysis, James, it helps make more sense of the race.

    For the Recent Start performance stats, its sort of obvious that drivers who start up the back of the grid have opportunity to gain more. I wonder if its possible to have another stat alongside the net gain/loss for comparison purposes eg, average starting grid spot?

    Also, I couldn’t resist another comment on Webber. I went back to the report on Monza pre-race report and his net loss back then was -20. Since then, he has only lost 4 positions in 5 races, most of those from the dusty side of the track.

  29. Greg says:

    I wonder if they should the layout the V8 supercars used. I really the corkscrew bit, and it didn’t have that awful slow chicane-hairpin section.

  30. Sam says:

    Hi James,

    Great article as ever. I was wondering how can we explain Schumacher’s great starts? His reaction time was never that great (and this is detailed very well in your book about Schumacher), whilst the Mercedes doesn’t seem to be a fast starting car (at least in the hands of Rosberg it isn’t). So i was wondering what your theory would be as to why his starts have been great?

  31. Ade says:

    I note Gregs comments about considering the shortened Yas circuit as favoured by the V8 Supercars – having been round that (in a V8 Supercar, no less) you need to be aware that it has quite a twist to it and a drop in elevation, which might not suit an F1 car. It also of course truncates the length of the back straight. You’d would need better lighting in that section(did you see the pileup in the V8′s in the second race this year, caused in no small part to the gloom entering that section), and most importantly, there would be a huge area of spectator seating cut out of the track if that section was used.

    I think another poster here suggested, what I also feel should have been done and that is a semi-fast corner after the hairpin (turn 5?), before entering the long back straight. Having sat in the North grandstand last year watching the cars exit that hairpin and accelerate onto the straight, it was quite obvious that the hairpin had the effect of just firing them out at regular gaps and no amount of speed into the hairpin (Hamilton and Alonson being the two visibly quickest there) could be rewarded with any closer promixity to the car in front on the way out. Hopefully DRS will go some way to mitigating that problem of this track. If not they really will have to dig some bits up and redesign before next year.

  32. Goob says:

    I have not watched any F1 races from about half way this season… DRS has completely turned me off F1.

    I just came here today, to see if anyone has woken up to the fact that reducing aero is the only real fix to the future of F1.

    I guess F1 no longer cares about racing – its focus is on milking the cash cow as hard as its udders allow.

    F1 is totally boring in its current format.

    I’ll check back in another six months – I won’t hold my breath though, given the absolutely aweful management of F1.

  33. Geee says:

    It’s quite simple in some respects, Schumi has not always got the best out of his car in quali. Be this due to driver error or technical issues, it’s the weakest part of his game. His race craft however is almost back up to scratch, so he’s able to use this along with-for once, his car being out of postion regarding its potential speed(even if its a turkey)to make up positions off the start line.

    Nico however tends to get the most from his equipment in quali- which is his strongest area, then slip back in the race-his weakest area…compared to Schumi anyway;) Thats my humble opinion though!

    For the record I’m a loyal Shumi fan & always will be, so please don’t be offend by my opinion of his strong starts.

    Regards,

    G

  34. JohnBt says:

    After watching all the races DRS still does not impress me, it’s still too obvious who’ll overtake who. There were a few tracks that DRS didn’t really work. If Dhabi DRS don’t work, it will surely be a procession. I don’t think many of us like Dhabi at all, looks good but not a good track for racing.

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