How the F1 teams will approach the Malaysian Grand Prix
Insight
Darren Heath
Strategy Briefing
Posted By: James Allen  |  21 Mar 2012   |  8:49 am GMT  |  130 comments

This weekend F1 is straight back on track for the second round of the world championship at Sepang in Malaysia. The teams will be dealing with a different kind of track, one with high energy corners, longer straights and one that punishes the tyres far more than Melbourne.

This Briefing is designed to give you the readers a closer understanding of what the teams aim to get right when approaching the race in terms of preparation and strategy planning.

Our Race Strategy Calculator has now been reset with Malaysia settings. This includes a sophisticated tyre model based on the performance of the Pirelli medium and hard tyres being used at Sepang. Three stops were the way to go last year, so when you’ve read our Race Strategy Briefing, why not have a go at finding the fastest race strategy for the weekend? You can try it out by clicking HERE


Track Characteristics
Sepang International Circuit; 5.54 kilometres. Race distance: 56 laps = 310 kilometres, 15 corners in total, a mixture of slow, medium and fast

Aerodynamic setup – Medium/high downforce. Top speed 312km/h (with Drag Reduction System on rear wing) – 300km/h without.

Full throttle – 70% of the lap. Total fuel needed for race distance: 153 kilos.

Time spent braking: 15% of the lap. 8 braking zones. Brake wear: Medium.

Loss time for a Pit stop = 16.5 seconds
Total time needed for pit stop: 22.5 seconds.

The pit lane speed limit in Sepang is 100km/h, which means faster pit stops than Melbourne.

Fuel effect (cost in lap time per 10kg of fuel carried): 0.36 seconds (average/high)

The Sepang circuit is one of the first F1 venues to have been designed by architect Hermann Tilke and features his trademark long straights, hairpins and fast esses. It also has a distinctive first/second corner complex, which turns right and then left and always results in drivers winning or losing several positions at the start of the race.

The first and third sectors of the lap at Sepang feature long straights and hairpin bends, while sector two has some medium and high speed corners, which load up the tyres.

Form Guide

As far as drivers’ form is concerned at Sepang, Michael Schumacher has won the race three times, Fernando Alonso, Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel have won it twice while Jenson Button has also won here.

Likely tyre performance and other considerations


Pirelli tyre choice for Sepang: Medium (Option) and Hard (Prime)

Pirelli has chosen to bring the medium and hard tyres to Sepang, so a step harder on both choices than for Melbourne. The difference in terms of lap time performance between the two compounds is projected to be around 0.8 seconds on the first lap in qualifying and 0.6secs in the race, which is more than in Melbourne

Sepang has three major differences from Melbourne, which make it more challenging from a race strategy point of view: higher track temperatures, a rougher track surface and the presence of medium and fast corners, which load up the tyre. There is also the underlying threat of rain.

Temperature is critical; Sepang experiences track temperatures of up to 45 degrees, some of the highest of the year, which is at the top end of the tyres’ operating range. The opening stint with 150 kilos of fuel on board is very hard on the tyres. If it is cooler then the tyres will last longer and less stops will be needed. The pit lane time is short so that encourages more stops anyway.

The long straights at Sepang mean that the adjustable rear wing (DRS wing) is quite effective, making overtaking possible. This means strategists of leading teams will not have to be overly concerned about bringing their driver out from a pit stop into slower traffic. In qualifying the DRS is worth over a second per lap at Sepang.

Number and likely timing of pit stops

Last year Pirelli brought the soft and hard tyres to Sepang and the winning strategy was three stops by Vettel.

This year, because the tyres will be closer on performance there are a number of ways to approach the race, one of them to base a strategy on what happened last year with stops around laps 12, 23 and 40, running three stints on options and a final stint on primes (this is the default strategy in our Race Strategy Calculator). If you can get good life from the hard tyre a longer stint on that in the middle of the race could pay dividends at the end in terms of track position.

Rain can always affect the outcome at Sepang as it can come at any time and can be very intense. There must always be a degree of flexibility built into race strategy when planning for Sepang.

Teams will use the four hours of practice time to assess the fastest way to run a dry race; it will be important to establish how long the medium tyre will last in order to decide which strategy to pursue. It will be important to establish whether a pit stop might be saved by using the hard tyres earlier in the race and running long on them. This could save over 20 seconds plus help to gain track positions.

Chance of a safety car

The chance of a safety car at Sepang is incredibly low, by F1 standards, at 14% over last 7 years and an average of 0.1 safety cars per race. Where a safety car has been deployed it’s usually been because of heavy rain, as in 2009.

Recent Start Performance

Start performance is hugely important to strategy, as we saw with Button taking the initiative from Hamilton in Australia at the start. At Sepang it will be influenced negatively if teams do not have KERS or choose not to run it, as the run to the first corner from the start is quite long at over 600 metres. KERS confers a minimum 7-10 metres advantage over a non KERS car.

As far as 2012 start performance is concerned drivers have gained (+) or lost (-) places off the start line this season as follows:

Gained
+10 Perez
+6 Massa, Glock
+4 Raikkonen, Alonso,
+3 Kobayashi, Pic
+2 Rosberg
+1 Button, Schumacher, Vettel, Maldonado, Kovalainen

Held Position – Di Resta, Petrov

Lost

-1 Hamilton
-3 Grosjean
-4 Webber
-5 Vergne

* Senna, Ricciardo and Hulkenberg were all involved in accidents on 1st lap

Pit Stop League Table
Of course good strategy planning also requires good pit stop execution by the mechanics and we have seen tyre stops carried out in less than two and a half seconds by F1 teams.

The league table below shows the order of the pit crews based on their fastest time in Australia from the car entering the pit lane to leaving it. The 2011 league table positions are in brackets.

1. Ferrari 21.910s (5)
2. McLaren 22.837s (3)
3. Red Bull 22.915s (1=)
4. Mercedes 23.017 (1=)
5. Williams 23.166 (7)
6. Toro Rosso 23.257 (8=)
7. Lotus 23.310 (6)
8. Sauber 23.832 (8=)
9. Caterham 24.397 (8=)
10. Force India 24.579 (4)
11. Marussia 25.046 (11)

HRT – No stop yet. Did not race in Australia

The Race Strategy Briefing is prepared by James Allen on F1 with input from strategists from several F1 teams

Why not have a go at trying to find the fastest strategy for Sunday’s race using our Race Strategy Calculator. Click HERE

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130 Comments
  1. Syn says:

    The strategy calculator gives the fuel consumption in “Kg/L”. That can’t be right, surely?

      1. For sure says:

        James, off topic, do you think Jenson can win 7 world championships from now?

      2. F1 says:

        For sure

      3. Aussie Fan says:

        What an odd question! I’ll have a crack, & my answer is – maybe he can? But that answer is the same for quite a few of the current drivers I would think…

      4. Mocho_Pikuain says:

        lol That would mean he needs to extend his contract for 5 more years (if i remember correcly) and McLaren to have the best car for at least 7 years and he must beat his teammate all this time…
        He was lucky to win one, now just let him enjoy his victories at McLaren.

    1. Alex W says:

      Interestingly, Syn, Kg/Litre is also a factor! They consider it on tracks where the fuel tank capacity is marginal, they will use a fuel with higher density.

  2. Supercujo says:

    I had a play with the race strategy simulator and ended up 15 seconds in front of last year’s strategy by doing stops on 10, 30 and 45 (laps 10-30 were on primes)

    1. Nigel says:

      That strategy is only 15 sec faster if you’ve got two sets of new options – many drivers won’t even have one set.
      If you’re on the used option both stops (which I assume is what James’ baseline uses), it’s slower.

      A 2-stop strategy looks pretty good. The ‘cliff’ is also less, so it gives a bit more flexibility on when to come in for new boots.
      Also 3 stops means one more chance for a team to mess up the stop.

      Lap 15/16 new primes and lap 37/38 new primes gives a time around 14 sec faster than James’ baseline.

      1. Glennb says:

        I came to the same conclusion.
        2 stopper.
        1. Lap 16 / New Prime
        2. Lap 37 / New Prime

        Having 2 new sets of anything might be a little optimistic though ;)

    2. Ewan says:

      It looks like you can push your strategy out a bit further, to 12, 32 then 48 (with the option tyre on from 48).

      It’s slightly awkward to see because it’s under the logo, but it looks around 17-18 seconds.

      So if it’s accurate, it looks like we’ll see a few people trying to do very short runs on the option tyre either at the end, or in a middle stint?

  3. Alex W says:

    If Webber gets pole and botches the start I’ll cry. This is going to be a great race and qualy, if the maccas are still strongest here it will be very interesting watching the LH JB relationship…

    1. matthew cheshire says:

      Crying is a good option. Don’t chuck things at your TV. Just hope he shades Vettel again. Maybe when he swithes to Ferrari Alonso will teach him how to do it..

      Even Massa picks up places at the start!

      1. Will N says:

        Poor old Massa, he’s never been the same since his accident in ’09…

    2. Luca says:

      would expect to see the Merc’s to be putting in a good show too – if the new wing is going to show its true potential, then the two long straights will be the place (esp in quali) – so could be more of a 6 way fight this weekend.

      Also, looking forward to see Kimi getting in to top five and doing some racing with the likes of the Lewis, Seb et al…

      1. CarlH says:

        Good call, I think Mercedes will be strong in Malaysia if they can avoid destroying their tyres too badly.

        Unfortunately (for me at least), I suspect that (and the fact Lotus will probably be quick aswell) will give Ferrari a nightmare of a weekend.

        If Massa makes it into Q3 I’d be very surprised.

    3. Wayne says:

      I’m interested in the Lewis/Lewis relationship. i.e. what is going on in his head. I have been a fan of LH for 10 years or so. I think he has the ability to be the greatest British F1 driver of all time, I think he has the ability to rival Senna for natural genius. I admire his tenacity and respect his arrogance (a key trait of most top sports people).

      However, even I am getting a little tired of seeing his sulky face. I too am growing weary of his lack of focus as was in full evidence last year. LH needs to decide if he wants to be a global megastar playboy or the best F1 driver of this generation and devote himself to one or the other. I know many people do not like or respect LH, but for those of us who has supported him for a long time, well… we have a small right to feel a little let down right now. The biggest concern for me is not the mistakes he made last year, as when he is on it he is incredible. Rather it’s the plain, unarguable fact that on a couple of occasions last year and this year in Aus, he has been plain outdriven by Button, who not only made his tyres last better but seemed to be simply faster.

      That is a worry – doubt breeds doubt and it’s a downward spiral from there for LH, who may well unconsciously choose to loose himself in stardom and perhaps, ultimately, Indycar where he would undoubtedly be a massive draw and bathe in almost complete adulation, I think Americans would love him more than his own native countryman which is a massive shame. This also says something about the British psyche – we do not seem to be able to support an outright winner like Schumi, we’d prefer a gallant looser…. a bit tragic really.

      Lewis is a faster driver than Button, he has greater potential, I’m sure of it. But right now I’d sooner have Alonso and Button in my cars were I Whitmarsh. Alonso has grown as a driver even since he won the last wdc – he gets nowhere near enough credit from the general public for dragging that Ferrari around last year and this. He has even learnt respect and humility since his season at McLaren, describing LH as ‘the only driver I fear’ (maybe he didn’t say ‘fear’ I cannot recall). He really is the complete package, it’s not just a cliche.

      Lewis, you owe me personally :) I expect payment on Sunday!

      1. Andrew says:

        “Lewis is a faster driver than Button”….
        I hear this on often, not so sure it’s been the case a for a while though. Not to mention Button’s cool head makes Lewis look even more unsettled lately .

  4. goferet says:

    Ha, Jenson fans are never going to leave us alone, they keep bringing up Jenson’s great start in Australia. No doubt, this is going to be a tough year for us for it’s going to be all about rubbing it in.

    Meanwhile if the last time Hammy was a number 2 driver is anything to go by (i.e 2010 & 2007 seasons) then he’s going to get beaten again to a win before the tables really get flipped on their heads

    Anyway, it appears this year’s dry race strategy may just get chucked out the window for like Webber said, rain looks more likely this weekend after Bernie moved over the finish time of this race this year by one hour and as the locals have told Bernie over & over again over the years, finishing the Malaysian Grand Prix late risks it getting washed out seeing as Kuala Lumpur used to be a jungle & the skies always open late in the evening this time of year but hey, good fun for us the fans.

    Now I should have known with those long run-way Malaysian straights that this was one of the infamous Tilke’s tracks but I admit that it’s one of his better creations especially the right, left first corner which am told in much steeper (downhill) when seen in person.

    Okay, some more stats for the Malaysian Gp which is a relatively new track that first appeared on the calendar in 1999

    Schumi is the most successful driver at Malaysia with 3 wins followed by Alonso 2 wins, Kimi 2 wins and Vettel 2 wins

    Vettel & Schumi are the only two pilots to win back to back wins but no driver has won 3 in a row

    Ferrari have won it 5 times, Renault twice, Mclaren twice, Red Bull twice and Williams once

    Ferrari have the most poles 7 followed by Renault 3 & Red Bull 2 whereas Mclaren have never been on pole

    Massa is the only driver to have been on pole (twice) and never won

    7 poles out of 13 that have won the Malaysia Grand Prix whereas 6 winners of Malaysia out of 13 have gone ahead to win the title.

    And of those that won Malaysia but didn’t win the title, none has finished lower than 4th in the WDC standings at the end of the season

    P.s.

    Wishing myself a very happy birthday and also remembering our fallen comrade Aryton Senna on what would have been his 52nd birthday

    We miss you champ, see you when we get there!

    1. Rob Newman says:

      Wishing you a very happy birthday goferet!

      1. goferet says:

        @ Rob Newman

        @ Grayzee (Australia)

        @ Brad

        I thank you for the birthday wishes, I appreciate it fellas.

        @ Grayzee (Australia)

        Man are you a statistician
        ————————————

        Hahaa far from it but you’re right, I have got way too much time on my hands so I put it too good use.

        @ CraigD

        Since when was Hamilton a number 2 driver in 07, 2010 and what makes you think he’s going to get beaten again
        ————————————————

        Well in 2007 & 2010, Lewis had the number 2 car in both those seasons = Number 2 driver and in both those seasons, Lewis’ teammates got the first two wins in those seasons & yes Jenson may pull the rabbit out the hat this weekend, it’s excepted to rain.

    2. Grayzee (Australia) says:

      Man, what are you? a statatician or something… :-)
      Love ya work……but you got wayyyyyy too much time on your hands.
      Oh, and happy birthday!

    3. Brad says:

      Happy Birthday feret!

      1. Nismo f1 says:

        It would have been great to see Aryton Senna if he was still alive (still alive in my heart and mind), and ask him a question. who is your favourite to win this years championship?: Vettel, Alonso, Hamilton, Räikkönen, Button or Schumacher. I wonder what his answer would be?
        And how he finds the regulation changes with regards to tyres?

        Japan 1988 Suzuka – winner Senna!!!
        Donington-park GP 1993 – Senna – my favourite race.

    4. CraigD says:

      I don’t understand your second paragraph. Since when was Hamilton a number 2 driver in ’07 and ’10? And what has that got to do with your belief he’s going to get beaten again? He’s probably the favourite this weekend unless Button can pull something special out of the bag again.

      Also, I haven’t come across people harping on about Button’s great start. He even admitted it wasn’t actually that special and made a gear change error, but Hamilton’s start was worse. However Button’s start was the primary reason he beat Hamilton so of course it’s going to get attention in analysis!

      1. Baghetti says:

        Somewhat late in the aftermath that this is coming up, but seems that Hamilton had some kind of clutch problen, do you have any more info on that James?

      2. DJR says:

        Hamilton was number two in 2007 as Alonso was the reigning world champion from 2006, and number two again in 2010 as Button joined the team as champion in 2009 from Brawn.

      3. Glennb says:

        CraigD,
        So you believe Lewis was the #1 driver in ’07 (his rookie year)?
        I personally saw it differently….

      4. makeitrain says:

        Button was faster than Hamilton and everyone els throughout the entire race, I think you’ll find that’s the one and only reason why button won the race. Fastest lap, crewed up his start and still took the lead into the first corner. As a lewis Hamilton fan I think lewis has got his work cut out for him this season. one things for Sure, he needs to improve (QUICK)

    5. Doug says:

      Hammilton has never been a No.2 driver as he has never driven for Ferrari! :-)

  5. Number says:

    I think fastest could be to use options for start and then 2x prime, doing only 2 pitstops.

    and im driving a sauber.

    1. jay jacob says:

      “and im driving a sauber” :
      since Sauber doesnt produce cars, you (‘Number’) can only be an F1 driver (either Kamui or Sergio?)

      i hope you’re not an impostor coz we shouldn’t be impersonating when commenting here; but, if you’re not impersonating then i’d like to ask why use option/prime/prime combo and not option/option/prime ??

  6. MISTER says:

    Nice strategy report James like always.
    I noticed Ferrari’s got the fastest pit stop times so far. I know this is based only on 1 race so far, but I hope they can keep this going.

    If they don’t have a fast car..at least they can change the tyres quick :)

    Can’t wait for Saturday to see the qualy!

    1. James Allen says:

      It’s a big step up from last year

      1. CarlH says:

        You could just tell from watching Ferrari’s stops that they have worked hard on them during the off-season. The difference from last year was like night and day, very impressive indeed.

        Now lets just hope the designers can develop the car to the level both the mechanics and Fernando deserve.

        Now the pit crew seem to have things in order what will Massa blame his poor performances on? I really like the guy, but the amount of times last year he tried to blame a bad performance purely on a slow pit stop was a joke.

      2. Kevin Green says:

        Any rumours back from Maranello yet James on the called meetings at Ferrari.

      3. James Allen says:

        No, but Italian media is speculating on whether Massa’s seat is at risk before the end of the season

      4. Kevin Green says:

        Yeah thought that anyway, be lucky to make it to mid season i would think.

      5. Mike J says:

        In regards to yours and JA response. I suspect that they will give Massa 6-7 races to prove it once and for all. Maybe after the planned large upgrade. Big problem is who they replace him with? Haven’t had much luck with bringing new drivers in in second part of season of late.
        If they are going to change Massa then it needs to be a driver for long term (2-3 year) commitment. Who ? Perez? Not a good position so early in the season.

      6. hero_was_senna says:

        I’ve read somewhere that Autosprint is saying Trulli is ready to step in if required, any truth to this?
        After all, Trulli and Alonso were good friends and he won’t upset the applecart at Ferrari.

      7. Nathan says:

        James off topic and Im sorry to bring this up but is this the same track Marco super sic tragically passed away at late last year

      8. James Allen says:

        Yes, a number of drivers have been out to pay tribute at Turn 11

    2. W Bennet says:

      “If they don’t have a fast car..at least they can change the tyres quick”

      So funny…..I can see LdM’s sour face when greeted with that answer in an attempt to save one’s job.

  7. Dmitry says:

    Great technical preview, James. As always!

    The biggest question (possibly not directly related to preview) – there’re some reports about Ferrari returning fully (including cars) to Maranello after Australia, can you elaborate what they possibly want\can accomplish by this?

    As a smaller question, what about your assessment of pecking order? On paper McLarens and Mercedes should be very good (not taking tires in account), what about RBR and Lotus?

    Also may I add a small remark about Australia, about starting performance. I can’t help notice, that all the drivers who actually lost places or not gained any all started from the same side of grid… so possibly this can be attributed to track being slippery\dusty\not ready for F1… I understand it’s a bit strange, but the facts don’t lie)

    1. James Allen says:

      AS far as I know it was just Fry and Domenicali going back, as they did last year, between races

  8. Roger W says:

    Slightly off topic, I noticed on BBC TV coverage of Melbourne, Ross Brawn appeared to be sitting with the mechanics at the start of the race, is this so or is it some inaccuate editing??
    I would have though he would be glued to a monitor on the pit wall..

    1. CarlH says:

      No it was accurate, he was sitting there on the live feed from Sky aswell.

      I think most team principals watch the start from the garage, I’ve certainly seen Horner, Whitmarsh and Domenicali do it a few times.

    2. Andrew Barker says:

      As far as I know nobody is allowed to be on the pit wall at the start of the race just in case there is a crash on the starting grid so no bits and pieces can hit anyone who will be sitting on the pit wall during the race.

    3. Ian says:

      Most/if not all of the Team Princples are with the macanics at the start of the race so was not editing

    4. goferet says:

      @ Roger W

      Slightly off topic, I noticed on BBC TV
      coverage of Melbourne, Ross Brawn
      appeared to be sitting with the mechanics at the start of the race
      ————————————————

      Funny the things I do forget.

      Now thinking about it, I too thought it was strange seeing Brawn taking a load of with the mechanics and have to say, it was rather a amusing sight seeing him back there more so as it seemed his frame couldn’t fit in one of those small chairs.

    5. Russell says:

      I saw this too and I also wondered.

    6. Alan H says:

      Article 38.10 of the Sporting Regulations states that unless authorised by the FIA, during the start of a race the pit wall must be kept free of all persons with the exception of two people from each team, officials and fire marshals.

      http://www.formula1.com/inside_f1/rules_and_regulations/sporting_regulations/8691/fia.html

  9. Nigel says:

    Two stopping looks pretty good compared to a three stop without a set of new options.

    The best I can do with a three stopper with used options is -
    lap 15 new prime; lap 34 used option; lap 46 used option.

    That’s about a couple of seconds quicker than your baseline, James – and over ten seconds slower than a good two stopper using new primes.

    Interestingly, a single new set of options gives an extra eight or nine seconds improvement on the three stopper, which could be of huge benefit in (say) the third stint.
    Saving a set of new options during qualifying will be crucial to running a three stop strategy, if the simulation is anywhere near accurate.

    I doubt many people will be able to save two new sets of options – though it might make for an interesting run from the back if anyone screws up in Q1 again (take note, Kimi !).

    1. Nigel says:

      Actually there is a better three stopper:
      Lap 15 new prime; lap 33 new prime; lap 48 used option

      10/11 sec better than baseline – and a set of new options for the last stint would be 17 sec better than baseline.

      IOW, everyone will be changing to the prime on the first stop.

      1. gondokmg says:

        Does this take traffic into account?

  10. Horno says:

    I did use the calculator, great feature!!
    My strategy:
    Pit in lap 12 -> Prime
    Pit in lap 29 -> Prime
    Pit in lap 46 -> Option

    This was almost 20sec. faster than the default.
    (if i understand it correctly)

    Looking forward for this race, mark my words;
    “Schumacher will suprise everybody!!”

  11. Ryan Eckford says:

    I think possibly a 4 stop strategy(option(12), option(24), option(36), prime(47), prime) might just be a better strategy than a 3 stop strategy(option(15), option(30), option(45), prime), so it will be interesting to see the strategies McLaren use for their drivers.

    1. RodgerT says:

      Where are all of those option tires coming from?

      I believe that each team gets three sets of each compound, and one set of (used) options will be on the top ten cars at the start.

      1. Ryan Eckford says:

        The teams as far as I understand have 3 options and 3 primes from qualifying onwards.

      2. RodgerT says:

        After a quick check of the regs, I see that it’s actually 4 of each.

        But what I was getting at though is that the top runners will start on the options they used in Q3, and will probably only have one unused set of options left for the race. So depending on how hard the tires were run in qualifying it might be tough getting 12 solid laps out of the used options.

  12. Søren Kühle says:

    2 stopper will work if your quali options can last 19 laps as the calculator assumes.
    1. stop prime on L 19
    2. stop prime on L 39
    (incidently the winning pit strategy of melbourne as I recall)

  13. Nigel says:

    One last thought… the timing of the first stop is going to be crucial.
    Staying out a lap too long so that the tyres hit the cliff could cost a couple of places. It also makes an undercut just about possible if you get the timing exactly right.

    If the McLarens are 1-2 after the start, then it would definitely pay the second placed man to come in a lap early rather than a lap too late.

    1. gondokmg says:

      The second placed man does not have the call on when to pit, so he will always pit at least a lap later than the leading driver, unless he is on different strategy or he is about 10 secs slower. That’s why in the battle of the team mates, qualifying and track position in the first stint will be crucial.

    2. Glennb says:

      Agree with your first paragraph mate.
      Unlikely that McLaren would bring in the second place car before the first place car. I don’t think it works like that there. Maybe at Ferrari if Massa found himself in front of Alonso. Or even RBR if Webber was in front of Vettel but probably not at McLaren.

    3. IJW says:

      I agree.
      I know the lead driver gets priority, but surely if the team know that the lead driver is going to come in (say 16), then they can easily tell the other driver to come in on lap 15.

  14. Sam says:

    Hi James,

    Good insight as usual.

    For top 10 runners in Q3 , winning strategy to beat default

    strategy # 1 : 3 stops
    LAP 11 ( option , used )
    LAP 26 ( option , new )
    LAP 42 ( prime , new )
    this shows relatively bigger margin over default strategy provided driver has one New option left for race.

    strategy # 2 : 3 stops
    LAP 12 ( option , used )
    LAP 24 ( option , used )
    LAP 40 ( prime , new )
    with this they should just get in front of driver using default strategy.

    Anyway , for actual race this weekend , I’m Hoping for dry race which I feel would be more closer and expecting Kimi , Alonso to be amongst RBR & Macca to mix up the things.

    Thanks,
    Sam

  15. Richard D says:

    It’s madness that the race start time has been delayed; can only be for commercial reasons to bring it closer to the mass audience time in Europe. I’ve holidayed in Malaysia a number of times and you can set your watch when it starts raining on the dot of 16:30 every day! The 2009 race was a wash out with Jenson only getting half points for his win that year, but he did go on to win the championship. So bring on the rain and throw the dry strategies out of the window!

    1. Mike J says:

      It a good point Richard. From my memory it has mostly rained after the race in just about every year (except the wet race year). All they (Bernie) are doing is bringing the race closer to the rain window, hence higher risk Last 20 laps in deluge??.It could be a lottery and make sure you are as far at the front in case race stopped.

    2. PMain says:

      I agree. I spent several months in Malaysia and it rains on the dot late afternoon – making it difficult to grab a taxi.

      In the 2009 race, Webber had a good chance to score a podium or a win, but the race was stopped prematurely (shaking fist)!

      My gripe is that fans (including myself) on the other side of the world, have to watch European races late Sunday night / early Monday morning. Average sleeping time on a European race is about 2:00am Monday morning, especially after watching the BBC F1 forum. And it is particularly difficult to sleep after an exciting race.

      Monday morning meetings at work in a zombie like state are never fun and the boss isn’t always impressed! It’s small sacrifice I don’t mind making, but it’s unfair that Bernie is converting all Asia-Pacific races to twilight or night races, so that other fans don’t have to sacrifice as much, considering they watch races on Sunday mornings, not Monday mornings.

      The upside to the late Sepang start is that rain is highly likely, meaning that it should mix things up a lot. This may help Ferrari, who are in damage limitation mode, as the F2012 seems pretty handy in wet conditions.

  16. ajay says:

    Will the qualifying be as important as it was in Australia- or will it be race set up that overides?

    1. Brisbane Bill says:

      I would suggest that quali result will be important as, with the high likelihood of now having a rain interrupted race, track position prior to the rain arriving is going to be critical.

  17. Chris says:

    James, I’m a bit confused. On the race simulation calculator, I chose to make the first stop on lap 13 and made the change to used primes. Then, the second stop was on lap 26 with a change to new primes. The final stop was made on lap 40 to another set of used primes. This is different to the default simulation but I ended 9 seconds ahead of it. Why did that happen? Thanks for the great report, though. Brilliant as usual!

  18. CraigD says:

    James, I think there’s an error with the race calculator for Malaysia. Whatever strategy I try, the graph always drops in a straight line after the last stop. It’s as if tyre wear is no longer being applied and means my race time is always much shorter than the default.

    A linear drop off is surely wrong. It seemed fine for Australia though.

    Reckon I’ll make my own Excel version of one of these and try to calibrate it to the races so far, then see if I can actually predict future races. Sad? Sue me!

    1. James Allen says:

      I don’t get that

    2. James Beck says:

      Craig, I have my own Excel sheet and it works pretty well. If you start with a linear degradation at about the fuel effect (so laptimes stay roughly constant) you get a reasonable representation of a race. You can then tweak to fit laptime data more closely.

      With this, two stops will almost always win, unless the tyres just don’t last long enough and you hit the ‘phase 2′ degradation which is very non-linear. I could then pick that if the cars got to lap 15 without hitting ‘phase 2′ in Melbourne, they would be able to stop twice, which turned out to be pretty close.

    3. Glennb says:

      Are you selecting the correct number of pitstops from the dropdown Craig?

  19. James, off topic, but have you considered building an app?

  20. CM says:

    With DRS worth over 1 second per lap, you’ve got to fancy Mercedes for a 1st row grid slot.

    1. Mike J says:

      Agreed, but Malaysia being a high tyre wear circuit will bring Mercs backwards during the race going on last weeks form which mirrors last years form.
      One thing for certain, Mercs will be strong to pick up places in DRS zone and RB with DRS will not get anywhere need Mercs in the zone.

      1. Aussie Fan says:

        Yes but remember if a car overtakes the Mercedes, it then needs to clear it by a second a lap to be able to break free from the DRS zone, otherwise the Merc is just going to fly back passed once it uses its DRS on the car that has just overtaken it.

      2. Aussie Fan says:

        back past sorry….my bad

  21. Anand Murthy says:

    @James, do you consider used or new tyres in your ‘default’ setting?

    If I go with all new, then it’s a whopping 15secs ahead, so I suspect you must be considering ‘used’ tyres?

    With ‘used’ option tyres, the result is abt 3 secs with this combo
    >>> 13-option-used, 27-option-used, 41-prime-new

    Thanks again, v. enlightening!
    /am

    “If you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right” – H. Ford

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes, You have to consider how many sets of new options you would have as a front runner ie none!!

      1. Nigel says:

        I agree that if you have only the used option, it’s not worth using after the first stint.

        Do the teams have THREE new sets of the prime ?

        If so, a three stopper putting on new primes at laps 12/13, 27/28 and 42/43 is around 19 seconds faster.

        14, 30 and 44 is almost as fast, and stopping on lap 14 for primes also allows a decent two stop plan (14 & 37) if the race situation favours it (safety car ?).

        Staying out after lap 14 is not smart, as you’re likely to lose track position.

      2. James Allen says:

        Usually two new sets of primes. But you can save a set of options by doing only one run in quali 3

  22. Nic says:

    The strategy calculator is a great feature. I’m not sure I understand everything about it yet, but I had fun playing with it.

    In the model used is the fact that the track is rubbering in taken into account?

  23. Pat M says:

    I gave it a try, and you can come out 15 seconds ahead of the default with a 4 stop strategy. I can’t imagine anyone actually trying it in the race but think of the fun we would have trying to figure out everyone’s relative position if some teams ran a one stop (Sauber comes to mind) and some went for four (Ferrari seems to have some tire issues).

    1. Kit says:

      MSC did it a couple of years back (Canada, I think) with a risky 4 stopper and came out tops! But that was on the old Bridgestone with compounds different from today, ie cliffs were gradual…

  24. gondokmg says:

    So Red Bull are saying they could have gone faster and are a match for Mclaren. Face saving bulls**t, Red Bull are desperately putting on a brave face but they know they’re on the back foot. Desperately trying to hang on to the top dog tag even after it has been lost. They were 7 tenths down in qualfying and slower than a Mclaren saving fuel on the slower tyre in the race. That’s about how much Red Bull were ahead of Mclaren at the same stage last season and see what happened.

    Red Bull are behind and they have known it for a while. That’s the real reason why they introduced the RB8B and wanted to test it in private together with Ferrari. Adrian Newey is back with another dog and soon they will have their hands full of Lotus and Mercedes. No wonder all threats of protests over the Mercedes rear wing? They are on the back foot alright and bravado won’t change anything.

    1. hero_was_senna says:

      I wouldn’t be counting any chickens yet. If Red Bull follow form, they’ll spend whatevers needed to be in front again.
      Maybe I’m cynical, but haven’t they been questioned by other teams, the last 2 years, as to their proper spending?
      With them and Ferrari out of the RRA, who’s checking their accounts anyway?

  25. Gridlock says:

    A fast qualy lap with their DRS downforce balancing system, and then a massive top speed advantage on the 2 boulevards, sorry, straights, I like Mercs chances…

    1. Quattro_T says:

      However, when you also consider…

      (1) Mclaren were veery fast, even though they were down on fuel/in fuel saving mode for large part of race
      (2) Merc tyre wear/degradation problem

      …you start liking Mclaren chances much more.

    2. Pani Tsouris says:

      In my honest opinion, I personally think that Mercedes have an Achilles heel with race tyre degradation. They may prove strong in qualifying but I think they will fade during the race, forcing them into what may be an extra pit stop compared to its rivals. If this does happen, they may be very quick in the closing stages of the race and make things interesting.

      1. Aussie Fan says:

        Well even Mercedes admit they were caught out & surprised by the tyre wear at Melbourne, all indications from testing were that Mercs were using their tyres well, so it might have been more to do with the low grip surface of Melbourne, especially with all the rain that cleaned the track repeatedly over the weekend.

        Quite a few teams seemed to have the same issue at Melbourne, whereas Lotus & Mclaren seemed to be the only teams that didn’t really have tyre wear issues at Melbourne.

  26. Mark McA says:

    Hi James any chance I can update your logo? Happy to do it for free. Just email me if your interested.

    1. Aussie Fan says:

      Hi mark, I would suggest maybe submitting James or the website some of your concepts & ideas via email rather than asking him on here?

  27. Anand R says:

    I love how you change the header pic for every race! Excellent preview of the race just by looking at each pre-race event pic!

    Nice touch.

  28. DC Corey says:

    James:

    I tried a two-stop strategy, coming in on lap 20 and bolting on a set of new primes and again on lap 40 for a set of new options. The simulator puts this strategy fractionally ahead of the default strategy.

    Of course I’m assuming I had a set of options available that late.

    Give it a try and see what you get.

    Love the simulator. Haven’t tried it before. Your site continues to raise the bar of F1 coverage with terrific information, analysis and features. Very much looking forward to the next podcast.

    p.s. any chance of a fan forum in Montreal?

  29. Nismo f1 says:

    Hi James, are we going to see an epic battle within the Mclaren camp?….

    Was Australia GP more to do with set up work on Hamilton’s car was perfect for one lap and not the remainder of the race? or was the gap their due to fuel saving?

    Are we also going to find out soon if Hamilton will be continuing with Mclaren for 2013 and beyond or will he join Mercedes or Ferrari?

  30. Simmo says:

    I have a quick strategy:

    Lap 14 – Primes
    Lap 38 – Primes

    The benefit of this is you do less pit stops, because you stay out for much longer on primes. You gain lots of time by skipping the second pit phase by being on less wearing primes. This means that you are more or less the same after your final stop, but they still need to pit.

  31. Fraz says:

    James, if the new f duck on the merc is going to give a resonable speed advanage when using the drs, is this not a bit of a disadvantage during the race, as their gearing will be a little more compromised when not using drs?

    thanks fraz

  32. MelB says:

    James, in their Malaysian GP preview, Team Lotus claim that the tyre options for Malaysia are soft and hard Pirellis, not medium and hard as you say.

    1. James Allen says:

      Must be a typo. Pirelli issued the tyre choices with medium and hard.

      1. Norman says:

        Paul Hembery was quoted on Formula 1,com as saying “even though there is a whole step missing between the soft and the hard compounds that we have chosen for the race”
        I also think it is soft and hard.

      2. MelB says:

        No, it doesn’t seem to be a typo. This what they say:

        [quote] Pirelli’s soft and hard compound tyres will be used in Malaysia, meaning a greater gap between compounds than in Albert Park where soft and medium were used. The track is very demanding on tyres due to its aggressive surface, heavy braking areas, long straights and wide variety of speeds and corners.[/quote]

      3. MelB says:

        Just read Pirelli’s preview. The Paul Hembery part states soft and hard tyres will be used.

        http://www.pitpass.com/45824-Malaysia-GP-Preview-Pirelli

      4. James Allen says:

        Well it’s not correct. It’s medium and hard. Sorry

  33. Mike J says:

    James

    Webber has confirmed (already reported) that he did not have KERS during qualifying in Melbourne so his effort was pretty good. Do you know or can find out if it was an overheating problem again with the system or something else? Was it the same issues as last year?
    RBR made the comment that they had no issues with it in testing however the much colder temp in testing may have helped.
    Going to the Malaysian heat again with KERS issues will seriously derail any chance they have in quali and the start as you pointed out and then passing in the race.

  34. Robert Hawker says:

    One thing I am strugging to understand at the moment is that no one seems to be commenting on the fact that the Mercedes DRS activated “F-Duct” will only really give them a big advantage in Qualifying, where they are allowed to use DRS all over the circuit. They will be able to qualify artifically higher on the grid due to the all over track advantage from the device when DRS is allowed, but in the race they will only get this once a lap if following someone closely (in Sepang at least)… So I expect Mercedes to go backwards in the races until everyone else has this device for Qualifying too… Am I right or am I missing something??

    1. PMain says:

      This topic has been done to death – everyone agrees with you. Check out the “Button Bragging Rights” post…..

    2. zadrav says:

      If Mercedes take 1-2 it is likely that in first stint we will have “Truly train” because now one will be able to overtake Mercs on straight… Supposedly Mercedes will go first for new tires and one who get his tires better preserved during “Truly train” will have advantage of a few laps more before pit…

  35. Pani Tsouris says:

    Will we see a change in trend come qualifying? If McLaren show and feel that they have an advantage during the free practice sessions, will they attempt to run the slightly slower but more durable Hard tyre in Q3? Even if they fail to take pole but manage both cars in the top 4, that will put them in a prime position for race day. A 2 stop strategy based on a longer than normal first and second stint followed by a change to the Medium tyre for the final shorter stint is surely a possibility. Mercedes will be strong in Qualifying but will they fail to deceive come race day? Probably, unless they opt or are forced to adopt a 3 stop strategy. The nature of the circuit coupled with the abrasive surface, the extra heat and the fact that tyre wear is greater on the W03 compared to its rivals, may force Mercedes into a 3 stop strategy. Redbull may approach the weekend as a damage limitation weekend and opt for the strategy that gets them most points knowing that a win may be slightly out of reach. The weather may also have a say with what happens on race day. Either way, its going to be intriguing to watch.

    1. RodgerT says:

      WRT the two stop strategy. That would require huge amounts of intestinal fortitude to take that gamble.

      I can’t see any top running team roll the dice like that this early in the season.

  36. Methusalem says:

    I read somewhere that either Perez or Sutil is ready to replace Massa at Ferrari. Well, the sooner the better!

    1. Dave Aston says:

      Which issue of ‘Somewhere’?

  37. Paul J says:

    Thanks for the feature, great info as always.

    Interesting that Ferrari had such incredible pit stop times – almost a whole second quicker than the next best team.

    Looking forward to seeing what Bruno can do this weekend in that wonderfully quick new Williams :)

  38. Dave Aston says:

    Michael on pole this weekend… Anyone?

    1. Rich In Norway says:

      Would be fantastic!

  39. JohnO says:

    Based on what we’ve seen in pre season and Melb I wont be surprised to see both of the Merc’s on the front row here. Now if they can manage their tyre issue then we should be in for a great race…. a sprinkling of rain would also spice things up nicely for the race :)

  40. Methusalem says:

    James, German news sources have reported on Mercedes having discovered a very strange engine noise on Red Bull cars during Vettel’s overtaking maneuver in Australia. Any substance to this allegation?

    1. james says:

      yeah it was vettle screaming :)

  41. Mark Robinson says:

    James, love the website and really happy you’ll still be reporting for Ten here in Aus this year. I especially like the Strategy Reports and other analysis.

    1. James Allen says:

      Thanks for your input

  42. Roo F1 says:

    Quali: 1 Ham 2 But 3 Vet 4 Web 5 Sch
    Race: 1 But 2 Vet 3 Web 4 Ham 5 Sch

    Easy!

  43. mo kahn says:

    My prediction, in China, Hamilton will be unbeatable. Can’t say about this race, but come Europe Redbull will be a lot closer to Mclaren.. Yet this is a Mclaren year.

  44. Chris_NZ says:

    James, Next time you speak to Paul Hembery, can you ask him if Pirelli are looking at changing the colours of the sidewalls of the medium and hard tyres. They look too similar on TV.
    Theres many other colours they could use..such as orange or even pink

  45. Nigel says:

    James,

    I note that the ‘select’ option in the simulator allows only the current race.
    Would it be possible to leave up the option for the previous race as well, so that we can check how close it was to actual race data ? (I understand it’s not going to be exact, as track conditions, weather etc are not entirely predictable ahead of the race.)

    It’s a really good feature, anyhow. Thanks.

    1. James Allen says:

      We thought about it and will leave it up for a week or so after this race, then switch to Shanghai when the Strategy Briefing comes out on Tuesday before the race

  46. BlueRacer says:

    Hello everyone,
    I’ve run all the strategies posted here for Malaysia on the simulator and drawn a classification on how the race could have ended with those strategies:

    P = Prime
    O = Option
    UP = Used Prime
    UO = Used Option

    The winner is… Nigel!

    +0,00 Nigel (3) 12/27/42 P/P/P
    +0,70 Horno 12/29/46 P/P/O
    +1,10 Kristian 13/30/45 P/P/P
    +1,65 Nigel (4) 14/30/44 P/P/P
    +2,85 Eawn 12/32/48 P/P/O
    +3,25 Supercujo 10/30/45 P/O/O
    +3,75 Nigel (2) 15/33/48 P/P/O
    +4,10 Nigel 15/37 P/P
    +4,35 Glennb 16/37 P/P
    +4,85 Simmo 14/38 P/P
    +6,85 Ryan Eckford 12/24/36/47 O/O/P/P
    +7,50 Soren Kuhle 19/39 P/P
    +10,95 Chris 14/26/40 PU/P/PU
    +11,25 Sam 11/26/42 UO/O/P
    +13,20 DC Corey 20/40 P/O
    +16,10 Anand Murthy 13/27/41 UO/UO/P
    +16,85 Sam (2) 12/24/40 UO/UO/P
    +18,25 JAF1 default 15/26/42 UO/UO/P

    Nigel won with a 3-stop strategy, but he also devised the best 2-stop strategy, slightly faster than Glennb 2-stop.
    The 3-stop could have been actually a little bit faster with the following strategy:
    11/27/42 P/P/P
    which is 0.15 faster than the winning one.

    Looking at the strategies, it seems that Prime tires were often a better choice than Options; despite the rain, this was also somewhat confirmed in real race, infact JA wrote in a recent post:
    “Nevertheless in that final stint we saw something that gives great encouragement for the season ahead. After six laps we had reached a crossover point where the hard tyre was the faster tyre than the medium. This is something Pirelli had been hoping to achieve this year and it will make the strategies extremely interesting.”
    I can’t wait to see if this is confirmed in the next race, it looks very interesting for strategies :)

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