How Raikkonen nearly won in Bahrain
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Posted By: James Allen  |  24 Apr 2012   |  8:06 am GMT  |  183 comments

The Bahrain Grand Prix was another example of close racing with uncertain outcomes, dependent on race strategy, which has already come to characterise the 2012 F1 season.

Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull became the fourth different car/driver winning combination in four races, showing not only how closely matched the teams are, but also how delicate the balancing act is in getting the strategy right on the Pirelli tyres.

In just four races we have already had eight different drivers on the podium, more than in the whole of 2011.

Bahrain’s Sakhir circuit provided the sternest test yet of the tyres, with plenty of high energy corners, hard braking zones and track temperatures around 40 degrees.

Tyre degradation was very high, especially due to the heat. Degradation is a measure of the decline in lap time performance, whereas wear is the consumption of the tyre.

Strategists briefed on Sunday morning that the wear was not a problem – it would be possible to do a whole race distance on one set of tyres – but the drop-off in lap time was severe over 20 or so laps on the medium tyre and 14 on the soft.

So it was a question of being reactive. It was essential to have a plan in mind, whether that was two stops or three stops, but to be prepared to change it, reacting quickly to pit once you saw degradation affecting the lap time. There was also a huge benefit in having new sets of tyres, rather than used sets.

Pre-race expectations were that most drivers would do three stops, with a few trying a two stop strategy. In the event, among the top ten finishers, only Force India’s Paul di Resta managed to do two stops.


Lotus takes on Red Bull

There were many surprises in this race. The poor performance of McLaren on track and in the pits, for example. But the biggest was the way the Lotus cars of Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean took on the Red Bulls. They managed to beat Mark Webber fairly easily, but Raikkonen couldn’t quite do enough to beat Vettel to the win.

Lotus has had a good car at every race this season, but hasn’t quite got the strategy right before. In China, for example, they tried to do a two stop race with Raikkonen, but timed the stops wrong and on worn tyres he was vulnerable to the three stoppers at the end of the race, falling from 2nd place to 14th.

In Bahrain they got it almost perfect. The strategy planning began in qualifying, where the Finn did only one lap in the Q2 session, intending save a new set of soft tyres. Here Lotus made a small mistake, which turned out to be a benefit as they sent him out too early and underestimated the track improvement at the end of the Q2 session. Raikkonen failed to make the top ten shootout, where Ricciardo’s result shows that a 6th place start might have been possible for the Lotus. But to do that would have used up more tyres.

It wasn’t their intention to miss Q3, however the upside was that by failing to make the top ten, it meant Raikkonen had two new sets of soft tyres and two new sets of mediums, so he would do the whole race on new tyres. He also had a free choice of starting tyres. Vettel, in contrast, by going all the way to the end of qualifying and taking pole, used all his tyres except for one set of mediums and was forced to start on used softs.

How much was the gain from this on Raikkonen’s side? Every new set you run compared to your rival on a used set is worth around 8 seconds for a stint. Here’s how the strategists work it out: Degradation is 0.3 seconds per lap, so after 3 laps in qualifying on a set of a tyres they is 0.7s per lap slower than a new set.

So for Raikkonen compared to Vettel, in the first three stints there was 24 seconds available to him, provided he could make use of the new tyres and not lose time with mistakes or in traffic. It’s what got him in the game and almost won him the race.

Lotus went for the soft tyre for the start, because it has a higher working temperature than the medium and free practice had shown the car worked well on it with high fuel. They thought they were the fastest car on Friday.

We’ve seen how the start is crucial in strategy terms and Raikkonen made a great start, showing the advantage of new softs tyres off the line, up from 11th to seventh and ahead of Rosberg and Perez. He made a mistake on lap three and let Massa past, taking a couple of laps to get back past him again. During this time he lost three seconds to the leader Vettel. But more significantly he damaged his front wing and so had to deal with some aerodynamic loss, which also cost him for the rest of the race.

Thanks to the new tyres he passed Hamilton, who was struggling, and he managed to extend the first stint to lap 11. By doing this he got ahead of Alonso, Webber and Button. Now he was a contender for the win.

In the second stint on new softs he was the fastest car on the track until he caught his team-mate Grosjean and it was here, arguably, that he lost the chance to win. Vettel was not getting away at the front, Grosjean was on used medium tyres and Raikkonen was caught up behind him. He passed the Frenchman then set off after Vettel.

On new mediums compared to Vettel’s used softs he caught up quickly, but couldn’t pass. With some clear air instead of the four laps he spent behind Grosjean, he might have had the platform to jump Vettel in the final stops, but instead he made his third stop on the same lap and with Vettel using his only new set of tyres in the final stint, Raikkonen had no further tyre advantage to play and had to follow him home.

Raikkonen was disappointed after the race. He had a chance to win, just as Perez had a chance to win in Malaysia. The strategy was good enough to give him a chance, but not perfect. Perhaps with a little more ruthlessness by Lotus, moving Grosjean aside, it could have been perfect.


Tour de Force by Di Resta and Force India

After a trying weekend off the track the Sahara Force India team got a great result on Sunday with Paul Di Resta finishing sixth. As the Scotsman said afterwards, this felt like a win for the midfield team.

He did it despite having the slowest car of the top 12 qualifiers, with a pace offset of 8/10ths of a second per lap to the Red Bulls and McLarens and 3/10ths to the Mercedes.

Again the strategy planning began in qualifying; the team had taken the decision not to do a lap in Q3 but instead to save tyres for the race, knowing that he was going to try to do a two-stop race. This gave him two new sets of soft tyres and one new set of mediums for the race.

The ideal two stop race was to stop on laps 19 and 38, but even though he had new soft tyres at the start, he couldn’t get further than lap 14 before the degradation became too great, relative to the three stoppers, and he had to pit. He was the last of the top ten to do so.

With everyone around him three stopping, Force India knew their driver would be vulnerable at the end of the race on worn tyres to three stoppers on fresh tyres, but Di Resta drove a masterful race, keeping the tyres alive at the same time as keeping the pace up.

On new softs at the start, he lost two places off the line and lost time behind Senna. However, by extending his soft tyres to lap 14 he was able to get ahead of many of the three stoppers, including Rosberg, whom he was racing for final position.

Traffic is less of a problem for a two stopper than a three stopper, but Di Resta still lost time at various stages of the race, particularly the second stint where he was faster than many three stoppers, despite looking to do a 19 lap stint compared to their 13 laps. If there was a place where he lost the opportunity to finish ahead of Rosberg, it was probably here.

With a final stint of 24 laps, he was vulnerable at the end of the race, to Rosberg, but was helped by Button’s late race retirement and the fact that Alonso didn’t quite have the straight line speed to attack in the final laps. Using KERS, Di Resta could defend and hold his 6th position, equalling his career best F1 finish.

The UBS Race Strategy Report is written by James Allen with input from F1 team strategists and from Pirelli.


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183 Comments
  1. vvipkho says:

    4 race 4 driver win
    who will be next winning of Spain GP..

    1. F1-fan says:

      Maybe Schumacher will get his chance, I doubt he can have 5 bad races in a row. He really missed luck in first four races and maybe it will be time to get it back. And he is always better on circuits that were not built by Tilke. I think the worst tracks of the year are gone for him now and he did not really impress. Only plus side is that he is much closer to Nico on this tracks then he was in 2011 and 2012 when he was 0.4-0.5 per slower whole weekend.

      1. Duke says:

        Shumi should walk away from the rubbish Merc GP team.It is sickening the way they pander to the younger driver,just because his father was a cheeky superstar and his son takes 111 races to win one.Ross Brawn has lined his pockets but let MSC down so much in the process.
        At least Kimi has a better team behind him with a bit of genuine support.I really despise Merc for what they have done to Michael,and I don’t think I am alone on this.Shame on Brawn and shame on the rest of them.They can’t even get his tyres on right!!

      2. Andrew Kirk says:

        “Sickening the way they pander to the younger driver” Must ask is it more sickening than the way Schumacher was treated at Ferrari? All the attention and new parts going his car? Bridgestone a tyre building and creating tyres just for him and his team? Or his team treating his team mates as test drivers and ordering Barrichello to get out of Schumacher’s way in Austra 2002?

      3. Doug says:

        I think this is a real test for Schumacher..is he really as good some people think? I’ve always had my doubts…yes, he’s a great driver, but the 7 titles came by way of having the deck stacked in his favour & pushing the limits of the rules.
        I find it amusing that people are upset about his lack of No.1 status with Mercedes…get real, he’s not been let down by Ross, if anything Ross has stood by him whilst Schumacher has got himself up to speed.
        I hope Schumacher wins another GP this year, it’ll be good for the sport & now that Schumi has learnt a bit of humility, it would be nice to see him get a reward for it!

      4. Joe says:

        Wow, you need to snap out of delusion land! It is Schumacher who has so far let Mercedes down. At least he is looking a lot more competitive this season and is perhaps making Ross Brawn and the Mercedes board look a little less foolish by taking the gamble of bringing him back in from retirement.

        Mercedes have been amazing about backing him despite his poor performances to date. If Schumacher had been any other new driver, he would have been dropped after his first season for someone else. Yet, they have been gracious, never criticized him, and have always placed their faith in his experience and skills. This season he is showing that he still retains some of his magic from the past, and perhaps a few good races and podiums are due to come his way. But to blame his lack of results on Mercedes is the ultimate demonstration of blind and blatant fanboyism.

      5. Dave C says:

        Maybe it’s not as extreme as you say but Mercedes have hired the wrong man to win them a championship in Rosberg, theres no way Nico is a championship contender in a equal car against the likes of Vettel, Alonso or even Hamilton, remember the number 2 driver Webber nearly destroyed Rosberg’s career by blowing him away at Williams in 2006.

    2. Iwan says:

      I’m hoping Raikkonen. Not because I am a massive fan, but it would at an extra bit of spice to an already killer season.

      Go Kimi!

    3. iceman says:

      4 different cars too! Maybe it’ll be Raikonnen or Grosjean next time :)

    4. Daniel Hoyes says:

      Wouldn’t it be great to see Kimi win in Spain – meaning 5 different cars winning first 5 GP?

    5. AndyFov says:

      Seb, Alonso, Button and Rosberg…

      You’d expect three of their team mates to get at least one win each beofre the season’s out, Kimi’s likely to make the top step a time or two too.

      What’s the record for the most different winners in a season? Whatever it is, there’s got to be a real chance it’ll be broken this year.

      1. Martin says:

        Hi Andy,

        I know there were 11 winners in 16 races in 1982. I can’t think of another year that would be better than that before or since.

        cheers,

        Martin

      2. Dave C says:

        Im sure Hamilton, Kimi and Webber will win a race, maybe Schumi and Grosjean, if they all do then that’s 9 winners, all we need is the likes of Sauber and Force India to win a couple of races and then dare I say it Massa could pinch a win if his head is screwed on then we’d have a record amount of winners in F1 in a single season.

    6. Steven says:

      I think it will probably be Vettel again now. Red Bull took their time but it looks like it’ll be 2011 starting all over again :( Hope I’m wrong.

  2. Nigel says:

    Hi James,

    Thanks for that analysis – a model of clarity.

    The clear implication of these results is that if a leading team thinks they don’t quite have the pace for pole, they should not run at all in Q3 on a circuit with high degradation.

    Running twice in Q2 is foolish, unless you’re certain of pole.

    1. hero_was_senna says:

      Interesting, Spain is always high degradation.

      1. Beka says:

        But its not a good overtaking track. In Bahrain it was possible. I think all top teams should go for top qualifying positions in Spain.

  3. drarpad says:

    Hi, sorry the paragraph of Raikkönen’s second stint is a complete mess. He overtaked Gro on the track and also pited earlier (L 24) to increase the advantage.

  4. Guy says:

    Thanks James – do you think it is now reasonable to:

    (a) Force everyone to set a quali lap in each session for the good of the show, or

    (b) Allow those going into Q2 and then Q3 an extra set of tyres (which they must use – ie they cannot have more new rubber available to them).

    I’m just concerned that the 2012 pirelli tyres make the current quali format seem like a bit of a nonsense?

    1. AndyK says:

      I think they should use ultra soft qualifying tyres.. All teams would be allocated one set in Q1. Two in q2 and q3.. so we retain the possibility of bigger teams getting knocked out in q1 if the driver makes a mistake etc.

    2. Pat Guillon says:

      I totally agree. Seems crazy to penalise cars which are fast enough to get to Q3 at the cost of limited tyres for the race. This compromises the value of qualification. I always thought it would give higher value to Saturday if points were awarded to the top 3 to add extra incentive as well as another dimension to the WDC.

  5. DanT says:

    might be wrong but I thought KR passed RG on track on lap 24?

  6. Andy H says:

    This was cracking race. How good would it have been if MacLaren had got their act togther. Raikkonen may not do reporters and sponsors, who cares, what a racing driver.
    Di Resta must be WDC one day, just looks to have it all.

    1. Doug says:

      I agree about Di Resta having it all…he’s even got Kimi’s charisma! :-D

  7. panagiotis says:

    What a championship that is. Jerez & Barca test hinted close battles, but these 4 races have revealed that this year could be the best in decades. It is the equivalent of football fans having a CL final every given Sunday.

  8. Robert N says:

    James,

    will Raikkonen’s near victory have implications on how the teams will approach qualifying in future? Having 24 seconds in hand, as in this case, plus the advantage of a new tyre for the start must be tempting!

    We already saw two cars sit out Q3 at the last race. Will this number increase in future? If it does, will some drivers be tempted to only do an “installation lap”, so that they gain a starting position on the drivers that sit out Q3 altogether?

    Would love to hear your thoughts.

    1. James Allen says:

      It depends on circuits. Some places the value of new tyres is way more than others, as we saw also last week.

    2. Brace says:

      It will depend on the track definitely.
      In Monaco for example, I don’t expect you can maximize tires while starting from 11th because you would lose all of the time in traffic anyway, while degradation might be smaller too, so making the potential time gain even smaller for those who have newer tires.

  9. Mr Squiggle says:

    James, thanks for the detail on Di Resta. Coverage of his progress during the race was a little lacking.

    Grosjean seemed to sail past Webber and Hamilton who both pitted soon after on lap 9/10.

    Is it known whether Red Bull we covering Hamilton, or was Mark hard on his tyres again?

    1. James Allen says:

      They didn’t need to, Hamilton’s race was destroyed by the two bad stops

      1. LT says:

        Hi James

        Don’t know if you were asked already, but would you be able to do an analysis on why McLaren have been so bad in terms of pit strategy and execution this year?

  10. DK says:

    Eric Boullier put up a brave face to say they have no regrets not to signal Grojean to move. I think he probably kicking himself from hindside seeing how close Kimi could have won the race. The team did not capitalize on the day Macca under performed.

    1. CC says:

      Wonder if Kimi will be there next year if Eric continues… My memory is he had negative things to say about Kimi last year and I imagine RG is his favorite son. Seems it could well have been a Lotus 1-2, now knowing that Seb might have had to slow at end if wrestling more with Kimi since he was marginal on fuel.

    2. hero_was_senna says:

      Could go one of two ways, either he has no regrets because he feels there will be other opportunities, or
      he will rue the day, because as last year, maybe the first few races Lotus is competitive, and afterwards slowly falls backwards.

      1. Beka says:

        Lotus were nowhere that competitive in the beginning of the last year.

      2. hero_was_senna says:

        Admitted, but they scored 2 podiums in the first 2 races. They had also gone massively wrong on the design of the car. So once the others picked up the pace of development, they fell behind.
        The banning of the EBD has affected a number of teams in varying degrees.
        Red Bull has fallen back into the clutches of the others. Mclaren is stronger than they were last year, mistakes apart.
        Mercedes is certainly stronger.
        I don’t know when Lotus channeled their design budget into 2012, but I’m not sure if they have the development ability that they had when they were Renault.

      3. Beka says:

        Yes they fell back because of the front exhaust mainly.
        But they were behind Red Bull, Ferrari and Mclaren in the begining of the last year which is nowhere close to being the case this time. Podiums in 2011 were more due to other teams major strategy or on track mistakes. Lets see how they manage to carry on. Barcelona will show a lot in this regard I think.

    3. wolf says:

      Surely the bigger mistake was not undercutting Red Bull on the final pit stop once it was clear that their car didn’t have the power to blast past on DRS? Since he was in the following position Kimmi could have pitted without giving Vettel the chance to respond.

  11. Sergio says:

    1)Vettel spoiled Kimi’s overtaking & victory with his subtle change of trajectory just before braking after the straight.
    2)Non sense stewarts decision, if Rosberg action don’t deserve a sanction, then Hamilton should be penalized. Remember Alonso – Kubica – Valencia 2010? That decission it cost one World championship. Same starting point, same aplication in Reglament, different drivers, different aplication of rules.
    3)One more time, “congrats” to FOM with their speed reaction to replay Alonso’s depart at pits (5 segs after?). They are well aware of the “interesting” action. Maybe would be interesting to watch it in Official Video resume of GP. Some day James would be very very interesting if you made a video resume of FOM replay neglects depending on driver and how affected in points. One thing is for sure, its not a question of “luck” or chance. One GP is like a movie with their main characters, good and bad. I dont like the writer & director specially from Valencia 2010. The “silence” of some missed replays or even live action they sounded too loud for ingenuous people who believed in justice and fair & play sport. Silence sounds always too loud in some occassions.

    1. LT says:

      Don’t know whay you think Hamilton should be penalized. He did what he had to avoid a collision. If he they had collided, you’d be having a field day with him wouldn’t you?

  12. Andrew Carter says:

    Thanks for this James, the BBC’s highlights show was badly put together and made it impossible to follow what was going on at times. I would say though that they did show Rraikkonen get past Grosjean on track down into turn 1 (probably on lap 21 and not 41) rather than rely on the undercut, but how long was he bottled up behind him for?

    Did anyone else notice how much of an effect starting on the dirty side of the track had to a drivers start? Other than Massa, who probably made the start of the season, the overhead shot was like watching a motorway with two lanes of traffic at different speeds.

    1. nic says:

      Unfortunately with the way F1 is right now, I’m not sure it’s really that easy to make a highlights package. If you cover each cars pit stops in the highlights then you use up a lot of the time doing it. If you don’t show the stops then the position the drivers are in in the race jumps around in an incomprehensible fashion.

      I don’t know what the solution is. I wonder if they should record extra bits of commentary after the race to quickly explain the changes in order.

      James,

      In the qualification coverage FOM screwed up and cut to the pits to see the Red Bull reaction to Vettel’s final lap. They missed Hamilton crossing the line mere fractions of a second away from Vettel. The BBC then in their highlights package just repeated the error and didn’t fix it. Is there some kind of contractual reason why in the highlights they can’t chose different shots than those that were shown in the original live broadcast? If you were making a perfect edit of the qualifying session you would have included Hamilton crossing the line and covered some of Di Resta’s and Ricciardo’s quali laps. Since the BBC has several hours before it’s broadcast of the highlights why not edit out the mistakes?

      1. Andrew Carter says:

        I think they did a pretty good job in Australia and Malaysia, I had no rouble following the flow of the race through the pitstops there, but I think the Bahrain highlights were compressed into a shorter time slot.

        I’m gueesing that FOM don’t give out alternate shots to the broadcasters to make their highlights shows from, so if the brain dead directors decide to show minutes of blokes sleeping in the pitlane, thats what the BBC, RTL etc have to deal with.

      2. GT_Racer says:

        Broadcasters are less restricted with Highlights. For Live broadcast’s they are heavily restricted in what they can put over the world-feed as far as there own shots & graphics.
        For highlights there allowed to mix in any additional shots they want but thats limited to stuff they get with there own cameras, the various In-car shots avaliable & whatever was played in the FOM highlights loop after the session.

        BBC could have mixed in Hamilton’s In-car camera, However it woudn’t have featured any of the on-screen timing graphics & would have been an obvious edit so they obviously didn’t see the point.

        Don’t really see it as a big thing really as Hamilton’s time was still been shown in the graphic at the bottom & you only missed seeing him driving in a straght line after the final turn so it didn’t really make any difference.

  13. Krakinho says:

    Allen, can you please explain the tyre degradation.
    Why and how do they degrade?
    In my mind the tyre itself is made out of the same material, regardless if they are new, or used.
    So how the same material can behave differently, lap after lap?

    Thanks for your time and great work.

    1. James Allen says:

      Overheating is part of the problem, degradation is the lap time loss remember, not the damage the tyre suffers

    2. Martin says:

      I’ll go with a bit of speculation rather than restating expert commentary.

      As the tyre heats up due to surface friction, carcass movement and brake heat, the rubber is slowly cooked over the stint so that it becomes more plastic. This means that the surface is more rigid and less able to “key” into the road surface to provide grip.

      Cheers,

      Martin

      1. Krakinho says:

        Thanks…both of you.

  14. Dan Orsino says:

    James, did you think Kimi would be on the ball and fighting for wins so soon after his return?

    Regarding Grosjean, Kimi went out on the marbles to pass him, with a damaged wing
    Why did Lotus throw away their first win by allowing a slower driver to hold up their win prospect?? seems unprofessional..

    Also did the damaged wing deter Kimi from concluding the move he started on Vettel but aborted. If so shows real racecraft

    1. James Allen says:

      Kimi has impressed with how quickly he’s back up to speed. A rare talent

      1. Charlie says:

        James, can you please tell that to Eddie Jordan the next time you see him?

      2. Charlie says:

        Awesome. Thank you.

      3. Trixie says:

        Thanks, James. We always knew he is a rare talent. Kimi’s back where he belongs.

      4. Andrew Kirk says:

        How do you think Mr Schumacher will be feeling James? 4 races and Kimi’s on the podium and just missed a win, 3 years and Schumacher has come close just once in Canada last year.

      5. Chapor says:

        Might explain MSC badmouthing the Pirelli tyres after the race…

      6. Jey says:

        Is it really that straight forward?

        Even if out of F1,Kimi was still in a competitive motorsport and Lotus has given him a impressive platform.

        Merc are yet to give one to Michael

      7. GT_Racer says:

        “Might explain MSC badmouthing the Pirelli tyres after the race…” As I understand it most the drivers have been complaining about the tyres this year, Schumacher is simply the only one to do it publically.

        None of them are happy having to constantly drive easy to conserve tyres rather than push hard & race.

        Someone from FOM told me last year that drivers had been asked by FOTA & had all agreed in a GPDA meeting not to publically critisise Pirelli or DRS.
        I was told all last year that many of the drivers disliked both but were sticking to the agreement not to air this publically.

        Its likely why Pirelli were so surprised by Michael speaking out as they were told when they signed the deal that any complaints would be sorted in private.

        Also going by the discussion about Schumacher’s comments here & on other fan-boards, It seems a majority of f1 fans actually agreed with Michael’s comments regarding tyres.

    2. Daniel MA says:

      Interesting how Lotus is criticized for not using team orders! I mean last year when Red Bull did do it in Silverstone everyone thought that it was awful I guess it all depends on who you support.

    3. chub says:

      Grosjean wasn’t slower… his strategy was…

      That is stupid to focus on the duel raikkonen grosjean as kimi made a very costly mistake and stayed behind massa who was far slower at this stage, furthermore he had an opportunity and he mist it…
      Always kimi ahlala kimi ouoh ouoh ouoh, can you stay factual sometimes ?

  15. PJ says:

    What is the base rate for the time difference?

    ie what determines the gap between the leader (Vettel) and 0?

    1. Craig D says:

      Race winner’s average pace.

    2. BurgerF1 says:

      The gap is determined by the cumulative time difference of Vettel’s laps to his average lap. At the start of the race he is cumulatively slower than his average (trace moves down; cumulative delta-t gets bigger). At the end of the race he is faster than his average lap time (trace moves up, cumulative delta-t gets smaller). Hope that helps.

  16. Persi says:

    Am not a big fan of team orders but they are part of F1 + sometimes appropriate I suppose. Do think Kimi lost too much time behind Grosjean…

  17. alam says:

    Hi James,

    What would be the result if Lotus had put Kimi on medium tyres before the last pitstop and soft on the last stop ?

    Thanks

  18. BW says:

    I thought Raikkonen had passed Grosjean on DRS straight and not undercutting him.

  19. madmax says:

    I would be amazed if the situation of Grosjean costing Raikkonen a win happens a second time around.

    Boulier who is also Grosjean’s manager I suspect will come under substantial pressure from those above him at Lotus to not let it happen again for either driver when a win is on the cards.

    1. chub says:

      Happen what?
      Grosjean let him pass, kimi made a sign with his hand in recognition, he had a very good opportunity with a fastest car on vettel and he mist it, that’all folks, too bad for an angry bird… cui cui cui cui…

      1. madmax says:

        @chub

        Just a suggestion… perhaps you should actually read James article or watch the race before commenting.

  20. phil says:

    Everyone loves to go on about the racing this year, but the truth is get to the first corner first and chances are very good you are going to win, not exciting in my eyes.

    1. Andrew says:

      Exactly, the way these ludicrous tyres perform in anything other than optimum conditions makes a sustained attack (driving in dirty air) both unwise and extremely difficult.

      Too call this racing exciting is ridiculous.

  21. Gene says:

    I still don’t understand why Lotus didn’t go for the undercut on Kimi’s final stop to get him out in front of Vettel. Even if Vettel was going to be a bit quicker, with Lotus’ straight-line advantage Kimi would have had a great shot at keeping the Red Bull behind. They had a nice advantage over 4th place, so there wasn’t really any risk with tire deg either. I imagine it’s the same reason why Sauber didn’t attempt an undercut of Alonso in Malaysia… They were being very cautious and maybe were being a little content with 2nd place?

  22. Dean Simwell says:

    So James, based on your analysis, would opting out of Q3 and leaving all your new tires for race day be the better strategy? Is this setting a precedent for rest of the year?

    1. James Allen says:

      Track position is still important

      1. Wildbob says:

        Track position is still all important. Raikkonen could easily have tripped up during his progress through the field, and the tyres are proving poor when following other cars with the extra sliding around the cars are seeing.

        Both Rosberg and Vettel have shown that track position is still key.

      2. Phil C says:

        I don’t like all this – we won’t run in Q3 and save a set of tyres – business.

        If you don’t run in Q3, you should start on the tyres you used to set your time to get there – in Q2, and have a set of soft compound tyres taken from you.

      3. Anthony says:

        Agree totally, you cant punish someone for being at the front.

      4. Lav says:

        The correct thing should be to remove tyre restrictions for all. Why penalize someone who is already running behind. While the strategy for Kimi worked in Bahrain, it certainly wouldn’t have worked in China as you saw, since the DRS zone wasn’t as effective.

      5. Horoldo says:

        How about – If you make Q3, you must set a timed lap within 107% of Q1 time? or lose 5 places like a gear box change. This will ensure runners in Q1 will run their asses off to at least set a banker. they will do a banker then go for it on 2nd run. Lose any advantage of saving tires and ensure good coverage for all runners during q1.

      6. Horoldo says:

        Sorry -ammend comment to If you make Q3, you must set a timed lap within 107% of “Q3″ time? (Not Q1 time)

      7. Horoldo says:

        On a roll – Sorry, Also ammend original comment – Lose any advantage of saving tires and ensure good coverage for all runners during “q3″.

      8. MelB says:

        There’s a flipside with everything, isn’t it? I would rather say, let all drivers start with fresh rubber to get rid of any ‘unfair’ advantage for being 11th intead of 10th on the grid.

      9. PW Rocket S says:

        Just “reimburse” the top 10 qualifier that sets a time to start the race with a new set of tyres!

      10. Quercus says:

        But that’s the point — thanks to the tyres, track position so nearly wasn’t important for Kimi!

      11. Jack says:

        The tyre situation does threaten to make qualifying a little farcical but in the end Vettel, thanks to his pole position, was able to win the race against what on the day might have been a marginally faster car, taking into account both drivers unexpected speed.

        Its an interesting dilemma, but I think this race was an extreme example. Kimi had a great start and was easily able to pass the cars in front, especially the Mclarens due to their tyre troubles – he seemed to simply accelerate past Button. On another day he could have finished the first lap where he started and had to use up his fresh rubber battling cars of a similar pace to the leader. Bahrain was a race where everything went perfectly for the 11th place starter and yet he still couldn’t quite take full advantage. Pole position is still king.

      12. Chris says:

        I think that the qualifying format/rules have to change to prevent the race becoming all about a tyre management exercise. Whilst this aspect still needs to feature, at the moment its all about that, gone are the days where drivers used to be able to do 20 qualifying laps in the race to close a gap.
        Q1, Q2 and Q3 should stay, but in Q3 the drivers should get a set of supersoft tyres to set their fastest possible time on which they give back at the end of Q3 and they start the race on either the tyres they used in Q1 or Q2.

        DRS in my view should be disabled for qualifying as well as it was designed for overtaking and there is no need to overtake in qualifying.

      13. Nigel says:

        But that’s the problem.
        If you compete for pole and don’t quite achieve it, on many tracks you’re at a serious disadvantage compared to the drivers behind you who chose not to run in Q3 at all.

        I don’t blame those who make the tactical choice of not running – indeed it would be strange for them not to take a smart decision.

        I do have a problem with the current combination of tyre rules and high degradation tyres with an unusually narrow performance window. While it might make for exciting races, they are exciting in the same way a lottery is.
        Not my idea of the pinnacle of motorsport.

      14. Jack says:

        I like the new tyres to be honest – you could say its turned it into a tyre management excercise but then look at the racing (and not just DRS assisted). Hamiltons crazy brilliant possibly illegal move on Rosberg was more crisis management than tyre management. Plus the fastest people are still winning – they just have another variable thrown into the mix. Just find it more interesting personally.

        Maybe in qualifying give everyone an extra set and then let those outside top 10 to choose a new set to give back – option or prime, still gives them a slight advantage of choice at least, but not as much as they have now.

        Pretty sure the only reason DRS is available in qualifying is to make sure teams use it at all. Otherwise they’d set their gear ratios for qualifying and hit the limiter using it in the race.

  23. Rob Newman says:

    Raikkonen passed Grosjean on lap 24 and not on 41 as stated on the report.

    I didn’t understand the strategy behind Massa’s race. Massa was on soft tyres and Alonso was on the mediums. So why Massa was not allowed to overtake Alonso? Effectivley Ferrari and Alonso destroyed Massa’s race.

    1. Dave C says:

      Not really, Massa never had the pace, he keeps ‘destroying’ his own race.
      There’s new order in F1, something which the likes of Hamilton, Massa and Schumacher can’t match, get use to it.

      1. Lav says:

        Not in Bahrain, He was keeping up with Alonso quite comfortably during the third stint. However, Ferrari didn’t ask Alonso to move over for him which is okay, since they are not fighting the championship with Massa. But today Massa could have finished higher if he had the team support.

  24. Andrew Barratt says:

    Great report and thanks for posting it for us. I’m no conspiracy theorist but can you shed some light on whats happening at McLaren. It seems that whenever Button is in front he gets first call on the pits as leading driver but last weekend when Hamilton was the lead driver Button still had the call “As it was his turn” to call it. Are they operating a 1 and 2 driver under the guise of allowing them both to race. In addition how can MW say with any credibility that the jack guys are voluteers doing their best – I know its wrong to keep harking back to Ron Dennis’ reign but I simply cannot imagine him accepting poor skills and second rate strategies

    1. Kay says:

      It seems people are getting this “first call” wrong.

      “First call” on whether to pit first or pit later. Calling first don’t necessarily mean coming in first. There may be an advantage in coming in later as the driver may feel comfortable with the tyres at that point.

      So please. stop the conspiracy theories.

      1. Andrew Barratt says:

        Hi Kay,

        Like I said, I’m not looking for a conspiracy, just an explanation. When Hamilton is left out too long on worn tyres the official answer is that as Button was leadig at the time he got first call on new tyres; now the latest answer when Hamilton was leading and needed tyres was that it was Buttons turn to make first call. I see your point about first call not equating to first to pit but he clearly implied he wanted to pit but couldnt because it wasnt his turn.

      2. Doohan says:

        Button said something to the effect that it alternates between the drivers.

      3. Sascha says:

        It alters always too Butons favour it seems

      4. Andrew Barratt says:

        Careful Sascha, we’ll be accused of suspecting a conspiracy ;)

  25. Sebastiaan Hekman says:

    Interesting as always James.
    Question on the tyres: What causes degradation? I can understand wear of a tyre, but what happens with the tyre that is gets slower and slower while it can last a race distance? That feels counter intuitive. Thanks.

    1. Wildbob says:

      Heat buildup, compound durability, construction of the tyre. Look at road tyres – two different manufacturers tyres can last 20,000+ miles but offer much different characteristics during that lifespan.

    2. Sean says:

      Heat. Heat. Heat. Heat.

    3. Martin says:

      Hi Sebastiann,

      I’m guessing a bit from concept of “curing” tyres by putting a lap on them in some other series, but I think what is happening is that once the tyre is up to temperature it is slowly cooked and the rubber becomes more plastic.

      For some tyres, the initial heat cycle might work to stop the tyre being excessively damaaged by sliding when cold.

      Cheers,

      Martin

      1. Sebastiaan says:

        Thanks Martin, for your replies. Have posted a reaction on your other explanation. Something to do with Jamie Oliver as chef of the cooking.

  26. John says:

    Raikkonen passed Grosjean on track, not by undercutting.

    1. James Allen says:

      He gained the initiative by undercutting then passed him on fresher tyres

      1. Dan Orsino says:

        still he had to make an overtake going off racing line, James

      2. Antti says:

        I seem to recall he passed him just before the pit stops.

      3. Dean Simiwell says:

        He did. It was more of an overtake than an undercut.

      4. elie says:

        Kimi passed Romain on track then pitted immediately after.
        Lotus should have pitted Kimi later on last two stops.
        1. He still had pace and clear air after passing Romain
        2. He still had pace when Seb pitted & could have gone 1 slightly quicker at the end on tyres 1 or 2 laps younger.
        I know Lotus did not want to risk the under cut. But it all depends on relative pace/ tyres when opponent comes in. It seemed Kimi still had a lap or so in them and a few tenths more pace than both Seb and Romain had on each ocassion.

  27. Geoff says:

    Is this degradation vs wear distinction just Perelli marketing speak so they can say their tyres don’t wear out?

    If a tyre is suddenly 10 seconds a lap slower I’d say that was worn even if it’s still possible to drive around on it.

    The tyre performance degrades because the tyre is worn.

    If the tyres are not wearing out, where are all the marbles coming from?

    1. Brian says:

      My understanding of the difference is that wear is a measure of the thickness of the tread while degradation is the reduction of maximum available grip. The grip is the maximum sliding friction that the tire is able to generate, usually within a narrow window of tire temperature. Degradation just means they don’t grip as well as they used to but they still aren’t worn down to the cords.

      1. Sebastiaan Hekman says:

        I still have doubts whether I understand the whole degradation issue correctly.

        Apparently there is a temperature window in which the tyre performs best, this implies maximum grip. I suppose that window is unrelated to the car the tyre is fitted on.
        So, when degradation sets in – still don’t understand how – the grip level diminishes. And that happens because the operational tyre temperature lies outside – probably at the higher side of it – the optimum window. So it is all about keeping the tyre temperature within that window. Let’s say the outside temperature (track and air) is constant and the car setup too during the race and the car operates inside the window, the tyres will give maximum grip. But due to braking and accelerating the temperature of the tyre rises and will leave that window, and therefore the grip level diminishes.
        So, if this is the case, what happens when the tyre temperature comes back into that window? Does the grip level return to its optimum level too? Quite likely that is not the case, but why not? Then something must have changed in the tyre, the surface, changes in the compound? Or is it impossible for a tyre to cool down during the race?

        Wear should no be a problem according to Pirelli, or does wear play a role in the degradation?

        I agree with Schumacher that the tyres play a too important role, nevertheless I want to understand their behaviour better.

      2. Martin says:

        Hi Sebastiaan,

        I saw your earlier query first, but to expand a bit here, the tyre surface temperature is somewhere around 90-110 degrees celcius.

        Blistering of the tyre surface is caused by significant overheating of the tyre, such as large camber angles and high speed running as occured in Spa in 2011.

        Graining of the surface is damage from when the tread surface is hotter than the inner structure of hte tyre, so you thermal expansion related rippling and damage. Hence it is best to use brake heat rather than weaving to heat tyres.

        In the case of blistering and graining it is possible to corner with less force to reduce the temperature to try to stop the problem getting worse.

        As I described in my earlier reply, through use the tyre is constantly being cooked, and this changes the elasticity of the rubber. When fresh the tyre is uncooked – the tyre warmers are not at the full temperature, just enough to have them on the edge of the operating window, but not peak grip. If you keep the current Pirellis at the optimum temperature for grip they will slowly cook themselves and the grip will reduce.

        I don’t know whether dropping right out of the operating window for the tyre is enough to stop the cooking process, but I suspect the grip loss this way, through having under temperature tyres is even greater, judging by the speed on laps in series such as Indy.

        I am making several logical inferences here, so tyre expert might show I’m wrong :-)

        Cheers,

        Martin

    2. Craig D says:

      I view degradation as the quality of the tyre. Wear is how tread/rubber is actually left.

      You hear of drivers pitting with due to slow pace and the pits saying the tyres didn’t look too knackered still!

      1. Sebastiaan says:

        @Martin. Thanks for your explanation.
        So, keeping degradation in check is keeping the cooking process in control. Cooking is unavoidable, apparently, as it is necessary to get the tyre to deliver the level of grip necessary for this kind of use.
        On a road car, when normal used, cooking is never an issue, only wear.
        In a way the driver has become/is like a chef that must be able to get the tyres well-done to the table, and not over-done. Ones wonder whether Jamie Oliver could give some good advice here:-)

      2. Martin says:

        Hi Sebastiaan,

        I suspect that Pirelli has picked a series of compounds that cooks quickly compared to what Bridgestone and Michelin used. There might also be things you can do with the carcass construction to manage the heat flows in terms of conduction and insulation so that heat isn’t trapped in the inner layer of the tyre aiding the cooking process.

        Jamie when on top gear did recommend a 7 hour cooking time for a donkey. Might not be the fastest service ever – a bit like a McLaren pitstop :-)

        Cheers,

        Martin

  28. Richie Hezz says:

    It’s interesting/fun to note that had Kimi been able to hang on to his second place in China, he’d be leading the championship now. I know that ifs and buts could apply to any of the drivers, but still…

  29. Gary says:

    Excellent analysis. Maybe Lotus are just a little ring rusty regards strategy at the pointy end, but I expect they’ll be ready next time.

  30. Panayiotis says:

    What about Rosberg? Where would he end up if he had received drive through penalty for blocking Hamilton, and where would Alonso be if Rosberg wasn’t there to block him as well?

  31. etcyu says:

    James…from what james allison said on the report…kimi had broken front wing which results in drop of aero performance~~~ and romain ‘s 3 rd and final stint are fresh set of medium, still Kimi was faster than him on that circumstance~~ i doubt its tyre alone that make these possible

    1. James Allen says:

      That is mentioned in the report

      1. Doug says:

        James, do you think McLaren will be really unhappy with their position after the flyaway races?
        They still look to have one of the quickest cars but have just made too many errors as a team. I’ve been impressed with Lewis & Jenson’s driving (with the exception of the Malay boo boo)..the team just don’t seem to be able to extract the max out of the tyres available performance. Do you think that the drivers will be getting frustrated?

      2. James Allen says:

        I think they’ll be unhappy that they lost momentum in China and Bahrain

      3. Doug says:

        Thanks for your feedback.

  32. Mark Miller says:

    James

    Do you have any information on Ricciardo’s race? In Australia we were hoping for good race pace but both STRs seemed bottom of the heap, being beaten at times for pace by the Caterhams. Is the STR a n ordinary car? DO they have set up issues?

    Also what is the paddock feedback on Daniel’s starts because at the moment they seem awful.

    Cheers

    Mark in Melbourne

    BTW my weekly jog is a lap of Albert Park!

  33. Brett says:

    He could have undercut Vettle too – if they would have pulled him in a lap or two earlier (say, right after he tried to pass Vettle on track and wrecked his tires) he likely would have won.

    This also goes back to your other post about tires – they are a bit too important right now.

    1. Gene says:

      I thought it was an incredible game of chicken in the laps leading up to the final pit stop. I’m sure both teams were looking down the pit lane to figure out when exactly the other one was going to pit. I really wanted to see Kimi grab the lead and see if Vettel could re-pass on the track. Looking at the times after the stops, it probably would have been quite the battle!

  34. RyMac says:

    James – very interesting analysis, I don’t think I fully appreciated how much better Kimi’s tires were and in particular, how much better Vettel was on the fresh prime compound at the end, he was noticeably faster than anyone else in the field but the two Lotuses.

    You may have answered this before with other plots, but is it possible to upload the data that enables you to produce this graph. I haven’t seen the raw lap times over a race distance released anywhere.

    How consistent was the weather/temperature between the three days? It seems like consistent temperatures would be quite crucial in enabling the engineers to predict just how hard you can push the tires and thus optimally manage your degradation.

    1. Horoldo says:

      James,
      Given the mixed results and talk of track temp vs tire sweet spot, can you give us any data over previous 4 races that can point us to temprature sweet spots based on track temp and team performace/Tire selection?. Track temp seems to be the main variable so far this season. Red Bull and MW looked the goods on saturday, but Lotus came from left field and track temp seemes to me the catalyst. I think track temp is the main factor between the 4 race winners and 4 different tracks so far this season. Maybe a blue print for the season. What were temps for upcomming races last year, and will the track temp be similar this year??

  35. Rudy says:

    Interesting analysis as always. It summons to tyres. Tyre preservation from Q3 or even Q2. New sets available for some in the race. Two or three stoppers. With all that degradation the racing line becomes a single lane all around. No overtaking zones even if the track is 14 meters wide. Just remember what happened to Raikkonen and others in China. Although a “good show” it doesn’t translate into good racing. James, we are doomed to these disintegrating tyres as long as the FIA and Bernie want a somewhat artificial racing show to keep TV audience. Anyway, good job and thanks for bringing us these strategy reports.

  36. MelB says:

    Lotus states that Raikkonen damaged his front wing early on in the race while battling with Massa. To what extent do you think this compromised Kimi’s chances for a win?

  37. Sergio says:

    To avoid any judgement about my arguments for any reason I invite you to read articles 20.2 & 20.4. Hamilton for sure and posibly Rosberg should be penalised at Bahrein. Astonishing decision. No word at all about clear infringement of Lewis Hamilton.
    20.2 Drivers must use the track at all times. For the avoidance of doubt the white lines defining the track edges are considered to be part of the track but the kerbs are not.
    A driver will be judged to have left the track if no part of the car remains in contact with thetrack.
    Should a car leave the track the driver may rejoin, however, this may only be done when it is
    safe to do so and WITHOUT GAINING ANY ADVANTAGE.
    A driver may not deliberately leave the track without justifiable reason.

    20.4 Manoeuvres liable to hinder other drivers, such as deliberate crowding of a car beyond the edge of the track or any other abnormal change of direction, are not permitted.

    1. Gene says:

      For those that hadn’t seen it, here is the report from the Stewards for why there was no action taken in the Rosberg/Hamilton incident:

      Reasons
      1. The driver of Car 8 commenced his move to the right after the exit from T3 and moved to the right in a
      constant and continuous straight line manner, not making any sudden movements (as evidenced by
      telemetry and video evidence) and;
      2. At the time he commenced his move, Car 4 was behind him and no part of his car was alongside
      Car 8 and;
      3. The driver of Car 8 made the move to the right prior to the driver of Car 4 making the same move and;
      4. For more than half of the distance travelled by Car 8 in moving in a straight line towards the right hand
      edge of the track, Car 4 remained behind Car 8 and;
      5. Because the delta speed between the two cars was quite significant it was difficult for Car 8 to detect
      the exact position of Car 4 in relation to his own car;
      6. Had a significant portion of Car 4 been alongside that of Car 8 whilst Car 4 still remained within the
      confines of the track, then the actions of Car 8 may not have been considered legitimate.

      Also note, that Hamilton was not investigated at all for leaving the boundries of the track. I’ll offer my own reason for that–
      “A driver may not deliberately leave the track without justifiable reason.” – Hamilton’s “justifiable reason” would be “I was pushed off the track” I guess? I’m ok with this since:
      -Hamilton had the speed to make the overtake anyway,
      -He was driving on an incredibly dusty part of the track, which was a disadvantage
      -The fault lies partly with the track designers with all of this tarmac everywhere! :)

      I’ll say this… Rosberg certainly took it to the extreme and risked a puncture or a collision by blocking in that way. It shows somewhat poor racecraft, but thankfully for him we don’t punish for that in F1! Also, don’t think for a second that Hamilton and Alonso will forget how Rosberg defended. You KNOW that the shoe will be on the other foot some time later this season!

      1. Sergio says:

        1)Hamilton overtook Rosberg off the track:
        1.1) Justifified because he was pushed by Rosberg = then Rosberg deserves punishment (20,4)
        1.2) If Rosberg didn’t deserve punishment (Stewards decision)= then Hamilton obtains advantage driving outside the track. He got the interior of the straigh. (Hamilton should return his gained position to Rosberg)
        2) Rosberg said he didn’t see Hamilton & Alonso but their maneouvres are obvious to protect and defend his position against them. Not credible. Even he sent a message by radio acussing Hamilton to overtaking outside of the track.
        Stewards exonerated themselves to judge the incident and they infringe 20.2 or 20.4 or both, that are pristine clear.

    2. Horoldo says:

      To me sounds as if none or both should be penalised.

      In the first instance
      Rosberg – deliberate crowding of a car beyond the edge of the track or any other abnormal change of direction, are not permitted.

      And it can be argued that Lewis wasn’t immediately beside Rosberg during this manuvure,

      but – 20.2 Drivers must use the track at all times. For the avoidance of doubt the white lines defining the track edges are considered to be part of the track but the kerbs are not.
      A driver will be judged to have left the track if no part of the car remains in contact with thetrack.
      Should a car leave the track the driver may rejoin, however, this may only be done when it is
      safe to do so and WITHOUT GAINING ANY ADVANTAGE.
      A driver may not deliberately leave the track without justifiable reason.

      But what constitutes jusifiable reason??? Being run across the road to disuade overtaking me or being run across the road and you making the decission to put 4 wheels on the outside of the track without lifting to perform this overtaking manuvure, despite of braking point and 4 wheels off the track?

      I was amazed at first that either Ham nor Rosberg weren’t penalised, but then I think, who was more wrong?

      1. Msta says:

        If Ham stayed on the track he probably would have caused an avoidable accident by crashing into the back of Rosberg. The place was gained by the speed advantage he gained on track prior to the actual overtake. He only left the track as evasive action and did not gain any extra advantage from it.

  38. r0ssj says:

    Hi James,

    Not exactly strategy related but, any idea what Alonso was doing when he slipstreamed Kobayashi into the pitlane entry, and then pulled out at the last second.

    Was it just for the tow, better straightline speed? And did Alonso actually gain anything from it? He would have already had the DRS from been within the 1 second window.

    Seemed a strange move.

    1. BurgerF1 says:

      Alonso explains the move here: http://www.grandprix.com/ns/ns24069.html. He admits it wasn’t the smartest thing to get his tires that dirty!

      1. r0ssj says:

        Thanks for the link. Intresting tactic from Alonso.

        Ferrari must really have poor straight line speed, for Alonso to be trying things like that.

  39. Irish con says:

    How come webber got totally spanked in this race by seb. Seb is just top class but a few guys about could say that about.

    1. Andrew says:

      “How come webber got totally spanked in this race by seb?”

      Because running in clean air is a MASSIVE advantage this year with the state of these new Pirelli’s. You only have to look at Button in Melbourne and Rosberg in China to see evidence of this.

      First man into the first corner has won 3 out of 4 races, and Hamilton would have had a good chance in Malaysia if conditions hadn’t altered (and Mclaren hadn’t messsed up his pit stop).

      1. Irish con says:

        Andrew after the first round of stops webber was in clear air. So that excuse doesn’t wash. Vettel hammered mark this weekend. Webber is a very good driver. But that’s all.

    2. Doohan says:

      Webber had to fight with other drivers, whilst seb only ever had clear track.
      I’d say by his third stop they new 4th was in the bag and then proceeded to coast home maintaining the gap to the cars behind.

      1. 69bhp says:

        Webber was in clean air for most of the race. is telling that he couldnt keep up with Grosjean while at the same time Vettel was pulling clear of Grosjean.

  40. carl says:

    Thanks James!
    Your report makes it so very interesting!
    There is so much better to combine what we see on TV with your evaluation.
    What’s also fun is what Kimi’s destroyers are now saying, I am waiting to hear Berger!

  41. Tornillo Amarillo says:

    Excelent report.

    Kimi was great and it seems to make forget Alonso, Hamilton as best drivers.

  42. tarun says:

    James, what you think of Raikkonen of 2012 to Raikkonen of 2009.
    Do you still think he lacked motivation back then. or could it be that ferrari never really backed him as compared to massa. Its a similar sort of scenario we are seeing in ferrari these with massa being nowhere close to alonso in terms speed.

    1. MelB says:

      Just look at his results after Hungary when Ferrari had to listen to Kimi again. And this with a car that Ferrari had stopped developing.

      1. tarun says:

        yea exactly that’s what I have been pointing to…that ferrari never really supported him. I think kimi seems really comfortable in lotus environment compared to his mclaren and ferrari days. hopefully the car is good as we might see the best out of iceman

  43. Chris says:

    Massa isn’t exactly a priority at the moment for Ferrari. No matter how much Ferrari say they are behind Massa, I believe they”ll always back Alonso. It isn’t nice to think that, but I believe it’s true. I don’t think Massa’s race was a disaster either. He made up about 5 positions and the end of the race compared to his starting position.

  44. Dante says:

    James, thank you for your report.

    To the rest of those commenting here, is it just me or, are you also, after only 4 races, just a little bit tired of the word “tires/tyres?”

  45. Kimituga says:

    Just to give a though on the strategy, if it was the other way, Vettel 11th with new tyres and Kimi on pole with scrubbed, it was easy victory for Kimi.
    First, because Kimi is the best on F1 when we are talking about recovering positions (many experience in 2005 with that Mercedes V10.
    Second, because this track is easy on overtaking if you have good straigh line speed, wich Lotus had.
    I think after all, if Kimi was on Q3, it would be his race to win.

    I´m so glad too see him back him F1…

  46. Rich C says:

    omg! Say it isn’t so!

    Do NOT tell me winning had anything do with team strategy, or taking care of your tires, or qualy strategy!

    No dont tell me that! *Thats not racing! Racing is only about who has the most blinding flat out speed!

    Everyone knows this.

    1. Ethan says:

      You should call a certain Mr Alain Prost and explain to him the intricate details of what everybody knows as the definition of racing.

  47. Malcolm says:

    Great report James, fitting for such a tense race. The season is certainly shaping up nicely.

    I agree with others that something should be done about qualy 3, all 10 cars should be given 1 extra set of the Options, and that set must be returned after Q3. At least then we should see all 10 cars go out.

  48. Peter Freeman says:

    James, any insight as to how McLaren could be so fast in practice and qualifying yet have so little pace on race day?

  49. Charalampos says:

    As was mentioned in another website Lotus could have just pitted kimi a lap earlier to make the undercut and pass vettel before the final stint. That could have probably sealed the win for kimi as well, depending on if vettel could pass him in the last stint.

    But I wanted to ask more about the maths you presented. You said that the cost of degradation per lap is 0.3 seconds. Then you say that after 3 laps the old tyres are 0.7 per lap slower than the new ones. As naturally 0.3*3 = 0.9 I was left with a question. You say 0.7 because the in and out lap are slow laps and therefore do not degrade the tyres so much? Or for another reason?

    Then again you say that Raikonnen had 24 seconds from this effect on the first 3 stints. If I can recall correctly kimi used:

    New softs X2 and new medium X2

    while vettel used:

    used softs X2, used medium X1 and new medium X1

    since both cars pitted on lap 39 that would make

    39 *0.7 = 27.3 seconds.

    As u said 24 I believe that most likely u had another parameter in mind. Would you like to analyze this point further?

    Thanx

  50. Erik says:

    Hi James!
    I think you have misunderstood what they told you. There is no degradation of 0.3s / lap over a stint. Maybe the first of the laps then it declines. Vettel would have had a 5.1s degradation over his last stint(17 laps) minus fuel. 4 laps is about 0.4s so then total laptime loss 5.1s – 1.6 = 3.5 seconds. Compare Kimis first and last laps on that stint and you will see that it does not add up. If he would gain 24 seconds in pace every team would save tires like there is no tomorrow but that does not happen. Implication, your analysis in this case is incorrect.

    But of course every other team will blame the tyres and claim that is why they got beat by Kimi. In total it is a little less than 10s he gained on fresh tires.

    1. Charalampos says:

      Hey I guess u r right that the degradation is not steady 0.3s per lap and that it declines after a few laps. However I think that the 24 seconds James mention should be correct. If a new tyre is 0.7s quicker than old tyres then 8 seconds are just 11-12 laps.

      If you think that everyone would go for that 8 seconds then you just have to check the difference of the seventh car and the first after a few laps int he race. It is usually well over that 8 seconds. So not using a set of tyres and qualifying tenth would not make sense most of the time.

      I am not sure under which circumstances it would. Probably if the degradation is high in a circuit and also it is easy to pass then it could make sense on some circuits. Comparing the numbers would be the way to go

  51. CRS says:

    Driver managers taking a cut of their performance based salaries should not be allowed positions in or near to F1 team management. Bye bye Eric and Helmut, why not join Flavio in the pasture.

  52. Methusalem says:

    The hole “tyre” think is tiring me. I think one should scrap one of those stupid rules which forces the top ten qualifieres to use the same set of tires. I don’t see an advantage for position 7,8,9,10 have over 11. Yet 11 hat an advantage to start with the tyre of its choice. Please change these rules, and bring back refueling! The fuel strategy used to make the qualifings and the race very exciting.

  53. hero_was_senna says:

    If I remember correctly, did the BBC crew mention it had rained overnight before the race?

    Usually this make for a green track, would this have made a bigger difference to the used vs new tyres connumdrum?

  54. Peterfwood says:

    Pratice 1 to 2 were in 40degree temperatures on track. Practice 3 and race were in 30 degree temperatures and falling. Anyone take this into account in their comments. There is a 25% change in track temeperatures. RB fast on Friday and “slower” on Saturday. Lotus not as fast Friday and Merc definitely slower yet on Saturday with tyre temperatures down things changed.

  55. jpinx says:

    James — Thanks for your excellent report.

    Any moves to make the tyres less abruptly degrade? When they go – they go in the space of one lap, but if there was a more gradual tail-off of grip over maybe 3 or 4 laps that would allow a great driver to hang on, and allow teams more choices in strategy.

    I still want them to go to low-profile tyres and give the car designers a lot more influence ;)

  56. Richard says:

    All very fascinating for the strategist, but again tyres almost determining the outcome, certainly the higher performer given a good car, and driver. The trouble is it’s not a constant with the environment impacting on the performance of the tyre. Great for strategist, and perhaps the winning driver, but ultimately demoralising for other drivers. The idea that the tyre will last the whole race is rubbish because nobody will drive that slowly to get the energy levels down low enough for that to happen.

  57. Richard Le Tessier says:

    Great to see Ricciardo do so well in quali. What the hell happened in the 1st few laps? His start wasn’t great, but he appeared to have absolutely no pace.

  58. Michael S says:

    James,
    Is Kimi in a tough spot with Romain being managed by Eric Bolier and being French? Post race I saw Ted Kravitz and many others ask Eric why on earth they made Kimi work to get by Romain when it was clear he was so much faster and Eric refused to answer almost acting as if there was still a rule on team orders. Is Romain the golden child at Lotus?

    1. James Allen says:

      Not really. I think they were reluctant to move him over, knowing a stop was coming up. But it was vital time lost

      1. Sri says:

        “Not really. I think they were reluctant to move him over, knowing a stop was coming up. But it was vital time lost.”

        It is much more the reason to move over Raomin as the stop was anyway coming up and he was not racing Kimi then (being on a different strategy). Somehow Lotus have lost belief that they could win a race and do have this attitude of mediocrity. So their approach reflects that belief (for example trying to be different with third stint of Kimi rather than following Vettel exactly). Perhaps now with the confidence that they can win, they’ll be more aggressive.
        If they do spoil more chances like they did in the first three races, then the strategy team must be fired (perhaps including Eric Boullier).

    2. Tornillo Amarillo says:

      Kimi is no worry by anybody…

      Boulier sais “Grosjean can be champion” and I don’t think Kimi is worry about it, certainly the have the same car so far.

      But it is true Grosjean is really good, I was saying his starts are amazing, and then he looks very consistent, and with good speed for qualifies also. Better than Petrov, it’s look a good choice with this insight after 4 races (so my mistake for choosing Petrov in those early days, sorry).

      Knowing what’s going on now in the grid, what would be happenned if Hamilton would have change to Red Bull this year???

  59. Scott C says:

    I’m becoming increasingly disillusioned with the artificial nature of F1, whether it be DRS, having to conserve the tyres or the qualifying format where cars dont even bother to run. It is killing true competition and making it harder for the best drivers to shine, becoming more and more of a tactical lottery. It may be more exciting for the casual observer, but is dumbing down the sport in my view.

  60. Simmo says:

    It’s quite clear from this data here how close Caterham are now to the mid-field battle. Undoubtedly once they up one small notch they will get a point or two :D

    Good luck to them 8)

  61. Kev says:

    I read it in another site which reports F1 news:
    “Grosjean held on for a couple of laps while Raikkonen urged his team to take action, telling them “I have to get past”. By lap 24 he was through, Grosjean not fighting him for the place at turn one.”

    Why is there no hue and cry about this whereas there was a witch hunt for Ferrari’s position switch?

    I didn’t watch the race and can only go by what I read in the article?

    Seems like every team has got a No 1 and 2 drivers in them.

    1. James Allen says:

      Because when Ferrari switched it was illegal. Nowadays it’s not

      1. Sri says:

        Usually the drivers look to go through the pit crew for overtaking their team-mate as they don’t want both of them to end up non-scoring due to a tussle. It is always better to go through the pit-crew as that way the team can decide what to do based on the strategies – in this case clearly Grosjean was slower as he was on harder tire and he had to stop anyway sooner than Raikkonen. So there is not much sense in keeping Raikkonen fighting with Grosjean in the real sense of the term – it is loss for both the drivers leading to potential crash and no points for either of them and also the team with no winner at all.

        Ferrari case in 2010 was different: First, it broke the rules as James pointed out, second Massa and Alonso had equal chance to win and third it was the exact place where Massa suffered the accident the previous year and a win there means much much more to him and F1 fans.

      2. Kev says:

        I think Massa was injured in Hungary and this happened in Hockenheim. Also he is a grown up man and should have understood the reason behind it. If this has shattered his confidence then he is too fragile. He saw it coming and should have acted accordingly.

        Also McLaren tried to hold fort by using ‘save fuel’ coded messages during the season. It wasn’t as if Ferrari were the first ones to use team orders that season.

        Ferrari makes everything special I suppose. Be it a win or a criticism.

      3. Ethan says:

        um no Massa had his accident in Hungary in 2009. The team orders were in Germany. Not “the same place”

      4. Sri says:

        Sorry. That was a mistake. They are different places.
        McLaren passed coded messages – true. I guess Ferrari missed that art.

  62. build says:

    G’day James,
    Thanks for a good insight to the strategies, a real eye opener, I look forward to these posts very much. I particularly liked the full explanation of why the first two stints chewed up the new tyre advantage that Kimi had.

    I have a question. I note you said temps of 40C which was the case on Fri/Sat but my data shows track temps of 29C to 33C on Sunday, which is correct and if my data is correct how would the lower temps have effected particularly the Macca and the Redbull?

    Thanking you in anticipation,
    build

  63. Eduan says:

    I think the key element here with Lotus is that they have two great drivers and I do not think that development was that bad last year. I think Heidfeld and Petrov were not great drivers and Nick not really setting the world on fire. Here you have Kimi who has proved over and over that he is quick and I think Lotus have better drivers that will extract more from the car and that can give them better feedback in terms of development

  64. Ikkida says:

    I have a bad feeling about this. I feel this was LOTUS best chance this season, which Boullier bungled up. If Boullier was not content & conservative with finishing 2nd and 3rd, 1st and 2nd would have been possible for these reasons: 1) Kimi would have pushed vettel harder for much longer making him burn more fuel (remember vettel parked the car immdtly after the race) 2) After some fight/chase vettel would have settled for a conservative engine mapping, thus making him vulnerable to Grosjean, whose pace was same as kimi at that time.

    James, what are your thoughts on Boullier’s action/inaction? What would have happend if Todt/Brawn/Flavio were at the helm? Wouldnt they have asked kimi to hunt vettel till the last lap?

    1. James Allen says:

      I’d say it was a learning experience..

  65. MarkedOne8 says:

    Raikkonen for president!

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