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What’s the secret to winning the Monaco Grand Prix?
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Darren Heath
Posted By: James Allen  |  22 May 2012   |  7:06 am GMT  |  134 comments

This weekend Formula 1 races on the streets of Monaco, the race that all the teams and drivers most want to win. So what’s the secret to getting a good race result in Monaco? We saw that the Spanish Grand Prix was won with thorough planning, saving new sets of hard tyres for the race day and an inspired strategy call by the Williams team. So how should teams approach the strategy for Monaco?

Here we’ll take you through all the considerations the teams strategists use. Once you’ve read the briefing, why not go on our our Race Strategy Calculator and see if you can beat the default strategy loaded into it. The calculator is based on a top ten qualifier so it assumes that you will start the race on used supersoft tyres.

Traditionally Monaco is the hardest circuit on which to overtake. The track is narrow and lined with barriers and there are few opportunities for a car to get alongside another. The only possible overtaking place is the exit of the tunnel into the chicane, but drivers must be careful as it is very dirty off line in the tunnel and they can lose grip by picking up dust and discarded rubber from the tyres, which is a particular feature of the Pirelli tyres used in F1 today.

From a strategy point of view it’s a very tricky race as running in slow traffic is always a problem and there is a very high (71%) chance of a safety car, which can turn strategies on their heads.

Track Characteristics
Monte Carlo – 3.34 kilometres; Race distance – 78 laps = 260.52 kilometres. 19 corners in total. The slowest lap of the season at an average lap speed of 160km/h.

Aerodynamic setup – High downforce; Top speed 295km/h (with Drag Reduction System active on rear wing) – 285km/h without.

Full throttle – 45% of the lap (lowest of year); Total fuel needed for race distance – 120kg (very low); Fuel consumption – 1.55 kg per lap (very low)

Time spent braking: 12% of the lap (high); 13 braking zones; Brake wear – Medium; 48 gear changes per lap.

Loss time for a Pit stop = 20 seconds
Total time needed for pit stop: 25 seconds.

Fuel effect (cost in lap time per 10kg of fuel carried): 0.28 seconds (very low)
Monaco is a unique street circuit, which offers no real reflection on the way cars will perform at other venues. It is a one-off.

The track layout is tight, with no high speed corners, two short straights and the lowest average lap speed of the season at 160 km/h (100mph).

Form Guide

The Monaco Grand Prix is the sixth round of the 2012 FIA F1 World Championship.

Qualifying well is critically important at Monaco and it is also true in general of this F1 season, despite the shake up in the form book imposed by the way the Pirelli tyres degrade. This season we have had five different winners in five different teams (the first time it’s happened since 1983) but four of the five winners have come from the front row of the grid and on three of five occasions the leader on the opening lap has gone on to win the race.

Cars that tend to go well in Monaco have plenty of downforce and good traction in slow corners. The Williams was the fastest in the slow Sector 3 in Barcelona, which is usually a good indicator of pace for Monaco, the Lotus also has good low speed traction, which is a weakness of the Ferrari. The McLaren is the best qualifying car at the moment with 3 pole positions out of 5 (albeit one was later rescinded) but its race pace doesn’t match it.

Monaco requires a particular technique of driving close to the barriers and this is a venue where a driver can make a real difference.

As far as drivers’ form is concerned at Monaco, Sebastian Vettel won the race last year, while other previous Monaco winners in the field are Kimi Raikkonen, Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso, Michael Schumacher and Mark Webber.

Weather Forecast

The forecast for Sunday looks good with temperatures around 21 degrees and a low chance of rain. Showers are forecast for Saturday. Being coastal however rain can arrive quite suddenly.


Likely tyre performance and other considerations

Pirelli tyre choice for Monaco: Supersoft and Soft.

Monaco is generally quite gentle on tyres, the track surface is smooth and there are no high energy corners.

This race sees the first appearance in 2012 of the supersoft tyre, which is largely unchanged from 2011; the compound is the same, but the profile is slightly different with a wider shoulder to reduce blistering. Last year the tyre lasted around 15-16 laps in the first stint before requiring a change.

The teams have done little testing on it this year.

The soft tyre is the same one that has appeared at every race so far in 2012. It is slightly softer than the 2011 soft compound. The difference in performance between the two tyre compounds is expected to be around 0.6 seconds per lap in qualifying and slightly less in the race.

Last year the winner Sebastian Vettel managed to make a set of softs last 56 laps, so there will be some teams thinking about doing only one stop in the race.

Number and likely timing of pit stops

Last year saw three different strategies in the top three finishers; Vettel stopped once, Alonso twice and Button three times,

They had all started the race on the same tyre (supersoft) and all ended up on the same tyre (soft) but in between had done three completely different strategies.

This year it’s likely that the contenders will be more aligned, mostly doing two stops, with three stops and one stop both a bit of a risk. However, our strategy calculator shows that a car doing one stop on L37 for new option (soft) tyres is ahead after final stops of the two stoppers and of the driver who stops once for new primes, but can the driver hold the others up to the end on fast-fading tyres?

The pit lane at Monaco is long and slow so the time needed to make a stop is quite long at around 25/26 seconds. This encourages teams to make less rather than more stops.

With the performance gap between the soft and super soft tyre it is likely that everyone will qualify on the super soft and then two stoppers will mostly run on the soft, while three stoppers will take an extra run on supersofts.

The top ten will start on the super softs they qualified on. Depending on how long they can keep the first set of tyres going will determine whether they make one, two or – if they have to – three stops.

The first lap is always very costly for the midfield and back of the field. With having to follow through the tight corners, it’s common for the cars in the bottom third of the grid to do a first lap which is 20 seconds slower than the leader, who is running in free air.


Chance of a safety car

There is a 71% chance of a safety car and and if it falls at the right time it can make your race. But if it falls at the wrong time, your victory plans fall apart – as they did for Jenson Button last year, who was trying to drive flat out uninterrupted on three stops, a risky plan given the likelihood of the safety car.

Recent start performance

The run from the start to the first corner at Monaco is very short and always chaotic. The first turn, St Devote, is tight and slow and cars go through it in single file.

Last year there were six changes of position in the top ten cars.

Although he’s having a poor run of results, Felipe Massa is the outstanding starter of 2012, having made up and average of over 4 places at every race start. Ferrari team mate Fernando Alonso is also making good use of the starts with an average gain of 2.6 places off the line.

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

Gained:

+21 Massa
+15 Kovalainen
+13 Alonso, Glock
+11 Raikkonen
+8 Maldonado
+8 Perez ***
+7 Schumacher*
+6 Kobayashi, Senna, Vergne
+5 Hamilton
+3 Button
+2 Pic

+2, Karthikeyan
+1 Rosberg, Di Resta, Petrov

Held position: None
Lost:
-1 Grosjean**, Vettel,
-3 De la Rosa
- 5 Hulkenberg
- 7 Webber
-13 Ricciardo
* Senna, Ricciardo and Hulkenberg were all involved in accidents on 1st lap in Australia
** Schumacher and Grosjean collided on Lap 1 in Malaysia, Senna and Perez pitted for wet tyres on opening lap
***Perez punctured on lap 1 in Spain and went to back of field


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. Here again Ferrari leads the way consistently this year.
It is also clear that the field has significantly closed up in pit stops. The top four teams fastest stops were within 4/10ths of a second of each other in Spain. It shows how much work has gone on in this area.
The league table below shows the order of the pit crews based on their fastest time in the Spanish Grand Prix, from the car entering the pit lane to leaving it. The positions from previous race are in brackets.
Worth noting is that Force India continues to perform well above its championship table position and Lotus has seen a massive improvement from 8th in the league to 3rd. Also worth noting is that Marussia did a faster stop than Caterham.
1. Ferrari 19.456 (3)
2. Red Bull 19.624 (1)
3. Lotus 19.777 (8)
4. Force India 19.867 (4)
5. McLaren 19.888 (5)
6 = Mercedes 20.059 (1), Toro Rosso (6)
8. Williams 20.218 (7)
9. Sauber 20.381 (9)
10. Marussia 20.669 (12)
11. Caterham 21.275 (10)
12. HRT 21.471 (11)

Now you’ve read the briefing, why not go on our our Race Strategy Calculator and see if you can beat the default strategy loaded into it. The calculator is based on a top ten qualifier so, remember, it assumes that you will start the race on used supersoft tyres.

The Race Strategy Briefing is written by James Allen with input and data from several F1 team strategists and from Pirelli.

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134 Comments
  1. Raymond YZJ says:

    James – I have a question just out of interest. Where exactly do you get your data for top speed with/without DRS? It’s different for all teams, so for example McLaren might tell you it’s 297 top speed while Red Bull might say it’s 289 top speed. So where exactly do you get your data?

    Also, in the future, why not let us revisit old strategy calculators and redo the strategy simulations for older races?

    1. Raymond YZJ says:

      In other news James – I tried your calculator – stopping on Lap 29 for fresh options, and then up to Lap 59 for a 19 lap dash fresh primes produces some absolutely amazing results – 30 seconds quicker than the default you’ve chosen!

      1. Raymond YZJ says:

        Equally astounding is stopping on 29 for fresh primes, and then on 49 on fresh options.

      2. Skansub says:

        The problem being stuck in traffic and losing track position

  2. Vivek says:

    Basically, the top teams could try doing Q1 with a set of softs, leaving 2 sets of super softs for Q3 (2 runs in Q3 are better as hamilton learnt last year).
    The race will be a 2 stopper with Super soft + new soft + new soft being the case.

    But with safety cars ppl can try 2 stopping too, but that’s too risky.

    1. Vivek says:

      The last line should have read as 1 stopping

      1. Roman says:

        That sounds like a good qualifying plan until someone messes up and the yellow/red comes out during one of the sessions while on a hot lap. Nothing like having to scrap a set of tires because someone stops on track (either against the wall or Schumacher-style).

        It’s amazing how much quicker the track gets during a qualifying session though, doing one run might not do it, unless it’s right at the end (then you have flags to worry about). I think more teams might use extra tires to gain grid position.

  3. Vivek says:

    James,
    The default reaches the cliff. I would do the two stops at laps 15 and 44. Much faster ans no risk of cliffs. Option, prime, prime are the 3 stints

    1. Dan Orsino says:

      Try new primes on 19, used options on 49, and lastly another set of new primes on 59

      beats the default by a fair margin

  4. Andy says:

    Far from my favourite race but you can’t help but admire the beauty of it. If you had tyres that would last a race distance, get pole and it’s in the bag. Even with Pirelli’s tyres, you shouldn’t lose if you have pole position.
    Does anyone know of a website that allows you to analyse F1 stats, similar to that of cricinfo?

      1. Horoldo says:

        Can’t belive I’ve never seen this site. I just lost hours sifting through the stats. To see all Grand Prix winners on one small page, makes you see what a special club some drivers are in. Then there are clubs within clubs. Not a big list in the Grand Slam Club.

      2. James Allen says:

        It’s THE stats site as it’s run by the guy who does the Marlboro book, Jacques Deschenaux.

      3. Andy says:

        Thanks James

      4. What a great site. Makes you realise just how good Jim Clark was, too.

      5. Victor says:

        Thanks James, great site; reading the stats feels like a leap into the past…

    1. Glennb says:

      get pole and it’s in the bag….
      Unless you’re Mark Webber ;)

      1. newton says:

        Webber’s never lost it from pole. Massa was the last one to do that in 08.
        Before that, between 99-03 the pole sitters didn’t win.
        Still a good bet to win from pole though.

      2. MISTER says:

        I think Glennb was refering to the fact that Mark has very poor starts..therefore losing a few places at the start.

      3. newton says:

        Ah yes. I was blinded by the excellent stat-world of gpguide.

      4. Glennb says:

        As MISTER said. I’m a huge MW fan but can’t deny his poor starting stats. It must be heartbreaking for him.

  5. goferet says:

    Oh Monaco, that race every team dreams of winning could it possibly be because of the audience i.e. With Monaco having the wealthiest individuals in the world (based on population) so basically winning in Monaco is like picking up an Oscar from your peers methinks.

    Now with Williams strong showing in Barcelona’s third sector at the last race, Maldonado is my favourite for pole more so as 10 years & 20 years ago, Williams was on pole + Lewis has never been on pole while Jenson has never been on pole since joining Mclaren.

    Now apart from strategy, top teams must be getting nervous about backmackers especially on this track more so with notorious stubborn pilots like Narain and Pic also looking forward to this weekend.

    Anyway looking at the current grid, it seems there isn’t one particular driver that’s been able to stand out at Monaco so as things stand, it’s a myth that drivers can make a difference at Monaco based on talent alone but rather luck, strategy and having a car capable of pole are the only sure ingredients needed for success e.g.

    The past 10 years (since 2002), 7 out of 10 have won from pole also in those 10 years, we have had a different winner & pole sitter at Monaco with Alonso’s (2006-2007) wins and poles being the exception.

    Though worryingly for the Tifosi, Ferrari hasn’t won at Monaco in those 10 years whereas Mclaren have won 3 times, Red Bull twice, Renault (Lotus) twice and Williams twice.

    P.s.

    My favourite parts of the Monaco weekend ~ Early start (Thursday), celebrities spotting, the constant threat of crashes & lastly the way the cars look at the start on Sunday i.e. Pointing upwards on the grid while the entire grid can’t been seem because of the start-finish straight bend.

    1. Andy says:

      As you say, pole is pretty much the decider here. The only way the pole sitter can really lose is from a poor strategy. The weather is looking changable though so if it is wet, it could open the door for any of them.

    2. Rob Newman says:

      Welcome back! Didn’t see you in these forums for a while.

      1. goferet says:

        @ Rob Newman

        Thanks mate!

        Yeah, it’s good to be back, me and the mods haven’t been seeing eye to eye, hopefully I will have better luck this time round.

      2. Glennb says:

        Goferet, Sent to the back of the grid eh mate :)

        Andy says he only way the pole sitter can really lose is from a poor strategy.
        MW begs to differ mate ;)

    3. Paul J says:

      I’ve always loved seeing the cars lined up on the grid Sunday morning at Monaco too! It’s a fantastic venue.

  6. F1 dingo says:

    Hi James
    Just a quick observation (a little off topic). Many fans have this year stated that the tyres are playing too much of a part in who wins the race and that the fastest drivers/cars aren’t winning races often enough.
    I was particularly interested to read that so far this season ‘…four of the five winners have come from the front row of the grid’ – thus suggesting that the fastest car/driver in qualifying is indeed the fastest car in the race.
    Yes different cars suit different tracks but that’s always been the case. Furthermore, the blown diffuser was only really maximised by the top teams. Midfield teams had versions of it but didn’t rely on it as much. Now that these have been banned it seems to me that this has simply brought the top teams back towards the midfield teams in terms of grip levels.
    Isn’t the tyre issue therefore being blown out of proportion……?
    Just a thought,(apologies for being a little off topic!)

    1. Liam says:

      +1

      I Agree with your thoughts completely.

  7. Matt Devenish says:

    Can someone clarify on the Race Strategy Calculator, the aim is to produce a strategy that finishes as close to the “0″ zero Relative Race Time (S), as possible?

    i.e. The standard JAonF1 strategy finishes approx +1 above S whereas my one stop on lap 30, gives a finish closer to +9 above S.

    1. Charalampos says:

      Well it should be the opposite from what u said. The model likes your strategy more I guess. Coming out of the last pit stop first though is probably more important than being at the end in front as normally overtaking would be very very difficult.

      1. James Allen says:

        Exactly. Being ahead at the last stop is vital!

  8. CartRider says:

    There was some speculation that Ferrari’s chassis is not as rigid as other teams’ and especially McLaren’s – it has been said this softness explained Alonso’s victory in Malaysia. I hope this feature will help the team in its fight for the highest positions – given the bumpy nature of the Monte Carlo track, it should help with traction and stability under breaking. Am I just a hopeless deluded fan?

  9. Arnie S says:

    Thanks for a nice article, James.

    Here is my forecast for the race:
    1. Lewis
    2. Vettel
    3. Kimi

    Dark horses:
    Alonso
    Grosjean
    Maldonado

    1. Richard D says:

      I’d say Maldonado isn’t quite a dark horse for Monaco. Maybe more of a grey pony?

  10. Paddock F1 says:

    Worth noting is that although Massa is making the most of his starts, he is overtaking slower cars and arguably lesser drivers. In terms of those starting in the more competitive top 10 – Alonso, Kimi and Pastor are the best starters season to date.

  11. Antony Hamilton says:

    Come on Hamilton, destroy everybody

    1. SP says:

      Like he did last year in Monaco ;)

      1. MrNed says:

        Good one :-)

      2. Charalampos says:

        Lol

      3. Rob Newman says:

        LOL

      4. Jay says:

        Brilliant comment :D

      5. Antony Hamilton says:

        +1 SP!

      6. Sebee says:

        Ouch!

        I’d check my rear view mirrors if I was you.

      7. Paul J says:

        Brilliant!

      8. SP says:

        Lol couldn’t resist. A little bit of banter is needed eh :)

        *close eye on rear view mirrors* ………Hmm, maybe something Lewis should focus on too! ;)

  12. Nigel says:

    Looking at it again, the strategy calculator is very interesting indeed, James.

    The race pace of the option looks faster than the prime, and it’s quite durable enough to be the better choice. Running the prime in Q1 is quite feasible this time, so it’s possible to save a set of new options. Even if it’s not, the scrubbed option still looks quite decent.
    While qualifying on pole is probably preferable (for the first time this season) to conserving tyres in qualifying, having a new set of options in reserve for the race gives a lot of flexibility on race strategy.
    Being able to run a really short or extended first stint and then run a very fast pace in the second stint gives the best chance of using the race pace of the car while avoiding traffic, and therefore retaining (or gaining) position at the first and second pit stops.

    With one set of new options, and one set of new primes, my best race time is a good 30 sec faster than your benchmark comparison. Even the used options seem to be faster for the second stint than the new primes, and running the second stint on the fastest tyre available would be sensible to prevent (or allow) an undercut.

    As you say, two stops seems to be the obvious way to go – three stops is both slower and makes losing track position almost certain, while one stop seems to degrade performance enough that it might well be possible for two stoppers to pass, even though it’s Monaco (there would be a two second a lap differential in car speed over the last 10 laps).
    A one stop strategy might just work though, even though it’s about 20 seconds slower over the whole race, if the one stopper could stay out in front of the leader(s)and hold them up at the beginning of their second stint. It would then be a case of staying in front with a much slower car at the end of the race.

  13. Richard Groves says:

    Interesting that Webber is the only winner in the field not to have won a WDC.

    My bet for the race is whoever gets lucky with the safety car timing and can re-plan a strategy around it.

  14. thejudge13 says:

    Qualiy is still 90% of the job – regardless of Pirelli.

    By the way James, loving the JA.F1connect – how come we can’t get to F1fANATIC via there anymore?

  15. Dan Orsino says:

    James, I know you’re not God but would you say track temp is likely to be cooler ?

      1. Dan Orsino says:

        I mean likely to be on the cool side this weekend rather than hot. Supersofts would last longer on a cooler track.

        Also Low temp would help Ferrari and Williams, would it not, whereas high track temp would help Lotus and RB

      2. James Allen says:

        20 degrees forecast

  16. Paul H says:

    I’m surprised that McLaren aren’t further down the pit stop rankings considering their season so far.

    I think this could be an interesting race with the potential for another different driver stepping up to the top step. I think Hamilton or Webber will be good shouts for the 6 different race winner this year.

    Any news on Williams preparations for the race – I assume enough car parts are available but thinking more the garage equipment and computer equipment that was lost/damaged in the pit fire could be more difficult to replace.

  17. james h says:

    I think its going to be Hamilton’s race this year.He was on it last year but for a mistake in Q3 trying to only do 1 run.With his quali pace so far this season he has to be favourite for pole.But if not then I for one don’t mind a Williams win again.

  18. DMyers says:

    James, you haven’t mentioned the fact that everyone changed their tyres during the red flag last year to supersofts, so we don’t have a true picture of how much farther Vettel’s soft tyres would have lasted at the end of the race when under pressure from Alonso and Button.

    1. Nigel says:

      Who is to say there won’t be another safety this year ?

  19. Chapor says:

    I don’t quite get the race simulator. If My line is above the default line, is it then faster?

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes. It says it in the intro

      1. Chapor says:

        Ah… I didn’t read the intro fully… Sorry about that. :-)

        So, if my guesses are correct, saving a set of new options for the race is almost necessary.

        This is the first time I tried out the simulator, a very nice addition to an already perfect website.

  20. F1 Novice says:

    Finishing in front of everyone else ? :)

  21. Timo says:

    James — a couple of questions for you. (A) What is the time loss per lap in Monaco for each of the option and prime tyres due to degredation? (B) How much faster per lap must the car behind be in order to have a chance to overtake in Monaco. These two variables are indispensable to plan strategy — using your strategy calculator I find that the quickest strategy is never the winning strategy in Monaco (assuming overtaking is not achievable). Thanks.

  22. blackmamba says:

    car balance is essential for Monaco because of the vital importance of traction required coming out of those twisty turns, and ofcourse Vettel will be most affected by the loss of EBD so setup is vital for him to win this GP.
    For Alonso he needs a half decent car and then his magic will do the rest and Raikkonen is in a very good car especially for a tight circuit like Monaco so watch out for him.
    The other driver whom I see winning this GP is Hamilton and what he will need above all this week is a change in luck. Its gotta start to turn somewhere and this weekend is as good a place as any. Watch out for him cause I sense there is a fire burning in his belly thats been building due to frustration over the past few weeks and if he hooks up the car set-up then I see himm sliding the back end of that MacLaren all the way to the checkered flag in P1.
    Everyone else depends on every other kind of unpredictability that has plagued us all since the start of the season. I say good luck with that!!!!!

  23. Steve Dalby says:

    James

    If a single photo tells a story of Monaco it is your first image… competition here for the best Comment?

    Here’s Mine:

    White top saying to Pink top
    “what is that noise? call the gendarme, the taxis are speeding again”

    1. James Allen says:

      It’s one of Darren Heath’s – great shot!

      1. f1_fan says:

        i remember this pic from valencia last year .. no?

    2. Grayzee (Australia) says:

      haha….white top to pink top: quick! strike a pose….there’s a guy up there taking photos of us….oh wait…it’s not us he’s after…

      1. ColinZeal says:

        Thank god I dont pay taxes!

  24. fullthrottle says:

    Does the default simulation stop in lap 17? I don’t think the super-softs are going to last that much. Maybe in the Lotus…

    Anyway, pitting later is the better choice in any pit-stop, you cover the SC and avoid traffic. Two stops if the tires allow it, bur the only way to do it is ala Williams, saving a couple of new softs for the race, or being Lotus. Then you have to do a long second stint in the softs, I think the default simulation fails at that point, pitting too earlier would make you destroy your tyres following the slowers cars that haven’t pitted yet.Besides a SC could make lose positions at that point, and you have to cover the Lotus…

    My simulations

    2 stops, LAP 13 (this could be changed, depending on tyre wear, always looking for a late stop) for softs, LAP 46 (again this could be changed depending on competitors, race position, and tyre wear) again for sofst. Both sets of tyres are new. But I think not all the teams are going to nurse their softs tyres so they last 30 laps.

    3 stops, in the case tyre wear is bigger than the simulation predicts. Again LAP 13, this time for used super-softs, LAP 31 for new softs, LAP 59 for used super-softs. Saving a set of options for the race would make it faster of course.

    I think this time the simulator is a little bit too genereous with the life in both, option and prime.

    It’s so good not knowing who is going to fight for the win. I just hope this year race is better climaxed than the last one.

    1. fullthrottle says:

      Some typos there. Sorry, didn’t bother checking, it’s too long.

    2. James Allen says:

      Don’t forget the tyre life they got last year.

    3. Nigel says:

      >I think this time the simulator is a little bit too genereous with the life in both, option and prime<

      I'm not sure about that – the simulation has been surprisingly accurate so far, and Monaco is one of the easiest tracks on tyres.

  25. Wu says:

    What you need is acceleration, drive out of corners, plenty of downforce… and get lucky with the setup for the most fickle tyres ever.

  26. Adam says:

    What is the secret to wining the Monaco Grand Prix? Shushhhh, don’t tell anyone but it is the same as every other race, cross the line first! Then wait a few hours if your name is Hamilton to see what the stewards can do, then celebrate!

  27. Seán Craddock says:

    How are Mclaren so high up on the pit stop chart after the woeful pits in Bahrain?

    1. MISTER says:

      The time shown in James’s article is their fastest time, not the average of all their pitstops.
      Hope this helps.

  28. SP says:

    Looking forward to the seeing how the Lotus’ get on here. In Spain it seemed like they ran less wing (I’m guessing they were expecting lower grid slots than 3 & 4) and still managed the tyres well and if I remember correctly, werent to far off the fastest times through the tight and twisty final sector. So with an optimum high d/f set-up, I expect them to do well here.

    ‘Undercutting’ here isnt going to be so easy, track position will be vital so I’m sure teams will keep a close eye on the gaps behind. Also the issue of having to hold a car in the pits to avoid a collison could prove to be pivotal.

    Another point is that if the track rubbers in well, some drivers may be able to make the last set of tyres last longer. So I wont be surprised if I see some teams pushing for longer final stints.

    Finally, I hope it stays dry and really hope no back markers spoil a fight for us!

  29. Yos says:

    Hi James, i believe that it would have been logical if you compare the average pit stop rather than the fastest. Mclaren’s pit stop is misleading, they should be down right with caterham .

    1. James Allen says:

      Fastest is fastest. Same in qualifying for the drivers, so why not measure fastest pit stop?

      1. Brace says:

        Because, in race, every pitstop counts; in quali, only the fastest lap counts.

      2. Bayan says:

        Using that analogy, then mecca finished at least in the bottom half of the field in the race.

      3. ColinZeal says:

        I agree with you James but we could look at fastest _and_ best average stop time, may be worth a whirl if the numbers are available…

      4. James Allen says:

        That info is around, but I prefer to keep it simple and focus on who was fastest. That’s easy for everyone to understand

      5. BB says:

        I think the point is that showing us average pit stop times would emphasize how badly MCL have been performing this year. Maybe places lost in pits….but that would be a combination of poor stops and poor strategy. Either way, there is nothing to suggest that McLaren would not be bottom of the table

    2. David says:

      In qualifying for the drivers, the single fastest lap is what drives their results. However, for pit stops a single fast pit stop doesn’t drive the team’s results, instead its the aggregate of all the stops. So, I think average of racing stops makes more sense.

    3. Sri says:

      I also thought the same – average pit stop is what matters in a race. You may have the fastest pit stop but all your other pit stops could be so poor that you are actually losing positions in the race. An average gives a very good idea of how good a pit crew is.

  30. mattnz says:

    Are there DRS zones at Monaco? If so, where?

    1. Dave Aston says:

      Pit straight.

  31. Richard says:

    Vettel would not have won the race last year had it not been stopped under a red flag which allowed Red Bull to change his tyres. If they had not stopped Vettel’s tyres would have fell away, and would most likely have ended up third if Alonso and Button both managed to get past.

    1. Jay says:

      Then again, Vettel had a slow pitstop earlier in the race, which forced him onto the one stop strategy. He was otherwise leading from pole.

      1. Richard says:

        Indeed, but it only emphasises that this is a team sport not just about drivers. Personally I disagree with the rules on a red flag situation that allows teams to re-prepare a car for the re-start. They should re-start as they stopped. It saved the day for Vettel. By the same token cars should not be allowed to pit under a safety car. In other words teams should not be able to gain an advantage in that way.

      2. Raymond YZJ says:

        That would disadvantage cars. Some drivers could be 30s ahead but have yet to stop. What then? They lose their 30s but don’t get to stop?

      3. Richard says:

        It’s the fact they re-start off the grid that bunches them up again, but I agree a timed restart would be a fairer way to do it. I suppose they think it too complicated, but easily done with pre-set electronics in this day and age. Re-starting behind a safety car is more complicated, but again could be done these days as all the times are recorded.

    2. Glennb says:

      I seem to recall McLaren changing one of their rear wings during that red flag period too.
      Vettel won. He won everything last year. Move on.

      1. Richard says:

        No I disagree while the rules are the same for everyone gaining an advantage through Red Flag seems unfair as does pitting during a safety car. The rules should only allow them to change things during a normal pitstop. Yes Vettel did win everything last year because he had the best car with often the best set up by a country mile, but that’s the way it goes in F1.

  32. JDC says:

    Hi James,
    Bit of a personal question here, but I am curious as to how you became an F1 analyst.

    I’m a 17-year old student in Australia and got into F1 and other motorsports a few years ago, and I wanted to become an F1 driver, but my family had not the resources to help me start racing. But as motorsport is my passion, I still want to have some kind of career in motorsport and that is why I’m asking what sort of a career path you took to become an analyst.

    Thanks very much :)

    1. James Allen says:

      My Dad was a racer in the 1960s with Lotus. I didn’t want to drive, as I didn’t have the ability or the desire. But I love the sport having grown up in it and I love communications so it was a natural fit.

      Career path you can read in the About section.
      Thanks

      1. JDC says:

        Thanks heaps James. I’m also going to try and send a request or two to Greg Rust and a few others for their opinions.
        One last question; you became the Brabham press officer in the 1990s after studying English in Oxford. What whould you say is more suitable in the here and now; a path through sports journalism (or something similar), or something similar to your approach?

      2. James Allen says:

        Depends how far you want to take your formal education.

        Important thing is to get into the discipline of sub-editing, captioning, headline writing and journalism asap so it becomes second nature to you. Then you just build up based on the opportunities you can create for yourself.

  33. James Walton says:

    How to win at Monaco.
    Pray for warm weather.
    Take 50 seriously hot girls in bikinis along and station them opposite the pits of everyone else’s team..
    Done deal.

    1. James Allen says:

      Sounds good. That would put them right underneath my commentary box!!!

      1. Antony Hamilton says:

        It would certainly be a good vantage point to keep abreast of the situation

      2. kfzmeister says:

        “keep abreast”???? Genius!! :)

      3. hero_was_senna says:

        Does Mrs Allen ever read this site, lol

  34. Sebastian says:

    FEATURE REQUEST :) it would be great to be able to compare two (2) custom strategies in the race strategy calculator.

    Would also be super cool if one could add a lap time deficit (and perhaps offset) to the second custom strategy to simulate running in traffic.

  35. Peter Jones says:

    James,
    Any concern in F1 circles about the Canadian GP going ahead given the rioting the city has seen these last few weeks?

    Peter J

    1. Bring Back Murray says:

      They didn’t seem to care too much about Bahrain!!

  36. noahracer says:

    That’s a GREAT summary, thank you.

  37. Richard says:

    As the EBD has gone downforce levels will be less, cars will move around more, and therefore we can expect tyres not to last as long as last year.

  38. Rob Newman says:

    It would be interesting to see a front runner starting with hard tyres and holding up rest of the pack. That will make some stragists to work overtime during the race.

    1. BB says:

      You have to start on the tyres you used in Q3. If you use the primes you will be 8/9/10

  39. Max Nalborczyk says:

    Hi James,

    I am currently writing an extended essay on Formula One, and the figures on how much fuel is used per race is an integral part of my essay. Is there any way that you could provide me with the figures for the remaining race of the year, as I need to finish it before the season comes to a close.

    Many thanks,

    Max

    1. James Allen says:

      If you Use the Archives section on this site and search through last season’s races for Strategy Briefings you’ll find all the data you want

      Austin I don’t have the data at the moment

  40. Xysion says:

    The Lotus is not good at low speed traction. Even Alan Permane said that. It is actually one of the weakest points of their car. Looking at Spanish GP qualifying the Lotus’s third sector was their worst sector with Grosjeans being the 7th quickest and Raikkonen’s being the 11th quickest. This is preciseley why they ended up behind Alonso on the grid because in the first two sectors they were quicker then Alonso, which brings me up to the second point of the Ferrari of being weak in the low speed traction since Fernando Alonso was the third quickest driver in the slow final sector at Spain behind Maldanado and Hamilton. Ever since the exhaust configuration changed the biggest problem for the Ferrari is front end downforce.

  41. f1_fan says:

    james,

    you say ferrari is weak in traction, but i remember seeing ferrari were 3rd fastest after williams and mclaren in 3rd sector in barcelona

    1. kfzmeister says:

      Thanks. I figured that Alonso was somehow gonna podium!!!

  42. "Martin" one time F3 driver says:

    All the races so far have been about “understanding” the tyres. But each race it’s a different driver / team combo.
    All of a sudden Hamiton is fastest, yet Button is nowhere !
    I think I found the answer on Fromula 1 website: it’s the FIA that alocates the tyres to teams / drivers.
    I spy bErnie’s hand behind the scenes ensuring the SHOW stays unpredictable.
    Hey, even Eddie Jordan now calls it a SHOW, instead of a RACE.
    Not believeable ? But you don’t know Bernie like I know Bernie ;-)
    I recon it’s Lotus’s turn to win, Kimi, or maybe even Grosjean, that would go down very well in Monaco. Ladies and Gentlemen place your betts. It’s a rullete, what else do you expect in Monaco ?
    But is the wheel crooked ?

  43. Methusalem says:

    What’s the secret, Monaco being the only place to stage the F1 Circus on a fixed annual date, and undergo Thursday trainings?

    1. AJ says:

      Because they’re so “special”. They don’t even have to pay a hosting fee like everyone else – presumably because they can’t afford it!

  44. Anton says:

    Hi,

    James, slightly off topic.

    I do not know if you covered this in a previous post or article (if you did, please refer to it), I recall you stating that Hamilton is the most improved driver this season in your opinion.
    Now if I may ask, who do you think is the BEST driver so far this season?

    1. James Allen says:

      Has to be Alonso, surely?

      Joint points leader & Led most laps (66) of anyone in what is clearly a very poor car. Look at Massa.

      Alonso is driving out of his skin this year.

  45. Tornillo Amarillo says:

    The secret is to buy tickets for this next weekend “tyre lottery”!

  46. Raymond YZJ says:

    James – I feel your calculations are slightly off for the strategy calculator. Here are some of my notes from last year’s race weekend:

    According to my notes, no one ran supersofts in FP1. FP2, Vettel did a 23-lap stint on the supersofts (outlap, 21 fliers, inlap). I must’ve missed FP3 – I’m drawing a blank on my notes.

    The longest “used supersoft” opening stint was Massa with 26 laps.
    The longest “new supersoft” opening stint was Barrichello with 32 laps.
    The single longest “used supersoft” stint was Sutil – 34 laps (L34 to L68)
    The single longest “new supersoft” stint was Liuzzi – 40 laps (L32 to L72).
    If you want data from someone other than a backmarker, single longest “new supersoft” goes to Kobayashi with 38 laps (34-72)

    1. Raymond YZJ says:

      I just meant that I think you might be putting in slightly conservative estimates for the tyres. I think they’ll last better than your calculator says, and make a 1-stopper a very viable strategy.

      1. James Allen says:

        One stopper coming in lap 37 for new options is ahead at the final stops, but can he stay ahead to the finish on fast fading tyres.

        The tyre model is bang up to date with data from F1 team strategists and Pirelli.

      2. Raymond YZJ says:

        New options? What happened to the primes then? I suppose you mean new primes?

  47. Raikko says:

    Hey first time posting here : )
    The race at Monaco highlights a weakness of the strategy calculator. Is there any way to have the default strategy be adjusted to take into account track position? It’s obviously simplified so that the simulations are run in clear air the whole race. If we could have that then it would be easier to see the effect of undercutting and longer one stop strategies! Is this possible? I might have a go programming one myself : D

    1. James Allen says:

      We could, but it’s very complicated and the idea here is to give people a general introduction to it.

      1. Raikko says:

        Thanks for the reply James. Yes thinking about it more it would seem to be opening a can of worms! You would have to assume o% chance of overtaking, which in the case of Hamilton is never true! It would be a fascinating piece to do though – what information the teams like McLaren take into account in producing real-time strategy updates. I imagine it’s given as a range of projections updated every lap in the race with effects of safety cars, traffic, weather and likelihood of overtaking etc. Also there could be strategies that are have higher variance in the finishing position but have a better chance to win than collect-the-points low variance ones. I guess Raikkonen in China is an example of a high variance strategy. Can someone give me this job!

      2. James Allen says:

        11 overtakes in 2011 (after lap 1) the lowest of any race last year

  48. ..:: swift ::.. says:

    Aah, I just love Monaco! It’s one of the world’s greatest and most challenging motor-racing events!

    James, who is your favorite for the win this year? If you can’t name a driver, name a team :)

    1. James Allen says:

      I think Hamilton will finally get his first 2012 win

      1. jay harte says:

        i think so too james
        even if he is in tyre trouble he can do
        what ayrton did in 92 and vettel did last year
        just weave his car all over the circuit so nobody can get past ,should be easy for him once he gets his customary pole position.

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