Posted on July 10, 2012
Ferrari
The Strategy Report

The British Grand Prix was a tense strategic battle between Red Bull and Ferrari. They went different ways on race strategy and ultimately Red Bull prevailed, Webber passing Alonso five laps from the end. So could Alonso and Ferrari have held on for the win if they had played the strategy differently? That’s one of the questions we’ll be addressing.

The challenge of McLaren was blunted again, Lewis Hamilton losing ground on his championship rivals while Lotus again scored strongly with both cars as Grosjean did a unique strategy on Sunday.

Background to the race

Heavy rain during practice and qualifying days had left the teams with very little information about how the tyres would perform on race day. There was only the one hour practice on Saturday morning to go on and this showed that on a cold track surface the soft compound tyre was graining badly (the top surface of the rubber rolling up) so Ferrari in particular were wary about it on race day.

The weather was very erratic all weekend and it stayed dry for the race, against expectations. Many teams including Mercedes and McLaren had planned for a wet race. Although the track temperature was shown as above 24 degrees, the ground was still too cold to get the soft tyre working well and the hard compound turned out to be the better race tyre. The key to doing well in the race, then, was to manage the soft tyre.


Could Alonso have won the race with different strategy?

Ferrari and Alonso were wise to start with the hard tyre, as it proved the best tyre to race on. They started out wanting to minimise the time spent on the soft tyre and as soon as the tyre covers came off on the grid it was clear what the pattern of the race would be. Alonso would run two stints on hard tyres and a short final stint on softs, Webber would do the opposite; an opening stint on soft and then two longer stints on hard.

Alonso’s race would be dictated by keeping the soft tyre stint to a minimum at the end, while Webber’s would be all about staying in touch with Alonso in the opening stint and then coming on strong at the end.

Ferrari had another weapon at their disposal; they sent Massa out on softs for the first stint, so they would have data on tyre performance. This turned out to be less helpful than imagined…

Massa’s first stint was 13 laps during which time the team came to believe that the soft tyres were not as bad as expected. This would prove crucial later in the race, as it meant that Alonso committed to a 15 lap final stint on softs. Had he pitted a couple of laps later on each of his first two stops, he probably would not have lost the lead at the end. Without that data they would have been more inclined to stay off the soft tyre and would have done a strategy, which might have brought Alonso the win.

Alonso built a lead of five seconds over Webber and when the Australian stopped on lap 14, Alonso went just one lap longer. His pace on the hard tyres was still good, he set a couple of quick laps before his stop on lap 15, certainly comparable with Webber’s first two or three laps on new hard tyres in the second stint. So there was margin there to play with.

The gap between them was maintained at five seconds throughout the middle stint. Webber pitted again on lap 33, which left him with 19 laps to go to the finish on another set of hard tyres.

Alonso stayed out four more laps, pitting on lap 37 with a lead of four seconds to protect in the final stint. Although Webber had a couple of faster laps than Alonso before the Ferrari stop, Alonso again was able to find speed from the used hard tyres prior to his stop and another lap would have been possible. With two or three more laps in the opening stint and another lap in the second, this would have put him back out on track after a stop on lap 41 with a small margin over Webber, but just 10 or 11 laps to do on soft tyres to the finish. On this basis he would probably have been able to hold onto the lead to the end. Alternatively, he could have done what Hamilton did and run a short middle stint on softs of no more than 10 laps, reacted to Webber’s stop on lap 33 and finished on the same hard tyres as the Red Bull driver.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, especially the day after the Grand Prix when one can look at all the what-ifs. Ferrari and Alonso have done brilliantly to lead the championship at this stage and Silverstone was their strongest points haul of the season, with a fine fourth place for Massa. They move into second place in the Constructors’ Championship.

They have made a few strategic mistakes this season which have cost Alonso points, but on the whole they’ve been consistent in taking their opportunities. However there’s no getting away from the fact that, although their hunch at the start was correct that the hard was the better race tyre, there was definitely a win to be had on Sunday with a slightly more imaginative approach to the soft tyre in race strategy.


Doing things differently: Hamilton and Grosjean

There were two other interesting strategies on Sunday from McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton and Lotus F1’s Romain Grosjean, which also shed light on what might have been for Alonso.

Both teams decided early on, like Ferrari that the hard tyre would be the faster race tyre. Hamilton, like Alonso, started on it, while Grosjean was involved in a first lap incident with Vettel and had to pit on lap two. He went to the hard tyre and then did the whole race on it, with only one further stop, So essentially he did a one stop strategy. He did a 24 lap stint and a 26 lap stint on it and was competitive. He was 22nd and last on lap 3, but came through to finish 6th behind his team mate Raikkonen, who had raced with Vettel and Massa. On lap 50, his tyres 24 laps old, he set the second fastest lap of the race.

It was another stunning performance by Grosjean and an illustration of the pace and durability of the hard Pirelli tyre, as well as the Lotus’ ability to find great race pace. With better qualifying performance, they would have a car capable of winning races.

Hamilton went for a hard/soft/hard strategy and did a long first stint, which appeared to have got him into a position to race Grosjean for sixth. He got the soft tyre out of the way with a short middle stint, but he didn’t have the pace in the final stint and faded. McLaren have problems balancing front and rear tyre temperatures and it’s costing them badly.

SILVERSTONE TYRE CHOICES

Webber: SN, HN(14) HN(33)
Alonso : HN, HN(15), SN(37)
Vettel: SN, HN(10), HN(37)
Massa: SN, HN (13), HN (35)
Raikkonen: SN, HN(13), HN (34)
Grosjean: SN, HN(2), HN(26)
Schumacher: SN, HN(12), HN (34)
Hamilton HN, SN (21), HN (28)
Senna: SN, HN (14) HN (30)
Button: HN, SN (16), HN (31)
Kobayashi: HN, HN(16) SN(37)
Hulkenberg HN, HN (16), SN(35)
Ricciardo: HN, SN(16), HN (29)
Vergne: SN, HN (14), HN (32)

Rosberg: HN, HN (15), SN (37)
Maldonado: SN, HN (11), HN (12)
Kovalainen: SN, HN(12), HN(29)
Glock HN, HN(18), SN(38)
Pic: SN, HN (13), HN (32)
De la Rosa: SN, SN(27)
Kartikeyan HN, HN(16), SN(35)

Perez: SN, HN (11) – Retired
Di Resta: SN, HN(1) – Retired
Petrov: Did Not Start

S= Soft; H=Hard; N=New; U= Used;

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

RACE HISTORY GRAPH
Kindly provided by Williams F1 Team

Notice the pace Alonso has at the end of the first and second stints and the margin he has over Webber at the first and second stops.

Note also the way Webber catches Alonso in the final stint.

Note Hamilton’s lack of pace from the outset of the final stint on hard tyres. Compare that with Grosjean’s pace on hard tyres throughout the race

Could Alonso and Ferrari have won Silverstone with better race strategy?
110 Responses

  1.   1. Posted By: Sossoliso
        Date: July 10th, 2012 @ 1:09 pm 

    Of all the Front Runners, only Ferrari had the a logical Strategy. The best strategy infact. What Ferrari appeared to be banking on was a good enough Window for “When” and not “IF” the rain came. The Drivers on Softs were meant to be coming in for first pit stops between 11 and 15. If the Rain came at say lap 17, they would have had to make s second stop whereas Ferrari would have had to make 1. Logical.
    The Others appeared to have assumed for some reason there would be no rain. They trusted the Radar more than Ferrari appeared to do. That was the real issue at Silverstone I believe.

    [Reply]

    Rishi Reply:

    Lots of interesting theories about Alonso’s strategy. I was thinking simply along the lines of whether he could have mimicked Webber’s strategy but James’s idea of keeping to “hard-hard-soft” but eeking out a few more laps on the hard in each stint may well have done the job for Fernando (I’m not too convinced about hard-soft-hard though, the hard tyre stints would have had to have been much longer).

    Also good point mentioning the weather – worth adding to your point that if it had rained mid-race (starting between Laps 25-30, say) Ferrari wouldn’t have been penalised for not using the softs (I don’t think). Then they never would have incurred the disadvantage the others had of using the soft (which others had). So that may well have been another reason why they followed the strategy that they did, although of course we’ll never know what their wet weather performance would have been like on the day compared to rivals.

    [Reply]

    gudien Reply:

    Who now determines ‘race strategy’ in the Ferrari camp on race day? In the good old days Ross Brawn was the master, effectively winning many races for Schumacher from his perch at the monitors. Dominecali, Fry, or both?

    [Reply]


  2.   2. Posted By: Ralf F
        Date: July 10th, 2012 @ 1:12 pm 

    Interesting analysis James, however I will have to respectfully disagree on you on this one. Whatever the strategy, I think Ferrari were simply not fast enough to beat Webber today. I think they played their best hand by starting on the hard tyre and managing to stay ahead of the faster starting Red Bull on soft tyres on the first lap. Stopping later on any of the stops would have meant he would have come out closer to Mark at the end and he simply didn’t have the pace on the soft tyre to defend for more than 5 laps.

    [Reply]

    JF Reply:

    I was thinking the same thing but who knows.

    [Reply]

    Doobs Reply:

    MW was gaining ~0.5 sec a lap on FA just before FA’s last stop for softs, so I’m also not convinced staying out longer on hards would have helped FA.

    [Reply]


  3.   3. Posted By: Anton
        Date: July 10th, 2012 @ 1:20 pm 

    Ferrari under SD have been very conservative in their race strategies. I think this reflects in his personality. There has been countless times where they’ve missed out on Race Wins due to less aggressive strategies.

    How many times have we seen RB or McLaren win with aggressive strategies in recent years…?

    [Reply]

    Heinzman Reply:

    So Canada was not aggressive? Too much speculation with all of this.

    Bottom line is Fernando and Ferrari lead the WDC with what has never been the fastest car. All we should be saying is well done.

    [Reply]

    gudien Reply:

    Bravissimo Fernando.

    [Reply]

    Luca Reply:

    I dont think its conservatism, but rather they just have not had the faith and/or data to push the tyres without the fear of them falling off the performance cliff. In Canada they went for it and it didnt work – but if you take James’ opinion that they should have gone a lap or two longer on each hard stint or back at monaco gone a few more laps longer, then the time would probably have been there to win.

    I think Ferrari are too reactive than conservative. They see a few people pitting and worry about any undercut whereas they need to have the data and faith so they can do their own thing.

    the only caveat is, the car may just be too hard on the tyres when they get to a certain point – compare Ferrari to Lotus: clearly Lotus is pretty outstanding on eeking out the performance on tyres – Canada and Silverstone as case in point.

    As SD keeps saying – more work to do. But of all the races so far, i think Canada will be the one with the most regret come the end of the season if they loose by a few points. And that is the one race where they should have been a little more conservative.

    [Reply]


  4.   4. Posted By: azac21
        Date: July 10th, 2012 @ 1:37 pm 

    Ferrari seem to manage tyres much better than the others when the car is heavy. I think this is why Massa’s pace on softs looked good at the start of the race while Alonso’s at the end was mediocre.

    I agree with the point that prolonging both stints on the hard tyres by 2-3 laps should had given Alonso a better chance to win or at least fight for it. I dont think it is just hindsight. Ferrari seem to come up with alternative strategies which very rarely have worked. I think it is a case of trying a liitle to hard to be clever with the strategy with adverse effects at the end. They have a great car and the best driver maybe they should have more belief in them.

    [Reply]


  5.   5. Posted By: k5enny
        Date: July 10th, 2012 @ 1:45 pm 

    Hi James,

    Any idea as to why Schumachers middle stint was so poor??
    They appear to have aborted the stint after 12 laps – and then ran 34 laps on similar tyres.
    I recall them telling him he was at target minus 8 around this time – with no traffic.

    Did he get a dud set of tyres??

    [Reply]


  6.   6. Posted By: frank
        Date: July 10th, 2012 @ 1:50 pm 

    As expectator we never have the same information that teams have to play with, however at the time I never understood why FA has to stop one lap later that MW. It made it not sense whatsoever, if you start with hard and FA kept doing good times, what is the point to bring him in?

    “Hindsight is a wonderful thing” as you said. However sometimes I wonder if teams get lost in details rather than the big picture.

    With this, the fiasco in Canada and the not-to-clever earlier stop in Monaco I doubt if Ferrari is making the good calls for FA.

    [Reply]

    hero_was_senna Reply:

    I’m very wary of punishing Ferrari or any team for their strategic decision at the time.
    How many of us despaired at Ferrari before the season started?
    Many people in fact suggested that Ferrari give up and focus on 2013, whereas the squad went into damage limitation mode so as to be as close as possible when the Mugello test came about.
    Ferrari seem to have recovered the 1.5 seconds that they trailed in Melbourne to the competition and are now the closest challenger to RBR.
    No team has stood still in their developments and Ferrari effectively are 2 months behind the others in their fine-tuning.
    Yet Massa is now “competing” amongst the top 4.

    Since Spain, Alonso has been competitive with the leaders in every race, Massa getting closer and just maybe Ferrari’s conservatism with strategy is being coloured by the early season of limiting the damage.

    It’s amusing that after the win in Malaysia, journalists and fans collectively spoke of Alonso’s brilliance and Ferrari’s great strategy. Yet Ferrari and especially Alonso, spoke of what a lottery a wet race was and how it worked out for them.

    I think it was Lauda in 1976, who said after retiring on the 2nd lap of the Japanese GP, that he would have been hailed a genius if the conditions had caused accidents and he had won the WDC.

    The difference between winning and finishing second are miniscule, and yet we tell these teams how they should be running.

    Ross Brawn and Schumacher from 1994 to 2006 were famous for many strategic decisions which humbled the opposition, yet have not achieved anything in the last 2 and 1/2 years together.

    Mclaren have improved their pit-stops to World Record levels, 2.6s I believe, whereas Ferrari are about 2.8. So for .2 seconds, twice a race, they have gained .4 over a race distance.
    Ferrari have been focusing on improving their speed and finished 4 seconds behind the winner at Silverstone, and 32 seconds ahead of Mclaren.
    I may be guessing, but I’m pretty certain that Ferrari are a happier camp right now than Mclaren…

    [Reply]

    Methusalem Reply:

    The pit stop by McLaren is irrelevant now, as they needed the fast pit stops during the first 3 or four GPs. It’s like hammering the horse shoe into the hoof of the horse while the horse has no more power left.

    [Reply]

    Frank Reply:

    I agree with you on your arguments however one thing is the technical aspect and other, I refer to, is the strategy on the race.

    The main thing for me, on the race, I really do not understand why FA was in on lap 15. LH was in Lap 21. The distance was around 5 seconds, enough to wait and see. Maybe lap 18,19 or 20 was a better call and still be ahead of MW after the first stop.

    Should the race last another 2 laps, SV will be there taken the second place. Maybe FA was very very lucky after all.

    [Reply]

    Elie Reply:

    Ferrari wanted to cover Vettel also who came in on lap 10

    gudien Reply:

    Good point about Ferrari ‘giving up and focusing on 2013′. McLaren are in essentially the same situation now.

    [Reply]

    Gate 21 Reply:

    Agree 100%.

    Timing of the first pit stop is what cost Alonso. Nothing else. It means his first run on hards ended up the same length (15 laps) as the run on softs at the end of the race. Alonso had enough of a gap to not need to react to Webber pitting immediately after 15 laps.

    Whether or not Massa reported the tyres weren’t too bad, the fact that all the front runners began ditching the softs for hards at around lap 10 after being left in Alonso’s wake should have been the alarm for Ferrari that when it came time for the soft tyres, they should be on for as short as possible.

    Instead of 15-22-15 laps stints, a break down of 21-21-10 lap stints would have won the race, I am confident.

    [Reply]

    Marco Pizzuti Reply:

    yet he leades the championship ???

    Forza Ferrari !!!!

    [Reply]

    Heinzman Reply:

    Exactly Marco, who cares “if the race lasted two more laps” or “if he had have pitted later in the first stint”. The team that made those calls have resurrected a season that all these speculators gave up on, don’t tell them how to run their team!

    Forza Ferrari e Fernando

    [Reply]


  7.   7. Posted By: Panayiotis
        Date: July 10th, 2012 @ 1:54 pm 

    Thanks for another brilliant strategy report James. Concerning Alonso, we have seen him in the past setting some very fast laps at the end of his stints after his opponents had pitted. So this shows he manages his tyres quite well and always keeps some life in them.

    My opinion is that Ferrari again tried to cover Webber after his first stop failing to see the greater picture. Pitting Alonso the next lap it was game over by lap 16 since there was no way they would have maintained a competitive pace with a set or Primes and Options for the rest or the race. they have managed to throw away a handful of points so far which I really hope will not cost them at the end.

    By the way, a quick question. Why do they nominate the harder compound at each race as the “Prime” tyre since it is in most cases the slower tyre and the tyre drivers wish to avoid as much as possible?

    [Reply]

    Norman Reply:

    The designation of the tyres as prime and option for the harder and softer tyre respectively has to do with the tyre allocation as per the rules. 11 sets of slick tyres are issued per car, 6 prime tyres and 5 options. The prime or harder tyre lasts longer and therefore allows the teams to do more laps in the 4 hours of free practice. The give back rules at the end of each free practice leaves the driver with 3 of each for qualifying and the race.

    [Reply]

    Ferlonso Reply:

    It is not always necessary for the harder tyre to be nominated as the “Prime” tyre. As @Norman said, it is to do with the sets of tyres allocated for each type – prime or option. If you remember, during last year’s Indian Grand Prix, the softer tyre was the PRIME tyre(6 sets) and the harder was the OPTION(5 sets).

    [Reply]


  8.   8. Posted By: jonnyd
        Date: July 10th, 2012 @ 1:54 pm 

    the trophy is a corporations logo?
    i mean how does that work? it looks ridiculous. Sure they sponsor the event, but so what? That then means you want your trophy to look like the companies logo?

    its just bizarre. Also im pretty sure its the 2nd time this season that i’ve seen the santander logo forming the trophy.

    [Reply]

    hero_was_senna Reply:

    Can you imagine a few years back, the winning drivers of the Fosters British Grand Prix are presented a 6 pack of beer for their trophy…

    [Reply]

    Sebee Reply:

    I’m not a big drinker, but I’d take a 6 pack over a Santander logo cast anyday.

    [Reply]

    Gate 21 Reply:

    Foster’s would have loved to have Webber win and give him the golden slab on the podium. AUSSIE!!

    [Reply]

    Sebee Reply:

    Yeah, we’ve talked this point to death in earlier posts. It is quite lame.

    It has been happening for quite some time, but it took us this long to find it irritating.

    [Reply]


  9.   9. Posted By: Dufus
        Date: July 10th, 2012 @ 2:03 pm 

    Great analysis James.
    Why was Massa’s data not right to help Fernando ?

    [Reply]

    James Allen Reply:

    Because it made it look like the soft would be ok for 15 laps at the end

    [Reply]

    sumedh Reply:

    So, would you say that Massa was better at managing the soft tyre than Alonso?

    [Reply]

    db4tim Reply:

    Alonso and Massas turn into the corner totally different….results very different tire wear and heating

    DB Reply:

    And was it Massa’s merit to make the tyres last or did the track change in the end?

    Or did the fact that Massa spent a lot of the first stint behind another car affect tyre wear?

    [Reply]

    Sebastian Reply:

    Running behind another car should increase degradation because you don’t get the same grip in corners.

    Warren Groenewald Reply:

    A characteristic of the Ferrari earlier in the season was that it had more pace on a full fuel load than empty. Maybe this characteristic still exists to a smaller degree and would explain how Massa appeared faster on the soft tires.

    TheGreatTeflonso Reply:

    James I completely agree with your assessment. I guess Ferrari never learnt from covering Webber in Abu Dhabi. That said though, I believe Alonso’s fastest lap put him 8th fastest in the race, so the car is simply not fast enough to truly win.

    [Reply]

    Gate 21 Reply:

    Keep in mind the other runners got to run the faster hard tyres at the end of the race with less fuel on board. Alonso had the inferior tyres when on lower fuel.

    Look at the graph above. In the middle stint when almost everyone was on hard tyres, Alonso’s graph has the steepest gradient meaning he was consistently lapping fastest at that point of the race.

    horoldo Reply:

    If Alonso had used the hard tire in the last stint on light fuel load, he wouldnt have been 8th fastest. Probably 2nd or 3rd fastest.


  10.   10. Posted By: Phil
        Date: July 10th, 2012 @ 2:05 pm 

    A fascinating race from a strategic perspective and a great insight as usual. With no representative dry running in practice or qualifying and everyone with brand new tyres at every pitstop in the race it was an unusual combination of circumstances.

    Ferrari again played it conservative and lost out. They do keep changing tyres before they need to, unlike Lotus who seem to be able to make them last and last.

    [Reply]


  11.   11. Posted By: thejudge13
        Date: July 10th, 2012 @ 2:06 pm 

    Looks like Webber could have extended his first stint on the hard tyre too as he was catching Alonso just before he pitted.

    [Reply]

    Pat M Reply:

    I noticed that was true of a few drivers. I wonder if it was a lack of dry running. They didn’t know how long a set would last so they set targets. ‘We have to get 15 laps’, and as soon as they did would put in a few fast laps, then pit as soon as the tires started to go off.

    [Reply]

    Jase Reply:

    But they had to cover Vettel who had pitted earlier.

    [Reply]

    k5enny Reply:

    Perhaps the relatively long track length was a factor in them comming in early??

    [Reply]


  12.   12. Posted By: Pete McEl
        Date: July 10th, 2012 @ 2:10 pm 

    James,

    I think it’s also true that Ferrari were thinking that there may possibly be rain on Sunday, which would mean Alonso would not have to use the soft tires. Smart thinking but unfortunately did not pay off!

    Pete

    [Reply]


  13.   13. Posted By: Ananth
        Date: July 10th, 2012 @ 2:15 pm 

    James,
    Excellent Insight again. A question for you. What do you think is the problem with Mercedes? Schumacher was able to do decent laptimes and was able to comfortably hold off Massa for some time. Do you think he had a chance for a better finish (P5 or P6) if Merc had reacted to Vettel;s pitstop

    [Reply]

    hero_was_senna Reply:

    Would that also include a couple of aggressive moves across the track to put him off?
    I’m surprised no driver has been penalised for defensive moves across the track yet, I thought they had to choose one side and stay there..

    [Reply]

    Gate 21 Reply:

    Holding off Massa maybe more to do with Ferrari’s top speed disadvantage?

    Remember when Hamilton and Alonso were dicing for the lead? Alonso had DRS open and new tyres and STILL got passed by Hamilton.

    [Reply]


  14.   14. Posted By: Sean hardman
        Date: July 10th, 2012 @ 2:17 pm 

    Thoroughly enjoyed the whole weekend James. Very interesting reading as usual. As you say hindsight a wonderful thing. In hindsight I should have taken my wellies! Congratulations to Mark Webber and Fernando Alonso for an enthralling race.

    [Reply]


  15.   15. Posted By: Andrew Woodruff
        Date: July 10th, 2012 @ 2:19 pm 

    I know for the tyres to work this season it all comes down to this very narrow operating temperature band, but even so, it is highly unusual for the soft tyres not to offer any any higher grip level at all when they are new, if only for a short period. That is, after all, the whole point of “softer” tyres!

    Silverstone, for the first time seriously, made me question the validity of the regulations this season – particularly the DRS/Pirelli axis. It is now true that whoever has the faster car at the very end of a race is almost certain to be able to pass, and in this case win. I’m not convinced that is the way it should be, particularly when the teams themselves are so uncertain about the performance of their own package from race to race.

    I think we should either have unpredictable tyres, or DRS, but not both.

    [Reply]

    Warren Groenewald Reply:

    Agree with your last sentence fully. Instead of DRS, why not simply remove the rev limit in top gear and allow proper drafting or slip streaming to take place?

    [Reply]


  16.   16. Posted By: Sasquatsch
        Date: July 10th, 2012 @ 2:20 pm 

    It was another stunning performance by Grosjean and an illustration of the pace and durability of the hard Pirelli tyre, as well as the Lotus’ ability to find great race pace. With better qualifying performance, they would have a car capable of winning races.

    I wonder. Lotus seems to be good at the end of a stint because the drivers preserve the tyres better in the beginning of each stint.

    If they push as hard in the beginning as the front-runners, will the tyres be as good at the end as they are now?

    [Reply]

    Sebastian Reply:

    If Lotus had kept Kimi out for another couple of laps, they might have been able to jump Massa.

    [Reply]


  17.   17. Posted By: Jim Dee
        Date: July 10th, 2012 @ 2:24 pm 

    Love the chart as always. It’s hard to argue that McLaren were the 4th team. Time for plan “B” on the upgrades I think.

    [Reply]

    Robb Reply:

    4th team? Whatever weaknesses Lewis may have, raw pace isn’t one of them, so considering he finished behind Red Bull, Ferrari, Lotus, and Michael in the Mercedes, and that without their problems, Maldanado, and Perez would also have quite possibly finished in front of Lewis, I think it’s fair to say McLaren were probably the 7th best car on Sunday.

    [Reply]


  18.   18. Posted By: Elie
        Date: July 10th, 2012 @ 2:29 pm 

    Yeah I was a little surprised Ferrari pitted Fernando When he still had pace in that first stint. But I know they were covering Vettel Also who pitted early (lap 10)and got space. But it just confirms my feelings that Ferrari are not thinking as leaders even when they are leading.

    [Reply]

    Frank Reply:

    I could not put it on better words, they do a “Canada” and fail here when they have the upper hand.

    [Reply]


  19.   19. Posted By: Born Racer
        Date: July 10th, 2012 @ 2:31 pm 

    Certainly a curious strategy from Ferrari and not what I would have opted for. It’s easy to sit on the sofa in your pyjamas and know better, but they asked too much of the softs.

    Anyway, they have had an upturn in performance with Massa going well too. That Ferrari is far from problematic now.

    [Reply]


  20.   20. Posted By: Paul R
        Date: July 10th, 2012 @ 2:41 pm 

    Very interesting that you revealed the McLaren’s problem, balancing tyre temperatures. Is this not more a question of chassis setup, rather than them loosing the battle of development and new parts ?

    [Reply]

    James Allen Reply:

    If they knew the answer to that, they wouldn’t be where they are now

    [Reply]

    hero_was_senna Reply:

    For years, the myth has been that Mclaren can out-develop everyone else. Something that I have questioned in the past.
    Seasons like 2009, of course they will develop quicker because they have more time to find from their baseline. Ferrari have been in a similar position this year.
    This year they started with the fastest car, but also the only one without the high nose that every other team had.
    Gary Anderson actually said that Mclaren didn’t have much development possibilities in the car. Lewis is now saying that the low nose is bringing it’s own problems and by all accounts, the team have followed Button’s advice on developments and look whats happened, it’s affecting Lewis as well.

    RBR develop their cars as well as anyone and Pat Fry seems to be turning Ferrari’s outdated systems around.
    Yet Mercedes with Bob Bell, Geoff Willis and Aldo Costa are not keeping up. Lotus is falling behind very gradually and Mclaren have slipped badly.
    I’m guessing we’ll be seeing Mclaren with high viz paint, and those strange matrix strutures attached to their car in Germany.

    [Reply]

    Sebastian Reply:

    How is Lotus falling behind? Fastest laps and better qualy this race.

    [Reply]

    hero_was_senna Reply:

    You may want to use the full quote. Very gradually was my comment!

    mayberth Reply:

    ignore this guy, his comments are nullified by his own ego and nth more~~~

    k5enny Reply:

    Another total myth that is slowing sinking in with some fans:
    “Jenson is easy on his tyres”

    In this tyre conservation formula a driver who is “easy on his tyre” should be champ– not a perpetual Q1 fall guy.

    [Reply]

    Doohan Reply:

    One quali session in the wet does not dictate perpetual.


  21.   21. Posted By: Vels
        Date: July 10th, 2012 @ 2:52 pm 

    Great report, James, as always !

    An interesting analysis on how Ferrari could have won this race. Would have given them further advantage to catch up with RBR on the Constructor’s Championship and build a lead against Lotus & McLaren.

    [Reply]


  22.   22. Posted By: Kay
        Date: July 10th, 2012 @ 3:02 pm 

    In Monaco Ferrari had similarly thrown away points.
    Based on Monaco, Ferrari tried too hard to win in Canada.
    Coming back to Silverstone, it’s Monaco all over again.

    [Reply]


  23.   23. Posted By: jayteeniftb
        Date: July 10th, 2012 @ 3:19 pm 

    “With better qualifying performance, they would have a car capable of winning races.”
    wrong actually as with better strategic minds they will win races.
    it is highly frustrating as an armchair expert to notice these things and a formula 1 team strategists keep missing it.
    example- CHINA (should have pitted rai 2-3 laps later on each stint)
    BAHRAIN (should have pitted rai a lap before vet as new tyres would give undercut and lotus is better at looking after tyres)(also speedtrap indicated red bull will find very hard to pass lotus on race track)
    SPAIN (williams went for undercut on ferrari to give themselves a chance at least )(again lotus kept running on old tyres)
    VALENCIA (again alo undercuts rai)
    SILVERSTONE (after seeing gro do good pace on hard tyres lotus falter whereas vet and red bull are astute and take him out of sch train)

    in my opinion strategists are losing them a championship possibly..whereas they should be wise enough to understand that when you have a fast car that looks after its tyres BETTER THAN OTHERS you should not be afraid of the undercut and instead of being conservative ,be aggressive and force other people to react.

    i am sure this will be left as just another comment on an f1 website and lotus will carry on their faulty ways (nothing wrong with a car that looks after its tyres to qualify little lower but strategy can cover it) and make the same mistakes in future races.

    if they read this, PLEASE give yourselves a chance atleast.

    [Reply]

    Beka Reply:

    Agree. They should have taken Kimi out of that Schumacher train just like Red Bull did with Vettel. That would give him a chance to fight for victory. Instead he spent 32 out of 52 laps in traffic.
    Accidently they composed a great strategy for Romain. As prime was a much better tyre, Romain drove on an empty track after the first pit and with the fastest tire for the whole race.

    [Reply]

    TitanRacer Reply:

    I have many times on other sites stated that the Team Principles / strategists in F1 could not hold any job for a year in Nascar.
    sorry, but I be seein’ what I be seein’ and I think all your responses tell me you all be seein’ the same stuff!!
    am totally luvin’ this site and all your inputs!!

    [Reply]

    Heinzman Reply:

    Why would they want a job in NASCAR?


  24.   24. Posted By: Pulkit Tripathi
        Date: July 10th, 2012 @ 3:28 pm 

    Hi James, What is the problem with Lotus team? is that after 2006 they didn’t had the opportunity of these racing conditions? why they have this mistake of tyre choice- pit stop- race strategy

    [Reply]


  25.   25. Posted By: thejudge13
        Date: July 10th, 2012 @ 3:49 pm 

    Oh by the way, was listening to James on 5 live extra on my radio at the track.

    The difference between the jokers on Silverstone TV/radio (my wife was listening to) was stark.

    I’m sure broadcasting rights issues could be resolved and Silverstone would benefit the fans from transmitting BBC radio coverage during the race.

    The only difficulty I had was because it was on my phone there was about a 30 second delay, so I’d seen overtaking moves on the big screen and James was describing them half a minute later.

    However, it didn’t matter for 95% of the time as the discussions and debates taking place were not time specific. Great Job James.

    [Reply]

    James Allen Reply:

    Thanks. Really enjoyed the work this weekend on 5 Live

    [Reply]


  26.   26. Posted By: KGBVD
        Date: July 10th, 2012 @ 3:58 pm 

    Interesting point about the Lotuses and their qualifying.

    I’ve always wondered how Kimi somehow always manages to set the fastest race lap (or close too it), yet can’t qualify better in the same car, on newer tires, with the same if not less fuel, the day before.

    He used to do that fastest lap trick in the dog of the Ferrari too in 2008. At that time everyone looked on as proof of his lack of motivation and not lack of speed.

    Regardless, it’s interesting how it seems that he is basically a one lap specialist, just not in qualifying.

    [Reply]

    Antti Reply:

    I wouldn’t say he is a one lap specialist. For example, at Silverstone he was banging (together with Romain) fastest laps all the time. His problem in qualifying is that he is not able to heat up the tires fast enough, within the one warm-up lap. In race, this is not a problem.

    [Reply]

    xrr Reply:

    Dog car?

    Actually F2008 was the fastest car of the season in most races which let Massa to challenge for wdc.

    [Reply]


  27.   27. Posted By: mitchel
        Date: July 10th, 2012 @ 4:15 pm 

    I agree to an extent with jayteeniftb above.

    Has it been underplayed that Lotus could be in a much better position?

    Or are they actually doing well? Seems a shame that Kimi seems to point out that he has better pace, but too late in the race. Don’t hear much about their strategy calls.

    They were always on the ball when it was Symonds/Briatore (+Piquet Jnr!)….

    [Reply]


  28.   28. Posted By: Marc Aubry
        Date: July 10th, 2012 @ 4:42 pm 

    I understand that for many of its fans Ferrari lost the win. Look. For one 2nd is not too bad as a result.Two, how can we be sure the adjusted strategy as recommended by many here would have kept FA up front? Of course we can’t be sure. To me in some case you can say: The team got it wrong!. But here it seems, while the improved strategy could do the job, it would have been very close. MW would still have had a chance at FA.

    I feel that Lotus is toying with our expectations. It seems to show that it has what it takes to go top but, can’t seem to string up a whole week end together. I want very much to see it happen in the hands of either driver, although I would enjoy that win much more with RG at the wheel. So glad it got a second chance in F1.

    Bit long but last. I hope MC Laren will find a way out of the hole it finds itself in. To have started the season as they did and find themselves in this position now, is unworthy of them.
    Plus if they emerge again, it would mean more contenders to the throne.
    Marc

    [Reply]


  29.   29. Posted By: Nismo + F11
        Date: July 10th, 2012 @ 6:31 pm 

    James, do you feel that Mclaren were running a wet set up, as both drivers were not fast?. Another point why did Hamilton do a short run on the hard tyre during the start, OR why didn’t they run a short soft come in lap 18, soft and then Hards?. I feel Mclaren cannot get the tyres to work or like you said getting heat at either front or at the rears. I believe a raft of upgrades are needed to sweet talk the tyres. Thank you.

    [Reply]

    James Allen Reply:

    I don’t think you look at wet set up any more in terms of downforce, as the cars are close to max downforce most places now with the DRS etc.

    It’s more about the mechanical side, car balance, switching the tyres on

    [Reply]


  30.   30. Posted By: Nigel
        Date: July 10th, 2012 @ 6:53 pm 

    I don’t think it’s fair to judge Ferrari’s strategy with the benefit of hindsight since they had race tested the option tyre by running Massa on it earlier in the race.
    If any criticism is due, then maybe Pirelli should be taking it, for producing a tyre which is downright perverse at times.

    MvLaren are in a tough spot. they lost one GP’s testing opportunity owing to the weather, and are not only therefore an upgrade behind their competition (who brought upgrades to the previous GP), but also don’t seem to understand their current car.
    If it rains again in Germany (and the weather at the moment looks similar to ours), then they are in real trouble.

    [Reply]


  31.   31. Posted By: Alex
        Date: July 10th, 2012 @ 7:13 pm 

    James, if you have to say, who has the last word if a driver and team don’t agree about which tyre or strategy they will go for? I mean in a case like this,a double world champion and not a rookie.

    [Reply]

    James Allen Reply:

    Varies. Driver has a feel but team has data

    [Reply]


  32.   32. Posted By: Methusalem
        Date: July 10th, 2012 @ 7:56 pm 

    Vettel was the first of the front runners who made the first pit stop. And this earned him 3rd place.
    I heard a guy from Pirelli on Friday saying that the hard tyers could las up to 6o laps. Have the teams taken notice of that?

    [Reply]

    Doohan Reply:

    I think romain was definitely listening.

    [Reply]


  33.   33. Posted By: Wombat
        Date: July 11th, 2012 @ 12:50 am 

    I suspect Red Bull knew that they were in with a chance (given no rain) after the first half-dozen laps when Webber R-B Softs couldn’t challenge the Ferrari Hards but could keep up with it. That meant when the roles were reversed the R-B on Hards was likely to run-over the Ferrari on Softs. It is also likely that Ferrari were well aware of that possibility – hence their side bet on rain (that didn’t eventuate).
    Classic F1 racing.
    I can understand why Mark Webber would stay at Red-Bull – but I’d like to see him in a Ferrari on day.
    Just hope he continues to get his share of the good bits (and magic-dusted tyres)for the rest of the season.

    [Reply]


  34.   34. Posted By: xrr
        Date: July 11th, 2012 @ 1:19 am 

    Sometimes two same set of tyres may not perform as expected.

    This may be the simple reason why Alonso could not hold his position.

    Massa did not struggle with soft tyres as much as Alonso. There may be some set up differences between Alonso and Massa but also what Hamilton said after the race was interesting.

    He said with the 2nd set of hard tyres he was not as fast as the first set hard tyres.

    Actually it is a very complicated thing (especially tyre performance) and no one can know better than teams. Sometimes even producer of tyres are clueless.

    [Reply]

    Robb Reply:

    I wonder if it’s because a light fuel load was too gentle on the tires to get them properly up to temperature.

    [Reply]


  35.   35. Posted By: pear-shaped pete
        Date: July 11th, 2012 @ 2:18 am 

    Well I have sympathy for the Red team. I suppose it’s basically calculated gamble for Ferrari (and others). Do you cover off? Webber had to cover off Vettel, Ferrari had a simple choice. Although there was some margin,they chose “safer” way. We would criticize if it turned out they gave up track position easily, no?

    And whilst the soft tyres were lousy all day, I understand Alonso did his fastest lap after Webber passed him! I know low fuel, but wow!

    cheers
    pear-shaped pete

    [Reply]


  36.   36. Posted By: Luke Clements
        Date: July 11th, 2012 @ 3:24 am 

    James

    A bit off topic and might be worth a story another day, but just a few ?’s about tyres in F1

    - Once in the garages, do the tyres now belong to the teams or do Pirelli retain ownership at all times?
    - I know all the teams have a Pirelli guy in their garage, but is that guy loyal to the team 1st or Pirelli? By that I mean if a team discovers something about the tyres performance that other teams might not know, will the Pirelli guy share it with all the other Pirelli guys?
    - If that’s the case, do teams ever try to keep discoveries from the Pirelli guy?
    - Do the Pirelli guys compete with each other? Or are they just expected to share everything at all times about tyres?

    Thanks

    [Reply]

    James Allen Reply:

    1. Pirelli

    2. They work for Pirelli, but have a liaison role with the team

    They share data, but there is inevitably some excitement about winning with your team. But as they win anyway as a company it’s not such a huge thing

    [Reply]


  37.   37. Posted By: andrew
        Date: July 11th, 2012 @ 4:32 am 

    How does a major player like Ferrari get it wrong, time and again without a big personnel shake up? This race seemed so Canada re dux.

    [Reply]

    AlexD Reply:

    This time, I do not think it is so super clear what was a better strategy. If it would rain in the middle of the race, Ferrari would come on top and you would say they are the best….it did not work this time. In Valencia, the strategy was identical to Canada and yet Alonso won. So….it is not all straight forward.

    [Reply]


  38.   38. Posted By: A.
        Date: July 11th, 2012 @ 6:56 am 

    The problem for Lotus is that they keep getting stuck behind a slow McLaren or Mercedes in the opening stints of races or a Maldonado that blocks or runs you off the road in the first few corners, thus ruining their chances for victory.

    Their up and down quali performances are compounded by bad luck as well, like Raikonnen’s KERS failure, or Grosjean missing Q3.

    They just can’t seem to put a clean weekend together, otherwise I think they have the second fastest car!

    [Reply]


  39.   39. Posted By: Syed
        Date: July 11th, 2012 @ 8:30 am 

    I would like to know why Vettel was so slow compared to Mark this race. Was it down to losing a piece of his front wing with Massa or his tussle with romain

    [Reply]

    Methusalem Reply:

    Webber qualified 2nd, Vettel 4th.

    [Reply]


  40.   40. Posted By: Mike84
        Date: July 11th, 2012 @ 8:37 am 

    Think that’s the 3rd time this year that Ferrari lost Alonso points by stopped on tires that were still doing fine. This race, Canada, and one other.

    Why stop 1 or 2 laps after Massa on far more durable tires that were still doing fine? And it made more sense to me to get the softs out of the way in the middle stint — just until they started going off the cliff. Then there would be no need to risk repeating Canada.

    Like in 2010, were they so busy “covering” Webber that they blew the overall strategy?

    [Reply]

    xrr Reply:

    You should consider that as much as pit wall Alonso has a say about strategy they are fallowing during the races (fact). There for one can not go very harsh about pit wall.

    [Reply]


  41.   41. Posted By: Fan Jack
        Date: July 11th, 2012 @ 1:17 pm 

    For the Championship 2nd place is good. With hindsight you can always say a) they should started the race with the soft tyres or b) they could have stayed out longer with the harder ones.
    The right question to ask at this time would be: Why did Red Bull think it’s best to get rid of the softs as quickly as possible and Ferrari didn’t? And also: Was it a gamble or not?
    Fact is that Mark said he realised he could pass Alonso only when he was 2,5 sec behind. This means they didn’t know until then.

    [Reply]


  42.   42. Posted By: bmg
        Date: July 11th, 2012 @ 9:49 pm 

    James, can you tell me who had the fastest pit stops?

    [Reply]

    James Allen Reply:

    McLaren

    [Reply]


  43.   43. Posted By: Damien K
        Date: July 11th, 2012 @ 11:40 pm 

    They are leading the championship in a sub par car and you want heads to roll ?

    [Reply]


  44.   44. Posted By: Beka
        Date: July 12th, 2012 @ 12:44 pm 

    Im looking at the chart above and wondering why Grosjean’s performance was PRed as a comeback from P22. He had this early pit but it turned out to be a better strategy. He had clean track to race on better tires for most of the race. Look where he ended up after the first wave of stops. Thats what one should look at. The issue here was that tires could not last till the end but primes proved to be so good, they definitely took the beating. I wonder if Lotus pitted Raikkonen on lap 7-8 where would they end up.

    [Reply]


  45.   45. Posted By: AENG
        Date: July 12th, 2012 @ 4:42 pm 

    James,
    What’s the insiders’ review, Ferrari’s boost in Silverstone (that Massa’s pace proved too) had had more relation to sheer upgrades or to the weather/track temperature&conditions, or both of these factors?

    [Reply]


  46.   46. Posted By: Steven Pritchard
        Date: July 12th, 2012 @ 5:17 pm 

    As I’ve commented before… Mclaren have experienced issues since they changed their nose. Why fix something that isn’t broken!

    [Reply]


  47.   47. Posted By: AENG
        Date: July 12th, 2012 @ 5:20 pm 

    James,
    What’s the insiders’ review, Ferrari’s boost in Silverstone (that Massa’s pace proved too) had more relation to sheer upgrades or to the weather/track temperature&conditions, or both of these factors?

    [Reply]

    James Allen Reply:

    Upgrades, set up and also some clever stuff to FI with front tyre warm up.

    [Reply]


  48.   48. Posted By: bmg
        Date: July 13th, 2012 @ 3:12 am 

    I just watched the race a 2nd time, I wounder why Ferrari did not ask Massa to stay out longer before changing tyres for his last stint.

    Webber was behind Massa by about 4 seconds and gaining fast.

    He could have delayed Webber by a few seconds to help Alonso maintain the lead.

    [Reply]

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