German GP shows who’s getting on top of the tyre “lottery”
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Posted By: James Allen  |  24 Jul 2012   |  3:50 pm GMT  |  157 comments

The top three cars separated by less than three seconds with a handful of laps to go; it’s the ideal scenario for F1 racing and this is what we had in Germany.

All three leaders had followed the same strategy of soft/medium/medium tyres, but this was a weekend which showed a lot about how far many teams have come in getting on top of the Pirelli tyres, which were described by some as a “lottery” early in the season.

The tyre selection for Hockenheim was soft and medium, the same as in Melbourne and four other events this season. In many ways the race track and its demands on the tyres were comparable with Melbourne, but it showed how much progress some of the teams have made and how others are still struggling to balance tyre temperatures and this is affecting their strategies and how much impression they can make on the race.

Earlier in the season some teams experienced a difference in temperature from front to rear tyres of as much as 20 degrees, which played havoc with balance. Ferrari, Red Bull and Lotus lead the way in terms of progress made on balancing temperatures, Sauber have been pretty good all along, while McLaren have lost out recently but are now getting closer and Mercedes still seem to have significant problems.

In Germany there wasn’t much to choose between the performance of the soft and medium tyres. It came down to preference, although some teams that go well on the soft found that over a stint the soft would be around 2 seconds faster.

It was certainly faster in the opening laps of a stint than a medium and this raises the question of whether Vettel could have attacked Alonso at the first stops.

Pre-race expecatations

The pre-race wisdom was that the soft tyre would be similar on pace to the medium in race conditions, even though it had been 0.7s slower in qualifying trim. The softs were expected to be good for up to 21 laps and the mediums 24 laps. This tended to push teams towards thinking about a soft/medium/medium strategy, which is what the podium finishers used, but it did give scope for soft/soft/medium and we saw that this was actually a little faster. With such tight battle at the front to the end, had one of them taken a gamble, we might have seen something different.


The battle among the front three
Alonso’s engineer Andrea Stella has said that the only time they were worried on Sunday was after the 1st stop when the medium tyres were taking time to come in. Alonso had pitted on lap 18 and Vettel didn’t stop for another two laps.

Alonso did a 23 lap middle stint while Vettel did only 21 laps. Arguably, looking at what Raikkonen did on soft tyres in the middle stint, there might have been an opportunity here for Red Bull.

Having watched Alonso go to the medium tyre, by switching to softs Vettel might have got ahead of the Ferrari, but in all probability Alonso would have reacted by doing a soft tyre stint at the end, while Vettel would have been forced to use mediums and this probably would have evened things out. It’s a fine margin, but it would have been interesting to see Red Bull try it.

Red Bull and Ferrari did not do a lot of race preparation work on the tyres in the brief time the track was dry at Hockenheim. So they went for the medium as the preferred race tyre, also Ferrari put Massa onto it on lap one after he was forced to pit for a nose change, so they were gathering data on it as the 1st stint unfolded.

The softs degraded at 0.1s per lap on Sunday, while the mediums degraded at 0.08s per lap, so there was very little in it on degradation. It was more about relative pace.

Strategy wise the main move between the top three was an “undercut” by Button on Vettel for second place at the final stop. This was helped by the fastest pit stop carried out by an F1 team in 2.31 seconds as Button pitted a lap earlier than the German and then put in a fast out lap to be in front when Vettel emerged from his stop.


Raikkonen and Lotus on form: If only they could qualify well

It was another strong showing by the Lotus team with Kimi Raikkonen classified fourth but promoted to third after Vettel’s penalty. Once again they showed that if they could get to the front they have the race pace to win. In Hockenheim they pitted Raikkonen early on lap 11 and stayed on the soft. By doing so he jumped Webber, Hulkenberg and Maldonado. Then by using Lotus’ gentle action on the tyres he did a 27 lap middle stint, which included overtaking Michael Schumacher, that gave him the platform for his fourth place finish.

Raikkonen was the highest placed finisher to do soft/soft/medium, which Lotus are convinced was the fastest strategy last weekend. It didn’t work for everyone: Schumacher tried it but the Mercedes’ continued roughness on rear tyres meant that he ended up having to make a third stop which cost him fifth place. He was also hamstrung by having only one new set of medium tyres for the race.


Kobayashi stuns with a reverse strategy

We have seen a number of drivers in the Pirelli era come through the field in a quick car with a reverse strategy to everyone else, but usually it is because they have saved new sets of tyres from being eliminated early in qualifying.

On Sunday Kamui Kobayashi came through from 12th to fourth (after Vettel’s penalty) on medium/medium/soft strategy – but as qualifying had been wet everyone had new tyres to use, so he didn’t have that advantage. So how did he do it?

The Sauber is extremely fast on full tanks, so he had a strong opening stint and as he had started on mediums, he was able to go to lap 22 before his first stop. At that point he was up to fourth and he came out from the pits in ninth place, but in a position to attack with two short stints of 21 and 24 laps. He passed Webber and Perez in the middle stint and Hulkenberg in the final stint and then inherited a place from Schumacher when he made his third stop.

He even looked like he might mount an attack on Raikkonen on his final stint on softs but his pace dropped off at the end. Nevertheless it was a great return to form for the Japanese driver and an illustration that if you have a quick car you can make a different strategy work. Also it was impressive how easily he was able to overtake.

However like Lotus, Sauber have to deal with the fact that they do not qualify well.

GERMAN GRAND PRIX, Tyre Choices

Alonso: SN MN (18) MN (41) 2
Vettel: SN MN (20) MU (41) 2
Button: SN MN (19) MN (40) 2
Räikkönen: SN SN (11) MN (38) 2
Kobayashi: MN MN (22) SN (43) 2
Perez: SN MN (17) MN (40) 2
Schumacher: SN SN (14) MN (36) SN (52) 3
Webber: SN MN (12) MN (40) 2
Hülkenberg: SN MN (12) SN (31) MN (46) 3
Rosberg: MN SN (12) SN (32) SN (50) 3
Di Resta: SN MN (10) MN (39) 2
Massa: SN MN (1) MU (24) SN (47) 3
Ricciardo: SN MN (19) MN (38) 2
Vergne: MN MN (6) MU (27) SN (45) 3
Maldonado: SN MN (13) MN (38) SN (57) 3
Petrov: SN MN (14) MN (32) MN (50) 3
Senna: SN MN (1) MN (25) SN (47) 3
Grosjean: SN MN (1) MU (24) SN (42) 3
Kovalainen: SN MN (13) MN (31) MN (44) SU (53) 4
Pic: MN SN (21) MN (43) 2
De La Rosa: SN SU (20) MN (45) 2
Glock: MN SN (19) MN (40) 2
Kartikeyan: SN MN (22) MN (46) 2
Hamilton: SN MN (3) MN (31) SN (47) 3 NC

RACE HISTORY
Kindly provided by the Williams F1 Team

Note Kobayahi’s strong pace in the opening stint and the way he picks up places as others pit. Also note Raikkonen’s middle stint on soft tyres and the relative pace of Vettel and Alonso before and after the 1st stops

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157 Comments
  1. GM Grand says:

    Can’t count the number of punters who complain about the soft, soft, medium strategy of Lotus. Seems like they are wrong.

  2. I think the lack of degradation of the Pirellis in this race combined with the high level of non-DRS passes for a Tilke circuit, show how much of an improvement there has been in passing from the tires alone. There were several passes into corner eight, side-by-side dicing, and some nice outbraking manoeuvers.

    Pirelli have put together a tire that has good grip both on and off-line, allowing passing on parts of the circuit that aren’t dependent on DRS.

    One more thing, apart from Button’s last-gasp outbraking pass into the hairpin, did anyone find any DRS passes exciting? One decent pass and probably 15-20 boring drive-by passes. The answer to Letterman’s question to Vettel most certainly is “no, the fans do not go wild when a driver activates DRS”.

    1. Martin says:

      Hi Malcolm,

      In reading your post I am wondering how much of a role DRS plays in those other passes. If you have to defend into turn six due to DRS, that means that you are under greater threat into seven and eight.

      We saw with Alonso that he was saving his KERS to defend against DRS, which kept him ahead of Hamilton in particular. That then means the driver ahead does not have KERS for the rest of the lap.

      Even with DRS, pretty much all passing comes from a better corner exit, allowing something either on the straight or the braking zone. DRS just magnifies this. In one sense it doesn’t help that it is visible.

      Without DRS, cars on similar strategies are much more likely to be racing on tyre strategy and faster pitstops. The difference to the Bridgestone era would be that going for succesive undercuts (in this post refuelling era) would come with the risk of hitting the cliff and needing an extra stop.

      The best idea I’ve come up with for this is to allow all the cars to run 1978 style fans as they would be unaffected by the car in front. The front wing would be just there for managing airflow around the front tyres I guess. Some sort of rear wing would be needed for the advertising space.

      Cheers,

      Martin

      1. Satish says:

        Keep in mind that overall top speed setup of the cars makes a difference as to whether DRS help with overtaking or not.

        We some some cases where the overtaker using DRS is almost 15 kmph faster and manages to complete the overtake.

        In other cases like with Vettel against Alonso last sunday, Vettel with DRS was only 5 kmph faster than Alonso and that wasn’t enough to get the job done.

      2. Kay says:

        Nice point.

        Actually I noticed just before Hamilton unlapped himself from Vettel, Hamilton actually hit the RPM limiter for about 1 to 2 seconds before he reached the end of straight, so maybe if he had set the car up for more top speed he’d have gone faster.

      3. I see your point, and with corner 8 specifically, I can see how that might be possible; however, DRS wouldn’t have caused that pass, it just would have moved it forward a lap.

        If there is one car catching another, but not quite within range to strike with DRS (say 0.95 seconds behind), it would stand to reason that if there were no DRS, the chasing driver would pull a bit of a draft, get closer on the straight, reel in the leading driver over the lap, and then be much better positioned to have a shot either at the hairpin or corner 8.

        What DRS did in this race, from what it seemed to me, is it made one or two interesting passes happen earlier, but again, enabled many drivers to have boring drive-by passes that prevented many more possibly exciting passes.

        Looking back at Catalunya, there were passes being made all around the circuit – something that hasn’t historically been the case. Pass after pass in new areas, none of which were affected by DRS. Same with the passing at Suzuka; many passes were completed on parts of the circuit far from the DRS zone. Monaco is another great example, as DRS was almost useless there, yet passes are much more frequent now than the Bridgestone days. Canada on the other hand was an excellent example of drivers electing not to make a brave pass at the hairpin, but preferring to wait for an easy drive-by on the next straight.

        If there were a few interesting passes made possible by DRS, there were likely many more than we never got a chance to see due to a preference for low-risk, low-requirement-of-talent, low-excitement drive-by pass completed by simply opening the wing and passing the sitting duck ahead.

      4. Martin says:

        Hi Malcolm,

        It could be that we are getting a greater degree of out-of-position cars in the races due to their qualifying performances. This year the Lotus and Sauber are generally further back on the grid than people think they should be. The spread in qualifying is much tighter, so poor qualifying or set up choices to favour the race can cost several rows. Mercedes takes it a step further with its DRS system to qualify ahead of where it races on a regular basis.

        Your point about passing skills is valid and without DRS it might take several laps and forms of attack to get a slower car out of position and be able to pass. If you took the case of Button on Schumacher, without DRS he probably would never have challenged for the win, which would have been a consequence of the qualifying session. The points are handed out on Sunday, so how important do we want Saturday to be? You’ll get a variety of opinions.

        For cars with similar performance and similar strategy, then DRS gives us the hope that a pass might occur.

        The tyres clearly help both in degradation and in the way the track doesn’t appear to rubber in. Mark Hughes in Autosport has written about the tyres mechanically keying to the track rather than chemically bonding to the rubber on the surface. I presume from this that the off-line sections just need to be relatively clean, and so in braking zones, where there are unlikely to be marbles, the inside line will have almost as much grip as the racing line and hence if the following car has a tyre/grip advantage then the pass is on. The car in front might be more willing to go to the inside to defend, but this obviously compromises the exit. There is also KERS deployment strategies, which compared to DRS at least makes the driver think when it should be used.

        In my view there are positives and negatives to DRS. We had some positives with it such as Grosjean having the opportunity to go around the outside of Hamilton in Valencia and chase Vettel. It allowed the easy passes where the zone was too long, such as Turkey in 2011 and Canada. It allows cars that are out of position to show how fast they are even if it doesn’t rescue the race. And we get situations such Germany where Button would have been third rather than in contention for the win. I think the tyres are the dominant factor in passing, but they are part of a sytsem that involves DRS and KERS and the effects are quite subtle.

        Cheers,

        Martin

      5. Personally, rather than having DRS, they just need to make sure the cars have more drag; or use DRS to emulate the slipstream effect (the DRS deactivates once a car is alongside).

        This would ensure that more cars go into the corner side-by-side, rather than the overtaker being two car lengths ahead by the braking point. Button’s DRS pass was exciting, but only because DRS enabled him to have an opportunity. Almost every other DRS pass has been boring because it enables an easy, risk-free pass.

        It’s like the fans asking for chocolate, and being given that bitter cooking chocolate instead, then being told “well, you said you wanted chocolate, and now you have it!”. ;-)

      6. Kay says:

        “It’s like the fans asking for chocolate, and being given that bitter cooking chocolate instead, then being told “well, you said you wanted chocolate, and now you have it!”. ”

        I like this one :D

      7. Martin says:

        Some interesting ideas. Increasing the drag to lift ratio or minimum drag coefficient through regulation would be challenging in F1. I remember the Handford device in Champ Car, which was a contributor to pack racing.

        If fans generally want more Kobayashi-style surprise out braking moves then the current tyres definitely help. DRS would go, but KERS wound probably be needed to create opportunities, unless we allow cars to follow more closely. Which in my view brings us back to ground effects in some form.

        If you want a race such as Bahrain, then we probably need DRS, otherwise cars back in the field lose too much time. My own view, which will go nowhere is that F1 cars have too little torque. Running on four cylinders in slow corners is no help. I’d like to see the drivers regularly getting poor runs out of a corner, rather than it being something that all the drivers do just about equally well. This probably won’t help your desire for Alex Zanardi-style passing, but not everyone wants the same thing.

        I haven’t checked the 2014 regulations, but I wouldn’t be surprised if DRS goes. It will be interesting to see what Pirelli does.

        Cheers,
        Martin

      8. Actually, the Handford device did the opposite; there was so much drag that a car from 8+ car-lengths behind could slingshot past. Pack racing was impossible in that era because both the power and the drag were so high that it was impractical to merely stay behind in their draft.

        It wasn’t until IndyCar went to the medium downforce settings for faster circuits, with considerably lower power than the old ChampCars. Low power and low drag creates pack racing, whereas high power and high drag creates more slingshot passes.

        In my view, F1 cars have too little power. They’re too easy to drive perfectly – it’s the same problem as MotoGP had with the 800cc motors. The lack of power made the bikes easy to ride, and the best riders weren’t able to show their superiority in man-handling a powerful prototype racing bike. F1 is currently suffering from the same. Everyone from pay drivers to the best in the world can win races because they’re too easy to drive. Every driver is perfectly hitting every apex, and perfectly laying down the power out of every corner. We need more powerful F1 cars so that if someone’s a little too heavy on the throttle coming out of a corner, the car behind can get an advantage. That will only happen when you have ~900 bhp cars, not ~750 bhp cars.

        Having more power will also increase the drafting effect. Increasing drag is as easy as bolting on wider rear tires and mandating single-element front and rear wings. The latter will simultaneously cut down on the amount of downforce you can achieve with the wings while increasing drag (the current steep wing angles currently run are only possible with two or three elements, using the slot gaps to keep the air attached to the undersides of the wings). That would even have the side benefit of increased sponsor area.

        What I want, in terms of passing, is that it to be reasonably difficult, but not impossible. I want the leading car to have at least a hope in hell of being able to defend (which is possible with the current cars if it weren’t for DRS). I want to see Villeneuve in Spain in 1981 style races where he holds off four other cars nipping at his tail. I want to see the odd Kobayashi dive-bomb that require skill and guts to pull off. I’d rather see the clean, Herta-style pass from the year after at Laguna Seca, rather than Zanardi’s four-wheels-off-the-track pass.

        Regarding Canada in 2011, I thought that was a shame. Button’s charge through the field was made much too easy, and Schumacher had no chance at defending his position. Schumacher was a sitting duck for whoever had slightly better pace. Button was able to drive by anyone, with the only exciting part being when Vettel made a mistake on the final lap. I found that race as frustrating to watch as it was exciting on the last lap.

        For the few positives that DRS has brought to F1, I just don’t think it outweighs the negatives in terms of the show, let alone the ridiculousness of having a Mario Kart style push-to-pass gimmick.

    2. Vinnie Nguyen says:

      Ha! I think they’d need to include machine guns with DRS to get a rise out of the crowd, going on what I’ve seen of DRS this season.

      1. Bring Back Murray says:

        I thought they would have got a little better at fine tuning DRS by now. Not make it so much of a gimmie.

        Still better to have it than not I guess.

    3. mayhemfunkster says:

      DRS is a useful tool for allowing cars to negate the dirty air and close up at the end of a straight, leading to a pass somewhere else on the lap.

      This is an important aspect that would be lost without DRS, and is a much more positive result of implementing the system than the typical DRSing past on the straight.

      Detractors of DRS often seem to forget this effect. If the following car was not getting the distance back lost to dirty air, we would still be having a boring season overtaking-wise.

      Only when the tyres went completley off the cliff would there be any overtaking, and I struggle to see how that is any more exciting than a explicit DRS-pass!

      1. That’s a nice theory, but what we see in the races doesn’t back it up.

        Turkey in 2011, there were lots of passes being made out of that long four-apex left-hander into the corner immediately before the DRS zone. In Catalunya, several passes were made into corner 7 and corner 10, both far from the DRS zone. Suzuka is another great example – the hairpin isn’t close to the DRS zone at all. Passes into the chicane at Monaco had nothing to do with DRS. With Malaysia, there were passes all around the circuit (4, 5, 9 and 15), not merely in the few corners following the DRS zone.

        If what you are saying about the dirty air was actually still relevant to today’s racing, then DRS would only allow passes on the straight where there is a DRS zone, or the corner or two immediately after, as the next corner or two would allow the leading car to pull out a gap again due to the aerodynamic wake. What we are seeing is that passes are happening all over the track, not just in DRS zones and the one or two corners following.

        The point I am making is that the Pirellis allow chasing cars to get closer to the leading car than the Bridgestones ever did.

        What DRS *is* providing are several bland overtakes and removing the likelihood of a real battle forming. The days of “catching him is one thing, passing him is another” are gone; the leading car is just a sitting duck.

      2. James Clayton says:

        “The point I am making is that the Pirellis allow chasing cars to get closer to the leading car than the Bridgestones ever did.”

        No – the banning of double and blown diffusers let the chasing cars get closer than they ever did before. The severe degradation on the Pirellis, especially when not driving in clear air, actually prevents cars from following for prolonged periods of time.

        Solution? Bring back Bridgestone & get rid of DRS. We’ll still get exciting races.

      3. Right, because there was SO MUCH passing in the grooved tire era. ;-)

        Why don’t you back that claim up with some stats? Every stat I’ve seen has shown a huge increase in passes (including non-DRS passes) in the past two years.

      4. Martin says:

        I’d suggest James Clayton is ignoring physics and comment from the drivers to from 2009.

        I think your argument is accurate, in that close fights end anti-climatically, or never start due to DRS. In itself that is a bad thing. However, if we want races like Canada 2011 then we need DRS, at the expense of the passing in Canada 2012. There are arguments for both in view.

        Cheers,

        Martin

  3. Ian C. says:

    I’d like to pose a hypothetical question. How significantly different would the tyre strategy be if only one compound was required to be used? Would three stopping on softs be quicker than two stopping on mediums, or is a mix still quicker?

    1. KGBVD says:

      Agreed.

      I would actually like to see all 4 tire compounds available at all races. You’d get a situation where a RB might do a 3-4 stop race on super-softs, battling a Lotus or Sauber who is one stopping on hards.

      1. Shankar says:

        That would be fantastic. But then the cost would go over the roof, which is the reason why i think there is a common tyre supplier. But formula1 should go back in that direction while finding a solution for controlling costs.

      2. Not really. Keep the current allocation rules, but just eliminate the one rule that says you have to run both.

      3. Rudy says:

        What about mixing compounds! Medium at the rear, soft at the front. Quite interesting balance.

      4. Wade Parmino says:

        Yes. I have said this before. Having this type of freedom with tyres would be of great help to teams with strategy, it would be especially useful at a track like Hungary.

      5. KGBVD says:

        Is there a rule currently that all 4 tires must be of the same spec? Could a team not run the 2 compounds at all 4 corners, just at different times (e.g soft fronts with med rears, and vice versa afterward?)

      6. James Clayton says:

        @KGBVD, yes there is a rule stating that all 4 tyres must be the same compound.

      7. Kay says:

        Actually, you CAN run different compounds, that has happened before (can’t remember which year, but certainly from the past 3-4 years).

        It happens when the race is in rain conditions. Once the track starts to dry out but not completely, the teams are free to put on whatever tyres they wish to the car, whether it’s a mix of hard and soft or whatever.

        I remember this was clearly mentioned by the commentators too.

      8. Ian says:

        I would also like to see it, but won’t happen due to the cost and logistics of Pirelli having to ship thousands of tyres to each race – it is already 1800 with the current rules

      9. Easy fix: same tire allocation rules for the weekend, but remove the “must use both compounds” rule for the race. No extra cost!

      10. Kay says:

        Agree with Malcome here.

        I don’t see the point in the need to use both for the weekend.

      11. Andrew says:

        I’ve also wondered this too. I don’t see that it would be that difficult to do. They have 6 sets of tyres for quali and the race. So they could easily give them 2 sets of 3 compounds perhaps?

      12. James Clayton says:

        Then you’d probably have nobody going out in FP sessions, in fear of burning up the compound that actually turns out to be the one they should be using for the race.

      13. Andrew says:

        The dry tyres for free practise are different and they can’t carry them forward for the race. They get 6 sets of tyres for quali and the race

  4. RUI says:

    Really interesting too see Kimi midle stint, besides being in a 7 to 9 laps older tyres, compared to the three front-runners, he was able to mantain the same pace as the leaders and only lose 5 seconds in the last 5 laps before 2nd stop. i think lotus should had waited 5 more laps with kimi. Maybe he would have stayed behind Webber and Maldonado, but i think he would have gained the position in track like he did with, di resta, Hulk and Shumi. in my opinion, by stopping so early he passed the majority of the race in older tyres then the front runners and couldn´t close the gap on them. Another “what if” to lotus team…

  5. Matthew Yau says:

    Why is it called a lottery when it is clear the teams are on top of the tyres now? Especially Red Bull, Ferrari, Sauber and Lotus.

    1. James Allen says:

      The point is, it was called a lottery earlier in the year and it was a big story for a while, but now the teams have got on top of it. And this analysis shows how..

      1. kp says:

        The teams have got on top of it but I am not so sure about the drivers. Hamilton still seems to think he can go through track debris willy nilly.

        Mind, he is one of the more stupid ones.

      2. monza01 says:

        [mod]

        I can think of another well known forum where you would feel much more at home.

        How exactly was Lewis supposed to avoid the debris scattered across the track ? He was just the one unlucky driver who picked up a puncture.

        No knowledgeable F1 enthusiast would ever describe any current F1 driver as “stupid” (or slow for that matter).

        Nobody could possibly make it into GP2 let alone F1 if they were “stupid” as the term might be used to describe those unfortunates in the general population who are intellectually challenged.

      3. Andrew Carter says:

        The debris was spread across the whole width of the track at turn 1 and I distinctly remember Alonso sending carbon flying as he started his second lap. Hamilton was just very unlicky that it was him that got the puncture and nobody else.

      4. Bernardo says:

        Hamilton Stupid ?

        [mod]
        In case you were not aware, the debris was unmissable, it was strewn right across the track, one comment I saw said alonso was kicking it up still on lap 4, would that make him moronic ?

      5. Peter C says:

        @kp Unnecessary. Surprisingly unmoderated.

      6. Elie says:

        LP -Several cars drove through the debris because they had nowhere else to go and damaged their floors. When it happens right in front of you and cars are either side of you there is no choice. “Stupid” is when you do not understand this and that’s something Lewis isn’t !

      7. Stickymart says:

        I commented yesterday that this was just a tired attempt to knock Hamilton and it seems my comment wasn’t accepted by the moderators. Very strange considering the original post was so rude in the fist place. Picking up the debris was an unfortunate event that could have affected any of the drivers regardless of perceived skill.

      8. Kay says:

        If anyone I’d say the FIA marshalls are more stupid than Hamilton. Hamilton had no choice but to race on a track that’s completely covered in debris.

        FIA on the other hand failed to see the dangers of debris could fly off and cut someone’s throat killing innocents.

        How FIA reacted, or rather lack of reaction, was really really surprising.

      9. Elie says:

        I beg to differ James. If you are getting the same speed from two different compounds when the day before You were quicker on one – then there is still some element of surprise. I’m sure if you ask Ross Brawn and Matlrtim Whitmarsh they will beg to differ also.

        Great analysis I believe the Sauber took the right tyre choices for the mid field teams. I think Lotus would have finished 4 or 5 sec further up if they went the same strategy – no difference to grid position

      10. James Allen says:

        They think they were 2.7 secs faster over a stint than on meds and crucially able to jump three cars after L11 stop due to new soft tyre pace

      11. Elie says:

        Thanks James -Surprising given lap times seemed very similar on both compounds and Kimi set his fastest lap on worn mediums at the end !. Also a stint of 27 laps is different to a stint of say 33 laps which Lotus would have done on Mediums. The Softs drop off rate would be worse over the last laps hence slower overall. That would have given him option to run Softs at the end with very low fuel and ideal track temp. I think he would have passed Hulkenberg & Schumi at 2nd pit stop instead of on track.
        Im guessing Lotus were covering Schumachers first stop to Softs.? which again tells you that the teams cannot be sure of tyre performance given slight changes in track temp and position.

      12. James Allen says:

        Lotus pitted first

      13. Also, there were differences in ambient temperature and the track was quite green on Sunday. Given those two crucial pieces of information, they could probably estimate that the difference between compounds on Saturday won’t be the same as the difference on Sunday.

    2. darth_patate says:

      Calling it now a lottery is a convenient way of saying “we still haven’t figured it yet andwe don’t want to admit the others are smarter than us on this one” :)

      I believe Martin W or Ross B admitted it was a question of finding the answer, not that there was no answer to the pirelli’s behavior.

      1. Gilz says:

        Great point and i totally agree! Getting a bit tired of hearing the ‘its a lottery’ line. F1 is a team sport and nothing shows that more than when the WHOLE team have to work together to unlock WCC/WDC performance over an entire year. If that challenge doesnt unearth a truly worthy team then i dont know what will.

      2. Kay says:

        Sorry to tire you again but it’s a lottery :D :D :D :D :D :D

      3. Erik says:

        Im rather glad Pirelli are finally getting the credit they deserve. We can thank them in part at least for improving the racing spectacle.

      4. Matthew Yau says:

        I agree. I was one of the ones that disagreed from the start that tyres were affecting races too much saying that teams just hadn’t got to understand the tyres yet.

        Red Bull, Ferrari, Lotus and Sauber appear to be more gentle and consistent with the tyres. Mercedes work the tyres too hard while McLaren have yet to find the right set-up.

        The differences in performances are due to track conditions. Track temeperature is still affecting tyre performance greatly no matter how good your set-up is.

    3. Kay says:

      James called it a lottery for the first half of season, not for recent races.

      1. James Allen says:

        I never said it was a lottery – as far as I’m concerned it’s always been the same for everyone

  6. Markus says:

    This sounds weird. Pretty much everybody has said two stints on the medium was the right call. Kimi would have jumped Webber on either new rubber.

    Softs slower than medium in Quali?
    This is just bizarre claim

    Medium looked clearly the better race tyre. Raikkonen lost huge amounts to leaders and Button at the second stint which was too long for softs anyway.

    1. Manos says:

      I think you ‘re right and James is wrong. If Kimi had the second stint with medium he could extend the stint by 2 or 3 laps and attack a little more both for the second and the third stint. Instead, he stays on softs for 4-5 laps after their best and looses at least 5 seconds to the leaders. So losing 5 secs due to the degradation of thw softs and taking into account that he could push a bit more I think that with a S/M/M strategy he could be exactly with the leaders and have a chance to fight with them.

    2. Robert says:

      I have to agree regarding Raikkonen, I can’t see how his 2nd stint on the softs was beneficial. Comparing his pace difference to the leaders in the 2nd and 3rd stints suggests to me that he was quicker on the mediums, and therefore he would have been better to follow the soft-medium-medium strategy correctly used by the top 3 finishers.

      But James did mean the softs were faster than the mediums, only he didn’t phrase it properly (and hopefully that’ll be clarified).

    3. Andrew Carter says:

      I disagree, I think the problem was that he made that first stop too early. Yes, he was being held up by the cars ahead but pitting on lap 11 instead of 14/15 meant he had to go too long on that second set of tyres. Te mediums might have lasted longer, but chances are it wouldnt have been as fast.

  7. goferet says:

    You know the thing that replaced the anticipation of years gone by???

    Yes, back in the day, the F1 fans used to sit on the edge of their seats wondering if their hero’s engine would make it to the end.

    But now, it’s all about will the tyres fall off the cliff like we saw with Lewis in Valencia or Jenson at Hockenheim — Much fun.

    That aside, in my view, Ferrari & Red Bull have always been good on the soft tyres & super softs as shown by last year and by some coincidence last year’s rubber was made even softer for this year.

    And so you have a situation, those two teams didn’t really have a tyre issue (as shown by their race pace since Australia) whereas Mclaren are good on the hard tyre (especially Lewis) but unfortunately, that tyre hasn’t been used a lot this season and that’s why Mclaren haven’t had a say in proceedings of late (e.g. Lewis was the only one to do a two stopper at Barcelona).

    Anyway it’s just perfect that Mclaren’s upgrades have fixed whatever problems they were facing, and now, let the real games begin.

    Regards Lotus & Sauber’s qualifying pace, could it be argued that their drivers are’t great qualifers.

    1. JR says:

      The real games started in Australia, Mclaren had the fastest car by then, but they were not capable of capitalizing, while Alonso scored a lot of points in a dog of a car. We will see if Mclaren can recover the lost ground now that Red Bull and specially Ferrari have sorted their problems. We shall see.

    2. DK says:

      For cars that are gentle on tyres, it is logical that they can’t generate heat fast enough during qualifying.

    3. Matthew Yau says:

      McLaren haven’t fixed their car yet. Although the upgrades have certainly helped, they’re still having set-up issues, especially regardinf rear and front tyre balance. (They still use up their rears far too aggresively).

    4. Kimi has 16 pole positions to his name. Grosjean has qualified in the top five a few times this year. You could make the poor-qualifier argument for Kobayashi, but that’s about it, really.

      I would say that Lotus and Sauber both need to work on their qualifying pace if they want a shot at a win… perhaps both car and driver need to improve a bit, but I wouldn’t put the blame solely on the drivers.

      1. Elie says:

        +1 – I reckon Kimi or Romain in a Red Bull would probably win half the half the Qualis so far! It’s def not driver.

  8. Anop says:

    James, I remember you said that Red Bull are the team to look out in Germany, as they had taken a massive step in Valencia and I said that it was not true as everyone else was held up by slower car in Valencia and that gave Sebastian free air to get that 20 sec gap. Who do you think has the fastest car now and how much will it affect Red Bull if they change there controversial engine map?

    1. Anop says:

      Just read a column from Jaime Alguersuari and he says he has no idea how Red Bull lost 1.5s/lap advantage all of a sudden – well they never had it in the first place. Gap in Valencia was all down to the fact that it was a mixed up grip and Seb ran in free air.

      1. Anop says:

        *mixed up GRID

    2. James Allen says:

      With a dry qualifying the outcome would have been different. We will see in Hungary. Yes I think they will have their wings clipped on engine mapping, however

      1. Nuno says:

        James, that was precisely my question to you. Do you think the mapping has anything to do with the huge difference in valencia?

      2. Haydn Lowe says:

        I tend to agree with you. Silverstone last year was purely a software restriction for that one race if I recall correctly, and it threw them back into the pack and alowed Alonso to win quite easily despite Vettel’s pitstop problems. RB do seem to be the team who rely most heavily on the engine maps and, whilst I appreciate the technical skills involved in writing such programs, they are a bit too invisible for fans to get excited by, (even nerdy ones like myself!) but if they are stretching the rules by using them, and this years car is as reliant on them as last, I think we could see Alonso walking away with this title.

      3. Kay says:

        I’d rather to see Alonso or anyone to walk away with the title through skills than someone relying on some tech gizmo or EDB that makes the car PlayStation-like to drive.

      4. Matthew Yau says:

        Love the turn of phrase there James. So apt.

    3. Gate 21 says:

      I wrote a comment a few weeks ago regarding the “Red Bull renaissance” at Valencia. Basically I said I’ll believe Red Bull will refind their dominance it when I see it replicated on a track temperature that ISN’T 50ºC.

      Silverstone and Hockenheim have shown me to be correct, and I suspect a potentially hot & sunny weekend in Budapest may also prove me right.

    4. Andrew Carter says:

      That 1.5s advantage people keep talking about was over the McLaren, which was far from being the second fastest car out there. However, when Grosjean took second he was only 12s behind but it was up to 20 by the time of the first stops so the RB was still the fastest car out there by some margin. I suspect though that it was track specific, Red Bull and Vettel have been very good around there for some time now.

      They still have the fastest car over Ferrari, McLaren and Lotus but I’d say that gap is more like 1 or 2 tenths at most.

  9. Kenny Ramsey says:

    It does seem the tyres are becoming less of a ‘lottery’ now. Whether or not we’ll get to the stage where drivers can go ‘maximum attack’ for a stint on these Pirelli’s is another matter

    1. Bring Back Murray says:

      It would definitely have been nice to see Jenson have more of a go at Alonso wouldn’t it after getting past Vettel.

      Then again Alonso showed real skill managing his tyres, then driving off into the distance once he’d neutralised Jenson’s challenge.

      Is this a case of six of one, half a dozen of the other?

    2. Matthew Yau says:

      Maximum attack is totally gone now. Not just because of the tyres as when the new rules come in, the cars will be harder to drive.

      1. Kenny Ramsey says:

        Well I find that an incredible shame then. In what is being talked about as a ‘golden era’ with some of the hardest chargers the sport has ever known, I really loathe the fact that the pure pace element has been largely minimised. Managing tyres should of course be a part of F1 but there must be scope to see the best flat out in pursuit of the win surely?

      2. Matthew Yau says:

        Don’t be. In reality, there’s nothing particular exciting about maximum attack when you’re driving the grippiest, four-wheeled, engines around a race track.

        If you understand the physics surrounding racing, watching somebody drive a difficult car is far more entertaining and much more challenging.

        Think Q2/Q3 of Hockenheim but multiply the speed by two or three. I can assure you that when the new rules come in, it will be enjoyable to watch.

  10. Tornillo Amarillo says:

    Good for Kobayashi.

    James, what people say about him, is he going to be replaced by Kovalainen next year, or Sauber is looking for a driver if Perez goes to Ferrari?

    1. James Allen says:

      That was an important result for him

      1. Ez Pez says:

        i thought the same, it was good for him to out perform sergio. hope we see alot more from him in the future, hes deserving of a top drive.

    2. Doobs says:

      I hear Lewis is still available…

      1. Bring Back Murray says:

        That’s harsh! :-)

  11. the pimp's main prophet says:

    All it takes to get on top of any problem is a Spanish driver in an Italian car designed by a Greek engineer :-)

    1. Iker Gernika says:

      Better together than alone!

    2. Great combination to create fast cars, bad combination to create strong economies. ;-)

      1. Elie says:

        The missing ingredient in both cases was bucket loads of cash :)

  12. abashrawi says:

    James,

    If you give me a sample of the data you use to plot the diagram, I can write a script that would make the diagram more interactive. It would be a small contribution from a fan to the best F1 website ever.

    I’m not looking for actual data, just the format used.

    Great analysis as usual by the way!

    1. James Allen says:

      It’s from Williams and it just uses the lap times available on the Race History on the FIa website under the section Timing Data

  13. Methusalem says:

    Thanks, James!

    “Lottery”, luck is indeed on Alonso’s side, up until now, everything goes his way. May be being a #1 seeded driver without any challenge from Massa helps him a great deal to concentrate on his driving. Anyways, I think the WDC is over. If there is any chance, it’s, surprisingly, Kimi who could be able to challenge the Spaniard.

    1. GP says:

      “Anyways, I think the WDC is over.”

      Fernando, is that you?

      1. Bring Back Murray says:

        They might as well just engrave his name the trophy right now

    2. Louis says:

      Do you really think an unluckiest driver can challenge a luckiest driver for WDC? if Kimi do have little luck with him, he probably have 3 WDC by now.

      1. Mocho_Pikuain says:

        Had Fernando had real luck, he would be 4 or even 5 WDC. Kimi wasted all his career luck in 2007. He has never been the best driver out there, only all what happened in 2007 made him win by a single point.

      2. Antti says:

        You may want to review the 2007 season. If anything, Kimi was unlucky during the mid-season there, with car related DNF’s that Lewis or Fernando didn’t have. Kimi was on all accounts the best driver of the year and deserved to win, luck had nothing to do with it. He was also the best driver in 2005, lost the WDC only because of the fragility of the McLaren car.

        It’s the same mistake as when saying “Alonso was unlucky not winning WDC in 2010, due to bad strategy in Abu Dhabi…” No, Alonso lost the WDC much earlier in the season due to his own mistakes (he made unusually many of those in the beginning of the season)

      3. Gary says:

        I don’t see luck coming into it. Ferrari have now developed the car into a good all rounder, focusing probably on tyre management as they quickly realised this was as much key to a race win this year than out & out speed.

        Well done Fernando & Ferrari. They just need to sack Massa now…….

      4. Kay says:

        Actually, I think Massa has improved quite a bit lately. To be honest I don’t think he is a top class driver, probably about where Button is in my opinion, but I do like the guy and I hope he keeps his seat at Ferrari. I believe he’ll continue to improve.

        I mean just think back to 2007 (I THINK, if I recall correct), Alonso, Kimi and someone else I can’t remember took half a year to understand the new tyres they race before they found form. So it’s understandable if Massa needs time.

  14. Richard D says:

    Why not have a simple three tyre choice of wet, intermediate and slick? Then let’s have some proper racing rather than a strategy game!

    1. …or remove the requirement to use both types of tire. Allow them to do whatever they want, within their allocation.

      Having to run both compounds is almost as silly as creating a gimmick that would allow a trailing driver to just open his wing and drive by the car in front! Oh wait…

  15. Malcolm says:

    Excellent article James!

  16. Peter Freeman says:

    A good question! And another good question is why have two tyres at all if there is not a clear and predictable difference between the two, *in-the-race*? What is the point of having a fast qualifying tyre that is then slow in the race as well as fading faster than the faster, better all round race tyre?

    Surely its better to have either one tyre or two distinctly different ones?

    How do you explain to a new person that the faster tyre is the slowest tyre???

      1. Peter Freeman says:

        Track temperature only if one tyre has not specifically and deliberatly been designed to react differnetly under all conditions.

        My point was more retoric: what is the use of a slower ‘fast’ tyre and a faster ‘slow’ tyre? What is the point? How does that make the sport more accessible to new fans?

        Surely we either need two distictly different tryres or just one tyre?

      2. Justin says:

        they tire’s all have a slightly different range of temps where they work best, if the track temp was more in the sweet spot of the medium then it would be faster than the soft, and vice versa.

        The soft seems to work better at a higher temp, which is odd because i feel like it should be able to get to temp faster than the mediums.

      3. Peter Freeman says:

        Justin yes that is the case, but this is not accidental. All thing we are seeing are as they have been made to be by design. The point I am making is that the whole idea is to have a fast and a slow tyre and that this is not being achieved.

        The tyres should either make a real difference in the race or let’s just forget the idea.

        Certainly having the slower tyre being the faster tyre is pointless!

  17. Onko says:

    Mr Allen.
    Your reports of German F1 is simply briliant
    that is why you are “Numero Uno “of all Motoring sites, thank you and keep it up.
    Cheers.

  18. Sri says:

    Two questions:
    1. Why did Lotus not choose medium over soft in the second stint when Raikkonen posted the fastest time in Q1 with medium tyres? From the graph above, my interpretation is that Raikkonen was actually losing time to the top-3 in the second stint OR is that because he stopped earlier with more fuel in his car the pace of these soft tires is not so obvious?

    2. Why did Raikkonen’s engineer give a false information to Raikkonen saying that he was driving faster than the top-3, when he was actually going only a bit slower then them? Raikkonen could have pushed more if he was told he needed to push more and thereby he could have perhaps gained a place – why not stick to the facts?

    1. James Allen says:

      He used soft in second stint..

      1. That’s what he said.

        “Why did Lotus not choose medium over soft in the second stint…?”

        is the same as:

        “Why did Lotus choose soft over medium in the second stint…?”

    2. James Clayton says:

      Those messages are delayed. A couple of laps previously he had been going slightly faster, if I recall correctly.

  19. Jim Dee says:

    James whats with Hamiltons starts? His launches over the last few races seemed slow to me.

    1. Methusalem says:

      In fact, over the last two years

    2. Doobs says:

      In Monaco he mentioned the team had made him change his map as the reason for his slow start there. Maybe MacL have less effective mapping than eg. Ferrari

    3. James Clayton says:

      Yes I’ve noticed recently when starting, he darts straight over to cover the person behind him, rather than even thinking about attacking the person in front.

      It seems like he has no faith whatsoever in his starting system.

  20. Marcus says:

    I don´t know if anyone noticed this but I think Vettel could have won this race if he had a bit more speed on the straights. Because everytime Vettel got the DRS on Alonso he didn´t seem TO get any advantage at all from it.
    I saw some parrarels to Hamilton versus Schumacher last year in Monza.

    1. Puffing says:

      May be Alonso managed to get the most of his KERS to escape from persecutors..

      1. I think you mean pursuers… unless he was being persecuted?

      2. Peter C says:

        Malcolm

        Spanish Inquisition?

      3. Jim Dee says:

        In which case he should have used all of it. O_o

      4. Puffing says:

        My bad English, can you understand!

        @ Peter C: It’s too late to be hired by Monty Python, I’m afraid.

    2. Seb says:

      In order to get more speed on the straight, the downforce would need to be dialed back, which means he would not be close to Alsono at the time he got to the straight!

      1. It’s a common trade-off. Sometimes you’re faster down the straight with more downforce, merely due to the run you get out of the last corner.

        I found exactly that when I raced a vintage Corvette at the Toronto Indy circuit a few years ago. Raising the rear spoiler allowed me to take corner two flat out, which gave me a higher top speed down the backstraight, despite the added drag.

        Given Hockenheim’s corners before the straight, I could see it being a similar case where running a trimmed out wing would hurt exit speed and reduce your speed down the backstraight considerably.

  21. Avinash says:

    Hi James, great insight once again and this has become my most eagerly awaited article after a GP weekend. Keep them coming.

    With the strategy, I think the Enstone bunch dropped the ball once again. As you mentioned in your report they pit Kimi on lap 11 and jumped Hulk, Maldonado and Webber. If the lap times were anything to go by, he was almost 0.5s faster than Webber and maldonado on lap 9 & 0.7s behind Webber, which meant they could have let him do the passing on the track and waited till the leaders pitted to bring him in.

    By doing this and the soft-soft-medium strategy they would have given Kimi the best chance to attack the top 3 or with some luck they could have jumped Seb in the second round of stops when he was delayed by Lewis as they anyhow had to pit early since they were running softs.

    It seems really cruel that lotus hasn’t won a race but you get a feel that they havent risked much strategy wise since their china disaster. I think they have done extremely well to be just a point behind Mclaren with their limited resources and if they are as cleaver on track as they are with their designs, they will be hard to beat for the 3rd place in the constructors.

    1. James Allen says:

      No, they got it right with the strategy. It was one of their best to date. They did the damage on new tyres in second stint

  22. Swizzwell says:

    Not sure if it was just the times the on screen graphics were displayed on TV (relating to speed/DRS/Kers) but Red Bull appeared to a have a much lower top speed before breaking for the hairpin.
    I know they have never had the fastest car in a straight line but they did seem to be down about 10KPH compared to Ferrari and Mclaren.
    It looked to me like Vettel could only make the pass on Button at the end because Button’s tyres had gone off and he braked earlier.

    1. AuraF1 says:

      I don’t know if this applies to all of the speed displays but Vettel lost his full power KERS which could have accounted for some of the attacking top speed difference?

  23. Nigel says:

    Interesting summary (as ever), James.

    Does the relative performance of the tyres show that Pirelli are getting it wrong ?
    I though the idea was for the softer compound to be significantly faster, while not lasting as long.

    Or is it just that the teams had insufficient dry practice to get the best out of the option tyre ?

    1. waseem says:

      Nigel, I completely agree with your post, that question has also been bugging me for a couple of races now. It seems if there is rain on the Saturday, then the fastest tyre on Sunday is the medium/ harder of the two. Very strange.

      1. Not so strange, really. If the soft tire is fragile, the drivers can’t push at 100%. If the medium tire is more durable, they can push hard and not worry about destroying the tire. The soft has the pace advantage for a few laps, but the medium can be leaned on for a whole stint.

      2. Waseem says:

        Historically it has not been the case that a medium tyre will deliver a better lap time than the soft. In any case, Pirelli expected the soft tyre to last around 21 laps and medium 24.

        Your comment is not valid in this case

      3. Another valid consideration is that the softer of the two tires can overheat and lose performance. Fast in the first two or three laps, slightly overheats, but then falls off and plateaus at a slower pace for a long period.

        Soft tires like having more rubber on the track. It’s the same in karting; the European soft tires always performed poorly on green North American tracks… that is, until later in the weekend when there was half an inch of rubber on the racing line (no exaggeration). The same thing applies to just about any racing tire that is on the softer side – the surface overheats and the oils start coming out of the tire. If you manage it well (not pushing too hard in the corners, taking it easy with the throttle), you can make it to the end of the race/stint without destroying your tires; if you don’t, the tires wear or blister quite quickly and your pace drops off considerably.

        When the track is rubbered in, the soft tire won’t slip as much, and therefore won’t overheat the surface of the tire.

        You can’t make a soft tire that will beat a slightly harder tire in a situation where the tires are being worked harder (green track, hot track temperature, aggressive driver, aggressive car set-up, etc).

  24. jonnyd says:

    and not once would the drivers have been pushing to their limit, on any given lap. If the impact the driver had in f1 was already at a low % before, it is virtually Zero now.

    how can people be enjoying this?

    what i really enjoy about watching races in the bridgestone/michelin tyre war era was that, as Mark Webber said in a recent press conference, you KNEW that every driver was having to basically do quali laps, every lap, to get the most out of the weekend.

  25. bmg says:

    It’s interesting that Webber pitted on lap 12 but stayed on a 2 stopper.

  26. Alysha says:

    All good points, but let us not forget how qualifying set up the race. Imagine if Vettel or Button (or others) had been on pole, or if the Saubers had made it to Q3. Alonso won the race because of his performance on wets on Saturday and softs & mediums on Sunday.

    1. JR says:

      So basically he did everything right during the weekend, what is your point then?

  27. Kev says:

    James, Kimi set a 1:15 during Q1 when all others did a 1:16. Any idea why he couldn’t replicate that kind of performance on Sunday. I didn’t see any blistering pace from Lotus like during Q1. They matched the front runners sometimes but they aren’t at the right position to challenge even if they have the pace at some circuits.

  28. my tuppence says:

    Why is it that a green track produced minimal/not severe graining on a traction limited circuit?

  29. legend345 says:

    What was up with Webber being so slow on Sunday? Is this a repeat of 2009 and 2010? In 2009 Webber won in Germany then podiumed in Hungary and moved into 2nd position in the championship only about 15 or so points behind Button, and with the Red Bull now looking superior. I confidently predicted Webber for world champ in 2009. What happened next was bizarre, a series of botched pitstops and nonsensical strategies, and Webber failed to score any points in the next five races (though Japan was down to his car being unable to be repaired in time for qualifying). All this happened just after Webber had re-signed for RedBull for 2010.

    Then in 2010 we saw Turkey, with the whole Red Bull team turning on Webber for an incident that most regarded as Vettel’s fault, as Vettel turned into Webber, while Webber was holding his line in a predictable manner. Then before the British GP Webber apparantly re-signed for Red Bull in 2011. Then we saw Britain 2010, where parts on Webber’s car were moved to Vettel’s car. The remainder of the season showed a clear preference from Red Bull management for Vettel to win the championship and not Webber.

    In 2011, Webber was already miles behind Vettel. So it made sense for Red Bull to want Webber to score as much points as possible to win the constructors.

    Fast forward to 2012, and Webber has just re-signed for Red Bull in 2013. The first race after re-signing, and after being very quick in Britian, his pace was nowhere in the race in Germany. There seems to be a common link with 2009, 2010 and 2012.

    I think it is apparent that Red Bull want Webber to do well and to score as many points as possible. They know that Webber is an extremely quick driver – that’s why he has been re-signed again and again and again. However, they want Webber to do well, but not at the expense of Vettel. And on that basis, it is always difficult to tell whether Webber is getting the same level of support as Vettel.

    I cannot see Webber winning this year’s championship on the basis of what we have seen in 2009 and 2010 when Webber was in championship contention. Red Bull clearly did not support Mark’s ambitions as much as Seb’s (James wrote a briliant piece noting that after Germany 2009, Red Bull were not happy with Webber winning over Vettel).

    The reality is that Seb Vettel is an extremely quick and very intelligent driver. To beat him with the same level of support he gets is a mighty challenge, to not have that support, makes it impossible unless a series of misfortunes happen to Seb. I do not believe Mark gets the same level of support as Seb, therefore I cannot see Mark having any chance of winning this year’s championship.

    1. AuraF1 says:

      I’m not fond of conspiracy theories but I think you might have something there. The fact that red bull and vettel have get out clauses on their contracts based on performance you might start to assume that vettel could be signing for Ferrari in 2014 unless red bull show him a certain level of point scoring prior to the final negotiation.

      Red Bull have a tough choice really, Vettel is their star and they want to keep him for years to come but webber (who may retire in the next 2-3 years) keeps throwing the plan off by beating seb when it’s least convenient. Webber is in none of the red bull advertising campaigns, even slightly, it’s entirely focused on seb.

      Given schumacher is 8 years Webbers senior you do get the impression webber might stick around F1 a lot longer than originally anticipated and you think red bull would be wise not to throw their lot solely behind seb. Especially since seb might have a few silly overtakes that get time penalties like Germany keeping him behind mark. So challenge alonso or accept defeat but keep your lead driver clauses in place?

    2. Damien K says:

      I totally agree with this and think mark is a great driver but in a world of grams and hundredths it must be hard being one of the few big boys in F1 with more limited option of moving ballast to help with weight distribution and balance. This then makes his achievement in 2010 more amazing with everything else tied in as well.

      Does anybody remember any key words for that article that James wrote on the German GP 2009 i’d love to have a look at it. Thanks for help in advance.

  30. Rob says:

    I’m new to this report – can someone please explain how the graph works? Time difference to what exactly?

    1. James Allen says:

      The zero line is simply the race winners average lap time (total race time divided by the number of race laps). This is why his curve can go above the line if he’s lapping faster than his average, and below the line if he’s slower than his average or doing a pitstop or safety car period

      1. MISTER says:

        I am also having difficulties with this graph. Always had.
        James, if the zero line is Alonso’s average lap time, how come his curve line never goes above his average?
        His fastest lap will have to be below his average and when he pits (therefore that particular lap will have +16 or 20s) will have to show above his average.

        Again, if the zero line is the average, when he does a lap 1 sec faster than his average, his curve line should drop below the average, showing -1, isn’t it?
        Instead, your graph shows the curve line always below the average time.

        I am sure there is a logic at how that graph is designed and how it shows the lap times, it’s just that I haven’t figured it out yet.
        Some help would be great.

      2. James Allen says:

        It’s the distance in secs behind the imaginary car which is doing the winners’ lap time every lap.

      3. bob says:

        Go back to calculus: the slope of the curve goes upwards whenever he is lapping faster than average, downwards when he laps slower than average.

        It just happens that the first laps are slower than average due to the extra fuel, so the slope is downward, and then starts to lap faster after the first tire change, when the weight of the car is far lower.

    2. Antti says:

      The zero line represents a car that drives at the winners average speed all the time. All the differences are time differences to that car.

      In the beginning, everyone is lapping slower than winners average speed, hence they fall behind. In the end, they drive faster and hence start to catch up this imaginary car. The winner will just reach him at the end of final lap.

      1. MISTER says:

        OK, but if for the first 3 laps Button (for example) is lapping slower than Alonso’s average lap time, in order to catch up with this imaginary car at the end of the race, Button must at some point do faster laptime than the imaginary car, right?

        Well I don’t see Button’s curve line go above the zero line. It is always on the minus part of the graph. Therefore it means that Button’s laptime it is for the whole race slower than the average, which doesn’t makes sense.

        I am ready to give up on this graph..

      2. James Allen says:

        NO but it rises, doesn’t it? This is the way F1 teams express a race and this chart comes from one of the teams. I thought fans would appreciate getting closer to the sport by seeing it as F1 teams look at it

      3. Antti says:

        The chart doesn’t show average lap time, but time difference to the imaginary car that drives at the winners average speed all the time. The graph for some car would be above the zero line only if that car was ahead of the imaginary car at any point of the race. That doesn’t happen often (but may happen in rare circumstances).

        Like James mentions, the fact that the graph rises means the car is lapping faster than the imaginary car (graph rising means time difference get smaller).

      4. Sri says:

        The vertical axis is not velocity to see Button’s car above the zero line when he drives faster. The axis is time and hence the negative time gap attained in the beginning due to slow speed is being removed in the later part when the car moves faster.

      5. SpiderBrown says:

        Hi James

        When you first used the chart in the strategy reports it took me a while to understand them, but now I really appreciate it, and the analysis, and always look forward to reading the article. However I have noticed that comments and queries from readers always come up about the chart. Maybe it is worth preparing a FAQ link at the base of the chart. Maybe run a competition as to who can write the best summary (so you don’t have to do it).

        FYI – Always enjoy your articles and your responses to queries.

        cheers

  31. AlexK says:

    would be interesting to know if Lotus and Sauber are struggling on 1-lap pace due to their “softness” on the tyres over a long stint. Also interesting that Ferrari seemed to have cured the issues with “switching on” the medium compund (especially directly after pit-stops) that have blighted them since the start of 2011.

    1. Kay says:

      Ferrari’s cure was hiring ex-Bridgestone chief late last year / early this year :D

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