How close Lotus came to winning as Hamilton held on: Hungary strategy analysis
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Posted By: James Allen  |  31 Jul 2012   |  7:40 am GMT  |  135 comments

The Hungarian Grand Prix was far from being a thriller in terms of on track action with hardly any overtaking after the first laps.

But it was a very interesting tactical race which leaves a lot of questions to answer, like could Lotus have won the race if they’d done things differently? Why did Button and the Red Bulls make three stops? And how close did Hamilton come to not winning?


Pre-race expectations,
On Sunday morning most of the strategists were saying it would be a wet race. The forecast had not changed for five days and rain would fall between 1pm and 2pm local time. But as the day went on the bad weather moved away from Budapest and it was hot and sunny with the chance of rain receding. In the end a giant storm came in around 7pm local time which only succeeded in delaying teams’ flights out of the airport, but didn’t affect their race.

Rain on Friday afternoon during practice had reduced the amount of data teams had on long run performance so once again it was a bit of a stab in the dark as to how to approach race strategy and tyre choice.

Three stops looked to be faster than two stops over a race distance, but the problem was that a three stopper would be behind the two stoppers after his last stop and would have to overtake.

The feeling was that Hamilton would drive away from the rest, using his apparent pace advantage of around 4/10ths of a second per lap. The soft tyre was considered to be up to half a second per lap faster than the medium, based on Friday practice but after 10 laps the lap times on the medium were expected to be stronger than the soft. But could all the teams make it through 70 laps competitively on just three sets of tyres?

Once again the picture turned out to be slightly different from expectations.


The challenge for victory by Grosjean and Raikkonen

The opening 10 laps told the story; Lewis Hamilton had dominated qualifying but he wasn’t able to pull a gap on Grosjean’s Lotus. This was going to be a close fight.

Further back Raikkonen had let himself down in qualifying by not matching Grosjean’s pace and started fifth on the grid, which became sixth when Alonso passed him on the first lap. He lost around 4 seconds in that opening stint, sat behind the Ferrari. This didn’t cost him the race win, necessarily, but it meant that he wasn’t able to jump Vettel at the first stop, which he would have done otherwise. This would have set him up for a clearer track in his middle stint and then it would have been interesting to see how close he and Hamilton were after the final stop.

Grosjean in contrast, looked comfortable in second place. Lotus was of the view that the soft tyre was faster and they would do two stops with a soft/soft/medium strategy. They stuck to their plan.

Other teams were worried about getting through 70 laps on two stops and so favoured a soft/medium/medium strategy. This was a race tailor made for Lotus with its easy action on the tyres.

Lotus had two players in the game: Grosjean lost his chance of a win by taking too much out of the tyres at the start of the middle stint. This meant that at the end of the stint he didn’t have the pace to stay out longer and try to jump Hamilton at the second stops. By this stage Vettel had pitted on lap 38 and with a margin of just three seconds to play with on tyres which were spent, Lotus had no choice but to cover Vettel by stopping Grosjean.

Contrast this with Raikkonen’s execution of the strategy: He ran a 20 lap first stint and easily jumped Alonso at the first stop. This brought him out fifth, around 4.5 seconds behind Vettel, (where he would have been had he not lost a place to Alonso at the start). Facing a long middle stint on soft tyres (it was 25 laps in the end) he made no effort to close this gap, instead nursing his tyres for around 8-10 laps before then slowly reeling Vettel in before the German’s second stop on lap 38. At this point, in clear air he let rip; 1m 25.7 on lap 41, 1m 25.9 on lap 42. As Vettel and Grosjean got their medium tyres up to temperature, Raikkonen took almost two seconds a lap out of them. He would easily jump them at his second stop.

The strategy worked perfectly, the question now was whether he could get Hamilton too. The burst of speed had taken the edge off the tyres – he did a 1m 26.6 on lap 43. Meanwhile on lap 44 Hamilton on new mediums did a 1m 26.3. He’s just too quick, so Lotus pit Raikkonen to consolidate the gains over Vettel and Grosjean and then see what Raikkonen can do to Hamilton in the final stint with tyres that are five laps fresher.

He tries to pass, but cannot and has to settle for second place.

Had Grosjean matched Raikkonen’s technique of nursing the tyres for six or seven laps at the start of the second stint, sitting out of his dirty air and then attacked Hamilton at the end of the stint, he could have jumped him and won the race. Such is experience. I’m sure he’ll look at Raikkonen’s performance and learn from it.


Not a day to stop three times
Pre-race predictions about three stopping proved prophetic: it was faster on paper but required overtaking and despite the DRS system, overtaking at the Hungaroring proved elusive. Last season’s race was rain affected so we never really saw how little difference DRS would make on a track that has always been almost impossible to pass on.

Button did three stops, his tyre life not as good as Hamilton’s in the opening stint, his rear tyres going off more quickly. But what wrecked it was after his second stop, which was 19 laps into a stint on new mediums, he came out behind Bruno Senna, who had similar age medium tyres to the ones Button had taken off. He kept Button behind him until his stop on lap 42. However during this time, Button remained around 6 seconds behind Hamilton, the same margin as before Button’s second stop. But he had not had the opportunity to use the pace of the new medium tyre and this allowed Vettel to jump him at his second stop. Alonso then jumped him when Button made his third stop on lap 45.

He was the first front runner to pit at the first stop on lap 15, which was still within the two stop window and he reported that the second set of tyres was still fine when he made the early second stop. There wasn’t a possibility to undercut Grosjean at that stop as he was almost six seconds ahead of Button. It was just the wrong call to go for three stops, but clearly they felt that they couldn’t do the race in two, despite Hamilton holding on and doing just that in his McLaren.

Meanwhile Webber stopped three times because his differential had problems and this led to higher tyre wear, while Vettel switched to three stops near the end after losing time in the opening stint when he lost third place to Button, who was not on the same pace as Hamilton and Grosjean. Vettel went for a new set of softs for a final sprint to see if he could claim a podium, but he had to delay the stop in order to get enough of a gap over Alonso behind and this left him with not enough laps to catch Grosjean for third place.

HUNGARIAN GRAND PRIX, TYRE CHOICES
Hamilton: SU MN (18) MN (40) 2 Stops
Räikkönen: SU SU (20) MU (45) 2
Grosjean: SU SU (19) MU (39) 2
Vettel: SU SU (17) MN (38) SU (58) 3
Alonso: SU MN (17) MN (43) 2
Button: SU MN (15) SU (34) MN (45) 3
Senna: SU MN (16) MN (42) 2
Webber: MN MN (20) SN (39) SU (55) 3
Massa: SU MN (18) MN (43) 2
Rosberg: SN MN (16) MN (40) 2
Hülkenberg: SU MN (15) MN (39) 2
Di Resta: SN MN (16) MN (38) 2
Maldonado: SU MN (15) MN (41) DT (52) 3
Perez: SN MN (21) MN (47) 2
Ricciardo: SN SN (14) SU (34) MN (47) 3
Vergne: SU SN (12) SU (30) MN (46) MN (64) 4
Kovalainen: SN MN (17) MN (36) SU (56) 3
Kobayashi: SU MN (8) SU (40) 2
Petrov: SN MN (18) MN (35) MN (51) 3
Pic: MN SN (20) MN (39) 2
Glock: MN SN (18) MN (40) 2
De La Rosa: MN MN (22) SN (41) 2
Kartikeyan: SN MN (18) SU (39) 2 NC
Schumacher: SN MN (1) DT (4) MN (32) 3 NC

S=Soft; M= Medium; U= Used; N = New; DT = Drive thru penalty


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

RACE HISTORY CHART
Kindly supplied by Williams F1 Team

Note Raikkonen’s pace in the middle stint relative to all the other cars in that phase of the race. Note also how his tyres start to drop off at the end of that stint and how close Grosjean and Vettel are after Raikkonen’s stop. Had he stayed out another lap he would have been behind them.

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135 Comments
  1. Mark says:

    James, with a 12 second gap over Alonso and only 11 or so laps left, do you think Webber would have been in trouble of being passed by Alonso in the remaining 10 laps on a track that is easy to defend on? It looked like he could have held 5th had he not pitted. Great result for Lotus though

    1. James Allen says:

      His differential problem meant higher tyre wear than usual

      1. Grayzee (Australia) says:

        James, Can you or anyone explain how that is? What kind of diff issue would cause higher tyre wear? What exactly was wrong with it?

      2. iceman says:

        I guess it’s down to the amount of slip the differential allows, which normally the driver can adjust on the steering wheel.

        With a normal, completely unlocked differential, if one tyre is unloaded (because of cornering forces or bumping over a kerb) when you hit the throttle, it will tend to spin. With a locked diff, you will get better traction even when the tyres are unevenly loaded, but the tyres will tend to scrub as they try to roll at different speeds around a corner. Somewhere in between there is going to be an ideal balance point, and I guess all sorts of problems might prevent you finding that.

        From what Christian Horner said, it sounds like their limited-slip mechanism had failed or partly failed, because Webber’s car was spinning the inside tyre.

      3. Greg (Aus) says:

        I thought he was certain to finish on that set of tyres, given he was comfortably gapping Alonso and was closing on Vettel at that point.

        Even if his tyre wear was higher, I would have thought backing off a bit to nurse them to the end, rather than pitting and hence losing track position would have been a smarter option. He clearly had the pace when they called him in, so the tyres hadn’t fallen off the cliff.

        Even with the differential problem (which according to Webber’s website he was informed of on lap 49 – as he closed on Vettel), surely the decision to pit him on lap 21, knowing he was matching the pace of the other leaders on softs and that he could use the softs for his final stint, was a major blunder.

        I was interested to see Mark’s comment on his website – “We left a bit on the table today”. A disappointing result when he looked to be salvaging the weekend.

      4. Mike J says:

        It was very hard to follow Webbers strategy all day especially after his start. His lap times just didn’t reflect the problem although we don’t see everything. I think Webber played the team game after the race and chose his words carefully. Should have stayed out and not done the third stop however hindsight is great

      5. Tom says:

        “he was comfortably gapping Alonso and was closing on Vettel at that point.”

        I think that’s why he was called in.

      6. Nigel says:

        I also wasn’t quite sure what to make of this:
        “We’ve got work to do,” Webber admitted. “We’ve had a little bit of friendly fire with ourselves…”

      7. EdC says:

        James, that is the party line, and I can think of reasons why it might be so. But I think that is making a big assumption about tyre degradation, including that the diff problem was going to massively aggravate degradation bringing forward ‘the cliff’ and allowing a number of cars past him. There doesn’t seem to much evidence to support this, so I think it was just RBR looking for the ‘safe’ option, when taking a risk had a pretty reasonable up side, and not much down side.

        In the light of the team’s justification, I think Webber’s comment is very illuminating – clearly he was happy to push on.

        Together with the timing of the first pit stop, I think RBR let their driver down and lost him some valuable points. Same could be said for Vettel.

        Pit wall strategy is not a RBR strength, it is a weakness, and it will continue to bleed the team of points. Without the previous years’ dominance, this can and probably will cost them WDC and WCC positions.

      8. Msta says:

        Is it possible that Red Bull only pitted Webber so he would be out of Vettel’s way after his third pit stop? If Webber stays out, it shuts the door for Vettel to have a clear run at Gro and potentially forces Red Bull to enforce a team order on Mark to let him through. If he doesn’t, mark takes 4th place. As it happens, Mark lost three more places to finish eighth, just so that Vettel could have a crack at third place….

      9. jimmy says:

        James? James?? No? Thought so.

      10. Peter C says:

        It’s a message board.

  2. AENG says:

    James,
    Absolutely! KR did what many clever people think is the approach the right drivers must follow. – nursing the tires and not to push when they feel it’s not the factor. His teammate is rookie, certainly fast one but has many to learn from Kimi.

    1. Waseem says:

      I wonder if Kimi picked up on this from Alonso, (Monaco)

      Interestingly this has also given Alonso another advantage, as when he is running slower, the other drivers don’t know if he is saving his tyres or he is just slower than them.

      Quite fascinating to see how he has managed to get inside the heads of some of these top drivers.

      James, an article on the mind games in F1 this year perhaps ?

      1. hero_was_senna says:

        Great point about getting inside others heads.

        The first time I remember reading about psychology of a driver was a qualifying session back in the late 80′s.
        A journalist asked Senna why he had overtaken Prost as soon as they came out of the pits.
        Senna replied along the lines of, “Subconciously he will get used to seeing my rear wing which makes it more difficult to overtake me.”

  3. Nigel says:

    Interesting, as always, James.

    Looking at Hamilton’s lap numbers, with the benefit of hindsight it looks as though he could easily have run his middle stint on the softs – if he could run 18 laps on full tanks, 22 with a lot less fuel onboard ought to have been possible.

    I can understand why McLaren didn’t take the gamble, having had limited running on a cooler track in practice, but on any other track with overtaking possibilities, they should have done so.

    It also suggests that the Lotus race pace might not be so much faster than the McLaren – though clearly they have some advantage.

    1. Avinash says:

      I think you have a point Nigel, but McLaren should have tried the soft middle stint with Button in Hockenheim. It would have given them an edge of 2 secs of the 5 secs which Button eventually had to make up to Vettel on track. Also it wouldn’t have cost them a place if they were unsuccessful at getting past Vettel, as they decided to do a short middle stint and jump Vettel in the pits.

      Also what are your thoughts on the strategy calculator? I think it was modelled right for Hungary showing the soft in middle stint was faster by 5 secs. I think it was more accurate than silverstone and hockenheim.

      1. Nigel says:

        I’m guessing that the strategy calculator has been a bit all over the place recently because of the tyre performance sensitivity to track temperature.
        The model has to operate under a set of assumptions, and if the track conditions are a bit different, it can’t account for that. Even worse, if practice sessions are wet, the teams don’t get the best setup for the tyres, so the mismatch between model and reality will be even greater.

        In the event, despite a few weather scares, Hungary was hot as expected.

        Interestingly, a couple of commentators said that the teams had modeled a three stop strategy as being theoretically fastest (ignoring traffic).
        The race strategy calculator doesn’t show that – although the best three stop is quite close to the best two stop.

  4. Richard says:

    I agree before the race it looked as though Hamilton would romp away with a significant lead, but fully fuelled the cars are very different to when in the qualifying low fuel condition. Also I think one of Hamilton’s virtues is his ability to extract everything possible out of the car in qualifying trim. I also think Hamilton was mindful of not taking too much out of his tyres early on to leave himself defenceless later on in his stints. All he had to do really was keep a gap greater than one second to avoid attacks under DRS. The gap did fall below this but Hamilton was well aware of how to use the circuit and KERS to keep the Lotuses behind. On a different circuit it would have been much harder, and McLaren need another good peformance step if they are to have any chance of winning further races. The second half of the championship is going to be enthralling to see if the other cars can reel in Alonso, but he and his team always seem to be able to score useful points in every race.

    1. Mike J says:

      I think your right. Hamilton is driving with his head this year and he drove brilliantly to ‘suit Hungary’. That’s all he had to do. He did seem to have some up his sleeve.

  5. Phil says:

    James,

    It seems to me the soft compound was better than teams expected (comparing Hamilton’s 2nd stint on new hards, when GRO and RAI went for used softs). Even Vettel went for softs in his second stint, although he did stop 3 times, more because he could than that he really needed to, I thought.

    Was this an error on McLarens part (given their new hards didn’t last much longer than the Lotuses used softs) and did they just get away with it – or is it that the Lotus is just that much better on tyres?

    1. James Allen says:

      McLaren couldn’t do 2 stops on softs

      1. Nigel says:

        I not convinced by that.

        Hamilton did 18 laps on softs with a full fuel load – after locking his fronts quite badly on the first corner: a 22 lap stint with 18 laps less fuel onboard ought to have been possible.

        The team also pulled Button in earlier than he thought was necessary or sensible for his second and third stops. I think their pitwall was being overcautious – not something they can afford if they want to win either championship.

    2. Richard says:

      I think the problem with softs is that they fall away more sharply whereas the harder compound gives a move consistent performance albeit slower than the soft compound when they are new.

  6. alexyoong says:

    Given he is effectively a rookie, Grosjean is over the course of the season the stand-out performer. I am continually blown away by his speed, especially in qualy.

    Give him a few years and he will be right up there.

    1. Irish Con says:

      I agree that grosjean has impressive speed. I just don’t think he is smart enough to go right to the top of f1 ala alonso, vettel and Michael but I reckon he will go on to have a pretty good career and multiple gp winner.

    2. Richard says:

      Yes I totally agree! Thank goodness he was given another chance, and he’s a nice guy. Now here’s a thing. If you look closely at the picture of Kimi with Lewis on the podium you will actually see him smiling, proof that he is more than capable! Actually Kimi hates the media attention as all he wants to do is drive the wheels off the car in the race.

    3. Mike J says:

      still looks like a kid in a lollie shop at present, trying not to knock over the jars….but he is quick

    4. alexyoong says:

      Agreed, in mould of Maldonado perhaps.

      Still, both those two are absolute surprise turn arounds

  7. Iain says:

    Great review JA, made the race all that more exciting reading it about it this time.

    Whilst I already knew the outcome, it felt like things were going to be different this time round…I’m pretty sure Kimi would be wishing the same!

    Cheers,
    Iain

  8. Dave says:

    When you put it like that, it really shows what a great drive it was from Kimi!

    1. DB says:

      +1
      Look how his line in the chart changes inclination around lap 38.

      1. Laurence H says:

        I also noticed that Hamilton’s line after the last pit stop is flatter until Kimi catches him and then it is ‘pushed up’ by Kimi’s. I presume this indicates that Hamilton was pushing hard to keep Kimi at bay, not doing ‘just enough’.

      2. Elie says:

        Exactly, I wanted Kimi to get up but I’m certain Lewis had a little bit more in that car every time Kimi closed in !
        I’m also sick of people saying the Lotus is the fastest cause clearly it isn’t.-certainly top 3 with Ferrari It just looks after its tyres better over a longer stint- its not easy to get both Quali and the race with these damn tyres. Otherwise I think Mclaren woul win every race.

      3. OscarF1 says:

        If you watch it carefully, Lewis’ last stint line starts steep, gets flatter after Kimi pits and slightly steeper when he catches up.

        I guess he wanted to make sure to defend his position after pit stops.
        Decided to manage tyre wear for a few laps (for it was inevitable KR would catch up
        Finally put a bit of effort to avoid being overtaken

        You might also have a look at Kimi’s line, which is almost straight throughout the last stint, with no clear signs of improvement due to lesser fuel load.

  9. James Clayton says:

    Great article as always James, but the switch of tense towards the end of the “The challenge for victory by Grosjean and Raikkonen” section is slightly confusing!

  10. Donald says:

    The other teams must take notice; the Lotus and McLaren went similar lengths in stint 2, but on used-soft and new-medium compounds respectively. That’s an amazing detail!

    1. Oliver says:

      Mclaren still had rubber to spare, but chose to cover Grosjean after he made his second stop.

  11. Ram says:

    vettel graph at the last stint was epic …. it was zooming straight up …

    1. James Allen says:

      That’s fresh tyres for you!

      1. Jim Dee says:

        That’s what the cars are capable of, shame about the restrictor tyres really.

      2. Ral says:

        You know, I’m curious if teams in the past would have raced the way they did if they’d had access to the kind of tyre information they do these days. And at what point the tyres became the limiting factor, as opposed to the chassis; ie. the tyres were simply able to take more punishment than the speed the cars allowed could dish out.

      3. ZanteX says:

        +1 Jim, that’s one point I don’t like about this season.

      4. Fareed Ali says:

        And also low fuel load of course

      5. James Allen says:

        Yes but that’s the same for everyone

      6. Quercus says:

        …Fresh tyres and — even more importantly — they only needed to last ten laps.

        Hamilton was playing it safe because he did a long last stint and he didn’t know how the tyres would hold on. And Räikkönen was balls out because he had nothing to lose. If HAM and RAI’s positions were reversed, RAI would have been as cautious as HAM.

      7. Toleman fan says:

        You don’t think Vettel would have been a lot faster if he hadn’t been behind Button and Grosjean so long?

  12. Chris says:

    Vettel pitstop could have been genius, he had nothing to loose, and possible points to gain, though it was a long shot!!!

    James, if Alonso had made his move stick when SV came out of the pits, do you think Vettel would have re-passed?

    1. Quercus says:

      Not at Hungary. Alonso would have done a Hamilton — save up his KERs just for use in the DRS zone.

  13. Nut says:

    James, why was Button’s 2nd stop so poorly timed? Why was he on a 3-stop strategy compared to Hamilton? Because he spent more time in traffic and used up his tires?

  14. Jonathan Silvester says:

    The Lotus cars appeared to be faster than the McLarens on the day but Hamilton and his team managed to keep track position which is nearly as important at Hungary as it is at Monaco.

    1. Richard says:

      There were some overtakes on the track, but more often than not between cars of unequal performance.

  15. Sebastian says:

    Kimi might have had a shot at the win if he hadn’t been passed by Alonso on the first lap. Came out just over 4 secs behind hamilton in the second stop. Trailing vettel (next up on alonso) by jalmost 5 secs. It would have been close though.

    1. MelB says:

      That was due to his failing KERS.

  16. Mitchel says:

    Great to read as always, thank you very much!

    Is there any intention to have two DRS zones for some tracks again? Or did they just try that once, and think better of it.

    You would have thought the teams 3-stopping could have assessed more thoroughly how difficult passing would be, given last year’s lack of comparable conditions. You would almost think it would be something that they could get the drivers to ‘simulate’ in one of the practice sessions…unless that would be too risky, I wonder.

  17. Jonathan Kelk says:

    Interesting that after his final stop Kimi’s line is dead straight, but Hamilton’s slouches until it meet’s Kimi’s line, then follows that. Supports the idea Hamilton did have pace in hand, but was just protecting those tyres.

    1. Beka says:

      The graph represents time difference in relation to the leader, not laptimes. That is why it is like that I think. If it was a laptime chart it would be going down for both leaders me thinks

      1. MelB says:

        The lap chart lines are often misread as representing absolute speed while they infact represent relative speed (differense in speed).

      2. Beka says:

        Difference in speed (difference in laptimes) or a gap in seconds between the drivers?

    2. D17MO.D says:

      +1

      Yeah, good spot buddy.

  18. JohnBt says:

    Am surprised KIMI was on SU, SU, MU. Hamilton on MN, MN, meant Kimi shoulda won the race if he was on SN, MN or even just only on MN. Another iffy, shucks.

    Kimi for win@Spa!

    1. MelB says:

      If there aren’t any new left you can’t use them, hence the U:s. I suppose you are aware of the rules, which states that both the prime and and the option tyres must be used during a race.

  19. Great info James, much more exciting than watching the actual race !!

  20. Cookie says:

    James,
    I noticed that Hamilton posted his fasted lap on lap 65, which is actually faster than Kimi’s fastest lap which was set on lap 41. This seems indicate that Hamilton did have pace in hand and was lapping to preserve his tyres.

    1. Ral says:

      The fact that Kimi’s fastest lap was lap 41, would seem to indicate he too could go faster though at the end of the race. Lap 41 he was on soft tyres that had done over 20 laps already.

      1. D17MO.D says:

        Hamiltons fastest lap was on a set of used Mediums that had done, what, 30 odd laps?

      2. Ral says:

        Oh, I’m not taking that as an indication that the Lotus was faster than the McLaren per se. Just that Raikkonen could have gone faster as well at that point and that both, for different reasons, were not going as fast as they could.

      3. Erik says:

        No, more like 25 laps new Medium for Lewis.
        Kimi soft used at lap 21+3(used) with a
        55-60kg heavier car (lap 65 compared 41).
        60kg is about 2 seconds in lap time.

      4. D17MO.D says:

        Ah, ok, fair point.

        … Kimi’s laps do look pretty decent when you put it like that :-)

  21. Oliver says:

    There wasn’t much of a gap after Hamilton exited the pits after his first stop. So I can understand why Grosjean was not too happy with M.
    Schumacher.

  22. Jim Dee says:

    Hamilton waited for Kimi to catch up then paced ahead of him knowing that keeping him 1 second behind would damage Kimi’s tyres more than his own. Look at the lap times whenever Kimi got within a second Hamilton reduced his lap time by half a second.

    Tyre wars 101.

  23. Adrian Morse says:

    James, you say:
    “Had Grosjean matched Raikkonen’s technique of nursing the tyres for six or seven laps at the start of the second stint, sitting out of his dirty air and then attacked Hamilton at the end of the stint, he could have jumped him and won the race.”

    Well, possibly, of course, but at the end of the second stint Hamilton also had some time in hand. If I read the data correctly, Hamilton’s in-lap for the second stop was a second quicker than Grosjean’s. Hence, he had some pace in the tyres left, and the only reason he was pitting was to cover Grosjean. If Hamilton had been able to delay his stop until lap 45, with Grosjean still behind, then with fewer laps to go he could have put in some quick laps to cover Grosjean staying out. Still, that might have offered Romain better chances. On the other hand, let’s not criticize the young man for attacking, unless all we want to see drivers do is wait, wait, wait.

    1. Crusty says:

      I think the crucial point here is WHEN you launch your attack

      1. Kidza says:

        True Grosjean could have fallen back and then attacked later, but to do so he have had to lap slower and Hamilton would have just done the same and also saved his tyres for later resulting in a stalemate. It was easier for Kimi to do that because after being released from behind Alonso, he wasn’t racing anyone so he could manage his own race better.

        Another factor to consider here was Vettel and Kimi behind. Grosjean needed to watch that gap too. Like Vettel’s engineer said, “there are cars behind, we can’t just do anything”. That saying applies as much to Vettel as it does to any other driver.

  24. JC says:

    James,
    Great review substantiating what we have seen on the TV with great analysis.Looking at the graph, it remind me of the poor race of MSC.
    It would be good to have your view about what happend as he was totally off like he has never been in his F1 career. Any insight on that?
    Cheers

    1. James Allen says:

      Strange mistakes on start grid too! A bit of brain fade it seems

      1. Avinash says:

        About Schumacher James, the FIA did confirm that he missed his starting grid place, which was 17th but since then, I havent read anywhere as to which place he wrongly parked his car before the start. Also the green flag at the end of the grid was waved which shouldn’t have been the case if MSc had made a mistake.

        Now seeing he was stationary on the left side(odd numbered side) of the grid, he should have parked in grid slot 15 or 19. Neither Heikki nor Kamui have mentioned anything about it. Now is it a question of him driving past his grid box (which would have been a case of jump start) or did he actually park in the wrong grid slot, in which case why was the green flag raised?

        Can you please provide some more info on this James.

        Cheers!

      2. James Allen says:

        He parked in 19th slot, Kovalainen’s.

      3. hero_was_senna says:

        Reminds me of Fisichella years ago. Great driver on his day, but some damn stupid mistakes also.
        This isn’t the real Schumacher, I’m sure it Ralf!!

    2. Davexxx says:

      Yes I agree – I’d like to read a consolidated report on all that happened with Schumi. As I’ve posted elsewhere surely Mercedes must be losing patience with him now and perhaps it’s time for him to bow out?

  25. Irish Con says:

    James I said this too u last week and we had the worst race of the year by far in hungary. The medium should never Of been near hungary. Pirelli are being too conservative. And I’ve seen the news for the next 2 races there bringing hard and medium to spa and monza. I think that’s terrible decisions. The hard tyre lasted 20+ laps a stint at silverstone and Barcelona which are both harder on tyres than spa. It means strategy will be easy there and monza has never been hard to tyres. That looks like a one stop to me already. Pirelli should be going soft and medium at least in these races in my opinion.

    1. Mitchel says:

      Daft question maybe…but why can’t they just use the softest two compounds for all the races?

      Do they gauge it for two-pits stops as a reference….?

      Seems that Pirelli can have too large an influence here with their decision!

    2. Galapago555 says:

      Or soft and hard, so we have a real difference between both tyres…

    3. Erik says:

      It is up to Ferrari what they bring.

      Last year when Ferrari could not heat up the hard tyre it got banned for the second half of the season and this year when they chew them up Pirelli have gone very conservative for the last races and for the rest of the season.

      Hungary always has the same tires as Monaco and some other venues but 2012 they went 1 full stepping harder. Not even a halfstep(medium+supersoft).

      They should choose tyres for all season right away and let the teams change it if something weird comes up.

      1. hero_was_senna says:

        OFFS!!!

  26. Mike J says:

    Great review James, thanks again.
    One main point however. Webber, post race, made no comment about the diff issue in what i read or saw. His only comment was about a mistake by RB in trying to do something different. RB brought Webber in very early for his last stop before vettel (4 laps) which was a change from the other two stops. why?. In another four or so laps he would have caught him with the times he was doing on graph.
    If they left Webber out he would have been in front of Vettel with no signs of tyre degradation at that stage. Pitting him early certainly made sure Vettel and Webber would not have been together on track. And more importantly Vettel would have a clear track to produce the steep curve you show on graph.
    Webber would have had track position which he lost in doing a third stop which hurt him greatly. Even if they left him out another three laps, the times he was doing from FIA would have meant he would have come out in front of Senna.
    There was no way Webber was going to get back three places.
    It seems a continuing battle for Webber at RB with his strategies over the years. I AM NOT a conspiracy monger however geez he gets some bad calls at times. I can’t count how many times he has come out in or behind traffic.
    Did you speak to him after the race about the issue? Or was it mainly Horner that raised the diff issue?
    The 6 lost points will hurt him come year end.

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes I spoke to him and it was also said by Horner. We knew about it during the race on 5Live as our pit reporter Jennie Gow picked it up from the team radio

      1. Mike J says:

        Thanks James. I see you mentioned that you will be doing a mid year report on the drivers. That will be interesting but more so will be your crystal ball gazing on the remaining races. I see only 5 drivers ‘in the hunt’ now. Lotus seem to have the best on Sundays and just need to improve their Saturdays. With Spa and Monza crucial to them i see them as the dark horse.

      2. Moog says:

        Kimi is awesome at Spa too…

  27. DB says:

    The chart gives me the impression that Vettel could have changed tyres on lap 56, still come back to the track ahead of Alonso and get 3 extra laps to catch Grosjean.
    Did he really not have the gap before lap 59? Vettel and Alonso’s lines look almost parallel for those laps.

  28. Geenimetsuri says:

    Love the analysis.

    I’d also like to see the derivative (ie. differentials) of the graph data.

    That would highlight the changes in racing pace.

  29. Baghetti says:

    The thing that surprised me in the beginning of the race was that Webber with his new mediums came in so soon after the others that were on used softs for the opening stint. I know that he had the issue with the differential but if I’m well informed that issue only came up in the second part of the race. When looking at the graph it even looks as if staying out could have given him the lead or at least very good track position which in Hungary is quite crucial and which would also have benefited Vettel?

    1. Grayzee (Australia) says:

      Yep. Agreed. See the first post on here and the replies. Any further info on this form anyone would be appreciated.

  30. sumedh says:

    James, do you think a 1-stopper would have worked in Budapest? Given the difficulty in overtaking

    1. James Allen says:

      No, you’d have to get to lap 30 minimum on 1st stint

  31. iiro says:

    Great analysis, very clear and to the point!

  32. Tornillo Amarillo says:

    James if you have to take ONE factor, the key one, for Hamilton holding Kimi and Grosjean, what would be?
    The McLaren being faster?
    The KERS in the DRS zone?

    And other question, Vettel gained nothing with the 3rd stop, should be better to stay just behind Grosjean to push him in an error and take P3? (actually Grosjean was wide in the end)

    1. Jim Dee says:

      I don’t think we should overlook the balance of the car. Hamilton set his car up really well which provided even tyre wear allowing him to control the lead.

  33. TitanRacer says:

    my fav article / analysis after every event!!
    thanks James.

  34. Methusalem says:

    I have never seen someone making so many mistakes like Schumi die last Sunday. Him stopping in the wrong grid slot was very amusing. Anyways, even the best of the branch make silly mistakes, they’re human, after all! I was just watching another Michael (Phelps) making another silly mistake by touching the wall later at Finish while he was ahead of South Africa’s Chad le Clos who won Gold by 5 seconds.

  35. Avinash says:

    James, what if Lotus had split the strategy for the middle stint for their two drivers making it soft-med-soft for kimi. As you said after 10 laps, the medium is as good as softs and we know he spent those 10 laps of middle stint behind Vettel saving his tyres.

    Gary Anderson said on BBC website that lotus could have left kimi out for a few more laps to see if there was anything more he could squeeze out of the tyres and if that didnt work out, he would have come out behind Grosjean and lotus would have still had their 2nd and 3rd place finish.

    In light of what Gary said, do you think soft-med-soft was an option they could have tried James? Also is Alan Permane the guy who makes the calls for Lotus?

    1. Avinash says:

      p.s James, thank you very much for getting Giorgio Piola on board for JA on F1 innovation. His 3D graphics are absolutely fantastic.

    2. Elie says:

      Kimis strategy was absolutely perfect. If he stayed one lap longer he would have been passed by Grosjean and line ball or under attack from Vettel

  36. jay harte says:

    james now that pirelli have announced their tyre choices for spa who would you say this favours
    for the win ?

    1. James Allen says:

      Will be between Raikkonen and Vettel , I reckon

      1. Elie says:

        Similar, Raikkonen-Hamilton-Vettel. Still think Hamilton has more pace in those updates. Really hope the Lotus DDRS gives them a bit more. Can’t wait!

      2. hero_was_senna says:

        But what happens if it rains, as I’ve heard it does in the Ardennes?

      3. Elie says:

        If rains then I would say Alonso Hamilton Vettel.. Oh & bring your umbrella !

      4. Tornillo Amarillo says:

        I think Hamilton and Grosjean have the upper hand in qualify and excelent cars right now on Sundays…

      5. Kidza says:

        James, is that an all whether prediction or a weather dependend one? Based on their pace in cooler conditions at Silverstone and Hockenheim, I am not convinced Lotus have a race winning car in cool to warm conditions.

        All the races that Lotus have been very competitive at this year have one thing in common, they were baking hot (Bahrain, Canada, Valencia and Hungary).

        I doubt Spa will be that hot in which case their pace in Hungary may not translate to Spa.

  37. captainj84 says:

    Hi James. Can I ask you a Lotus based question……..I recently saw a picture taken by Sutton images. It was a shot of the two cars nearly touching as Kimi squeezed Romain wide into turn one after his pitstop. I noticed some striking differences between the two cars, starting at the top KR’s car has a very flat topped roll hoop while RG’s is very triangular in shape. secondly KR’s bodywork seems much “tighter” than RG’s. And thirdly the tapered back ends of bodywork are very different in shape. Are all of these differences through driver’s choice or is it the team gambling with aero designs rather than placing identical designs (again KR’s being much more tightly packed). I’d be interested to hear back from you or anyone else who has an in-depth explanation. Thanks, John

    1. Kimi4WDC says:

      Kimi had body work to support their new “Super-DRS” system, refer to the ears on the sides of engine air intake. But they did not use it for the race, you would wonder Kimi had more drag :)

      I also hope Lotus review their targets and back up Kimi as number one driver for World Title. Grosjean in fast but he put himself into this situation by having a back start this season.

  38. Elie says:

    Well spotted John different air intake-outlet ! Just had a look http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/101621

  39. Adrian Newey Jnr says:

    Great analysis James.

    All of this suggests that regardless of tyres/DRS/anything, track position is the key. The cars still work best in clear air. Therefore the teams would be best off concentrating on positioning their car to take advantage of this.

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes on a track like Hungaroring where it is so hard to pass. Raikkonen would have won this race if it had a straight like Hockenheim, given the same situation relative to Hamilton.

      1. Nigel says:

        Except that on a track like Hockenheim, McLaren would probably have run a different strategy, with either a middle stint on the softs like Lotus, or three stopping.

        You can only race the track you’re on.

      2. Kidza says:

        And except that the same Lotus car was not that quick at at track with a straight like Hockenheim just a week before!

  40. John says:

    I still cannot help but think that the tyres are having too much of an impact, their operating window is too small. I want to see more laps that showcase car speed, driver skill and racing and less laps focused on tyre management. Yes its an important skill too manage by drivers and team, but they need to be more predictable.

    cheers John.

  41. Doug says:

    Nice recap, James. May pipe this page through a grepper and counter the number of “tyres” :)

  42. Tom says:

    Look at pitstop times, what killed Lotus’s chances for victory was really slow pitstops. Look how much time they both lost there!

    1. SP says:

      Hi James,

      From what you’ve seen so far, which cars look the strongest through medium/high speed corners and who holds an advantage in the slower corners?

      1. James Allen says:

        It changes, for example Red Bull improved a lot in slower corners through June/July (although some of that was maybe mapping ;) )

        Williams has been good all year on high speed corners, McLaren also. Ferrari now pretty good all round, Lotus too

    2. Gilbert says:

      The gun for Grosjean pit stop was not working properly at the first pit stop. They changed it for the second pit stop.

  43. Irish con says:

    That’s rubbish. Ferrari are one of the best teams on the tyres this year. Probably 3rd after sauber and lotus. And the hard tyre was used in 2nd half of last year. India. Fernando on the podium again.

    1. Irish con says:

      That should be away up higher responding to someone’s response to my original comment about the tyres.

    2. hero_was_senna says:

      Are they?
      Maybe Alonso, because he actually uses the nut inside his helmet, but Massa hasn’t proved that at all.
      Look at both Saubers or both Louts drivers, each has proven their cars look after the tyres.

      In Canada, Grosjean and Perez proved how good their cars were, when they blasted past a tyre handicapped Alonso at the end.

    3. Kidza says:

      I second that. In fact, I believe that Ferrari’s pre- season struggles helped them gain a better understanding of the tyres than most of the big teams, except Lotus who were good on tyres straight out of the box, probably thanks to theirs and their drivers’ partnership or involvement with Pirelli in testing.

      The problems Ferrari had were in the end a blessing in disguise as they forced the team to evaluate and re-evaluate everything, including the tyre behaviour. Ferrari’s, and in particular Fernando’s better understanding of the tyres allowed him to score consistent points at all races, regularly outperforming the car as people say while the other title contenders were struggling to understand the tyres. You can’t outperform a car while trashing the tyres.

      As the other teams get a better understanding of the tyres, like Hamilton appears to be doing, Alonso’s early “tyre” advantage will diminish and disappear unless Ferrari can make the car faster. The pressure is on!

  44. sleeves says:

    As everyone knows, it is teamwork, what is interesting is all the focus that the drivers get.
    Now it will prove to the leader who emerges!
    Eric at Lotus is very strong,getting stronger, have had both of their drivers to believe in themselves. The big question is Red Bull, Christian is a politician, how can you keep Marko? I think they will lose so much on his whining!
    Ferrari, feel sorry for Masa, how can one perform when we hear mixed messages.
    The three best drivers right now, Alonso, Hamilton and Kimi, the rest are behind!

  45. oak says:

    hi james,

    bit off topic, but are you commenting on any olympic events? I keep hearing Jonathon legard on the volleyball!

    1. James Allen says:

      No, I’m an F1 specialist. I know a but about cycling, but very happy to enjoy the Olympics as a punter (went to the Eventing yesterday and it’s Beach Volleyball at the weekend :)
      )

  46. Paul Hennessy says:

    All very interesting thank you.

  47. Nil says:

    Speaking of Kimi’s experience, there’s been a noticeable difference in his approach this year. He was an all-or-nothing driver even after his championship year. Barring the lunge in Bahrain on Vettel earlier this year, he’s been reeling the points in without taking a lot of risks.

    What’s your take on that James? Experience from missed opportunities (2005 season, parts of 2008 season – Spa 2008) or something taken on from rallying?

  48. Kidza says:

    Come to think of it, had it not been for Alonso holding up Grosjean and Vettel, Kimi would have rejoined in 4th place in that last stint, he’d have been stuck there, finished 4th (assuming Red Bull would not throw away a podium for Vettel) with Grosjean finishing second, about 10 seconds behind Lewis and we would not even be talking about Kimi or Lotus.

    There is no argument that Grosjean and Vettel lost a few seconds behind Alonso before his last stop, enough to allow Kimi to jump them!

  49. vinod says:

    Hi James,

    I heard in one of the forums that Kimi might be swapping seat with lewis. Just wanted to check with you have you heard any news like that

    1. James Allen says:

      Don’t see it myself, but never say never.

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