Was Vettel “lucky” in Abu Dhabi? Race Strategy Analysis
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Posted By: James Allen  |  06 Nov 2012   |  4:29 pm GMT  |  290 comments

Safety cars in Abu Dhabi are a rare occurrence, but Fernando Alonso has reason to curse them; they have now twice come along to upset the race strategies and both times dealt a blow to his hopes of winning a championship for Ferrari

In 2010 a Safety Car at the start of the race allowed Vitaly Petrov to pit for new tyres, enabling him to run the end of the race, blocking Alonso and wrecking his strategy.

Last weekend, the Abu Dhabi Safety Car struck again, this time to help his main rival. Red Bull had offered Ferrari an open goal by making a fuel load mistake in qualifying which demoted Sebastian Vettel to the back of the grid, but Vettel’s recovery was greatly helped by two Safety Car periods, which brought the strategy initiative to Vettel and allowed the German to make up ground and end the race on the podium. In front of an open goal, instead of making up 10 to 15 points on Vettel, Aionso made up only three.

Pre-race expectations

Once again a conservative choice of soft and medium Pirelli tyres meant that the teams had the ability to do the race with only one stop, with the drivers able to push to the limit without fear of degradation or excessive wear.


Was Sebastian Vettel “lucky”?

Vettel’s strategy on Sunday didn’t just revolve around tyre choice and pit stop timing. Red Bull opted to take Vettel’s car out of parc ferme and to make changes to the set up, which would allow him to overtake more easily. Wings were altered and a longer seventh gear was added which would mean greater straight line speed for DRS overtaking. It improved his top speed by 10km/h to 321 km/h.

With two DRS zones on the circuit and a very fast car coming through the field, Yas Marina Circuit was no longer the overtaking desert it was for Alonso in 2010.

Vettel’s strategy was to start on the medium tyre, run a longer first stint than the others and make up some places when they stopped, then switch to the faster soft tyre for the final stint and try to pick up a few more places in the closing laps. But it didn’t turn out remotely like that. Instead he was forced into an early stop for a front wing change and this put him a half-stop sequence out from the rest of the field. This turned out to be a blessing.

By lap 9 he was already up to 12th place, when the first Safety Car was deployed. At this stage he was 23 seconds behind the leader. However he had damaged his front wing in early exchanges and then damaged it further behind Ricciardo and was forced to pit behind the safety car. This dropped him to 21st place. Having started on the harder tyre, he took the softer tyre at the first stop, which turned out to be the faster race tyre on Sunday.

Crucially, in that same Safety Car period, Grosjean also pitted and like Vettel, went from medium to soft. His plan from there was to try to get to the finish without stopping again. This would provide the barrier to the rest of the field, holding back Webber, Perez and Maldonado after their stops. As the gap widened between Grosjean and the car in front (Button) this created an opportunity for Vettel to push hard on his new soft tyres and then slot into the gap after a second stop. It meant that a minimum fourth place was up for grabs.

Red Bull spotted it immediately and although they considered not stopping Vettel again, because he managed to get into second place, ahead of Alonso and Button when they pitted, the radio messages early in the second stint indicated that they wanted him to push on the tyres, so clearly the intention was to stop again. This was the less risky option in championship terms, with a guaranteed fourth place there for the taking.

However, had Red Bull been in the mood to gamble, rival engineers believe that Vettel would have been able to do 42 laps on the softs and make it to the finish. This would almost certainly have led to a thrilling duel in the closing stages between the two world title contenders, Alonso and Vettel over second place. Alonso was very fast at the end of the race as he tried to catch Raikkonen, but Vettel’s straight line speed, even on worn tyres meant he would have been able to put up quite a fight to hold onto second place.

When the one stop pit window opened on lap 25 Vettel was in 10th place and 22 seconds behind the leader, essentially where he was before the front wing incident. But by putting himself out of synch with the other cars, this helped him at the crucial stage of the race when the pit stop window opened.

Between laps 24 and 31 he went from 10th to 2nd and then by pitting again on lap 37 he ensured that he held onto all but two of those places. Only Alonso and Button got back ahead of him due to his second stop.

The real stroke of luck was the second safety car. Vettel was very fortunate that just as he came out on fresh soft tyres the safety car came out and cut Button’s lead over him from 15 secs with 17 laps to go to nothing. That set Vettel up for the podium. Button gave him plenty of room when he made the passing move, not wanting to affect the championship. Had Vettel tried that move at the start of the season, he might have ended up off the track.


Raikkonen gets his win – finally

Kimi Raikkonen finally got his comeback victory in the Lotus. It had been clear from the long runs in Friday practice that once again, the Lotus was quick enough to challenge for the win. Qualifying had been the stumbling block all season but here Ferrari tripped up and then with Vettel’s penalty, Raikkonen found himself fourth.

His win was built on a stunning start, which moved him up to second place and then when Lewis Hamilton stopped, Raikkonen was able to do something he’d dreamed of all season; run in clear air at the front, as all of the seven winners in the first seven races had been able to do.

Raikkonen showed what Lotus has had to offer all season, twice building leads of ten seconds, only to have them cut by the safety cars.


The UBS Race Strategy Report is prepared by James Allen, with input and data from several F1 teams and from Pirelli.

TYRE STRATEGIES, ABU DHABI

S=Soft; H= Hard; N= New; U=Used; SG = Stop and Go Penalty

Räikkönen: SU MN (31) 1
Alonso: SU MN (28) 1
Vettel: MN SU (13) SU (37) 2
Button: SU MN (29) 1
Maldonado: SN MN (29) 1
Kobayashi: SN MN (25) 1
Massa: SU MN (26) 1
Senna: MN SU (32) 1
Di Resta: SN MN (1) MN (9) SU (39) 3
Ricciardo: SN MN (26) SU (38) 2
Schumacher: MN SN (27) SU (41) 2
Vergne: SN MN (9) SN (33) 2
Kovalainen: SN MN (28) 1
Glock: SN MN (27) 1
Perez: SN MN (30) MU (38) SG (44) 3
Petrov: SN MN (27) 1
De La Rosa: SN MN (28) 1

RACE HISTORY GRAPH

Kindly supplied by Williams F1 Team

Note how the Lotus pulls away from the Ferrari on the soft tyre in the first stint, but there is nothing to choose between them on the medium tyre in the second stint.

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290 Comments
  1. Sheva says:

    Nice analysis. Knowing these forums, I am sure a poster will make a list of all the races where Alonso benefited from the safety car and conclude it works both ways (rightly so). Thats not James’ point though.

    Also, of note is that is Vettel’s setup change. By going for more straightline speed, the Red Bull had less downforce than normal and therefore Vettel struggled in the tricky final sector. Compare the S3 times between Vettel and Button towards the end of the race.It was often a pattern that Vettel was too far from Button at the start finish line, yet would close up agonizingly by the time they crossed S1.

    His move on Button was therefore much more impressive than it seemed.

  2. AlexD says:

    James – so what is your opinion. Was it a stunning drive from Vettel and he did the impossible or he was very good and partially lucky, but finishing 3rd considering how the race went was not a miracle?

    1. Sebee says:

      May I ask you a question back?

      Who was luckier? Vettel or Kimi?

      1. Miha Bevc says:

        Vettel was luckier, but he also drove better :)

      2. KRB says:

        Ruining his front wing is better driving? Kimi didn’t put a foot wrong.

      3. AlexD says:

        Honestly? I think Vettel. This is why I think so:
        1. When Hamilton retired, he made life easier for both Hamilton and Vettel
        2. 2 safety car periods made Kimi’s life much more difficult as he was leading and much easier for Vettel as big gaps for leading cars were eliminated

        I think it is a fair reasoning.

      4. MDS says:

        Actually, Hamilton retiring wasn’t “luck” for Vettel, it would have been better for him had Hamilton won before Kimi and Alonso, since the gap between 2nd and 3rd is bigger than between 3rd and 4th.

      5. KRB says:

        MDS, no it’s not. 18 -> 15, or 15 -> 12. Same diff.

      6. Aditya says:

        Vettel, by a country mile.

      7. Richard says:

        Definately Vettel was the luckier! Raikkonen was given the win by Hamilton’s car failure, otherwise would have come second, whereas Vettel twice had the safety car to thank for closing up the cars to quicken up the overtaking process. One the other hand red Bull are a very astute team, very much on top of the strategy at all times, and they did exactly the right thing. On top of that Vettel given a very fast car did the business so as ever it was combination of things, but yes I think good fortune played asignificant role.

      8. kevin says:

        Did you not read that Vettel lost 10 positions on the first SC period, that had to be regained? Further, that first SC period put him off his strategy and cost him time for a wing change… not exactly lucky at that moment. It did not help him close up anything. The second SC benefitted everyone still running, as it tightened up the entire race. Why Alonso didn’t make more with it is a mystery.

      9. Richard says:

        On the contrary I watched the race! Safety car periods always close up the order so the benefit to Vettel is obvious, however mistakes in his driving damaged the front wing first in the initial exchanges, and then during the safety car period with Ricciardo. While Vettel lost places (12th to 21st) whilst pitting, it gave him fresh soft tyres which was a further benefit against cars on the harder tyre. If there had not been any safety car periods things would have been rather different, although as Red Bull had given him longer ratios and less down force his straight line speed was enhanced promoting easier overtaking. Hamilton’s retirement promoted everyone one place it’s just that Raikkonen was in second place so inherited the win.

      10. KRB says:

        The first SC he had to pit, but he got onto the soft tires, which the RB8 loves, and which were the faster race tire. Though he rejoined in 21st, the field was bunched up.

        Vettel had a great race, but he had a lot of fortunate moments that turned a probably 7th-9th into a 3rd. There’s no denying that. As they say, though, fortune favours the brave. Vettel did what he needed to, to be in the position to take advantage of those opportunities as they presented themselves. But it’s no use trying to characterize it as a charge thru the field to 3rd. It wasn’t.

      11. Wayne says:

        There’s an argument to say that Raikonnen was the luckier, as his luck resulted in a race win. But then, Raikonned did not make a single mistake and overtook two fast cars off the start. Vettel made two mistakes, had a car set-up for mass overtaking and benefitted from two very rare safety cars – so in all I’d say Vettel was luckier.

      12. Sebee says:

        Interesting. Thanks for the feedback.

        I thought that the win was big enough prize for Kimi to be considered luckier. But indeed, Vettel probably saved his WDC with this drive. I guess we’ll have a clearer picture of the importance of this performance after the next two races. I have this feeling that Vettel may just score the needed 15 points advantage in US to close this out.

      13. Paul J says:

        Vettel was luckier, because he drove pretty stupidly at times and still managed to get on the podium.

    2. Wayne says:

      Alex, it was both. He was very lucky AND he drove well.

      1. AlexD says:

        Yes, agree, he drove well and he was lucky, but it was not the same performance as we have seen from Kimi in Japan 2005 when he won the race from P17. Agree?

    3. Oly says:

      Alex, just count the number of word “luck” in the article and you’ll have your answer.

  3. quest says:

    Well let’s see. He missed almost the entire 3rd practice sesson, qualified 3rd, had to start at the back but recovered to 3rd with a bit going his way in the race. So overall was Vettel “lucky” in Abu Dhabi? … Not !!

    1. Simmo says:

      Yes, very. 2 safety cars helped him… a LOT! That’s not to say he didn’t drive well!

      1. AlexD says:

        Agree with you, he drove well,but without 2 safety cars he would have finished 6th or 7th.

    2. Wayne says:

      What is it with you people? Of course he was lucky! How can you possibly deny it? But that does not mean he didn’t drive very well also! Being lucky is not an insult!

      1. quest says:

        What is it with you. Did you even read what I wrote.

        He was very unlucky on Saturday and he had luck on Sunday but it didn’t completely make up for what he had lost out on Saturday. So overall during the weekend he was not lucky.

        Or do you he feel he was not unlucky on Saturday.

    3. Luca says:

      i wouldnt say he was unlucky – he’s lucky that the FIA have some ridiculous rules for a start. What is the point of having a penalty system that demotes you to the back of a grid yet allows you to then alter the set-up of the car to ensure you can have the best possible race. Either penalise properly or not…

      luck is when something goes your way, which is removed from the remit of of your control. A team balls’ing up your fuel is incompetence.

      At the end of the day, Vettel did a good job – esp on the saturday. But without being able to change his set-up or those saftey cars, the people retiring etc… he would have had a job to finish top 8.

      1. David Ryan says:

        The penalty Vettel was subject to was starting from the pitlane, not the back of the grid. This meant that he was held at the end of the pitlane until the field had passed the pitlane exit, following which he was allowed to start. This would mean that at the start of the race he was approximately 15-20 seconds behind the last car on the grid, on top of however far behind that car was to the leaders. That’s not an insignificant penalty in a race situation, especially given the eventual margin covering the top 10.

      2. Luca says:

        No, the penalty was the result of being disqualified for qualifying – to start the race from last place, with a car configured to race at the front with shorter gearing and higher downforce and on used soft tyres.
        However, RB took the car out of parc ferme to work on the car and set it up for the race with taller gearing and less downforce and this enable ‘easier’ overtaking, plus the added benefit of new medium tyres.

        The impact of removing the car from the parc ferme conditions meant he started from the pit lane. Overall, the impact from starting the race on the track in a car in sub optimal setup for its grid position was outweighed by the action of starting with a better race car from the pitlane.
        Therefore, the penalty was undermined by the ability to change the car.

      3. David Ryan says:

        Yes, but that isn’t what you said in your original reply. You claimed he was subject to a penalty that “demotes you to the back of a grid yet allows you to then alter the set-up of the car to ensure you can have the best possible race” – such a penalty does not exist within the rules. He was sent to the back of the grid for the original breach, and then required to start from the pitlane due to breaking parc ferme conditions. Those are two separate penalties for two separate infringements. Had they been so inclined, any of the other frontrunners could also have broken parc ferme conditions, changed their setup and started from the pitlane as well – the reason they didn’t is that it’s generally seen as an advantage to start where you qualify. Vettel’s setup changes only resulted in his car being 10km/h faster in a straight line so it’s hardly like they snuck a turbocharger onboard. The changes certainly made his race easier than it would otherwise have been, but it didn’t negate the impact of the penalty in terms of having to fight through the field.

      4. Fahim says:

        +1. Agree with you Luca

      5. malcolm F says:

        absolutely! Vettel went into Q3 with the set up he intended to race with, recieving a penalty I reiterate a penalty!!to be allowed to alter the set up the car to minimise the effect of the penalty is ludicrous. Of course he was lucky and some may say he deserves it but surely that is not the point.

  4. Wade Parmino says:

    The fact that Vettel never had to attempt passing Massa was also a tremendous blessing. I’m sure Ferrari would have expected Massa to defend his position from Vettel with the utmost zeal and ferocity. If only Webber had not pushed Massa into a spin (allowing Vettel through) this factor would have been very interesting indeed.

    1. unF1nnished Business says:

      Maybe Webber and Red bull saw that coming and forced Massa off the track deliberately?…who knows!

      1. Jonathan Kelk says:

        Webber was very fair when Alonso passed him though…

    2. k5enny says:

      Yes, Good Point.

      In Fact Ferrari gave massa instructions to drive steady as webber and Vettel closed in…
      I dont doubt that Vettel would have passed massa (and alons, given the time), but spooking massa into a spin is about as much help as vettel can expect from his teammate!!

      1. Doobs says:

        and pulling into he pits at just the right time ;)

    3. Aditya says:

      yeah, very good point.

    4. Chris says:

      I actually agree with this, but I don’t think Webber pushed him into a spin. Webber attempted a move (slighlty clumsy) and it didn’t quite work out (think he ran off the track), then Massa ran very wide on the exit and spun (also very clumsy, because he lost his head). Just before that Stepney had told him to stay out and keep at it. It was a very unfortunate situation for Ferrari, but Massa should have let Webber go and concentrated on holding up Vettel, even if it was for 2-3 laps (I think there may have been an argument that Webber would have had to let him straight back through, but saying that from memory).
      Once the game of holding Vettel up was not going to happen, Massa pitted that very lap. You can only imagine the words being uttered on the Ferrari pit wall at 1) Webber being involved 2) Massa getting overly involved.
      Either way Webber and Vettel were a lot quicker at the time of the incident, but it was a stroke of luck of Vettel with out a doubt. He could easily have lost another wing in a battle with Massa, or worse!!

      1. Steve says:

        I think you could probably sum up Mark’s entire Sunday as “slightly clumsy”. ;)

  5. Nuno says:

    James,

    I think that for ALO is curse x3….Yas Marina + Safety Cars + Renault (now Lotus)

    Nice piece

    Regards
    Nuno

    1. toleman fan says:

      Not sure quite what point you’re making here,but since “Renault now Lotus” (actually Toleman) gave Fernando two WDCs, which is exactly two more than Mclaren and Ferrari have given him. So, not really that much of a ‘curse’ really.

      It’s a pity how people forget.

      1. Nuno says:

        calm down…Im just talking about the similarities of 2010 and 2012

  6. Sarvar says:

    James,

    As seen from your tyre strategies, VET twice had used options, but after the race Button and others said VET had 2 brand new options due to which he finished on podium. Which is true?

    1. James Allen says:

      Used in qualifying

      He had no new sets if options at the start of the race

      1. KRB says:

        You have Maldonado starting on new softs … surely a typo.

  7. goferet says:

    Yes, I always suspected the Abu-Dhabi track didn’t like Alonso for it always throws a spanner in the works when it comes to him & unfortunately for him it so happens to feature at the business end of the championship.

    Anyway, Vettel had some luck on Sunday but one still sits back in awe of Red Bull’s pitwall and how each time they’re able to think on their feet whatever the circumstances.

    So I agree with the team, in that it was the right call to bring in Vettel because not only had they seen Webber’s tyres degrade more than would have liked, but also, Alonso was too fast towards the end for if he finished the race a couple of tenths behind the race winner, Sebi had no chance.

    What’s more the decision prevented a potential clash between those two championship warriors for we have already seen they race hard against each other e.g. Monza 2011/2012.

    One last point, we the fans usually have a go at the hell raisers in the mid pack with their numerous antics but it occurred to me that hey, we need these guys.

    I mean think about it, without the crashes we have seen at difficult-to-overtake-tracks like Valencia & Abu-Dhabi that would = No safety car wish would = No opportunistic drives which in turn would = Boring race.

    So in a way Vettel & the fans have the likes of Perez, Webber & (Vergne in Valencia) to thank for without their moments of madness, we would have had ourselves a nice procession >>> Monaco style.

    As for Kimi, what helped him is the fact that the Ferrari was slow on the softs whilst it appeared to prefer the mediums & so Alonso couldn’t jump him in the pits.

    P.s.

    Jenson is a good guy

    1. k5enny says:

      What do you mean by
      “Abu-Dhabi track didn’t like Alonso” ??

      1)Alonso had the fastest car (that made it to the end of the race),

      2)Had the safety car negate his disadvantage (~10 secs?)on the soft tyres

      3) had his main rival start from the pitlane.

      4) Had his main rival make an extra stop for a new nose…

      Abu-Dhabi handed alonso mre oppertunites than anyone could ask for — he just was not able to take them!!

      1. Kimi4WDC says:

        Yep, and he got to pass Maldonado with failed KERS. Alonso pretty much did not deliver when it counted and he was not consistent enough. Not his best race for sure.

      2. goferet says:

        @ K5enny

        What do you mean by “Abu-Dhabi track doesn’t like Alonso” ??
        ————————————————-

        1. Lost the 2010 title there

        2. In 2012, Qualified 7th (later to be promoted to 6th)

        3. The safety car keep ruining his well laid out plans & this time, helped Vettel get on the podium.

        4. Has never won at the track since it favours the drivers at the front row of the grid.

      3. Doobs says:

        No-one’s buying mate.

      4. Chris says:

        Don’t forget Lewis dropped out to!!!

      5. toleman fan says:

        Re. 1)

        No. He had the fastest car -at the end of the race-, not the fastest car that -made it- to the end of the race.

        Without the safety car periods, he wouldn’t have been able to challenge Kimi at all. He dropped 10 secs or so in the first stint, and up to the second safety car period, he was falling off Kimi very, very slowly but quite consistently. (I know, because I was glued to the Live Timing feed, paranoid that either Alonso or Vettel might catch and pass Kimi. When Vettel pitted around lap 38, I was finally satisfied that Kimi had it in the bag, because Alonso wasn’t gaining -at all-. Half a lap later, the safety car came out…)

        The fastest car that made it to the end was clearly Seb’s, by a country mile, even tho’ he’d have been way off the podium without the safety cars.. The second fastest was Kimi’s. Alonso had the fourth fastest car overall, including the retired Hamilton.

    2. PWRocketS says:

      I agree. This would be a mental blow if they let Vettel to do 42 laps on used option, and got overtaken by Alonso at the end. Same 3rd place but imagine what the press would call Vettel (faded badly) vs Alonso (heroic drive from the best underdog that drives a bad car)!

      BTW I am a fan of Fernando, but on the other hand I do not hate Vettel.

  8. GP says:

    James,

    You didn’t mention the number of DNFs but it seems to me that this particular race was a bit of a demolition derby. I didn’t check but if this race didn’t have the greatest number of DNFs it must be close.

    1. HansB says:

      +1. I’m very sure this helped SV a lot. As did both the Toro Rosso’s…

    2. Simmo says:

      This season 9 DNFs is the most in Monaco (where else ;) ), including classified non-finished.

      It is very close behind with 7 DNFs!

      China is the least, with only 1 (for the second year in a row, both for exactly the same reason (loose wheel)), that 1 being Michael Schumacher who was running in second :/

    3. AlexD says:

      7 or 6, if I remember right

    4. Ross says:

      Not even close. Races in the past have had fewer than 5 finishers.

    5. Wade Parmino says:

      Monaco 1996. 22 cars start, 3 cars finish: (Panis, Coulthard, Herbert). The streets of Monte Carlo take the rest. :)

  9. F1fan4life says:

    Uh… yes he was lucky last weekend. More importantly he’s been lucky to be in a Red Bull for the last 4 years. If Alonso were that lucky he’d be a 6 time world champion by now.

    1. Aditya says:

      true that.

    2. Kimi4WDC says:

      He is lucky to be a double World Champion so you can stop at that.

    3. Andrew M says:

      Alonso had the chance to go to Red Bull and turned it down.

      1. Toleman fan says:

        He went back to Enstone instead. You could consider that to be a sign of loyalty.

    4. Gordon Q says:

      So I guess Alonso doesn’t need that Ferrari to win, eh? He’d be doing just as well in a Merc?

    5. MelB says:

      If Kimi had been that lucky, he’d been a five-time champ, if Hamilton had been that lucky, he’d also been a five-time champ. Really, even if [insert any top driver] had been that lucky, he would have had a chance to be in Vettel’s shoes.

    6. KRB says:

      Vettel’s stats since joining RBR are astronomical. 34 poles from 73 starts, 25 wins, 14 fastest laps, 44 podiums, 1660 laps led, 47 front-row starts. And that includes the period of Brawn dominance, plus the mid part of this year when his results were average.

      There is no getting around the fact that RBR have dominated the ’09-’13 regulations era.

      1. Steve says:

        I dunno that I would put 09 in there, Brawn faded a bit toward the end but overall I would definitely say they dominated that season.

      2. KRB says:

        Well, sure. 8 wins for Brawn vs. 6 for RBR that year. But it has to be included as that is the start of the regulations era in which RBR made their big jump. Before ’09 RBR were middling at best, even getting beat by their junior team in ’08.

        RBR were the strongest team in the 2nd half of ’09, but there were other teams (Lewis’ KERS-aided McLaren, and Kimi’s KERS-aided Ferrari at Spa) that were able to mix it in the second half, and so that helped Brawn in holding RBR off.

  10. goferet says:

    I saw a strange quote from Horner where he was saying that after the qualifying Mclaren-esque-cock-up, no one in the entire Red Bull family excepted Vettel to get a good result apart from Vettel himself.

    Picture that for a sec… Nobody on the Red Bull pitwall, Red Bull garage, Red Bull motorhome, Red Bull factory, neither the mechanics, nor the bosses, nor Vettel’s teammate thought he had a chance in hell of salvaging something from the pitlane.

    Well then, it appears it wasn’t only the fans that were doubting Vettel’s racing credentials but his colleagues too didn’t trust him.

    But anyway, thankfully, we have all finally seen the light which only Sebi, his dad, his fans & Bernie were aware of.

    1. sumedh says:

      Good spot there!

      Not just fans, even most other drivers keep saying that Vettel is lucky to be driving a Red Bull. And now even his own team. If I am not wrong, Red Bull do not pay him as much as they pay Newey. I read somewhere that he makes as much as Massa does.

      So it looks as if Vettel is not as highly regarded in the entire paddock.

      1. Gordon Q says:

        Sour grapes. Especially from Hamilton and Alonso, who both think they should be 3x WDC by now and have to sit by and watch Vettel win it all. You don’t hear the non-championship contenders (Schu, Ros, Gro, Mas, etc) say Vettel isn’t a great driver.

    2. AlexD says:

      do not take Horner’s words as the ultimate truth…actually, better do not listen to him at all.

    3. Vinnie Jones says:

      What an astute observation – I doff my hat to you sir!

    4. Doobs says:

      Believe the RB PR machine if you want… Seb was squealing like a piglet when he took out the polystyrene marker and was obviously losing it with some of his rash driving, as commented on by Martin Brundle. Horner knows Seb lacks the mental strength of Alonso and they’re basically blowing smoke up his DRS

      1. MISTER says:

        :))))))))
        so funny and so true

  11. Bjornar Simonsen says:

    So he was lucky, but able to capitalize because he was fast. Still would like to se him fight his way up in a normal race though. He had sooo much help in this race. 7 DNF’s, Toro Rosso’s, Webber (taking out Mass and the team order pit stop) and the safey car.

    And as you say James, he got out of sync with the other cars which meant he could run at his own pace.

    1. Gordon Q says:

      Go back and watch Silverstone 2010

  12. azac21 says:

    ‘The real stroke of luck was the second safety car…’.

    Yes, The timing of the 2nd safety car was very lucky for Vettel.

    But the main help for him was the fact that he did not have to overtake any main rivals when running in the top ten. The 2 TorroRossos let him through, Webber was ordered to pit and Massa was hit by Webber. The only maybe challenging overtakes were on Grosjean and Maldonado. The one on Button was on softer and much newer tyres.

    So overall he was VERY lucky especially after crashing twice early in the race (of his own fault). Hamilton’s comments reflect that and I am sure Vettel himshelf is smart enough to know that too….

  13. All revved-up says:

    Wow Kimi had great pace all race long. During the last few laps, I think he was managing the gap to Alonso to perfection – without over driving and risking an error. Alonso could afford to take risks because he had a gap to Button and would have stayed 2nd even if he had flat spotted his tyres or run too deep into corners.

  14. Brett says:

    I’d say he was lucky. The safety cars certainly helped him, but it seemed like everyone was tripping over themselves to get out of his way.

    Also I’m not sold on the penalty. They gave him a penalty for doing something against the regulations, and the team just said “OK well them we’re not going to run that car. We are going to change everything”

    Seems like the penalty was negated somewhat. Still, great team strategy to get him to the front.

    1. Simmo says:

      The rules don’t say anything against it! Why not?

    2. Warren Groenewald says:

      Agree about the penalty. It actually turned out to be an advantage by allowing Red Bull to set the car up completely differently, accept the additional penalties for that without real consequence and have a big advantage on race day.

      Ironically, a 10 place grid drop would have been more of a penalty. Would have been a very brave team to take the car out of parc ferme from there.

  15. JF says:

    So James:

    What is your bottom line- lucky or not? You didn’t really commit here! I would say that things definitely aligned in his favour, but is that luck or good strategy at dealing with the race as it unfolded.

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes, lucky of course!

    2. JR says:

      James did not need to commit, just to state the facts, and the facts they speak by themselves. Still some people do not want to see.

  16. Brett says:

    James,

    Is there any way you can explain how Webber did NOT get a penalty? Talk about someone being lucky – he goes off the track trying to overtake someone, drives back onto the track at full speed and flashes in front of Massa, causing Massa to react and spin.

    The stewards said it was under investigation but then about 15 seconds later they said “No further action”

    1. Joe B says:

      I thought he would get a penalty after the contact with Maldonado if I’m honest; very surprised to see him get away twice.

    2. mark says:

      I agree, I like and always cheer him on but that was a penalty deserved for sure. Massa could and should feel agrieved.

      Once again the only consistant is the inconsistancy.

    3. Simmo says:

      Especially after he had just caused a collision in the same corner a few laps earlier with Maldonado :( Ridiculous stewarding…

    4. Justin says:

      They said it was a racing incident. I think with some of the stewards we’ve had this year Massa would’ve gotten a penalty for the first contact, and with some of the other stewards we’ve had this year Webber would’ve gotten a penalty for the way he came back onto the track. they each messed up in about equal measures so i think the non-call was a good decision.

      Also i keep reading people making fun of felipe for his excessively long burn-out/180 spin after the aforementioned incident with webber. He saw vettel coming along so he stopped his spin-turn mid-burnout, if he’d kept going he would’ve gotten a penalty like lewis did in hungary last year.

    5. Elie says:

      Yeah agree Brett I think Mark drive with real frustration it was real rookie stuff. I thought he should cop a drive through for sure. Inconsistent really – same with Perez for leaving the track and collecting Grosjean on return – for one Grosjean was hard done by!

  17. thejudge13 says:

    So first safety car and subsequent incident with Riccardio created 2 stop option. Second safety car made 4th into 3rd.

    I’m always accused of being too verbose.

    1. Miha Bevc says:

      Well put :)
      + first safety car and Ricciardo incident put him at the back of the grid for the second time.

      1. thejudge13 says:

        Still think biggest impact was ‘uber fast overtaking machine’ created by RB being able to completely re-configure the car overnight.

        1st safety car may have opened 2 stop option but was mitigated by damage to wing and being relegated to the back again.

        Second safety car meant 3rd not 4th that was the extent of the luck. Being able to mitigate the punishment issued by the FIA for non-compliant qualifying was biggest factor IMHO.

  18. Richard D says:

    This analysis confirms what I thought, in that Vettel had a significant amount of luck coupled with a faster car resulting in a very much damage limiting 3rd place. One thing that concerns me is that his disqualification from qualifying opened up the opportunity to make changes to the car that were denied to everyone else due to parc ferme rules. This seems a little unfair? I wonder where he would have ended up starting from the back of the grid with an unmodified car?

    1. Gordon Q says:

      You make it sound like RB were cheating. ANY team can at ANY race opt to start from the pit lane, which allows them to make certain modifications to the car. Regardless of what position you start in. This option has been done before, and McLaren could have chosen to do so in Spain, which they did not.

      1. Richard D says:

        No, I was not suggesting any form of cheating but merely suggesting that it is maybe wrong that the parc ferme rules allow cars to be changed from a qualifying setup to a race setup.

      2. Luca says:

        Think its more about the fact that if you are penalised, you should be penalised with no silver lining.

        Having the option after being penalised to set yourself up for a better race does not seem correct.

        Its the rules that are frustrating, not that RB took advantage of them – but would love to have seen the comments if it had been a Ferrari that did that – all the old FIA gags would be dusted off etc…

      3. hrga12 says:

        I think that Vettel was not punished.
        He was excluded from qualifying becouse he was unable to get to pits on time.

        I don’t see problems with current rules.
        If a team think that change of setup is worth 15-20 seconds on start they shoud be able to do it.

  19. Garriel says:

    It was obvious that Vettel would get some points, and it’s true that the second SC helped him to get Button’s third place, but in my oponion the key of Vettel’s race was the incidents involving Massa and Webber and Pérez,Grosjean and Webber (again) just when he was coming closer.
    If nothing would happened, Seb probably had to make his second pit-stop behind some of them, and he’d rejoined behind this 4 drivers at least.
    A very different race having to fight with, MAS and his top-speed, WEB(easy), PER and GRO.

  20. JR says:

    So, as it was obvious during the race, yes, he was extremely lucky.

    Vettel fans can keep saying it was the drive of the decade, but sorry, it was not. It was a good drive, with two significant mistakes that ironically put Sebastian on the perfect strategy.

    And at the end, just one overtake over the top cars, in which with much newer tyres, “Button gave him plenty of room when he made the passing move, not wanting to affect the championship” using James Allen words.

    Lucky again in my view, as not many other drivers would have taken that approach in that situation, just imagine if it was Hamilton or Maldonado…

    1. Miha Bevc says:

      As a Vettel fan I say it was combination of both, luck and a great drive. And it wasn’t even close to the drive of the decade – too many mistakes and luck for that.

      But any other driver on the grid having a race like that would be driver of the day on any poll. Can you imagine Alonso or Hamilton having a race like that and not being driver of the day?
      Think not.

      And was Kimi not lucky? He inherited the lead from Hamilton’s DNF plus he got one grid position for free (and another one from Webber’s bad start :) Yes he was lucky, but he still had to make great start and deal with two safety cars, we all admit.
      Would Vettel won DoD with that drive? Never.

      Was Alonso not lucky in Valencia to inherit the lead? Yes, but it was still a great drive, we all admit.

      Was Button lucky last year in Canada? Safety car helped but he still won from being last in the middle of the race.

      Was Vettel lucky? Yes he was, but he had to drive pretty well to came from the back of the grid twice.

      I read somewhere that there are two kind of opinions on that matter: people who think Vettel was lucky also think he does not deserve the championship(s) and people who think he drove a great race also think he is a deserving champion. I guess this is true.

      1. HansB says:

        He who ends up with most points at the end of the season deserves to be the champion…. but doesn’t necessarily have to be the best driver of the season.

      2. mark says:

        The problem to me is, people are not factoring in the qualy situation. Almost ALL the top 10-12 cars run a comprimised setup to try and qualify hihger up the grid.

        Redbull seem to (to me at least) run the MOST comprimised setup for qualy.

        To be able to scratch all setup compromise, pick the absolute BEST race setup and simply start from the pits (as a so called “punishment” as opposed to last on the grid) means he was likely in a far superior car (twice over, 1 x redbull, 2 x finessed setup).

        This is why I predicted Vettel 2/3rd in the race in the qualy thread (post 28 for ref).

        I hesitate to say he was lucky with the safety cars becasue often you make your own luck in racing BUT it didn’t hurt!

        I would have to say that for me, despite all this he drove very well and would have to be the DOD (Kimi, emotionally great, technically….just alright).

        This hurts as im not exactly a Vettel “fan” (nice guy, annoying driver!!)

      3. Gordon Q says:

        If it’s such an advantage, I’d love to see Alonso start from the pit lane next race. Let him make all the changes he wants. I’d take a 1st or 2nd row start from Vettel with no changes any day.

      4. bearforce1 says:

        Cool honest post…

    2. Andrew says:

      I agree. I would add that he didn’t have to overtake the Toro Rosso’s as they practically stopped for him. Webber was brought in just before he had forced Massa off. Maldonado and the Sauber’s pitted at the normal time because they hadn’t damaged their cars by having 2 accidents. Rosberg was already out, Hamilton went out. That is 9 of the competitive cars that he didn’t have to overtake.

      So basically, with the best car and newer tyres and a higher top speed in the 2 DRS zones he overtook the Force India’s , Schumacher, Senna and Grosjean.

      Admittedly he did a good overtake on Button but Button should have been more aggressive and forced him to either pull out or have an accident. He certainly would not have got past someone like Schumacher if he had been driving the Mclaren.

    3. Simmo says:

      Drive of the decade. Anyone who says that needs to re-watch Canada 2011…

      1. Nick says:

        Simmo – agree 100%!

        Button’s win in Canada 2011 for me is by far the drive of the decade!

  21. Chromatic says:

    - “Raikkonen showed what Lotus has had to offer all season”

    Not sure that is entirely fair James, with respect. Lotus went wrong on dev from Spa to Korea. That’s 5 races where the 3 top teams were out of reach. Only in Korea did they make progress to the package they now have.

    1. James Allen says:

      True but they’re been competitive on race pace most of the year

  22. Jodum5 says:

    “Button gave him plenty of room when he made the passing move, not wanting to affect the championship.”

    This sentence bothers me and I think it is a disservice to Jenson BUtton. Are you sure he didn’t defende *that* hard because he didn’t want to affect the championship or because he’s a fair racer (unlike some of the knuckleheads on the grid)? I believe the latter.

    1. James Allen says:

      Both of course!

      He’s very fair

    2. Steve says:

      I would assume the team were also feeding him information indicating that Vettel was on slightly better tyres at that point.

  23. Anil says:

    Have to say it must have hurt Alonso like hell to have produced such a stunning drive and see Vettel on the podium. Funnily enough, it was a pretty clumsy drive from Vettel; poor in qualy, outdone by Webber despite being under fueled, hitting into Senna and then making (another) mistake behind the safety car.

    James, do you think Alonso can still take the title without a Seb DNF? or is it Alonso’s turn to get some luck, do you think?

    1. James Allen says:

      Not with the pace of the RBR in quali at the moment, no.

      If he can out qualify Vettel or beat him off the line, maybe, but he needs to score 11 points more in two races and that will be tough. McLaren drivers performing well will be key to Alonso’s chances too.

    2. Arnie S says:

      I think it was quite interesting before the podium, when VET hugging RAI and they were very cheerful against eachother, whereas ALO sat in his corner, not very happy with anything, or maybe just a hint of agony between him and the other two.

      1. Anil says:

        Yeah I found that interesting. He congratulated Kimi straight away and they chatted a bit but after that he went to sit down. He actually looked exhausted afterwards too, probably a bit of both mental and physical.

        You just know he won’t give up though, don’t you!

      2. toleman fan says:

        Was it just me that thought that Seb swearing and pouring the rosewater over DC made him seem like Kimi’s tagalong kid brother? Just -so desperate- to impress the bigger cooler guy?

  24. Jo Torrent says:

    Brilliant analysis. #Vettel was really lucky & it’s weird that #Ferrari has been most unlucky in the circuit next to its theme park & owned by its former shareholders.

    The most annoying part for the Ferrari fan that I am is that his own mistake of damaging his front wing helped him in the race.

    It reminded me of Hamilton win in Monaco when he hit the armco puncturing a tyre. The pit stop helped him win the race.

    Vettel is a great driver nontheless

    1. Monkian says:

      It is delicious irony.

      The hubris, whoring the name of the greatest name in motoring and motor sport by putting on a vulgar monstrosity in the middle of nowhere. Mr Ferrari would be turning in his grave so they deserve what they get.

    2. krischar says:

      No JO

      Vettel is not great and will be never known as great driver no matter how many championship he wins.

      If anything. Abu dhabi is another clear example which showed how poor and clumpsy driver vettel is.

      Vettel hits senna, Nearly took Ricciardo out of the race, hits thr drs board, Overtook grosjean off the track and shouted in team radio about ricciardo incident (despite his mistake)

      Yet many people here say vettel drove great race. This is a complete joke

      All season long vettel made too many mistakes (More clear in abu dhabi)

      If vettel wins this year WDC. Then it’s a shame for F1

  25. Andy R says:

    James, do you see Vettel or Alonso as the bigger winner this weekend?

    Alonso would imagine that instead of leaving Abu Dhabi with a 20 point deficit he left with a 10 point deficit. Effectively ensuring, if he wins the next 2 races he is world champion.
    On the other hand, he would had rued the fact that Vettel reached P3 and also Alonso didnt win.

    Vettel would be thankful he dropped only 3 points to Alonso instead of what looked like 10. BUT, he would have definately won the race, thus leaving Abu Dhabi with a 20 point advantage instead of only 10!

    1. Miha Bevc says:

      I guess it’s bitter-sweet for both teams!

    2. JR says:

      This only time will tell. Alonso was not happy on the podium, that is for sure, while Vettel was very cheerful.

  26. Charlie Moore says:

    yes, Vettel and Red Bull were very lucky, but…….. you make your own luck. Vettel’s pace (mechanical + skill) and the teams quick thinking were deserving of 3rd, dont forget that a saftey car often benefits most but the leader of the race, so he wasnt the only one that would have been happy to see a saftey car.

    Dont get me wrong Alonso deserves the title… he has been so so good!

  27. IanC says:

    James: A question on the safety car issue. The rules state that a car has to be 10 car lengths behind the car he is following. With all the weaving how do they measure that? And during the Vettel / Riccardo incident it looked like Riccardo was way more than 10 car lengths behind I believe Schumcher.

  28. Anne says:

    James I could see by reading the article that you only talked about RB strategy and not the extra help Vettel got from Toro Rosso and the many cars out of the race because of accidents or mechanical problems.So you mean RB strategy was brilliant. And Vettel´s skill played a little part. Is that the case? I think it is

  29. CanadaF1fan says:

    Undeniable that Vettel was fortunate in this race.

    I would pose a question:

    Aside from Hamilton or Alonso, who else in F1 could have put in the drive that Vettel did on Sunday?

    1. James Allen says:

      That is THE question

      1. Tom Gower says:

        Jenson button Canada 2011

      2. Nick says:

        Tom – dead on mate! Last to first in less than half the race distance! Truly the drive of the decade!

      3. Nick H says:

        You mean the race where Button drove into his teammate and knocked Alonso out of the race whilst not receiving a penalty?

      4. Steve says:

        @Nick H: Nobody in this forum seemed to have an issue with anointing that one of the great drives ever at the time. Go figure.

      5. AlexD says:

        Button winning in Japan last year?

      6. AlexD says:

        Kimi in Japan 2005?

      7. Aditya says:

        starting 24th, with setup changes which were aimed at enabling him progress aggressively through the field, with a slender lead in the WDC, and his closest contender (whose potential is quite well known) a whopping 18 places in front of him, i’m pretty sure many of the drivers on the grid will have the same mindset as Vettel did, irrespective of whether it’s F1 or some other series. but yes, in their eagerness and hurry, some might end up in the gravel trap (or its Yas Marina-ic equivalent) rather than the podium, and even vettel committed a few mistakes and took a few knocks. but that doesnt mean he’s just another average driver, coz he’s obviously not. i think, without any SCs or the retirements that occurred in front of him, he’d have surely finished 7th or 8th. that got a little better because of the incidents.
        is he an awesome driver? YES.
        does he deserve the WDC over Alonso? NO

      8. Matt says:

        Vettel started 23rd. De la Rosa started 24th because of the problem with the tire-warmer.

      9. Iceman says:

        Kimi. He did it in Suzuka ’05 to take the win and he had to overtake almost everyone on the track to win including Fisi on the last lap iirc.

      10. Msta says:

        Evidence from the race suggests that several of the drivers actually did have similar drives to Vettel. I think Di resta is the best example, he went from dead last on the first lap to finish in P9. I believe he was also side by side with Vettel at the restart after SC1 and dragged his way up through the field with a similar strategy to SV.

        Also after a first lap incident Grosjean was also running the same strategy as Vettel and pulled his way up to P5 (i think) before getting taken out in the incident resulting in SC2.

        Bruno senna also stands out, he finished in P8 after going wheel to wheel with Vettel at the back of the pack in the opening laps of the race.

        There’s every reason to suggest that the likes of Button, Kimi and Webber could also have put in the same performance in similar circumstances.

        Given the results achieved by senna, Di resta and to some extent grosjean, i don’t think SV’s performance should be considered any better given he had a race optimized and already faster car than these three.

      11. Matt says:

        Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I couldn’t have said it any better myself.

      12. Joshua says:

        +1

        I hadn’t looked to closely at these others but considering their deficit in pace the RB8, it shows Vettel did well….but not that amazing

      13. Chromatic says:

        If they’re allowed to drive the RB, and they’re allowed one bash, one illegal move, and a front wing replacement due to carelessness…. I can offer a couple of names from outside the top 4 teams.

      14. Gordon Q says:

        Illegal move? He gave the place back.

    2. Quattro_T says:

      With that car, that car setup and the circumstances/incidents on that sunday, probably every driver in the top 4 teams. Button and Webber have already have had similar performances.

    3. Miha Bevc says:

      Maybe Raikkonen. I’m not sure he would do it today, but couple of years ago he would, for sure. Maybe now – 18 races into the season – he’s back to his best form. I hope he will be title challenger next year.

      Alonso and Hamilton could do something similar with the same car and luck, but I doubt they could to better than Vettel this weekend (I mean 2nd or 1st).

    4. BW says:

      With a top car just adjusted for higher speed? Almost anyone, check the results of Senna and di Resta (first lap accidents sending them to the back) and position of Grosjean while retiring.

      1. Gordon Q says:

        Hence why the accusations that Seb can’t pass are rubbish. No one can easily pass in a car that is normally down in the bottom 10% of the grid in the speed trap. This one race shows what he can do with a car that’s actually set up to overtake (like Alonso and Hamilton have almost every race).

      2. BW says:

        From what I remember, they don’t usually change the setup after the qualifying practice, and setting up the car to overtake does not help much in qualifying.
        And how many Vettel’s overtakes on non-backmarkers were performed without DRS?

      3. Steve says:

        When you start from the back that is who you have to overtake, it’s not like there are 23 Ferraris/Mclarens to pass.

    5. Matt says:

      (1)With a heavily modified car over-night, (2)two safety cars, (3) half the drivers crashing into each other, (4) both Torro Rosso drivers giving him the “blue flag treatment, (5) using brand new soft tires while the rest of the drivers were on used medium tires, I would say 90% of the field.

    6. Dave Aston says:

      Michael Schumacher at his peak; Spa ’95, Hungary ’98, Spain ’95, China ’06…

    7. Elie says:

      Firstly, you missed Kimi Raikkonen who is in the top 4 and has done this a few times – most noteably in Suzuka 05.& passing cars of similar pace. After that I would say Button,Maldonado, Massa, Kobayashi, Hulkenburg, & last but not least Schumacher.

      1. Elie says:

        Also, most of them would Not clip someone or overtake off track also in an RB8

    8. Ryan Eckford says:

      Raikkonen.

    9. Lewis says:

      Webber in 2011 China although with 2 sets of options and 3 stop

  30. Gary Naylor says:

    It would have been very interesting to see how the race would have panned out without safety cars and many of the top drivers falling out of the race!

    BUT – one thing really irks me about the race. The rules allowing major changes to a car that was disqualified for an infringement. It was common knowledge that Red Bull had poor straight line speed and would have had no chance to climb to the top on that setup if they started at the back of the grid.

    Seems the penalty actually turned out to be a benefit for Red Bull, which just seems wrong to me.

    1. mark says:

      EXACTLY!!!

      +1

    2. Aditya says:

      True, but that rather shows me the versatility of the RB8 and the intelligence of the team (although it’s a no-brainer, but only because of the car’s versatility), rather than a problem with the rules. it has always been said that, at least in F1, it’s all about breaking the rules cleverly, and Horner and Newey have always done this brilliantly.

      can you imagine a ferrari being able to pull off something similar? coz if they can, that would automatically mean that they can alter the car to perform in several (or at least 2-3 different) ways, which then means they would have shown huge progress in car development.

      the RB8 and the MP4-27, i think, rank 1 and 2 in terms of this flexibility.

      1. Matt says:

        Every team alter their cars to suit the track. For example Monaco and Monza. Duh!

      2. Gary Naylor says:

        And this is my point exactly: “Every team alters their cars for the track”. Which every team did, then qualified, and their setup is set and locked. RB on VET’s car are then “allowed” to change their setup, prompted by an infringement.

        Yes, the car has the flexibility to allow this step change in performance and needs the driver to able to deliver – which both happened – but it, if the penalty had been, for example, a 10 place grid drop, they probably would not have made the changes and it would have been a very different race.

      3. Aditya says:

        i was talking minor changes, relative to other cars on the grid, and at that particular track. you can’t change to a monza or a monaco trim at Yas Marina suddenly, can you? in such special tracks, it’s just adding or decreasing the wing angles. and all the teams do it at such tracks. but they still have some level of inherent DF, based on the diffuser mainly, and maybe bodywork. and monaco trim is really special, they sacrifice heavily on straight line speed.

        even in that case, what i meant is, RBR will have to do that to a lesser extent, and in Monza, whether they’re around 4th-5th in terms of max. speed, or 23rd-24th, they’ll always be the fastest thru the Lesmos.

        so, what i meant was, if ferrari had done a similar thing, i.e. altering wing angles in Abu Dhabi, they would have gained straight line speed maybe, but the car would have become even more unstable, so they’d have actually lost time, and had higher tyre wear/poorer traction, maybe. even though RBR lost some of the DF compared to quali, which they knew would make them a little slower thru corners and a little less stable compared to quali, maybe, it’s nothing Vettel wouldnt have been able to deal with. but the upside is that they are faster on the DRS straights, which are probably the only places where you can overtake with lesser risk. and coming from the pitlane, he wouldn’t have been able to pull off nail-biting moves every time, without at least one major incident.

      4. Matt says:

        Aditya and Gary Naylor,
        If I didn’t know any better, I would start to think that the RB8 is a transformer. It transform a car to an F-22 raptor. No! All they did was reduce the downforce a little by taking some wing out and added some taller gears. All 12 teams on the grid can do that.

    3. Msta says:

      Given what we saw on Sunday we might see a few lower midfield drivers starting from the pit lane in future. Say a toro Rosso or Williams qualifies in p15, why wouldnt they optimize the car for the race and start from pit lane?

      1. Gordon Q says:

        I would have much rather Seb start in P3 with his initial set up. Would almost certainly guarantee he out-score Alonso, and would have more than a 10 point lead going into the next race.

      2. Steve says:

        It already happens from time to time just nobody kicks up a stink because it doesn’t involve Vettel. Grosjean qualified a disappointing 18th at a race earlier in the year so they took the same option to start from pit lane and make such changes.

    4. bearforce1 says:

      Wrong wrong wrong. No not exactly. The penalty meant he had to start from 24th on the grid.

      The team then made changes to the car and the cost/penalty of doing that is that you must then start from pitt lane.

      Its exactly the same but different.

      1. bearforce1 says:

        sorry this was a mistake and was a reply to someone else.

  31. Ironman says:

    Seems odd that breaking parc ferme rules = start from pit lane.
    When a case like this comes up, it doesn’t seem like there was any penalty to starting from pit lane. In Vettel’s case it was preferable because it gets him around any first corner incidents. (although he still beat up his front wing)

    Don’t get me wrong I enjoy watching a fast car come from the back of the field, but it’s just not as exciting as it used to be, before DRS.

    1. Anne says:

      I´m afraid the rule of parc ferme is not very clear. I always thought that teams could change set up ONLY if there was something broken. But it´seems that´s not the case. In fact this year in Barcelona Hamilton was given the same penalty but as far as know McLaren didn´t change the set up of the car nor Hamilton started from the pit lane.

      1. Gordon Q says:

        They chose not to. They could have, but didn’t.

      2. Steve says:

        That may be a result of the fact that their setup usually has pretty good straight line speed anyway (unlike the Redbull which is usually a fair way down in the speed traps).

  32. It’s obvious that Vettel was very lucky. Now that’s been cleared up, am I the only one who thinks it’s not right that someone who has been sent to the back of the grid because of a penalty should be allowed to break parc fermé and totally alter their car, thereby somewhat mitigating the effect of the penalty?

    In my view Vettel should have had to start with the car in the configuration that he used in qualifying.

    1. Miha Bevc says:

      Someone said it before. Setup he had in qualifying was the fastest setup possible (in terms of lap time). Red Bull strategy is to runaway from P1 so they don’t need to do overtaking.

      With major changes they actually sacrificed some of the lap time, but of course they also gave Vettel better straight line speed for easier overtaking. But the car was actually slower around the lap than it was with qualy setup.

      It’s not like they gave him additional KERS or something.

      1. Matt says:

        I think you’re missing the point. It’s not about whether your car is faster or slower. When a team tries to qualifying, they are actually doing a compromise between qualifying as high as possible and race pace. To be rewarded for cheating by being able to completely change your car to race pace only is unfair to the other drivers.

      2. hrga12 says:

        it is not unfair.
        everyone could do the same – change setup and start from pit.

      3. Matt says:

        Yes, you’re right. Officially, it’s unfair. It just FEELS unfair. It doesn’t pass the eye test.

        Taking your your logic or suggestion about everyone starting from the pitlane a few steps further, this is what would happen:
        (1) There would be no qualifying since everyone would elect to start from the pitlane.

        (2) If there is not qualifying, how do we decide the order of the grid?

        (3) We, the audience, get approximately 7.5 hours to see the cars on track during a race weekend. We would lose 1.5 hours since there is no qualifying. Maybe even lose the 1 hour on Saturday moring since some teams would

      4. Matt says:

        Oops! I hit the send button by mistake. :-)

        To finish my thoughts…
        We would lose the one hour on Saturday morning since some, if not all, of the teams could elect not to run at all. No Saturday, no money for the track owner(s) and no money for TV(advertising).

        I live in Dallas, TX and I’m planning on going to my very first Formula 1 race in Austin, TX next weekend. I plan on being there very early and leaving very late all 3 days. I would be very disappointed if there wasn’t a Saturday.

      5. Matt says:

        Sorry, but I meant to say “Officially, it’s NOT unfair.

      6. Steve says:

        Matt, so given they all have the option what you need to consider is *why* they don’t all do it. Perhaps starting from the penalty of starting from pitlane is not worth the setup tweaks for most ;).

        As per the rundown James presents here, starting from pitlane with a changed setup does not guarantee a podium. There were a *lot* of things that had to fall into place for that to happen.

      7. hrga12 says:

        Or plan B
        If race setup is so much better then qualy (or mixed) setup:
        Put pure race setup on car for qualy:
        You start from middle and in first few laps you pass everyone.

        Teams don’t do that – probably becouse it is not the best way.

    2. Mike Turnbull says:

      No, you’re not the only one. Red Bull exploited a loop hole in the regulations. Credit to them for doing this. Mclaren didn’t think of doing the same with Hamilton in Spain.

      Someone with better knowledge of the regulations than myself will know the reasons for this. I assume it is in the event that if a car is significantly damaged in qualifying it allows the teams to re-build the car to whatever the configuration they want.

      It is somewhat ironic that everyone else on the grid had to compromise their set-up for both qualifying and the race. Whilst Vettel following his disqualification, could optimise his set-up for race conditions. This was certainly an influencing factor which allowed Vettel to finish where he did.

      What it would be nice to see is teams being allowed to set the car up for qualifying and then following qualifying change the set-up cars for an optimal race set-up. Therefore, in the event that a car qualifies poorly the team could change the set-up to aid the driver in overtaking other cars. This would also increase overtaking and make the races more exciting.

      1. James Allen says:

        Spain is far harder to pass on than Abu Dhabi with its two straights if you have the chance to reset the car

      2. Gordon Q says:

        If pure race set up is such an advantage, everyone would rubbish qualy and go for the pure race set up. But it isn’t. How many of the races this year have been won from someone qualified in the front row?

      3. CanadaF1fan says:

        I think all this discussion kind of misses the point though: what if Vettel’s car had been set up for passing from the beginning? Sure, maybe he’d have qualified in 15th, but that’s better than starting from the pits in 24th. Where would he have finished then?

        We can debate the parc ferme rules (and for that matter, Ferrari’s two exemptions to work on the car all night long over the weekend), but the bottom line is that the rules are there for a reason, and RBR accepted a steep penalty on a track not known for passing in order to modify the setup. For a driver to step in and perform with different levels of downforce, tire wear, etc was – in my opinion – pretty impressive.

        Interestingly, Vettel is consistently among the slowest in the speed traps, while Ferrari is consistently among the fastest. So why isn’t Alonso’s car considered to be an “uber-passing machine” too?

    3. Sebastiaan Hekman says:

      + Agree completely.
      Makes no sense that RB can turn a penalty into a benefit, as the qualy trim they use is specifically aimed at getting pole to allow Vettel to escape the pack in the first 2 laps to avoid being exposed to DRS.

      1. PWRocketS says:

        If this is such an advantage then Alonso/Ferrari would have chosen to start from the pitlans… although Alonso always tells the world that his team is always wrong just to prove that he is fighting Newey?

    4. Ross says:

      And I think Fernando should have to work to overtake his teammate but that’s just the way the rules are.

      1. No remotely relevant, but I’ll humour you:

        At this stage it’s absurd for any driver who is not in contention for the championship to not let by his teammate who is in the WDC fight.

        In any case it’s been well proven that any rule against team orders is totally unenforceable.

        On the other hand, it would easy to close the parc fermé loophole: Any driver who’s suffered a grid penalty may not break parc fermé. End of.

        Even better would be to not allow breaking parc fermé for anyone, except to repair or replace something broken, with no setup changes allowed.

    5. k5enny says:

      Remember Vettels car failed in Qualifying!!
      It they were not allwed to work on the car – it may not start again….. The race would have been much poorer, perhaps dull without Vettels charge through the field…..
      if vettel was left sitting in the garage!!

      dont tell me they should only fix what is broken, as that would involve a “big brother” official watching and querying every move the engineers makes…. I guess that is they way the world is going though!!

      1. The parc fermé rules already allow you to “fix what is broken” without being forced to start from the pit lane. Read that last few paragraphs of rule 34.1:

        http://www.formula1.com/inside_f1/rules_and_regulations/sporting_regulations/8685/fia.html

        If RB had done that, then Vettel could have started from the back of the grid, instead of the pit lane.

        I’m suggesting that if you’ve suffered a grid penalty, then you shouldn’t be allowed to break the parc fermé rules, because the penalty for doing that (starting from the pit lane) is basically void if you’re already at the back of the grid.

      2. hrga12 says:

        but vettel was not suffered a grid penalty.
        he was excluded from qualy.

    6. bearforce1 says:

      The penalty meant he had to start from 24th on the grid.

      The team then made changes to the car and the cost/penalty of doing that is that you must then start from pitt lane.

      Two separate things and two separate penalties.

      1. Yes, but if you’re already 24th on the grid, the penalty of starting from the pit lane becomes irrelevant, so effectively RB got to change the setup on Vettel’s car with no penalty.

      2. bearforce1 says:

        No Sir, its not irrelevant. It means that the penalty is exactly the same but less of a loss than say being P3 and then making changes to ones car and then starting from pitt lane, relatively speaking that is.

      3. Steve says:

        So what? The same applies to other instances where this rule has been used in the past, where was the outcry?

  33. Veena says:

    Thanks James for the awesome analysis. Keep your good work and bring on some competition/analysis/articles to us over the winter break so that we have something to chew on the boring break.

  34. Matt says:

    What this analysis falls to mention is the disservice Red Bull did to Webber so that Vettel could pass him with minimum waste of time. When a team looks to bring a driver into the pit, they also look at where he will come out. Will he come out in traffic or not.
    When Webber come back onto track, he was behind Grosjean, Massa, and Perez. With Webber’s car the slowest in the DRS zones, it was almost impossible for him to pass them(see 2010 Alonso/Maldonado) What Red Bull did was ruin Webber’s race for the benefit of Vettel.
    Say what you want about “Fernando is faster than you. Do you understand”, but Ferrari didn’t ruin Massa’s race for the benefit of Alonso. Massa still finished behind his teammate and well into the points.

    1. Rockie says:

      I think you are looking at it from a myopic point of view also how can you compare the two incidents this is just sour grapes from a ferrari fan Webber started 2nd after 31 laps his team mate who started from the pit was behind him after stopping already.
      webber should have won the race.

      1. Matt says:

        I love how you totally discounted the fact that (1) Webber was spun-out at Maldonado when he tried to pass him at turn 11, (2) Vettel benefited from a safety car which closed up the field. Vettel was also able to change his front wing and get fresh new soft tires (3) and when Vettel was catching Webber, Webber on the medium tires which were at the end of their life.
        Vettel didn’t pass anyone when he went to 12th to 2nd. The drivers in front either pitted or got into an accident (Massa). To say that he passed HRT, Caterham, or Marussia is a joke. My grandmother could pass them using her walker. Both Torro Rossa cars gave him “the blue flag” treatment.
        Vettel only passed Grosjean(twice), Senna(damaged his front wing) and Button. All three were on used medium tires while Vettel was on brand new soft tires.
        I honestly don’t think that it was a great drive by Vettel. I seriously think that he got lucky with the both safety cars and most of the other cars crashing out of the race.

      2. Rockie says:

        Its better to proof read your post before you send

        1 was Webber meant to be trying to overtake Maldonaldo?

        2 he was already 12th before that and went back to 21st hows that a benefit?

        3 Part of the strategy

        So when Hamilton drove from 24th to 8th in spain he passed 2 redbulls i presume not the backmarkers?
        Also the crashes were behind him not infront of him. Funny enough Alonso got the best benefit from the safety car but didnt take advantage of it Vettel took advantage of his simple.

      3. CanadaF1fan says:

        Vettel also passed MSC, but everyone forgets that because it wasn’t shown on the TV.

      4. MDS says:

        Actually Vettel passed Senna not once, but three times.
        He made, in total, 20 on-track passes. Two of which were the TR’s. Still 18 valid passes. Even if it’s a Caterham, they will still defend and you can lose heaps of time passing through the field.

      5. Matt says:

        This is classic case of it’s “better to keep your mouth closed and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt”.

        Lets take a look at you so-called valid on-track passes:
        (1) You said that he passed Senna not once, not twice, but three times. The first time Vettel tried to pass Senna, he was too aggressive and damaged his front wing because he was desperated to make up as many positions as possible in the shortest period of time.

        (1a) Vettel qualified 3rd and Senna qualified 13th or 15th. Well over a second off the Vettel’s pace. To pass Senna 3 times with the aid of 2 safety cars and fresh soft tires, which Pirelli says is over 1/2 a second faster than the medium tires around the Yas Marina Circuit, is not even worth mentioning. Vettel has a far faster car. Especially after Red Bull was able to change everything to solely race pace the night before the race.

        (2) HRT, Marussia, and Caterham: REALLY?!?!?! Are you serious? This is “parting on the red sea”. At one point, Vetterl was able passed a Caterham and Marussia UNDER BRAKING into turn 11. How many times did Vettel pass them under BLUE FLAGS?

        (3)Vettel passed Grosjean by going outside of the race track, gave him back the position and passed him again. Grosjean was off the pace all weekend. Grosjean usually out-qualify Kimi Raikkonen.

        (4) I can barely give Vettel credit for passing Button because Button was on used medium tires while Vettel, with the aid of the safety car that erased the 20 second advantage that Button had, was on brand new soft tires. It still took Vettel about 10 laps to pass Button.

        (4a) Vettel is very lucky that Button didn’t do to him what Maldonado did to Webber when Webber tried the same exact move. No penalty was called on either driver. Vettel could have gotten a flat-tire and lose a lot positions while he limped back to the pits for new tire(s). Very lucky that Button was so fair to him.

        (5) Are you also giving Vettel credit for passing Paul di Resta while he was limping to the pits with a flat, right-rear tire?

        (6) Like. I said previously, with (1) changing your car overnight to solely race pace, (2) with two perfectly placed safety cars, (3) and using brand new soft tires, I think that 90% of the field could have done what Vettel did.

        (7) Hamilton’s last to 8th was far more impressive to me. I’m not even a big fan of Lewis. He did it on a far more difficult race track and he did it at a time when the Pirelli tires were still a mystery to all of the teams. Because of this, he couldn’t push 100% of the race like Vettel had the luxury of doing. He was also not aided by two perfectly placed safety cars.

      6. MDS says:

        Well no, this is a classic case of someone having his mind made up and doing everything to discount a driver he doesn’t like.

        No, blue flag passes are not counted (as to my recollection, there weren’t any).

        As much as it pains you, there were 20 on-track passes, not counting spins/crashes, and that’s pretty much the end of it. If you wish to spin it to make it less impressive, that’s your problem. However, with even James here saying without the SC’s he would probably still have come in fourth, it’s my belief that the amount of “luck” Vettel had is exaggerated.

    2. JR says:

      It has ben some races ago (when he signed a new contract) that Red Bull just don’t care about Mark Webber fortunes.

      1. Matt says:

        I wouldn’t say that they don’t care about Mark Webber. What I would say is that they don’t care as much. Every team wants to win the Constructor’s Championship because that’s how they get paid. Mark Webber is a more consistent driver than Jenson Button or Felipe Massa. You can usually also count on him for 3 or 4 wins per season.
        Pitting when they did was very detrimental to his race. Yes, trying to overtake Maldonado on the outside of turn 11 was not a smart thing to. It was Valencia all over again.

    3. Ahmed says:

      [mod] Massa was supposed to pit Massa for optimum strategy, they realized that Webber and Vettel were right behind, so the message comes out for Massa to stay out???
      There’s nothing wrong with that, but please don’t criticize a team for basing strategy around their championship contender!

      1. Matt says:

        I have absolutely no problem with team-order. I raced bicycle in college. I understand about sacrificing your own personal goals for the good of the team.
        I just don’t think it should have come at such a detriment to Mark Webber’s race. Putting him out in traffic behind Grosjean(Mr. Accident himself) and Perez (since being named to McLaren, he has turned into Maldonado. Lots of accidents and no points) was just not smart. He couldn’t pass those guys. He had the slowest car in the DRS zones. Sector 3 has 11 turns so that’s out.
        Mark Webber’s race ended the only way it could have ended…with an accident.

      2. CanadaF1fan says:

        Webber had a chance to let Vettel by, and he didn’t take it. So the team took action. If he’d moved aside, do you think they would have pitted him that same lap?

    4. Gordon Q says:

      Mark brings it upon himself with all the terrible starts he keeps having

      1. Matt says:

        You’re absolutely right. The funny thing is, in the post-qualifying press conference, Webber talked about taking adventage of Hamilton at the start because Hamilton had made a poor start at the Indian Grand Prix a week ago. Talking about karma.

  35. Vinto says:

    Hi James,

    What would be your best guess of where Vettel would have finished had there been no safety cars (i.e given that after 9 laps he was already up to 12th with a fast car in a straight line).
    Do you think that 4th, or possibly even 3rd would have been within his reach?

    Also, was Vettel really 15sec behind Button after his second pit stop?
    I thought that Seb had a decent gap over Alonso before he stopped, who was himself ahead of Button, so with a pit stop time loss of only 16 seconds (according to your strategy report) that doesn’t really add up.
    And on your chart above it looks like less

    If the second safety car had not come out he still would have had approx 18 laps with fresh option tires to catch/pass Button. Possible?

    Cheers,
    -Vinto

    1. James Allen says:

      Given the gap behind Button he’d have finished in there probably

    2. Vinto says:

      Actually, given that he only gained 1 position due to the ‘very lucky’ second safety car, which he would have had a shot at anyway, I am not sure that he was necessarily ‘lucky’ on the day. I think he had both good and bad luck.

      Good Luck:
      -Safety cars closing the field
      -Cars taking themselves out (though some were behind him)
      -Knocking his wing and being able to continue with a pit stop that didn’t cost much time, though cost a lot of track position.

      Bad luck:
      -Losing almost the entire P3 session (not his fault)
      -Losing his P3 slot (not his fault)
      -Losing 10 laps of passing/catching opportunities behind the 2 safety cars
      -A slow pit stop (I think)

      I think over the course of the weekend he had bad luck overall, especially as he started from P3, the P2 man had an awful start and the P1 man didn’t finish. He could easily have won the race if he had a normal race without any incidents.

      NB: His P3 lap was earned on his first Q3 lap, not his last one when he was short fueled.

    3. k5enny says:

      Given that after the first safety car he was last, and before the second safety car he was up to second; i would say that without safety car, and a brave strategy, Vettel WOULD have finished second.

  36. Gringo74 says:

    so we’ve had 3 different F1 races at the Yas Marina circuit so far and during 2 of those races, the safety car was deployed.
    why keeps everyone telling that the safety car is a rare occasion on this circuit?
    statistically it is more likely to have at least one safety car occurrence per race than not!
    isn’t it?

    1. James Allen says:

      4 races and two safety cars

      But before Sunday it was 3 races and one safety car for a startling shunt, that’s the point

  37. Andy says:

    I don’t really see how Vettel’s result can be classed as lucky. He had the benefit of the safety car, but so does everyone apart from the leader.
    To go from starting from the pit lane to finish 3rd requires more than luck. If you remove any benefit he’d had, he would have finished maybe 4th or 5th, still a fantastic result.
    It was Hamilton who said he was lucky, maybe he was wondering why he only finished 8th in Spain.

    1. Matt says:

      1st safety car enabled Vettel to change his front wing which he damaged twice. He was also able to change to a fresh set of soft tires while most of the rest of the field was on used medium tires

      The 2nd safety car erased the 20 second lead that Button had on him. Vettel was also able to change to a fresh set of soft tires while Button, Alonso, and Kimi were on used medium tires.

      Hamilton was drive in Barcelona was more impressive to me than Vettel’s. Remember, at that time, all the team were still trying to figure out the Pirelli tires. You couldn’t push 100% the entire race like Vettel did. Hamilton also didn’t have the luxury of two perfectly placed safety cars.

      1. krischar says:

        Matt +1

        Vettel is no Hamilton

        Lewis is lewis always Quick and Exciting to watch

        Lewis drive in spain was superb and cannot be compared with vettel’s aweful abu dhabi race

      2. MDS says:

        His first wing damage wasn’t significant for his pace, his second wing damage wouldn’t have been there without the safety car.

        The second safety car did not allow him “to change to a fresh set of soft tires”, since he had pitted already before the safety car came out. But I’ll agree that it enabled him to pass Button.

  38. sumedh says:

    Let’s do analysis this way:

    Without the second safety car, he would have finished no higher than 4th. Yes, he had fresher tyres than Button but he would have taken about 10 laps to catch him and another 10 to overtake him (as he did). There wasn’t enough time.

    Before the first safety car, he was 12th on harder but older tyres, after the first safety car, he was 21st on softer and fresher tyres. Judging from his pace from 21st to 4th (which he did without safety car and with one pit stop too), he could have managed to go from 12th to 6th or 5th atleast with the harder tyres and do a pit stop too had that first safety car not happened.

    So, in a race without safety cars, he would have finished 6th (8 points), but he finished 3rd (15 points).
    So, in conclusion, he got 7 of his 15 points due to luck. That is 47% luck and 53% skill.

  39. Terry Pearson says:

    If if’s n buts were apples and nuts…..

    VET of course he was lucky, did he drive well, yes he did. The error, if there is one, is being able to take car out of parc ferme. How many top team drivers for whatever reason finished out of the top ten? Next time I suggest they may want to do some changes and start from pit lane!

    1. Gordon Q says:

      I’d love it if Alonso always started from the pit lane. Seb would have the WDC wrapped up by now then.

      1. Terry Pearson says:

        But then he wouldn’t have been taken out in first lap incidents and, as is now clear, there is a huge compromise made to set up to get a balance of grid slot and race pace, it may be a whole new WDC board if everyone started from the pit lane, now that would be fun ;-)

      2. krischar says:

        Gordon Q

        You love to see alonso starting from pit lane

        Ferrari never cheats despite being slower

        Pity, RBR despite having quickest car tried to fool the stewards (Under fuel run to seal pole)

        Yet came away with super lukcy podium

  40. Ross McDougall says:

    James looking ahead to Austin will Ferrari be able to chalenge Red Bull or will it only be Hamilton in the McLaren. Looking at the track layout it certainly looks like another red bull track?

    1. Matt says:

      We are looking for a DNF from Red Bull because Renault will be trying out their New alternator at COTA in Austin, TX.

      1. CanadaF1fan says:

        No offense, but I find these types of responses kind of annoying. We all have our favourite drivers or teams, but I’d never wish for a DNF from a competitor. I want my driver to win fair and square on the track, not because of a crash or mechanical failure.

      2. Matt says:

        DNFs are a part of auto-racing. Ask Kimi if he thinks that his victory is diminished because Lewis Hamilton was faster than him, but LH had fuel pump problems with his car and broke-down. Ask Vettel if his win at Singapore is diminished because LH had gearbox problems and had to retire while leading the race. Ask Alonso if his victory at Valencia is diminished because Vettel had alternator problem while leading and had to retire while leading the race.
        In a way, you should be happy for these DNFs. One of the reasons why I love Formula 1 so much is because the technology you see on their cars today will end up on your car one day. We have more reliable cars today because of Formula 1. If something goes wrong on their cars, they will fix it. That fix will make its way to your car.
        Traction control…F1, paddle shifting…F1, carbon fiber…F1, vehicle dynamic control…F1, KERS…F1. I can go on and on.
        The teams are allow 8 brand new engines for 20 races. The last two races will test the durability of these engines. If they breakdown, we will benefit in the long run because next year, the engines will be a lot better.

  41. Tay says:

    I don’t even see why this is an issue. What does he have to do to prove his performance at Abu Dhabi was nothing short of heroic? Make him start locked inside the tractor with his car disassembled?

    1. db4tim says:

      Heroic…no… fireman who run into burning buildings is heroic…not a race driver …I’m just saying !!!!!!!

    2. Gordon Q says:

      He’ll be 5x WDC soon enough and people will still say he’s not “good enough”. Sour grapes, if you ask me.

  42. Anop says:

    James, what is the current situation with Fernando’s and Sebastian’s engines? Is it a factor that can still have an impact on their title hopes?

    Sorry if you have already answered this question somewhere else.

    1. Vivek says:

      I have been trying to ask for this bit of information from James too, but he has not taken the bait yet.

      Maybe he will present some information on this soon.

      Lets Hope.

      This kind of information is not easily available in the public domain.

      1. Anop says:

        I remember Formula1.com used to publish them before the last 4-5 races until last year but nothing as of now this time.

    2. MDS says:

      If I’m not mistaken, they both started using their last engine of the season in Abu Dhabi.

  43. JohnBt says:

    Safety Car relates to lottery at times depending on which end of the yardstick you’re holding. Vettel gained and Alonso is not happy. That’s part of motor racing. I don’t want to repeat how Alonso has also gained from this situation.

    Fair and square.

    1. Nocticronilux says:

      Exactly. I don’t seem to remember hearing Alonso complaining with the outcome of Singapore in ’08 when Briatore sent Piquet Jr into the wall.

  44. JB says:

    I think Vettel made his own luck. After all, wasn’t Raikkonen and Alonso lucky that Hamilton’s car broke down? Mark Webber was off-the-mark since the start, when he should be the one helping the team to score extra points for the constructor, so ‘lucky’ to Alonso.

    My point is that you can view Vettel being ‘lucky’ but if that is the case all the podium drivers were lucky that day. AND that really don’t make any sense.

    In my view, Alonso is seeing a serious opposition name Sebastian Vettel. He will have a hard time fighting this kid.

    1. krischar says:

      Serious opposition vettel come on JB please stop the jokes

      Vettel has been beaten by webber quite often despite having full support of RBR

      Alonso have no need to fight vettel

      As alonso himself mentionned. He is fighting NEWEY and RBR not vettel by any means

      Please have a reality check

      1. MDS says:

        Ah yes, and what Alonso says is obviously The Law. Seriously, you should at least understand Alonso is playing mind games at this point in the season (which is his good right). Just like the “the Ferrari is a dog of a car”-attitude.

        Vettel has been beaten by Webber “quite often”? Webber was really only better in Silverstone, Monaco and arguably (because only in qualification, not on race day) China.

        Ofcourse Alonso is fighting Vettel.

  45. themarvz says:

    I cannot understand why we slam Vettel for being lucky in Abu Dhabi to the point of even having a whole article written about it, but nobody thinks Alonso is lucky for being second in the championship because of reliability problems and bad luck of his rivals:

    Vettel podium from 24th due to safety car = lucky
    Alonso second in championship race due to rival reliability problems = grit and hard work

    I find the logic wrong. Both are good drivers, give credit to Vettel and Alonso by taking advantage of the luck given to them.

    1. James Allen says:

      No one is ‘slamming’ VET here, the point is to analyse the way the race unfolded

  46. Liam in Sydney says:

    James, I must take exception to your “open goal” comment when referencing Ferrari’s final 3 point improvement over VET by race end. Your comment makes the veiled insinuation that Ferrari/ALO only made up 3 points, but did not ‘kick the goal’ (my terminology).

    Ferrari did the maximum they could do. With the exception of actually winning the race (what’s wrong with 2nd?), there was ZERO else they could have done here. The final result was not down to them.

    1. James Allen says:

      Exactly. It looked like an open goal but the ball wouldn’t go in

  47. Martin says:

    Hi nice analysis, James do you think Vettel was unlucky to start at the back of the grid? Would this be the same luck as an engine failing?

  48. erik says:

    Defination of luck, guys, please. Without you telling me the essence of that word, i have to relay to my owne: Luck is, when preparation meets to opportunity! So, in that point of view – they changed many parametres in car to aid overtaking. Sebastians mindset was to attack, because that was the essence of that car. They were prepared. I think that you guys are lucky, according to your`s definations, that you are not striked with meteor yet.

  49. erik says:

    One further note. All this talk that they started from pitlane and did so well is just goosedream. They were just victims of FIA, well, even they approche to rules the way, it`s easier for them to applay it.
    James, you should explain this, because my english is not good and you should know better how F1 tanks are built and from where they take the fuel for examples. They just missed 200ml of it anyway and the place they take it from, contains max 2 litre anyway. And in order to protect the highpressure pump that feeds it in to the engine, they had to shut the engine, because the container from where the pump takes the fuel, started in some reason to dry out. But in the tank, there was fuel. And they saved the engine. But they tried to shut it as quikly as possible in order to hope that in that container is still enought fuel for FIA. But it was not.

    1. James Allen says:

      No, in the tank there was not enough fuel. If you look at the list of parts changed before the race, it says gearbox but no mention of fuel tank. So it must have been working because he raced with it

      1. db4tim says:

        James if they had to ….given the curfew, could they have still pulled the bad tank and put in a new one??

      2. Peter C says:

        Which gives rise to the question ‘Are Red Bull using transferable liquid ballast?’

        During Q? in Abu Dhabi, Vettel left the pits with some fluid pouring out of the bottom of the Red Bull. He was soon back in the garage while the car was worked on, only leaving to continue Q? with 6mins. to spare.

        The fluid did not look like water, it was sort of a milky colour, but there was plenty on the garage floor.

        Could there be separate bag-tanks which allow liquid ballast to be moved about as the fuel load comes down?

        Sort of a modified Tyrrell water tank, without the lead shot!

  50. Paul Matthews says:

    I did find it quite ironic that Button, Hamilton and Whitmarsh all took away from Vettel’s drive in Abu Dhabi claiming he was lucky with safety cars, yet Jenson’s win in Canada last year was lauded as a heroic drive even though safety cars helped him out just as much.

    1. Joshua says:

      I think the analysis and posts above shows that Vettel was Lucky – whilst making the best of his equipment (fair play to him).

      JB in Canada did not have the pace of the front runners in qualifying (7th on the grid 1:13.838 – 8 10th’s of a second behind Vettel’s time). Very little was known about the New Pirelli wet/intermediate tyres at this stage of the season.

      Vettel was running away with the title at this stage showing his dominance & JB didn’t get to change his setup like Vettel did.

      Jenson pitted 6 times in the race (YES 6) and was dead last with 30 laps to go. At the end of the race Jenson was lapping between 2.5 to 3 seconds faster than Vettel and won the race.

      Whilst Vettel coming through the field was good and exciting, it is implausible to even compare it to Canada 2011.

      Not that I’m the biggest Fan of JB – but he was stunning that day

  51. Mitori says:

    What is luck, Kimi and Alonso made no mistakes, Vettel is hitting more trouble is starting from the pitlane and is finishing 4 sec behind the leader in a F1 car where even a slow pitstop can rune your race under normal circumstances.
    F1 cars on the track look like balls on a roulette table. I enjoyed watching but I’m more and more not sure about this being racing….

    1. MelB says:

      I’m not trying to take anything away from Vettel, but, please, the four second gap to the race winner hardly means anything considering the late safety car, does it?

    2. Anop says:

      I agree to some extent. Safety car actually spoils the fun most the times. I think re-fueling should be brought back. At least then strategy will have a lot more to do with winning a race rather than putting the car on pole and winning from there.

  52. erik says:

    All the field was lucky, accept those, who didn`t finish the race, because all the others were able to finish the race without loosing any of four wheels.

  53. SuperSi says:

    Vettel was extremely lucky. Not to mention the fact that the car setup was better for the race thanks to the pitlane start. I think if everyone did’nt crash off in front of him and get the safety car out, he would have struggled.

  54. SuperSi says:

    Just highlighting the Rosberg, Karthikeyan accident, that was close to making contact with Karthikeyan’s head. We have seen several incidents like this over the last few years, one being Alonso in Spa this year, and Wurz a couple of years back in Australia. Is it not possible to introduce a regulation for higher cockpit sides in order to protect the drivers head. With the helmet and the HANS device restricting a lot of head movement in modern F1, you cant see a great deal to your sides anyway. I just think we’re waiting for another Senna or Simoncelli accident to occur in F1 for it to hit home just how dangerous the sport is and the holes in the safety at present.

  55. Dan says:

    Any chance you can work on this graphical representation for next season James? I know a few people have offered to do the necessary coding required to make the race history graph interactive.

    Option to switch on/off specific cars and scale the axes would be good.

    Really hard to see any detail in this week’s race due to safety car bunching field up twice – although that in itself is an interesting feature showing how the SC compresses the field.

  56. Olive says:

    many complain about RB “cheating” with changing the setup -and they also write that any average driver would have finished 3rd with such a car, please do it ;-)
    But what about Ferrari breaking twice the curfew in one weekend? I thought this was also not expected to happen?

    1. James Allen says:

      Changing set up out of parc ferme is not cheating, it’s permitted in the rules

      1. Peter C says:

        That’s the ‘rule’ that should be changed. Many of the things that happen according to the’rules’ are a complete mystery to the average viewer/spectator & these affect F1s image adversely.
        Several of my friends who are not particular fans of F1, regard it as corrupt, or at the least dishonest & worst of all, certainly not a ‘sport’.
        When I explain launch-control, DRS, the tyre situation etc, they just shake their heads in disbelief. We’re all fans, but how many people will F1 attract in the future unless there is more ‘transparency?’

  57. Norseman says:

    Everyone thinks that Ferrari did the best strategy given the situation. I disagree. They should have pitted Massa for fresh tyres while there was gap down to Vettel to keep him as a buffer to Alonso, Button etc. Instead they kept him out way to long on worn tyres and spinning trying to fight Webber. Never beeing an obstackle to Vettel. A really bad choise from Ferrari.

  58. T says:

    James,
    Does this raise a concern about altering the car when its in parc ferme? My concern is that there was nothing wrong with the car, it was just under fueled, but the team clearly broke parc ferme to boost their race chances instead of fixing a problem. Could this hurt F1?
    If I were a team, Id try to underfuel a little in Q3 to get an advantage, and if I got caught by the FIA, Id start from the pit lane and change the setup to be geared toward the race.

    Should teams be allowed to do this if theres nothing wrong with the car? Do you think it rendered the penalty useless?

  59. Obi-WanaKnow says:

    James: How was Reb Bull allowed to completely alter their car setup after qualifying. I understand that they were disqualified from Qualifying for insufficient fuel for sampling, but the car had essentially completed Q3 and otherwise would have been headed for parc ferme. I thought the rules in parc ferme only allow you to correct/repair specific items the FIA authorize. Technically the car didn’t make it to parc ferme, but what Reb Bull did in my opinion was an unfair advantage. How does this work?

    1. James Allen says:

      They took it out of parc ferme to work on it which is allowed

      But that meant they had to start from pit lane

      1. Bluefroggle says:

        Is there a limit to the gear ratio of the highest (seventh) gear? I think by changing Vettel’s gears, he had another 10km/hr added to his top speed. Are even higher gears available for an extra 20km/hr if the team so chooses?

        Given that 7th gear is probably only used mostly on the straights, why don’t the teams use the highest ratio possible?

  60. Trink-Bar says:

    James,
    What would have been the outcome of Vettel’s race if he didn’t ruin his front wing? Could he have finished even higher?

    1. Senninha says:

      Good question. Imho P1 would have been possible but SV screwed that up with 2 driving errors…..

  61. Richard says:

    Well I think we are now in no doubt that Vettel was very lucky, however a couple of old phrases come to mind “fortune favours the brave” and “one manufactures ones own luck,” and I think Red Bull were and did exactly that on top of the given safety car aspect. It’s an aspect that in the same situation McLaren, given this years form, would have messed up. I really do have to hand it to the Red Bull team in being for being on the ball.

  62. Senninha says:

    To make SV scond best driver image change RBR tried to deliver the extraordinary and make all believe it.

    It was maybe even more than luck, since Abu Dhabi race was heavily spoiled / manipulated by various incidents. It was a joke how RBR was allowed to modify their RB8 for cutting through the field with optimized gear ratio, high speed downforce and suspension set up and a completely new gearbox. How abt the brakes ?! They were penalised for their errors / risk and so they chose to start from pitlane being able to completely rebuild their car …….

    After BE personal sign off at the start, it was clear that SV had other cards at hand………. perfect set up, crashes on demand it seemed, making clean air room for SV, and three, high quality tyre sets for him as well. Only when hitting JB passing became a difficult one, due to fear / capability of SV not because his younger tyres and better car …. So he chose for the surprise attack knowing JB would not push him off track. Well, imho JB should shut the door……Spa 2011.

    How can a car cut through almost the complete field twice from P24 and reach P1 ( SV made 2 severe driving errors – Senna & Riccardio- to prevent that actually happening) while the front runners are no sleepers ? Especially if one considers the faster Webber (on P2) was nowhere in the race and eventually seemed sacrificed for another SC …….

    Consider that if SV would have started from P3 the risk might have been that he would get a DNF like Alonso had twice ….

    Games are being played and these games are far beyond winning a race or titles.

    1. Tom says:

      Consider that if SV would have started from P3 the risk might have been that he would get a DNF like Alonso had twice…
      ————————–
      Or he may well have won the race given that Webber had his usual poor start and Hamilton retired.

      1. Senninha says:

        As it shows, anything can happen even if you are leading in P1. And reliability is not exactly RBR` best friend, so this rebuild was probably highly welcome.

        Rosberg launching himself was the worst thing that happened in Abu Dhabi, but nobody shouted at Narthikeyan this time ……

        We can expect further TNT in Austin and Sao Paulo with reinforced wings !

  63. Monkian says:

    Here is my 2 pence worth.

    The important question is how many cars would have got stuck behind Grosjean/Di Resta without the 1st safety car?

    Bottling up those cars, and it was only actually Webber and Perez as everybody else was a distance behind, created the gap which allowed Vettel to stop a second time/ potentially a 1st time if not for the 1st safety car.

    With regards to the 1st safety car I do not believed he gained, (other than the potential Grosjean issue). He never climbed to the position he achieved before the 1st safety car and the gap soon returned to what it had been pre-safety car when he was fighting with Grosjean. Furthermore Alonso/ Button exited the pits only a couple of seconds ahead of Senna, who Vettel had originally cleared very early. Thus, he would probably have been in the same position, after everybody else stopped, as he found himself in, only still on the harder tyres.

    He stops, comes out ahead of Grosjean and finds himself behind Button, but a lot further back.

    The second safety car gives him 3rd place thus he only actually benefitted to the tune of 1 place.

    Vettel mainly benefitted from everybody else crashing into each other. Can he be classed as being lucky for that?

    1. Tom says:

      My thoughts exactly. Vettel was lucky, but mostly because of the drivers crashing into eachother rather than the safety cars. Still, a brilliant drive.

  64. messrine says:

    James,

    I could swear that Vettel speeded in the pit lane when driving in to get his front wing repaired? Did anyone check this?

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes, it’s all controlled by sensors and timing transponders.

      There was no talk of that

    2. Martin says:

      You should show Ferrari and the FIA your proof

  65. Tom says:

    My thoughts exactly. Vettel was lucky, but mostly because of the drivers crashing into each other rather than the safety cars. Still, a brilliant drive.

  66. kevin says:

    Luck plays very little in racing. Had Vettel not driven hard to move up, luck would not have helped him get to the podium. His driving and the teams prep work got him to where he ended up. He also recovered from two errors that cost him collisions that were minor, but destroyed the wing, along with his strategy, and cost him positions, that demanded he drive harder still. While the 2nd SC period worked out for many up front, stopping later for tires, rather than trying to go the remaining laps, cost him 2 additional places, which put him behind Button and the hard slog to earn 3rd. Kimi, Alonso and Vettel all potentially benefited in position from Hamilton’s retirement, assuming his pace was such that they would not have caught him later. Kimi drove as well as he has all season, so made his own fortune by holding off Alonso, who missed an opportunity at the 2nd restart to get a few seconds nearer Kimi, costing him the win. No luck here, regardless of spectator bench racer banter to the contrary.

  67. Wombat says:

    Luck = Preparation + Opportunity. This first part you can plan for and Red-Bull did. The second is ‘unplanned’ but they were ready for opportunities as they arose. As was Kimi & Lotus/Renault, and as Kimi won he I would have to be the luckier.

    One thing in all this stands out.
    Repeatedly this season Mark Webber has been trapped behind mid-field cars unable to pass owing to the low R-B top speed. Why haven’t Red-Bull been running Mark Webber on lower-aero and higher-gearing all season. It would have made a huge difference to his year. Frankly for a Red-Bull car if it is not going to be up-front at the start, better to run it in high-speed mode as Vettel clearly demonstrated.

  68. Mike says:

    OK, I think a fair few people are missing a fair few points in the waht-if analysis.

    1. It’s worse to start from the pits than 24th in absolute terms. Starting from the pit means you only exit after ALL the cars are safely past by a distance, leaving you a gap to even the last car off the Grid. If Vettel started at the back of the Grid, in a RB, you’d expect him to make up a few spots off the line itelf! Yes, of course there’s the risk of a shunt, but that’s one that everyone faces. In terms of pure time, it’s a disadvantage.

    2. The nose he destroyed was BEHIND the first SC when he was in 12th. Without that SC, he’d be 12th and NOT need a stop to change the nose.

    3. The second SC was irrelevant for him as he’d have made 4th / 3rd on pure speed alone.

    So, while it may seem like the SC periods helped, I’d say he would have finished 3rd anyway or worst, 4th!

  69. Nick H says:

    You mean the race where Button drove into his teammate and knocked Alonso out of the race whilst not getting a penalty?

    1. Nick H says:

      Sorry this was a reply to someone else

  70. Abu Dhabi F1 says:

    Yeah he drove very stupidly but the luck was him.

  71. Abu Dhabi F1 says:

    Exactly why the ferrari is not here for the proof.

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