Inside track on how Raikkonen and Grosjean gave Vettel a run for his money
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Strategy Report
Posted By: James Allen  |  09 Jul 2013   |  7:17 am GMT  |  166 comments

The German Grand Prix was a thrilling tactical battle between Red Bull and Lotus that led to a nail-biting finish.

This was brought about by upgrades to the Lotus making it close on performance with the Red Bull and by Pirelli bringing tyres, which encouraged some experimentation with strategy.

It wasn’t as interesting a tactical battle as it might have been had the safety car not been deployed after 24 laps, but it was still one of the best of the year.

Pre-Event considerations

The weather was good on Friday during practice allowing teams to evaluate the new specification Pirelli rear tyres, brought to this event as a response to the failures at Silverstone the week before.

Practice showed that the soft tyre was faster than the medium by up to 1.5 seconds per lap, but it degraded much more quickly. Estimates for the first stint of the Grand Prix were around 6-8 laps on the soft before they would need changing.

Ferrari went a different route from its rivals, choosing to qualify – and therefore start the race – on the medium tyre, as it felt it did not have the pace to challenge for the front of the grid in qualifying.

It was set to be an interesting race, with strategists facing a real challenge to manage the stop times and the use of the two tyre compounds.


Lotus challenges and almost beats Red Bull

The main battle in the race was between Sebastian Vettel’s Red Bull and the Lotus pair of Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean.

All three were starting the race on used soft tyres from qualifying. The temperatures were high, which slightly favoured the Lotus and when Romain Grosjean played himself into contention with a long opening stint of 13 laps on the soft tyres, he was ready to challenge Vettel for the win.

Lotus’ plan was to try to undercut Vettel; to force the Red Bull driver to stop earlier than he would normally want to, extending his next stint length so that his tyres would lose performance. The Lotus is known to be able to maintain tyre performance for longer stints, especially on hot days.

The plan was thwarted by the deployment of the safety car on lap 24, due to a Marussia that had rolled back across the track, having been abandoned.

This forced everyone into stopping immediately – once a safety car has been deployed a driver has to stop (unless he has just done so) as the others all will, so he will never get away from cars behind him on fresh tyres.

From then on, it was a three stop race for everyone and Vettel was able to manage his stint lengths and not run into tyre trouble. Grosjean pitted a lap before him on Lap 40, but unfortunately he had dropped off Vettel by a second at that point and so he wasn’t able to undercut.

Meanwhile Raikkonen was also in play for Lotus. He had stopped earlier than Grosjean, on lap 8, as Lotus felt his tyre performance was dropping off but it cost him as he got stuck behind Rosberg in the Mercedes. Raikkonen fell back from three seconds to 13 seconds behind Vettel in the second stint.

However he was given a second chance to attack by the safety car, which closed the gap up again. Lotus considered letting Raikkonen run to the finish on the same set of tyres. With 12 laps to go he had a 15 second lead over Vettel after the German’s third stop. But his tyres were already 16 laps old and there were 19 laps to go. 35 laps on a set of tyres seemed too much.

Painful memories of China last year, where Raikkonen ran out of tyres in the final laps and failed to score points, meant that they didn’t feel inclined to gamble and have him fall behind Alonso.

They left him out for eight laps after Vettel’s stop, to get into a window where he could use the soft tyres for an 11 lap late race attack. Lotus felt that this was the only possibility at this stage, as the softs were much faster than the mediums. Making him do any more than 11 laps on the softs at the end was a risk, given his performance in practice, where he had suffered worse degradation than Grosjean.

He lost a little time getting past Grosjean, who accepted that his team mate was on a different strategy and so let him past. But Raikkonen didn’t have enough pace on the soft tyres at the end to pass Vettel.


Safety car ruins it for Lotus

In fact, although on the face of it the safety car helped Raikkonen, allowing him to make up the time lost behind Rosberg, it actually hurt his race strategy, as it did Grosjean’s. Lotus’ strategists were planning to get him through the race on a two-stop strategy, so he would have come into play later in the race.

The safety car took away all the flexibility in the race and pushed most people onto the same strategy, taking away the element of surprise Lotus was planning.


Ferrari zig while others zag

Faced with another qualifying session where they were likely to end up on the grid behind Mercedes, Red Bull and even Lotus, Ferrari opted to try something different. The idea was to qualify – and start – on the medium tyre, run a longer first stint than their rivals on soft tyres, who would have to pit early and come back out into traffic. Ferrari would then take advantage of the laps where the Red Bulls, Mercedes and Lotus were cutting through traffic to build a margin and then jump some of them at their first stop.

This strategy was based on the theory that the soft tyre would fall apart quickly and the medium would be quicker over the stint.

It didn’t work, mainly because the Ferrari couldn’t get the medium tyre warmed up at the start and Alonso fell to 8th, behind Ricciardo in the opening stint. Massa got himself into a better position, sixth, but went out of the race on lap four. Alonso pitted on lap 12, which was a lap before Grosjean who was on the soft, so the plan was in trouble from the start.

Alonso was fast in the final stint of the race on new soft tyres and kept the Lotus pair honest, but in reality the Ferrari strategy was made to look more effective than it was by the safety car intervention. Before it intervened, Alonso was almost 20 seconds behind the leader Vettel.

When a car doesn’t have the pace, its unusual for gambles like this to work. Red Bull tried it with Vettel in China, where he didn’t have the pace and it didn’t work there either.


A word on Williams
The Williams team went into the German Grand Prix still without a point after eight rounds of the championship – an unprecedented situation for the team.

Although the car didn’t have much pace, which is why they qualified 17th and 18th, they tried a two-stop strategy, which required the drivers to manage the tyres while maintaining a strong rhythm and they almost pulled it off, with Maldonado in the points before his final stop. Sadly what let them down were the pitstops themselves where a persistent wheel gun problem lost both drivers time.

Unlike Alonso, the Williams drivers were able to stay out on their medium tyres at the start until laps 21 and 22. Bottas lost 13 seconds in his first stop, which dropped him back into traffic, while Maldonado was running seventh prior to his final stop, where the wheel gun struck again and he lost 16 seconds.

Had the stop been normal, he would have come out into a battle behind Hulkenberg, with Di Resta and Ricciardo, for the final points position with fresher tyres.

Tyre Strategies

Vettel: SU MN (7) MU (24) MN (41) 3 stops
Räikkönen:SU MN (8) MN (24) SU (49) 3
Grosjean: SU MN (13) MN (24) MU (40) 3
Alonso: MU MN (12) MN (24) SN (49) 3
Hamilton: SU MN (6) MU (22) MN (45) 3
Button: MN MU (21) SN (47) 2
Webber: SU MU (8)MN (23) MU (38) 3
Perez: SN MN (7) MN (24) 2
Rosberg: MN MU (16) MN (24) SN (48) 3
Hülkenberg MN MN (17 ) MN (37) SN (49) 3

Di Resta: SU MN (4) MN (24) 2
Ricciardo: SU MN (5) MN (18) MN (40) 3
Sutil: SN MN (5) MN (24) MU (43) 3
Gutierrez: SN MN (6) MN (22) MU (41) 3
Maldonado: MN MN (21) SN (50) 2
Bottas: MN MN (22) SN (54) 2
Pic: SN MN (4) MN (24) MN (34) 3
Van Der Garde: SN MN (5) MN (19) MN (38) 3
Chilton: SN MN (8) MN (20) MU (26) MU (37) 4

N=New; U=used; S=Soft; M=Medium

The UBS Race Strategy Report is written by James Allen with input and data from several F1 team strategists, from Pirelli and from JA on F1 technical adviser Mark GIllan

RACE HISTORY CHART

Kindly provided by Williams F1 Team

Note Raikkonen’s trace (in solid yellow) and compare it with other two stoppers like Di Resta and Perez – had Raikkonen tried to stay out on his second set of tyres, his performance would have dropped off and he would perhaps have been caught by Alonso.

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166 Comments
  1. Dan says:

    If lotus let grosean go he could have won the race for them. He had the speed and hardly any tyre problems. Was a silly idea to swap them but I guess kimi is up the ladder points wise

    1. AlexD says:

      It is a very one sided view of things…

    2. Sri says:

      Actually if Grosjean won the race, Vettel was second and Raikkonen third, then the points difference between Raikkonen and Vettel would be only three instead of seven. So Grosjean winning it actually would have helped Raikkonen in WDC.

      1. Chetan says:

        Very interesting !!!

      2. Dave C says:

        You think not letting Kimi through would have pleased him? he’s spoilt at Lotus they want to do everything to please him.

    3. Daninator07 says:

      It looked like GRO had better soft tyre performance, whereas RAI had better medium tyre performance.

    4. Zinobia says:

      Grosjean spend a lot of laps directly behind Vettel, he could have tried to overtake him, but he didn’t make one attempt.

      Kimi was done in at the first stint. He and Grosjean was running the same times in the first stint, and his tyres wasn’t worn out, but Lotus pitted him to early, to cover for Lewis. The soft tyres where at that stage around a second lap faster then the medium tyres. Kimi was placed on medium tyres and directly into a lot of traffic. It was a tactical error to pit Kimi at that time.
      Boullier has said that Lotus lost the win in that first stint, and he was right.

    5. shortsighted says:

      But Grosjean had to change his tires earlier with harder rubber to last the remaining laps and in the end fell further away from Vettel. It does not appear he had a better chance than Kimi with the softer tires who managed to draw Vettel in but not close enough to attempt a pass.

  2. LewisTheBest says:

    misleading point:

    -Kimi was testing with different setup in FP2 which proven to be not effective for long run as it causes graining. The setup change cost a lot of time to change hence he proceed with the plan leaving him with little time to run the race simulation and only managed 1 lap on medium.

    Romain on the other hand, managed to run his race simulation without interruption.

    - Kimi ‘s used soft compound (1st stint) was still lapping faster than those with fresh medium. There’s little sense in pitting kimi behind the traffic. The win was lost there as Eric Boullier acknowledge in which the article never bother to mentioned.

    - The win was lost because the team failed to came out with best strategy for their lead driver, leaving him too much to do behind the traffic.

    1. Rednas says:

      Absolutely true. Not the first time the team made a strategic error with Kimi. I mean it’s a great team with a great environment for Kimi but these errors might have cost him a win today and a 2nd place in Silverstone. Maybe Red Bull is the right team for him…

      1. anthony says:

        Red bull dont get it right for webber most of the time.

      2. dean cassady says:

        true, but both comments are equally true.
        I also, before, thought it would be a bad move, but going to the top machinery is what it is all about.
        Kimi took a lot less than any of the three or so other premium drivers on the grid; not only is Red Bull a leading candidate to have one of the bet machines in 2014, as long as the Renault is close to the top or at the top of the 1.6 power units; but it wouldn’t matter if it wasn’t, because Lotus is Renault powered as well, but he’ll get back into the appropriate compensation range that his peers are at.
        I say he’ll go to the place he thinks can most likely get the most competitive car.

  3. goferet says:

    It’s really funny is it not.

    Usually when the safety car comes out, am always under the impression that it will hinder the race leader because his time advantage would get erased and thus enable one to launch an attack from close quarters and yet this almost never happens.

    In this case, the safety car in fact helped the race leader for Vettel was able to get fresh tyres and thus neutralize the Lotus threat.

    However, it was a good strategy by Lotus and next time it will work out just fine but seeing as Grosjean missed out on his chance to win after what happened in Valencia 2012, can’t help thinking if he really was meant to win.

    Yes, when Alonso came in early for his first stop on mediums I thought their strategy hadn’t worked as planned and that’s why I was surprised to hear Alonso say the strategy was a success.

    Mclaren pulled off a beautiful strategy for Jenson and according to him, if he hadn’t been held up by the Caterhams, would have kept 5th place. It was odd though that Perez wasn’t put on the same strategy taking into account he begun much further back.

    As for poor Lewis, you can always be sure he will somehow lose out in the safety car period yes instead of battling the Alonsos after his last stop, here he was mixing it up with the Saubers.

    In conclusion, I didn’t agree with Pirelli’s decision to bring the softs if they already knew these tyres last a couple of laps.

    Better the supersofts than the softs.

    1. Jonathan says:

      If I remember correctly they used not to be allowed to make a pitstop during a safety car period. They were forced to allow it when cars were in danger of running out of fuel in the refuelling days. Maybe it is time to ban them once again as the tyres would be able to cope with slower lap times. “Free” pit stops whilst the safety car is out has ruined many races now. Vettel has been gifted several wins by a free stop just as his tyres were about to give up and with cars catching him quickly.

      1. Basil says:

        I agree wholeheartedly!

      2. SteveS says:

        “Vettel has been gifted several wins by a free stop just as his tyres were about to give up and with cars catching him quickly.”

        Your memory is playing tricks on you. And that’s not what happened in Germany.

      3. Rudy says:

        Oh yes, of course it has. In Monaco 2011 or 2012 he was about to be overtaken when they stopped the race. In Canada this year, again. Now in Germany. You should take a look at the video and see how GRO was catching him fast. There are some years when it appears the championship leader gets “extra help”, like HAM in 2007. This infurates some fans.

      4. Bart says:

        @Rudy –

        Monaco 2011, not 2012- You seem to forget that the only reason Vettel had to struggle to hold off Button and Alonso was because of a slow pitstop. That cost him his lead, and forced him to make his tyres last for 50 odd laps. And they laster until lap 72. Several cars crashed as well, leaving 2 choices- race ending under the safety car, or being red flagged to give the others a chance.

        Canada 2013 didn’t even have a safety car.

        Germany 2013- Grosjean was catching Vettel, but there’s no guarantee he would have got past.

        I fail to see how Vettel has had extra help, or Hamilton for that matter (who even if he had so-called “help” in 2007, was hindered in 2008 by stewarding decisions).

    2. David C says:

      I think your being a bit hard on Pirelli, the contract says a mix of 2 to 3 stops and every runner did that except Max chillton with the majority on three stops, maybe if we had the super soft Merc and RBR would have been pushed to 4 stop particularly without the SC. Judging by the above data Pirelli got it just on the aggressive side of perfect (8/10 runners 3 stopping). For me an excellent tyre selection, we don’t want cars 1/4+ stopping

  4. R says:

    I think the safety car was absurd. Having the whole field drive around at half pace for 10 mins just so one car can catch up nearly put me to sleep. Safety car will never be perfect and often dictate race results….but never has a solution been more simple. If the reason for the safety car is no longer present…pull the bloody thing in. Dont wait for lapped cars to rejoin the tail of the field even if there is an unnecessary insistence on letting cars unlap themselves.

    1. Phil R says:

      I know where you are coming from, but I’d prefer one or two extra laps of SC and a potential amazing fightback through the field. I think they could release the lapped cars earlier though.

      1. Tim says:

        It’s all to do with ‘elf and safety, innit :-)

    2. Jonathan says:

      Totally correct – but Bernie wouldn’t like his latest favourite having to fight for his wins when he can be gifted them.

    3. knoxploration says:

      This. Except the correct answer to the safety car is that any car about to be lapped should immediately let the lapping car(s) past while behind the safety car, on the first available safe portion of the track.

      The rule as stands is not just moronic, but also downright dangerous. For lap after lap, we watched tire and brake temperatures drop, and tire pressures fall — the very same things that likely conspired to kill Senna — so that a car which through its own fault was out of contention could unfairly come back into contention.

      Not to mention that it is (usually) the least experienced drivers in the worst cars that we are letting navigate a track which we are still saying I’d under safety car conditions at their own recognizance.

      And I say all of this as a fan of Red Bull and Webber, who just profited hugely from this terrible rule.

      As long as this rule stand it is clear that we only pay lip service to driver safety.

      1. zotje says:

        In concept i fully agree with you, those drivers about to be lapped would have had to move over for the faster cars anyways, and it would shave 2-3 laps out of every safety car situation.

        There is one particular case that needs attention though. Imagine the following situation: Halfway through the race a Caterham is running in 10th (through whatever circumstance: not having pitted, …) and about to be lapped. At that point it becomes tactically sound to stay ahead of the leader at all cost, even to the point of ignoring blue flags until given a drive through penalty.
        This because under normal circumstances the Caterham would never be able to hold that position, but should a safety car emerge at that time, they would be able to lap the 11th car, giving them a 1:30ish min gap. even with a drive through penalty or even stop and go, that would still be a minute net profit.

    4. Andy says:

      I agree. The whole purpose of having DRS, Kers and the tyres was to promote overtaking. It makes the lapped car problem in a safety car restart insignificant. Add to that the rules regarding blue flags, if a driver hasn’t moved over after passing 3 marshal’s posts he should be penalised.
      Once the safety car is deployed, the drivers have to drive to a delta. I don’t understand why they have to bunch the field up and release lapped cars. As soon as the problem is cleared, the safety car should pit. The drivers would still have to drive to the delta until they reach the start finish line.
      We didn’t see the marshals recover the Marussia, but if it took more than 3 minutes I would be amazed. Why we had to watch the safety car for another 5 laps (10 minutes) is beyond me.

      1. Mitchel says:

        +1.

        Because it’s so obvious and sensible, there’s no way it will be adopted!

    5. JF says:

      Why not just let the lapped cars fall to the back and call them unlapped rather than make them actually go around. Would save some time. Or just drop the whole unlapping business as others have suggested.

      1. hulliby says:

        +1!!
        How hard could it be to say “Webber, you’re now on the lead lap” – if they had, the SC would have come in earlier, and the fight for the podium would have been even more interesting.

      2. Ravi N says:

        they would gain one lap worth fuel and tyres

      3. JF says:

        Call it the backmarker bonus. In a sense, since the slowest of the backmarkers is usually a lap or more down, they don’t have to complete the full distance so their tires a always fresher than the lead runners anyway. LOL

    6. zotje says:

      Well, this was the way it used to be, and hen people complained how unfair it was if you were stuck behind a lapped car on the restart…

  5. goferet says:

    Meanwhile, one important lesson I learnt after this race is >>> Always take Lewis Hamilton at his word because he’s the one on the ground so knows what he’s saying e.g.

    1) If during winter testing Lewis says we still lack downforce, then downforce we lack

    2) If Lewis says Red Bull are untouchable then Red Bull are untouchable

    3) If Lewis says am struggling then rest assured dark clouds loom for race day

    4) If Lewis says Red Bull are the favourites then I place a bet with Red Bull.

    5) If Lewis says Alonso is the best driver on the grid who deserves 4 titles, well who am I to say otherwise.

    6) If Lewis says the title is out of reach, well I might as well pack up and go.

    7) If Lewis says we didn’t gain a advantage from Pirelli test, well that’s that >>> No questions asked.

    1. unF1nnished business says:

      A couple yrs. ago Lewis said Red Bull were just a drinks company.

      1. Tim says:

        Please can you provide a link to this quote.

      2. Tim says:

        To be fair, he didn’t say they are just a drinks company.
        I have copied the actual quote below :

        “Red Bull are not a manufacturer, they are a drinks company. It’s a drinks company versus McLaren/Ferrari history.”
        All the same, whilst I would agree he would probably take his words back, if he could, the addition of the ‘just’ makes a huge difference to the implication of his statement.

      3. David C says:

        ‘Red Bull are just a drinks company,’ says revved-up Lewis Hamilton

      4. Tim says:

        Yes, that’s the headline, read the actual quote in the article ;-)
        Journalists use headlines to grab readers attention, they are much more careful with their quotes – maybe you should take a leaf out of their book!

    2. Nick_F1 says:

      yes, in this matter it’s better to listen to Lewis than Niko. It was the same in 2010-2012.

    3. SteveS says:

      “Always take Lewis Hamilton at his word because he’s the one on the ground”

      All the other drivers are “on the ground” as well.

      “If Lewis says Alonso is the best driver on the grid …”

      .. then it’s pretty obvious that Lewis is just bigging up himself, given his history with Alonso. How can the best driver on the grid be anyone OTHER then the one who has won the last three championships and is tightening his grip on this one?

      1. Tim says:

        How can the best driver on the grid be anyone OTHER then the one who has won the last three championships and is tightening his grip on this one?…
        I am not saying you are wrong (and for all I know, Seb may well be the best), but that statement is an enormous over simplification. The car is far and away the main, and overriding, factor in deciding the F1 championships. If you don’t believe me, please compare Jenson Buttons performance in the Honda and then the Brawn.

      2. SteveS says:

        “The car is far and away the main, and overriding, factor in deciding the F1 championships.”

        If that’s true then how can anybody claim with a straight face that Alonso or (insert name of driver of your choice) is a great driver?

        Surely the car was the main overriding, factor in deciding the F1 championship in every other year before Vettel came along, was it not? In 2005? 2006? 2007? 2008? In which case, are you wagging your admonishing finger at all the “Alonso is the greatest driver of his generation” and “Lewis is the fastest driver on the grid” types?

      3. Tim says:

        If that’s true then how can anybody claim with a straight face that Alonso or (insert name of driver of your choice) is a great driver?…

        I don’t know, perhaps you should ask them ;-)
        Seriously, are you arguing the car is not the main factor?

      4. Bart says:

        “Seriously, are you arguing the car is not the main factor?”

        It is one of the factors, but what SteveS was probably getting at is, that some seem to bring up the car factor when Vettel does something, more often than they do so for people like Alo/Ham.

    4. David C says:

      Who is Lewis to say who SHOULD win a title, should we do away with the WDC and have an end of year ask Lewis. The current format is that there are usually about 20 races a year with points awarded for various position attained and after all the races are ran who ever has the most points is WDC. Why would you pack up, do you only want to watch if LH wins the WDC? Maybe he’ll win a race or there could be some interesting races with other drivers. I thought you gave out interesting stats?

    5. Tom says:

      Very amusing post :)
      I almost thought you were serious for a second!

    6. Dan says:

      Lewis said last week he finaly has a car to match RB. Was he talking about his daily driver?

    7. K says:

      Lewis said on Saturday that he had an equal car to Vettel. So take his word about that too then and draw your conclusions.

  6. Mack says:

    Does RBR strategy include a wayward rear tyre (tongue in cheek), get well soon Mr Allen. Pity about the safety car ruining the Lotus push, although I am not sure Lotus would have won without it. Would have been great to watch it unfold though!

    1. Dan says:

      judging by the logs he may have come out in front of Vettel if he had their regular 2.5-2.8 stop…

  7. Grabyrdy says:

    Fascinating stuff. Shows what was lost by a totally unnecessary safety-car.

  8. Elie says:

    Mighty second stint by Kimi once he dispensed with both Mercs and his last few laps were super- I kept seeing purple sectors on live timing app. Bit surprised Lotus pitted Kimi so early compared to Grosjean even if he was loosing a few tenths. They needed to get him just ahead of the Mercs which held him for a while. Also given his speed on the mediums at the end of the second stint- was there a consideration of pitting him around lap 44 for mediums again??- he would have come out ahead of Romain and only 1.5 sec to Seb -with more time to hunt him down.I did not want Lotus to keep him out either- it was too big a risk.

  9. muatasim says:

    As I expected before the race, it didn’t work for the Ferrari !!

    Honstely , I agree with Alonso comment ” if you have the pace ,it doesn’t matter what tyre you started on”….. Ferrari is slow ..pure and simple

  10. sandman says:

    I have to disagree with the Perez and Di Resta comparison. That line looks pretty straight compared to the continous downward slope of the other two after the safety car. Also lotus is probably the best car when it comes to tyre management.

  11. JohnBt says:

    One degree change in track temperature can favor or destroy strategies easily. It’s like a mood swing suddenly for some teams. Red Bull seems to be the only car managing them well.

    If Vettel wins at Hungary it’s gonna be boring for the rest of the season, I sure hope he does not. Very high bets on his fourth title then fan base will start dropping like the Schumi years.

    Lotus needs the Sahara desert heat to thrive.

    Ferrari needs a miracle to turn around. They can’t keep depending on Alonso, in fact I feel Alonso is tired of it if not for his high wages.

    Merc still got the tyre gremlins, so much for the secret test. Is that why Brawn is anxious seeking permission from FIA to allow them to run for one day at Silverstone coming test.

  12. Jon says:

    How about McLarens race? 2 stops. could have finished higher up without the safety car. A vast improvement over the first half of the season. Button even had a smile on his face!

    1. Robert says:

      +1 It was the best McLaren race of the season so far, and TBH Jenson showed why his is still the #1 driver at McLaren, and indeed a #1 driver period. He has to be hating how badly this year, a prime year of his driving career, has slipped away. But surprises can happen…perhaps in a few races…

  13. Sufyaan Patel says:

    So used softs for Kimi at the end. Judging by Alonso’s pace on new softs, had Kimi had the same at his disposal, he would had an even better chance of winning.

    1. eetFrog says:

      …he was never going to steal Vettel’s home win – not with the chance of being alongside him at Redbull, just around the corner!!

      1. Basil says:

        Of course, he would! Kimi is neither a coward nor into politics!

  14. stig says:

    James, how much was Kimi closing on Vet pr.lap after he passed Rosberg, and before safty car?

    Great stuff!

  15. Phil Glass says:

    Lotus know how to shoot themselves in the foot.
    Raikkonen should have passed Grosjean at the re-start. Since he was going to anyway, that should have been the time to do it. Instead, as in Bahrain 2012, Grosjean was allowed to stay ahead of Kimi for several laps before the switch happens. What was the possible benefit to anybody in that?

    ps best race of the year, and I had to miss the live broadcast. Didn’t realise before that with the BBC replay you don’t get the podium ceremony, or the post race room.

    1. Ghengis says:

      The reasoning I’ve heard is so that Kimi, tucked in behind RoGro, could use the DRS through various points on the track to decrease the wear on his tyres.

      1. deancassady says:

        very interesting!

  16. Phil Glass says:

    James, a question on Ferrari please. Alonso seems rather subdued at present, not his fiery self these last couple of races. Do you think he is still as confident as ever of beating Seb to the title?

    1. AlexD says:

      He knows that it is highly unlikely.

      1. justafan says:

        No, it’s not. Last year Alonso was 44 points ahead of Vettel after Germany yet he still lost the title. This year Alonso is only 34 points away from Vettel after Germany so there is still everything to play for.

      2. Tom says:

        Alonso doesn’t have a Red Bull though. His C’ship is over, Ferrari should start focusing really hard on the 2014 car.

      3. Yago says:

        Man, you are forgetting about the cars…

    2. Panayiotis says:

      I agree. You can see that from his starts as well. Not gaining positions like last year. Looks like another dry year for the scuderia

  17. Kingszito says:

    Lotus has never beaten Red Bull in that type of scenario before, it didn’t happen in Bahrain last season and this season too and didn’t happen in Germany either. Red Bull is far better than the rest of the field. This season is over in Red Bull’s favour again! It’s a bitter truth, but we have to accept it and start focusing on next season where maybe any other team will have a chance.

    1. Bart says:

      “Red Bull is far better than the rest of the field.”

      How are they “far better” if they win by one second, with the clear possibility for either Lotus to have won, with Alonso’s Ferrari only a few seconds behind?

      1. Fireman says:

        Red Bull has currently the best qualifying and race pace combo, which allows flexibility in race strategy. Lotus needs flawless strategy execution to win.

      2. Bart says:

        Best by a small margin =/= “Far better”.

    2. Dave C says:

      What are you talking about you fail to mention its Vettel they fail to beat when things gets close, they’ve beaten Mark plenty of times quite fairly and comfortably, as you mentioned just look at Bahrain this year and last year…

  18. tank says:

    James, considering that the track was rubbered in at the end of the race, do you think Raikkonen could have done two more laps on the soft?

    Watching the gap between Vettel prior to the stop, I believe he lost two seconds in the two laps before his stop, leaving the gap to Vettel at ~13 seconds. If he’d pitted when he had the 15 second gap, he’d have come out in the same place as Grosjean on track. This would have got him closer to Vettel and made the race to the line “two laps longer”, so to speak.

    1. Elie says:

      Good point- I mentioned this before. Somewhere between lap 42-44 Kimi was 16.9 s ahead of Romain and 15.8 sec ahead if Seb. Had Lotus stopped him then , put him on mediums, he would have come out just in front RG and maybe 1.2 sec behind Seb. It’s important to note Kimi was the fastest man in track on mediums just before he pitted…

      1. Rockie says:

        Did you consider how long the softs would last?
        See Button the drop off was serious!

      2. Elie says:

        In my comment I suggested Mediums-not softs.
        Kimi was consistently fastest at the end of the second stint also on the mediums which made me wonder why they went to softs. If he pitted at lap 44 he would have had 16 laps to attach and he proved just before he was the fastest on track with the mediums..

      3. justafan says:

        Lost time in pitstop is around 18 secs at the Ring.

      4. Elie says:

        During live commentary Brundle or DC said it was around 16.5 seconds.

  19. Jonathan says:

    On the one hand the lap chart looks very odd but on the other it makes a lot of sense – and I guess it would not be practical to show the graph any other way.

    We all know that the safety car slows the pack down to a fraction of normal race times yet the average lap time is shown as increasing when the safety car came out. In terms of the pack gathering together this is shown perfectly – look at Webber’s line – he would have been nowhere if the Marussia’s fire hadn’t happened.

    It would appear that the safety car incident happening at any other point or not being required to let MW catch the pack up would have meant a much more satisfactory result!

    Personally I really don’t like the idea of RB gaining constructors points from Webber’s car and would be quite happy if the unsafe release penalty took away Vettel’s point contribution.

    1. Bart says:

      I assume you mean Red Bull should have had their constructor’s points taken away for the race, which I would agree with. Vettel and Webber shouldn’t lose any driver’s points.

  20. RCF says:

    Brilliant analysis as usual James.

    What if Lotus did Kimi’s last stop a bit earlier, when he had about 15 odd seconds between him and Vettel, and then they fit primes instead of options?

    That could have addressed the issue of tyre longevity for the final push. Even if he came out of that stop behind Vettel, he would have had more laps to put some pressure on the leader and with slightly newer tyres, right?

    1. James Allen says:

      I asked that. They felt the fastest way was to use softs for a blast at the end

      1. carly says:

        and as usual in crunch situations they got it wrong !

      2. Irish con says:

        I think if they had a new set of softs like alonso and got romain out of the way sooner kimi would of won. I don’t think used softs were the way to go. Should of got kimi on new primes 3 or 4 laps earlier and have him come out closer to vettel and really push him hard for last 15 laps.

      3. RCF says:

        Lotus’ simulations must have overestimated the speed they would get out of that last set of used options.

  21. TGS says:

    What is the deal with the “Device”? I noticed that Grosjean used it in practice either this race or the previous one. Are Lotus planning on using it for racing or does it just help with setup or something?

    1. Antti says:

      Kimi used it for the race in Silverstone.

      1. TGS says:

        Did it do any good? I didn’t hear any mention of it in the post race analysis.

      2. Antti says:

        The word I’ve heard is that it didn’t perform according to expectations in the race.

  22. Andrew M says:

    Bit of a slow burner, but a good example of how the rules can be used in current F1 to give us good racing. The cars were managing their tyres but could push if they wanted to to make an extra stop, there was enough difference in tyre performance to have a viable counter strategy (although I still don’t like people not setting a time in Q3…), and DRS made it possible to overtake without making to too easy.

  23. OJ says:

    I have to say JB is a doing a great job with the crap car that he’s been given. He almost beat Hamilton in a Mercedes that is far superior to the Mclaren. It’s a shame that JB has been let down one too many times by Mclaren in the past, he still remains the best driver in the sport – possibly the only one that rivals him is Alonso. The lesser drivers Seb, Kimi and Lewis are vastly overrated and flattered by their machinery.

    1. unF1nnished business says:

      I have nothing against JB but that is the funniest post I’ve read all week! Is it deliberate?

    2. aezy_doc says:

      I don’t think the McLaren is that far behind the Mercs in a race. I’ll put this down to tyre deg on the Mercs. If they sort that out then they will certainly be better than McLaren are currently.

    3. Miha Bevc says:

      Jenson is a fine racer but… you must be joking.

    4. Joel says:

      Got your sarcasm… :)
      Even if this is not a sarcasm, I would still laugh.

    5. NickH says:

      Hilarious post. All the drivers you mention apart from button can out perform a bad car

    6. anthony says:

      Jb can not set up a car in the brawn he would use barracelos setup for the race. when mclaren followed his wishes lost the plot and followed lewis setup the mclaren came good,now he only has perez to follow mclaren 5th best car.

  24. San-Ching says:

    So the new rear tires did not appear to upset the order too much except possibly Mercedes, it is rather the temperature and the upgrade that push Lotus forward?

  25. Wombat says:

    Webber’s time-track follows that of the first four, it you discount the time lost by the prolonged pit-stop and being caught behind a fast group after the safety car period. Great pity his race was compromised by that pit stop. He had the car and performance to win.

    1. unF1nnished business says:

      I have to say even I question his ‘luck’ as this seems to happen to him all too often.

      1. Bart says:

        Well, he’s had only 2 mechanical DNFs since 2010, compared to his teammate’s 6.

      2. unF1nnished business says:

        It’s not about mechanical DNF’s.
        As the original post states, it’s about the lost time/failure in the pits.

      3. Tom says:

        Agreed, there is definitely something fishy going on. I hope he writes a biography later in his life or something and sheds some light on what is actually going on.

      4. Bart says:

        @unF1nnished business

        Why should numerous mechanical DNFs be swept under the carpet, but a handful of issues should be considered “luck” or something sinister?

  26. Miha Bevc says:

    Thanks James & team, this is great as always.

    Since it is mid-season, can we soon expect an article which rates teams and drivers up until now? And what can we expect from them in the second part? This is always a good read …

      1. Miha Bevc says:

        Can we also expect a piece on 2014 technical regulations and what they will mean in real life? I’ve read there are a lot of other changes, not only engines…

      2. Fireman says:

        This would be nice!

    1. unF1nnished business says:

      I think a mid-term report on Ferarri alone would be an article onto itself! They had a title challenging car at the start of the season and now they can barely reach the podium.
      Is this just a wrong turn in development?

  27. Chetan says:

    @ James Allen : Hi JA, i noticed @ the beginning of lap 6, start/finish straight, that Alonso’s DRS was open whilest there was no car in front of him . I found that strange because he was not a second behind the car in front of him. It also happened in Bahrein.He should be penalised ! Did you guys also noticed this ? Grtz from Belgium. Raikkonen=Legend !!!

    1. Seán Craddock says:

      Maybe he had been behind Hamilton who pitted according to the graph?

      1. puffing says:

        Yes, this was. I remember PdlR pointed at the fact on a TV broadcast.

    2. Irish con says:

      I think u will find that Daniel R was in front of him in the toro Rosso and he had just pitted so alonso had every right to use it. Stop finding excuses to have a go at Ferrari.

      1. Chetan says:

        I have nothing against Alonso, he’s fantastic.Just d’ont like the way Ferrari dealed with Raikkonen in ’08 & ’09.Most of the fans actually believe the whole ” Motivation” story, but that was a big ly because they wanted to get Santander as Title sponsor an Santander wanted Alonso ( $$$). Anyway, if you want to know more, you can check here : http://f1bias.com/2012/04/05/truth-about-kimi-ferrari-santander-2008/, Grtz

      2. puffing says:

        “He [Alonso] should be penalized !
        “I have nothing against Alonso, he’s fantastic.
        “Just d’ont like the way Ferrari dealed with Raikkonen in ’08 & ’09.”

        Strange logic, yours. You say Alonso is fantastic, but you dislike Ferrari. Therefore you attack Ferrari by asking for unjustified penalties to Alonso.

      3. Chetan says:

        I admit i was wrong about the DRS because he was behind Ricciardo before he entered the pits like Irish con said. The reason i was a bit fired up is because what happened in Bahrein. On lap 3 ALO opened his DRS long way before the activation point and he got away with that.(Wich allowed him to pass Rosberg) And i think i have the right to say that i like Alonso as a great F1 driver, but d’ont like Ferrari anymore because of what happened with Raikkonen in ’08&’09.

      4. Fireman says:

        Karma will keep Alonso from winning the WDC in Ferrari ;) If Ferrari blunders in 2014 it may very well be true.

  28. shri says:

    While there are no ifs and buts.

    Had there been no safety car, Grosjean was in great shape to win tipping Vettel.

    Ferrari’s car performance did not help them and should be happy with their position.

  29. unF1nnished business says:

    Interesting analysis James. I guess that answers the ‘what if’ on Kimi’s final pit.

  30. Pete says:

    Webber’s trace looks like a very scary rollercoaster ride.

  31. rob says:

    Just a comment to say thank you for this and all the other terrific posts. I thoroughly enjoy the insights and information — and that you respond to people who ask questions or make points. Impressive!

  32. Tornillo Amarillo says:

    Sad for GROSJEAN, he had the upper hand in Nurburgring, but it wasn’t his day.

    Ferrari, McLaren & co. should notice that Mercedes is fast in qualify and also in the last stint, it means in LOW FUEL, so we should take that into account regarding race strategies, shouldn’t we?

  33. Danny Almonte says:

    Lotus are pretenders. They will stick to their conservative strategy and hope for the odd podium or two. They need hot weather to perform like Mercedes seems to need the cold.

    1. Tom says:

      They are no pretenders at all. Yes they’re punching well above their weight but they should be taken seriously and given credit where its due.

      I think MANY people would love to see Lotus become really successful.

  34. Panagiotis says:

    So ferrari didn’t calculate the strategy correctly and or the car simply doesn’t have the pace. But the question is who said that this is the best strategy for the German gp, stefano? Pat? And who’s fault is ferrari doesn’t have the pace ? Stefano? Pat?

    1. James Allen says:

      It was the strategy team in Maranello

      They have a pretty good record on the whole

  35. Matt says:

    For the second straight race, I think that the strategists at Lotus blew it again for Kimi. Kimi could have won the German GP if they didn’t pit him for the option tyres with 10 laps to go. He was ahead of Vettel by 15 seconds with 13 laps to go and Vettel wasn’t catching Kimi at more than a second a lap.
    Yes, I understand that Lotus were having radio problems, but they could still hear Kimi at a few places on track. I think that Kimi wanted to stay out.
    I know that asking the prime tyres to do a 35 lap stint seems like a lot, but Grosjean was able to do 13 laps on the option tyres with full fuel in the beginning of the race.
    To me, that demonstrated to me just how good the Lotus is on their tyres.

    1. James Allen says:

      You aren’t allowing for the fact that the medium tyres drop off a cliff in performance at a certain point

      They had all the models telling them that they risked losing to Alonso in closing laps if that happened

  36. All revved-up says:

    Love the Race History Chart.

    Webber’s graph line must be one of the most unusual to-date.

  37. Seán Craddock says:

    Great analysis as always James of what turned out to be an incredibly interesting race! One can only wonder if Lotus could have done it had the safety car not hurt their strategy.

    Just one thing, this line should be changed. How many laps to go were there? Because if it was 12 with 15sec lead I would have liked to see Kimi try to go to the end.
    “With 12 laps to go he had a 15 second lead over Vettel after the German’s third stop. But his tyres were already 16 laps old and there were 19 laps to go.”

    1. Galapago555 says:

      Looks like the correct figure when Kimi was 15 secs ahead of Seb is 19 laps to go.

      http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2013/07/07/2013-german-grand-prix-lap-times-and-fastest-laps/

  38. Tim says:

    Is it sadly ironic that F1 is moving toward more sustainable engine technology while at the same time using tires, which are made from barrels and barrels of oil, at the rate of four every eight laps? Yes. Yes it is.

    1. Robert says:

      It isn’t about “sustainable engine technology”. It IS about “Race on Sunday, sell cars on Monday”. Nearly all of the F1 teams that produce road cars have gone to turbocharged engines and hybrid power for their super and performance roadcars – EXCEPT Ferrari, who are doing Ferrari-sourced turbo engines for Maserati but not their own cars AFAIK.

      F1 is about marketing – and teams want that linkage to their road cars. In fact, Renault, Mercedes and even McLaren are DEMANDING it.

      1. Tim says:

        Actually, it is about “sustainable technology.” That’s been the line from the FIA from the get-go.

        Regardless, the wastage of tires this year is an under-reported environmental blight on this sport.

      2. Robert says:

        I agree with you that has been the tag line in public, BUT the whole manoeuvring behind the scenes has been that Renault and Mercedes AMG have gone to turbos in all of their high performance cars, and the link to large, normally aspirated engines was gone. With McLaren powering their new road cars with turbo units as well, the power shifted from Ferrari, who were the last normally aspirated supercar left in F1.

        Remember, it wasn’t that long ago that we had similar turbos, on small-sized engines, and there was NO mention of “sustainable technology” back when Senna drove one.

  39. SteveS says:

    There’s no way of knowing whether Lotus would have been able to pull off a successful two-stop strategy, and thus whether that strategy was “ruined” by the safety car. Given that they were consistently lapping at the same speed as Vettel, it seems unlikely they that their tyre wear could have been much less. Usually the cars on fewer stops are noticeably slower than those doing more stops.

  40. SteveS says:

    For a crash strapped team like Lotus, getting a big haul of constructors points is a lot more important than maximizing Kimi’s (rather slim) shot at the WDC. Their race strategy is going to reflect that outlook.

  41. Marcelo Leal says:

    Hamilton pitted one lap before the safety car, and Alonso was behind him. If he had the lucky to pit as everyone did, using the safety car period, he would be fighting with the leaders!
    Alonso was close to the Lotuses, and Hamilton was lapping at the same performance than RB, Lotus or Ferrari at the end. So, I think he could get a podium in Germany.
    Another interesting point, is that Mercedes can start to benefit more and more from safety cars, because they tend to be deployed from the begining to the middle of the race, and that compensates the time Mercede loses in high fuel. They need to think more about the strategies…

  42. Ross McDougall says:

    James why did seb (and Lewis )put on worn mediums when they still had a set of new mediums when when everyone pitted for the safety car, was this due to it being a short stint or so they had a new set to change to at their final stop in order to better fight the chalenge from lotus and Ferrari ?

  43. Greg (Aus) says:

    I was curious about the early timing of Ricciardo’s first stop on the primes, he did just 13 laps on that set. Was there a particular problem that he had? That early second stop really hurt him when the safety car came out 5 laps later, allowing those behind him on tack to get fresher tyres, and ultimately costing him a point or two.

  44. Quaz says:

    I disagree with comparing DIR and PER stints to RAI,s pace. For anyone who knows how to read a graph that comaprison shows exactly the opposite of what James argues. Sorry mate, no respect :(

  45. Tornillo Amarillo says:

    Oh James, if teams cannot swap tyres anymore, that means a death certificate for QUALIFY?

    I mean, if teams used tyres for qualify and the same tyre in race but in the opposite side of the car, since this is ban from now on, who is going to put laps in qualify?

  46. Tom says:

    It’s a shame that the Red Bull’s are so far superior to the rest of the field. How close and exciting would this C’ship be otherwise with Ferrari, Mercedes and Lotus.

    This season is a write off already in regards to the WDC/WCC but I am fascinated as to who will come second, especially with the Constructors.

    1. K says:

      RBRs superior? Mercedes is the fastest car, only limited on full tanks. Ferrari and Lotus have same race pace as RBR, sometimes faster (like Lotus this weekend).

      People will say anything to diminish Vettel’s performance, eh?

      1. Yago says:

        In a grand prix there are about sixty laps plus twelve or so in quail. If you average over all those laps and over the season, with the different weather conditions, you have a clear winner: Red Bull. And by quite a margin.

        I know there are some hardcore Vettel fans here. I am not the one to disabuse you by saying he is not the best, as it is ok with me that you think so. But man, if his car is not the best, then he must be Superman or ALO and HAM incompetents.

        So please, you are free to think he is the best, but do not despise his opponents by making skewed analysis.

      2. SteveS says:

        “If you average over all those laps and over the season, with the different weather conditions, you have a clear winner: Red Bull.”

        No, you don’t. You have “Vettel”. Not “Red Bull”.

        If the Bull’s were remotely as good as people like you keep suggesting, then the man in the No 2 Red Bull should be runner up every year. In fact it has not happened even once. And it’s not going to happen this year either.

      3. Yago says:

        @SteveS

        I will try to explain it so it is easy to understand, as some of you seem to choose those facts that bring you to the conclusion you are aiming for, instead of taking into account the whole picture.

        Each team has two titular drivers. To compare the relative performance of two cars, you have to take into account the performance of FOUR drivers, not just three. As you only included ALO, VET and WEB your analysis is skewed. Try to do it again including MAS, and you will conclude Red Bull is the superior car.

        But don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean ALO is better than VET, nor the other way around. I’m not trying to do that type of comparison, what I am just saying is something pretty clear for any UNBIASED fan with a minimum knowledge of F1: the Red Bull is the better car.

      4. Bart says:

        @Yago – Indeed RBR have the slightly better car this year, but not by a big margin. Alonso is barely a win’s worth of points behind. That doesn’t make him incompetent, even if his car was equal.

        Vettel’s been very consistent this year, and that has played a part in the RB9 looking as if it is further ahead than it actually is. A bit like Alonso’s consistency last year probably flattering the Ferrari (the RB9 this year is a bit better than the F2012 was last year, but still).

      5. Yago says:

        @Bart
        Nice to see somebody trying to give a balanced view, and trying to be unbiased. This said, you still are missing a bit. First five races of the season, it was pretty even. Red Bull superior regarding pure performance but not able to put it together in the races. Three races were Ferrari had advantage in race peace (Australia, China (slightly) and Spain), and two were the advantage was on Red Bull side (Malaysia (slightly) and Bahrein). However, Ferrari had to compensate from not very good starting positions, which is a big handicap. Then, in wet conditions, Red Bull miles ahead.
        From then on (Monaco, Canada, Silverstone and Germany) Red Bull has had a big advantage over Ferrari. So as you can see, overall the difference is quite bigger than what you said.

        Then regarding 2012, that Ferrari was way worse than 2013 Red Bull. A big difference there. Since Barcelona they were much better, but the first four races they where absolutely nowhere, probably one of the worst cars (not including Hispania, Caterham and Marusia). But it is true that in the wet the performance was much better.

  47. bmg says:

    Hello James, Vetel and Grosjean pitted on lap 24 but on your gragh they did not loose time for this.

    Is that because of the deployment of the safety car?

  48. Dan says:

    whats with the points system. thats plain ridiculous!

  49. Yos says:

    This season is already done, thanks to Pirelli…no consistent title contender except redbull and vettel. I think webber should have stopped this year, he is only proving his decline by staying.

    1. anthony says:

      Do you recall silverstone, maylasia, monarco,australia,canada.

    2. Bart says:

      34 point gap with 250 remaining? Don’t blame you for giving up though, Vettel’s been almost impeccable so far ;)

  50. Jawad says:

    Anyone knows what happened to Alonso at the end of the race and why he wasn’t penalized for not driving his car to the paddock?

  51. Amazing article as always.
    But you missed the point that Raikkonen’s lead fell by nearly two seconds before his final stop. That would have surely prompted Lotus to pit and avoid a repeat of China 2013.

  52. NickH says:

    Pirelli now taking soft and medium tyres to hungary rather than Hard medium, should suit Lotus again

    1. Sri says:

      Yes, surprised that they can change the compounds in whatever way they want to nullifying their own earlier decisions even though it affects WDC so much.

  53. anthony says:

    did webber pit at safty car period.

    1. hulliby says:

      Webber pitted on laps 8 (disaster), 23 and 38.
      Vettel got the fastest, 2nd fastest and 23rd fastest pit stops of the race.
      Webber got the 18th, 21st, and slowest pit stops.
      Go figure…

  54. JB says:

    I think lotus should have been more 1 driver focused. Like the way Ross Brawn runs a team. Grosjean should have let Kimi through after the safety car. When Vettel had the KERS problem because he was pushed (so much that the KERS overheat). Kimi would be more confident in striking an overtake.

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