Why Hamilton could pass in Hungary and Vettel couldn’t – and other stories
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Posted By: James Allen  |  30 Jul 2013   |  6:31 pm GMT  |  195 comments

The Hungarian Grand Prix was one of the best races of the season so far and once again race strategy was the key to the outcome. The timing of the pitstops and an ability to cut through traffic were the decisive factors in the outcome with Mercedes’ straightline speed advantage a key factor.

Since Monaco Mercedes has raised its game in managing the thermal degradation of the tyres in the race – with the exception of Germany on those one-off Pirelli tyres – and is now in line with the field average for degradation. Hamilton set his fastest lap of the race on the penultimate lap, showing that there was still plenty of performance in the tyres despite track temperatures of 50 degrees. Mercedes would never have managed that a year ago!

For the second year in a row in Hungary, Lotus managed to beat Red Bull by using one less stop in its race strategy. As last year Raikkonen qualified behind but finished ahead of Sebastian Vettel.

Pre-race expectations

Pirelli brought the new specification soft and medium tyres to Hungary and before the race the expectations were that most runners would do three stops with some likely to try two, particularly Lotus and McLaren.

Both McLaren drivers had the option to start on medium tyres, as did Mark Webber who set no time in Qualifying 3 and was 10th on the grid. All three took that option and it worked for Button and Webber. Perez lost time behind Hulkenberg in the middle stint and Maldonado in the third.

No-one was sure what effect the very high track temperatures of 50 degrees plus would have on the racing. In fact they seemed to help everyone rather than hinder them. The medium tyre, which will be used at many of the remaining races of the season, showed itself to be very durable.

Friday practice had appeared to show that Mercedes were not particularly fast on long runs, but close observation revealed they had been doing work on lifting and coasting into corners to cool the engine, which masked their true pace.

Red Bull had apparently dominant race pace and Sebastian Vettel, starting second on the grid behind the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton, was expected to win.

But that is not how it turned out and here we will explain why.


Hamilton plays to Mercedes’ strengths

Lewis Hamilton was surprised when he took pole position, but nothing like as surprised as Vettel and Red Bull. Their strategy, as always, was based on qualifying in pole position and then building a gap at the start to manage the race. Starting behind Hamilton complicated this. Vettel started well enough from the dirty side of the track to run second in the opening stint and from there Red Bull’s strategy was to run longer first and second stints than Hamilton and then attack him at the end on fresher tyres. To set this up, Vettel stopped two laps later first time and three laps later second time.

But what ruined his strategy was that he came out of the pits behind Jenson Button, not once but twice. So he wasn’t able to use the performance of the new tyres as he was held up. He had tried to stay out as long as he could in the opening stint to build a gap to clear Button, who was on medium tyres and set to run a long first stint. But he lost time on the way into the pits. The gap was marginal to Button on lap 11 at 19 seconds, but Vettel felt the tyre performance going away rapidly and pitted. His in-lap was one second slower than Hamilton’s and he came out behind Button.

This cost him a shot at victory as he could not pass Hamilton’s former team mate for the 13 laps until Button stopped. During that time Hamilton was a second per lap faster than the Red Bull driver and the winning margin was established.

The key to Hamilton’s win was that he spent as much time as possible in free air, maximizing the potential of the tyres – something Red Bull and Vettel normally manage to do – while for once Vettel was on the back foot and couldn’t do it.

Part of the reason for this is that his car continues to be set up with a deficit on straight line speed. This is not normally a problem as he uses the better performance of the Red Bull in the corners to clear the DRS detection zone of one second in the opening laps.

However in Budapest, in the opening laps before DRS was enabled, the Mercedes was 5-7km faster on the straight than the Red Bull and that delta carried through to when the DRS was enabled. Vettel also had to sit a reasonable distance behind the cars in front so as not to overheat his engine and tyres; this did not help when trying to pass.

When passing the Mercedes-engined McLaren of Button, Hamilton had enough to get the move started, whereas Vettel simply did not. Hamilton was able to play to the strengths of the Mercedes, in other words. Everything came together on the day.

It is also worth noting that the leading cars had a more significant pace advantage than we have seen at some races this year. This meant that even with a short first stint on soft tyres, they were able to clear most of the midfield cars when they came out of the pits from their first stops. Hamilton rejoined 8th on lap 9 and was 4th by lap 13. The field spread was significant, creating gaps for the leader to exploit.

This is a pattern we are likely to see for the rest of the season, now It is clear how the new specification Pirellis work.


Alternative strategies bear fruit

It was a day when there were quite a variety of strategies in play, contributing to the diversity of the racing. Last year Lotus beat Red Bull in Hungary by using two stops to Red Bull’s three and they did it again this year, playing to Lotus’ strengths as a gentle car on its tyres.

Raikkonen’s plan was simple enough- to put him ahead of Vettel when the German made his third stop – but it required him to do a long final stint on medium tyres and hope that he had gained enough ground on Vettel to manage to stay ahead. It was touch and go and the Red Bull was much faster at the end, but Raikkonen defended brilliantly.

However the Lotus is capable of winning races, if one driver puts it all together. Grosjean qualified third, Raikkonen sixth. If Raikkonen had started third and run there in the opening stint he might have challenged Hamilton for the win. Instead he was forced to lose time after his stop as he dropped to 10th place behind Massa and Sutil in the middle stint.

Jenson Button was happy with seventh after a poor qualifying session put him 13th. His two stop race featured the longest stint on medium tyres of anyone at 33 laps and McLaren got the soft tyre out of the way in the middle stint, which was interesting, rather than the end, as Webber did it. Unusually McLaren did it with both cars, rather than split the strategies. This is not the fastest way to do the race, according to simulations, but they lucked out with Button to a certain extent due to the gap in performance to the midfield runners and some mishaps for others, like both Force Indias struggling and Massa damaging his wing. If they had been in a closer fight they might well have split the strategies.


Williams makes its point

The Williams team has been struggling for form this season and was without a point from the first nine races of the season. But Pastor Maldonado gave the team some breathing space from the Marussia and Caterham teams by finishing tenth. They were helped by both Force Indias and Nico Rosberg dropping out, but they beat the Toro Rosso of Daniel Ricciardo which had qualified 8th. In the race the Williams strategy team got it right to beat them and the Sauber of Nico Hulkenberg with three stints on medium tyres, after an initial burst on softs, the middle stint being the longer one. The Williams had better pace than the Sauber in the final stint, as the table below shows.

Tyre Strategies

Hamilton:SU MN (9) MN (31) MN (50) 3
Räikkönen:SU MN (13) MN (42) 2
Vettel: SU MN (11) MN (34) MN (55) 3

Webber: MN MN (23) MU (43) SN (59) 3
Alonso: SU MN (12) MU (34) MN (48) 3
Grosjean: SU MN (13) MN (25) DT (37) MN (47) 4
Button: MN SN (24) MN (37) 2
Massa: SU MN (11) MN (31) MN (48) 3
Perez: MU SN (23) MN (38) 2
Maldonado: SN MN (9) MN (28) MU (51) 3

Hülkenberg: SN MN (11) MN (35) DT (40) 3
Vergne: SU MN (8) MN (30) MN (50) 3
Ricciardo: SU MN (10) MN (38) 2
Van Der Garde: SN MN (8) MN (27) MN (44) 3
Pic: SN MN (13) MN (38) 2
Bianchi: MN SN (20) MN (33) MU (46) 3
Chilton: MN SN (21) MN (34) MU (50) 3

Di Resta: SN MN (9) MN (26) MU (48) 3
Rosberg: SU MN (10) MN (29) MN (48) 3
Bottas: SU MN (10) MN (33) 2 NC
Gutierrez: MN MN (23) 1 NC
Sutil: MN 1 NC

The UBS Race Strategy Report is written by James Allen with input and data from several of the team’s strategists and from Pirelli.

RACE HISTORY GRAPH
Courtesy of Williams F1 team

Note Raikkonen’s final stint; it’s long but the tyre degradation is minimal. Note also the comparison with Hamilton’s final stint, with much newer tyres, illustrating that the Mercedes driver was not having to push in final stint.

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195 Comments
  1. Pete says:

    I love the graphs that come at the end of these reports… but just realized that I don’t truly understand them! The x-axis is obviously the lap number, but the y-axis … is it the number of seconds that driver is behind a theoretical car driven constantly at the final average speed of the winner?

    P.s. I think there is a minor typo towards the end: “… with input and data from several of the team’s strategists and from Pirelli.” .. should that be “of the teams’ strategists..” .. if so it is very cool that they contribute to this site!

    1. Endres says:

      Yes, these graphs are extraordinary, the level of info is fantastic, they reveal other layers of data so clearly, i.e. fuel burn performance, strategical confluences, tactical errors, etc..

      E.g. look at VET’s final inlap, you can see the time lost relative to RAI by the flattening of his peak, you can see how this lost him the position…

      Brilliant!

    2. iceman says:

      You got it exactly. The result is the graph shows you two things: the vertical distance between two lines shows the gap between the two drivers, and the gradient of each line shows how fast each driver was lapping at any given time.

    3. Miguel Bento says:

      Pete yes, the y-axis is exactly as you said. I myself have been doing these graphics for every race since 2002, maybe I’ll put them online one day :)

    4. Ben says:

      Pete,

      The 0 line is the winners race time (so Hamilton at a time of 1h 42m 29.445s) divided by the number of laps (70) to produce and average lap time. This is then used to show the lap times of all the competitors relative to that average lap time. So we take each lap time, subtract the average lap and accumulate these results.

    5. Brian says:

      It’s the actual number of seconds behind the lead car. Hamilton is at zero on the last lap because he won. Kimi and Vettel were +12 seconds at the finish, Webber +20 or something, it is clear once you see it.

    6. VanD says:

      Not really. If that was the case, opening lap curves would be much lower in the Y-axis as the cars are relatively slow. I think this is a Standard Deviation plotted instantaneously for every lap for every car.

      Google it… or if you have time you can do it in excel if you have all cars lap times for every lap.

  2. Grant H says:

    Well done merc and lewis performance and execution of strategy reminds me of the red bulls

    1. Formula Zero says:

      I am not a Lewis fan. But that driver, passes on Webber (twice) & Button were outstanding. He was also less animated than I expected after the race as well. That showed maturity a lot. This is the first time I saw Schumacher & Senna in Lewis. Mercedes has the best driver line up on the grid for sure. Hopefully we will see a championship winning car next year from them. Watch out for the battle of the team mates then.

    2. Skan says:

      Lewis picked the right drivers to overtake. Webber and Button are mature drivers who respected and complied with the moves. Had it been a Massa or a Grosjean that LH was trying to overtake I’m not sure if the results would have been the same.

      1. Jake says:

        How do you pick the driver to overtake in a race?

  3. Grant H says:

    Ps when will RB learn to leave a little more top speed on the table!

    1. Yak says:

      When it’s a faster way around the circuit according to the simulations.

      1. Jonathan says:

        Then they need to change their simulation technique!

        Their setup is only fastest when running in clear air. This is the assumption of everything they do in building and setting up their cars. When on pole that is fine but when behind (which they must be at times after pit stops) they are at risk. This risk was shown perfectly in Hungary.

        First Vettel struggled to overtake which means some of may start to accept that Vettel is better at overtaking than we might like to admit – as he is at a disadvantage when trying.

        Secondly the RB is so extreme that when running behind they struggle with cooling.

        It would seem the biggest risk RB take is to assume the ability to run in clear air in Q3. When down to 10 cars that is a lot easier than with a full grid but it is a risk. As other cars get closer in overall performance this strategy is a greater risk in the race – as shown in Hungary.

        This concept could prove disastrous next year – at which point we might see Vettel going through the growing pains that Hamilton has successfully passed through in the last couple of years.

      2. Jake says:

        No offence Jonathan but, on the one hand their is a team of expert race tacticians with a super computer running numerous race simulation using state of the art software with all the car and tyre performance data they can get their hands on and there’s you.
        Do you not think that just maybe they ran the simulation with a higher straight line speed and it didn’t stack up?

    2. blackmamba says:

      It’a all compromise, weather u want speed in the straights or speed in the corners. Judging by 6 championships in 3yrs, I should think they have the compromise just about right.

      1. Grant H says:

        I disagree see Abu Dhabi last year vet started from pit and got to third all because they set up for straight line speed, again here in hungry they needed a few more mph, think they are bit to aggressive with Wing amount at times

      2. Chris M says:

        They’re trying to play to their strengths and clearly didn’t anticipate how strong Mercedes would be in the race. The next couple of races will be special cases regardless, but it’ll be interesting to see how Red Bull deal with this Mercedes resurgence.

        Clearly Merc have the best car on the grid now *IF* they can keep on top of their tyre problems. They appear to have mastered a very complicated suspension system that is giving them a massive edge, making up for any slight aero deficiencies (which are few and far between) they may still have to Red Bull. The other teams are going to have to copy their suspension systems now, something they can’t afford to spend resources on this year. That’s going to leave them going into next year with new suspension systems that they won’t have mastered and won’t know how to set up. Merc will be further refining an already successful system.

        As ever in F1 it could all go horribly wrong, but it’s hopefully gearing up for a fantastic 2014 for Mercedes even if their title charge has come a little late this year.

      3. Brian says:

        Third at Abu Dhabi was largely due to the two safety cars bunching up the field. If they ran low downforce at every race, I don’t think they’d be very competitive. Certainly not on Saturdays.

      4. Me says:

        Disagree away… it doesn’t make you right…

      5. Grant H says:

        it does not matter if the abu dhabi race was because the field bunched up, point I was making is that regardless of safety car, with a bit more top speed they were able to overtake, something they struggeled to do in hungry

        okay so they would lose a little on qualifying

    3. ngwe_f1 says:

      Why should they abandon a strategy that has worked for them for the last 3 years. Admittedly, it doesn’t work all the time but it works well enough that they have won 3 championships in a row.

      1. Dan Hoyes says:

        Yeah, agree – it works for them. And remember it’s a different engine, perhaps still not as strong as Mercedes?

        Anyway, I’m not a Vettel supporter as such, but let’s keep bearing this in mind when all the accusations come around that he can’t overtake in F1. He’s constantly down on straight line speed…

    4. Quade says:

      @James Allen
      I’ve made something like 5 attempts to post, but just get redirected to the top of the page, while the post gets lost. :(

    5. Quade says:

      The real problem is Vettels overtaking ability, not Red Bulls top speed. Anytime he pulls an overtaking move, you never know what might happen next (such as his shunt into Button). Webber is little better and crashes into cars he’s passing just as easily.

  4. SteveS says:

    “Lewis Hamilton was surprised when he took pole position, but nothing like as surprised as Vettel and Red Bull.”

    Is that really true? The Merc’s have taken pole every Saturday this season when the track has been dry, and they finished one-two in both Q1 and Q2. It would have been quite surprising if they failed to take pole in Hungary, in spite of the strange spin to the contrary from various parties.

    Safe prediction: If it is dry on Saturday at Spa, one of the Merc’s will again be on pole.

    1. blackmamba says:

      I think it’s over simplifying things to just look at the Q1 & Q2 times because clearly Vettel was taking it easy on his tyres in Q1 so he could use that same set in Q2 so you would expect the Mercs to go faster. As it turned out in Q2 Vettel managed to get through with that used set while the Mercs needed new sets so again you would expect the Mercs to go faster on new rubber. If anything, it just re-enforces just how confident of pole RedBull were, and anybody else who followed their dominant performances in Free Practice would have picked them for pole. Also after that 1st run in Q3 which was 0.8s faster than Hamilton nobody thought Vettel could be overhauled.

      1. Chris M says:

        Indeed, in the build up not once were Mercedes mentioned on Sky as even being in the running for pole. All predictions were for Red Bull with mentions of Ferrari and Lotus as being their strongest challengers.

      2. SteveS says:

        Free practice never has any relevance to pole. Lotus were fastest in FP3, but I doubt if you were expecting them to take pole on that basis.

        “after that 1st run in Q3 which was 0.8s faster than Hamilton”

        That is simply untrue. Hamilton did one run in Q3, the one which took pole. Vettel was never at any point “0.8s faster”.

      3. Jake says:

        If I recall Hamilton did two runs in Q3. The first run was on used soft tyres and the second run on new soft tyres.
        Vettel did two runs both of which were on new soft tyres. His first run was indeed 8 tenths faster than anybody else.

      4. Joel says:

        Both Vettel & Hamilton did 2 runs in Q3 – you are mistaken.
        Vettel’s first run in Q3 was .8 seconds faster than Hamilton’s first run.

    2. ngwe_f1 says:

      You obviously didn’t watch qualy.

    3. Poyta says:

      Normally I would agree with you but in this case Mercedes were the only team to come into the Hungarian GP on the back foot having not had a chance to test the tyres intended for that GP while others had at least 3 days of testing the week earlier. This was immediately apparent where in Free practice 1-3 they weren’t very competitive while Red Bull seemed particularly good. Agreed they did very well in Q1 and Q2 but then again everyone knows that RedBull never show their true speed until Q3 and Vettel certainly proved that by posting an incredible Q1 time on his first stint, much faster than anything every posted at that track and considerably faster than the time set by Mercedes. Keep in mind that everyone also knows that typically Vettel would have an even better time with his next shot and he did with an even better time so for Lewis to not only improve on his previous set times in Q1 and Q2 but also better Vettels outstanding lap was truly a surprise!

      1. SteveS says:

        You are wrong, plain and simple.

        In Q2 Hamilton did a 1M 19.862 secs. Rosberg did a 1m 19.778 secs. Vettel a 1m 19.992 secs.

        In Q3 Hamilton first did a run of 1m 20.324 secs – a long way short of his Q2 time and clearly not a serious effort at all. But it is this run which everybody is citing to show how “surprising” it is that he took pole. This is the run you are using to claim that Vettel was “considerably faster”. Hamilton only took one “shot” at pole in Q3, not two or more as you suggest.

      2. Poyta says:

        Plain wrong and simple? Which part of what I said was wrong? I said Merc did well in qualifying which they did! But even Hamiltons Q2 time of 1:19.86 was 0.43 seconds slower than Vettels lap in Q1. At nearly half a second thats a lot! You said so yourself that Hamiltons Q3 (1:20.3) is “long way short” of his Q2 (1:19.8) which is about the same gap. So it seems Hamiltons had a very long shot to try and get it on Pole – hence the surprise.
        By the way I never claimed that Hamilton took more than one shot at Q3, no idea what you’re implying here or what it has to do with the conversation.

      3. Jake says:

        If you are arguing that a 1.20 lap is not a competitive run in qualifying then I guess the majority of the field were just out for a Sunday drive. The reason it was not as fast as his final lap is that it was set on the tyres he used in the final Q2 run.

      4. cosicave says:

        @SteveS:
        My apologies for picking holes; but your pedantic (but incorrect) argument against Blackmamba invites a similar response.

        Firstly, let me say I understand your point about Hamilton’s strategic driving in Q3, in posting only one lap quick enough to challenge for Pole.

        However, your claim that Blackmamba’s reference to Hamilton’s two runs in Q3 was “simply untrue” – is itself, simply untrue! You then go on to say, “Hamilton did one run in Q3, the one which took pole. …”. Again, this is simply untrue; as in, plain wrong.

        Hamilton posted two qualifying times during Q3. With under 6 minutes of the session remaining, he posted a qualifying time of 1:20.324. Seconds later, Vettel posted a 1:19.506; a time quicker by 0.818 sec.

        Both would do a second run at the end of Q3, with Hamilton’s enough to eclipse all others.

        Regardless of your objection and no matter how you choose to spin it; and very much contrary to your claim “Hamilton did one run in Q3…”. As is plain for all to see, Hamilton in fact, did two runs in Q3:
        1:20.324
        1:19.388

      5. Joel says:

        You are wrong. On his first Q3 run, Hamiton used a used rubber and was slower, about 4/10th of his Q2 time. However, Vettel posted a time .8 faster – he may have used new rubber.
        However, Hamilton’s 2nd run was on new rubber and he got an awesome run on it. Vettel bettered his pervious Q3 run, however, it was still inadequate.

  5. Phil Glass says:

    “If Kimi had started 3rd…”
    Besides quali problems, Kimi has been unlucky with his starts too often being on the dirty side of the grid, regardless of which row.
    Out of 10 starts this year, KR was on the wrong side no less than 8 times. That’s only 2 starts from the clean grippy side, and this includes his win in Oz.
    By contrast, both FA and SV had only 3 starts each on the dirty side, 7 on the clean.
    RG has only had 4, so three times as many clean starts as Kimi.

    1. blackmamba says:

      There is nothing unlucky about Kimi’s qualifying position, that is his achilles’ heel. Ask Webber what unlucky is and he will have a few tales to tell you. That Lotus has the speed to take pole in some races, and I have no doubt that in the hands of Vettel or Hamilton that car would have been on pole at least once this season.

      1. Phil Glass says:

        You miss my point. What you say is more or less true but it is which side of the grid line up – that’s what I’m talking about….

      2. Elie says:

        Just like the Ferrari can win races but never get pole or the Force India can finish 4 but can’t quali better than 8th.

        There is absolutely no doubt that Lotus can quali stronger but to say it can be on pole ahead of a Mercedes or a Red Bull that are usually 1/2 sec ahead of the pack – I think you should have alot of doubt. Grosjean who is recognised as a bullet over one lap has not been able to do it over 2 years and has been out qualified 9/10 by Kimi.

        Kimi knows there has been a few tenths in it on a few occasions – but the not the gap the lead 2 teams consistently have

    2. Kanman1 says:

      i disagree with james.

      Lotus and Redbull are generally having the same issues of not able to clear the traffic due to deficit on straight line.

      Eventhough kimi qualified 3rd, traffic gonna screw him badly.

      The Mercedes is just too strong at the moment.

    3. Fireman says:

      Hey, this should be taken into account in the pre race strategy reports. Make additional clean and dirty side stats.

  6. Forza says:

    Some Italian media outlets suggest that Ferrari should approach Hamilton with a contract from 2016, he will be 30, more matured and perhaps a complete driver

    1. Bart says:

      Actually, he’s been great this season, as much comlete and mature as we saw him in Hungary.

      What Ferrari needs is probably better organisation and modern structures.

      They were caught out by the regulation change and haven’t yet recovered

    2. blackmamba says:

      That would prompt another Spanish Armada headed towards the coast of Britain. The Spanish don’t like him already because he dared to challenge Alonso on the track and drove him out of the team. Surely if Hamilton ended up taking his seat at Ferrari he would have to skip all Spanish races from then on if he valued his life?

      1. Jake says:

        Hamilton is not leaving Merc anytime soon, and why would he if the engine comparison rumours are even half accurate.

      2. Chris M says:

        Even if they’re not, all the other teams still have to copy Merc’s hydrolic suspension for next year – something that has taken them several years to master and is only now reaping the rewards.

        Mercedes have a lot going for them next year, hopefully it’ll all come together.

      3. Colombia Concalvez says:

        What engine comparison rumour ?..

      4. puffing says:

        That the Spanish currently don´t like Hamilton is a matter of your own invention, I’m afraid.

      5. Joel says:

        There ain’t no smoke without fire.

        You are naive in your belief. Hamilton was booed as recently as 2011, quite apparent to be noticable in TV feed.

      6. Toni says:

        C’mon that was 6 years ago.
        You’ll be surprised to know that most Spanish fans have great respect for Hamilton. Even more, many fans in forums were talkin’ about how great it would be to see Hamilton and Alonso together again, after Luca’s comments. Spanish fans know how much respect they have for each other. And they already know that the problem in 2007 was a managing problem. ‘We’re racing Fernando’, and things like that.
        The worst enemy for Alonso’s fans is the one that wins championships. It’s that plain. Alonso’s fans will support this year Hamilton or Kimi -after Alonso of course- as soon as they can beat Vettel. And I bet this is most F1 fans, except Vettel’s fans.

    3. Elie says:

      What & he’s not now. ?? Since last year he’s been at the top of his game and barring car / operational failures would probably have won the WC.

      1. Poyta says:

        Agreed even last year he was showing maturity aside from the silly tweets – he should learn to just think before he speaks or don’t speak at all like Kimi – then he would be complete.

      2. grat says:

        There was nothing “silly” about his tweet from Spa. That was a deliberate backhanded slap at McLaren and his engineers for misleading him as to the relative performance of the Hungary-spec vs. the Spa-spec wings.

        They convinced him he’d be fast enough in the corners to make up for the loss of speed in the straights, and he tweeted the telemetry as giant two-fingered salute.

      3. Quade says:

        Since when did speaking make a driver complete or otherwise? Listen to half the things Alonso says and you would realise that words have zero bearing on the paddocks perception of a complete driver. A driver is complete in the car, not outside it.

      4. Poyta says:

        And you don’t think that taking a backhanded slap against your own team is silly and a slightly immature? I like the guy don’t get me wrong and completely understood the reason for his tweet but I think he’d be better off letting his driving do the talking.

    4. Bo says:

      According to the german newspaper Bild, Ferrari made an offer to Kimi Räikkönen before Hungary.

      1. aveli says:

        this has made me laugh intensely.

      2. Simon says:

        Hats-off to Bild for being the first to report!

  7. Dean says:

    I do miss the words ‘reliability enhanced Mercedes engine’ in this context. The Mercedes engine has gotten more power due to ‘reliability enhancements’ in 2008, something wich Red Bull and other Renault engined teams have complained about several times. The Red Bull setup surely didnt help, but their horsepower deficit to Buttons Mercedes engine was definitly a factor as well.

    1. jpinx says:

      While the Mercedes engine is probably more powerful, I believe the top speed deficit is more to do with the RedBull’s gearing being optimised for acceleration out of corners, which is something Vettel exploits very well – but then hits the limiter on straights.

    2. TMAD says:

      As far as I know,
      - All engines are running at lower potential than they used to since lower rpm rev limits and extended mileage per engine and for gearboxes were introduced,this negates high end power outputs

      - Renault were given special permission to “enhance” their engine several times to catch up

      - Current non-refueling formula rewards cars that can start the race lighter with good fuel consumption, A huge advantage to Renault engined cars as it is regarded as the most fuel efficient engine…

      - Lotus frequently tops speed traps

      With the above, and as many(and James) have mentioned, it is more to do with the setup Redbull chooses to use which makes them vulnerable on straights

      - And after all the dominant years RedBull have had(and still have) in a lower power engine, they are still on top…how anyone could argue it is still about horsepower is beyond me…

      1. Dean says:

        - All engines are running at lower potential than they used to since lower rpm rev limits and extended mileage per engine and for gearboxes were introduced,this negates high end power outputs””

        ..but still keeps unequal poweroutputs the same.

        - Renault were given special permission to “enhance” their engine several times to catch up”

        No they were not. The other engines (Merc/Ferr) were allowed to lower their engine output back to Renault levels. Funny that they didnt do that.

        - Current non-refueling formula rewards cars that can start the race lighter with good fuel consumption, A huge advantage to Renault engined cars as it is regarded as the most fuel efficient engine…”

        Yet Renault said they would trade the fuel efficiency for more horsepower in a minute.

        - Lotus frequently tops speed traps

        That doesnt say anything. They could lower their drag, or use longer gears than Merc engined cars.

        “With the above, and as many(and James) have mentioned, it is more to do with the setup Redbull chooses to use which makes them vulnerable on straights”

        Still it is weird that he didnt include the widely documented horsepower deficit of the Renault engine.

      2. TMAD says:

        I see, even when most posters replying to you are all saying the same thing you are still unwilling to accept that this might be a non issue…

        Tell me then, which Engine won the last 3 constructor titles and WDC’s and is currently leading both this year???

        The answer to that alone should tell you that winning in F1 is not just about horsepower and even if the “Mighty Mercedes engine” is miles ahead, they cant all be equal now, after all F1 is about competition and some engine has to be tops…nuff said!!

      3. Jean-Christophe says:

        +1. Very good post!

      4. Dean says:

        the discussion is about overtaking, not winning

    3. ManOnWheels says:

      People seem to overestimate the engine in these times, straight line speed nowadays is more dictated by the aerodynamics than 10 horsepower more or less.
      You also seem to (deliberately?) forget that Renault, after complaining, were allowed to make modifications, so they got closer.
      Still it is general belief that the Merc has the most horsepower, while the Renault needs less fuel and cooling (which in turn allows for better aerodynamics and handling) and has the best driveability, with the Ferraris sitting somewhere in between the two.
      Even though the Merc and the Renaut may have their specific strengths, these even out – and in the end the rebault engine can not be so bad after all, it has won a few championships and you don’t do that with a bad engine.

      1. Cos says:

        depends what you mean by a bad engine…reliability has pretty much made these things ‘bullet proof’ (leaving aside Nico’s trackside bbq) long gone are the days when the track was littered with engine blow outs / fires so in my humble opinion all the engines now-adays are great…better materials/ technology etc.

        As you pointed out its about the set-up of each engine. Personally I think you summed it up well by saying the Renault on one end of the sepcturm, Merc at the other and the Ferrari somewhere in the middle….much like Vettel, Hamilton and Alonso.

    4. Jean-Christophe says:

      You should check how many times Renault have benefited from the same thing.

  8. Veena says:

    James, Thanks for the insight.
    Where would have GRO finished if he was not penalized?

    1. blackmamba says:

      He jumped Vettel after his 2nd pit stop so he would have had a very good shot at hounding Hamilton to the Finish. Passing the Merc however with it’s straight line speed would have been impossible, so 2nd was the best he could have done.

      1. Baghetti says:

        With the Lotus having better tyrewear he could have tried the undercut?

    2. Formula Zero says:

      Well where do I start about Grosjean’s penalties. I agree that the penalty on Roman was extremely harsh in my view. Because Roman already committed to the pass & he was already half way up on Filipe. Then Filipe tried his best to protect the position, but he couldn’t. As a result Roman ran out of room & had no choice but go to the edge of the white line. I think Roman didn’t cross the white line completely, it was touching the front wheel when he completed the pass. So, based on that it was an awesome pass & he didn’t deserve the drive through in my view. The other pass on Jenson was also not illegal in my view. As I watched the overhead shot over & over it clearly showed that Roman’s nose was way in front of Jenson when they touched. It looked a bit awkward initially, but from the replay I thought it was another fantastic pass. Jenson has a bit of tendency to complain about little things. Plus Roman has caused a fair bit of accident in the past. Those things didn’t go down well with the stewards. But definitely not something to be penalised for in this race. The thing that I don’t agree is that the rules are clear & I think fair that the driver cannot have all four wheels outside the white line when making a pass & also the driver in front must leave enough room to make one overtaking move for the car behind. Otherwise, we will see cars al over the place, cutting chicane & possibly causing potentially dangerous accidents during the race. Can you imagine that the law allowing Maldonado to go around the outside & taking all four wheels outside of the track & turning back into the track to complete a pass? I think the rules are very fair & square, the issue is interpretation by the stewards sometimes. The worst thing I have seen this year is that a lot of incidents are being investigated after the race. That ruins the race a bit for me. FIA should sort that rubbish out. Roman drove beautifully & if he had the clean race & same strategy as Kimi surely he would’ve won the race.

  9. blackmamba says:

    These are the tyres F1 should have used from the beginning of the season in Australia. Imagine what a close fight we have missed out on due to this obsession with trying to ‘manufacture’ excitement in the sport. Hopefully we are now going to see Kimi, Seb, Lewis and Fernando going at it hammer and tong for the rest of the season without the bloody tyres ruining it for everybody. There has always been tyre management in F1 but this was getting ridiculous. I mean, tyre that can barely manage 5 laps? Really?

  10. aveli says:

    I think hamilton won the race becahse he drove shperbly a.d vettel didn’t win because he didn’t drive as well as hamilton. Button didn’t hold up vettek. Vettel simply failed to pass when he had thechance.

    1. David C says:

      I think your missing the point, SVs car is much slower on the straghts so it is significantly harder for him to get a DRS assisted pass.

      1. Jake says:

        Yes, his only option would have been to throw it up the inside of a corner and hope the other driver (button) would not take him out. Far too risky given he was ahead of Alonso, just behind Kimi and Hamilton is way behind in the points standings.

      2. aveli says:

        all the teams can choose their cogs in the gearbox and their wing settings as well as their suspension setting in order to affect their top speed and downforce levels in the corners. therefore your idea of mercedes having a higher topspeed doesn’t support your arguement. hamilton and mercedes made the set up choices they needed to win the race and drove well to win it. vettel and red bull also made the set up choices they needed to win they race but failed to drive well enough to win the race. secondly hamilton didn’t have trouble passing any car ontrack without drs but vettel did so back to my valid point, hamilton won because he drove superbly and vettel didn’t win because he didn’t drive as well.

      3. David C says:

        I’m not saying anything bad about Lewis great race drive of the day for me and I love the guy. I was just saying that his car has a straight line advantage and that’s why he found it easier to pass on track.

      4. aveli says:

        you’re right about the top speed but all the teams have to option to increase or decrease their straight line speed. hamilton simply set his car up to have that speed advantage because he knew how to use it. vettel went for a downforce advantage because he thought he could use it and couldn’t. i don’t think you’re saying anything bad about hamilton and i haven’t said anything bad about any driver either. simply telling the truth.

      5. Kbdavies says:

        So he should have passed on the corners where his car is faster…right?? Hamilton managed to do it twice!

      6. David C says:

        Hamilton passed by getting alongside on the DRS zone, something a car with a slower speed on the straight couldn’t do.

      7. Kbdavies says:

        @Dave C – Erm….there is no DRS at Turn 3, where he overtook Webber. Twice. And Turn 3 is not a “straight”.

      8. Kingszito says:

        These teams set up their cars according to their respective strengths with little compromise. If Vettel had had straight line speed he might not have qualified better than he did. These guys are professionals so they know the pros and cons of every circuit and they set up their cars accordingly. Mercedes was the best suited car for Hungary end of the whole story. If Hamilton had Vettel’s cornering speed, the race would have still ended with the same result.

      9. David C says:

        I know this all I was saying was that the reason SV struggled to pass was his straight line speed, you could put FA in a marussia but that car isn’t able to pass for example a force India on the straight regardless of driver and it’s the same with Renault v Merc in a drag race.

      10. Kbdavies says:

        @Dave C – Last time i checked, the Red Bull of Vettel and the Lotus of Raikkonen both have the same engine in them – yet Vettel could not pass Kimi on fresh tyres, though Kimi had 13 lap old tyres – for 15 laps! The Renault engine does not suffer from a straight line speed deficiency; as both Lotus’s reglarly top the speed traps. It is simply down to the way RBR prefer to setup their cars.Why is this so difficult to understand??

      11. Andrew says:

        He’s still right though isn’t he? Vettel didn’t drive as well as Hamilton.

        RB set up their car for quali but Vettel failed to beat Hamilton to pole position (because Hamilton drove better). RB then paid the price for Vettel’s failure in the race because, unlike RB, Merc hadn’t compromised race performance for qualifying position.

      12. David C says:

        Team Merc including their driver won the day and to the victor go the spoils and it was a great win by Merc and Lewis but all I was saying in fact all I was doing was taking James point wich was that it was easier for LH to pass than SV, and as for quali….. Any race where Merc are not on pole is a shock, their car is clearly the quickest over one lap, LH on pole is as amazing as when go the shop for milk.

      13. Kbdavies says:

        @Dave C – I have top call you out on this again. Merc does NOT have the fastest car. They share that honour with Red Bull. Vettel posted the fastest combined sectors of anybody in quali, which suggest he had the car for pole. He even admitted this. Lewis simply drove better in Q3, despite Vettel having 2 runs on new tyres. Red Bull also posted the 2 fastest laps of the race, and the fastest sector of anybody in the race.
        So how is it possible that Merc have the fastest car??

        Vettel has the same number of poles as Rosberg, with Lewis just edging them both. This again suggests that the Red Bull (in Vettels hands) is every bit as fast as the Merc (in Rosberg’s hands) and Lewis is simply extracting just a little bit more from it. Remember he beat Vettel to pole by 400ths of a sec. NO car is 4/100ths of a second faster than another. That kind of margin is due to the driver.

      14. aveli says:

        i am not missing the point at all. mercedes and hamilton chose to set up their car with that top speed. vettel and red bull chose their settings and hamilton drove superbly to win the race while hamilton failed to drive well enough to win the race for whatever reason. the tidle of this article doesn’t sound right.
        hamilton passed drivers because he could and vettel failed to pass because he couldn’t, simple as that.

      15. David C says:

        You implied the difference was the man and not the team, Merc and Lewis drive a great race, all I was trying to say was that team RBR and SV were at a disadvantage on straight line speed and as such found it more difficult to pass

      16. aveli says:

        david, the team made a difference but the team had two cars on the grid. from that you can work out the major factor, the man.

    2. Elie says:

      Agree – there was no one about to beat him on Sunday- I think that was clear.Perhaps Grosjean had the pace but not the smarts or the poise

      1. aveli says:

        elie, am glad you can see the truth. listen to the sound bite to this video for the lengthy explanation of why hamilton is able to drive the way he did. the reason was his lengthy experience in racing but the fact was he was a rookie up against the youngest ever back to back double world champion.
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3MeTHySzddY

      2. Elie says:

        Having a car as fast as the Red Bull is the answer

    3. Simon says:

      +1 Aveli, your comments are most illuminating! And you are right about Hamilton being the best driver of all time in any motorsport—-past, present, future, full-stop.

      1. nandon says:

        I sure hope that’s sarcasm otherwise I feel sorry for you as it sounds like you guys are in some sort of blind worship mode.

      2. aveli says:

        we are very happy with the mode in which we are nandon. look around the f1 sites and you will quickly notice that hamilton is described as vettel’s main contender with a single win. we are lucky to have witnessed hamilton’s driving because we will not see another as good in our life time. enjoy it while it lasts.

  11. Skan says:

    These were the best tyres that Pirelli have prepared in a while!

  12. Vinwah says:

    Hi James,

    Should VET have waited at the end of the race to pit?
    He could have left it for another 5 laps (or more), still easily caught RAI (his car was faster at the end), and had a greater tyre advantage (RAI tyres would have been older)

    As it was he came out when there was not so much difference in tyre life, and then just got stuck behind him for over 10 laps, ruining his tyre advantage.

    Or even a soft-tyre stint for 5-6 laps at the end to quickly catch and try and blast past?

    Thoughts?

    1. jaak says:

      I don’t think VET had the gap to do that. He would have been behing WEB for sure maybe even behind ALO/GRO duo.

      1. jaak says:

        behind*

    2. Mike M says:

      That’s exactly what i thought, i think they were to conservative with Vettels strategy.

      Why not even try if he could make it till the end?

      He would have had a small chance of even winning, as he was leading with about 8sec to Hamilton and 16sec to Kimi and his tires were only a few laps older than Kimis.
      His laptimes were competitive right until his last stop.

      The gap to Alonso in p5 on the other hand was huge and if he had hit the cliff, he could still have tried a short sprint stint on the soft tires.

      With that strategy there would have been a chance at P1 or P2 with the worst possible outcome of falling behind Mark in p4.

      Now if Red Bull could rely on Mark playing the team game, there wouldn’t have been much of a risk at all.

  13. W Johnson says:

    James,

    You said, “Since Monaco Mercedes has raised its game in managing the thermal degradation of the tyres in the race”

    Isn’t Pirelli’s switch to a variant on last year’s tyres the biggest reason for the change in the relative fortunes of Mercedes?

    1. James Allen says:

      Not really – they won 2races on old tyres and struggled in Germany on interim ones

      1. ManOnWheels says:

        I beg to differ, James.
        In Monaco they had the benefit of the narrow course and their fast qualifying pace, they still had huge problems with tire degradation in the race and generally went very slow, controlling the pace from the top spot, depererately nursing the tires.
        In Great Britain they had low track temperatures to their benefit, this has been a general pattern up to Hungary – if it was rather fresh, the Mercs also had a fast race pace, if it was hot, they struggled.
        Hungary is the first exception to the rule, this is a significant break through! With the Silverstone spec tyre they would have struggled a lot in Hungary, I’m very sure. The new tire is a game changer.

      2. ngwe_f1 says:

        I fully agree with you. If you exclude Germany, Merc’s results are very impressive since Monaco.

    2. Hansb says:

      Maybe this tyre test after the Spanish GP did help them a little in Monaco, Silverstone and Germany?
      Now, with the new tyre their car seems to be a perfect match.

  14. John M says:

    I have question about the race history graph, specifically about Caterham and Marussia.

    Why is it that in their third seasons on the grid, the graphs for Caterham and Marussia are still looking the same?

    Every other team has the same general trend in the race (reflected in the graphs as a stair step line). The bottom two teams still show the same drop off.

    Are they just unable to find the extra speed that the other teams have? Does driving with constant blue flags effect them more than other teams? Is is just fundamental car design?

    Seems like they’re just stuck in the same relative position with the same pace issue all the time. Is their a good explanation for this?

    Just curious about the backmarkers, since they rarely get any attention.

    Thanks.

    1. James Allen says:

      Good question

      Simple answer – not enough pace

      But we’ll do something on this

      1. Kanman1 says:

        my bad…i remember the wrong event =)

      2. Kanman1 says:

        now i remember it back. Vettel made final stop for soft compound to try and close down the gap for final 10 laps.

        Lewis, Kimi, Romain and the rest were on 2 stoppers.

        Kimi overtook vettel because he managed to save tire and jump him during the pit stop window on his 2nd stint.

        He didn’t overtook vettel because he made a 3rd stop. The 3rd stop was not crucial, but vettel want to gave himself a chance to try and overtook Romain for 3rd place.

      3. Seán Craddock says:

        That’d be great I would love to see an analysis of this over the break. I’ve been trying to follow the race of the whole grid, and the progress of the ‘new’ teams is interesting. Marussia have been doing better this season until this weekend when Caterham dominated them.

        You can see how much longer the Caterham goes on it’s tyres, and that’s how they managed to move to 10th in the championship now. What was the gap at the end? At one point I thought the Marussias would be lapped by the Caterhams! Now that would be really bad!

    2. JCA says:

      Their was an interview with someone from Marussia on a german site where he said that it costs something like €60 mill to build and maintain two cars and travel to all the races. Their budget last year was €62.5 mill, the big teams have more than €200 mill, so could spend 50 to 60 times what Marussia can on parts development.

      1. JCA says:

        I should say €60 million to design, build and maintain two cars etc.

  15. nicolas nogaret says:

    raikkonen said his tyres were virtually gone the last couple of laps…hardly surprising

  16. Miha Bevc says:

    James, thank you for an excellent explanation!

  17. MarkB says:

    Great read. Although Vettel had a lower top speed and therefore a pass on the main straight was more difficult (although he did do this later on I think), he was able to stay close to Button and a well executed pass round the outside of turn two should have been perfectly possible for the Red Bull. Considering the superior grip it would have out of turn one and the higher cornering speed it would have in two. I don’t think he tried it did he?

    1. Kingszito says:

      Most of F1 overtakes takes place at the corners. Overtaking an F1 car is not all about straight line speed, it’s far more than that.

      1. MarkB says:

        Kingszito I fully grasp the nuances of the sport. I’m not sure what point your trying to make?

      2. JCA says:

        Most F1 overtakes take place at the corner after a long straight, or shortly after, either by getting close enough to dive down the inside, or by forcing the leading car to go off line or outbrake itself, making it slow through the following corners. Straight line speed is vital in getting through the dirty air of the car in front.

        Look, Seb had an average race, but so did Kimi and Fernando at Monaco and Lewis at Barcelona, the difference is this is being held up to make Seb out as not in the same class as the others, even though he has been very good this year in terms of maximising points scored when available, this being the first time he lost points to the considered potential of the car, barring mechanical failure (Silverstone).

    2. Kirk says:

      Probably another issue is that when he was trying to get too close, the team told him to cool his car as the motor temperature was to high, so his gap to Button was not always the same and he had to change the ideal line race to find some air.

  18. the feigned surprise of mercedes deceives no one. they are well on top of their tyre problems and it was proved conclusively in hungary. all this hamilton talk of ‘miracles’ in nothing more than rubbish.

    he drove a cool and calculated race and won it on merit. vettel was simply outdriven and he finds it hard to comprehend judging by his post race demeanor. hopefully these tyres can be carried through for the rest of the season and we can then see some real racing instead of the farcical artificiality introduced by pirelli during the first half.

  19. Giorgio says:

    This is the main approach RB used to use and continues this days too, that’s short gearing of gearbox and lesser top speed but advantage in acceleration on the other hand. that’s the line of RBR design philosophy and perhaps it’s inherited due to Renault engine early days weakness – lack of top power vs to Merc and Ferrari aggregates. So Merc powered cars always tend to have superior top speed using their power advantage.
    What’s about Merc breakthrough, it’s more than clear but until SPA it’s risky to argue how big step they have made, as like after Monaco they fail in some races. so let’s hope they’ll succeed.

  20. aliD says:

    hi james,
    maybe off topic but just curious to know…
    why other teams just copy the same design of the fastest car which in this case is redbull.. by copying, i mean literally copying, everything, little small details and so on.. i guess it would be no problem to do it… what woould be the reason that they would not be as fast even with the same design ?

    1. James Allen says:

      It is much more complicated than that, all the details have to work together

      Also IP rules would prohibit it

      1. Fireman says:

        IP rules? C’mon. You’re talking about F1 cars used in sport, not smartphones used by consumers.

        It’s hardly Spygate if you can figure out some design aspect on your own.

      2. Fireman says:

        Didn’t mean to sound so harsh. I’m just wondering.

      3. aveli says:

        some of the small teams wanted ecclestone to give them the chance to buy the previous winning chissis but frank williams argued against the idea. i don’t understand his logic because he would also have the chance of buying chassis from the previous winning teams and with his resources, he could easily bring the chassis to specifications to compete with the top teams. now his cars are languishing at the back of the grid. he makes some crazy political decisions like sacking damon hill because he wanted to be paid as a champion, forcing the champion to drive for arrows one of the smallest teams.

    2. andre says:

      Copying something of reasonable complexity without knowing how it works is usually a recipe for desaster.

    3. SteveS says:

      Teams do not have access to all the little details of each others cars, so they can’t copy them.

      And the fastest car was the Mercedes, not the Red Bull.

  21. Irish con says:

    I think Lewis would of passed kimi at the end of the race if he qualified 3rd and did a 2 stop race. I think the lotus had the pace to win if kimi got to the front and did a 3 stop race tho as romain showed the pace in the first 2 stints with how close he could follow vettel.

  22. Darren says:

    James

    Went out to Budapest for my first overseas gp and managed be in g4 at the end of the pit straight. I have a ?. When the drivers left the pits to go to the starting line Hamilton did 3 or so laps… I think alonso did also by going through the pit lane while the drid was busy. Why do they do this and if its beneficial why don’t more do it?

    1. puffing says:

      I think Alonso went directly from the pit box to the start line to avoid overheating the engine in the last two races, or at least this was said by PdlR on the Spanish TV broadcast. Other drivers chose to do a lap, still others ran a few more laps. Most of them burning gas, checking issues…

  23. Danny Almonte says:

    LOL at the losers who were predicting that Hamilton would drop back while Vettel battled for the win. So many clowns were exposed after qualifying. Don’t be so quick to downplay the driver who takes pole position. LOL.

    Poor Lotus needs to qualify up front if they hope to make their lame strategy work. Getting stuck in traffic easily ruins all their little plans.

  24. Zinobia says:

    I dont see how Lotus could have won. They cant qualify on the row front, which is imperative at tracks like in Hungary, and Mercedes actually had great race pace.
    Grosjean did a better job in qualifying then Kimi, but still there is no chance for them to get on the front row, and all of the leading cars had the same pace so track position becomes very important.
    Grosjean had a similar 3 stop strategy then Lewis and he was obviously not challenging him.
    According to all of teams a 3 stop strategy was actually faster.

    I dont understand why people are still surprised when Mercedes qualifies ahead. At this point the biggest surprise will be when they dont qualify ahead.

    1. Jake says:

      No need to pass on track if you can stay out and pass other cars when they are in the pits. This strategy got them second ahead of a faster Red Bull. It did not work on Lewis due to the lead he built up when others were stuck behind Jenson.

  25. MistressofSpeed says:

    Many thanks James.
    I’ve been eagerly awaiting this report since the race was won as I only had ‘live text’ available throughout the entire race, give or take the odd ‘snow storm’ on screen.
    Never have I been so frustrated by not being able to either hear or see a race and never before have I truly appreciated this column.
    So once again many thanks. Keep up the really splendid job and I’ll make this the last time I go on holiday when an F1 GP is scheduled. Unless, of course, I stay in Europe.

  26. Elie says:

    James that new front wing on the Merc must have helped too- Lewis’s turn in was sharp and grippy.

  27. All revved-up says:

    Lotus Kimi and Mercedes Hamilton looking like WDC contenders. Lotus’s wrong tyre call at British GP costing Kimi 8 points is looking expensive.

    Hamilton’s Monaco error and unlucky tyre explosion also looking expensive. Else the gap could be under 30 points.

    It’s possible mechanical failures could decide who sneaks a WDC.

    Mercedes looking strong for WCC. Points from Nico and Webber are crucial. If Webber can beat one of the top 4 (Hamilton, Kimi or Alonso) then RB’s WCC looks good. A strong point scoring second driver has never been more important.

    This is where Grosjean is letting Lotus down. Massa likewise, but Ferrari don’t place as much importance on WCC.

    1. Rockie says:

      So you do if’s and buts for other title contenders and ignore Vettel’s at Silverstone if he had won that race.

  28. Tim B says:

    Very entertaining race. Will be interesting to see whether Mercedes can keep the tyres in reasonable shape on tracks with high speed corners.

    Should know after Spa, if it’s dry!

  29. Bruce says:

    James, do you think Webber could have done a 2 stopper.
    He did really well to make his tyres last for last for 24 laps in the first stint tgen just 20 in the 2nd and 16 in the 3rd.
    Do you think his strategy was compromised by them trying get him in front of Hamilton to slow him down?

    1. Jay Bopara says:

      Great point Bruce. Webber was still lapping consistently when they brought him in for his first stop. And there was no point, because it was obvious he was going to quickly catch up to Alonso on fresh rubber. Therefore it was obvious Webber should’ve stayed out there for longer, and then yes, he could’ve two stopped and challenged for the victory.

      But with Red Bull, they do not want Webber fighting with Vettel, even if it costs Webber points. Therefore, they are very reluctant to do anything to give a situation where Webber is able to challenge Vettel. Thus it was no surprise Red Bull did not give Webber the chance to beat Vettel.

  30. Tornillo Amarillo says:

    Hamilton was leading until lap 9 (1st stop).
    Then Vettel until lap 11.
    Then Grosjean until lap 14.

    And Grosjean (3rd) was chasing Vettel (2nd), so Vettel couldn’t chase for the lead.
    Thanks God.

    We want to see that again (like Hamilton, Kimi, and Vettel instead).

  31. Tony theJ says:

    The interesting part of the race is that Mark didn’t block Lewis very effectively both times. I have watched the two overtaking moves on slow replay numerous times and found that Mark left him large gap. As we all know Webber is one of the best blockers in the business, IMO a bit of a pay back. Hypotheticly speaking would JB have blocked Mark the way he blocked Seb? If Mark was in Sebs shoes going for a podium finish?

    1. aveli says:

      normally when there is a competition between two people and one wins, is the winner praised for being a better competitor or the loser blamed for not being competitive enough?
      hamilton overtook webber and button because he was a better competitor anyone else who wasn’t able to overtake them was as good a competitor. end of!

    2. **Paul** says:

      I spotted this too, Mark normally defends hard, and on both passes by Lewis he had the chance to run Lewis out of road. He chose not to on either occasion. Perhaps you could put the first one down to old soft tyres and surprise at the move, but the second? It was interesting that whilst Webber never Lewis out of road, Lewis did do to Webber on the exit of turn 3, I think that was a really interesting demonstration of who was trying and who was more interested in ensuring his team mate didn’t win.

      Lets be honest though, the Vettel side of the RBR camp can count on one hand the number of times Webber has helped out, and likewise in the reverse scenario. There is no love lost between those pair, and they are so far from a team it’s funny! *Note that’s why I think RBR will go with Kimi, so they have a team rather than two quick individuals.

      Ever since Vettel turned up and started beating Mark issues have existed, even in 2009 pre Turkey. That’s the crux of it, Mark hates Seb beating him. Mark was team leader in 2009 and got beaten by Seb in his debut season with the team. Look at how hard he defended in Turkey 2010 at the infamous crash. They were far from mates prior to that, and the ultra defensive driving shows it. Why anyone was surprised Vettel overtook Webber in Malaysia I don’t know, the history there says it’s been every man for himself since Webber clocked Vettel was beating him. Some may call that a sore loser, me? Nah, I think they’re both racing drivers. They need to have that will to win, without it you’ll always be an ‘also ran’ that’s why Alonso happily shafts Massa (be that doing him into the pits, making him take a gearbox pen, taking the better strategy when he’s behind him etc) and Hamilton looks like he’s lost a pound and found a penny every time Rosberg or Button beat him. It’d be interesting to see how Vettel handles getting beaten on a regular basis by a team mate, because just like Webber pre 2009, Vettel has never had a team mate who can beat him on a regular basis in F1.

    3. Kingszito says:

      Mark is a fair and aggressive defender when it comes to defending his position and that defence on Hamilton wasn’t any different. Hamilton two overtakes on Mark was brilliant!

  32. graham says:

    What on earth happened to Riciardo? Qualified 8th and went backwards from there. Even finished behind his teammate.
    Can’t find any media coverage on this. Any ideas.
    Daniel just said they didn’t have the pace during the race. Why not?

    1. Horoldo says:

      They put him on a two stopper, but the first stop was way too early. Should have switcheed to a three stopper, or pitted later for the first stop.

    2. Mike J says:

      His first stop was the second slowest in the whole race and he was passed in the pit by two cars(pastor and hulk I recall). He was then made to try a two stopper and did 28 laps and 32 laps on primes. Yet Vergne did a three stopper and passed DR late in the race. DR has been given some terrible strategies this year reflecting the same result most of the time.

    3. Goober says:

      I think they two stopped him and he ran out of tyres.

  33. dimitris says:

    Good analysis, as always, James. I do agree that Mercedes’ final speed made the difference and Hamilton exploited the car’s advantages to the full. Pole was no surprise, and once they found a way to manage tyre degradation in the race, they had to be very strong in the race. RB’s strategy was upset by not taking pole position and the outcome was natural. Lotus, who I thought were pre-race favourites to win, cannot put it all together. The new tyres upset the balance of Kimi’s car and the team could not find a solution to his understeering problems in order to improve his qualifying. He made his disatisfaction known in his after the race comments. Romain is too inexperienced to do what it takes to win a race. The tyre change suited him pefectly, but he was too impetuous and tried to force his way when prudence and calculation ought to have his guide. If he could pull a two-stop strategy by saving his tyres he probably would have won the race or at least second place.

  34. C Lin says:

    James, have you heard of anything about Ferrari offering a seat to Kimi in 2014?

  35. Jota180 says:

    Are RB now going to be forced on the defensive and go for a less radical setup? In Hungary they were pretty much the slowest 2 cars down the straight and they paid for it.
    Vettel can’t afford to lose 10 points to Hamilton every other weekend and they have to be thinking that he’s the real challenge now if they believe that Merc have sorted their issues once and for all and Ferrari are barely keeping up and Lotus just snapping around their heels most of the time.
    With the apparent ascendancy of the silver cars, Vettel could now have 7 other cars with the capability of taking points off him, with 3 of them capable of taking the [almost expected] pole off him.

  36. Brendan says:

    “Since Monaco Mercedes has raised its game in managing the thermal degradation of the tyres in the race”

    You mean since Mercedes did the Pirelli test in Barcelona.

    Amazingly coincidental for a team that claimed to have “learned nothing” from said test.

    ;-)

  37. SuperSi says:

    Its a drivers circuit and Vettel has not won that one.
    Vettel would have a lot more fans if he lost his unsportmanly arrogance. Vettel was really out of line when he said that the Hungaroring is not a great track. The organisers go to lengths to put a great circuit like the garoring on the calendar (not to mention the bonus it is for the economy)and no driver should bad mouth that. I think he should get a slap on the wrist for that. Every driver has his good and bad circuits, and Seb please learn to grow up and take the good and the bad with some dignity. If you get a podium your face shouldnt look like a wet monday morning.

    1. SteveS says:

      There are few circuits which are less “drivers circuits” than the Hungaroring. It’s one of the worst tracks of the year, along with Monaco.

    2. Rockie says:

      Suzuka is the drivers circuit not Hungary mate!
      Also the hungaroring is not a great race track as you cant pass on it.

  38. Miha Bevc says:

    Off topic, but is this true? Ferrari offering Raikkonen seat for 2014?
    It’s getting more and more interesting…
    http://f1fanatic.eu/cikk/ferrari-offers-raikkonen-to-rejoin-team-in-2014

  39. iceman says:

    Why did McLaren take the soft tyres in the second stint? That’s pretty unusual. What was the benefit for them?

  40. Phil Glass says:

    “there was still plenty of performance in the tyres despite track temperatures of 50 degrees. Mercedes would never have managed that a year ago!”

    or even three months ago! That would be shortly after Barcelona…

    Hamilton’s own top performance aside, surely that 3 day Pirelli test has been bearing fruit for merc ? I’m sure they have also progressed otherwise with their dev work. But it was a help?

  41. Horoldo says:

    James,

    Do you think Mark may have won, by stopping on lap 27 and doing a two stopper?

  42. aveli says:

    hi james, were you serious when you wrote “This is a pattern we are likely to see for the rest of the season, now It is clear how the new specification Pirellis work.”?
    i think there are many variables which affect the pattern and the tyres are just one of they many and it’s not clear to any of the teams how the tyres work. they are all trying hard to guess how they work by collecting as much data on them as they can at every test and free practice sessions in order to make as good a guess as they can.
    we will see they patterns when the occur. until then……..

  43. Jimbo says:

    It’s a little misleading James, about Maldonado’s pace compared to Hulkenberg in the final stint considering the Williams tyres were 16 laps younger.

    Up until before Nico’s drive thru there was little to seperate them. But I’m guessing after the penalty, Sauber probably decided to revert doing no more stops in a bid to gain back loss time. By the end of the race, it’s clear he’d reached ‘the cliff’ on the tyres and only just stayed ahead of the Toro Rossos.

    Nonetheless, a well deserved point for Williams

  44. Dale says:

    James, I believe Lewis would have won this race regardless as to whether Vettel had passed Button earlier as he was not driving for the last many laps (and more) as fast as he and the car was capable of going – his fastest lap just before the end shows this.

    In my view, of all the current F1 drivers it’s Lewis Hamilton who is the best overtaker when in a car capable of overtaking, it’s a pity that he wasted too many years at McLaren and this from a dedicated McLaren fan (fingers crossed they can get it back when they team up with Honda though they’ll need a star driver as their current pairing isn’t that)!

    I hope McLaren don’t go the way of Williams.

  45. Richard says:

    Simply that Hamilton is the better driver! Sure Vettel is fast and very disciplined, but when the Hamilton magic switches on I doubt many could live with him. Frankly the Red Bull car should have been faster around that circuit, but on that occasion it was probably about the same in overall terms as the Mercedes. It was Hamilton’s ability to overtake in unauthodox places that helped win that race. so it begs the question what switches Hamilton on?! – Simply a bloody fast car, and it’s beginning to look as though Mercedes are finally coming up with the goods. – I hope so because that will mean an almighty battle for this championship.

  46. nicolas nogaret says:

    hamilton called for new tyres on lap 9 which , judging by his lap times was spot on

    vettel went another 2 laps [ his call , or the team's ? ] which looks to have been a lap too far for the tyres judging by his in-lap time ; no doubt to try and clear button but , as seen , he was too slow and didn’t make it

  47. JohnBt says:

    Hamilton generally is very good and aggressive in his overtakes as compared to Vettel.

    If Merc does well and win at Spa, part two of the season will be fantastic to watch contenders close up the points gap.

    This year feels more like T1 than F1.

    1. SteveS says:

      He’s aggressive all right! If he keeps driving like he did in Hungary he’s going to crash out of a few races before the year is out.

      Of course it’s easier to be aggressive when you’re well behind and have nothing to lose. If Hamilton had a 35 point lead in the standings he’d drive a good deal more cautiously.

  48. Oly says:

    Not mentioning Ferrari’s lack of pace with a single word might looks like you don’t want to anger LdM. James, a journalist of your caliber.. ? :-(

    1. James Allen says:

      Not a regular reader, clearly..

      1. Oly says:

        Wrong – a regular reader and your book buyer.

      2. James Allen says:

        Well you should know then that we have written many stories about Ferrari’s lack of pace!

        And analysed it in the strategy reports.

  49. NF1 says:

    I think that this race proves that Hamilton is quite a cut above Vettel, in that he managed to make the passes when required & Vettel didn’t. There has been so much talk from the Vettel fans about how good he is, but from where I am sitting it is quite simple; put them both in a competitive car and Hamilton makes Vettel look mediocre.

  50. Red says:

    In a way, Merc’ pole on Sat., bold win on Sun. was the result of the great tactics and mind games. For the whole weekend, they played underdogs. All around the paddock (including me so far from it) expected the heat will compromise their race pace.
    Even after Lewis getting the pole, he told everybody that miracle is required to win the race. I guess everybody agreed with him. Until the light was off, the race started. Instead of slowing down, he pulled away step by step.
    I think Seb. must feel regret at the moment that he should have pushed a little bit more on the 2nd sector of his last quali lap. He really had the chance for pole this week.
    At the end of the day, Ross and Lewis always knew they have a chance for the pole and have a chance for the win. And they did it.
    This is old Ross’ tactics as the old days.
    Ya, this is my imagination and I really hope it is true.
    With this trend, they could fight the RBR for the 2013 WDC/WCC.
    Go Ross, Go Lewis, Go Nico, Go Silver Arrows~~~

  51. dave clarke says:

    I firmly believe that Hamilton is better at overtaking than Vettel. Put him in a Red Bull and he would also have breezed past Button. Vettel is best when there us clear air ahead of him.

  52. Andrewinwork says:

    So based on this can we hope the season isn’t over and this wasn’t a case of too little too late? The next two races are what Ross Brawn described as “power tracks” which suit the Merc a little more plus he mentioned some “good upgrades” So strong results favouring LH with NR also taking points off the main competitors would breath some life the competition again. RB stated that they would make a decision on further developments after Monza. My gut feeling is that it might be a little too much to ask and that had LH not had the DNF at Silverstone then we’d see a good title charge.

    1. Poyta says:

      Pretty sure Lewis hasn’t had a DNF this year so far – he actually came 4th in Silverstone even though he was on the way to getting a 1st.
      Still a lot of races to come and I’m still waiting for some last final fireworks between Webber and Vettel that might result in some more closing up the championship.

    2. SteveS says:

      SV had a DNF at Silverstone, LH finished fourth.

  53. aveli says:

    hello james, i have noticed that most of my posts have been removed. did they break any of the house rules or is it because they oppose your opinion?

    1. James Allen says:

      Just a bit slow moderating today

      1. aveli says:

        ok thanks i thought i was affensive.:-)

  54. Bill Mick says:

    I have been reading this blog for some time and feel compelled to complement the author – James, it is a delight to read such insightful, knowledgeable, unbiased and informative writing – unsurpassed anywhere on the web. Hats off!

    1. James Allen says:

      Thanks! Tell your friends

  55. Ronnie says:

    Thank you James for the insight. It makes me feel better knowing that the characteristics of the cars contributed to the difference in passing Button as indicated in the title. Still, I wonder if Sena could have made the difference much smaller in Vettel’s seat. On the flip side, it’s good to have room for improvement.

  56. aveli says:

    a man called gary anderson criticised hamilton each time he pitted and said it was the wrong time and that hamilton should have stayed out a few laps longer. i didn’t understand why he thought the information he gathered from watching the screen was enough for him to suggest a better decision than the army of mercedes engineers and hamilton with the hughe information gathered between them.

  57. Marcelo Leal says:

    James, I think that is not simple like that.
    Just a matter of straight line speed..
    Hamilton passe Webber (twice) and was not on the straight, but actually in the one of the more challenge f1 turn. And wait, it was a RedBull. It was like his classic move on the outside of Alonso at the Germany GP (2011).
    We have other examples of overtakes at the Hungaroring GP this year that was not on the straights too.
    Vettel was with fresh tyres and a lot faster than Button (well, even force India is faster than McLaren this year, and do not need to wait the tyres go away ;-).
    So, I think was a lack of overtake skills and attitude.
    Hungary is a highly technical circuit, Vettel just know how to start at front or overtake backmarkers.

  58. Van says:

    What a load of twaddle I’ve waddled through in the last 190 posts.

    People talk about straight line speed as if it was an inherent advantage for Mercedes, without realising that by making this choice they are making other key compromises, namely downforce and the ability to hold greater cornering speed.

    Vettel and RBR have generally won over the last several years because the understood that a higher downforce setup would a) maximize their overall package, and b) give them greater cornering speed. The ability to follow closely through the last corner onto the main straight is the advantage you have with a higher downforce setup when the requirement is to overtake, and is a direct tradeoff vs straight-line drag.

    On is occasion it is clear that Vettel couldn’t use that setup as well as he normally does…. But then that should be no surprise at all to anyone – It’s HUNGARY for gawd sake. Eddie Irvine once commented about Mansell’s win in 1989 that “Mansell was Mansell”, so is it with Lewis Hamilton. He can do things that no one else can.

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