Some unfinished business
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Indian Grand Prix: Another tense strategy battle like Suzuka?
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Posted By: James Allen  |  22 Oct 2013   |  2:37 pm GMT  |  93 comments

Pre-event strategy content: Buddh International Circuit, October 25-27

Although the new Buddh International Circuit, just outside Delhi has proved popular with drivers in its two seasons on the calendar, the event will not take place next year and its place on the calendar from 2015 onwards is in doubt for financial and administrative reasons.

This is a shame, as it is a great circuit for F1 cars with a challenging mixture of fast corners and slower technical corners, which really shows a good car from a bad one.

Strategy wise last year was a bit flat as the tyre choice was too conservative and everyone stopped just once, This year Pirelli has brought the soft and medium tyres and this should make for a fascinating strategic battle like the one we saw last time out in Japan.

Worth noting is that teams have got on top of the new wheel nut safety regulations and we saw two sub 2 second pit stops in the Suzuka race, by Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull. This is the first time it’s happened in a race situation, even though several teams have done 1.6 second stops in practice.

The track has some similarities with other new tracks designed by Herman Tilke, but it also has some distinctive features, not least quite a bit of elevation change; the track rises 14 metres from Turn 1 to Turn 3, which contributes to increasing the fuel weight penalty, in other words the weight of every 10kg of fuel you carry slows you down by more than at some other tracks.

Buddh is a combination of mostly slow speed corners and some long straights, which leads to a reasonably high average speed. The first sector of the lap is stop-start, with two straights intercut with hairpins, while the middle sector is a flowing section featuring some faster corners, including the banked Turn 10/11.


Track characteristics

Buddh International – 5.125 kilometres. Race distance – 60 laps = 307.249 kilometres. 16 corners in total. Average speed 210 km/h. A new circuit hosting a Grand Prix for only the third time

Aerodynamic setup – High downforce. Top speed 323km/h (with DRS open) 310km/h without

Full throttle – 70% of the lap time. Total fuel needed for race distance – 161.6 kilos (high). Fuel consumption – 2.65 kg per lap (ave)

Brake wear – average.

Total time needed for a pit stop: 21 seconds
Fuel effect (cost in lap time per 10kg of fuel carried): 0.35 seconds (ave/high)


Form Guide

The Indian Grand Prix is the 16th round of the 2013 FIA F1 World Championship. Sebastian Vettel has won the last five races – every event since the summer break – and needs only a 5th place finish in India to clinch his fourth consecutive world drivers’ world championship.

Vettel is the form man in India too; he has won both of the Indian Grands Prix to date from pole position.

Jenson Button finished second and Fernando Alonso third in 2011, while last year Alonso was second with Mark Webber third.

Weather Forecast

The forecast for the weekend is stable with temperatures likely to be high; between 29 and 31˚Cs and track temperatures up in the 40˚Cs. No rain is forecast.

Likely tyre performance and other considerations

Pirelli tyre choice for India: Soft (yellow markings) and medium (white markings).

Last year Pirelli was too conservative with its tyre choice; hard and soft. The proof is that the four fastest laps in the race were all set on the final lap, so there was plenty left in the tyres at the end.

As a result everyone made only one stop around lap 30.

To counter this and with the interesting strategy battle of Suzuka fresh in the mind, Pirelli is bringing the soft and medium tyre this weekend. This will mean two stops instead of one and some teams might be able to race two stints on the soft, which will be faster than the medium. Lotus and Force India may well try this.

A glance at the tyre selections for the season to date shows that the medium has become the default tyre for F1, used in 14 of the 15 races to date. The only race where it was not used was Monaco.

The circuit provides a similar level of tyre challenge to Silverstone, with 80% of the tyre energy of Suzuka.

The high temperatures should suit the soft tyre, which has problems sometimes with graining if the weather is cool.

Last year there were no problems with wear or degradation,

The surface of the track is not like many other venues and is not particularly abrasive. It is rarely used, so it is usually quite dusty at the start of the weekend and stays fairly dusty. That said, the track does improve quite a bit over the weekend, so tyre data from Friday practice will not necessarily translate to performance on Sunday.

The front-left tyre is usually a limiting factor in the race, due to the layout of the corners, while wheels spinning under acceleration out of the many low speed corners will also take quite a bit out of the rear tyres.


Number and likely timing of pit stops

The pit lane at Buddh is long at 600 metres, but the fastest stops have been in the 20-21 second range, so it’s not as bad from a strategic point of view as might be imagined; a pit stop is not too expensive.

With the soft and medium tyres available, we are likely to see a mixture of strategies, with some cars outside the top ten on the grid opting to start on the medium and trying to come through the field, while some teams may try two stints on the soft tyre for a faster overall race.

The likelihood is that this race will feature two stops, with the front runners starting on the soft tyres from qualifying, pitting around lap 14/15 and then again around lap 35-38, for new medium tyres, or possibly in the case of Lotus, a set of used softs at one of the stops.

The key is to space out the stint lengths so you never run out of tyres. We may see teams trying the undercut before lap 35, which would leave cars touch and go on tyre life in the final laps.

Chance of a Safety Car

As this is only the third race on the track and there was no safety car so far, the probability is yet to be established. A Safety Car at Buddh would help drivers attempting to make one less stop.


Recent start performance

Starts are a critical part of the race and strategy can be badly compromised by a poor start, while good starts can make strategists change their plans in the hope of a good result.

As far as 2013 start performance is concerned drivers have gained (+) or lost (-) places off the start line this season on aggregate as follows:

[Note- This table is intended as an indicator of trends. Where drivers have had first lap incidents which dropped them to the back of the field, they are not included above, but are detailed in the notes marked * below. This affects other drivers’ gains, but the sample still shows prevailing trends of places won and lost at the start.]

Gained:

+25 Van der Garde*****


+21 Maldonado


+19 Di Resta


+21 Perez


+15 Massa


********
+17 Sutil***

/*********
+12 Alonso


+9 Button


+13 Gutierrez


+3 Vettel


+3 Hulkenberg**

+3 Pic


Lost

:
-1 Chilton
-3 Bottas
-5 Raikkonen

*******
-4 Bianchi******

-6 Ricciardo



-9 Hamilton
**********

-8 Rosberg

-8 Grosjean
-16 Webber*


-17 Vergne ****


*Webber dropped from second to seventh after a clutch problem in Australia
** Hulkenberg did not start in Australia *** Sutil suffered puncture from contact with Massa in Bahrain ****Vergne retired following collision. *****Van der Garde and Maldonado made contact in Monaco. ******Bianchi started from pit lane in Monaco after stalling *******Raikkonen crashed into Perez at the first corner at Monza ********Massa spun at hairpin in Korea *********Sutil had collision in Korea ********** Hamilton suffered puncture from contact with Vettel in Japan


Pit Stop League Table

Of course good strategy planning also requires good pit stop execution by the mechanics and there have been some amazing performances, including sub two second stops.

The table below shows the fastest single stop by teams in the recent Japanese Grand Prix, expressed as a the total time in the pit lane. Results from the previous race are shown in brackets.

1. Mercedes 22.551s
2. Ferrari 22.645s
3. Red Bull 22.774s
4. Lotus 23.086s
5. McLaren 23.105s
6. Sauber 23.183s
7. Williams 23.421s
8. Force India 23.476s
9. Marussia 23.648s
10. Toro Rosso 24.807s
11. Caterham 24.308s


The UBS Race Strategy Briefing is written by James Allen with input and data from several of the leading teams’ strategists and from Pirelli

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93 Comments
  1. DMyers says:

    The first two Indian grands prix were pretty much tedious affairs, so I expect that this one won’t be any different. The circuit is awful – all those chicanes separate the cars, so it’s actually pretty dire for racing on. I hate to say it, but I don’t think I’ll even bother watching it.

    1. PeterG says:

      “The circuit is awful”

      Drivers certainly disagree with you on that as its a very popular circuit amongst the drivers.

      Its also a circuit designed with Driver & team input. The quick chicanes in sector 2 were designed by drivers, The long slightly banked corner likewise & the wide entry’s into the corner at the end of the straght was designed using driver/team input after testing on McLaren’s simulator I believe.

      I also disagree with you that the 1st 2 races on this circuit were tedious. I thought both were quite entertaining, Some good racing, Close moments & a good level of overtaking (27 on-track overtakes in 2011, 31 in 2012).

      1. Anil says:

        There were passes but I think most of them were just DRS passes, not really overtakes. Massa has provided some good memories though :D

      2. Andrew M says:

        And I’d wager most people couldn’t name a single one. I remember Alonso getting Webber ater he ran into trouble, Lewis and Massa dicing…

        I’m out.

    2. Equin0x says:

      Don’t worry after Vettel wins the race and championship at India and retains his 100% record there you won’t ever have to endure the torture again! But I for one will be celebrating a great champion half way through his championship record haul, best F1 driver driving the best car, man and machine performing at the maximum and making the established top teams and manuracturers look very weak and amateurish indeed.

    3. Sujith says:

      The Circuit is awful??

      The Buddh International Circuit is one of the few circuits in the calendar that really make an F1 car work in a flowing fast corner section. Have you seen the outboard shots of a Redbull on qualifying trim through those fast chicanes? Something you see only in the great high speed circuits.

    4. petes says:

      I think you should watch as it’s really looking increasingly like the last F1 event that’s going to show here. Must be a real record for longevity.
      James, have you heard anything about the Ferrari team cars and equipment enjoying their own exclusive point of entry to India? Seems they could be being subjected to a bit of pay-back for last years foolishness over red-ragging and the Italian flag.

      1. James Allen says:

        Not heard that, but the Indians were pretty upset about it last week

      2. Peter Scandlyn says:

        Thanks for that – seems to have disappeared, so blown over.

      3. Mocho_Pikuain says:

        What happened last year?

      4. ferrarifan says:

        Two Indian fishermen were shot in the Indian Waters by Italian Marines in an apparent case of mistaken identity.The marines were arrested by the Indian Authorities and case was in progress.

        Ferrari decided to protest the arrest during Indian GP,which was not taken well by the Indian Govt.
        http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/govt-objects-to-ferrari-s-flag-support-for-arrested-italian-marines-284706

    5. Fan says:

      I’m tired of people saying that they are not going to watch (while at the same time probably still watching) for one reason or another. If you don’t find F1 interesting why go out of your way to come to a blog devoted to F1 just to state your disinterest? it would be far better to not watch *and* not post if you really don’t care. Such comments add very little to the discourse.

      1. Tim says:

        +1
        On every blog, on every sport, on every website there are posts similar to the ones you describe.
        The poster professes to not like, it’s boring etc, yet takes the trouble to create a user name and login and post a comment!
        There is nowt stranger than folk :-)

      2. NickH says:

        +1, Very odd behaviour. Maybe they just crave attention

      3. Jordan says:

        Quite often their driver is not winning hence they say the race is boring. Maybe everyone should become Vettel fans…..

      4. Rishi says:

        Totally agree except I think you mean “lack of interest” rather than disinterest, because to be disinterested (instead of uninterested) is to be neutral about an issue.

        Think we may need a cat amongst pigeons in the form of a Lotus if we’re to have a repeat of Japan’s strategy battle. Ironically given the mini-furore that emerged from that race, if we’d have had Webber-Grosjean-Vettel at Turn 1 we’d have probably had a duller race but a different winner.

        It would be nice to have a different winner and/or an exciting race this weekend but I also hope Vettel wraps the title up at this race, particularly if my uncle and cousin(s) are attending like they did last year!

    6. Grant H says:

      Really looking forward to this race, the track is fast flowing with some interesting corners especially the long right hander in S2 quite similar to turkey- last year there was only pit stop however drivers were pushing all through the race,

      I guess it will be RB territory but the battle to be best of the rest should be worth watching

    7. Multi 21 says:

      It’s a terrible circuit. The worst on the calendar.

      It either has to be a challenge for the drivers (eg. Suzuka) or one that produces great racing battles (eg. Bahrain). It is neither.

      Sticking chicanes in the middle of the track made up of straights in between sharp bends is is not imaginative and does not make it a fast, flowing circuit.

      At least the chicanes at Monza serve a purpose.
      I won’t miss this race next year.

      1. Me says:

        “Sticking chicanes in the middle of the track made up of straights in between sharp bends is is not imaginative and does not make it a fast, flowing circuit.”

        But despite your armchair comments, it is a fast flowing circuit.

      2. Multi 21 says:

        If you want to refute my dislike of this circuit you really should provide examples of how and why.

        All you’ve provided so far is “because I think it is”.

      3. PeterG says:

        “If you want to refute my dislike of this circuit you really should provide examples of how and why.

        All you’ve provided so far is “because I think it is”.”

        I could provide the example that the DRIVERS call it fast & flowing & that they all like it.
        http://zeenews.india.com/sports/motorsports/indian-grand-prix-2013/f1-india-grand-prix-mclaren-drivers-are-excited-for-indian-gp_771438.html

      4. Multi 21 says:

        So empty platitudes to a host country via a team press release counts as evidence of universal adoration for a track.

        I even read a press release where a track official compared Buddh to “Spa without the trees” so I guess it must be true!!

        Maybe you are right “PeterG & Me”. There is one very long straight which must make the track FAST and the track layout FLOWS from one tight corner to the next chicane back to a tight corner.

  2. Harshad says:

    I’ll be there at the venue, I just hope it will be exciting race for P2 and further down the grid, as we very much know who will finish P1.

    1. Trent says:

      I’d ignore a lot of the circuit-bashing above. I went to Korea this year, and many of the comments about the track were similar to those above.

      I had a fantastic day, the circuit produced excellent racing (for P2 downwards at least!) and it was a great track to watch at. Tilke is not such a villain after all. And I would add that from the cheapest seats I had a view of 5 turns, and saw much more than I would have at most other tracks for the price I paid.

      Wishing you the best for a good race on Sunday – enjoy!

      1. Harshad says:

        Thank you! Can’t wait for this Sunday!

  3. Harshad says:

    I suspect this might be good race for Lotus.
    Ferrari and Mercedes have been a bit troubled by graining on soft/supersoft tyre throughout the year. Whereas, RBR/Lotus have been very good on those set of tyres. So in Probability at least one Lotus on podium looks more likely.

  4. The Spanish Inquisitor says:

    My predictions are:

    Qualifying:
    • A difference about five positions between Vettel and Weber. RBR will avoid any possible battle between Vettel and Weber at the beginning of the race.
    • Felipe will beat Alonso again.
    • Result: Vettel / Hamilton / Grosjean

    Race:
    • Another race without significative conversation between Alonso and Stela.
    • Result: Vettel / Grosjean / Kimi or Fernando

    1. Equin0x says:

      From the sound of it you’re trying to say RBR will rig Webber’s car? A bold claim but then all they need is have a healthy KERS and a good FP3 then Seb will destroy Webber without a sweat and its funny you didn’t mention the only reason Hamilton will qualify in the top 3 and not Rosberg is because Merc are the ones that will rig Nico’s car so Lewis can look good but its ok everyone’s seen enough to know even a driver like Rosberg is a match for Hamilton and I’ll be watching the race with great interest, its almost the beauty of F1, it can be so boring yet so fascinating, after Seb claims more records this year I’ll be looking forward to the weak era of the V6′s and knowing the likes of the Hamilton fan club and Brundle all pulling out their remaining hairs because of 1 finger.

      1. dufus says:

        Vettel does have the “algorithm” on his side and webbers strategy is already decided. Although they will tell him what it really us 3/4 through the race.

      2. furstyferret says:

        I know this will not get posted, but I would just like to how this fella keeps getting posts on here, when they just are allways about hamilton being favoured, is no good, if only rosberg had mercs backing like ham does he would get destroyed, vettal is the second coming etc etc, he really is boring, so moderator please explain, many thanks

      3. bearforce says:

        If you read the comment he was replying to you might find a an answer. I think @Equin0x was merely saying exactly the same thing as the comment he was replying to except he changed Vettel/ Webber for Lewis/Nico. Get it…

        It is a little funny that you get all excited over this type of comment when these exact same comments are always posted about Vettel and all the excuses why Vetel is not great. Lewis and his fans get off lightly compared to Vettel for these type of comments.

        Toughen up buttercup. You would be running to mummy if you were a Vettel fan and had to read the rubbish comments for the last few years.

      4. clint says:

        +1

        I must admit im guilty of coming here just to read his comments sometimes. So so biased. We all enjoy F1 but no one likes to see constant bagging of drivers.

      5. Grant H says:

        “Merc will rig nicos car to make ham look good” pahaha

        Lewis vs nico – lewis out qualified / out scored nico in first season in new car which nico has had for 3 years previous. Nico 2 wins to 1 but thats only cos he inherited silverstone.

        Boring

      6. Matt H says:

        Is this PlanetF1 or JamesAllenonF1 ? Keep the garbage fan comments to a minimum and let’s keep the topic accurate and respectable like most comments on here are. I’m sensing a tight battle with Vettel and Webber with Vettel showing his strength again Hamilton grosjean raikkonen and alonso will all be there or thereabouts

        Quali
        1-vettel
        2-webber
        3-grosjean
        4-Hamilton
        5-alonso
        6-Rosberg

        Race
        1-vettel
        2-grosjean
        3-alonso
        4-webber
        5-Hamilton

        Red bull too strong and vettel too strong for webber think will be within 20 seconds between 1-4

      7. Tealeaf says:

        See what I mean about everything about Redbull yet you say youself Webber will finish 4th even though the car is too strong? If it was really that strong you’d put Webber on the podium at least. I’d bet if you put Rosberg or Massa in that Redbull they’d struggle to finish in the top 4 too.

    2. jjpm says:

      I agree with you with a small diff…

      race result :
      Grosjean/Vettel/Raikkonen

      ps maybe :cool:

  5. TMAX says:

    It is a shame that this race is dropped from the calendar next year just after 3 years of running. It is hard to understand that in a country like India the FIA and race organizers are unable to get to a good commercial model .

    I believe that the local race organizers should do some good promotions to make the race interesting.

    1. Tifosi says:

      The only reason the race was dropped, is because Bernie does not want to pay income taxes per the current IT laws in India…

      For Bernie, he has many countries waiting to waive IT for landing a race…

  6. shri says:

    Will be interesting to watch constructor fight for position 2 (Merc, Ferrari and Lotus) and between FI and Sauber.

    Some big $ involved.

    1. Equin0x says:

      Well the “big $” you speak of are nothing to the massive entities such as Ferrari and Mercedes, but egg on their faces knowing their drivers have not been performing to the maximum will surely give the board more ammunition to pull the plugs on their F1 involvments even though its unlikely for Ferrari I doubt Mercedes would accept another 2-3 years of mediocre results though 2013 has been an improvement but I worry they will drop back again in the big rule changes just like BMW suffered in 2009.

      1. Grant H says:

        Ferrari and merc Drivers not performing to thier maximum, how do you come to this conclusion?

      2. Mocho_Pikuain says:

        As a Vettel fan, he has the natural impulse to downplay other drivers (specially one of them, no need to say the name) to make his driver look better.

      3. JohnBt says:

        He’s just a simple and single minded Vettel fan. Guess he doesn’t really understand F1 at all.

      4. Gary says:

        Mercedes F1 is not a wholly owned subsidiary of Daimler AG, and does not have a free access to capital therein. The F1 team is expected to perform financially as well as on the track.

      5. Tealeaf says:

        Well I don’t think Alonso has been performing too bad has he? Ok quali has been a bit weak lately but racecraft is definitely not underperforming. As goes for Mercedes pulling out? Well lets wait until 2015 and see what happens I doubt they’d be going anywhere if the 100bhp advantage rumour is true but as for this weekend? The battle for 2nd-4th in the drivers and constructors titles are all to play for, who’s to bet againsr FA and Ferrari.

      6. Tim says:

        Suggesting Ferrari will withdraw from F1, due to lack of success , has to be the most ridiculous comment you have ever made!

  7. goferet says:

    Despite last year’s consecutive tyre choice, I thought the race was decent for I believe it was the first race last season were the drivers were happy as they were able to push till the flag.

    Also who can forget the mighty first lap trussle between Jenson, Alonso and Lewis.

    Anyway, I too have doubts about the India race’s future for cricket is India’s number 1 love and seeing as football couldn’t make it in the sub-continent, no other sport realistically had a chance of making it big.

    So it will be sad to see India drop from the calendar but considering the country’s social-economic challenges, I guess it’s only fair, the organisers withheld the license fee.

    Right, so this weekend we crown the champion of champions but maybe just maybe somebody may rain down on the proceedings.

    Perhaps, we may have a surprise this weekend for not only is Jenson the only driver to have defeated Red Bull’s Vettel in a head to head battle.

    Jenson is also the only pilot to have the rare record of having won the race at Vettel’s title deciding races >>> with the exception of 2010 when Vettel had nothing to lose plus wasn’t leading the standings.

    So yeah, the Frome flyer is the man to watch this weekend for in F1 anything can happen >>> Good luck JB.

    1. Tealeaf says:

      So what can Jenson realistically achieve then? A podium?

      1. goferet says:

        @ Tealeaf

        Well if the race gets hit by a surprise monsoon, Jenson can make a win out of thin air

    2. NickH says:

      haha seriously? Stop dreaming

  8. EA says:

    Another tense strategy affair like japan??

    The Japan gp was only tense to RB because they had to explain (ie come up with a story) why they sacrificed Webber with a strategy again.

    1. K says:

      The only ones still holding on to that conspiracy are the ones that dislike Vettel.

    2. dufus says:

      Yes, you race your fellow racers, teammate, team and a computer algorithm setting you up to be a patsy for failure. Webber has no chance, no-one would.

      1. Ronnie says:

        Isn’t it terrible? Even in 2008, RBR made sure that Webber lost big to the Vettel in STR! That was SO unfair.

    3. EA says:

      Huh? So you two do not think RB purposedly strategized the race to have Vettel win it and not Mark?

      You must be drinking too much Red Bull.

      The question is not whether Red Bull prefer Vettel to win the championships, the real question is: is there a reason why they think they shouldn’t tell it like it is?

      I’m sure they have their reasons. And they are valid. But the fact is the fact: RB has given priority to Vettel’s championships over Webber’s.

      I wonder why “out of the blue” Grosjean suddenly “found his form”……… face it people: teams gear the cars, development and strategies around the driver of their preferrence. And there’s too many reasons to bother going into it.

      1. Yago says:

        Agree on the strategic preference for Vettel over Webber, but not on the Lotus thing.

      2. Alexander Supertramp says:

        Agree. kimi has just been screwing up his quali, he’s been as strong as ever on Sunday. No sabotage or preference at Lotus.

      3. Tim says:

        You have to admit Gros has had a significant change of form since Lotus decided they like him best, now Kimi is off to Ferrari – coincidence ?

      4. James Allen says:

        Change of tyre construction is more of a factor – but yes he has really got his head together.

  9. goferet says:

    Food for thought

    Of late, I have been thinking about the Wonder kid so couldn’t help wondering which driver’s legacy would get a boost by bringing to a halt Vettel’s incredible run.

    But here’s the thing:

    1) No driver has stopped two separate good runs and seeing as Alonso already dethroned Schumi ~ Well…

    2) No teammate or countryman has broken a champion’s good run

    3) So far, Brits have been the most successful party spoilers with Mike Hawthorn ending Fangio’s 4 season run and Mansell who halted Mclaren 4 season run (both defeated South Americans by the way)

    4) Piquet is the only champion to have derailed a good run when he stopped Mclaren’s 1984-1986 good run.

    So yeah, apart from Piquet, new champions have always been responsible for ending good runs

    Matter of fact, the last time an old champion beat a defending champion was in 2000 when Schumi beat Mika.

    Yes, since 1994, only once has a defending champion been beaten by someone that was already a champion >>> Incidentally this event heralded the start of Ferrari’s good run.

    Likewise when old champion Lauda defeated defending champion Piquet in 1984, this heralded the start of Mclaren’s good run

    Also, old champion Fangio beat defending champion Ascari setting off his good run for the next 4 seasons.

    Having said that, the sport has never witnessed two separate good runs following one another for whoever has broken a good run has usually won only 1 World title after the fact with Alonso being the most successful thanks to his 2 titles.

    So having thought about this, maybe Grosjean’s Lotus has a pleasant surprise for us sometime in the future >>> You never know.

    1. Mocho_Pikuain says:

      So Alonso is the only one to have won two chapionships after breaking a good run? Why not become the only one to break two good runs?

      1. goferet says:

        @Mocho_Pikuain

        Well in F1 anything is possible but having said that, Alonso isn’t getting younger.

  10. Anil says:

    This had the potential to be great track but the layout is too forced, much like Korea; sector 1 is just your typical hairpin-straight-hairpin combo and all those chicanes from S2 onwards cause a huge field spread.

    What also makes it worse is that the track is so wide with so much run off, there is literally no sensation of speed what so ever. Huge shame.

  11. Brace says:

    Using the “tense strategy battle” loosely, to describe anything that at least includes more than one leader and not having all 22 cars on exactly the same strategy.

    This season is becoming absolutely dreadful.

    1. Tealeaf says:

      I bet you wouldn’t be saying that had Hamilton been dominating.

      1. Tim says:

        By the same token , if Hamilton had been dominating, it would be you saying it instead ;-)

  12. Rob Newman says:

    More than the race, I want to see the coronation of King Sebastian IV on the top step of the podium.

    I wish I was in India to witness this historic moment but sadly I need to get a visa to go to India which I can’t be bothered.

    Really looking forward to the weekend.

  13. Cakes says:

    Expect Raikkonen to put some of his qualifying woes behind him in this GP. Kimi has generally qualified better on the softer tyres (yes, yes, I know about Korea/Singapore) and has finished 2nd in each of the 3 races this season where we have had the soft/medium tyre allocation – in China, Germany and Hungary.

  14. AndyF says:

    One question I have, when is it.

    I see three different sites with countdowns and they all say different.

    Auto sport seem to be -2 hrs

    This site -1 hr, can Tag Heuer not tell the time :-)

    or maybe I am wrong and they are right?

    1. ferggsa says:

      It might have to do with the setting of your PC and/or the daylight time changing this weekend in some areas (already changed in others)
      I am not sure about India, but time seems to be 30 minutes before or after “regular” meridian hours

      1. ferrarifan says:

        Its UTC+5:30…you can do your calculations based on that

        so UTC times are

        Practice 1:4:30 AM,Friday
        Practice 2:8:30 AM,Friday
        Practice 3:5:30 AM,Saturday
        Qualifying:8:30 AM,Saturday
        Race :9:30 AM,Sunday

  15. Wilma the Great says:

    “we saw two sub 2 second pit stops in the Suzuka race, by Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull. ”

    Hmm.. I missed that on TV. Which of the two teams collaborated to do one of the two pit stops? Ferrari and Mercedes against RB?

    1. Mocho_Pikuain says:

      lol, good one! I think Ferrari did the fastest ever, can someone confirm?

  16. Pranav Haldea says:

    As I have advocated several times in the past, if races have to be dropped from the calendar, start dropping all Tilke circuits one by one. He is single handedly responsible for building some of the most boring tracks on the calendar…

    James: Can you please shed some light on what the partnership agreement between FIA/Bernie and Tilke is? In no other industry, does a vendor/contractor get such exclusivity over such a long period. Why does the FIA/Bernie not invite bids from leading architects from all over the world and select the best of them?

    1. docjkm says:

      Yeah, share your curiosity. How does F1 racing become a series of Tilkoids?

      Safety IS important, but even without the run-offs, the tracks have a soporific generic quality to the layouts.

      You know, finally the Salt Lake City, Utah area got a major auto track. Built in the foothills of the mountains. But, good elevation changes, interesting use of terrain, corners to remember?? NO! Generic boring layout bulldozed free of terrain…. and designed by? Yeah, I guess you already guessed… El Hermano himself.

      1. docjkm says:

        COTA is a startling exception.

    2. Seifenkistler says:

      Do you really think that circuits are just for Formula1?
      They have to be compromises between: Formula1, motorbike, touring cars, …
      And the savety for all type of races.

      I wish there would be a Formula1 race on the nearby Schottenring. Hills, forests, 16kilometre and no savety zones, so races were stopped in the 1950ties after LeMans. But nice for classical races with old cars and bikes.

      Noone designed it, it were just roads which were considered good for racing as early as 1925.

  17. deancassady says:

    Okay, it looks interesting.
    I expect strong Lotuses, both, both qualifying and race pace.
    As mentioned before, think Gtrosjean is due a visit to the top step; which national anthem will the play?
    Vettel is due for some kind of issue, maybe a KERS problem, or transmission… hopefully something dramatic.
    Can a Lotus go all the way on a single stop?
    What, is Mercedes going to show up or not; it would be out of trend if Nico Rosberg shows up.
    Ferrari?
    Red Bull are using this years platform, trying out next year’s concepts.
    What exactly does stopping development on this year’s car mean, when there is next to no testing?
    Those Red Bull people are smart.
    Where will Nico-Sauber be at this track? They seem pretty well good everywhere, now. Expect Nico H to be in the top four.
    McLaren: tough to say, they could end 9 and 10, or have either driver on the podium; expect one of the drivers to go for a one stopper.

    1. nicolas nogaret says:

      french presumably ; although grosjean was born and raised in switzerland to a swiss father Total provide both personal and team sponsorship so he takes advantage of french law which says he can claim to be french as he has a french mother

      1. Tim says:

        I just had a quick look at the official F1 site and it says his nationality is French – so I would say you are correct.

  18. Mihir says:

    Hi all,

    It seems a lot of people do not enjoy the Indian GP including me..and I am an Indian!!!
    But my gripe with the GP is because although it feels great for the drivers, it works against close wheel-to-wheel racing. The thing I dont like the most is the endless straights and wide run-off areas. That just kills the anticipation and thrill of watching drivers make proper overtakes rather than DRS passes.
    Another factor was as mentioned on this website about Pirelli making a conservative choice last year. Maybe this time things will be different..If only this event were taking place next year also..the new regulations and uncertain performance might lead to an exciting race.

    I feel both proud and a bit saddened with the situation of the GP.
    Remember that India does not have traditional history in racing and that the GP does not rely entirely on the govt.
    Also for teams complaining about bureaucracy, taxes and logistics, do we not respect and follow other countries’ rules when we are there? It is in fact disrespectful to ask a country like India who has millions living in poverty to show largesse to an event which already has sufficient money. whenever someone enters another country, it is expected for them to conform to the local customs and traditions.It maybe be different than what you are used to but that does not mean they are wrong or pathetic..

    Tell me, does it suit a team like Ferrari using the event as a political launchpad? What would the Italians feel if ForceIndia does such things in Italy? And then they have no problem while racing in Bahrain..why? Because it does not concern them..

    Yes it is difficult and slow etc..etc..this is just the third year..Give the event a chance to grow. People and the government will learn and improve those things. Also interest in F1 is rising in India. More and more people are bound to tune in for the event. Alonso, Vettel and Hamilton are already popular in India.

    I urge you all to give this event a chance to grow. Even the current recession has kept people from attending. But there is so much potential. Set aside your prejudices and your reservations and support this venture..

    1. Scuderia McLaren says:

      There are some very interesting points you make. I agree with almost all of it.

      Once you understand that those in F1 are fickle, hypocritical, inconsistent and mostly self serving, many of the decisions begin to make sense. Be it the tracks, negotiations, sporting / technical regs, driver choices, punishments etc.

      Appease the power brokers or lose. It’s that simple. India HAS to change and fit F1′s mould, or its gone for good. It might not be right, but its life in F1. India will then have to change the year after and the year after that to continue. F1 is, as I said, inconsistent, fickle and fluid.

      Personally I think the Indian GP would organically grow and even if 5% of the sporting consciousness in India began to love F1, began looking at the products F1 sponsors sell, then that would still be more people and commercial impact and passion than the whole of Australia’s population.

      It’s a numbers game.

      1. mihir says:

        all for one man’s greed…..

  19. Elie says:

    I will take a real long shot and say Kimi Raikkonen will win this race. I think he will qualify second on the softs and win on a 2 stop- no one else will do it.

    1. Clarks4WheelDrift says:

      That would be great to see. I think Kimi and RoGro will do well this weekend, hopefully Kimi can qualify in the top five.

      Red Bull is still a far better car but the gap to Lotus was far greater when the Bulls were on the hard orange tyres, which they will not have this time.

      The Lotus is certainly a better car than the Merc and Ferrari on Sunday now but they may still be held up by them in the race.

      Ideally if someone can beat the Red Bulls into turn one to stall Seb a bit, it may help, but it’s sad to say it sounds like clutching at straws in the hope someonee has the car to give Seb a battling race.

      Even if Webber qualifies well, he shouldn’t be an issue as he will probably be moved to a 4 stop strategy, if his car doesn’t catch fire ;)

    2. NickH says:

      Could be a good shout.. Possibly not 2nd on the grid though, 2nd or 3rd row would still be decent

  20. Leon Kohrs says:

    Hi James,
    Would it be possible to do an article showing the 3D lay-out of all the circuits?
    It will be great to see the difference in elevation changes between the different circuits.

    Examples:
    http://en.espnf1.com/f1/motorsport/image/13937.html
    http://literalf1.com/2011/09/01/%E2%98%AF-why-overtaking-was-easy-at-spa/

  21. Paul_it says:

    Kimi will take the top spot! Followed by Vettel and Grosjean

  22. Matt W says:

    As with so many of Tilke’s circuits, this one is just completely unmemorable. The circuit just doesn’t have character.

    I think the input of teams/drivers is part of the problem. We don’t want to see tracks which teams are comfortable racing on, that drivers find easy to race. We need tracks that aren’t necessarily custom built, but force teams to compromise on set up and drivers to have to vary their style.

    The great circuits like Silverstone, Spa, Monza and Suzuka are all compromises to an extent, where the original purpose of the circuit wasn’t for the current generation of F1 car which means compromises on set up, and variation of strategy.

    If you build a circuit geared towards being perfect for the cars, you end up with India. Dare I say it, but now Malaysia is a fair few years old and the cars have significantly moved on, that is why the circuit is starting to become much more interesting from a racing standpoint.

    Same thing happened to Nurburgring (new layout). Originally designed to the latest cars of the day and widely panned, now produces reasonably good races as the cars have vastly moved on.

    If you look at Montreal and Melbourne, both are fan favorites and produce great racing most years, and again both are compromises in terms of design.

  23. Tornillo Amarillo says:

    HAMILTON, let me say, I guess it’s so disappointing for him not to be in the center of the show, I’m wondering what thoughts he has in this moment, is his star just fading away forever?

    I don’t think 2014, in Mercedes with a Mercedes engine, is an ultimate guarantee of success…

    1. Phil Glass says:

      Just a thought. What if James Allen [who better?] were to persuade Nicole to turn up in the Merc garage for this one… That would be such a booster for Lewis !

  24. DEANO says:

    James Allen, a question for you and your followers. Although I’ve followed F1 for 50 years, my main forte is in tires, but as for the cars themselves, well I’ve learned a lot reading many of your posts and the posters themselves. Perhaps you and others can insighten me on why does it seems that in many of the races the two Ferrari drivers get such incredible starts. I realize that both Alonso and Massa are extremely talented drivers, but F1 is loaded with great drivers. Can you and perhaps others shed some light on my question? Thanks…

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