Analysis of key indicators and trends from United States Grand Prix
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Strategy Report
Posted By: James Allen  |  19 Nov 2013   |  9:22 pm GMT  |  84 comments

Not by any means a classic race, the 2013 US Grand Prix, but an interesting one from a number of perspectives. The strategy was quite clearly defined by the conservative tyre choice made by Pirelli. There was little variation across the field with only Jean Eric Vergne starting the race on the hard tyre, while everyone else went with mediums and made one scheduled stop.

But there are some interesting talking points and indicators of future trends, which are worth considering from this race.


Pre-Race Strategy Expectations

Pirelli once again announced the two hardest tyres in the range for the US Grand Prix, a very conservative choice. Why did they do this? Partly because it’s America and they didn’t want to take any chances, given F1’s history in the country and partly because it served as a useful and timely reminder to the F1 community and fans of what F1 racing is like when the tyres are super durable, with little or no degradation. It can make for some dull racing.

It was almost a reminder of what it as like in the final year of Bridgestone tyres, where a driver could stop early in the race and drive to the finish on one set of tyres. It takes away much of the strategic dimension to the racing. It gives the teams and rule makers something to ponder as they prepare for the 2014 season with all new tyres.

Before arriving at Austin, some teams’ simulations were showing that two stops might be the best solution, but after Friday practice it was clear that the tyre degradation was very low and one stop would be the plan, as it was here last year. However the variable was provided by the temperature, which was hard to predict, with early morning ambient temperatures as low as 5 degrees and highs of 27 in the afternoon! This meant track temperature variations of 20 degrees from low to high. It’s highly unusual to encounter that at a Formula 1 Grand Prix venue.

There was a safety car early in the race, while debris was cleared from Adrian Sutil’s accident. This extended the first stint in most cases and made it an even safer one stop race.


Grosjean beats a Red Bull

One of the standout performances was Lotus’ Romain Grosjean, who finished second ahead of Red Bull’s Mark Webber. They lined up in the grid in the opposite order, so Grosjean did well to beat the Australian.

His result was set up by a strong start, from the clean side of the grid, to jump Webber into Turn 1. The Lotus was quicker than Webber’s Red Bull (but not Vettel’s) on the medium tyre in the opening stint and Grosjean was able to lap in the 1m 44s consistently, dropping into the 1m 43s towards the end of the stint.

The threat strategically to Grosjean was Webber undercutting him, but the Frenchman was able to maintain the crucial five second gap over the Australian which prevents an undercut. So Lotus were happy to let Webber pit first on lap 28 and then they pitted Grosjean a lap later to cover him.

There was slight concern about warm up on the harder compound tyre in the initial phase and also that Red Bull would be faster on it. By pitting first Webber cut the gap to just one second and pressured Grosjean for the remainder of the race.

The Red Bull was faster in the first sector of the lap, but the Lotus was faster in the sequence of corners leading to the all important back straight, so was able to hold Webber off. The closest Webber came to him was 0.7 secs behind, so he was never able to mount a sustained passing move.

Bearing in mind the characteristics of the Lotus car in the last couple of seasons, which has been gentle on tyres and competitive on the softer compounds and in warmer temperatures it was impressive that the car was so competitive on the harder compounds in Austin.


Record pit stop for Red Bull

Red Bull performed the fastest ever pit stop during the US Grand Prix, on Mark Webber’s stop on lap 28. The car was in the pit lane for 23.537secs, with a stationary time of time of just 1.923 secs. This is not an official record because stationary times are not officlally measured by the FIA, only the pit lane time is measured by them and they do not keep a league table of stops.


Great result for Bottas and Williams

Valtteri Bottas and Williams were on great form in Austin, bagging four points for eighth place – Bottas’ first points in F1. They were timely, as it takes the pressure off Williams going into the final race in Brazil. With only one point on the board, as they had before Austin, they were potentially vulnerable to a freak result for Marussia or Caterham which could plunge them out of the prize money placings. Now with five points on the board they are probably immune to that.

Bottas’ result was set up by qualifying, where he made it into Q3 for only the second time this year. He made a small mistake on his final run. Had he improved from Q2 to Q3 as his peers did, he would have started fifth on eth grid instead of eighth.

The secret behind the Williams’ performance in Austin was two fold: new technical director Pat Symonds had decreed that the team should abandon the troublesome Coanda exhaust system, which had not worked on the car all year. This would normally make a car harder on its tyres, so taking it off earlier in the season would not probably have helped in a race where the soft compounds were being used.

But for Austin – and probably for Brazil next weekend too, where the same tyres will be used – it worked well. The Williams worked on the medium and hard tyres and it was further helped by the cooler track conditions.

So a smart strategic decision by Symonds on the specification of the car played to the conditions and the tyres provided and gave them the result.

The cooler temperature characteristic is not new; we have seen Williams looking quick in Free Practice 1 and 3 sessions this year, which are held in the morning when the track temperatures are cooler. Their pace has then eluded them in qualifying and the race as the temperature has come up.


The UBS Strategy Report is prepared by JA on F1, with input and data from several F1 teams, from JA on F1 technical adviser Mark Gillan and from Pirelli.


Tyre Strategies, United States Grand Prix

Vettel MU HN (27)
Grosjean MU (HN 29)
Webber MU HN (29)

Hamilton MU HN (25)
Alonso MU HN (26)
Hulkenberg MU HN (27)
Perez MU HN (22)
Bottas MU HN (23)
Rosberg MU HN (22)
Button MU HN (20)

Ricciardo MN HN (22)
Vergne HN MN (27)
Massa MN HN (21)
Gutierrez MU HN (1) MU (36)
Kovalainen MU HN (17) MU (31)
Di Resta MU HN (22) MU (49)
Maldonado MN HN (8)
Bianchi MN HN (21)
Van der Garde MN HN (21)
Pic MN HN (20)
Chilton MN HN (26)

M = Medium; H=hard; N=New; U= Used

Race History Chart,
Kindly provided by Williams F1 Team

The vertical axis is the time difference behind a ghost car, which is setting the average lap time of the winner every lap. The graph is useful for showing the relative performances on each stint of the cars and the gaps between them.

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84 Comments
  1. SteveS says:

    “Pirelli once again announced the two hardest tyres in the range for the US Grand Prix, a very conservative choice.”

    Well, yes and no. It was the most “conservative” choice available to them. But even with that the race was boring because it was still mostly an exercise in tyre management. Harder rubber would have made for a more exciting race by allowing drivers to push and overtake.

    Hopefully next season we’ll get back to properly durable tyres.

    1. Peter Freeman says:

      James please do an article about difference between hard tyres AND refuelling vs soft tyres without refuelling highlighting WHY hard tyres without refuelling will equal what happened here in Austin at every race.

      1. ManOnWheels says:

        What in the world do you like with refuelling?
        Remember:
        Qualifying position was dominated by fuel load, so quali was worth nothing.
        Pit Stops were dominated by fuel load, so pit crew work was utterly boring and the utter precision and competition you feel today was not present.
        Race pace and number of pit stops was dominated by fuel load, so teams were trying to overtake using pit stop strategy rather than overtaking on the track. Until the last stop nothing was clear and after the last stop, often everything was decided.
        It was racing robots executing a fuel strategy.
        I can’t remember times where racing was more dull than during the years when we had refuelling.
        Nowadays qualifying is an art again.
        Nowadays pit work is precise, skillful and vital again.
        Nowadays the driver’s feel for the car is more vital than ever, because he has to nurse or force the tires, he has so manage fuel (because there is no refuelling and they will send him out with the least fuel possible) and he has to overtake on the track. Racing has become an art again.

        The only thing that is dull about today’s races is the giant parking lots they’re driven on, where going off track won’t punish anyone and it’s the blue flags to get backmarkers out of the way; Back in the days of Lauda, Senna and Prost, lapping slow drivers was an art and full of controversy, now it’s worth nothing.
        And it’s also the stabilized on board cameras that make a the hard sprung, vibrating cars look like they were from a video game. It’s the flawlessly, smooth zooming cameras that make cars look slow, because it’s not looking like the cars were storming towards the camera anymore.

      2. Richard says:

        In the re-fuelling era cars are lighter and more responsive not being laden with fuek for the race distance. The current formula will go done as one of the most artificial and boring eras ever. – Just ask a driver! Let’s not forget why men went racing tin the first place for the thrill of racing, today they race in a “straitjacket” to protect the tyres. – Completely wrong in concept, and actually can be seen to be less exciting than previous eras.

      3. Jim:) says:

        All this talk about refuelling bringing back exciting racing is missing the point,

        All that used to happen was the car that could stay out and do a longer stint, would jump his rival 9 times out of 10.

        When will the sport get it in to its head that I having a million pit stops dose not make a race exciting, Having cars and drivers who can battle for position on the track makes racing exciting ,

      4. JCA says:

        Iirc, the theory was that with refueling and hard tyres, all the cars would be sprinting flat out. The fastest car in the quali would then also be the fastest in the race, so lights to flag victories would be more prevalent.

        With no refueling on soft tyres, the cars are much heavier at the start, so some cars could be better on heavy fuel than the pole sitter. The soft tyres would also favour cars that are kind to their tyres, thus not so good in quali trim, as they create less heat in the tyres on short runs. So, in theory, you would have faster race cars behind slower race cars (that are faster quali cars), thus creating overtaking.

        You would also get cars with vastly different levels of grip, as the different tyre stint lengths work out, getting yet more overtakes.

        You then have to make more strategic decisions, making it easier to make mistakes.

        Of course, if you get a car that is comfortably faster in both quali and race trim, as in most of 2011 and the second half of 2013, it renders this choise moot.

    2. J.Danek says:

      “…by allowing drivers to push and overtake.” <— |
      aren't they still pushing and overtaking, just not as aggressively (in absolute terms) as if they had non-wearing/non-degrading tires like you seem to think they should use?

    3. Nadeem says:

      It’s partly the teams fault so scared of asking drivers to push. They even asked drivers to conserve on hard tyre which could have done 2 race distances.

      Remember when we used to hear engineers saying to faster now it’s look after tyres you were 0.1 too fast. I do like what Pirelli have done for the sport, I don’t want to go back to the old style. However want tyres to wear out like old days and not so sensitive to temps. Used to be soft lasted 15 laps hard lasted all race but a lot slower. That’s why a it thought when the new tyres were coming into the sport.

    4. Craig D says:

      But without refuelling to add strategy, super hard tyres will lead to more similarly monotonous races as here. The real issue is not having close competition at the front; at least then they’d be some chance of a fight for the win even without any strategic options to try and outwit your opponents (like Kimi did in Australia this year). If the Red Bull wasn’t 1 second quicker (in Vettel’s hands) then the race could have been quite good and there was quite a bit of overtaking going on elsewhere, so it was possible to fight.

      But the idea that, on its own, super hard tyres will make better racing, I’m not sure about. It may be more ‘proper’ but it would just mean is Vettel will be able to pull out even bigger gaps (after all it’s no coincidence Vettel has dominated since new tyres have allowed to push harder for longer). The competition wouldn’t be more fierce by drivers not having to conserve portions of a tyre stint because everyone will be able to push as equally. And with the loss of mechanical not being a limiting factor, the horrid aero turbulence effect will dominate once more and be the major obstacle limiting overtaking. The irritations will just shift back to aerodynamics and track designs.

      I’m not in favour of conservation racing per se, but a degree of it does tend to produce more interesting races, and that’s because of the strategic element it creates.

      Hopefully the new engines and tech reset will spice things up. I think the cars need to be harder to drive too, maybe the turbos will provide that? It wouldn’t surprise me if one team dominates still but if it’s a Mercedes or Ferrari then perhaps people will be happy anyway?

    5. Clarks4WheelDrift says:

      The article is spot on ragarding the tyres and concerns over same strategies with concerns for the future.

      Too many have the simplified opinion that hard tyres, like the Bridgestone, will give good racing and that alone is the key to solving the current messy tyres. They really need tyres that allow the driver to push but do eventually go, to mix up the strategies. The difference between tha hard and softer sets should be close enoungh to give advantages to all kinds of strategies, so no softs wearing out after three laps and no hards that last the full race…

  2. IanC says:

    James – You really have to work hard to make another Tilke bore-fest sound remotely interesting.

    1. KRB says:

      It’s not the track, as the race last year was great, one of the best all year. Of course we then still had a title fight, plus we had a late-race pass for the win. But there was action galore last year, lots of passes up into Turn 1. Didn’t see as many of those this year.

      I didn’t even notice the helicopter pilot this year; last year that guy/gal was all over the place!

      1. IanC says:

        “But there was action galore last year,”

        Largely due to the newness of the tarmac which created an oily track and the teams / drivers not knowing it. Now the track isn’t new and the teams know it, it’s a typical Tilke design – boring. To suggest that nothing was at stake is wrong. Vettel wanted the consecutive win record and Ferrari, Mercedes and Lotus are fighting for points in the constructors WC which equals a lot of money.

      2. Bunchies says:

        Good thing it isn’t a Tilke design then, right?

        It was designed by Tavo Hellmund and Kevin Schwantz.

      3. IanC says:

        “It was designed by Tavo Hellmund and Kevin Schwantz”

        No it wasn’t. Hellmund and Schwantz conceived the design. Neither are designers recognised by the FIA. Tilke was the actually designer.

      4. Cait says:

        I agree last year’s race was pretty good. I probably shouldn’t have bothered getting up early for this year’s.

      5. aezy_doc says:

        The helicopter was amazing last year – got some really great shots and added something extra.

      6. Equin0x says:

        Of course last year’s race was spectacular, Hamilton won…

      7. KRB says:

        Are you saying I only thought it was a great race b/c Hamilton won?!? Silly, and sad. I am a Hamilton fan no doubt, but an F1 fan before that. I believe it’s clear majority opinion that last year’s race was a barnburner. As IanC said up above, it might’ve been b/c of the track still settling.

        Anytime there’s a late-race pass for the lead, there’s a good chance you’ve just watched a great race. For example, Canada ’11, China ’11, Japan ’05, Belgium ’00, etc.

    2. Chris Chong says:

      To his credit Tilke has designed some pretty good race tracks: the Istanbul Park circuit (Turkey) and Sepang Circuit (Malaysia) come to mind.

      But I agree that the processions in the Bahrain and Abu Dhabi circuits do no good to his reputation.

      1. Tealeaf says:

        Tilke circuits have been nothing but a massive expanse of bore fest producers. These cars have too much grip and not enough power for these massive wide coma inducing circuits, get a new designer in and make F1 cars more powerful and a handful please, I mean next year 680kg cars 600hp? hmmm the Moto GP crew will be laughing their heads off, I dare say even the LMP1 cars won’t be far behind even in terms of lap times and about evens in a straight line.

      2. Spinodontosaurus says:

        The Audi R18 that is dominating the LMP1 class weighs a good 900kg with only 530bhp, and is 4-wheel drive, and can’t hold a candle to GP2 never mind F1.

    3. Olli says:

      What a strange comment. Surely CoTA is not just one of the better modern circuits, but one of the better circuits overall?

      Borefest though the race may have been, the circuit is not to blame.

      What’s killing the sport are these schizophrenic tyres, which are supposed to encourage “racing” (in a very loose and superficial sense of the word) but are in fact averse to it.

      What with the fuel formula next year, I don’t know whether Grand Prix Racing will any longer be racing in any meaningful sense. All things must die eventually, F1 included.

      1. J.Danek says:

        you’re right – the COTA track is amazing, and those who would complain that the race was a Tilke-drome borefest…I think they criticize Herr Tilke w/o even understanding what they so lazily say!

        “There are few professions that demand such a combination of creativity, technical competence and resilience to criticism, as architecture. In particular when designing sporting arenas, one is immediately surrounded by pundits convinced they can do better.”

        source: http://www.thepaddockmagazine.com/articles/features/herr-tilke

      2. Tealeaf says:

        COTA is actually 1 of the worst Tilke circuits nevermind overall, I find Istanbal, Sepang, Shanghai, the new Hokenheim all more less sleep worthy.

      3. Joel says:

        “Surely CoTA is not just one of the better modern circuits, but one of the better circuits overall”

        Ohh sure. Just that they should do a better job removing stricken cars… :)

      4. Spinodontosaurus says:

        I have a rather controversial opinion on the Austin circuit.

        What Tilke’s many circuits show is that a tight corner onto a straight is prohibitive to overtaking because it spreads the field out and increases the time before you get any sort of decent slipstream effect, no matter how long you make the straights.

        It simply doesn’t work, yet he continues systematically to put tight corner-long straight combinations into every track he designs, Austin being one of them.

        At Austin it is made even worse when the cars are all spread out through sector one (which looks nice to drive at least).

        Last year’s race was good, but I am inclined to believe this was due to reasons beyond circuit design; i.e. the grip was very low due to the tarmac being slippery, nobody knew the track, and we had 2 front-running cars mired in the midfield at the start – Button and Massa – who provided much of the racing action. Hamilton too was able to catch Vettel through sector 1 last season despite being in the dirty air
        We had a sort of mixed up grid this year, but the only car among the out of position drivers that really had the pace to charge through the field was Rosberg, and he is dire around Austin (he qualified 17th last season, whilst Schumacher lined up 5th), and Massa was on a two-stopper (and didn’t show anything like the kind of race-winning pace he did last season).

        This years race had even less on-track passes than Hungary did, and barely more than Monaco.

        I would be interested in seeing what others think of this.

      5. Paul Kirk says:

        Spinno, there’s another way one could look at the issue of a slow corner onto a long straight —- eg-if it was a faster corner onto the straight, cars would not be able to follow as closly through that corner due to aero being affected by the car in front thereby creating a larger gap between the cars. Also because cars would be entering the straight faster they would spend less time on the straight to catch up and pass someone. Not saying you’re wrong, just showing a different angle.
        PK.

  3. Racing Fan says:

    Fantastic analysis as usual, but it would be good if it includes the number of engines used by each driver so far this year and the age of the last engine used. That would give a notion more precise of the performance of each car.

    1. James Allen says:

      The differences when an engine is new or old are very small nowadays, maybe 10-15 bhp.

      1. MISTER says:

        How about gearboxes?
        RedBull were worried about Vettel’s gearbox, and Sky was saying it did 3 races already and Austin was the 4th, but they also said in Brazil, Vettel will have a brand new gearbox. If that was the case, why did RedBull risk using a 3 race old gearbox when they have a new one in the garage?

      2. Bill says:

        Brazil is known to destroy gearboxes. Senna winning in 91 with one gear is the classic example.

      3. BadBob says:

        If RBR put a new gearbox in Vettel’s car at the USGP they would have incurred a grid penalty.

      4. Wade Parmino says:

        You are talking about reliability. The original comment was referring to performance decline in the engines. The age of a gearbox would affect reliability but not really performance as with an engine which will have a reduction in power (however this is minimal these days, as JA has just said).

        With regards to Red Bull saving a brand new gearbox for Brazil, I am going to suggest a rather cynical view which many will lament. Vettel was fairly confident he could easily win in Texas without pushing the car too hard. In Brazil, he fears a very strong performance by Webber and knows he may be put under significant pressure during the race, finding himself in a real battle with his team mate. Vettel wants the nine straight wins record and I suspect more than that, he does not want Webber to have even a single win this season. Personally, I hope there is spectacular final showdown between these two with Webber being victorious.

        This weekend is the last opportunity to put forward Vettel/Webber conspiracy theories. Everyone should make the most of it. :)

      5. DB says:

        The rules for gearboxes are different than those for engines. Gearboxes must do four *consecutive* races. That’s why RBR couldn’t change Vettel’s for the USGP.

      6. Joel says:

        Red Bull acting nervous is just to bring some attention back to their garage/car; just to spicen up the otherwise borefest.
        There is hardly any mention of Vettel/Red Bull once he build a gap and gets into cruise control.

      7. KRB says:

        I have to wonder about the whole we’re-worried-about-your-gearbox thing too. If it was true, then why would Vettel go for the fastest lap near the end (lap 54)? He didn’t just take it by a whisker either, but by 0.589s.

        Either it’s a charade, a show, etc., which would be bad. Or worse, it’s Vettel plowing on, not caring about what the team are saying, and risking the car and the points for what are, in the big picture, meaningless stats.

  4. Richard says:

    James, I am afraid I can’t agree that this face was like Bridgestone races. Ok the tires lasted a long time but at the weekend we still heard drivers being told to be careful and no go flat out. That never happened with Bridgestone. I know it’s not Pirellis fault (they are doing what is asked) and I neither prefer before or now but to compare them in my view is incorrect. One of my fav races is from france where Schumacher had to do 4 stops and 5 sprints to win. An example of lots of stop on tires that could take flying lap after flying lap!

    1. Peter Freeman says:

      And did Shumi refuel during those 4 stops for his 5 sprints….?

      Perhaps the difference is not hard apples vs soft apples to get the taste of that sweet apple pie that you are remembering so fondly?

      If next year we had fuel tanks limited to 45 litres along with the hard and soft tyres and refuelling we would have some more interesting strategy patterns to see on race day.

    2. Spinodontosaurus says:

      Actually, drivers were constantly being told to “look after the tyres” in 2010, just nobody seemed to care back then.

      I distinctly remember Hamilton reply to one such radio message with “I can’t go any slower” at Valencia I believe (this might have been 2011), only to later state he “can’t drive any faster” when he was told to pick up the pace later on.

      1. Aaron Noronha says:

        +1. You point clearly shows that people will never be happy no matter what changes are implemented

  5. paddy says:

    As being as much an enthusiast as anyone on this, i was muckin about on youtube tonight,. Is it just me of is this not what the absoloute definition of formula1 is…. The noise, the class, the drivers skill, i do admit that 2012 was a beast of a season.. But does this year beat it.. I think ive found the definition of formula 1. Even with Murray being drowned out by the noise., it just adds… http://m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=BzvwDZjAFRA

  6. KRB says:

    “Not by any means a classic race …”

    Yeah, you can say that again. I thought I’d never see the day, but I must now admit, at the moment, that the following is true:

    Toronto city council meetings are more entertaining than Formula 1.

    Usher in the Apocalypse, for it is surely upon us. :-)

    p.s. where’d the Pirelli cowboy hats go to, for the podium finishers? That was a nice (and different) touch last year.

    1. cartweel says:

      Are you suggesting we ply the drivers with crack and vodka before a race? That would actually make for interesting racing….

      P.S. I now live just outside Toronto and used to live in Toronto proper- this whole thing is such a colossal embarrassment that just won’t go away

      1. KRB says:

        Like you I live in the ring around Toronto, though I’ve never lived in Toronto itself.

        It is truly surreal what is happening down there. Truly defies belief. God help Toronto if Ford actually wins re-election next year!!

  7. Geno says:

    One thing that helped me keeping tuned, is appreciating how great a run Sebastian Vettel is having.
    I just hope Rocky stops predicting the apocalypse every time his driver goes purple, he should just embrace it and advise him on when to do his fastest lap. He kind of ruins the ‘show’ even more.

    Apart from that I would bet on Grosjean, Hulk or Ricciardo ending Vettel winning streak. I don’t believe Ferrari’s infrastructure’s good enough for them to do wonders next year and Hamilton probably won’t do much as long as Pirelli stays in the sport. And especially if he keeps the same engineer it seems…

    And hopefully Pirelli doesn’t stay for one stop races. There is a beauty to watching historic performances, but no fun at all with this little action. F1 needs something extra to be enjoyable, “pure racing” is ultimately pretty boring.

    1. Adrian Newey Jnr says:

      I think RB have been sandbagging in order to avoid any techincal changes not in their favour. After all, it was their lobbying that got the tyres changed to suit their car. If they started winning by too big a margin, the other teams would change the rules back!

      1. James says:

        Ironically after Silverstone it was Alonso who stated the tyres were dangerous and had to be changed.

      2. Peter Freeman says:

        Redbull lobbied so hard the tyres on the cars began exploding and everyone was fooled into thinking there was a safety issue…

        Do not underestimate the powers of the dark side of lobbing Bull :)

  8. Tornillo Amarillo says:

    Great for GROSJEAN, BOTTAS… the names are changing, because we are not mentioning Hamilton, Alonso or Kimi for different reasons.

    Is there any possibility that PEREZ goes to Lotus?

  9. matthew cheshire says:

    Looking at the race history Vettel had noticable tyre deg very early and was forced to pit when he did. Both RG and MW were in far better shape when they changed 2 laps later. It looks like Lotus could have pushed harder and made a real race.??

    And Maldonardo looks like he fell asleep at the wheel on lap 45. If he destroyed his tyres why didn’t he pit?

  10. Cait says:

    I had to leave for work so didn’t watch the podium interviews.
    Did see a .gif with Webber walking off though Andretti wanted a photo or something? Can anyone elaborate on this please? Many thanks!

    1. Elie says:

      I think it was Mother Nature .. But I don’t imagine he would do a Kimi and say I gotta take a sh..

  11. David says:

    I agree with Richard above. I would like to see somebody go flat out the whole race and see if the extra stop for rubber is worth it. Isn’t that how Alonso won in Spain? Also, I don’t think it is boring and predictable because of RBR and Vettel. I put it on the other teams for not keeping up.

  12. darren w says:

    Thanks for exploring the performance of the Williams. It was a fascinating result given the changes made to the car…and just nice to see the team and Bottas get a result.

    The explanation doesn’t seem to go far enough to explain how outright pace could improve so drastically. Did removal of the Coanda system not result in a loss of downforce? We are constantly told how downforce translates into pace, so where did the extra pace/downforce come from?

  13. JOdum5 says:

    James, could you explain to those of us that are interested why there’s apparently no middle ground between Pirelli’s exploding tires and the Bridgestone approach? I don’t see how Pirelli can be taken seriously when they elect to bring an unimaginative selection of tires to convince the teams not to expect them to bring a quality range of tire choices.

    1. James Allen says:

      There is middle ground – it’s all the other races we’ve had this year where the strategy played a part and we had some good racing (behind Vettel)

      1. Jodum5 says:

        Thanks for the response! Any chance the sport will nix DRS?

      2. Greg (Aus) says:

        I’d guess that would be unlikely unless they make changes to the aero regulations – it’s the over reliance on aero grip that made the DRS ‘necessary’ in the first place. If aero was less dominant, cars could close up for passes without the significant drop in performance and the DRS would be completely unnecessary.

  14. Warren G says:

    I didn’t think this race was anything like the races of 2010. All race we still had drivers lapping well within themselves to conserve tires, worrying about temps.

    Rocky telling Sebastian that it’s not how fast we can go but how far is very telling and highlights what’s wrong with this sport.

  15. Rich C says:

    Perhaps Pirelli has already made the decision not to sign the famously “not yet signed” contract for next year and just doesn’t want to be bothered anymore?

    1. ManOnWheels says:

      I wouldn’t mind. Kumho, Bridgestone, GoodYear, Michelin – they all can do an equally good if not better job.

    2. Mike from Colombia says:

      One can only wish

  16. Leanne Perrins says:

    One trend I would like to see end is Frenchmen in cowboy hats. Grosjean was outstanding to get second place, but let himself down by doning the wrong head attire.

  17. Richard says:

    Should just bring the Medium and Hard to every venue with a Soft or Super Soft tyre for qualy (Depending on the track)

    On topic: Great effort by Bottas and Big John well deserved.

  18. MickeyRSA says:

    Lotus is clearly the 2nd fastest car.. And I’m so frustrated to see Kimi not racing there!! I mean, I could possibly have been a Lotus 2nd and 3rd.. Look at Abu Dhabi, Kimi was the only driver who matched Vettel on long runs the Friday.. Plus he had 5th place on the grid until he got disqualified.. So potentially, there was another podium for Lotus!! FRUSTRATED! Hope Hulkenberg gets the drive to give Lotus their championship fight they deserve!

    1. Phil Glass says:

      4th I think

    2. Elie says:

      It was 4th. He seemed to get on top of the handling of the tyres and eliminated the under steer with the short wheel base E21- I think he was a genuine threat for Seb at the last 2 races !- very unfortunate he’s not racing

  19. Peter Freeman says:

    And did Shumi refuel during those 4 stops and 5 sprints….?

    Maybe you are not comparing hard apples vs soft apples in the same recipe for the sweet apple pie you remember after all.

  20. OffCourse says:

    This may be a dumb question, but why can’t Pirelli make a tyre that lasts, but has little grip for the whole stint. At least then we would see all the drivers driving as fast as they can.

  21. Phil Glass says:

    ” closest Webber came to him was 0.7 secs behind, so he was never able to mount a sustained passing move. ”

    That was down to Webber, not his car. It’s the same car Seb is driving, fhs, yet Webber makes it seem ordinary and easily beatable. A top driver would have taken GRO within 2 or 3 laps, not follow him half a race.
    WEBS thought he was a real top flight ace with his “perfect” pole lap in Ab Dab. But to watch him slam hard on the brakes long before GRO every corner was very revealing…..

    1. Elie says:

      +1 Alonso / Raikkonen/ Hamilton in an RB9 handling car would have taken him

  22. Richard says:

    Well let’s just correct one statement as you describe the medium and hard compounds as super durable. – They are not! They are simply the more durable of the Pirelli compounds. They don’t compare to Bridgestones in terms of durability. So why are races sometimes dull. Well for starters the cars are loaded up with fuel. – I don’t accept refuelling can’t be done safely in this technological age as it would be very easy to disable the car while the hose is connected. Over reliance on aerodynamics is another for more than one reason. It has allowed a team to get a huge performance advantage due to their prowess in this area, and downforce is dramatically reduced in the dirty air behind a leading making overtaking more difficult. The real answer to making F1 more exciting is dramatically reduce aero, increase mechanical grip, and bring back safe refuelling. The cars would be lighter, and far more responsive in the first half of the race. In spite of the regulation changes I’m not expecting much in the way of excitement in 2014, apart from powertrain failures, overall the cars will be heavier and slower. I still expect Red Bull to lead with regard to aero. I’ve also noticed a bias regarding the Hamilton – Rosberg situation. When Rosberg get’s the upper hand it’s big news, but when it’s Hamilton hardly a mention. As it happens I think they are both great drivers, and just need a bit better car to challenge for the championship. The differences we’ve seen are really with regard to set up and tyre balance, but the pendulum seems to swing both ways, what’s more I think Hamilton has done well with a new team and a car that’s not to his liking particular with regard to brake feel.

  23. Phil says:

    I lisetened to the race on Radio 5 and I have to say I was really disappointed with the commentary. I appreciate this might not 100% be the fault of the commentators but three things struck me. Twice the commentary was interrupted to report on a Boxing story – surely that could have waited until after the race. Secondly, surely the majority of the listeners would be F1 fans who know a bit about the sport – why then continually treat us like idiots and explain over and over again what the KERS function does on an F1 car. Thirdly, it’s on the radio so we can’t see the gaps between the cars therfore we need more regular information as to where the cars are in relation to eachother.

  24. Kevin says:

    I always felt bad for Pat Symonds receiving the punishment that he did, warranted or not. I’m glad to see him in a good team again and I hope he is able to help them turn things around and become a top team again.

  25. cartweel says:

    James,

    Would it bring better racing if teams could declare their compounds before a weekend (with enough time for Pirelli to organize logistics)? They could figure out what strategy was fastest using the tires they wanted… seems like right now we have everyone trying to just make the best of what they have- some do better than others. Teams that got it right for a weekend would have a big advantage over those that didn’t and it would be pretty interesting to see a race mixing a 3 stop/super-soft strategy vs a 1 stop with more durable tires. It would bring some freedom in a very restricted formula.

  26. All revved-up says:

    Was Webber unhappy because he was beaten by Grosjean in the second fastest car?

    Bottas in a Williams did very well, beating Rosberg in a Merc, Massa in a Ferrari and Kovalainen in the second fastest car. The only car he didn’t beat is the Red Bull.

    1. Richard says:

      Well no driver likes being beaten, but the Lotus was strong enough to hold off Webber’s Red Bull. I think Webber is a genuine sportsman and would admit to being beaten given the circumstances. Getting past requires a significant performance advantage, and not easy with tyres that are past their best. Yes I’ve taken a liking to Bottas, and I hope he continues with the upward trend, although it has to be said the nomimally faster cars he past were all disadavantaged by one reason or another. the current formula requires cars to be set up perfectly with regard to tyre balance, and given the prevailing conditions were caught out, and ended up out of position.

  27. BM says:

    I do not agree with the statement “The Lotus was quicker than Webber’s Red Bull (but not Vettel’s) on the medium tyre in the opening stint”.

    Webber was only slower when stuck behind Hamilton, and once he got past, he gradually reduced the gap until his pitstop (which the graph also shows), despite the fact that he was bound to have had more wear by that point. I’m pretty sure that he was also told by his engineer not to be too aggressive to make his tyres last. Webber had several very quick laps after he got past Hamilton and before his pitstop, but his tyres wouldn’t sustain that pace through the whole stint.

    1. Richard says:

      That’s the problem with the current formula, the tyres don’t allow sustained catch up where and when it is needed. It’s one thing to catch, but it’s quite another to pass in the dirty air requiring a large performance advantage. The result is that a leading car is protected by a significant degree.

  28. Elie says:

    I think one thing that would really mix up the racing would be to allow each team to start a race on their choice of tyre!.

    Every team would want to start on a new harder tyre. But a team that is good on the softs might opt for that – eg Lotus. Then a team like Red Bull might want to cover that off. Whereas Mercedes would definitely start on hards as would a few other mid field teams.The end result would be similar with maybe a few surprises at certain tracks but how we get there would be very different and at the end of the day teams , drivers, are far more involved in the decisions.

    Refuelling ban changed everything in F1 and whilst I have been advocated bringing it back , conceptually the new drive train formula and efficiency should over run any need to return refuelling. Pirelli must go – of that I am certain- no tyre manufacturer should change its ethos to suit a sport alone- it should always be a partnership that benefits both going forward. All tyres should last 300ks, but a big enough difference in the level of performance between each compound should create the variety in racing, strategy etc. the fact that we had a tyre change mid year because Pirelli failed to manage to react quickly enough to understand the abuse by the teams & then being overly conservative after the situation is rectified is wrong – evidence of this now in Austin and São Paulo.

    I think DRS should be done away with and the rules should allow for less wake created by the cars and as many have said – slightly more emphasis on mechanical grip and drivetrain performance/ which no doubt is starting in 2014

  29. G says:

    All these fans who bitch on about how:
    “Tilke tracks have ruined racing/made it boring”, or
    “It used to be better before Pirelli”
    “Bring back durable tyres”
    “Get rid of DRS” etc…. are wrong and miss the point

    The races are processional now mainly because the teams are so professional, have maximised their particular package, and have increased reliability hugely

    The tracks are boring because of the inherent safety that is now designed into them. Would you rather watch better racing but with more chance of serious injury or death? Remember what happens when a fast move, sideways car digs into a gravel trap

  30. janis1207 says:

    James, can’t agree with you saying the tyres were “super durable” in Austin. Had they been super durable, the drivers would have been able to push much more than they actually did.

    It’s easy to provide some very good examples: Vettel (who was constantly reminded from the pit wall about the speed vs. distance), Bottas (who deliberately went quite slow after the pit stop just to be sure the tyres will last – and then upped the pace considerably when Rosberg came closer), Hamilton (who similarly was conserving the tyres and then upped his pace considerably when Alonso arrived), etc.

    So, it was the same grueling story all over again: don’t race, save the tyres. Not at all like in the Bridgestone era! Sure, one had to manage the degradation then as well, but nowhere near to the current extent!

    I won’t mind 1 pit stop races next year – as long as the drivers can race their hears out instead of conserving the tyres. Also, Ross Brawn already said that the teams will have their hands so full with the new power plants, we won’t need all this artificial “spicing up”.

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