Analysis: Could Raikkonen have had a podium and Rosberg a recovery win at Spa?
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Raikkonen and Bottas
Strategy Report
Posted By: James Allen  |  26 Aug 2014   |  10:09 pm GMT  |  118 comments

The 2014 Belgian Grand Prix will be remembered for the collision between the two main title contenders, Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton.

However, there were some interesting strategy aspects to the race, not least recovery strategies for Rosberg and Alonso, while Kimi Raikkonen was a few tantalising laps away from a first podium for Ferrari since his comeback.

Could the team have got him that podium with a more optimised strategy? All is revealed here.

Force India

Pre race considerations
Due to the wet qualifying session, the teams had all new dry tyres available for the race, which meant that they could run longer soft tyre stints in particular than they would have been able to do if the tyres had been used for qualifying.

Unusually for Spa the track had stayed dry for all of Friday’s practice, so most teams had a good amount of data on how the tyres would behave in the race.

The soft tyre was around 1.6 seconds faster than the medium on the first lap, but less over the length of a stint. The likelihood therefore was that teams would do two stops with a medium tyre stint at the end. There were some interesting variations on this, which almost paid off as we shall see.

XPB.cc

Ferrari juggle two different scenarios and narrowly miss podium

Ferrari looked more competitive, especially in the wet qualifying, than it has of late with Fernando Alonso qualifying a season best fourth and Kimi Raikkonen missing a podium by a few laps at the end.

The team set the cars up with more downforce, which paid dividends in the wet qualifying but made it difficult for them to pass cars in the race.

This hurt Alonso once he fell into traffic behind Kevin Magnussen due to a penalty for mechanics not leaving the grid at the appointed time.

Ferrari was fortunate not to suffer a more severe sanction than a five second penalty at Alonso’s first pit stop. He could have been forced to start from the pit lane and/or to serve a drive through penalty, which would have added 15 seconds to his race time and cost many track positions. The stewards were lenient with Ferrari on this issue.

After an early skirmish with Ricciardo, Alonso settled into fourth place in the opening stint. Ferrari served the penalty at his first stop on Lap 12 and he fell back to 7th behind the McLaren of Kevin Magnussen, whom he could not pass.

The question mark with Alonso’s recovery strategy is why Ferrari pitted him on lap 25, only two laps later than Magnussen? If they wanted to give him a chance to pass in the closing laps, then a larger offset would be ideal, perhaps another two to three laps. He faced no risk from behind and had only done 13 laps on his second set of soft tyres.

At this point Magnussen, after his second stop, was being held up by Hulkenberg, this lasted for three laps. Ferrari clearly thought that Magnussen would pass the German easily on fresh tyres, but he didn’t. Alonso pitted on lap 25 and rejoined behind Magnussen.

With hindsight, they could have afforded to leave Alonso out a few more laps while Magnussen was being held up, to build a larger offset, so Alonso would have had an extra 2/10ths of a second per lap in the tyres and could attack more effective in the later stages of the race, as Bottas did to Raikkonen. But it would have been close and this is very much a hindsight view.

Kimi Raikkonen and Valterri Bottas

Similarly with Raikkonen, Ferrari narrowly missed a podium. It would have been quite an achievement to hold Bottas behind to the end as the Williams was quicker. Ferrari went for a very aggressive strategy with Raikkonen, pitting him on Lap eight. This worked very well as he was able to undercut and pick up many places when the cars ahead pitted, so he found himself running second in the middle stint between the two Red Bull cars.

Again his second stop is the question mark. He stopped with 23 laps to go onto a set of medium tyres. On paper this should have been fine; most teams felt from Friday running that the mediums would be okay for that length of stint. However Ferrari had not done a meaningful long run on the medium in Free Practice, so their data was more sketchy. And as it turned out for everyone on the day, the medium was not capable of staying strong for that long. Williams capitalised on this with Bottas, offsetting him by seven laps to Raikkonen so he was able to easily pass his fellow Finn with five laps to go.

So why did Ferrari pit Raikkonen after only 14 laps in his second stint? Could he have squeezed out a couple more laps and might that have made the difference at the end? In reality it’s unlikely. Bottas had a faster car and a more balanced strategy and there is little that Ferrari could have done to resist.

They pitted him to cover Rosberg who was coming through from behind, there was no other significant threat from behind. But Rosberg was always going to beat Raikkonen with the huge performance advantage Mercedes enjoyed at Spa, so this wasn’t really the right move. But on balance even if they’d left Raikkonen out another couple of laps, Williams had him covered and the podium was always a bit of a pipe dream.

Daniel Ricciardo

Rosberg and Ricciardo fight for victory

It is a measure of how large Mercedes’ performance advantage was in Spa that despite crashing into his team mate, losing time with a front wing change and being forced into a compromise strategy, Rosberg only lost the race to Ricciardo by a small margin. It highlights what a massive own goal the collision between team mates was. A dominant 1-2 finish was clearly on the cards.

Ricciardo did the classic two stop race strategy, with two stints on softs and one on mediums, without needing to worry about undercuts or offsets. He ran his fastest race in other words.

He passed Alonso and Vettel early. The Mercedes collision helped him to take the lead, after Rosberg was forced to pit early for a new nose and from there Ricciardo did what he does best, which is to keep it all under control and maintain a very strong pace with no mistakes. It was a fantastic drive from Ricciardo.

Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton

As for Rosberg, despite that forced wing change on Lap eight, which took nine seconds, he could easily have still done the race in a two stop and won had he not made a series of mistakes. The first was to flat spot the left front tyre with a lock up at the Bus Stop chicane on Lap 17. This caused a vibration and led to him pitting early on Lap 19 for a new set of tyres. The team did not appear to be ready for him and in the panic a new set of mediums was fitted.

Now committed to three stopping, as it would be a stretch to do 25 laps on a set of medium tyres, he should have been on soft tyres for this third stint as he had already got his mediums out of the way in his second stint. So he lost time here by not using the full pace advantage of the car on the fastest available tyre. He also lost some time letting Button back past after a possible illegal overtake.

He stopped again for another set of softs on lap 34 with the idea being to drive flat out and catch Ricciardo as his tyres faded in the closing laps of a long stint. He also lost some time in a skirmish with Bottas after his stop and with a small off-track moment.

The net result was that he was three seconds behind Ricciardo at the flag. Another two laps and he would have beaten him.

Report Sm Rect bann

The UBS Race Strategy Report is written by James Allen with input and data from several F1 team strategists and from Pirelli

Race History Chart & Tyre Usage charts, Click to enlarge

Kindly provided by Williams F1 Team

Look at Rosberg’s pace in final stint as he closes on Ricciardo.

Screen Shot 2014-08-26 at 22.04.52

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118 Comments
  1. PopsTwitTar says:

    I know the Merc people want to be as dominant as possible this season, but all this complaining about a lost 1-2 is silly. Mercedes is going to walk away with the Constructors Championship, unless something unrealistic happens – like Rosberg and Hamilton taking each other out of each of the final races. We know that won’t happen.

    Sure, they lost points to Red Bull today – but they are still 157 points ahead.

    Even if RB finished 1-2 from here on out and Merc didnt score, it would take RB 4 more races to overtake them for the lead.

    1. Jacob says:

      I’m fairly sure something was said about McLaren, and for that matter Hamilton and Alonso in 2007… granted the McLaren didn’t have such an advantage then, but there is still very recent precedence for such an event to occur where the fastest car trips itself up on the hunt for the Drivers crown

    2. Stephen Taylor says:

      Yes WCC is long over.
      You never know if Ricciardo might spoil the party in the WDC though . On paper Merc should cakewalk both titles but F1 isn’t written on paper it’s decided on track.

    3. Moog says:

      There’s a lot or prize money and prestige though as well as sponsors to placate.

    4. glennb says:

      And there are records to break. RBR scored something like 650 points in 2011? I’m sure MB and their partners would love to knock that over.

    5. deancassady says:

      Pops: I’ve been ruminating poetically about the comparisons to 2007 McLaren Alonso v Hamilton, and wondering (aloud, on these pages) about Ricciardo doing a ‘Kimi’ this year.
      In fact, one could argue that the driver’s title championship has, for the first time this year, become a three-horse race. Note that historically, and on definitive year-over-year trajectory, Red Bull start pulling away from the crowd in the all importnat development wars; last year’s run of Vettel-RB victories is the latest evidence; very definitive.

      I think it valid to expect that if Red Bull (this year RB-Ricciardo) can do well in Spa AND MONZA, then they will be threatening at every circuit, including Abu Dhabi.

      As you said, however, the constructors championship is over, unless Mercedes is retro-actively penalized in points, and or banned from further competition (which I believe would NOT even happen if there did turn out to be valid grouds for it).

      Nonetheless, with the (finally) boiling over frat-boy hostilities at Merc, and the relentless toothy Ozzie capitalizing on every itty-bitty opportunity, we, the fans, finally get something interesting to pay heed to; so much more authentic than the bland, corporate propaganda carpet-bombing campaign telling us it is so very (gentile and) exciting (now that has been relentless).

      I disagree, however, with your statement “… Rosberg and Hamilton taking each other out of each of the final races. We know that won’t happen.” I definitely do NOT know that they won’t be taking each other out of the remaining races; in fact, I think it quite respectably likely that there will be additional ‘incidents’ of Merc cars taking out Merc cars.
      Unfortunately for Lewis, he has a tough decision to make, based on the evidence as I see it, he COULD win on sheer on-track driving capability advantage, but at 29 point deficit, at this point in the season, he may have to consider adopting the tactics that Rosberg has to adopt to fortify his on-track capability.
      In other words, after it is all said and done, the ‘blah, blah, blahs”, of the fans, and rampant “fou-fouing”, by (mostly British, but many other racing) fans doesn’t change the fact that Rosberg is 29 points ahead – HE’S GOT AWAY WITH IT!
      I’d always like to see the best on-track driver with the drivers’ championship, but it rarely works out like that; that’s the way this sport is now, and has been for a long time.

      Another great strategy report by James et. al. kudos aplenty.

      I would like to see an analysis of what team strategies COULD be for the remainder of the year; in other words, what can be done with the remainder of the year? What achievements can be salvaged by… the usual suspects of course, but also all the way down the grid there are acomplishments that MUST be achieved….

  2. Andrew Carter says:

    Seems it was a day if mistakes for Rosberg.

    1. Peter says:

      Amazing how Rosberg benefits greatly from making mistakes, just like his Mistake in Monaco gifted him a win.
      Realistically he would be far happier with his 2nd place and his 18point increase over Lewis than the possible Mercedes 1 & 2 which would ( if he won ) have only led to a 7 point extension.

      1. Quercus says:

        Very true; and which explains ROS’s logic in putting his car where HAM would hit him.

        What stuck out to me from the chart was the loss of performance of HAM’s car. He was right that they should have retired him and saved the engine and gearbox. Even if there’d been a safety car he couldn’t have come away with points. Hindsight I guess.

    2. Grabyrdy says:

      Day of mistakes for the team also. Seems to me that the choice of medium at his first stop was as bizarre as its choice at the second. Why handicap the fastest car on the track by making overtakes difficult ? This is why he tripped up with Vettel and had to stop 3 times anyway, still only losing by 3 seconds. Mercedes threw it away.

      1. Michael Powell says:

        Yes, I agree, it may well explain the Mercedes management angst after the race.

        They may have used Nico as a whipping boy, but he will have the last laugh when he is Champion. Perhaps the team can then clear out a bit of the excessive management overhead, although with a win under their belts, it seems very unlikely.

        But eventually a top heavy corporate decision making system demands time to get to the right answer, so expect this year to be their last chance to celebrate a win. Other fat corporates (BMW, Honda, Toyota, Jaguar) fell by the wayside.

  3. Chromatic says:

    Kimi had very little track time on friday because of mech breakdowns. So he would otherwise have got his own data on the tyres and maybe opted for a 3 stopper.

    May not have made much diff in the end, p4, but then Kimi usually exceeds the possible by some margin at this track !!

    1. Sasidharan says:

      Nice to see a comment on Kimi. :)
      All the talk about the clash and clash only.

  4. NickH says:

    O/T I’d love to have a night out with Bottas and Kimi!

    1. Elie says:

      +1 I Iike the Finns they seem like great guys.’genuine people

  5. Christmas Dinner says:

    I think the cynical nature which was displayed by Ferrari when leaving men on the track with Alonso’s battery issue so they would take a time penalty on a pit stop rather than a more race-ruining start from the pit lane sums up Formula 1 at the moment.
    Rosberg’s comments regarding the booing ” I ask they understand the regulations” sic “If I can show no wrong-doing then there is no wrong-doing” hhhmmmmm??

  6. CW says:

    Everyone who was bemoaning Hamilton wanting to call it quits on the race needs to see this race history graph. He would have needed to lap nearly four tenths faster than Ricciardo, through traffic, in a damaged car, for over forty laps, just to get a small handful of points.

    A recovery drive was never an option, not without a smash up front and a safety car.

    1. kenneth chapman says:

      @ CW…well according to some posters that should have been a doddle for their god. one poster even says that hamilton is the greatest driver ever to have driven in F1 therefore a drive to the top step would be like stroll in the park. hahaha

    2. Grabyrdy says:

      Agree. Another Mercedes mistake. Keeping Lewis out was pointless – in every sense. They seem to have been so upset by the crash that they lost their capacity for clear thought (see my post on Rosberg above).

    3. Quercus says:

      If you look at the way HAM’s pace was compromised by the damage, not even a safety car could have enabled him to get into the points. He should have been retired and saved engine and gearbox. He’ll be furious if he takes a 10 place grid penalty for an additional engine later in the season.

  7. Marybeth says:

    @ Chromatic, You took my words. Every weekend Kimi has break downs in practices & they send him out at the wrong time on qualifying or tire problems. Every weekend it is his gear box, fuel pump, water pump, electrical problems, power unit, in China his car just would not go after FA tested it, etc. Hungary they let him out late for quals, & again at Spa. Alonso has not had a problem until this past weekend. I am so befuddled I would even let Luca buy me lunch if he will try to explain to me why he doesn’t want to back Kimi to give them another WDC.

  8. luqa says:

    Mercedes strategy with NR was an own goal. Despite the damaged wing NR was running about 1 second a lap faster than DR the eventual winner. Bringing him in at lap 8 was premature . They could’ve left him out until lap 12, and hey presto, he STILL wins the race despite all the other issues of nose change and flat spotting tires.

    A conspiracy theorist would suggest AMG-MB did this on purpose, but then I would suggest I really can’t see them throwing away 7 points. Just like NR’s incident with LH, it was at worst a clumsy mistake on the part of the team..

    1. PeterF says:

      To see what caused the crisis, one has to only look at what was said both before and after the race. Rosberg began with:

      “I learned various things from that race which I will adapt for the future.”

      Hamilton was quoted saying:

      “It’s interesting because we had that meeting on Thursday and Nico expressed how angry he was [about Hungary]. I was thinking ‘It’s been three weeks and you’ve been lingering?! He expressed how angry he was, and he literally sat there and said how angry he was at Toto and Paddy.”

      Then we had THE INCIDENT. Merc management were furious, Wolff said:

      “There is one rule and that is that you don’t crash into each other. And it has happened on lap two.”

      Then came Hamilton’s dramatic press quote from the internal Mercedes meeting:

      “It looked quite clear to me but we just had a meeting about it and he basically said he did it on purpose,” and…

      “He said he did it on purpose, he said he could have avoided it. He said ‘I did it to prove a point’, he basically said ‘I did it to prove a point’. And you don’t have to just rely on me, go and ask Toto [Wolff], Paddy [Lowe] and all those guys who are not happy with him as well.”

      So what was Rosberg’s “point” and to whom was he proving it? It was a point about following team orders, of doing or not doing what the team told the drivers to do. He was proving this point to the team management, to Wolff and Lowe whom he was so furious with on Thursday, his point was that if Hamilton does not need to listen to the teams instructions then neither does he.

      So was this a deliberate hit? Absolutely. Did he say to the team that it was? yes of course, how else could he make his point to them? (but not openly in plain language of course.) Would have Wolff and Lowe heard and understood? Yes of course. Would they say publicly that Rosberg had admitted it like Hamilton said he did? No of course not, that would lead to the FIA opening a case against Rosberg and the team losing all their point from the weekend and facing huge public embarrassment. Could the FIA work this out themselves and act? Only if they were not the proverbial 3 blind mice which unfortunately they are.

      So what does Mercedes do now? Probably nothing that will make any real difference. But if they were wise they would sit Rosberg out in the next race and put the reserve drive in the car, making a return “point” to Rosberg (and Hamilton) that if he does not listen and jeopardise the team like that again he will not be part of it.

      1. Grabyrdy says:

        Sorry, that’s just silly. Interesting how Nico managed to keep his anger fresh over 4 weeks of holiday, so he turned up with it firing on all cylinders on Thursday in Spa. There’s more to this “nice lad” than meets the eye. He is Keke’s son, after all.

      2. Tickety-boo says:

        +100

      3. Quercus says:

        Good analysis, PeteF. And a good solution. But I doubt Mercedes will do it.

        ROS is looking like a loose cannon on Mercedes gun deck.

    2. MBRAZ says:

      mate look at the graph he was not running at 1 second a lap faster then Dan. I watched the race and when Nico pitted Dan was absolutely right behind him.

  9. TBP says:

    It may seem like Rosberg was catching Ricciardo quickly at the end, but I think there was a lot of monitoring of the gap. Ricciardo wasn’t belting out qualifying laps like Rosberg. He didn’t need to risk that to take the win. We’ll only know how close Rosberg came to catching if Ricciardo was pushing to the max on every lap.

  10. LagunaSeca says:

    Great startegy from Ferrari to set up Kimi’s race with the early first stop. I think they made the right call on the long stint on the mediums. Another stop and he would need to do a bunch of overtaking.

    Still wondering why Lewis was allowed to reverse on the grid after overshooting his box only seconds before the green. Anyone know the rules on this?

    1. Mark says:

      maybe he just let the car roll back down the hill in neutral?

      1. LagunaSeca says:

        Ah, that explains it. Forgot about the incline at spa!

  11. TGS says:

    And why keep him on the mediums for 15 laps for a final 10 lap stint on softs? They made the same mistake last race.

  12. BigHaydo says:

    Rosberg might have been catching Ricciardo at a rate of knots, but again Ricciardo managed his rubber to perfection, even setting his fastest tour on the last lap. Despite the incline on the graph, can we really be sure that two laps would have been it? Anyway, it was 2 laps more than the race has allocated, so it’s immaterial.

    Speaking of which, how about the graph line for Lewis? Sure, he lost a lot of time after the puncture, but he really didn’t get back on it did he?

    1. TGS says:

      Exactly. Ricciardo was also only about 3 tenths down in both the overtaking sectors, 1 and 3, and lost most of his time in the second sector. It was not home and hosed by any means.

  13. harv says:

    I read Horner said in an interview that they told Ricciardo to aim for 1min 53.4 times for the final 10 laps, with this being calculated to be fast enough to hold Rosberg off, assuming he did 1min 51s laps – as it turned out this was the case, and they got through with Ricc still having some life in his tyres at the end, doing his fastest lap on the last lap. What was impressive (at least to me) when going back and looking at the times, was that he didn’t panic, and how close he got to those desired times: he did 53.2 three times, 53.5 twice, and the rest 53.4s (with 52.9 on the last lap).

  14. goferet says:

    Personally I couldn’t believe it when Kimi was running as high as P2 at certain points of the race, it was a good drive from him especially as he was able to make his tyres last in the middle stint.

    I think Alonso dropped the ball as he wasn’t able to pass Mini-mag, this comprised his strategy and thus made the possibility of a good points finish impossible.

    Once again Bottas did a good job coming through the field for despite having a good strategy it still held risk in that he had to overtake people which he did well.

    The Red bull victory was totally out of the blue for it appears a theme with the team in that they always think they will struggle at the low downforce circuits of Canada, Spa and Monza and instead end up winning them.

    As for Rosberg, I don’t believe any strategy would have got him the win at Spa for as soon as he gave up the lead, he also gave up the win.

    Yes, what we have learned of Rosberg in 2014 is that his overtaking skills aren’t polished and overtaking for the lead of the race requires a very unique set of skills usually only found in world champions or potential champions.

  15. MrF1 says:

    Great race.

    I honestly felt that Vet was making improvements and would have a fresh hand to show after the summer break.. but that timesheet makes a mokery of his driving this year. Im not being a hater… just telling it how it is. I also understand he had limited practice Friday to get the set up he wanted.

    ROS isnt showing the race craft like HAM and ALO when he is in traffic. Just cant get passed swiftly and efficiently

    1. F1Kat says:

      As you said, ROS was always given instruction from pit wall after pit stop to cut cross the traffic, but some how he get stuck in the middle stints in last races. And in the last stint i was expecting him to drive like hell but he did not. But catching in one thing and passing is another.

  16. Matthew Cheshire says:

    Ricciardo drove his own race brilliantly. It was amusing to hear Merc team radio trying to goad Red Bull into stopping again. It was desperation or they still underestimate Ricciardo. Unbelievably consistent last stint, it looks like it was drawn with a ruler.

    What is the story with Red Bull’s improved ERS? Both cars got very good starts and Ricciardo seemed to have plenty of boost. Is it a game changer? To be competitive at Spa means RB could be mighty in all the upcoming tracks after Monza.

    Mercedes need to respect RB and Ricciardo now.

    1. TGS says:

      I actually think that the strange tone of Rosberg’s engineer was to cover up the fact that they put the wrong tyres on his car.

    2. MBRAZ says:

      I totally agree that last stint looks amazing on the graph

    3. MBRAZ says:

      I agree that last stint looks amazing on the graph

    4. kenneth chapman says:

      @ matthew…that is all correct and how sweet it is.

  17. goferet says:

    Meanwhile after Ricciardo’s win at Spa, I believe this sets him on track to become Alonso’s successor as the best pound for pound driver.

    Yes just like Alonso, all of Ricciardo’s wins haven’t come from pole which is always a good stat for a driver to have heading forward for this means they can always hit you from any angels.

    1. glennb says:

      As a Dan fan I like the sound of that however its way too early to talk the guy up like that. No good comes from labelling sportspeople too early in their careers. One minute you’re the next big thing, the next minute you get hammered by the press for underperforming. Several excellent F1 drivers (and cricketers) come to mind….
      There was this guy once who won 4 WDC on the trot. He was unstoppable. Some thought of him as the best ever, others didnt. Then, all of a sudden, he stopped winning races and punters the world over dumped him. He now has only 1 fan – Sebee. Snakes & Ladders mate ;)

      1. goferet says:

        @ glennb

        Lol… You have a point but as always opinions are just that.

        Nothing is ever written in stone till the fat lady sings.

      2. Sebee says:

        I’m such a huge fan that it’s enough.

        Hey, someone please list something Lewis won 4 years in a row for everyone here. Thanks for your help on this one.

        Yours truly.
        Sebee – the only fan Vettel has.

        Well, I guess of to Infiniti dealer to pick up a Q50. They only made one for me.

      3. f1fan says:

        Count me too, I am a fan of Seb

  18. ferggsa says:

    sorry to bother James but the charts dont click

  19. F1sMyDrug says:

    James,

    Is was possible for Ferrari to have served the penalty at his second or third stop or were they forced to serve it in the first stop?

    I have watched the GP again and is not true that Magnussen was held up by Hulkenberg 3 laps.
    Magnussen pitted at the end of lap23 and when he rejoined the track on lap24, Hulkenberg was ahead 3.7seconds, so on lap24 and lap25 Magnussen had clean air and was only held up during lap26, so the theory of a larger offset for Alonso would not have been a better option in my opinion because he would have lost a huge amount of time (take into account that when Alonso pitted on lap25, he rejoined the track on lap26 at 5.7sec from Magnussen who was only slowed that lap).

    1. James Allen says:

      Has to be the next stop after the penalty was given. That was the problem for Bianchi in Monaco, so it was added to his race time instead

      1. Rohind says:

        James,

        How come no penalty for Lewis for reversing the car on starting line?? Or did he even do that, coz I thought I heard some commentators say that he overshot the mark and then reversed the car

      2. James Allen says:

        To me it looked like he was a few metres past his marks and he rolled back – they are on an uphill slope there.

  20. Rachael says:

    I beg to disagree with the last sentence of this article. “Another two laps and he would have beaten him.”

    Rosberg pitted on lap 35 for soft tyres, which gave him nine laps to catch & pass Daniel.

    For five laps, ROS was catching RIC at ~2.5 sec/lap. But then, this deficit began reducing as they closed in on the finish line.

    Normally a driver’s fastest laps are in the last part of the race, because the fuel load is low. But, If you study the lap times, it can be clearly seen that Rosberg’s lap times were gradually increasing over the last four laps of the race, while Daniel’s were holding firm.

    This suggests that Nico’s soft tyres were shot by the end of the race and I believe that no amount of laps would have enabled him to catch and pass Dan.

    The beautiful thing about this result, is that when it came down to a straight fight between two drivers, it was Dan’s calmness and consistency that won him the race.

  21. Uchiha says:

    why didnt Ferrari receive a severe penalty was the question Martin Brundle had for most of part race? Does anyone knows its answer?

  22. Peter W says:

    James
    I don’t mean to bang on about this (but I will), but to me the big story from the race was the start line incident. To me the whole Lewis/Nico thing was a clumsy racing incident blown out of all proportion by the massive egos involved, the press and some laughably inept management from Mercedes. In fact I’m sure there will now be management schools around the world who will use the Mercedes F1 team as a case study into how to turn an awkward situation into an unmitigated disaster!

    Anyway, I didn’t record the race, but I’m pretty sure that the Ferrari mechanics were on the grid as the light went green for the formation lap and cars started moving off as the mechanics were clearing the grid. I’ve mentioned in a previous post that Alonso’s penalty was ridiculously lenient, but if my recollection is correct, then I think there aught to be a full inquiry into the actions of Charlie Whiting and anyone else involved in the start procedure.

    If this isn’t fully investigated (in a transparent way), then what is to stop this being the thin edge of the wedge for teams to start pushing the safety rules and citing precedence?

    I don’t want to see anyone killed or injured through this type of incident.
    Cheers

    1. Random 79 says:

      The way I interpret it is as a warning. I’m guessing post-race all the teams – especially Ferrari – would have been notified that what they did was unacceptable and that next time there will be serious consequences.

      At least that’s what should have happened but who knows? Maybe they all sat down and had cake and ice-cream after the race…

    2. krakinho says:

      As far as I remember every time something like this happen, the car involved would start from the back of the grid. I was really surprised watching Alonso overtaking people and getting back to his original grid spot.
      Even more so to my surprise was the penalty itself.
      What Ferrari have got was barely a slap on a wrist.
      Shame on Charlie and the rest of the stewards for such inconsistency.

  23. Rohind says:

    James,

    Why the difference in pace between Ricciardo and Vettel was so high?

    Christian Horner said that there were some problems with the car.But no subsequent news on the same.

    Vettel accepted the responsibility for the result and blamed only himself to the English media.
    But to the german media, he was saying that there were indeed some problems with the car.

    Could you please shed some light on the same?

    1. James Allen says:

      Vettel is going along ok until about lap 30 and then his pace really goes off. Something broke in the car, they say. We will find out soon, I hope

      1. Vivek says:

        How did RIC get past VET in the early part of the race? Our broadcaster missed this. Did VET make a mistake or was it another genuine on-track pass by RIC?

      2. On the French speaking Renault Sport F1 podcast, the engineer assigned to Vettel said that because he could only put 11 timed laps before qualifying, Sebastian had to run with Daniel’s set up, which doesn’t suit Vettel’s tyre management style i.e. it takes him longer to bring them to temperature and they degrade faster than Ricciardo’s.

        The podcast is available on iTunes.

      3. harv says:

        He might have been worse after lap 30, but compared to Ricc even before that, he was not doing well – e.g. between their pit stops, which were only 1 lap apart, he was between 0.8-1.2 seconds/lap slower than Ricciardo (and this wasn’t due to traffic since he was 3-4 second slower than the car in front and slower) until he had to pit again. Ted Kravitz said that he spoke to RB and they said due to Vettel’s lack of practice running he had to use Ricc’s settings on his car; maybe this explains his slower times in comparison. No matter how good Ricc is, he wouldn’t normally be THAT much faster than Vettel.

      4. harv says:

        I should have said “after their first pit stop” he was 0.8-1.2 seconds slower

      5. MelB says:

        @Vivek Vettel went onto a curb and had a moment, enough for Ricciardio to make an easy pass.

      6. harv says:

        and also meant to say “3-4 seconds BEHIND the car in front”

      7. Random 79 says:

        @Vivek

        Vettel went wide on the exit of Pouhon and Ricciardo said thank you very much :)

      8. Rohind says:

        U lose a tenth or two or maybe a little bit more due to a set-up that doesnt completely suit you. But U dont lose a whole second due to that.
        Vettel himself in post-race session has corroborated to the same.

        In some ways, it was reminiscent of Chinese GP earlier this year where his pace was poor.But after a Chassis change for the next race, he was lapping similar times as that of Ricciardo.

        Something was seriously wrong with his car on Sunday. He was even struggling to keep the car within the track limits for most part of the race.

      9. Rohind says:

        Red bull has confirmed that they are changing the chassis of Vettel’s car in Monza.
        A cracked Chassis explains higher tyre degradation and drop in pace.

        Too bad that Vettel is getting judged despite numerous reliability problems he has faced this season.

      10. Elie says:

        @James Allen – you learning from Kim- ha?.#keepitsimple

      11. Rachael says:

        On lap 4 Vettel ran off the track and got into a big “swapper”, as Brundle described it. This allowed Ricciardo to slip past.

        The telecast I watched missed it because they were showing replays of the start. The replays they showed of Vettel were quite long shots, but it looked liked he scraped the belly of his car along the kerb.

        Couldn’t help wondering if damage was sustained that affected his pace?

    2. Rishi says:

      Interesting range of thoughts on the topic here, with a lot of good things that I didn’t know about, because I too was confused about what happened with Vettel. After the race, he seemed to say he was just “too slow” and didn’t cite anything. However, I was amazed at how much slower than Ricciardo he was, particularly given that he started ahead of Ricciardo (even accounting for Daniel’s performances this season). It also struck me just how ragged Vettel looked, really hustling the car while Ricciardo looked much smoother. Agree with your further comment that there were echoes of Chinese GP there, and also that a set-up difference wouldn’t usually account for a full second. In a way he’d better hope the old chassis was the problem because if not he’s got to be worried about the time difference.

  24. Random 79 says:

    You say that given another couple of laps Rosberg would have caught Ricciardo, but I’m not so sure…

    Looking closely at the lap chart it seems that just before the end Rosberg’s pace was dropping off slightly just as Ricciardo’s started to improve a touch – it seems to me that if even if Rosberg had caught Ricciardo his tyres would have been just about done while Ricciardo was still holding something in reserve, not to mention that it’s always easier to catch someone than it is to pass them.

    It’s impossible to say for sure, but I really think even if there had been a few more laps to go Ricciardo would still have had him covered.

  25. Darren Lin says:

    Mr.Allen, in your opinion, how do you think about the collision between Rosberg and Hamilton in lap 2 in Spa?

    1. James Allen says:

      I have written two posts about it, so read those and that sums up the situation.
      In a nutshell:

      Rosberg was at fault for insisting on the move, when it wasn’t on. I don’t believe he meant to hit Hamilton’s tyre with his wing as the front wing is the most vulnerable part of an F1 car and it’s certain to break with any contact and worst case, it could fold up under his front wheels (cf Alonso in Malaysia 2013) and he would have a big accident

      Hamilton should not have reported what was said in the meeting and I’m not sure that Rosberg said he did it “on purpose” – he said that he could have pulled out of the move, but didn’t because he wanted to make a point that Hamilton can expect him to back off as he has in the past. Hamilton took that to mean he meant to do it, i.e. on purpose. The FIA has decided not to pursue it, so they have drawn the same conclusion. It would be very serious if he had done it “on purpose.”

      Mercedes is extremely unhappy with Rosberg for ignoring instructions not to hit your team mate and costing them a 1-2 finish and 43 points and with the drivers for not de-escalating the situation since

      1. buzzzzzzzz says:

        100%

        Very succint sum up!

      2. Iwan says:

        Good summary.

      3. Peter C says:

        Is this not all semantics, surely if you can avoid driving into someone (which could hurt yourself or the other driver) you should. To say I didn’t do it on purpose, but I could have avoided doing but didn’t, is neither here nor there they are both as bad. Is it only me that is struggling to get my head round this?

      4. Darren Lin says:

        alright, thanks.

      5. Random 79 says:

        @Peter C

        You’re doing better than most, but there is a very, very small difference between choosing not to back out of a possible collision and actually aiming to cause one – the first is silly (to put it mildly), the second is just moronic and potentially dangerous for both drivers.

        At the end of the day though both end up with the same result – the rest is matter of interpretation and for that I tend to agree with James.

      6. Phil R says:

        Great summary, but has Nico been guilty of escalating the situation afterwards?

      7. JAWA hs-f1 says:

        If I may add, I believe the “root” cause of Rosberg’s attempted overtaking move in Spa actually originates from what happened in Bahrain, when Hamilton was fairly robust in his defending and even pushed him wide at times, had Rosberg not yeilded then, the result would have been the same i.e. a collision.

        And a sort of recent “trigger” lies in Hungary. Hamilton again pushed him wide on last lap. Worse, Hamilton refused to obey team orders which I’m sure has made Rosberg felt “Betrayed”.

        Contrast it to what Rosberg did in Malaysia 2013, obeyed team orders despite being unhappy and still refused to blame the team in media (despite media constantly asking questions)
        He even let Hamilton through on different strategy in Germany 2013 and Brazil 2013. Read the radio transcripts here:
        http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2014/08/01/why-more-drivers-disobey-team-orders/

        Yet, when it came to Hamilton to return the favour, he refused. Hamilton constantly talks to the media about the content of internal team meetings. He has questioned Rosberg’s “hunger”, nationality etc.
        I’m sure all this has left Rosberg feeling “betrayed” compounded by the fact the new management sided with Hamilton. MAYBE Rosberg feels they don’t recognise his sacrifices of the past.

        I’m not defending Rosberg’s overtaking attempt. I myself believe, it was too ambitious. But I don’t have any problem with that attempt. I believe it was a racing incident. (come on, we have seen far worse contacts. And Hamilton himself has been involved in many and even got punished).
        Similarly, I don’t have any objection to Hamilton’s defending in Bahrain and Hungary. Because, all top drivers are ruthless. They don’t give an inch. Remember Schumacher’s defending??
        Strange, people on one hand want hard racing and then on the other hand expect there won’t be contact between two cars!!!!!

        I think, the Spa move of Rosberg was his message to Hamilton that he can not take him for granted. And if Hamiton wants to shut the door, he has to consider the consequences.

        But personally, I would have preferred him to wait and attempt with DRS. A clean overtake would have done more damage to Hamilton’s psyche.

    2. Fernando 150% Alonso says:

      @JAWA hs-f1
      +100
      Exactly my thoughts!

  26. Kris says:

    Rosberg will be the worst world champion ever if he makes it. He’s lost unless out in front in clean air from start to finish. Slightest whiff of an unforeseen circumstance and he’s lost his head. There might well have been one, but I can’t remember a single instance of him clawing his way back from a bad start to storm through the field or performing above what you’d consider his car to be capable of.

    1. littleredkelpie says:

      That medal goes to Vettel for 4 years!!

    2. Monktonnik says:

      I think that this incident will definitely tarnish his image and the championship if he wins, but the FIA have found no reason to penalise him so he is innocent in the eyes of the governing body.

      I agree that he hasn’t had a fighting drive from the back of the grid as Hamilton has had a couple of times this year. But I feel that is because he hasn’t had to; he did hold off the Williams with a damaged car through great adversity, can’t remember which race.

      Where I think Rosberg does excel and indeed exceed Hamilton’s capability is in his mental strength. I think Hamilton cracks more easily. It might bring out the fight in him, but equally on occasion it causes him issues.

      All in all I think that incident is one of the best things for the championship and F1 in general.

    3. ChrisS says:

      What you mean like the last 4 years with Vettel? Only won whilst he was clear in front, with a pace advantage and never respected his team mate.

      Nothing new…..

    4. Phil R says:

      Hakkinen in 1998 won the title overtaking one car in a race (Irvine at Nurburging). The rest of it was pole positions and great starts.

      Also Nico has had a few times this year where it’s all gone wrong, China where he lost all telemetry and had a slow start for one.

    5. Dutch johhny says:

      Looking back at keke’s attack on schumacher a few years ago i cant stop and think oh the irony haha.
      Not a fan off hamilton but i sincerely hope he wins this championship. Even when Schumi was Rosbergs teammate there was something about nico i didn’t like.. hard to put your finger on it. He seems a bit shady..

    6. Pkara says:

      Totally agree with you Kriss.
      Rosbergs (if he gets his hands on the trophy) is tainted.
      Though he won’t give it a second thought.
      The guy has no ability in a dogfight with his team mate.
      Cheat through & through & get a Championship… Dubious Driver label will stick.
      Whatever his silence represents.
      No doubt the anti Lewis posters are having a field day as always!!

      1. Mike A says:

        Goodness, how many times are you going to write this (or do you just cut and paste it?)

  27. BMG says:

    James do you think they will favour one driver over the other now? Or will they have a rule like first car into the first corner keeps the lead.

    I can recall this being the case before in another team.

    1. James Allen says:

      It will be something more like the latter I would imagine

  28. Ayron says:

    I’m not convinced that Rosberg would have won given two more laps. Ricciardo seemed to have maintained some life in his tyres for the possible fight at the end as illustrated by his PB in the last lap. Given that, it is possible he would have considered a strategy change had the numbers been skewed in favor of the Mercedes.

  29. Robin says:

    Alonso was very lucky; the following come from the Sporting Regulations page at http://www.formula1.com/inside_f1/rules_and_regulations/sporting_regulations/8691/:

    Any driver who has a problem immediately prior to the green light must raise his arm to indicate this. Once the rest of the field has moved off marshals will push the car into the pit lane.

    However, any driver who is still on the grid when all other cars have moved off on the formation lap, but then subsequently gets away, may not re-pass cars to regain his grid position, but must instead start from the back.

    1. Phil S says:

      but ‘all other cars’ hadn’t moved off, so he was (just) able to regain his position.

  30. Chrisl says:

    Seeing as Ricciardo now has a (very) outside shot at the WDC, do you think Redbull will ask Vettel to take on a second driver role to aid Ricciardo in his championship bid? If he has any chance this will have to happen very soon!

    1. AdamJ says:

      Vettel is hardly taking point off Ricciardo isn’t he? No need for team orders at Redbull this year.

  31. Darth_patate says:

    IF ALO did not have the penalty, could he have stayed in front of BOT ? (assuming this would mean he would not have lost the place to MAG during the 1st pit stop)

    1. AxelC says:

      I don’t think so, Bottas passed him in the first place before the first pit stop, and Alonso didn’t had an undercut strategy like Kimi.

  32. iceman says:

    I like the new stint chart. It makes the different tyre strategies really clear.

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes very kind of Williams to share those with us
      Like the team strategy who contribute to this content – they all want fans to understand better this side of the sport

      1. Tickety-boo says:

        +1

  33. fox says:

    May be Raikkonen could if he used dry setup. His wet setup did not help him to perform better in quali. But on the other hand if Alonso did not receive penalty and stuck in traffic, Alonso could be in front of Raikkonen. So Kimi could not.

    1. AxelC says:

      I was checking that during the race and because the undercut strategy of Kimi, even without the penalty, Alonso would be behind Kimi after the first pit stop for a couple of seconds, after that I don’t know what would happen and which strategy would deploy Ferrari to Alonso.

  34. Brad K says:

    Alonso’s race was done after the first pit stop. Not only was the aero setup one which made passing virtually impossible, but as I recall, his first stop was over 9 seconds. Taking into account the 5 second penalty, that meant that the stop itself was a very slow 4 plus seconds – and that in spite of the fact that they had 5 seconds with the car statioinary in order to get in position to make a very quick stop.

  35. krakinho says:

    James,

    Great insight as always, but I was hoping to see some light on Vettel’s performance.
    How did he ended up so far behind, given that he had good quali, even better start and a nice go on Hamilton on Kemmel straight on lap one, for a lead.
    Okay, I see he used Ricciardo’s setup, due to lack of running on Friday and Saturday, but that alone cannot be such a big differentiator.
    Cheers,

    Krako

    1. James Allen says:

      He was going along ok but then his pace dropped off around lap 30 and he ended up 3 stopping.

      Sounds like he’s getting another new chassis – his 3rd this season. They think there was something wrong with it

      1. BMG says:

        Mmmm, sounds like a story and no result.

        As my employer would say.

  36. Sri says:

    Ferrari’s strategy has always been poor. Even a casual F1 watcher may sometimes time the pit stops better than they do. Kimi usually was left to dry during the pit stops. He always had to lose 1-2 positions after the pit-stops. This time it was Alonso’s turn. I think Ferrari have forgotten how to run two cars competitively having been used to service only 1 lead car always with the other one serving as a blocker for rivals. Even in this race, they pitted Alonso as soon as Raikkonen was behind him toavoid any skirmishes totally ignoring Alonso’s optimum strategy. This was their habit from Schumacher days. That is why I admire Mercedes very much. They allowed both cars to fight.

  37. Rishi says:

    Thanks for the analysis, particularly about Ferrari’s performance. Really informative.

    One thing I thought was quite intriguing, and that maybe we should give Mercedes credit for it, is that they raced all the way to the flag. Even with the faster ‘option’ tyre, the probability of them catching and passing Ricciardo would have been low and the sensible thing would surely have been to turn everything down and settle for 2nd? Shows good racing spirit that they kept at it, albeit that it was partly an attempt to salvage a victory from what should have been a standard 1-2.

  38. Elie says:

    Thats a beautiful dotted purple line in the graph..Very impressive. I too am not convinced Rosberg would have passed Dan with a few laps. A chasing car pushing so many quali laps out of those softs would very quickly loose tyre performance particularly with these PU cars and especially after 10 laps. Besides RBR plans and Dans driving would be carefully assessed over the exact stint length and it was clear he still had good performance in his tyres at the end. 2 more laps and Rosbergs tyres were certain to fall off big time.

    I was/ still very surprised at Ferraris very aggressive strategy with Raikkonen it was the correct call to bring him early but even 2 laps more would have comfortably allowed him a reasonable gain on those ahead and protect those behind without limiting his last stint performance. Same with his 2nd stop- 2 more laps (4 laps fresher) would still be fine and he would have been better armed to defend against Bottas even if I agree Bottas was still most likely to catch him on the Kemmel straight. Similar story for Alonso maybe he needed to come in a lap or 2 later but he too was susceptible on the straights with those that finished comfortably ahead. This just highlights Ferraris limited strategic focus of having eyes only on the lead car and the trailing one just “shadowing” despite the situation on track.!

    Principally I agree with James summary on the Merc incident . But the background to it is what Must understand to know why it happened.Rosberg has shown his true colours Ive suspected of him for quite some time- without team strategy he would never foot it with Hamilton ( & even with it several times this year!!). The minute he was told team wont favour him after Hungary – hes bottled his venom and used it callously- something which no matter what you think of Hamilton-he would never do. I agree that Petronas statement was a very telling one- it bascially infers- we want our name on top step & look out if that doesnt happen! The irony being that Nico is far closer to the title now despite it. I hope Lewis opens up big gaps in the coming few races – similar to Silverstone- Mostly because Nico Rosberg is the least deserving of drivers in recent history to be a WDC. Lewis needs to be chastised for his public comments and it may work against him in contract negotiations- if it already hasnt!.I defintely think its very poor form too- regardles–but I think Lewis comments have resulted from what many switched on people have known for several months.

  39. TheDrivingG says:

    James,

    Do you know who within the FOM is responsible for the broadcast feed? Whoever they are, they are not doing a very good job. They hardly had any coverage of the cars outside the top 7 cars, few radio transmissions – the rest of the grid was anonymous. They did not show the KM/FA incident properly nor any replays as to what happened. At least they showed the exciting battle before they had to switch to the race leader.

    May be Spa has less camera coverage but this season I’ve noticed the TV feed showing meaningless stuff while track action was going on. E.g. In Germany (?) when Hamilton lost out at the hairpin, they were showing the crowd and it’s reaction rather the actual pass grrrrr. A lot of the graphics from previous seasons are no longer there. There are many races where the coverage has been frustrating.

    I’ve been watching F1 for a long time; I used to wake up at 5 AM and rarely missed a race. I find myself doing that less. Even for a season as exciting as this one. Even though I don’t pay extra to watch F1 (NBC,USA), I may get rid of cable altogether. I mostly have it for sports but if the coverage isn’t good, it makes me question having it in the first place. NBC doesn’t prioritize F1 either, they’ll show cycling for hours and a race replay later/sister channel.

    It might be prudent for Bernie and company to embrace online media – I would be willing to pay to watch races online with better content and a time I want to. They have the potential to show so much of the race; split screens, various angles, track position e.t.c. A much more “immersive”experience without information overload.

    Your site on the other hand is great!

  40. Dek says:

    James,is the 0-25-50-75-100 scale for chart to representing % of race to complete? cheers

    1. James Allen says:

      No, that’s seconds behind the leader.

      The horizontal axis is the duration of the race in laps

  41. Dek says:

    Sorry,chart 2

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