F1 strategy – Cutting it fine on fuel
F1 strategy – Cutting it fine on fuel
Strategy Briefing
Posted By: James Allen  |  03 Jun 2010   |  9:23 am GMT  |  229 comments

Sunday’s Turkish Grand Prix was a fairly normal race by 2010 standards until the controversial collision between the two Red Bull team mates.

But that collision happened because of some big decisions on fuel saving tactics, which are becoming clearly a critical part of the story behind the races. And in the case of the Red Bull collision it lead us to reach a fascinating conclusion.

And what has been exposed by this incident is how teams are managing the fuel use during the races, how little margin everybody is running and how close they all are to running out of fuel at the end of the race.

The collision was only possible because Vettel had a sufficient speed advantage on lap 40 to attempt the pass. Now the team has said that this was due to him having saved fuel early in the race, whereas Webber was in fuel saving mode. So let’s look at what the teams are doing and drill down into this Vettel fuel saving explanation.

The first point to make is that the conditions in Istanbul contributed significantly to the cars using more fuel than predicted in the race. After very hot conditions in practice, the temperature dropped and the track became more grippy. So the race was faster. For every half a second per lap you are faster, you will use 1% more fuel over the course of the race, which adds up to around 1.5 kilos. So you can see how tight the calculations are.

What is interesting is that engineers tell me that the difference in fuel consumption between the Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault engines isn’t particularly significant, based on calculations of how the car performs in the race relative to its performance on low fuel in qualifying.

For Vettel to have saved a kilo of fuel by lap 40 is quite significant and it indicates that he was planning a late attack on Webber, at a time when he knew that the Australian was in fuel saving mode.

Now at Istanbul the weight of the fuel for each lap is worth 8/100ths of a second of extra lap time, just under a tenth. So one kilo of fuel, which is what Vettel is supposed to have saved, would give him a speed disadvantage of 5/100ths of a second over Webber in pure fuel weight. Then you have to factor in the fuel saving mode that Webber was on compared to Vettel at the time.

The teams have an “ideal mix” for the first part of the race to the pit stops. You use that do do your fastest time to the first stop because you want to spread out the field and get clear of the cars behind you. Of course you have to trade that off against looking after the tyres, but that is the general rule all teams adopt.

After the pit stop your track position is more or less set and so then you go into fuel saving mode and you can go leaner and leaner on the fuel mix as you head towards the chequered flag and your track position looks more and more fixed. This way you have the smallest power loss early in the race, where you want it. The teams have a piece of software which helps them with this process, but you can see that the driver has a lot of management to do.

If you go onto a setting with a 3% saving, you will be around 1/10th of a second slower. If you go more into more extreme fuel saving mode – to say 6% – the lost time is greater pro rata because it affects the revs you can run and so you are 3/10ths slower.

Red Bull’s statement on Monday said that Webber was in a mode where he was 0.18s per lap slower than optimum, but still using full revs.

Let’s assume that this was the difference between the two Red Bull cars in lap 40, does it fully account for the speed differential between Vettel’s car and Webber’s on the back straight? In both the first two sectors of lap 40, Vettel’s straight line speed was 7km/h faster than Webber’s, but he was only a tenth up on Webber on lap 40 after two sectors, having been two tenths faster on lap 38. The pair set more or less identical times on lap 39, when Webber asked the team to slow Vettel down. Webber’s pace and ability to respond would indicate that he wasn’t suffering from rear tyre wear as has been suggested.

It looks to me like Vettel planned the move all along, having lost out in qualifying due to a mechanical failure on his car, he had a strategy which would give him a golden lap, when Webber would be saving fuel, in which to attack him. And if this is the case then one assumes it must have been sanctioned by the team. Perhaps they felt they owed it to him after letting him down again with the car in qualifying.

It brings into question the whole issue of transparency between team mates. In a tight championship fight, such as this, should the driver who qualified less well be given a chance to get back in front or should this be a team game where the team walks away with maximum points, regardless of who wins?

This incident has blown open the whole issue of fuel strategy and it will be fascinating to see what tactics drivers choose to employ from now on, especially in a battle between team mates.

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Stunning post.

I say leave it up to the drivers. We complain about drivers being such a small part of the equation these days. If one plans the whole race on having a golden lap to pass the other then great, that's racing. I don't think the team should have warned Webber if they knew about it. Sometimes it will be the other way round. And sometimes his race engineer will find out and together they'll plan a counter-tactic. That's what it's all about!


Now we can truly appreciate just how improbable Webber’s hot streak has been. He needs to thank Lewis Hamilton and Robert Kubica for his wins in Barcelona and Monaco. Lewis for getting out of the pits ahead of Vettel, thus preventing this same act in that race, and Kubica for qualifying second at Monaco, putting a gap between himself and Vettel.

This whole thing could also explain Mark’s burning desire to gap the field on every restart at Monaco so Vettel couldn’t get close.

That RB6 chassis has to be like a drug to someone like Webber though, and Webber’s only shot at the WDC to date.

And last year after beating Vettel in Germany Mark’s performance mysteriously feel off till Red Bull saw the chance for a constructor’s championship.


I agree that Kubica and Hamilton did Webber a huge favour in those two races. You can't say for sure what would have happened, but it definately made it easier for Webber. I think you are exaggerating your point a little bit too much though. Especially when talking about last year.

I don't think it's coincidence though, that Vettel was hounding Webber very hard with 2 or 3 laps to go in Monaco. You cannot argue that Kubica was pressuring Vettel because Monaco is a track that impossible to pass. Vettel could be 2 secs slower then he was and Kubica would still find it hard to pass. Usually at that point the team (any team) would be saying, come on boys lets protect this 1-2.. nothing silly there is 2 laps to go. But Redbull seemed okay with Vettel hounding Webber despite his dominance up to that point in the weekend. Webber was told to conserve, while Vettel and Kubica caught him up so he had to get on it again. They didn't make things any easier.


Obviously I meant the 2 or 3 laps before the final safety car.


I'm not sure what you mean by Vettel "hounding Webber very hard with 2 or 3 laps to go in Monaco" considering the last few laps were all under a safety car.


How did Kubica make it easier for Webber? He lost his place at the first corner.

Conspiracy theories are fun, but this sounds a bit over the top to me. Clearly some people in the time prefer Vettel to win but I'm not convinced they do to the extent of not wanting the championship if it comes with Webber.


I agree that the comment about last year is a stretch, but it only came to me after this event unfolded (if indeed it has), along with the comments I read about Webber's first win (in Germany, Vettel's home track).

Now I'm not so sure about Red Bull and equal drivers. Thus I'm not real keen to believe what I saw last year as real either. This Helmut Marko figure adds a layer of slime to the whole Rd Bull F1 story, of which I have been a fan of sorts.


You have a wonderful imagination!


I quite don't agree with the analysis. To be able to overtake you have to have a monumental speed advantage of 1.5-2 seconds/lap. The difference in speed due to fuel would not be enough. I think Webber made a very bad(slow) corner(so Vettel could stay close even as he had the disadvantage of loss of downforce) and to that he had bad traction out of it(bad rear grip). Vettel passed him quite easily and early on that not too long straight. Compare that to Hamilton who chased Webber most of the race and also Vettel at times. McLaren do have much better straight line speed than the RBs but he never got close even when he had good position and was close in the corner. It doesn't surprise me that Vettel could save some fuel since Button did not really chase Vettel before the pit stops and he could cruise behind Hamilton a few seconds back with good speed but Hamilton really pressured Webber so Mark had to use very high fuel usage for very long in the race to defend his position.


Thanks Charlie but I cannot take all the credit. The Red Bull management staff have provided me with a rich environment of "facts" upon which to arrive at such a conclusion.


A few assumptions made but interesting nonetheless.


Sounds like racing between teammates. No quarter. Then don't expect the guy under attack to give up easily. especially after all the hard work he's done to get in front and stay there, up to the point where he becomes vulnerable. of course he will fight.


I agree with you er, although in the case of MW Vettel might be in for a bit of luck, as Australians generally make very good team players. I think this is the vulnerability that RB exploited on Sunday, and will again given the chance.


I think they thought they could exploit that team spirit but in the end they were mistaken. Hence the "he's crazy" gesture from vettel. i believe he thought webber would simply move over to let him past, but he did not deviate. he was playing chicken!

Jake Pattison

If your theory is correct, then this again points to Vettel-favouritism, as I can guarantee the manoeuvre would not have been sanctioned for Webber if the situation was reversed.


It was very obvious to me in watching the video that Vettel steered right suddenly and crashed into Webber and yet this RB Marco layed the blame on Webber also. Couple with the news that RB is now quickly offering another 5 year contract to Vettel after public pressure made them to correct the fault in blaming Webber, suggests to me that Vettel is definitely the favored driver in the team.


Do you mean "guarantee", in the dictionary sense, in which case please spill the beans on your inside track! Or do you mean "think"?



You can't guarentee anything.

Team mates are allowed to race, it's no different to Button using a similar tactic on Hamilton a few laps later. Are McLaren biased towards Jenson? Not a chance.

More than likely this will be a tactical decision made by Rocky and Seb, and you also need to factor in that following a car uses less fuel too. What James hasn't considered is that you need to be close for the Golden lap idea to work, and there was never a guarentee of that.


McLaren aren't biased no, that was a more clear case of mixed messages going to the drivers, but it is clear that Jenson was very interested in taking advantage of it. Why do you think Lewis was so "subdued" after the race? He didn't like it. But he kept the thoughts about it to himself.


I'm with you Jon.


I don't think that Vettel shouldn't of been allowed to pass, it's still a race where the victory should be fought for, I don't see any implication of favouritism, just a different and somewhat risky strategy.

However the drivers are still in a team, and that team has provided a race winning car. Both drivers should of respected that and bought home the result for the team that pays there wages, I'm not saying that vettel shouldn't of attacked (though he shouldn't of moved right so early) and webber shouldn't of defended (though the space he left was dangerous for both cars) just to exercise caution and respect.

We saw this from the McLaren drivers however both managed to keep it on the road after duelling through a series of corners.

I believe this says alot, where Vettel showed his imaturity, Webber shown that he is not happy being the number 2 driver. Good luck to Red Bull for trying to contain the situation however the actions shown so far seem to have only damaged the situation

great insight as usual James (was there a tech report for the turkish gp?)


Interesting use of the word "of" when you meant "have". Is this the future of the English language? I hope not.


Yes there was a tech report for Turkey. Click on the LG Tech Report banner on the right of the page


I use my iPhone to access this page, apologies must of missed it, have just re-read many thanks for the response



This incident has in fact blown open the issue of "team orders".

The continuing stream of PR from Red Bull is just making it look worse and worse. It appears that Sebastian is being protected while Mark is being pushed out there to fend for himself.

Horner now says Mark requested Seb back off. I have not doubt that Mark was well aware of the proximity of the Mclarens, and that that wouldn't have been possible.

They also claim that Mark had gone into fuel-saving mode, yet he set fastest laps after the incident. Doesn't sound very fueling-saving to me. And he did finish the race.

The preceding lap-times also speak volumes about the situation. Mark had it under control. Seb pushed his luck and felt entitled.

And Red Bull are making a serious management mistake.


Did he change just the nose cone or even the Tyres in "forced Pitstop" ?


Have to agree..... Mark asked Seb to back off - don't be stupid !!! Christian is asking us to swallow an awful lot with this statement.

a. Mark knows Seb wouldn't back off.

b. Drivers race to beat their team mate therefore - No driver asks an equal No.1 to back off.


I assume this can be substantiated, otherwise he wouldn't have said it. It's not so strange - Webber probably felt that having Vettel all over him towards the closing stages was not a wise position for a 'team' result, because the idea of driving hard near the end of the race can stress the cars etc.

I'm still wholly unconvinced by the argument that Vettel HAD to pass lest he be threatened by Hamilton. It's a convenient excuse grasped at by the RB management, but one sure way to risk losing a position is to have your drivers trying to outbrake each other.


I am very interested in the reply/lack of reply from Mark's engineer.

Has this transmission been somewhat conveniently omitted from Christian Horner's report or is it not seen as relevant?


Totally right. The issue is poor management pandering to their unworthy golden boy. Any way you look at this poor management is to blame. Mark get out, go to Ferrari and go toe to toe with Alonso, you have proven your better than Vettel, now prove you can be as consistent as Alonso. Your the only one in that team who seems to be for the team and not some other agenda. Shame on CH

Zobra Wambleska

Yes, Mark, go to Ferrari......their car is really fast these days!


Come on, Dan, do you honestly think Mark would get equal treatment with Alonso at Ferrari? Three chances: fat, slim & no!

In any case, RB would be mad to let him go, he may well be WDC this year and they don't want him driving for some other team, they have enough opposition as it is.

One of these days Kubica will get a racing car to drive and then we'll see fireworks.


kubica would blitz them in a decent car!


Webber pitted for a new nose AND fresh tyres. Since the fuel level goes down, fresh tyres = faster for the same fuel saving, or put another way; even more extreme fuel saving for the same lap times.


Exactly, it's almost like qualifying in a sense - the car is on a minimal fuel load, the driver sets a time, comes in, then sets a faster time on new tyres. The new rubber will have offered Webber better grip, especially through the corners, so although he didn't need to push the engine more, he could still go faster than he had previously.

let's not forget Petrov set the fastest lap, after he pitted for tyres due to his puncture. We also saw Alguersuari set the fastest lap for a while as he fitted for fresh rubber. So it's evident that no matter how much fuel saving is going on, new tyres will give better speed through improved grip


Aah, but it wasn't qualifying. He had to still make race distance.

Add to this the fact that Turkey has "fast" corners, I.e. Turn 8 which the Bulls were taking flat out, and there again really doesn't seem to be enough evidence to back up the fuel-saving claims.

Then add the damage to Mark's left bargeboard which should've surely slowed him down, and the actual performance coming from the car shows even more how empty the fuel-saving claims must have been.

F1 may be a very technical and secretive sport, but there are smart minds outside of it that can logically process all the BS coming from RB.

Hah! RBS - their PR department's codename.


Petrov switched from hards to softs, that's really how he got the FL.

I agree Webber probably got faster due to new rubber, but now that I mention it, I wonder why he didn't switch back to the soft tyres too.


I think Dan has hit the nail on the head here. Webber was even faster after the incident than he was before, although he was under no threat from Schumacher behind and had no chance of catching the McLarens ahead unless they ran out of fuel.

And so the key question is this: if he could go faster after the incident, he clearly wasn't saving fuel any more, although his position was set. So why was he having to save fuel before the incident when he had three cars in relatively close proximity behind him?


It looks like Vettel planned the move all along, having lost out in qualifying due to a mechanical failure on his car, he had a strategy which would give him a golden lap, when Webber would be saving fuel, in which to attack him. And if this is the case then it must have been sanctioned by the team. Perhaps they felt they owed it to him after letting him down again with the car in qualifying.

If so, that makes his decision to swing right into Webber when he held the upper hand all the more baffling. But, 'heat of the moment'...

And it kind of gives the lie to his words after qualifying that finding a way to overtake would be impossible.


No, I think he did that to get across onto the clean track ready for braking. If he had hit the brakes on the dirty side he would have lost the car


James, I'm surprised to hear you echoing Helmut Marko's claim that braking on the dirty line will automatically lead to a loss of control. We see drivers braking on the dirty line all the time without immediately crashing! Surely it just means the driver has to brake earlier, which of course is why Webber held Vettel on the dirty line (and why Vettel didn't want to stay there).


Wish he did anyway didn't he ❓



He did turn to the right. It was just a pity that he wasn't clear of another competitor (his team mate)If he had done this with another competitor he would have been answering to the stewards and rightly so.

The stewards should have been investigating this incident. I wonder what CH would have said in that event, somehow I don't think it

would have been that the other competitor did not give enough room.

If Vettel or any other driver chooses to use a dirty part of the circuit to execute a pass it is their own responsibility to bear this in mind when approaching the next corner and act accordantly.

It is not the other drivers job to make it super easy for them unless they are operating under team orders. (covert or otherwise)

It is more than obvious that RB were manipulating driver position. Thankfully it turned out as it did and Webber salvaged some


There is an equal and opposite reaction for every action, luckily it worked out as it did.

If Vettel needs this help he is not yet ready to win the championship.

I cannot believe how stupidly RB have and are continuing to behave in this matter. If they had any wit they would have just have said something like. That's racing and then sorted it out in private, talk about shooting oneself in the foot. (both feet)


Perhaps Vettel thought he was already past Webber?


I agree, Vettel's behaviour is weird given that he bailed on a move and got out of harms way in Spain against Hamilton when he had the racing line aswell as being ahead the other team's guy, but here he clutters into his own teammate.


Then he should have admitted that it was his mistake, because he judged it incorrectly.


I agree with Phil C - a little 'feint' is often used to create some space by scaring the other guy out of the way.

More than that, though, I think it was a move meant to 'shove' Webber out of the way - not just in track terms but as something more symbolic, something that showed a bit of attitude and a bit of cheek.

Webber is a hard guy and had none of it. I think he may have somewhat expected that feint, it's not an unusual move, and I kind of suspect that he knew that if Seb tried it on, the accident would be his fault. Which it was, in all eyes but those of RB management. Mark could have avoided the accident, but why should he. Respect to Webber!!


And perhaps Webber would have had the inside line to the second (tighter) half of the chicane even if Vettel kept it.

Maybe Vettel would have a speed [dis]advantage of 5/100ths due to his extra kilo of fuel?

It's quite interesting that half a second a lap can be achieved with only 1.5 kilos more fuel over the race distance (of course the raw pace is not dependent on burning that extra fuel, but still)!


half a second would be 5/10ths or 0.500, while 5/100ths is 0.050

As for Vettel moving right, I think he did it to scare Mark, to get him to move too. Otherwise he was going to lose the car, or go straight on and be re-passed. Hamilton did brake on the dirty side of the track into turn 1, but he went in a little deeper than usual, so both McLarens ran out wide...


So Vettel couldn't make the pass stick without coming across the track, and Webber didn't leave space for that (as he's entitled to do). It looked like Webber knew that Vettel might try to pass on the left. Also in comparison with the McLarens, the Red Bulls didn't turn in so well, so Vettel wasn't able to duck under and pass on the right. It seems that it was the wrong part of the track to try the pass, unless Vettel thought Webber would let him take the place (perhaps the team had said he'd move over?), which would explain his gestures once out of the car.

Also I think that Vettel carrying 1kg more fuel would have slowed him the 5/100ths of a second rather than being an advantage. Of course it's negated by the fuel saving of Webber.


It's by far the best place to overtake on that circuit in a 2010 F1 car.

OK a few people managed at turn 1, but it was difficult going. Hamilton's overtake on button happened at turn 1 because Buttun's entry onto the main straight was compromised and because Hamilton was desperate to get back passed.


James, I think your comment just backs up the fact that Vettel had *not* yet pulled an overtake ... he wasn't yet past Webber, and if he stayed where he was he was going to have to brake much earlier for the corner because (a) he was on the less grippy side of the track and (b) he had the wrong line, and would need to be even slower than Webber just to stay on track around it.

So, there was still a *lot* to play for, there was no guarantee he could pull it off, and I fully back Webber in waiting to see if Vettel could complete it. Of course, Vettel then lost the plot and we all saw what happened ...


But if Webber had held the line and the crash hadn't happened, then what state would Webber have been in for that corner and how would it have affected him with respect to Hamilton and Button?


exactly but why is the same not true for Webber? I still believe without the crash and Webbers trajectory both would have ended up in trouble in the braking zone...


Accordingly to Vettel, he 'lost' the car anyway before reaching the braking zone. If the team felt that they owed it to him after letting him down again with the car in qualifying (despite them saying a 1-2 finish was the most important aim) then it still reeks of favouritism regardless.

I don't see how Vettel would have planned the attack all along, unless he had the fuel info been fed for him the entire race. For him to think that for 40 laps that he will get one 'golden' lap and only on that one lap where he would/could be exactly perfectly positioned behind Webber to launch an attack for me is extremely unlikely. If this was the case, might as well retire Vettel and put him as chief strategist considering how poor some teams can be in the heat of the moment.

It would be interesting to hear your thoughts on:

1. Vettel going out last in the Q3 run when it was meant to be Webber's turn this race.

2. Why Vettel managed to get the rear wing in practice before Webber.

3. Why Vettel was allowed to do his pit-stop first even though Webber should get the advantage as he was in the lead.

Thanks for all the other brillant articles thoughout the season too, makes for very insightful reading.


re. the 'planned attack'.

You can plan something despite the fact that it might not or even probably won't come off. That's what strategy is all about. A cricket team will have strategies but whether or not they come off depends on the situations arising in the game. I imagine Ross Brawn over his time will have had many strategies that didn't pay off because situations didn't work out as necessary.

What I'm trying to say is that, for every strategy that comes off as planned, we don't know how many failed plans also existed. In this context it makes the concept of Vettel planning this more conceivable. It doesn't make him a master strategist; for all we know this might have been the only plan he ever had that has paid off.

When i say 'paid off' I of course mean up until the point he went and drove into his team mate! :o)

Jonathan Powell

If he was unable to overtake Webber without driving into him, he shouldn't have attempted the move. Where is it written that a driver in Webber's position has to yield the clean side of the track? Surely it's up to the overtaking driver to judge if he can get past on the dirty side (perhaps by cleaning the track, as with Schumacher in Portugal '95--at least I think that was the race!)


So true - what it comes down to is that Vettel wasn't in control while Webber was. The drivers should be able to go as hard as they like, provided they are still in control. The risk was taken by Vettel - therefore he should wear the blame.


Absolutely, Jonathan!!!



Except Hamilton managed to brake on the dirty side of the track into turn 1 to get past Button, and we have numerous other examples of drivers coping with the dirty side.

Vettel has a history of trying to frighten other drivers into conceding track position. The two most dangerous that come to mind were earlier in the race where he swerved towards Hamilton as he tried to overtake down the back straight, causing Hamilton to take avoiding action and run wide at the next corner blocking the pass. Hamilton even came on the radio saying 'That was dangerous', but no one seemed to pick up on it.

The other was again on Hamilton in the China pit lane where he tried to force him into the William pits. He would have lost absolutely nothing by giving Hamilton space as he would have been off the pit limiter first, but instead he tried a dangerous move.

This time, however, it didn't pay off for him and he was the driver to lose out.

What has shocked and confused me since then though is the way the team have been publicly briefing against Webber ever since, with a constant drip feed of new 'facts' that seem to magically appear to help justify their initial denouncement of Webber. I've never really liked Mark all that much, and really disliked his clumsy moves in Australia for example, but in this case he is clearly not the driver to blame and I hate to see someones own team undermine them in this way.

My respect for Red Bull and Vettel is plummeting with each new 'revelation', and I hope Webber wipes the floor with the boy wonder for the rest of the year.


Vettel has never proven himself much of "overtaker" anyways.

About him pushing Lewis in the Pitlane in China - What do you wanted him to do go towards left and crash his own car in the Pitwall 😕

Lewis was acting naughty in that instance and trying to muscle his way around, when the fact is Vettel was released ahead of him and way ahead, Lewis had no reason to try that overtake in Pitlane.


Perfectly put, Chris, and I endorse everything you wrote above, except I've been a fan of Mark's since even before he got into F1. Fingerboy is comming accross as a spoiled brat, while Weber is proving to be a mature, level headed adult, as well as a good racing driver! Good on him!



Hamilton's dirty side of the track would be better described as the middle of the track.


Vettel though is no Hamilton where overtaking is concerned is he ❓


hi James -it's all speculation because it's based on what the teams are telling us about fuel loads. As we saw in Turkey any comments coming out of RB should be taken with a grain of salt. That's a complex scenario you have set up and I don't think Vettel would have made up that strategy by himself. If anything it was probably cooked up by CH and HM the night before the race. Sorry for the cynicism.

In fact I think it's a red herring. The whole fuel issue was used by RB to try and engineer a Vettel victory. I mean why would you put a car on the grid that couldn't race hard to the checquered flag. Same goes for Mac. Fuel issues are being used as de facto team orders.


"Why would you put a car on the grid that couldn’t race hard to the checquered flag."

Because as James said, a kg of fuel is work 5/100ths.

It's all about strategy.

Sure, if you have to go into fuel saving mode because you used more fuel than predicted, and you lose the race as a result, then your strategy was wrong.

But if you also lose a race because you put tot much fuel in and it's slowed you down compared to the guy in front, then again, your strategy was wrong.

I don't think the fuel is always used as de facto team orders (i don't doubt that sometime it is!). It's a genuine issue; in recent previous years we've seen how close teams run the fuel when they were being penalised for having to pit during safety car periods, when the pits were closed.


" I mean why would you put a car on the grid that couldn’t race hard to the checquered flag."

Because by doing so it's sufficiently lighter to get a jump on someone at the start.

The McLarens also apparently had the same issue. Imagine if Button had an extra few kg on board to ensure he could fight to the end - but this meant he couldn't re-pass Schumacher at the start and ended up stuck back there. He'd have been far worse off.

The reason they do it is that - in most races - the positions are set by the half way mark; anything you can do to make more overtaking happen then is worth it.


My data doesn't come from Red Bull. It comes from other engineers


James, Horner's going to love you then isn't he? Will this likely affect what info you can get from them in the future ❓


Why should it? We are all free to analyse and to discuss. I'm not making any heavy accusations. Why shouldn't Vettel have been allowed to have a go?


Very interesting!


Is there not always going to be a penalty for leading the race?

With the front four cars very close together 2nd 3rd and 4th each must have been benefiting from a significant slip stream effect, thus requiring less power and saving fuel, especially notable on a high speed circuit like Istanbul?

So despite keeping pace 2/3/4 use significantly less energy to do so - a bit like road racing cyclists who have to alternate the lead as the leader takes such punishment from punching through the air first - this could open up some interesting tactics if it is going to be so marginal and closely matched, especially in Canada and Silverstone!

Or maybe I'm talking ^&*%???!!!


Charlie, you are right to mention this. Bike racers have done this forever as James will know. Relatively, slipstreaming is much more effective with bikes, with their higher drag and many a race has been won through clever use of this tactic. Just watch the 125s especially for evidence of this, a gap of 5 or 6 secs can be pulled back by a pair of riders - not necessarily team-mates either - working together.


as ever in F1 it is not as simple as that.

Following another car does, indeed, require less fuel. However, as shown so magnificently in the last couple of years, this is mostly due to the reduction in drag which also has the effect of reducing grip - which is why overtaking is so difficult. This is a point at which the adjustable front wing comes into play.

Pushing hard whilst following another car is very costly in terms of tyre wear. It is not enough to save fuel if it is at the cost of tyres needed to make the overtaking manoeuvre.

What is interesting this year is just how well the McLaren front wing works and allows them to follow more closely than any of the others - which also means their cooling systems work very well as following another car often ends up causing overheating problems.


On the tactics side, I recall reading in the past teams used to engineer track positions so one team mate would provide a draft to another to improve qualifying times. Sadly my searching skills have deserted me and I cannot find corrborating evidence. James, are you aware of such?


Regarding the tow from the car in front. At the beginning of the season we were all discussing the impossibility of cars racing on high down force circuits in real close quarters. I have to say that it amazed me how close the Mclarens could get behind a car this last weekend without putting undue stress on tyres etc from driving in dirty air.


If I remember correctly McLaren did it at Indy with Coulthard and Hakkinen (did I spell that right?) during qualifying. It worked there because the long banked turn/straight came after that fiddley infield double hairpin and they went onto the straight at a fairly low speed so cars could run nose to tail.

Jonathan Kelk

The US Grand Prix in 2000 is an excellent example. I remember Mika Hakkinen giving David Coulthard a tow as he started his final qualifying lap. Have a feeling they were copying what Schumacher had done earlier.


Yup I remember that happening back in the days of proper quali.


Difficult to manage precisely. Monza is a good example.

A tow is possible down the long pit straight however you need to be running in clear air around Parabolica. Potentially same issue around the two Lesmos.

Typically the driver behind will need to move across to the dirty side of the track in order to pass which could then compromise under braking at the next corner.

Rather than using the draft to aid qualifying times I think you will find most drivers complain they are impeded.

I don’t know if the no team orders rule extends to qualifying.


Senna helped Gugelmin at Germany in '92 that way - and they weren't even team mates!


I remember seeing this done in qualifying for the US Grand Prix in 2000 down the long front straight at Indy. I was in the stands at the last turn. I want to say it was Coultard drafting Hakkinnen, but I don't remember for sure.


Think Charlie has a good point. It may well be advantageous to be running second or third up until the first round of pit stops. Try to save a bit of fuel early on then plan a late attack. Or try to gain position when the race leader pits first.


Not sure about that, in modern F1, I think that track position is king due to the difficulty in overtaking.

I don't think any of the drivers would think that running in second place had an advantage over 1st place...


My thoughts exactly. Webber had led the race whereas Vettel was in the slip stream, which saves fuel. Webber was also defending from Hamilton, which is uses up even more fuel. Finally, Vettel was brought in before Webber which goes against the established Red Bull 'rule' about the leading driver stopping first (when Webber had to wait for Vettel to stop in Australia which ended up ruining his race). Vettel didn't save fuel through greater skill, he didn't close the gap through greater skill, he didn't get past Hamilton through greater skill. He ended up in a position to overtake Webber and with the extra fuel to do so through a combination of Webber's hard work, team intervention and a little bit of luck. He did not earn the opportunity to overtake, it was gifted to him.

James, on the matter of the pitstop, is there any explanation as to why Vettel stopped first when it flies in the face of the inter-team rules they have previously given in the season? This, for me, is the most significant aspect of the race that points to the team interfering to favour Vettel.


I think the fact Vettel stopped first in Turkey is being overrated.

I think given the proximity of Hamilton to Webber, they quickly planned on bringing Webber in whenever Hamilton pitted, since they knew it would nullify any speed advantage Hamilton might have with a clear track ahead of him, and also knew that they had the advantageous pit position over McLaren (with Hamilton having to yield to Webber should his pitstop be as quick as the Redbull one).

The commentary even mentioned that Webber was only called in after McLaren had called in Hamilton.

Vettel was probably just pitted in the most suitable window for his race, since he wasn't really fighting closely with Webber or Hamilton at that point.


I think the teams policy is that the race leader gets THE CHOICE of pitting first if that is the optimum strategy for their race position at the time.

In this instance I think that the team/Webber felt that their best chance for Webber to stay ahead of Lewis was to counter when Lewis came in and try to get in a better pitstop, which is how it played out.

If they had pitted Webber earlier than Lewis, then Lewis may have banged in a few fast laps then he could have come out of the pits ahead, same goes if they let Lewis pit and use fresh rubber for a lap or two, I think that they figured that they would neutralise Lewis's obvious speed by trying to anticipate when Lewis was coming in (watching the pit crew?) and then reacting... having said that, it could have just been that they had both just decided to pit on that lap and it was all just a coincidence that I am giving Red Bull too much credit for!!

I am interested in why Vettel went last in Qually though, that one doe have me wondering...


Nope, I don't think you're talking ^&*%???!!!

I've been thinking that too. It'll be interesting to see how the teams manage that if teammates are behind one another on track.


When two cars are following each other closely and slipstreaming is occurring, _both_ cars will benefit from higher top speed/fuel saving.

This is because although the front car is punching the hole in the air, it is benefitting from the following car filling in the hole behind it and reducing the drag. The following car benefits from the whole in front of it, but still has all the drag to deal with.

Now if you had a chain of 3, the guy in the middle is laughing...

However, thats all fine in a straight line, not sure it would/could really work to any degree around an F1 circuit.


Hi James,

Interesting post. Quite crafty of Vettel and his side of the garage. I think it opens up a pandoras box of potential paranoia though, which would ultimately lead to less sharing of information.

So on the one hand they've stayed true to their word in allowing their drivers to race, but are they treating them fairly, by concocting a strategy like this, and only telling one side of the garage?

Vettel must really be kicking himself that he blew that opportunity. Not only that, he's lost a few fans along the way if the forums are anything to go by. The team have also managed the fallout incredibly badly. How you can have 5 stories in 5 days and expect to be taken seriously is beyond me.

I don't think there'll be any moving on from this on the part of the drivers. Webber will see that as game on, despite what he says publicly - I reckon it's going to descend into all out war. They'll come together again on the track before the season is over, they're too competitive not to.


I found this passage to be most startling:

"And if this is the case then it must have been sanctioned by the team. Perhaps they felt they owed it to him after letting him down again with the car in qualifying."

If that is true, how on earth can Mark Webber feel confident about going for the title with full team backing? Seems incredible that the team might feel the need to compensate for anything and everything that doesn't go Vettel's way on race weekend. It also surely indicates that this happens without Webber's knowledge, thus rendering largely useless any so-called agreed team arrangements such as leader has first dibs on pit strategy and Q2 leader gets last run in Q3.


Ignoring completely the lap 40 incident, this is just one of a number of team transparency issues RBR have continued to avoid addressing publicly. This is no surprise, but behind closed doors have the hard questions been asked and honest answers given?

They're management of last out in qualifying decisions, the disappearance of the team leader pits first regardless rule within RBR (which cost MW a result in Melb), why 1 extra lap of fuel gives an automatic right to pass rather than managing the status quo to a 1/2 finish like most teams would?....and on


Nice 1 Sherlock!

Do you think the Golden Lap plan was only with Seb and his engineer?

If not, then did the Team forget to tell Mark what they were planning for Seb?


Excellent! A little more insight into race day strategies. Thankyou James.

It does seem to suggest that RB were being fair and the race developed as it would because SB had been getting a tow up to then. Seb still messed up the overtake though.

I guess all teams are looking at other strategies where they can engineer a temporary power advantage for 2 vital corners. It's probably significant that Seb tried it quite early while he still had more tyre performance.

How long before people start asking whether Seb knew (was told) that Mark had turned his engine down? I'd hate to be that cynical.

But do teams have a policy of letting teamates know what their co-drivers status is?



On another note, how will all of this affect Webber's contract situation? There were rumblings in the press yesterday that things would proceed as planed but surely this has ramifications in that:

- Webber is clearly being squeezed here. It's either drive the fast car but be subject to questionable team policy or leave. What are the alternatives for Mark? Play the moral card and go to an up-and-comer knowing that he didn't compromise his principles or stay knowing it's probably the best chance of winning he'll have at this stage of his career.

- If Webber were to leave, would a vacant Red Bull seat not become an unattractive proposition for anyone but a Nick Heidfeld (German and likely to accept his lot and put the team first) or a Red Bull-backed young driver?

Surely, this has the potential to get messy? Webber really has to win the WDC this year to make his position there tenable, no? If Vettel were to win it, in '11 there would be justification for all of this favouritism and such orders would become par for the course. Yet it seems Mark has to battle not only the field and Vettel, but also his own team to win.


Ok, so how come Webber was able to post some very quick times, after the incident with Vettel, when he was closing on Hamilton and Button (the McLarens having been told, on the radio, to save fuel)?

If Webber was saving fuel (pre-accident) to make it to the finish line, he would not have been pumping in quick times (post-accident).


Fresh rubber - same reason that Petrov was able to post the fastest lap of the race.


Yep... just read some of the posts (above) that weren't displayed earlier... and you're right, fresh rubber. Cheers Ian.


As I have posted before, it is now becoming obvious that the teams not only have the potential to fix the outcome of F1 races by sending messages to their drivers to save fuel, but they are also actually doing so in practice in the race as we have just seen in Turkey. Hence they are able to circumvent the ban on team orders which is in place.

One of the consequences of this is that a huge amount of entirely unnecessary ire is generated around speculation that teams favour one driver or the other. I can't see this benefits anyone other than motor sport journalists.

This absolutely doesn't have to happen. The computerisation of an F1 car's performance is such that it would be child's play to provide the driver with an on board readout showing whether they needed to save fuel or not. That facility itself would also provide scope for the teams for a bit of ingenuity in devising the most concise and informative information display.

It seems entirely appropriate to me that engine management to save fuel where necessary should be under the control of the driver just as much as other much more demanding control inputs, e.g. steering, throttle and brakes. And if the individual driver isn't bright enough to hack it, then they clearly are not up to the demands of the top division of motor sport. But I doubt that would ever be the case.

Above all a ban on "fuel saving" communications would go a long way to eliminating a new area which has opened up for disguising team orders. Can anyone can seriously object to that?

If a driver runs out of fuel before the chequered flag then that should be their own responsibility and no-one else's.


All fuel saving is implemented by the driver, not by the pit wall. From the Technical Regulations:

8.5.2 Pit to car telemetry is prohibited.


Onboard fuel warning gauges are nothing new.

Back in the Turbo era,when the authourities tried to slow the turbo cars down they set a max amount of fuel allowable.

This was before telemetary,so the drivers had to balance their fuel use with a read-out on dashboard.

This was a skill that Prost was brillant at,no wonder he was called "The Professor".


I'm sure you're right, this is elementary stuff by today's standards. In fact I wouldn't be in the least surprised if all this information isn't available to the drivers already. There simply is no excuse for the teams managing fuel consumption as they are doing. Well no excuse other than using it to execute their own grand strategy.

But will anyone do anything to stop it soon, or will it be years before the FIA wakes up and tells the team managers to stop doing it and let the drivers themselves decide the outcome of the race on merit?


Good point. Couldn't agree more.


Just read the tech report, been coming to this site for ages can't believe i've missed it as it's absoloute class!! Good work JA get yourself over to the bbc son getting well bored of legard, martin brundle corrects him at least 20 times a race!


the actual race now seems more of a sub plot to the main event! Wasnt there a rule a few years ago that stopped the pits effectively driving the cars from their laptops and how is this any different?


yes there is still in effect, no 2 way telemetry. All adjustable car parameters are only in the control of the drivers.


The interesting point about all this is that while Vettel was saving fuel Webber made the gap he needed to over his teammate to save his fuel later on, the impression I got from Horner was that Seb did a better job of saving fuel, which is rubbish. Mark pulled out 2.6s in the first stint over the #5. It was only because the team pitted Vettel first that he appeared .5s behind Mark after Webber pitted, if Mark had've been pitted first as is the "norm" for RBR Webber would've been about 4.5s ahead of Vettel and given relative breathing space for Mark to do a lot of laps in a lower engine mode.

Seb still would've jumped Hamilton if McLaren had done the same slow stop and they pitted on the same lap. Vettel was 2.09s behind when he pitted and did a 2.314s faster stop.


Spot on LH. The point here is not Vettels inability to pass nor is it the merits of Reno fuel consumption.

How do RBR explain the complete inconsistency of their decision making throughout the season, made obvious now in Turkey which seems to always favour 1 side of the garage.


Refuelling ban leading to more interesting races?

Who saw that coming!?


I did. I wish they had tyres that last the whole distance. No pitstops at all, except for emergencies.


typo:- 'tried tired tyre racing'


we've seen and tried tire tyres racing, its rubbish, and dangerous


James, this particular line confuses me a bit:

" So one kilo of fuel, which is what Vettel is supposed to have saved, would give him a speed advantage of 5/100ths of a second over Webber in pure fuel weight"

If Vettel saved a kilo of fuel, isn't it supposed to be a disatvantage in terms of fuel weight, yet an advantage in terms of the fuel mix he can afford due to it?

What am I getting wrong?



It was a typo. Corrected, thanks


Hi James

Would it not be an interesting feature to have sensor data on fuel loads show on the screen as the race is on. Like following the world record line in a major swimming meet. Everyone would be watching with baited breath to see who might run out. Just a thought


I think team mates should be allowed to race, i just think the managment should make it clear that "I'll put the car in a position where if you don't move we will have an accident" attitude is strictly forbidden.

I think in this scenario it should have been made clear to Webber that Vettel is not in fuel saving mode, and then leave it up to him and his engineer. I think maybe Webber could have switched in an out of fuel saving mode on different parts of the track to defend better.

But then again i don't know that much about the subject, just trying to apply commonsense



Fuel Saving! This is Formula One not economy races. Has anyone read the reports about the Indy 500 and how the race was won or lost for some based upon fuel used?

It'll be interesting to see what sort of reaction we get when an F1 result is determined because a driver either had to back off because they had used too much fuel or runs out before he gets to the chequered flag.


Bang on Phil. I can't stand it when a driver is told to 'slow down'. This is motor racing for pity's sake.

I wonder if the FIA could set a mandatory fuel load at the start and avoid all this nonsense?


In F1 there used to be no refuelling years ago, drivers used to run out and DNF on the track. Also tyre stops were only for punctures or flats from lockups.

Since the car is "half" the weight at the end of the race a litre of fuel should go a lot further at the end than at the start.

One wonders how much fuel was left in each car at the end of the race, this of course was excess fuel and excess weight. To run out as you pass the flag is the ideal, otherwise you could have gone faster or carried less fuel.

Had Vettle been fighting a lot more, he would have used more fuel too and not had the reserve for a last minute attack, so whilst the perfect fuel plan will allow the leader never to win, it all depends on tyres and traffic and the other competitors not being in the way or difficult to pass.


Is it the change in air ambient temperature that affects fuel consumption or does the extra stickiness as the track rubbers in actually slow the cars down? Can this not be balanced in some way by adjusting the front wings or manipulating differential settings?

My last thought is whether using the F Duct whilst following another car allows the driver to save fuel as they get a more significant tow down long straights. In which case it may be a good strategy to run second until the last few laps then power past to victory.


Having less drag saves fuel, and that is what the rear wing stalling device is all about.

Interesting point about the rolling friction coefficient though.


James - you state that,

'So one kilo of fuel, which is what Vettel is supposed to have saved, would give him a speed advantage of 5/100ths of a second over Webber in pure fuel weight.'

But surely if Vettel has more fuel it would give him a speed disadvantage because of the extra weight?

Obviously this will be offset to a greater or larger extent by being able to run a richer fuel mix but you seem to be referring specifically to fuel weight here?


Hi James,

"Now at Istanbul the weight of the fuel for each lap is worth 8/100ths of a second of extra lap time, just under a tenth. So one kilo of fuel, which is what Vettel is supposed to have saved, would give him a speed advantage of 5/100ths of a second over Webber in pure fuel weight."

I think you've got that the wrong way around- if Vettel had saved an extra kilo of fuel, then he would have had one kg *more* fuel in the car than Webber, so Webber would have had the 5/100ths of a second advantage!

I think that's another reason why teams prefer to save fuel at the end of the race rather than towards the start.

If you imagine splitting the tank into two parts, one part with enough fuel to "coast" around the race, then another "reserved" part whose fuel they access when they want to go quickly, then it makes sense to burn off that "reserved" fuel early to save you having to carry the extra weight throughout the race..?


I agree with Charlie. Surely the only reason Vettel had more fuel was because he had spent along time in other peoples slipstream. Not to say that Red Bull didn't seize the opportunity to get their golden boy ahead!


James, Fantastic insights, thank you. Just when I was getting over it all, now there is more to chew over...

Also today, we hear from Christian Horner that Webber, on lap 40, asked if Vettel could back off a bit. (a lovely little slap to MW's racing reputation). And yet earlier, we were told that Webber's race engineer was at fault for not passing on Vettels' fuel situation to Webber. Its all a bit contradictory isn't it?

To my mind, its worth remembering Vettel started in 3rd. His fuel strategy would have involved getting past Lewis at some point.


"So one kilo of fuel, which is what Vettel is supposed to have saved, would give him a speed advantage of 5/100ths of a second over Webber in pure fuel weight."

James, isn't it just the opposite - Webber was lighter I mean?

Steven Pritchard

Some great comments and analysis.

So what would have happened had Vetel passed Webber?

Would it hve been okay for Webber to be passed by Hamilton and Button?

And what if Webber had saved enough fuel towards the end of the race and had been faster than Vetel?

Sounds like Red Bull want to gift the world title to their main investment (Vetel). But although I rate him as fast, he is not an overtaker like Hamilton and lacks mature racecraft. It would do his reputation no good to walk into a World Championship.


From the point of view of Red Bull it would have been indeed okay for Webber to be passed by Hamilton and Button. If that had happened the team would have taken away 4 points more than McLaren from Turkey, Vettel would have been leading the championship and Webber would be second.

On the other hand, If Webber was indeed slower than Vettel and Hamilton had gotten past him, you would imagine it would be even easier to take away Webber's position and win the race.

Any way you cut it, it makes sense (in the current points system) to get your fastest car out in front. If Red Bull tried to do that I personally can't blame them. Fans often get caught up in the sort of emotion that has little to do with the cold calculation that is F1 today. Webber might have been within his rights to defend his position, but i think Red Bull only has eyes for the 20 or so points it lost them.


Did we have an almost identical situation at McLaren? We know that both drivers were put into 'fuel saving' mode but there seems to be a bit of uncertainty as to when. Could it be the case that Jenson had been slightly easier on fuel as he wasn’t hard on the tail of Sebastian like Lewis was? This might have given Jenson a ‘golden lap’ or two where he had a car advantage over Lewis. Lewis was told that they both had to go to a fuel saving mode but not, relatively, when and also explain Lewis’s apparent surprise at being passed.

Luckily when Jenson had a go at Lewis he used the outside to then keep the inside for the next right as opposed to the dive the inside that Seb tried, with it’s attendant need to get right onto the grippy stuff before turning in. More supposition but I'd be interested to know more...


just a little tech note. Vettel saving fuel meant he had more fuel so would be slower by 5/100ths not quicker...

David Turnedge

Yes, but that would be offset by Webber having to run slower... so he would be slower but Webber would have to run even slower to not run out of fuel... which would mean Vettel would still be faster...


The more I hear about this scenario the more it stinks doesnt it.

James, The more you are able to gain from the engineers you are speaking to, the more and more it sounds like a premeditated move.

It isnt the first time that Seb has tried muscling someone across the track, although what surprised me is that they seemed to be in the region of a foot apart, so how he ever.

He forgot the first simple rule, whatever you do dont crash into your teammate. Mark was 100% right to hold his ground, if he hadnt he would be accepting 2nd place in the team.

I can't wait for the next race. I bet it will be a pressure cooker until the end of the season at Redbull now. No matter what the PR spins is on that.


any news on the next developments for the teams for the next race as yet? Anyone planning anything big? Thanks for continuing the dig on this issue. Its got legs and will run and run now 🙂


I'm sorry Andy but you are wrong. Webber was NOT 100% right to hold his position. Luckily he was able to salvage 3rd from the calamity - he could so easily have been unable to finish the race. On the other hand if he had let Vettel through he was almost certain of bagging a second place.

Neither Red Bull driver has enough skill in knowing just how big their car is or a good enough feel for how it moves about.

Repeatedly we see other drivers (like Lewis, Jenson and Kubica) who drive the car as if it was an extension of themselves and have the ability to place it and control it very precisely - and also have an immense ability to "feel" where another car or barrier is around them. It is as if they do not need their mirrors... whereas both Webber and Vettel appear to need more of them!

Expect more of the same in Canada...


you are of course entitled to you opinion.

What did webber do wrong? He squeezed vettel but did at any point push him off the track?

I take your point that there are better overtakers in f1 though. Definitely agree with that.



I agree on the comparison to other drivers. I thought Jenson/Lewis side by side was racing of the highest order. But I can't agree with you when you say Webber was not 100% right.

He was driving in a straight line down the back straight. Nothing wrong with that. Nothing at all.

If you say he should have moved over, I would say that is very odd thing to ask a F1 driver, especially a driver in P1.

I'm starting to think about Canada too. Vettel has only been there once, Webber's had about 8 visits.


Yes there is a huge development coming. I'll post on it shortly


Someone has figured out how Red Bull add downforce in qualifying? (More correctly, how they don't lose it through ride height.)

Thanks for staying calm and rational amongst the conspiracy theories, whacky analysis and fan-bias.


Looking forward to it. Cheers for the latest post James. From all this, the tragedy is, that if Red Bull had given Webber a reasonable lap to pit in a drying Melbourne, rather than waiting 2 laps after it was obvious to pit (to protect Vettel), he would have won his home grand prix. A real tragedy. Red Bull, if anything, owe Webber. They completely ruined his race in Australia, just for their golden wunderkid. Helmut Marko, what a pompous ****


I agree about Melbourne


Thanks. I read today that some teams in the tech working group are trying to mandate a traditional type airbox for next year to stop any more aggressive interpretations of the merc airbox (presumably on safety grounds).

On developments, Ferrari could do with sneaking a Turbo on their engine couldnt they. "Now how did that get there Mr Steward, I have no idea?"


Mclaren using the f-duct to also reduce drag from the front wing? So crazy that it might just work...


It's all very interesting how Vettel managed to be in the position to go faster than Webber at that stage of the race. However, it was his responsibility to complete the overtaking manouvre safely, which he didn't. It is fortuitous that Vettel suffered most from his mistake.

Is it is cleary a disadvantage, in fuel terms, to be in the lead for most of the race, perhaps the teams could adopt a strategy where they alternate the lead like they do in cycle racing. Then towards the end of the race both team members can be on equal terms and race it out to the finish.


I think for the front running teams we will now see an end to the short fueling technique. Given that they qualify on low fuel, and that passing is very difficult, I don't think the .1 sec difference shaving fuel gains at the beginning makes any difference- the car behind still won't be able to pass. Obviously, the speed difference between correct mixture and fuel saving mode is much greater that any saving from less weight at the beginning.

As for the holding station thing- I think it is whatever the drivers/teams agree to- there are only problems when someone does something dumb (Vettel's turning right into Webber) or underhanded (passing when they had agreed not to.) Good luck getting someone like Webber to agree to play second fiddle( or Vettel or Hamilto, or Button for that matter)


Thanks for that very interesting perspective.


Totally with you James, I think your superb analysis proves what I originally thought - that Webber was told to save fuel and ( if needs let SV through ) but - SV was given a super lap by the team. This would therefore reflect their blaming Webber immediately afterwards. I still there is more to come out as we've seen nothing from SV but Mark on video trying to pull the team together !!!!!! ( when he didn't cause the accident )

James, as an side topic - Charlie is getting on now and will be needing a replacement soon or a helper - Seems a respected ex-driver who nearly lost is life with smashed legs may be getting groomed ?????


Hi James

I was shocked to see Alonso and other drivers at the back not start on the hard tyres. Why was this? Now after reading this story would it not make more sence if you have a bad qualifying or are out side the top ten to be pushing at the end of the race on soft tyers when the front runners are saving fuel on hards? You may even force one or two of them to run out of fuel.


Thank you James. Very good.

There was a steady gap behind to Hamilton of 1.2 seconds.

What I am certain of, is that if Vettel was leading, Webber would not have been given that chance to attack Vettel, the team would not have risked a 1-2.

You can say that it was making up for the car problems in quali or that Redbull planned for Seb to beat Webber in Turkey all along.. going back to the chassis change. The point is, it's not really fair to Webber and if Vettel were in Webber's position, he would have been sour about it after the race.

Hamilton was "subdued" after the race, and he didn't have pole, or lead the first 40 laps, and yet this fuel saving still gave Button a run on him and he felt a little betrayed himself. Although he clearly didn't say it. Using words like "confusion" etc.

What's always in common with Redbull's explanations about strategy is that they say things like "The leader has pit priority" , "Vettel saved an extra kilo of fuel and is entitled to use it", but you only hear these things when it suits Vettel. When Webber is out in front, Vettel still pits first.

I also suspect in this race that Webber's tyre problems weren't like Redbull are suggesting. If Webber was worse off, it must have been by a pretty small margin. And his fuel didn't seem too bad when he started setting fastest laps after his extra pitstop to pressurise the McLaren's???

[b]"In both the first two sectors of lap 40, Vettel’s straight line speed was 7km/h faster than Webber’s, but he was only a tenth up on Webber on lap 40 after two sectors, having been two tenths faster on lap 38. "[/b]

Thank you James. 7km/h is a big difference and is not to be sneezed at.


Thanks James - fascinating post!

It certainly adds an interesting dimension to the racing. I tend to agree with some of the earlier comments - this kind of strategy twist is fine (and as I think you remarked in an earlier article, is reminiscent of the 80s), but take the pitwall out of the equation and let the drivers do it all.


I agree with your analysis. The changing statements from RB indicate that there was something going on that Webber was either not aware of or did not agree with. If Webber asked for Vetel to slow down he probably was not aware, so maybe has was being set up. The glitch was than Vetel was unable to overtake cleanly and it has all started to come out. If he had passed cleanly nobody would have suspected a thing. If team management are able to slow a driver down from the pit wall by adjusting the engine is this the same as team rules?


Interesting article.

If true though, it does point to there still being two sets of rules for these two drivers.

On one hand you are giving one of the drivers the tools to overtake the other, then on the other hand you are criticizing the other for holding his line and thus defending his position.

I would also have to agree with Dan above, Mark set some great lap times after the prang, so his fuel load couldn't have been that bad, something here is just not adding up.


I think the drivers should be free to race up until a certain percentage of the total number of laps. The obvious choice is 75%. This would have been lap 43.5. The incident occurred exactly 3 laps earlier. Considering the higher than expected fuel consumption the 3 laps could be considered as the correction factor. At this point both drivers should have held station until the end of the race to secure the points for the team.

Almost all the teams employ the 75% rule when they have the freedom to do so. It is almost an unwritten rule amongst the team mates in F1. The Mclaren battle was simply a communications mistake that was immediately rectified when Lewis retook the lead. That’s why Lewis was surprised to see Jenson and why he was annoyed immediately after the race.

Regardless of whether Seb had more fuel or not he should have gracefully accepted 2nd place. It was also unlikely that the Mclarens would have caught him because they too were in fuel saving mode.



Are you taling with the BBC yet about getting your job back? It's the only part of the silly season im intrested in. You don't have to answer this.


You don't realise how good something (someone) is until you no longer have it. Since James has been sharing his insights and knowledge on this site it's become obvious to a blind man just how knowledgable and well connected he is. And for me, to have that in the commentary box would add huge colour and value to a race. James, I'm not blowing smoke at you, just speaking as I find, but I'd love to have you back next to Brundle. Understand that diplomacy probably prevents a comment from you!


he wont answer ive asked before. legards ok but james depsite the odd malfunction was technically better and knew when better to shut tf up


Yeah, I also miss James on the telly. But remember all that loathsome tabloid flag-waving we used to have to put up with, and Jim Rosenthal. The BBC's not too bad, even without James.




I did like f1 on ITV, although i will never forget "Britain's Lewis Hamilton' until the day i die. Steve Ryder and those words were never far apart, from beginning to end.


OK, so if fuel *was* the issue ...

Why on earth did the team think it OK for Vettel to squander his fuel (and therefore power) advantage on getting past Webber?

We're told that Hamilton was the problem, but I can't see why Vettel overtaking Webber was any kind of solution.


Red Bull: Webber in first place (great for the team), conserving some fuel. Sorted. Vettel in second place (brilliant for the team - a 1-2 on the cards), with some extra fuel to burn for more power when he needs it. So, he's got options. But then there's McLaren

McLaren: third & fourth, and Hamilton has shown he can overtake if he gets a chance. He's trying to catch up with Vettel.

Now, we're told that it seemed more important to the team that Vettel throw away his fuel advantage just to pass Webber (with NO gain to the team's placings & points) ... leaving Webber (who has reduced his power) to be challanged by Hamilton ... and then possibly Vettel left to fend off Hamilton - *without* his power (fuel) advantage!

Oh yeah, and for it to work Webber was meant to roll over and just hand the place to Vettel, without any team communications to let him know why he should do it ...

And that was seen as a better scenario than Vettel saving his extra power to use to keep Hamilton *behind* him for as long as possible, and try to keep first AND second?

I just don't get it ... why am I supposed to believe that 1st & 2nd without any power advantage is meant to be better than 1st & 2nd WITH a power advantage? It just does not compute, to me, as they've stated things. Can you throw any more light on it?

They must know we don't follow F1 just for the overtaking 😉 !!! A lot of our enjoyment is the strategy, and without the correct information - and clear rules to base the strategy around - it's no fun any more and we will slowly but surely leave


Great post James.

I wonder what Webber makes of all this. Can he trust that the team will sufficiently fill his car so that he can be on full power during that critical transition period?

If Vettel again fails to out qualify Webber an "accidental" missing kilogram of fuel in Webber’s car would make all the difference during the fuel saving transition as he'd be forced to go early.

This would be an elegant way for the team to engineer team orders without actually having team orders. Mind you, even Webber in full diplomat mode is likely to punch someone if that scenario played out.


Or they could just ensure that Vettel outqualifies Webber by making webber heavier during qualifying


I think you're giving more credit to Vettel than is due here.

It's not likely that he saved fuel through much extra effort on his part; for the most of the race, he was behind someone. Being in slipstream, even if it is dirty air, puts less air resistance on the cars, therefore meaning less fuel is needed to accelerate the car over a specific distance.

His fuel saving was simply because he was behind someone, or at least that's my opinion on the matter.


Hi James,

Great post

Any idea why Vettel has been allowed to pit before Mark in the last few races ? At the start if the year Mark state that team policy was that lead driver had pit stop preferance ? Do you think its another case of favourtism or do you think team would have done the same for Mark in these last few races in order to keep track position ?


James, as an aside on the Vettel/Webber argument, why have we heard nothing from the Stewards? Why did Michael S. get penalised so heavily for overtaking perfectly safely under a green light, with no contact, and Vettel didn't even get his knuckles rapped?

We didn't even hear the usual announcement about the incident between X & Y being investigated. Were the Stewards, once again 'too busy'?


Yes, James can you give an HONEST opinion of this ❓

From what I saw and have seen having looked at it 10's of times Vettel caused an unavoidable and potentially very dangerous crash.


I have analysed it in three posts now from different perspectives. I think Vettel was entitled to have a go and almost pulled it off, but he just came across too soon. Webber made it hard for him, as he is entitled to do. This is racing and a victory and a championship are at stake here


But should it not have been stewards that made that ruling?


Hi James

I never thought of this aspect previously, assuming that they would carry sufficient fuel plus a small margin for error. With the relative performance differences between teams being as small as it is, the margin is obviously as little as possible, resulting in the likelihood of not carrying enough for the race (to finish first, ... ).

It would naturally also provide those who qualified less well an alternative strategy at tracks where over-taking is at least possible, and an advantage to the driver who could extract near-maximum performance from his car without using the highest fuel consumption map.

The cynic in me also suggests that it provides an ideal mask for team orders. Perhaps in future drivers who are suspect of their team’s real motivations will insist on fuel gauges being included in their ‘dashboards’.


Nice work James. I have been trying to do some sums to work this out but a)I'm a buffoon, and b)you have access to the proper data.

One other thing that I find interesting is that after Mark had pitted for the new nose he was setting ok lap times, then he got a radio transmission informing him the McLaren's were critical on fuel and he then set a couple of fastest laps in (I presume) the hope of chasing them down. If he were so low himself why was he able to attempt a chase, even for a short time? Why bother with the radio transmission at all?

It makes it all even muddier for me. Am I barking up the wrong tree? What do you think?


I think this story just outlines just how much a 2nd driver has to work hard for the team. Personally, I think Mark would make an excellent Champion if he continues to drive well but as he is not the perceived Golden Boy he sits in a very precarious position. He knows that just winning a GP is a big high but cannot depend on being allowed to win another.

Methinks RB could easily loose their chance of a World Championship if they don't get on top of this and the simple way RB will do this is - Mark will be told to pull over if he wants a seat for next year. ( bit like Renault ) - This is the brutal truth - The Boss will get what he wants.

And if he was lucky enough to go to Ferrari - it would be no different - maybe worse.


Golden Lap?, Chrystal Ball?, If no one else is on the track maybe? I would like to see the wry smile on Webbers face in private!


If KERs will be brought back with twice as much power and a push to pass system we could see more wheel to wheel action each lap of the race.

I think many fans would prefer see the regular use of KERs boost rather than waiting to see whether the drivers have managed to save 1% fuel in order to line up a single passing opportunity at the end of the race.

Concerns about fuel didn’t stop Mansell in 1987 staging one of the most memorable fight backs in history. Perhaps the current crop of drivers should delve into the F1 archives to see how battles were won and lost.



great posting and analysis on what is a ultimately a game for big boys with lots of money

despite all the protestations regarding Red Bulls failure to back Webber who, deservedly, has earned numerous poles and victories on the back of great driving and hard work, this will not change the facts that us mere mortals simply don't know what is truly going on in these organisations

Formula 1 has been full of teams with drivers that are subordinates to their team mates. much like the Tour De France, where riders simply provide a plateau for the principal to ride to glory.

Unfortunately i don't think Webber has read the script of Marko and Horner

It would seem that the company line is to promote all as equals but cynically one feels that the golden child is Vettel, and from what has emerged from Turkey is that this could be true

but if Red Bull is truly serious about winning a World Drivers Championship, and a Team Championship, then time may soon come when the man who they will have to put their efforts behind is the one leading the Championship today

It would be a great irony to see Vettel fending off charges from Button and Hamilton late in the season to protect his team mate, much the same as the Barrichello did for Schumacher all those years


Very insightfull, Thanks James. But very difficult to understand why, if Webber was in fuel saving mode, he kept pushing and established very fast laps after his second pitstop. Can' believe the new tires he then got can only explain his fast times...

The situation between the two drivers within the team is not gonna be easy to manage, particulary if end of August both are still championship's contenders, and we could have more "fights" of this kind between these two once more...

I can also imagine Webber's new RedBull contract is not as an obvious decision as perhaps it was before last GP... so Massa at Ferrari and Kubica at Renault next year are as well not guaranted yet!


So, there's a chance that Ron Dennis comments on Vettel's spark plug problem in Bahrain GP was indeed a fuel saving mode after all... 🙂


Webber asked the team to slow Vettel down....?.....while 2 Mclarens were also chasing?

Lost all support for Webber there, go Vettel. 180 degrees for me.

He thought of himself only, not the team.


And you believe Redbull now? Not sure I will believe another thing I hear out of them to be honest.

After that Baloney from Christian Horner about the biggest fault was not allowing enough room.

I think you'll find Christian, that the biggest fault was one driver turning right into another car... No right turn, no accident at that point (although they would probably have ended up tangled near the breaking zone).

I'll be supporting Mark in this battle.


Looks like the latest Red Bull PR is working! You have responded exactly like they want with this latest of various daily stories, which may or may not be true.


Yeah, could we get some more info on that? James mentioned it in passing but it's the first time I hear of it...

Webber actually told RB to slow Vettel down? Hahaha...that's pretty low of him. If Vettel is so much faster that Webber knew he would get passed, then I think it's silly of him to have been so set on his racing line during the pass. If you know you don't have a chance, just yield. Especially if it's someone from your own team!!


There has always been hints of inconsistancies in the strategies within Redbull. Legard often mentions the pitstops thing and who pits first. Redbull said early in the season that the leader always pits first, but since Webber has been out infront Vettel still pits first. Brundle is usually a bit neutral on that, so it shows that some people pay attention to these things and others don't.

I always hoped that it was fair fight within Redbull, and ignorance is bliss as they say. The ones who I would see mention it the most would be over zealous Webber fans. I mean they had a (small) point, but it's always hard to prove or disprove these things. And sometimes it's better not to worry about it.

This whole incident has brought things more into the public light, with other teams engineers giving data, and everyone putting more of a magnifying glass on it, then usual.

Australia was a race where you can say yeah Vettel should have pitted first, but the team sure shafted Webber didn't they? Fair enough, you could say, as it's unpredictable in the heat of the moment. But in the press after the Australia race, there was no cuddling of Webber. There was no going out of their way to make sure the public knew that the strategy has been the biggest obstacle Webber faced that day. Even the Aussie commentators didn't mention it. I only saw James mention it, when guest appearing on the telecast after the race. Webber lost 5 positions in the pitstop and then had to overtake with dry tyres on a track that was wet offline, and with a car that had great apex speed but bad straightline speed. Webber made errors, but he wouldn't have needed to overtake anyone, if the team handled the pitstops better. When Horner didn't talk about it in the press, that was what surprised me the most.

That is just one example.

It is clear in my opinion, that Webber would not have been given the opportunity to attack Vettel if Vettel were leading. And that the public are not as stupid as Redbull management thought they are. We want to watch sport, not WWE wrestling. It is way too early to be prioritising drivers or trying to choose which driver deserves more points then the other. Vettel was unlucky in quali yes, but Webber did nothing wrong and didn't deserve that from his own team.

Webber held off a quicker Hamilton all race. In fact he did a better job then Vettel did. One thing that hasn't been mentioned is that Vettel made an error in the final stint that gave Hamilton a run on him, and he had to be very aggressive to keep him behind. Lewis considered Vettel's move as dangerous and was happy that Webber could finish, as he seemed quite angry at Vettel.

Webber (with some luck) had pole, and lead the first 40 laps without needing to defend like Vettel did. He had track position and if Vettel had DNF'd on lap 1 I am quite sure the team would have supported him and cheered him to beat the McLaren's.

But because Vettel was right behind him, the team "cracked under pressure" as McLaren put it.

Which goes back to a suspicion that alot of people have had all along. The team supports Webber as long as Vettel is alot further back or DNF'd. As soon as Webber and Vettel are near each other on the track, there is a nervous feeling about pitstops etc because it's clear the team is watching and supporting Vettel, rather then both of them.

As Scott above me said, once Vettel was out of the race, RBR seemed to be behind Webber again, telling him to attack the McLarens, and he started setting fast laps. How was he able to do this in a car that was short on fuel and damaged?

I hope that the media continue to watch RBR closely to ensure that both drivers have a fair chance to win the WDC. It is a motor race, not a favouritism or charity contest.

Steven Pritchard

Perhaps Webber was able to save fuel when crusing around with a damaged front wing! 😀


James, Do you not think that Webber relaying to the pits for "Vettel to backoff", was not a clear statement that Webber could see what was happening and would not be passed? I personally question Vettel's ability to complete a hard pass without intimidation, there is know way he could have believed he was clear of Webber, his mirror would have been full. I can't imagine how Red Bull management thought Vettel could make a pass on in one lap, when Hamilton hadn't shaken Webber in a dozen. Although not a Hamilton fan, his passing abilities shame Vettel.


James Allen, Race Detective. I read your blog everyday and this I must say was the best. Thanks for the insightful post!


I guess Webber is back to calling him Britney again!


Nico Rosberg is who Webber calls "Britney".



Taken with the Tech Review, this discussion is fascinating! Do the simulation models update with the observed data from each race, becoming more realistic and coherent with real-world results? Modeling the variations of individual driver behavior must result in more uncertainty than any other factor in the model, but these uncertainties are captured by telemetered control input data.

We're back to the old question of how well a driver can make up for individual car weaknesses, with no definitive answer possible. That's why they run the race!


When stuff like this happens, it's not really racing. I would like to see a return to refueling pit stops and let the drivers go at it.


F1 teams never seem to learn the lesson of the law of unintended consequences. Its not ok to expect one driver to drive for the 'team' and give his teammate 'room' if you are allowing the other driver to secretly race him. If a team is going to allow open racing between teammates this should be made clear to both. Clearly Webber was never told that Vettel was being allowed to attack, and IF this is the case then Mark has ZERO blame, the Villan of this piece is mismanagement of the TEAM. The buck stops here Christian, get your act together and apologise for letting both your drivers down. If Vettel was racing Webber and he didnt know then Vettel/RB then Webber was totally justified squeezing Vettel. As Webber said before, its 'kids that do a good job then f**k [sic] it all up'


This is fascinating stuff, but it brings little to the sport...

I want to see drivers running flat out for 100% of the race, I want to see Hamilton ragging his car to the limit until the tyres fall apart, not nursing a car round for 40 laps trying to save 1kg fuel for a 'golden lap'.

I want to see RACING!


I agree. This may be an exciting issue to deal with if one is an engineer or modeler, but it does not add much to the spirit of racing, from a spectators point of view.

Watching Hamilton and Kubica race around Monaco was fun, watching Webber in 'fuel management mode' in Turkey was not (until you-know-what). I am not sure that saving fuel and tires will save the rain forest or have a significant impact on the costs of running an f1 team.

These economy runs must stifle the mindset of drivers who love to race to the max and the most interesting event we can hope for, is when they snap back to (or beyond) their default state al la Vettel/Button and we see some type of action/entertainment.

I'm not sure that the sole provision of entertainment by waiting to see human mistakes is motor racing, unless we change the name to 'You've been Formula Oned'.

On a technical/semantic point..

James - it is very surprising to read that the Renault engine is not significantly more economical than the competition. Surely any increase in fuel economy and therefore decrease in weight and lap time is a significant event?


James I would really like to know what you think of Webber asking the team to slow Vettel down was it - why was that?:

1 - Code for Im not going to make it easy for him to pass - lets just get to the end of the race 1-2?

2 - Why isnt Vettel under the same fuel saving program?

I can understand Webber setting quick times after the incident - he would of saved a lot of fuel going slowly back to the pits for repairs.


Something fascinates me. Vettel had two chances to get past Webber, one at the pitstop (he was on new tyres sooner) and the saving fuel of a burst of speed. And he made the move with some desperation because he wouldn't have a chance to get by before the end.

However Christian Horner seems to be putting the word out that Seb couldn't have kept Hamilton behind him the way Schumacher kept ahead of Button in Spain (for example). So why would have been capable of getting past Webbber - without help ? And we're supposed to believe that Webber would have kept the Mclaren(s) off Vettel's tail until the end of the race ?

I'm all for tactics, but... we know which tracks tend to get safety cars, so the idea that a car lying second conserves fuel so that, after an SC period the driver can run more power is not one that I'm keen on.


So right now the question is this:

Webber qualified ahead of Vettel, should Red Bull block Vettel from trying to pass Webber?

I feel like a lot of people are saying "yes".

There are two things though which I think are important:

Would we feel the same way if the situation was reversed? If Vettel outqualified Webber, would we throw a fit if Red Bull told their #2 driver to back off and not even attempt to pass?

The second is much simpler: I hope to god teams ALWAYS allow teammates to pass eachother (at least at this stage of the championship). Otherwise, it could make for some pretty boring races...

Overtaking is good...spectators like it. Just make it stick 🙂


Well.. if you isolate this incident you are correct.

However it's normal for teams in F1 to not want their teammates overtaking each other. In the last two seasons when have we seen teammates overtake each other? Did you see Button being told earlier on (lap 20 or so) to save fuel? It seemed like a clear indication that the team didn't want Button trying to have a go at Hamilton.

It's normal for teams to want to protect their position because it's unseen as unneccesary risk.

The story here, is that this case was the exception where the Redbull guys clearly wanted Vettel to overtake his teammate.

Put yourself in Webber's shoes.. he knows he can't overtake Vettel in pitstops.. remember in Sepang.. race was over after turn 1 remember? The team said leader always pits first. Meaning after turn 1, Webber had no chance to get back infront of Vettel.

So in Webber's mind the only way he can try to beat Vettel is to outqualify him or get a better start into turn 1. He did those things in this race.. and clearly he didn't want to give that up. You can say it's selfish for Webber to want to stay infront of him teammate or to ask him to backoff, but it's also selfish for Vettel to try and overtake Webber when they are 1-2 isn't it?

It works both ways. That's what you expect.. both drivers want to beat each other. I have no problem with that. The only problem I have is the team tipping the scales in one direction or the other.

Everything post race has indicated that the pitwall were wanting to tip the scales in one direction..

I agree that it's better overall if teammates are just free that race. But that is not F1. F1 is micro managed to the inth degree. If you want it to be like MotoGP.. first step.. ban pit to car radio and let the drivers make decisions themselves.


James - why is the tech report not part of the RSS feed?


Anyone who really follows F1 knows that Redbull favour Vettel and have done since he joined the team.

Webber needs to stay strong and not yield even if it costs him his seat at Redbull as he'll probably never get a better chance than now, now is his time, Vettel will have others in the future I say let's all get behind Webber and see how Redbull's Horner and that Marko chap react ❗


Although I dont agree with preferential treatment, its not surprising that those involved in his development (and paying for it) look to try to show how excellent their choice was by pushing him towards the front.

How inconvenient that Mark has got his act together this year, and Seb has a real challenge on his hands.

It will be interesting to watch the next couple of races and how this develops. Redbull will be seen to be in the wrong regardless now (i.e if Seb gets the upper hand everyone will suspect someone is jeopardising mark, and if mark keeps on nailing vettel they will suspect the other).

Just goes to show doesnt it, the old adage about too many cooks spoil the broth.

If I were a betting man, I'd put money on this not being the only crash they have this year.


I don't know..why shouldn't we have a race between team mates?


If you are going to have a race between teammates, that's all well and good.. but keep in mind that a - they should have equal engine revs etc. b - it's a huge risk for the team, if you say "give room" the driver behind will always take advantage because they can put a risky one up the inside and expect the other to hop out of the way. If you say "race normally like everyone else", then the driver infront can go ultra defensive and that makes it hard for the car behind to ever complete a clean move.

I am happy for the teams and drivers to actually race, as long as they are both given equal opportunity and have equal conditions. If it is this way, we the audience is the winner.

If Redbull are happy for Webber to attack Vettel in the future fair enough. I don't think they would be though. And I don't think Button attacking Hamilton was a part of their plan either. But hats off to Button for making a go of it.


Team mates should race, but unlike the Mclaren's, there appears to be added pressure on the RBR drivers and/or a lack of respect to give each other fair space when wheel to wheel.

A lot of folks are claiming that if the roles were reversed in Turkey, Webber wouldn't have been given the strategy/permission to attack Vettel. Can anyone back this up with examples from the 09 or 2010 seasons where Webber has been disadvantaged against Vettel due to RBR management decisons in a race?

Eric Weinraub

Yet another reason to bring back refueling. IF we are to believe this article then we are to believe that the only 'racing' takes place before the 1st pit stop and then its hold station/white knuckles to the finish line. Running out of fuel is a real possibility and i won't be surprised if it happens this seasion. Fans are not paying to watch the cars go slowly because the teams are forced into this by this rediculous and stupid rule around refueling. Refueling is only dangerous because of the stupid and preposterous choice of fueling rigs which Bernie was making a great deal of money off of.


What your analysis doesn't cover is how seb would be close enough to mount the attack if up until that point he had saved fuel - surely in priciple at least the extra speed would only allow him to catch webber not already be on his tail and then push for the overtake?


7 km is a pretty big advantage on the straights. If you noticed in the race, having a midcorner apex advantage over the car infront couldn't get you anywhere. Because of the turbulance and also the nature of motor racing and the concertina effect.

Having straight line speed though is good because it has nothing to do with the turbulance. As long as you can keep level in the corners, if you have that straight line speed it becomes much easier to overtake. Which is why the McLaren two years in a row has been the car to have, if you want to overtake.

In my opinion if Webber was equal speed with Hamilton and Vettel but was losing 7 km/h on the straights due to lower fuel map, it's a pretty unfair fight isn't it. If he was slower overall (forgetting the fuel) it must have been a pretty small gap. I think it's rich of Horner to claim that it didn't make much difference. If it were at Monaco true.. but at Turkey straight line meant alot!

7km/h in S1 and S2 is a big advantage because those aren't the sectors with the big straight. S3 is the big straight.

At Monaco or Australia having lower fuel map wouldn't hurt you so much. But at Turkey/Canada/Monza/Spa etc it's a huge handicap. Especially when the cars are covered by such a small margin.


Thanks for this technical/tactics insight, James.

If a team would allow team mates full racing each other, the team should as well cut telemetry sharing, stop any communication between 'subteam' engineers, and erect a wall in the pit. Akin to that occuring in MotoGP Yamaha Racing Team between Rossi and Lorenzo subteams.

David Jerromes

Again James, a most interesting post!

I just wish we could have Mark Webber on here writing under a pseudonym telling us all exactly how he feels!!!!

Also wish he'd given Vettel a good hard smack on the chops...

Vettel still hasn't apologised to Webber, so clearly he believes he didn't do anything wrong to Mark.....JUST the team..., was it so hard to say sorry to Mark???!!!!

Have you heard anything James with regards to Marko not being involved in future team PR discussions because he's clearly useless?!

It surprises me that Horner forgot that he was being filmed at the point Vettel side-swiped Webber..., surely by now he's used to having most moves filmed, but ALL his moves when he has one team-member trying to pass another..., wonder if we'll see a fully enclosed, fully black-tinted RBR pit wall in the future..., to then 'forget' again when Vettel comes up to get his snotty-nose wiped.., maybe he grazed his knee as well...., either way he got lots of family love for all the billions of viewers to see...




I'm all for racing, Senna vs. Prost, Prost vs. Lauda, Piquet vs. Mansell, Alonso vs. Hamilton

all epic fights. Vettel could have pulled off the move, had he used a brain. The inside line was the wrong place to attack, Webber gave the room, but Vettel didn't respect the room and pushed for more causing the INCIDENT. I cannot and will not blame Webber at all. He had the lead, and had every right to defend his line, teammate or not. He had the line for the corner, Vettel would not have made it, and should have lost out at the corner anyway, but instead he decided to hand 1-2 to McLaren. The facebook page on the incident c/w photos brilliantly shows how wrong Vettel was, and how he should be labelled. He's foremost still a kid, not mature enough to realise his actions could and will be costly. That in mind I still expect him to start banking a few wins and help me in my pool, but sadly he's not shown an ability to be patient. I have to hand it to Webber, if you had predicted he'd lead the fight with Button by race 7, we'd have called you delirious. Hamilton is my other potential winner, but at least he can handle a sparring match with a teammate. Vettel should watch the replays.


Excellent article, much appreciated.


To put the whole weekend into context..

- Webber won previous two races.

- Vettel is told his chassis had been damaged and losing him an unspecified amount of time.

- Vettel given new chassis for Turkey

- Vettel and Webber take turns to have advantage of qualifying last in Q3 for pole, and it was Webber's turn to go last

- There was no explanation given, but Vettel went out last in Q3 and would have probably had pole if not for anti roll bar breakage

- Vettel jumps Hamilton on the start but Hamilton overtakes Vettel on lap 1

- Vettel leapfrogs Hamilton in the stops

- Hamilton gets a run on Vettel and Vettel aggressively defends position in a move Hamilton calls "dangerous" because he turned right before a left hand corner.

- Webber turns his engine down in the 2-3 laps leading up to the crash, costing him up to 7km/h straight line speed.

- Webber asks Vettel to back off

- Vettel gets a run on Webber and they crash out, with Marko especially blaming Webber for the crash, while Horner also shares alot of blame for Webber but is more diplomatic about it.

- Most media and ex drivers say Vettel is at fault, polls say 70-80% Vettel fault

- Horner says flatly to BBC Live radio after the race, that they were on equal engine modes and that Webber had been struggling with the tyres

- Some internet coverage shows anger towards Redbull on blogs and forums etc

- Stories change a few more times, and eventually RBR conceeds that both drivers were to blame

- Horner says that Vettel earned an extra kg of fuel to have a run at Webber, and that the fuel saving didn't make much difference to the pace

- Horner says that Webber asked Vettel to back off and that Webber struggled on the tyre

I can forgive Webber and Vettel in the heat of the moment for pushing the limits, but the team has really botched this up big time and because of the crash people are more interested in these small things then usual!

To me, Redbull didn't go into Turkey looking for a win, they went to Turkey looking for a Vettel win.


One thing this does show is that to pull the manoeuvre off, you needed detailed knowledge of Webbers parameter's and strategy. Now whether you feel it is ok to do this for one driver over another is debatable enough, but does anyone believe this would have been considered in reverse.

I believe Button saved more fuel and tyres than all of the top 4, in hope of a late attack. This I believe was the driving force in making the pass on Hamilton.

Stuart Fenton

You know what this whole Red Bull against Webber thing reminds me of? WRESTLING. Old school WWF. It's all about secret alliances, the good guy getting "screwed over" and faces and heels (almost pantomime baddies and goodies). One big drama


I can think of drivers in recent memory who failed to win a WDC owing to a lack of support from their team, but I can't think of one who won it without the total support of the team. So, if you're right about what happened behind the scenes re. the balance of support and strategy sharing in Turkey, James, Mark Webber should be very despondent within the RB team. It ain't looking good for his championship prospects.

Also, it explains why Vettel got sympathetic 'cuddles' from the pit wall sitters, as observed by Martin Whitmarsh on the BBC, - a man who's been present at more than one 'favoured child' syndrome in his career and would recognise the symptoms.

Ironinically, favouritism can put great stress on the chosen one, especially if he is not temperamentally equipped or simply lacks the skills/ experience to deliver as required.

Vettel made a mess of the pass, possibly through tension and not being entirely in command of the timing of the situation. I'm not clear whether the 'imbecile' gesture to his forehead was referring to Mark or himself?

Red Bull has blown its happy reputation. Now we know, if we didn't understand before, that they're just as mean as the rest and manipulated by the same forces.

What are drivers for if not to race? Each other as well as other teams. Perhaps we need to dispense with the notion that within a team drivers should be sharing information, strategies, the common (team) good. Up to and including P3 (or testing)perhaps, but not thereafter. It's ridiculous to suppose they are anyway! As has been demonstrated.

P.S. Contraditorally, I thought I'd noticed some of rather good shared, supportive strategies between the RB drivers at the start of the some recent races.


Lets put it this way. McLarens pressured the red bull team or the red bull drivesr (although there is no difference) into making a mistake.

Hamilton did all the work from lap one right through to the mistake and whilst they did not know whether they would be able overtake them or not due to not getting close enough in the corners they were trying to get them on the reliability issue.

Red bull has had it easy so far in terms of other teams being able to pressure them and now they are under pressure. It is not so easy leading from the front when someone is relentlessly breathing down your back.

As for what Button was trying to do LH showed him that he was not going to have it and it was important that LH responded otherwise the media would have slaughtered him.

Not such a boring season as we thought it would be.


Fantastic post James. Thank you. One thing I'm still not clear about which you hint at but don't quite follow up on is how much of the "leaner-fuel" thing is controlled from the pits and how much from the car.

- Can RB slow Mark down from the pits whether it's necessary or not ? (sub question : could they sabotage him from hereon in if they wanted to ?) and

2 - How much does the driver know of the real situation ? The McL boys didn't seem to be really in the loop, and I'm still puzzled how Mark could be saving fuel one minute, and be able to go much faster till the end of the race the next. Do the new tyres really account for that ?


Driver has to be guided by the engineers. Listen to the radio transmissions, they are telling them all the time


and i heard horner say webber was advised of the situation about the extra speed of vettel and the threat of hamilton by his engineer but didn't understand correctly...

stephen stepney

I have followed F1 for almost 40 years and could never say i "know" i might like to think i do! F1 is and always will be an enigma,you never really know whats happening behind the scenes,at best we can only assume.

James may i ask what your thoughts are on fuel strategy,have RB and McLaren been clever and fine tuned how much fuel they can get away with better than other teams? We no longer have weights of the cars prior to race,could it be Ferrari are heavier?


What I find more interesting is the fact that hardly anybody on this discussion mention the fact that this incident should be investigated.

Spring to my mind the incident between Algesuari and Karun. That was a drive through.

James, I would like to suggest a poll on blog. In my eyes it looks like a drive through... or maybe I am missing something here.


It was a race incident. As a spectator I share the opinion of those who think that Webber did very well. He didn´t even move from his line. Vettel took the risk to overtake him in a risky move. Maybe he thought Webber should be impressed by the move, but that wasn´t the case, he just stayed cool and didn´t give one inch to the other guy.

Webber is a racer and I do hope he doesn´t change his attitude, on track and outside.

In F1 we have several good drivers, but many of them are just fast chickens. Where are the new Mansell's and Webber's. No where. Just fast kids.

Marcus Redivo

"... when Webber asked the team to slow Vettel down."

This sounds so wrong to me, I have trouble believing Mark actually made this request without either hearing the radio transmission of his voice or reading the FiA's official transcript.

We saw the official transcript of the Renault pit communications in Singapore, but I assume that only became publicly available because of the hearings related to the crash. I assume there is ZERO chance we will see this one.


Interesting stuff as always James.

As mentioned by many others I think it would be good if you could get a line on why RBR's leader pits first rule is only relevant when Sebastian is the leader.

Also the reason Vettel went out after Mark in Q3 seems worth investigating given both drivers' reactions when Mark was questioned on it after Quaili.


James A different subject,

Is there any way to get McLaren to run there cars in Orange as a tribute to the 40'th anniversary of Bruce's Tragic death? I think it would be amazing!

All the best!




Just simply the best F1 website. How do you get this info?




Talking to the engineers who do this for a living

Douglas Revill

Lets remember that Vettel moved across and hit Webber. Webber did not deviate, and allowed enough room for Vettel's car. Again, Vettel has shown his lack of wheel to wheel racing skill. Sure he was trying to get on the clean side of the track for the corner, but to hit your team mate in the process is amateurish to say the least.

If Red Bull want to play the team game, then they should be transparent with both drivers. If they want cloak and dagger stuff between team mates, then so be it, but don't favour one over the other, as they clearly have done in this case.

Webber had done all the hard work to that point, and deserved the win. He handled himself superbly at the time of the accident and after the race. Vettel behaved like an idiot, as thought he was told the race was his.


The only one who deserves a win is the driver who crosses the line first, provided they didn't cheat of course. And whether you do it by visibly shedding blood, sweat and tears, or apparently effortlessly, is neither here nor there.


nice post, but i don't think the numbers stack up... for vettel to save 1 kilo by lap 40, he had to drive half a second slower than webber per lap, and so be 20 seconds behind him by this stage of the race... clearly he didn't do this as he was obviously right behind him on lap 40... honestly, i think this is 100% about team orders. all a team has to do now if they want their driver to hold station is mention the risk of running out of fuel... so if teammates are running close after the first stop we should expect a procession...


As has been mentioned by others, Vettel saved fuel due to the slipstreaming effect of following Webber.


Hi James,

A question, what do Williams have to do to find the speed to get back to the heady day's of Mansell,ETC, I have always been a Williams fan and each year hope for a Williams G.P. Win again..Is it the Engine??, Aero??, they have all the goodies to be a front running team but no results...Can you shead any light please??



BBC is now reporting that radio conversations show that Webber did NOT ask Red Bull to get Sebastian to back off. What he asked was - given that Vettel was catching him - whether they were both on the same engine settings.

I'd love to know whether Red Bull ever replied!

But to those who think Webber should never have asked Vettel to back off - it sounds to me like he never did.

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