Hungarian GP: The Decisive Moments
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Hungarian GP: The Decisive Moments
Strategy Briefing
Posted By: James Allen  |  05 Aug 2010   |  8:29 am GMT  |  117 comments

The Hungarian Grand Prix has developed a reputation as a bit of a dull race over the years, although there have been some races where due to strategy reasons, the race has been enthralling.

One that springs to mind was the 1998 classic, when Ferrari’s Ross Brawn switched Michael Schumacher on a three stop strategy, which required him to knock out 20 laps of qualifying level intensity to beat the McLarens of Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard.

Webber: Reprised Schumacher's 1998 performance


Mark Webber faced a similar task on Sunday, as he and his engineer took the decision not to pit under the safety car on lap 15. The main reason why they took this decision is that Webber had fallen behind Alonso at the start and pitting at the same time as him would have left him behind, so they needed to try something different.

He was 12 seconds behind race leader Sebastian Vettel when the safety car came out. If he had pitted that lap he would not have had to queue for service behind Vettel, so that was not a factor in his decision. But it’s interesting to note that, since Valencia, where Felipe Massa lost a lot of time and track positions, it’s been established that queuing cars in the pit lane under the current safety car rules is a bad idea, unless it’s raining.

Interestingly, Massa followed Alonso into the pits again this weekend and was only three seconds behind him on the lap when the safety car came out. Having suffered at Valencia and to avoid queuing, he backed the pack up by a further four seconds on the way into the pits. But this backfired as he lost a place to Jenson Button in the stops!

After the restart on lap 18, Webber knew that his task was to open up a big enough gap over Fernando Alonso to be able to pit and retain the lead. This would need to be in the order of 20 seconds. Even at a second a lap, this would mean taking the super soft tyres to lap 38 and taking a lot out of them to achieve the lap times.

Bear in mind also that the tyres which start the Grand Prix always take an extra pounding from carrying the extra fuel weight at the start.

So Webber’s and the team’s decision to adopt this strategy was very bold. But he made it stick.

When you look in detail at the race lap chart, you realise that it only just worked out for him. By lap 37 he had 19 seconds lead, then by lap 40 he had it up to 22 seconds, but then the performance of the tyres began to go off and from doing high 1m 23s laps, he did two high 1m24s laps. Any more of that and his margin would have gone, so he pitted and got out ahead of Alonso. But there wasn’t much in it and this is a credit to Alonso for making him work extra hard to build the gap.

The performance of the tyres on Webber’s car in the first stint shows how safe a tyre this super soft is and the temperature had a lot to do with that. Tonio Liuzzi did 55 laps on it as a second stint, having started the race on the hard tyre. It was clear that the soft was the fastest tyre last weekend, the question was whether to try to spend most of the race on it.

It was interesting therefore to compare and contrast the decision of Barrichello and Williams to start on the hard tyre from 12th on the grid and with Kamui Kobayashi starting 23rd on the super soft.

There are two tactics to starting the race on hard, one is to do a short first stint and then spend most of the race on the faster tyre, as Liuzzi did. But this only works if you can pass cars, which isn’t easy in Hungary.

The other tactic of starting on the hard and running a long first stint hasn’t helped anyone gain places this season in a race, except Kobayashi in Valencia, where the safety car removed most of the cars in front of him.

Here Barrichello lucked into a safety car too, which moved him up to 6th place and after staying out to lap he ended up fighting with Michael Schumacher over 10th and 11th places. But Schumacher had started 14th on the grid on the soft tyre, so his strategy would seem again to be the better one.


Bearing in mind that Barrichello and the other cars around him on the grid all gained three places from the retirements of Rosberg, Hamilton and Kubica. So by starting on soft and following the herd, Barrichello would have finished at least 9th.

But then we wouldn’t have had that awesome battle with Schumacher at the end of the race to savour….

Contrast that with Kobayashi who started 23rd, got a great start and was up to 14th place on the first laps. He then pitted a lap later than the majority, to avoid having to queue behind De La Rosa – he was six seconds behind on the road. He nailed Schumacher at the restart and was in the group that moved ahead of Barrichello when he made his late pit stop. He finished in the 9th place that should have been Rubens’.

The other key decision which made for a real talking point on Sunday was the release of Robert Kubica from his pit box into the path of Adrian Sutil. The Renault team was penalised for this unsafe release, which was clearly affected by the chief mechanic being distracted by the loose wheel from Rosberg’s Mercedes coming down the pit lane. No-one can blame him for that.

However the normal protocol when it comes to releasing a car is if in doubt don’t release it. That is the safest way. But here the approach seemed to be to let the car go and deal with it afterwards, which is disturbing.

This is an area where the thinking behind split-second decision making needs to be realigned back to a ‘safety first’ mentality.

Renault are among the fastest at pit stops this year, along with Red Bull. while Mercedes have been the fastest in general, partly thanks to an ingenious front jack, which pivots sideways when the car comes back down to allow it to drive away immediately.

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1

Hi James,

great forum!I’m expecting a great finale over the last few races. but i believe the engine usage will come into play. Is the usage of each engine, which circuits, how many races each engine has done? available to us before each race?

have a great rest, your going to need it.

Aussie Fan!

2

Hey hie James,

Nice to hear from you for my previous post..

But my next question is all F1 fans want to see exciting races…Last week all saw at Hungary where Mark`s soft tires survived for 43 laps and Kobayashi`s for 55 laps..this is really ridiculous. According to me the soft tires should last for not more than 20 laps…that will make the races more exciting.

3

Safety Car pit stop rules.

What was wrong with them before? Nothing! No dangerous dash round the track to get in the pits, cars snaking in in an orderly fashion, you knew if the snake was going past you’d be stopped on the way out (well Lewis didn’t).

Trouble was people were in danger of running out of fuel, tough! Carry two laps extra or be prepared to take the drive through IF the safety car came out and IF you didn’t have the reserve.

No idea why they changed it but it makes for a brilliant race.

4

Tech geek request here – this is the first I have heard of the Mercedes trick pivoting jack. Can we please have photos/diagram/explanation of this device?

Cheers

5

I’ll try to get them to let me to a piece on it in Spa

6

Interesting radio transmissions on the formula1.com race edit for Hungary. To those of us who thought Vettel had been asked to hold the pack at the restart to help Webber I think his radio transmission after the restart appears to confirm his own admission that he fell asleep (“I f*$*ed up the restar, I am sorry”). You can also see how mad he got when Webber came off the pits still in the lead (“How the f**$ is Mark on front now, how is that possible?”). Clearly Vettel decided to try Webber’s theory of swearing on all his radio transmissions, so that they stay out of the broadcast…

Also interesting are the German GP’s radio transmissions, which add some more to the team orders row. I specially liked Massa’s transmission after crossing the finish line: “What Can I say? I guess congratulations to the team…”

James, what are your thoughts on making all radio communications available to the fans (live on the web for example) in a similar way to what NASCAR in the US does. Not sure if it was you or somebody else who said that if that were to be done, teams would just start to use code, which would result in incomprehensible chatter.

7

I’m a big fan of radio in the broadcast, have been since I did the Nigel Mansell Indycar show in 1994 and the research came back that the radio transmissions were very popular. You need to hear what goes into the decision making process. F1 can give much better access to drivers pre race and comms during the event than other sports like football where you get the manager before the game if you are lucky and a player or two live in the minutes after the match.

8

Hi James,

a bit off topic but would you happen to know what the front tyre regulations for next year will be? will it still be the narrow front tyres or will it go back to previous years? or has it still to be decided?

Thanks

9

As far as I know it’s the same, but I should check that

10

If they can have proximity sensors for next year to allow or disallow the use of the rear wing – they can have proximity sensors to not allow an unsafe pit release a la Kubica’s Renault.

11

The race edit has on the F1 site has been released . . .

Vettel’s radio seemed to be working after the restart – he says ‘f**cked up the restart, I’m sorry”

The quote from Vettel after Mark’s pitstop is classic “how the f**k is Mark in front now, how is that possible?”

12

I usually dread the Hungarian Grand Prix.

1997 was good with Damon Hill going up the inside of MSC and almost winning in an Arrows.

2006 was another good race as Jenson drove through the field to win his first Grand Prix in his 113th race.

And now we have 2010. Amid all the ‘stuff’ that happened it was, all in all, exciting and fun.

All the following discussions just reflect the passion that exsists.

Thank you James for the colossal time you spend taking us and our opinions in the spirit most of them are made.

13

Hi James

In my opinion Red Bull were racing Lewis Hamilton and not Alonso. The Red Bull mechanics were out waiting for Webber when Hamilton retired only to be called off when they saw Hamilton parking his car.

Although credit has to go to Webber for being able to get so much out of the tyres for such a long time, when it comes to The Red Bull pit wall, I have my doubts on how much of it was inspired strategy as opposed to winging it.

14

James,on a side note, how good is Kobayashi at the moment, he has been nothing short of stellar in my book and his latest performance just confirms it. I think he can still improve in qualy, but in the races he is superb.

15

Maybe Mercedes can go back to winning a race if they manage to improve their pit stop time to be 20 seconds faster than anyone else …

16

How can anyone blame Renault or Sutil for the coming together in the Hangaroring pits?

All to blame should fall back on the Mercedes F1 team pit crew. They release Rosberg with that crazy wheel that destroyed the races of KUB & SUT.

The biggest damage was done to the poor soul in the Williams garage who got a broken back. I wish him a speedy +100% recovery.

I suggest Renault and the injured Williams crewman take legal action against Mercedes claim compensation for damages.

That was reckless pitting from Mercedes.

17

Sure, there was a problem there, but the rule is if in doubt don’t release the car

18

unless you see a wheel hurtling towards you and your crew, with nowhere to go because the car is in the way.

19

James,

Can’t help thinking Webber will be hoping that the Redbull front wing does get banned. You made reference in your earlier tech article about the redbull rear maybe being a bit more unstable due to the flexible wing which history suggests Vettel will handle better. Webber likes the a stable rear end which he’s had from Barcelona to Silverstone, since then the new wing and Vettel has been slightly faster. So lets hope it gets banned from both the Redbull and the Ferrari and the Aussie will be back on top.

20

Don’r recall saying that. The car is very well balanced front to rear

21

Only real key moment was Vettel’s radio not working and he didn’t know the safety car was going in that lap. He said himself after the sleeping comment…funnily no one reported this, they just hammered on the ‘sleeping’ comment.

Unbiased reporting at its best!

He only knew the safety car was going in when he turned around the corner and saw Webber flying away and the safety car turning into pits. His own words, after the sleeping comment.

Webber stuck to the safety car like he was racing it, and normally he would have backed off and timed it.

If Vettel had done it the way Webber did and Webber said in the press conference his radio wasn’t working and he didn’t know the safety car was going in that lap, all HELL would break loose. And you all know it.

Accusations that RBR had told Vettel to stick to the safety car and jamming Webber’s radio so Vettel would get a jump.

But this now happened to Vettel, so no worries, change the channel.

22

I really cannot buy Vettel’s lame excuse, IF the radio was not working properly, who in his right mind would lose sight of the SC two corners away from a possible restart?

I still can’t make whose intelligence was more insulted, Vettel’s or the fans’…

23

Hey hie James,

I would like to know that at Hungary during the safety car period Vettel said that he was sleeping but when i saw the video couple of times i doubt he was sleeping. Accordingly to me it was team orders to held up Alonso and let Webber create a gap on Alonso.

Don`t you think those were the team orders.

Vettel is lying. During the race he was totally angry bcoz he was penalised and was shouting all the time while after the race his race engineer told him to shut his mouth not to speak anything.

That indicates it were the Team orders.

The same happened during Turkey when Lewis was told by his race engineer to switch his car to fuel saving mode and Button was attacking him.

Lewis confirmed on his radio that is Jenson going to Attack him and his race engineer told him that he wont means that indicates the team orders were given to both the drivers.

So point here is that why don`t FIA investigate against this to teams.

Vettel is not mad enough to sleep.

He claims that he was sleeping, his radio was not working..how come at the same moment this things happened..and then how his radio started to work again..

He is definitely lying.

24

The video on the F1 site has some interesting radio conversions, I don’t think it was team orders. The video doesn’t do any favors for Vettel and his public image.

25

Too right James.

Furthermore, you do not need team orders if you want to hang back a little bit to help your team”mate”.

26

No, I do not agree. He has a simple task, to maintain a gap of 10 car lengths behind the car in front. After the restart, he wasn’t terribly fast, I agree but that’s not what he is referring to when he said he was asleep.

27

I agree, Vettel is not stupid, if you have no radio you would watch that safety car like a hawk. I reckon he was trying to give Mark a headstart so they could pull off a 1-2. He messed it up and that’s why he was so annoyed after the race.

28

Thats why they put lights on the SC.

29

One detail of the Russell Batchelor’s pic of Shumacher/Barrichelo in Hungary GP has (positively) surprised me. Both cars are at the end of the wall there. Yet Shumacher’s one is not even touching the white line. To avoid penalty? May be Michael also knew that the space between that line and the wall was just enough for Rubens’ car to pass and for Rubens to be deterred at the same time. Again, Michael is looking not to the front but to Rubens’ car, as he was looking during the whole maneuver. Cool blooded driving, anyway.

30

Well said mate. Nobody seem to appreciate the skills! As if any race driver will let the rivals just walk in the park without any resistance.

31

James,

A little bit off topic, but did anyone get injured in the pitlane when Nicos tyre came flying down the pitlane?

I saw it coming along the pitlane at quite a pace, then it hit something and flew up in the air. It looked like it might have hit the air bottles but I was amazed it didnt smash into a pitcrew member or one of the cars.

32

Not sure if it helps your question mate. But Ted Kravitz from pit lane reported that somebody was taken to the hospital just to be safe because he was hurt. I think it was either someone from Saubar.

33

It hi at Williams mechanic, knocked him out and left him with a suspected broken rib. (He was interviewed on 5 live’s podcast.)

34

Part of Webber and Liuzzi advantage was down to the conservative Bridgestone super soft. It hasn’t always been possible this season to run so long before heading to the pits.

Montreal I think spooked Bridestone and there’s every reason for teams to run longer and longer knowing the soft compound will last.

As you mentioned, Webber started on soft which with a full fuel load was quite a challenge. I suspect going forward the majority of strategy calls will favor starting on the hard until fuel loads are down then switching to the faster soft.

Hopefully this will raise the prospect of drivers fighting to the finish.

Does anyone know if the different tyre compounds affect fuel consumption?

35

It was hard to see how far the tire was from the car on TV. However, it was certainly very high in the air. Perhaps the idea was to get the car out of there as a tire coming down on the rear wing or on someone’s head was more of a threat.

I find it hard to fault Renault on this one.

36

Would lowering the speed limit in the pit lane when the safety car is out increase safety?

Does the FIA have any requirements for protective clothing of the pit crew (other than fire proof overalls)?

37

Ok, so Red Bull have the fastest car by at least half a second on most tracks, and they have the fastest pitstop crew. So whose head is going to roll at the end of the season when Alonso wins it all ?

38

If Red Bull doesn’t win the title it will be because of their poor team management & ‘reliability’. If Alonso wins though I’ll get healthier pay out than Vettel or Webber or Hamilton. There’s another upside to Alonso’s chances.

39

Since the race I was wondering about the restart after the safety car. How big was the gap in seconds from Webber to Vettel and Webber to Alonso on the first crossing of the start finish line after the safety car went into the pit lane?

My thought is that when Webber came out after his first pit, he had something like a 4.5 second gap to Alonso. If the gap due to Vettel hanging back was less than 4.5 seconds, then Webber clearly “owes” his win to Vettel’s penalty for hanging back and keeping Alonso back too.

During the safety car period, I felt that Red Bull was purposely setting up Webber with a larger gap. I know Vettel complained that his radio didn’t work, but it was clearly working a few laps later when he got the penalty. If indeed he was told to hold back at the restart, he would be really upset to find out he gave away the race win for holding back too far.

40

If you watch the Hungary race summary on F1.com you’ll find out exactly what happened with Vettel, the safety car, and whether or not he or the team was trying to help Webber.

41

Yep. Saw that just now. Not sure now if Webber deliberately widened the gap hoping for a penalty on Vettel, I think he blew it all by himself!

42

hey paul. I think vettel gave a couple of clues post-race, if we leave the radio to one side.

Vettel said he was sleeping. ie not concentrating on what was going on in front of him. so he didin’t notice the safety car had the lights off and he didn’t remark the gap to the car in front of him. So i don’t think he was deliberately leaving a gap so Webber gained a few seconds at the restart. He certainly would have mentioned that as part of his excuse had it been so.

He also said that he didn’t expect Webber to be so far away because normally the lead driver likes to hold all the cars up and control the restart. Webber was right up behind the safety car well before the restart. So Webber was doing something unusual. Vettel was not holding back. Webber was well foward.

I would have thought that to hold Alonso back would be a big help, but it doen’t correspond with Vettels post-race demeanour.

43

What goes around comes around mate. Webber deserves the championship and every win he achieved so far only because Vettel is the favoured ‘Golden Boy’ for Red Bull. I hope that he is not going to crash into Webber again & ruin everything.

It will be even more interesting to see if Christian Horner does favour Webber over Vettel because of his as it was his excuse for giving Vettel the front wing.

44

If you watch the race edit on formula1.com you hear Vettel apologising to the team for messing up the restart.

Mind you his radio was working then, and at the late call pit stop.

45

Late entry, but thought I’ll give it a shot as well. Schumacher will start 17th (because of the grid penalty) & finish 9th (because he is by far the best starter of the 2010 season & the track layout is suited to him).

Rubens talk is finished I hope. Rubens should’ve been disqualified for more than one race for his actions in Monaco this year. He didn’t even say sorry, nor got penalized (Brawn GP didn’t even get penalized for nearly murdering Massa).

It’s understandable that there are many fans and people involved in F1 who doesn’t particularly like Schumacher. But it doesn’t make Rubens the champion of sympathy. He has never been a champion material (including having the best car last year) & never will be. I’m a born Schumacher fan & always will be. Still I’m happy about him being penalized. But the bottom line is ‘steward’s decisions this year have been an absolutely mockery’ anyway.

46

I think you need to look up the definitions of “murder” and “accident”. I think it unlikely that Brawn GP deliberatly set up a car to shed a spring with the pre-meditated aim of it hitting the driver of the following Ferrari. (You might also want to look up “slander” and “libel”.)

Personally I tend take far more notice of posts that avoid wild accusation. It tends to colour my perception of the rest of the post – even if it has good insight in it.

Neil.

47

Neil I accept what you meant by my comments about the Filipe/Rubens incident. My frustration is about his comments ‘I’m lucky to be alive.’ The bottom line is he didn’t crash into the walls & he managed to make a great move over Schumacher. But his reactions were way over the top along with a significant amount of viewers & people in F1. But the history doesn’t only revolve around Schumacher. The point is Rubens’s history isn’t clean either. Another example is him accusing Brawn GP favouring Jenson last season. As I mentioned earlier he is the champion of sympathy when it comes to Schumacher, not results.

48

I don’t have much regard for Rubins as a driver, he’s always been too fragile for my liking.

However I defend absolutley his right to say I’m lucky to be alive especially 20 minutes after an incident that would have shaken up anyone.

We all make comments in the heat of the moment and say things we’d maybe tone down if we had another chance. Just look at your comment accusing Rubins and Brawn of attempted murder one year on for example.

49

Ruben’s reputation precedes him as a whiner. We saw it at Ferrari and at Brawn.

51

This charge has been made often lately. I believe Rubens did apologize. On the other hand, he was in the middle of the track, facing traffic in a broken and BURNING car.

So, you do not like Rubens. It shows and is a bit over the top.

52

Jan the issue is not about liking Rubens or not. It is about the inconsistency of the steward’s decisions. As James Allen said in one of replies, ‘rules are flexible’. If I finish of James’s reply it would be, ‘rules are flexible depending on who’s on the spot light.’

53

The FIA must look at the safety issues of the pit stops, especially those under the safety car rules.

You cannot put pressure on mechanics to perform a vital task in as short a time as possible and then expect them to be 100% each time. Indeed, it is remarkable that he have had so few instances of poor wheel attachment.

I know that the cars are travelling slowly and the wheel doesn’t have all that much kinetic energy but it can go anywhere and hit any one and any thing.

And again with car release. there are lights at the end of the pitlane. Why not have some light system at each pit? A car within a certain distance will trigger the red. If the car moves after it is comes on then, with apologies to Arnie, they’ll be back.

Nothing is perfect of course but when a position can be made up by a smart release people will take risks.

I’m with you about Mark’s middle stint. Very impressive. It’s on the circuit that we need the excitement.

Not one of the great races but certainly one with lots of interest.

54

Incidents happen, why call for changes each time something goes wrong?

55

To be fair, the phrase ‘each time’ is not really applicable. There have been a considerable number of such incidents. I certainly do not think that the FIA should wait until there is a serious injury or worse before acting.

56
malcolm.strachan

How can NASCAR and IndyCar teams have so few problems with safety car rules, pit-lane safety, etc, and F1 have such problems? NASCAR teams pit several times, with fuel and tire changes, and you don’t see carnage down the pitlane, or have teams crying that the safety car rules screwed them over… They even have four more nuts to screw onto the studs! 😉

I don’t get it, to be totally honest. It’s like F1 is blind to the rest of the world in terms of how things can be done. I hope Todt learned from his NASCAR visit a while ago.

57

There’s not enough room in F1 pits for each car to have its own service area. Also, many more people service an F1 car than a NASCAR.

I agree F1 should learn from other racing series, but not necessarily in this case.

58

You completely misunderstood what I was referring to.

They don’t have as many problems with safety, and none of the teams cry and whine that the safety car screwed them over. The rules are fixed, and the safety car ALWAYS picks up the leader. It’s stupid that the safety car doesn’t necessarily pick up the leader, and that the pits are open at all times.

59

Nevertheless it does *not take 14 ppl to make a pitstop! 3 ppl per corner is overkill.

Aside from the fact that these ghastly American series are looked-down upon by F1 ppl, they could actually learn a thing or two if they’d open their eyes.

60

Don’t allow pit stops under the safety car.

61

quali 23rd, race 14th

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