Dealing with unknowns: A deep dive into race strategy from Silverstone
Strategy Report
Posted By: James Allen  |  12 Jul 2011   |  8:51 am GMT  |  123 comments

This was a very interesting race from a strategy point of view, there were a lot more unknowns than normal, particularly with the tyres, as there was so little dry running before the race. And then there was the partially wet track at the start, which forced everyone to start on intermediate tyres, but how long for?

Prior to the start most strategists were thinking of a three stop race, with some further back on the grid planning to do one less stop to try to make up places.

The wet start meant two things which made life easier; drivers would not have to use both types of dry tyre so the much slower hard tyre did not have to be used and the wet start, essentially shortened the race by 11 laps and made the race simpler and the strategies easier to achieve.

The first key decision was how early to come in for dry tyres.

This decision was helped by Michael Schumacher who was forced to pit for a new nose on lap 9 and went to dry tyres, as he had nothing to lose. By lap 11, when his tyres were up to temperature, he was a second a lap faster than the leader and it was clear that slicks were faster and drivers like Jenson Button dived into the pits.

Red Bull: coping with two competitive drivers
At the point of wet to dry changeover, Sebastian Vettel had an eight second lead over Mark Webber, who was under pressure from Fernando Alonso. Using this to their advantage, Red Bull pitted Webber first so he would not lose time or a place to Alonso. It worked, but keeping Vettel out for the extra lap cost him five seconds. So the team was definitely thinking of Webber’s needs when it made the call on the order at the first stop.

However at the second stop they inadvertently cost Webber the place to Alonso. They did their usual thing of pulling the driver in just before the tyre performance drops off a cliff and Webber pitted on lap 26. Alonso still had life in his tyres however and did a 1m 35.5 which was the fastest lap of the race to that point. That and Webber losing a second and a half in his own pit stop meant that Alonso had done enough to undercut him. But then when Vettel’s stop went wrong and he lost the lead to Alonso, the German came out in Webber’s path, preventing him from attacking Alonso on tyres that were up to temperature.

This was a very rare example in 2011 of a driver undercutting a rival by stopping a lap later; normally new tyre performance means the undercut can only be achieved by stopping first.

McLaren – race compromised on several fronts
Leaving aside the extraordinary situation where Jenson Button’s wheel wasn’t attached at his third pit stop, McLaren’s race strategy was compromised. Like in Valencia the car was very hard on its tyres relative to the opposition. But the worse problem for Lewis Hamilton was that he didn’t have enough fuel.

With engine mapping changed for this race – meaning less fuel needed because they were not using it to off-throttle blow the diffuser – and no real dry running in practice, team strategists were really estimating the amount of fuel that would be needed to complete the race. Starting 10th McLaren clearly went over aggressive on Hamilton’s strategy. Normally you need around 150 kilos of fuel to do 52 racing laps of Silverstone.

The wet opening 11 laps should have played into his hands, because you use less fuel in the wet and many strategists took fuel out when they saw that the race start would be wet. But surprisingly it didn’t help Hamilton and he was still forced to save fuel in the last 20 laps, which cost him a podium place to Webber and almost cost him another to Massa.

This is one of the big challenges for race strategists; they want the car to finish with the minimum amount of fuel, because any extra weight you carry for 52 laps slows you down. If you are too aggressive it loses you a lot of positions when you are forced to slow at the end. If you put too much into the car, it will make you slower in the opening part of the race, but you won’t lose positions from it.

We’ve seen very little of this in the last 12 months, which indicates that teams don’t feel that being super-aggressive on fuel load is a worthwhile risk.

From back to front again for Alguersuari
This year we are seeing a phenomenon which we haven’t seen before in F1 strategy; in six of the nine races so far, a driver who is eliminated in Q1 is able to come through and score points. Alguersuari has now done it three races in a row from 18th place on the grid.

Toro Rosso’s official word was that they were caught out by the rain at the end of Q1 and didn’t get a lap in on soft tyres, but I’ve been told that they went for a hard tyre run only in order to save three sets of soft tyres for race day, as it’s worked for them in the past.

At any rate, Algersuari drove his customary long stints, taking advantage of the extra life and performance of new soft tyres to stop only twice and finish 10th.

Nico Rosberg and Sergio Perez were the highest placed two stoppers in sixth and seventh places.

The importance of the start in race strategy
Rosberg lost three places at the start and did well to come through to finish where he would have done without that initial setback.

But we are seeing some trends in starts this year, which are making a difference to drivers’ results.

The most obvious example is Pastor Maldonado, who qualified a brilliant 7th at Silvestone and then lost three places off the startline. This is a strong trend this year for the Venezuelan, who has lost 19 places in 9 starts this season.

Webber also has a poor start record – he’s lost 12 places in 9 starts – and he lost the lead at the start to Vettel at Silverstone.

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Why is there nobody changing tyres to Pirelli's Primes on Sunday? Isn't it mandatory to use Primes?


Its because they used the itermediate tyres. If they use a wet compound tyre they dont have to use both dry compounds.

The race wasnt declared wet AFAIK.



Whenever a race is run and the inters or wets are used, there is no need to run both compounds of tyres.

Therefore all teams utilised the much faster option tyre.


NO, not if wet/inters are used.


Not if it rains ...


But the BBC commentators said in the opening laps that the race director had not declared the race a "wet race"...

James, can you clarify the rules on this:

Is it that they must use 2 types of tyre-- eg

soft & hard or soft & inter...

(My understanding was that if the race was not declared "wet", they must use Hard and soft)

I the hard tyre was very slow at a low ware rate circuit - could they use softs plus a bald inter ??



From the FIA 2011 Sporting Regulations:



25.4 Use of tyres:


e) Unless he has used intermediate or wet-weather tyres during the race, each driver must use at least one set of each specification of dry-weather tyres during the race."


yeah come on we've had these rules at least 2 years now, there were enough wet races last year to get them down. If there's no rain whatsoever, then you have to use both compounds, but if it's declared a wet race there are no rules dictating which tyres you can use other than your overall limits for the weekend.


If the monitor said "Change in climactic conditions", then it's time to get the dictionary out!

Motor racing is exciting......but not THAT exciting.


It clearly said on Page 3 of the FOM timing monitor "Change in climactic conditions"

If the wet or intermediate is used the normal rules requiring both types of dry compound to be used are dropped


The rules are you must use two sets of tyres in a race. Having wet tyres already satisfied that, and also if you have wets, you can put any tyre on your car, basically. As evident in one race last year where some cars had wets on the left, dry on the right, something bizzar like that..


Well it did happen coz the event rained and the commentators pointed that out on TV as well.


That would never happen. You wouldn't even be able to drive the car in a straight line without a massive pull to one side.


Really? can't remember drivers running mixed tyre sets last year, and I would be surprised if it's legal. Would appreciate some more info.


what happened to ricciardo? ignoring the top half of the graph and just looking at the virgins and hrt's it's clear liuzzi did a fairly decent job keeping up with them but it looks like go-kart rather than an f1 car! Shame for button,he was on the way up and then (pardon the pun) the wheels came off!


James, seeing that we had the first on track engine failures, do you know how many engines each driver has used, I’ve looked everywhere and can’t find anything. I’m pretty sure it was on the official F1 website last year, but can’t find it this time round.


Good point. It's normally on the FIA website. Have a look there


Hi James,

Firstly, well done at the FOTA fans forum. It was very well done.Thanks for the birthday card!

I would like to make a couple of points from my experience in engineering over more years that I care to mention!

Firstly,it cannot have been safe to expect highly technical teams to guess strategy based on a questionable rule change.

If ever I saw an unsafe release,there is a great example.

Second, we should be focussed on the missed process step that cost Jenson, rather than human error.

In every example of the thousands of Lean projects and process developments I have been involved in, the focus on the actual process step and the contribution from the associated steps has the greatest contribution to stability and consistency.

The faces always change, but the process must remain and improve.

It is essentially a very simple truth very often missed when we are looking to reason it out.


James, RE:Fuel/Lewis.

You say it cost him a podium, but surely it's not as cut and dry as that? I've heard he benefitted to the tune of ~0.2s per lap for the opening 40 laps (until he started to save fuel). Whilst I know this would have cost him more time than he gained, he did have a track position advantage at several points (that he may not have had) and a car which was harder to overtake from an opposition POV and a car that was always going to be slightly easier on it's tyres?

What I'm saying is there are so many variables in this one, including the fact that Silverstone has a high fuel effect, that I don't believe it's really possible to say he'd have taken a podium with the correct fuel load.


Great article James - but help me with the chart, as I'm confused how it is plotted, e.g. on lap 11 who is Vettel 90 seconds behind? Is it an average lap time across the race?


Yes the winner's average laptime.


Great chart, good to see how the race panned out and be able to study it in slow time!


Thanks for the insights James.

I'd love to know more about why Webber's starts aren't working, he seems to get away at the same time as Vettel, but then gets bogged down around first or second gear change


Since it was wet, the dry line was a disadvantage. Off-line usually gives more grip in the wet.

Webber chose the left side because it's an advantage in the dry, but he paid the price when it rained.


On replay, Webber and Alonso getaways were very similar. Vettel car had excellent first phase and better second when compared to the other two. I recall reading that both Webber and Alonso chatted pre race on grid and agreed Sebs 'dirty' side looked a better start proposition in the wet greasy conditions. Webber then again very conservative into first corner. Is it a KERS issue with Webbers starts as it always seems to be in the second phase of the start.


He's a bad starter?

Liam in Sydney

Not historically, he has been an excellent qualifier and average starter. But this year seems to be starting far more slowly, as the statistics show. I too have been wondering whether the KERS is failing on his car at most races. Is there word on this anyone?


I'm very eager to know too. I certainly hope it isn't one of the rumours about special engine maps or *again* malfunctioning of KERS that mostly happen to Webber than Vettel.

Last year Mark was very very strong, it's just very strange that this year he's a completely different driver.


i dont think webber is a different driver. i just think vettel has moved up 2 or 3 levels and is a much different animal to compete with this year and as a result is better than webber. simple as.


It is a strange occurrence. Last year if we remember Vettel was having quite a number of bad starts, now it seems its Webber turn. Historically Webber has had generally OK starts, its more his attacking the first corner that seems to let him down. No doubt though Vettel has stepped up this year. Webber, apart from last weekend, seems 'different' in attitude and the way he comes across this year

Grayzee (Australia)

I'd like to know, too. Can you help us, Mr Allen?


I really can't understand McLaren. They consistently screw up on strategy. You'd think a team with that sort of money and supposed professionalism would be able to get this right but nearly every race they make mistakes on strategy. They seem to formulate a plan based on a computer simulation and then lack the courage or leadership to adapt to changing situations. Neither driver seems to really challenge this either. I see this as Lewis' main weakness (that he needs his team to tell him what to do) but I did expect better from Jenson. Or does the culture at McLaren not allow this? I thought they had lightened up some since Martin Whitmarsh took over.

For once I think Lewis has a perfect right to complain about his team. They really screwed up by miscalculating the fuel and were unable to really advise him which left him a sitting duck.


I am a McLaren supporter, have been for a long time (with Williams in place firmly as my ‘second team’). However, how on earth does an organisation such as McLaren keep making such fundamental mistakes with such alarming regularity? I’ve heard about their budget, I’ve seen the MTC that would put NASA to shame. Yet they seem completely unable to learn from past mistakes, an act that a two year old child can accomplish with complete ease.

Mistakes in Silverstone alone:

1) Sending their drivers out on a new set of soft slicks in the rain in early qualy. Thus wasting a set of the most valuable resources in F1 this year knowing they would not improve.

2) Using the same used set of tyres as the first run in Q3 during a lull in the rain with more rain on the way. How many times have McLaren been caught out by not maximising their chances in qualy in changeable conditions? With clouds darker than Mansell’s eyebrows, surely they had to give it everything while they could?

3) Not recognising that in Hamilton the have an aggressive driver who absolutely will overtake other cars if he starts in 10th place and therefore short filling him with fuel because they thought he would sit there stuck behind other cars at a slow pace for longer! Lewis Hamilton?

4) Button’s pit stop.

That is really way to many mistakes in one weekend. I have no idea why this means that Whitmarsh's job should be in doubt this soon after he took over, however. This hasn't suddenly got worse since he took over. Additionally they are one of three teams to win a race this year and are second in the constrcutors are they not? They have had MUCH worse seasons, most of them under Ron.


I agree something is going wrong at McLaren - though it's a tad unfair to say they are all making amateur mistakes. Red Bull have built a devestatingly quick car with immense downforce, but they have clearly screwed up their KERS system, the car overheats it's tyres (fine for quali and leading a race - not helpful for any chasing)and we saw the pit stop error holding up Vettel. These are all problems that occur despite a team with a near exact opposite culture to McLaren.

I think the error with Button's tyre was actually an unusual one. The nut didn't mis-thread it actually blew off the gun and fell behind the wheelman. Having the physical move to avoid and correct it with the second gun did look like he'd given the go ahead with his arm raised. It's just a bad procedure - or more correctly, a procedure that didn't take this possibility into account. I did like the suggestion a few comments above about a beep signal for the lollipop man to have confirmation from each corner team.


Hello everybody.Firstly,about Button's stop,nothing really could have been done to prevent this kind of misfortune..I don't really think any special course of action should be taken either.Beeps and stuff can only make it worse.Take Ferrari's pit lights example afew years back.Keeping the pit stops simple is the way to go.Also,this being James site,I see a lot of Maclaren/English people around.But really,it's not just Mac and Martin that make mistakes,strategically speaking.Ferrari is full if them,not to mention constantly immitating Webbers strategy,which cost them the title last year.IMO,all teams are buffled with the new rules and especially the new tyres...I mean each type has at least 3 different profiles depenting on variables like used/unused,slowly brought up to temperature or otherwise, or even how the driver uses them in conjuction to drs...Can anyone tell me how Alonso got extra juise from his tyres and undercut without going in first? It is virtually imposible to stick to the simulated plan,and you will either risk too much or play too safe...I think Ferrari was gambling a lot in the opening rounds whilst Mac was playing it safe,now it seems the other way around.With gambling comes the loss too..And this year,Mac has been gambling even as far back as the pre season tests.So I guess even the biggest teams around need to steepen their learning curves,or Redbulls will continue to put them in to shame. Final thought; that kid Vettel,is he ever going to overtake in his career? Really enjoyed the way he lost his marbles as soon as he lost P1.


"Clouds darker than Mansell's eyebrows". Heh,heh,heh. Most excellent.


To be fair everyone makes mistakes in pit stops, but the first three mistakes are baffling. Particularly point 1, someone who had never seen a Formula One race would have worked out that it was a waste of tyres to send the drivers out on a wet track on brand new slicks, let alone a professional Grand Prix team with nearly 50 years experience.


Greg, the soft tyres win races almost on their own this year. Teams have not even bothered in Q3 so important are the tyres that they do not want to use a set of them. I cannot imagine that they would waste them for the reason you stipulate.

Besides, Lewis himself simply said they just stuck doggedly to their plan despite the conditions....


Could be loads of reasons, most likely was to establish the soft tyre ride height working together with the unknown effect of the restricted blowing of the defuser.

Thats my guess given the rules kept changing until late and after FP3 they wanted to try something they never did.

I don't think they are silly enough to bin a set for no reason.

Regarding fuel, it would be nice to hear the engineers say there is too much fuel left so drive faster! It was a gamble that didn't pay off, he got to the end of the race and it can be compared with leaving the tyres on for a lap or two too long.


Bring back Steve Hallam, Dave Ryan and Ron Dennis!


Lewis has a right to complain,but surely not publically?

Martin Whitmarsh apologised to both drivers fo what went wrong, but LH had already gone public after Q3 & being sent out on the wrong tyres before it rained.

Lewis seems to have changed his style on TV interviews, but if anything is wrong for him he feels compelled to put it in the public domain.

Button was obviously not happy after the race, but would keep his feelings within the Team.

IMO Lewis has the kind of ego that will not allow for mistakes, whether his or the Teams, & has to hit out through his frustration at not appearing 'the best'.


Button's public comments after the race show him to be the consumate professional, just like with the engine failure in Monaco last season. Everyone knows that the mechanic / chief engineer made the mistake, no need to publicly lambaste them. The mechanics poor their hearts into these cars and it shows when the TV pans to the garage after a McLaren passes another car on track. They love it! But... They are human and we all make mistakes. I imagine McLaren will work out some strategy to cope with this shortcoming in their pit stops, or maybe they will consider this a one-off and decide that no changes need to be made. I almost can't believe that they are pulling off 3.2 second pit stops with remarkable accuracy.


Why don't the pit crews have their own triggers to press when they finish their job and once everyone has finished, the lollipop guy can get a beep in his headphones and while during the stop he can have a better visual on whats coming down the pit lane. Drivers get a beep for gear changes so its the same for the crew.


mclaran have not been the team thay were since whitmarsh took over.he needs to go.bring ron back now that max is gone and thay will be the winning team again.....


Even as a massive fan of Lewis I can sit back and say he has lost quite a few points both this and last year trying to overcompensate for perceived failings. Yet the drivers remain insulated from criticism, who soaks all that criticism up? Whitmarsh.

Dennis went over a decade without a constrcutors championship so let's not kid ourselves that the standard has suddenly dropped with Whitmarsh.


The problem is when you change something,you cannot calculate and formulate strategy. It becomes a guess. We are not talking about something that can be planned for.

McLaren guessed wrong and we should not blame them for that. Blame the people that made them guess rather than allow real testing if there is to be any blame.

Let teams use Fridays to FULLY explore what they have brought to the race unlimited, and stop preaching about safety and then take unsafe decisions.


Dave F,

On the contrary, I believe McLaren are sufffering because of this attempt to change culture. Culture never changes that quickly. Besides, it will be hard for the rest of the org to be one way e.g. Road Car and the racing team to be another.

They lack intensity to me. They are not built to be relaxed. They are a team that paid attn to detail and pressurised themselves to win.

They made mistakes even then but it was seen as the flaw with that type of culture. Now they just look relaxed about failure.

Perhaps this has permeated into Lewis behaviour. Jenson seems to like it there now though

What do you think James?


Agree! Ron's face used to look like thunder when they screwed things up. Whitmarsh always has a silly boyish 'oh dear' grin when they lose. Have said it many times before - Ron and Ham are similar, hungry, focused and very bad losers, whereas Jenson and Whitmarsh also seem to suit each other.


I'm guessing that Jenson assumed he didn't need to tell the pit crew to use wheel nuts to hold the wheels on.


Interesting that it is now mid season and there is still a lot of talk about the "undercut".

This is the first race weekend I noticed some drivers were not exiting from the pits and lighting up screens purple or even green. The likes of Webber, Alonso etc all seemed to take it very easy on their out/early laps...was it because they were trying not to stress the tyre straight away? Watching Alonso it did seem to mean his tyres were thereabouts at the ends of sessions.

May be wrong, but I think it something to watch as drivers still work out how to manage the tyres at various tracks. The temptation to pit early and use the grip of new tyres may hurt their overall race pace.


I believe James had some remarks on this very topic for the last race. Alonso was seen to not even be full-throttle on pit out to help the tires come up to temperature before fully abusing them. They wanted to ensure that the entire tire came up to temperature, not just the surface. Apparently this helps the tire last longer, as evidenced by Alonso's second stint where he was setting fastest laps on tires that had a full stint on them already.


I thought that the rain would mean that the track temperature was lower than normal so the tyres would take longer to get up to speed. This seems to be what happened as far as I could tell.


Surely it's only an "undercut" when the driver comes in earlier? "Overcut"/"Overshoot" would make more sense for when the driver stays out longer....


Agreed, undercut is for pitting earlier than your opponent. Overshoot sounds like you are maybe making a mistake, like overshooting the apex? What about "out run"?


I must say I am a little put off by the number of people castrating Mclaren. It seems as if the team is getting blamed for everything. I'm not sure if this is just the usual complaining, I could be wrong, but in my opinion even if Mclaren had a slightly faster car I doubt either of their driver's are doing that great of a job. I know every World Cup England are one of the favorites, at least in Britain's opinion, but reality always seems to get in the way of that, and I think the same thing is happening here.

Now apparently Martin Whitmarsh's job is in trouble. I for one don't think Mclaren is being run that poorly. Last year, they had the second fastest car for the first half of the season, and everyone was already complaining. Ferrari and Alonso on the other hand turned it around and entered the last race leading the championship. This year, just before the start of the season, Mclaren were supposed to be nowhere, but they pulled off a miracle and for at least 2 races this year had the fastest car. Now the Mclaren team is being castrated? Lewis and Jenson are hardly driving like world beaters, and they should bare the brunt as well. The fact is Newey and Red Bull have put together two stirling years...leaving everyone in their wake. Were it not for them, Mclaren would have had the best car last year, and the best this year. Is that really worth that much complaint?


In my view most if it comes down to the team (as a whole not just Martin Whitmarsh). Whilst I agree with the comments about dealing with complaints internally to the team rather than publicly McLaren really do make far too many mistakes for a top flight team. Worse than that they seem unable to learn from them and adapt.

There is nothing wrong with being super organised and trying to control everything with a plan made upfront. However, life is not like that and things do often go wrong or change and you need to be able to quickly realise this and adapt. That was one of the things that allowed Schumacher and Ferrari to consistently beat McLaren despite having the slower car. People often forget that Ferrari did not always have the faster car but the combination of Brawn and Schumacher were often able to out-think McLaren on strategy.


Great post.

McLaren came second in the Constructor's title last year and are currently in a strong second place in this year's title. It's amazing how these facts are quickly over looked.


May I add the strong support that Lewis is permanently giving to his team, always giving positive words, acting as a real Team Player.


Like Alonso at McLaren! 🙂


But for some reason the drivers at McLaren complain more than the drivers from teams that are ranked lower 🙂


Do they really?? I can think of numerous complainst from Alonso last year including ALonso's infamous handshake to Petrov!


When you look at how much money McLaren spend, the facilities they have, the drivers they have and the experience they have, it's a bit of a shambles that they can't string together two good race weekends in a row.




Very funny!


Maybe a little of both.


Something I haven't noticed before I think. Looking at lap times the last lap before changing tires is much better and because it's consistent across all drivers I'm assuming this is because the pit lane entry is shorter and faster then going round on the track?


Yes. It means that if massa and Webber had came into the pits on the last lap, they would have ended behind Seb and Lewis.


On race day I believe driving through the pits was only a couple of seconds slower than taking the usual route on the circuit, hence the stop-and-go penalty for Michael rather than a normal drive-through.


Was there any post-race analysis on the real cost of a pitstop? There were concerns before the race that you could *gain* time running through the pits, and from the graphs above, there dips where people pitted are by far the smallest yet this season.

However, an average stop was about 4 second and the graph dips by 10-12 seconds for the better stops (top three teams), so it looks like there is actually a loss by running through the pits of about 6-8 seconds?

Still, that's one of the shortest pit losses of the season, surely?


Surely one of the reasons that Lewis was so quick at coming through the field in the early stages was exactly because he had 'not enough' fuel in the car?

Even though it nearly lost him a place at the end to Massa (assuming Webber would have passed him anyway even if he didn't have to save fuel), perhaps the low-starting fuel strategy was actually the better one, as it allowed him to leapfrog over other slower cars very early, meaning he didn't get stuck behind them and was challenging for the top positions?

Any it my not have only been Lewis, Jenson may well have faced similar issues had he finished the race.

double eyepatch

Hi James

Can you look into why Di Resta went for the hard tyre? Comparing to his teammate, I'm thinking he was lapping an average of just over a second slower than he would have on softs. The accumulation of that over the 25 lap stint he did on it would have been worse than taking the time lost on the faster pit lane on this circuit.

Losing track of his tyre sets wouldn't be beyond my comprehension, but can you see if I missed something?


After his botched stop and then his car damage he was on a recovery strategy so they tried the hard to get him to the end without another stop. But the hard tyre was too slow

double eyepatch

Thanks for that. But I'm still thinking that extrapolating a 25+ seconds lost on the hard stint would have happened when they saw his lap times, and the sooner they took the pit stop that costs 12 seconds, and fitted their remaining soft set, the better that they could've nipped what the slow pace on the hard tyre would have ultimately costed.

As far as I can track his race, the 2nd softs were taken out after 2 laps from his damage. And changing into his final soft set would've meant 25 laps on the softs, which would be a huge ask I'll admit, so a quick final change digging into his hard compund rations would've have been inevitable, but it still would've been better than being slower for that long.

I guess I'm looking into too much with hindsight. Its still a bit odd to not see that it didn't work.



I read somewhere that Lewis had only 1 kilo more fuel than Jenson, but Jenson did not have - or at least we are not aware that he had - the same fuel issues as Lewis.

What accounts for such a large discrepancy between the drivers fuel usage? I find it hard to believe that driving style alone can account for Lewis having to wind it in 20 laps from the end. Is there another team / driver race-management issue behid this, or a healthy dollop of hyperbole?


Why fuel the cars differently? If anything fuel JBs less (smooth style etc).

Possibly JBs slow pace during the wet laps would have save him some fuel, but not 20laps worth. No sorry, I dont buythe 1KG less rumor.


Lewis goes faster


McLaren did not mess up for Lewis!

Despite having to fuel save at the end of the race, Lewis can thank the progress he made at the beggining on having a much lighter car. In short, McLarens fuel strategy helped him overall but he simply wasn't bright enough to recognise this.

Also, Fernando effectivly won the race through very shrewd tire management, for example conserving his tyres in the opening stint rather than trying to fight back at Lewis when overtaken.


McLaren screwed badly.

Normally a car would use less fuel when its wet, they knew it was wet at the start. And still the car was underfueled, thats a double screw-up. Down to the lack of dry running? Possibly (no one else had the same problem) more likley miscalculating fuel consumption from the last minute enforced engine map change.


I believe we sometimes attribute too much intelligence or lack of it to drivers.

Does Lewis drives so differently that only he had the fuel problem.

Fernando drove a good race but I'm sure that in a race last season one of the Ferrari cars was short fuelled as well.


"Using this to their advantage, Red Bull pitted Webber first so he would not lose time or a place to Alonso. It worked, but keeping Vettel out for the extra lap cost him five seconds. So the team was definitely thinking of Webber’s needs when it made the call on the order at the first stop."

OR the team was using Webber as a middleman to stop Alonso from catching Vettel. Vettel lost 5 seconds but gained more from Alonso being stopped by Webber. So more probably it was the other way round. It was in the interest of Vettel to stop Webber at that point and webber just benefited from it.


Agree with you, they have been doing this for some races now. So Alonso is not in conditions to attack Vettel and can just try to fight Webber for the position. This works perfect when the car behind is slower. But when it is faster you are screwed like in this race, nice that RBR was undercut with their own strategy!


Alonso was right on Webber's tail on their in-lap. Had Webber not been pitted first, he would have lost the position.


Yes, but Vettel benefited from Alonso not passing Webber. So the move move was not (only) done for Webber's sole advantage.



What is the minimum time between a teams two cars so that they can pit them on the same lap without losing time? With 3.5 second pit stops, an 8 second gap at the first stop, it must be fairly close to warrant that with the 5 second loss they had in one lap....

As a quick aside, i'm fairly surprised they didn't give Vettel priority on the first stop to protect the win rather than Webbers second place.


They need time to get the second set of tyres ready so that's the limiting factor. I'd guess around 10 secs gap between cars should be okay for the second guy not to lose time waiting



Did you hear anything on the lines of Martin's job being under threat? The mail reports so and I think it's a genuine source.


Hi James,

Thanks for the analysis! I wonder whether the departure of Pat Fry has something to do McLaren's pit problem? I feel their race management is clearly sloppier than before while Ferrari is slightly improving. What's yout thoughts?


Probably not down to one man alone. McLaren have done some good stops this year.


Can the strategy report tell us why Martin Brundle failed to notice Seb overtaking Mark at the start? Took three or four corners for the Beeb's golden boy to wake up. Bring back JA!


So Alonso's drive WAS brilliant then.

"This was a very rare example in 2011 of a driver undercutting a rival by stopping a lap later; normally new tyre performance means the undercut can only be achieved by stopping first."


... and Quali, he would have been somewhere in the top 5 without their tyre cock up, from there he would have walked away with the race.

There was also the strange question of why they did not give him much information about progress with the fuel level in the last few laps, allowing Massa to get dangerously close.


Just like to ask a question to you, Mister James Allen. From all the youngsters who are knocking at formula one doors, which of them impress you the most ?


Good question. Valsecchi looks pretty good. Bit disappointed in Bianchi, although he won at the weekend in GP2. Sam Bird comes highly rated. Who do you think?


Bianchi had very bad luck at the beginning of the season, and he is coming back. For me he's the best driver of the field.I'm still not convinced by Bird; he didn't won a race for the moment. Valsecchi seems to be up and down, not very sure about him either. Grosjean looks like coming at age, being more calm and mature, which paid off very well this week end in race 2. For Van der Garde, even if he wins the Gp2 crown, I think unfortunately that the train has passed, a little bit like Pantano. Gutierrez is a vrey talented young man, although he's been outperformed in speed by his team-mate, i think for learning, and to prepare himself for next year crown, he's got the best possible environment.

And finally, in world series, there is of course Vergne, who for his first season is leading the pack. Which is very impressive, I'm a little skeptical about Wickens, although he's very fast, it will be his fourth year in promotion formula. 3 years of world series, and one year of Gp3, where he was beaten by Guitierrez. And, he used to be part of red bull junior team, and was fired, i think because he never won's, he is still second or third. After there are Rossi, Korjus, and Ricciardo even if he will never won the world series title.

Last thing, has a new zealander from my mother, I hope that Mitch Evans continues like that, even if I'm desperate to see, a french driver in F1, I also love to see a good new-zealander driver like there was in the old days. It will be awesome.


I've always wondered whether there's any point in under-filling cars when it means the driver will have to go slower in order to manage it anyway?


Also, perhaps McLaren thought it might rain longer, in which case they would not have needed the added fuel, as they use less fuel in the wet.

When it went dry, McLaren realized they were in trouble.

It was a gamble that they lost, but managed to salvage a good finish.


It's a fine balance... but the lower fuel weight can also prolong the life of the tires, preventing them from falling off a cliff or eliminating the need for another stop. In addition to that, you have the overall weight benefit which lasts over an entire race (but carries the penalty of a stint where you conserve).

Of course, McLaren didn't quite figure it out properly and put Hamilton in the line of fire at the end... or did they put him in a position that he otherwise could not have had if he wasn't running a light car in the first part of the race? Personally, given that it was wet, I would say he would have been roughly in the same spot as the track began to dry, even if he had an extra 5 kg of fuel at the start.



Kimi to Redbull rumors are nonsense or worth listening to? I'm a Kimi fan for life.


Can someone please explain the graph axis to me? I can see that the far right is the race time and the difference, but in the middle of the graph, what does a score of 0 represent for time difference?



it was extremely helpful to Vettel to see what the lap times on quicks were in damp but drying conditions without having to take the risk himself. Webber a test guinea pig again?


Hi James

Why is Schumacher making these mistakes? It compromises his race strategy. I think this was his third nose change this season in a race? Clearly his pace was reasonably solid do you think he will come good for Mercedes? I sure hope so!

One more thing, what do you think South Africa's chances are for hosting a Grand Prix?

Thanks for the great posts!

Eduan(Cape Town, South Africa)


Maybe he's still not used to the wide wings. 😉


I don't know why it's happening. Maybe he's trying too hard! But his recoveries are pretty spectacular, shame is we don't really see them


What tyres did Webber change to? James if Webber pitted first and changed to the harder compond, then would this be how Alonso was able to get passed them at the pit stop. Still a great drive, he is killing his team mat at the moment.


James why do my comments never show?


"....The wet opening 11 laps should have played into his hands, because you use less fuel in the wet....."

Hhmmm..strange...I find that I use more fuel (having to press harder on the accelerator) to maintain a certain speed when I'm driving on a wet road compared to when I'm driving on a dry road.


Different phenomena.

When racing in the wet, you use less fuel because you cannot accelerate as aggressively due to the lack of grip.

In the rain, you lift and brake earlier for every corner, and then pick up the throttle later and much more gently. All of this conserves fuel.


James, what I found interesting was vettel struggling with his tyres just like webber has been once he was caught behind Lewis his stint between the 2nd and 3rd stops was very short, perhaps red bull has some aero problem in traffic which makes them harder than others on tyres.

Adrian Newey Jnr

James - could you do a post on how you think Daniel Ricciardo went?


Fascinating figures on who's lost places on race starts. Don't suppose you fancy writing an in depth piece on that James?


Yes, as a preview to Germany


Fabulous, I look forward to reading it.

double eyepatch

You know what I just realised? Having noticed the in laps being 2 seconds faster from the shorter pit entry, you can go into the pit lane on the final lap and cross the timing beam sooner. In those final corner scraps (RBR drivers, HAM vs MAS) could've had a twist if one of them took the pit entry and hit that timing beam first.

James, was there anything preventing drivers from doing that as far as the rules are concerned? I do remember Schumacher taking a penalty after crossing the line some years back and still don't know what was done since then to stop those kind of moments.


Charlie Whiting did say he'd look out for anyone who try that before the race. If anyone tried I'm sure FIA would have done something.


Charlie Whiting told the drivers ( I think before quali) that any attempt to pass through the PitLane to record a faster lap would be penalised. i.e 'Don't even think of it'

Remember Senna at Donington? Probably not.


I think they shortfuled Lewis on purpose so they ran mixed strategies with Jenson and him.

If it would have rained during the race he would benefit from that since they use less fuel then but now he had to save fuel.

They wont admit it in public though and maybe even Lewis did not know to what extent he was shortfueled.

No reason to think they got it right with one of their 2 cars.

They probably thought it would be worth a shot since they lacked so much pace in qualifying and they would beat the lower teams anyway but when they performed better than expected during the race.


Wow that was odd. I just wrote an very long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn't appear. Grrrr... well I'm not writing

all that over again. Regardless, just wanted to say wonderful blog!


Thanks and sorry. Maybe copy before hitting submit just in case. Not a problem we have heard of before however


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