Making the right calls under pressure: A deep dive into race strategies from Hungary
Strategy Report
Posted By: James Allen  |  02 Aug 2011   |  8:59 am GMT  |  141 comments

The Hungarian Grand Prix was a fantastic race, again very close between the top four cars, any one of which could have won it. The closeness of competition and changeable conditions made it another race where strategy was the decisive element.

The winner put together the right combination of decisions, based on the data assembled in practice and a judgement when a sudden shower fell late in the race, not to pit for intermediate tyres but to wait it out.

Meanwhile several drivers saw their races compromised by poor strategy calls and we had three midfield runners in the points, all as a result of good strategy.

Rain had been forecast for Sunday morning but not for the race. There was a lot of doubt among teams about the forecasts.

Overtaking wasn’t easy – it never is in Budapest – but the conditions helped in this race. There was much less of a headwind on the pitstraight during the race than there had been during qualifying, which is why the DRS zone wasn’t particularly successful; a lot of people were hitting the rev limiter without the wind to slow them, as it had on Saturday.

Another reason why the DRS didn’t produce lots of overtaking was down to the relatively short length of the straight and amount of wing run on the cars. They never reach terminal velocity before the braking point.

So lets’ take a close look at how the decisions were made.

All smiles before their epic battle; decided in Button's favour (McLaren)

Button makes the right calls
Of Jenson Button’s 11 Grand Prix victories, six have come in mixed conditions such as we had on Sunday. A combination of experience, smoothness at the wheel and judgement of grip level are central to this. Button started the race on intermediates, as did everyone else, then switched to supersoft tyres on lap 11.

Webber, Massa and Barrichello had come in on lap 10 and Webber set fastest sector times straight away; all the right signals were there. However Massa was incredibly tentative on dry tyres on a wet track, struggling to get them up to temperature. Button, in third place, reacted and pitted on lap 11, Alonso didn’t. And neither did the leader, Hamilton nor P3 Vettel and P5 Rosberg. They waited until lap 12 to changeover. All of them except Hamilton, who had had a five second lead, lost time and positions as a result; Button passed Vettel for P2, while Webber passed Alonso.

The supersoft tyres didn’t last long. Pre-race predictions were that they would be good for 20 laps, but the reality was more like 15 or 16 – less in Hamilton’s case. He had a new set he had saved in qualifying and pushed very hard on them to open up a nine second lead on Button. But after 14 laps he had to pit again, Button stopped a lap later. They remained about six seconds apart, but the decisive moment came when Hamilton went for another set of supersofts on lap 40. There was no way he’d be able to reach the finish on them. Button went for soft tyres on lap 42, knowing that they would make the finish.

Here’s how their decisions were reached; the used supersoft was 0.8s faster per lap than the new soft tyre, so Hamilton’s tactic was to open a lead of over 18 seconds in order to pit again and retain the lead. He should have easily done this with a 15 lap stint, but in fact Button was as fast, if not faster on the softs. On lap 47 as light rain began to fall, Hamilton spun, losing the lead to Button. Now behind his team mate and on the wrong tyre, he was caught between a rock and a hard place. Vettel, who was also on soft tyres to the finish, was going to jump him at his pitstop and so was Webber.

Although Hamilton attacked Button and got ahead, he needed a game changing move, which is what the intermediate tyre might have been when he took it on lap 52, as the rain persisted. But it turned out to be the wrong call. Although the lap times went off by 11 seconds, keeping a calm head was vital as the shower died away and within three laps the times were back to normal. The drivers on intermediates had to stop again for dry tyres.

Button, Vettel and Alonso did not take the intermediate and stayed ahead of Hamilton, Webber did take it and stayed behind.

So the decision on intermediate tyres was important in the outcome, but it wasn’t decisive; the soft tyre decision earlier was the decisive one.

Alonso did many of the same things as Hamilton. Judging by the lengths of his stints, he planned to make four stops, especially after losing time behind Rosberg early on. He got jumped by Webber on the switch from intermediates to slicks because he stayed out too long. His first dry stint on supersoft was 13 laps, second stint 11 laps, third stint 11 laps and fourth stint on soft was 23 laps. He jumped ahead of Webber at the third stop by pitting three laps earlier and he didn’t make the mistake of going for the intermediate on lap 50 so got ahead of Hamilton. It was a good recovery from a messy first half of the race.

The two Toro Rosso drivers had strong results; Sebastien Buemi went from 23rd to 8th, while Jamie Alguersuari got points for the fourth time in five races, by again running a long middle stint on the harder tyre and doing one less stop than the others. This tactic has been so successful for them and Sauber this year it’s surprising more midfield teams haven’t tried it. But being kind on the tyres is a pre-requisite!

Di Resta consults with engineers before the start (Force India/Sutton)

Breakthrough result for Paul di Resta
Paul Di Resta got his best F1 finish to date with seventh place, a breakthrough result in many ways. His engineers were amazed at his composure and authority in the most tense moments of the race, such as when it rained on lap 50. It was his call not to pit for intermediates on lap 50. Di Resta has struggled for results since the early races, but this one will have made other teams sit up and take notice. It was not the drive of a rookie.

And it’s interesting to look at his race strategy because it exactly matches Button’s.

He started on the supersoft tyres, albeit his were new because he didn’t get into Q3 and so he had a spare set of new ones. Button stopped on lap 27 for another used set of supersofts and Di Resta did the same. Then on lap 42 Button went for a new set of softs and Di Resta followed suit. There is no suggestion here that he was copying Button, it’s a coincidence. But it’s interesting because the two slick tyre choices were based on their data from Friday practice, where they got good life and good pace from the soft tyre. So it was clear that it would do up to 30 laps on a lighter car close to the end of the race.

Di Resta was racing Rosberg, who had gone for the soft tyres in the second stint. But the Mercedes driver’s decision to pit for intermediates decided it in Di Resta’s favour. It was the second race in a row that Force India has finished ahead of Mercedes. While it was the seventh time in 11 races that Rosberg has finished lower than his start position.

As a side note, given that Button has now won six of his 11 races in these conditions in recent years, it’s probably not a bad idea to copy him on days like these – he doesn’t often get it wrong!


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One key part of the strategy that we’re missing out on is the engine mode / fuel mix aspect, which has become especially important with hot-blowing exhausts, where you can get extra-grip by using extra fuel. So when a driver reels off a series of ultra-quick laps like e.g. Hamilton at the beginning of his super-soft stints it may be that they are using the super-engine modes.

It’s very difficult to get a handle on this, but my impression is that Hamilton’s approach is to max out for as long as he can and then hang on to the end (cf. Silverstone) [1], whereas Button’s is to take a more measured approach and make sure he’s still got performance at the end. Similarly, to how they use their tyres (and, in fact, not dissimilar to their cornering styles).

As James points out, very interesting was how Button was, surprisingly, no slower than Hamilton on their third stints when Button was on softs and Hamilton on super-softs. Maybe Hamilton was already having to save fuel? (although given it was a wet race, maybe fuel was not an issue).

Also interesting was where Button was losing out to Hamilton when Hamilton was pulling away – if I remember right, it was mainly in sector 2, which is where all the twisty stuff is. Attacking that sector hard would likely cause the most tyre wear. So this was probably an illustration of the Button taking it easy on the tyres approach.

[1] Which in fact makes some sense – why carry the extra fuel around with you all the race if you can get the benefit without doing so? And, if you can get into clear air in the lead, you might as well do that sooner rather than later.


“As James points out, very interesting was how Button was, surprisingly, no slower than Hamilton on their third stints when Button was on softs and Hamilton on super-softs. Maybe Hamilton was already having to save fuel? (although given it was a wet race, maybe fuel was not an issue).”

Because it was a tyre limitation in the race with the track condition. It was the same with Alonso (S.S) who was slower than Webber on his softs.

As for tyre wear, look at the first stint lap times on super softs and see who wore them out first…it was Button, who could not do Hamilton’s lap times and pit first.

For those with autosport subscription, there is interesting analysis by Jonathan Noble. He says that had McLaren backed Hamilton, like RBR back Vettel and Ferrari Alonso, Hamilton would only be 29 points behing Vettel in the WDC. He concludes McLaren hurt themselves by letting Button take some points away from Hamilton.

While Hamilton is the bread-winner over the course of a season, button gets to nibble on that bread. Whereas at RBR and Ferrari, Webber and Massa are not given any bread to eat. This makes becoming a WDC in a McLaren car alot more difficult as they have 2 WDC’s. It helps neither Hamilton or Button in their quest for another title.


Good points. There are also some races where Button is generally close to Hamilton on pace and this was one of them. He was on it all weekend and was close in qualifying

Dan in Adelaide

Shame to see Ricciardo’s name not on the chart. Looks like he did well to finish 18th ahead of Liuzzi in 20th


I am very surprised why so many F1 experts have failed to pickup and question why the race leader Hamilton was pitted on super softs with 30 laps to go. Remember before the weekend Pirelli said the soft could do 25 laps, but it was colder so possiblly more. As others have said, everyone seems to have focussed on his inters and spin. These were mere consequences as a result of having to correct the team strategy error. It’s even worse when McLaren knew Webber pitted a lap earlier on softs and was as fast as Alonso on S.S which makes S.S a second rate choice. McLaren had Webbers time as reference.

Also James your article infers that Button made the call under pressure, but reality is that Button admitted he was questioning why they bought him in so early, he did it anyway but he didn’t agree with it at the time. Now vice versa to LH, Button IS getting the credit for making the call! but he didn’t make it he wanted to stay out even more.

It’s a funny world the way things work out.

I will never understand why McLaren chose to gamble with race leader Hamilton. They say they didn’t have the data, but made an early comittment to S.S, thus by definition was a gamble. Why would you do this with the lead driver with a 7.6sec lead? Sure Button caught up previous lap by 1.5 secs, but leaving Hamilton out for another lap would have meant Hamiltons lead was down to 6 seconds.

Is 6 sec something really to fret about? Its been many races now where the biggest gap a leader has built is ~3secs. Hamilton did well to be so far ahead, he was the best in wet and dry. The cushion was built but was not ‘utilised’ to his strategic advantage, which is wait and see what others are doing. Namely Vettel. That’s what RBR have been doing with Vettel in the past races he won. Covering everyone off, not committing first.

Instead Hamilton was made to be the guinea pig and was the reference for others.


pallys, I 100% agree with you.

I have a feeling that mid-way through the race, somehow Mouthmarsh wanted to gift Jenson a victory.

I agree that Hamilton shot himself in the foot with his spin. However, the blunder was committed when Hamilton was fitted with SS tyre. Esp, when he was told before that he need to go long for 9 more laps.

Also, I agree with wayne that at some point McLaren should commit to one driver. Else, they are going to lose out on the Driver championship year after year.


Without getting to technical it called for some real decision making and those drivers who had a good feel for the car and the tyres made the right call. Martin Brundle always comments and says you need to be on the right Tyre is very true cause the right tyre was the softs and not the s/softs or intermediates at one stage. Well Button has showed as again and again that he really is good in tricky conditions and making the right calls.

It was just a pitty to see Schumacher drop out I personally think he was in a great position to recover to a good result and he was on the softs. Never mind that…. well done Jenson Button!

James just something interesting, I have not seen Vettel excel in these conditions? When he is in the midst of the field he is has not attacked drove a strong race from P4 or P5 and come through to win this year.

What do you think? Red Bull Clearly has lost that major advantage we saw in the beginning of the year.

Thanks for the post and I am so looking forward to Spa!!!


Great blog as always,James



so it’s safe to assume that the McLaren is faster than the Redbull on such conditions because both Jense and Seb had a similar strategy.


It would be better to say that Button is better in these conditions than Seb.


Very interesting article. I just read the exact version of this wor for word in German on

My question is where does this strategy/ article originate and who is UBS???




I write it with input from F1 strategy engineers. I also send it out to partner sites to translate into their language (you’ll also find it in Russian and many other languages) This exercise is kindly sponsored by UBS bank, one of the F1 sponsors.


Great James, great writing (even when I disagree) and a great service.

Can you do something on Mercedes soon? They look like they’re becoming the next Toyota – massive resources, anonymous races (hardly mentioned in race reports etc, except updates on whether Schuey or Rozzer came out on top). Surely Brawn has only a year or two to turns things around before they start thinking of following Toyota, BMW and Honda to the exit (and onto maybe a sportscar programme?..)


They are still suffering from massive staff cuts in Brawn season 2009. I hear they are recruiting now. But that team through the years has been erratic at producing cars, one good one every few years


James, it is obvious to me that Hamilton was on a wet setup while JB on a dry one. Because of the extra downforce a wet setup requires, Lewis could do no more than 10 fasy laps on a set of supersofts. Around the middle of the race, Button was moving faster on fresh softs than Lewis was on fresh supersofts. Lewis only reacted well later in the race once some drizzle came down, but it was too brief to save his race.

Edward Valentine

Great article James, a very thorough and well explained analysis as always.


What I don’t really believe is that the super softs were really 0.8s per lap quicker. In new condition and for a single lap, yes, but surely not for 10 laps or more. And wasn’t it remarked during the weekend that the super softs had the characteristic of a qualifying tyre, with a substantial drop-off after one lap?

It seemed people in F1 have gotten so caught up in “save as many sets of the softer compound as possible”, that they overlooked the fact that the prime was actually the best tyre this weekend. The harder compound in Hungary, the yellow-banded soft, is probably the tyre with the best performance/longevity ratio. The fact that Hamilton managed to get through to Q3 without using any of the super softs just proves that he was saving the wrong compound of tyre!

I realize that calling into question the judgment of all the guys in F1 that study the data on Friday and Saturday may seem staggeringly arrogant, but this is just how it seems to me.


New S/softs were worth a little more. But they don’t last. Softs have been the race tyre of choice at every round this year


Strategy is probably a combination of (1) preparation & set up throughout weekend by team + driver + engineer and (2) how well the driver and team react to changing conditions during the race.

There had already been a lot of hard work (good decisions) in order to put both McLarens in a strong position to maximize his chances on Sunday.

Button’s deft touch behind the wheel was the icing on the cake. A joy to watch.


The critical moment which cost Lewis the race win occurred when he pitted on lap 40, and the team decided to put him on another set of super soft tires. During Q2 on saturday, Lewis turned in some very fast times on the soft tire, and I don’t understand why they didn’t decide to use that tire on his 3rd pitstop, which would have been his final stop during the race.

Jenson didn’t make the call to put on the soft tire during his pitstop on lap 42 as many may believe, but it was the team in fact who made that decision. As Jenson said, ” A great call by the team to put me on the prime (soft) tire when they did ” and according to Martin Brundle, Jenson intially thought that might be wrong.

Why wasn’t that option given to Lewis, especially, when you consider how well he did with the soft tire, during Q2 on saturday?


Since Lewis had radio problems (he could hear his engineer, but his engineer couldn’t hear him), that “option” was available to him. He was given whatever tyres McLaren though best. Although that being said, Lewis isn’t know to go against what is recommended by his engineer, which may be his undoing in some races (like this one).


Because at that time, everyone felt the super-soft was the faster tyre? And were likely to do another 2 stops? Alonso did the same and he was flying.

I feel, Webber went to softs to try and stay out and thus beat Alonso; Vettel then reacted to this, as did Button. Hamilton had already changed tyres at this point, so he was given a Schumi in Magny-Cours type trial of “we’ll make one more stop thus you’ve got to make a big enough gap”. Plus, on top of this, without the rain shower Hamilton would have had fresh fast tyres at the end of the race, whereas everyone else would have been on slower, older tyres.

Merc GP went to softs as they knew their car would chew the super-softs up in quick time.


“And were likely to do another 2 stops?” – sorry, or rather were going to stop again.


Compounded by the supersofts being used in Q3 hardly an ideal conditioning situation. The first heat cycle must cost at least 0.5 seconds per lap which is close the the supposed 0.8 second advantage they were supposed to have. I scratched my head when they did it…


I already post it at other blog, anyway, the point about do the right or wrong call in the heat of the moment is relying this decision in the right information at the right moment.

If you look at the radio transmissions in McLaren’s site, you can see that there’s a slight difference of info provided by the respective engineering teams to both drivers:

Button: “How does the weather look?”

Pit » BUT: “It’s spitting in the pitlane, but we don’t think it will get any worse than this.”[/b]…..

Button: “Info on the weather, guys. Info on the weather.”


[b]Pit » HAM: “These conditions are going to remain for the next 15 minutes or so.”

(it was raining)

….Pit » HAM: “How are the conditions? Do we need to change to inters, or stay on dries?”

And Lewis passes Jenson to re-take the lead! What a race!!

Lewis pits for inters.

Pit » BUT: “It’s your call on tyres, Jenson.”

Button: “I’m staying out.”….

Pit » BUT: “Understood. We think sector one is the only really wet sector.”

Pit » BUT: “We are a lot quicker than the cars on inters. Just take care in sector one.”

Pit » HAM: “We believe there is more rain coming.”

Hamilton: “These tyres are finished.”


FIRST: Lewis had a glitch in his radio and couldn’t do his call. So, he didn’t had any responsibility over the inters putted at his car. It was a team decision, as said Whitmarsh…

SECOND: Even if Lewis could do his call, I bet he would have opted for inters because that was the better information at his disposal.

“…PIT: “We believe there is more rain coming…”

Looking at the radio, it looks like Button team is much more experienced at reading weather changeable conditions, and gave to Button more details and well-judged info regard track conditions:

“It’s spitting in the pitlane, but we don’t think it will get any worse than this.”

What McLaren should do without Lewis feedback?

They should put both drivers in the same tyres relying in Button’s feedback regard track conditions – because Button was the only driver they had access via radio at that moment.

If they had done that, it could really have been a team decision…


This does not make sense at all. How can the team “believe there is more rain coming…” and “don’t think it will get any worse than this” all at the same time? Looks like deliberate disinformation to me.


They each have their own engineer, and they probably each give their own opinions. If those opinions differ, it is just a difference in opinion, and each engineer is trying to make the best decision for their driver.

No tin-foil hat needed here. 😉


Yep…I second that – definately raises questions about the inter-team’s tactics especially when you consider how meticulous mclaren are with their resources ‘central data’ and ‘mission-control’ in woking etc….and it did look as if Lewis’ race was scuppered.


I know each driver has their own engineer, but surely the engineers have the same weather information so it looks odd they could have completely opposite readings on what the weather was going to do all within a very short period of about two laps or so when it rained.

If Lewis’s team are that useless then it’s hard to blame him for any strategy calls isn’t it!


My guess is because they are basically two teams within a team. Each driver has his own team working for him and interpreting the information received in a different way.


You forget, that this isn’t RBR or Ferrari, where Webber and Massa are lab-test rats for their “team-mates” 😉 Ok, so maybe that’s a little harsh on Mark.

Button and Hamilton (and their respective engineers) are racing each other! Yet, the team (as a whole) win or lose together. It’s the paradoxical nature of F1; the team championship versus the driver championship. And as you can see from the reactions\comments of Horner, Whitmarsh, Brawn et al, throughout the season it’s a difficult balancing act.

There were many gambles by many drivers throughout the race… some came off, some didn’t. In those conditions, weather is a fickle thing and no amount of forecasting will give you an 100% accurate view. If the rain had continued Webber and Hamilton (after their switch to inters) were quids in… it didn’t continue to rain, hence they lost out.


Good post Stevie, I agree. Although I’d say that in both Webber and Massa’s positions they didn’t have a great deal to lose so could afford to roll the dice a little. That said I believe more drivers pitted for inters than actually stayed out on slicks!


Nice article, but your statements about the DRS zone “a lot of people were hitting the rev limiter without the wind to slow them” and “They never reach terminal velocity before the braking point.” are contradictory and can’t both be true. Personally I’m happy the DRS didn’t work well. I’ve far prefered the races this year when it hasn’t worked well.


agree with this 100 percent. the drs isnt needed this year with these tyres. just makes the differs in fastest lap in q3 and the race much greater.


Right I’ll pass that on to the F1 engineer who told it to me


Mate he makes absolute sense, both cannot be true. Not sure what your contact meant when he mentioned both scenarios.


Quick note: DRS would still be effective even if terminal velocity was not reached. You don’t need to be at maximum speed to gain a benefit from drafting someone.

If anything, running a lot of wing would result in the DRS working very well.


I can see what he means – if you are hitting the rev limiter in top gear, then you can’t possibly go any faster, so this must be “terminal velocity”.

But if you are still accelerating when you hit the brakes, you clearly haven’t reached “terminal velocity”.

I assuem that the two contexts just have 2 definitions of TV.



James, button changed to softs to cover vettel who took them a lap earlier. he was fighting for second. as you say it was unexpected that the softs were faster than the supersofts.


This race demonstrated once again how sensational Button is in wet conditions. I remember Hockenheim in 2000, his rookie yr, when he took a brilliant fourth for Williams and was very quick in very slippy conditions near the end. So right from his first season, he’s shown good form in the rain. Hope Spa delivers up its usual mix of showers, that should keep things exciting on track!


In these days when passing is actually possible, McLaren are very smart to let their drivers race when they come up against each other, since in current “tire strategy” racing, the two cars are often running at a different pace. For one to merely follow the other when this happens, whichever happens to be in front and slower at the time, would result in both being delayed over the course of the race.


Why cant it ever..even once be made clear that when there is comparissons between Lewis and Jenson when it comes to decisions, calls & knowing how to drive the tyres…ONE big point is always swiftly avoided by the media:

Alonso, Webber, Massa & Button have much more F1 experience then Lewis…hes been in F1 since 2000..which is 7 more years than Lewis. ALl the other drivers inc button not only caused calamities in their early careers…but button even alienated the whole F1 paddock with his playboy ways even before he achieved anything in F1, to the point where at the end of 2008…not even one team wanted him to drive for them.

Infact when Lewis is usually being compared to alonso, button, webber and massa…its never said that Lewis has around 7 years less experience than them and if Lewis is mostly beating them NOW…imagine how phenomenal Lewis will be when he has reached the same milestones as them.

I just think that the media can be really unfair to Lewis…it always seemslike a witch-hunt against him.

First of all Lewis gets blasted for not being accessible; Then Lewis gets blasted for being a big-mouth if hes in the media too much (which is the doing of the media groups…not Lewis); Then Lewis gets blasted for being too PR; Then he gets blasted for being too emotional & not too PR; Lewis then gets blasted for ‘not being a teamplayer’ when he critisizes the team (something they all do every race inc button); Then when Lewis is being genuine like post race in Hungary..being chuffed for button – lewis then gets blasted for being ‘an actor’.

I think the way in which Lewis gets treated by the press and his critics is bang out of order and Im perplexed that everyone (media) seem to think its ok to bully him like that. i.e. Nearly every front running driver in hungary went off the track or spun…but they dont get ribbed for it. Some have even amazingly claimed that button didnt make a single mistake in the race….ERM HELLO…he went off the track a few times too!


Hey guys..some good points but also some flawed too.

[mod because far too long]

Regardless of who you are, what opportunites you’ve had and how well you do things – one thing we all as human beings know as a result of common sense is that for every single human on this earth = WISDOM COMES FROM EXPERIENCE.

Every person grows wiser and more experienced as the years go by and Hamilton is no different….hes no superhero or superhuman..hes just another young lad with fantastic talent growing up in this world we all live in….hes still learning like us all and to begrudge him that is silly.

Lewis will grow and become more experienced with making descisions and controlling himself – thats obvious & people have to allow him that. Just like the alonsos & webbers etc…they too have grown and become more wise through learning from experiences…thats why they are better (experienced) now then they were 7-8 years ago or even a year ago.

To expect Lewis (now at 26) to know it all or even as much as the guys who’ve been in F1 much longer is the most delusional & unrealistic opinion Ive heard!

Yes Lewis has abit to learn and he will. But the fact is that from his 1st season hes been fighting up front and can still beat the more experienced guys with his less experience – SO I can only imagine that once Hamilton has achieved the same milestones as the others he will no doubt be a miles better than he is now…..And boy doesnt that strike a fear in the hearts of the detractors!

I think what Lewis (and his family) have done and the way in which they did/achieved it is truely inspirational and should be applauded for setting such a great example. NO matter where you are from..with hardwork..confidence and ‘never give up’ attitude you can do anything.
Hes not from a priveledged racing background where hes cashing in on the name of his father etc.

Why people want to beat up on the real people of this world who fight for everything is beyond me – at the same time those who have been born with a silver spoon and are in racing thanks to their historically-connected surnames are praised without any fault.

Also many of his detractors say Lewis is immature and needs to grow up – WELL if you look at the life of Lewis Hamilton – Even I can say that Lewis is probably much more grown up than most of us. If you consider what hes had to deal with in his high profile life so early on…..I cant help to think that if any of us now get a chance to swap lives with him – we would make a proper mess of it!!!

As much of the great talent Lewis has….Im also glad that he has his flaws too – For that shows how much of a human being he is & like us all he too can make mistakes. He doesnt have the personality of a robot – Hes flawed liked US ALL!!!


This site is mainly free of the ‘things’ that goes on between fans on other sites. Let stick to Hamilton and his positives. I have seen many more articles on Hamiltons wins and great drives than negative ones. The Race Strategy report was based on race facts/timings with JA ‘take’ on it I assume.

The level of ‘attention’ he attracts I suppose goes with the territory. He is a World Champion and does put himself ‘out there’ (whether that is a result of him or his managers doesn’t matter or brand) and so does some of his supporters. Hamilton is one of those drivers that, through his sheer talent, exiting and aggressive style will attract extra attention. Probably would have happened in other years except we have more media and social networks etc etc etc now than even back in 2005, let alone 2000 or before.

Hamilton now is in his 5th full season of F1, all of which have been in a ‘top running’ team. He has past his ‘apprenticeship’ long ago. We all continue to learn and I take your point, however I would say that Hamilton is not lacking in the experience due to years now. Running mid field or back of grid as did the other drivers you mention in their earlier years is a whole lot different experience than running at the front, and vice versa. Hamilton has experience others don’t have as well.

In this instance in Hungary, Button had a better than most feel of the car through the tyres in these type of conditions. And he ended in front. Simple. And it probably will happen again given same conditions

Not begrudging Hamilton, but I am sure all the other four drivers, in fact all drivers would be different and at different levels if ‘thrown’ into a top team from day one with different expectations and measures put against them, and a lot may not just ‘cut it’ too. But then Hamilton deserved that rise through McLaren sponsorship.

Apart from a few ‘hiccups’ this season, Hamilton has always handled the pressure pretty well. And the media is the media. Just see how he handles it since it probably is different to how we handle it.

Just wanted to put an extra angle on this.


maybe the missing element from Hamilton’s armoury is the ‘punting’ that often happens with midfield teams in these conditions.

In the midfield you often have nothing to lose and you can learn a lot from a gamble to switch tyres or not. Hamilton however only has front runner experience where the gamble is too costly to take on and hence maybe his lack of feel for when to twist and when to stick.


Fair point Alex. Probably more punting can be done midfield however as we see, leading teams and drivers do their own punting which sometimes doesn’t come off. How often over the years have we seen a mid field team take advantage over the conditions. However you would expect all of them are on the limit in these conditions, hence they all gain that experience.


Well said Alex.

Totally agree that Lewis has been in positions where taking big gambles have been more risky. Whereas if you in a back-marking/midfield team you have more room to experiment. I.e. For Button and his tyre management – Well I can relate that his time in Honda where they were floudering at the back allowed button to be able to experiment more with the car and tyres more as he was in his own races…so things like using each GP for many years as a ‘test-session’ and gain knowledge and data about tyres etc has certainly contibuted to his current skill set.

When you are in a top team you cant afford to do all that at each GP.


I’m playing Devils Advocate here San, so don’t get angry with me… what you say is correct to a degree. However, I would say that at all times any driver(s) can be “attacked” by certain elements of the media because the tabloids (especially) in the UK have a different agenda i.e., sensationalism to sell their product.

Whereas Mr Allen here is not into that, he’s reporting as objectively as he can on the finer detail of elements in and around the F1 world – for our benefit, enjoyment, knowledge etc, etc.

On the flip side of Hamilton’s lack of experience (compared to some other drivers), no driver has ever been catapulted into a front running car in their first season. Just about any other driver you care to mention, has started in a lesser car, shown their talent and then moved up the grid in terms of car performance. Hamilton was very, very, very lucky to begin his F1 career in such a fashion, so let’s not forget that.

Personally, I think that Hamilton’s attitude after Monaco was totally misplaced – I think he saw that too with hindsight – but I commend him for coming out and speaking when he was obviously disappointed and frustrated. Remember, these guys grow up\mature in the media spotlight, they will make mistakes (in life and in races) and again these will be pounced upon by the tabloids.

What I like about the McLaren drivers is that they do congratulate each other when the other one wins and that congratulation seems genuine… I believe there is a healthy respect between them. I’m not saying they are off track best-buddies. I’m saying that they both wish to beat each other and both are different drivers, yet they respect each other’s abilities and complement each other well.

What I found interesting was Button’s post-race comment about how Hamilton was pushing at the start of stints and losing tyre performance at the end, whereas Button was doing the opposite; he also commented that he felt confident after the first stint that he was in a position to win the race.

Sure, Hamilton gets a bashing on occasion because he’s successful, but he also gets a lot of plaudits and reward for that too.


One of things I like about this site is that there isn’t as much fan on fan flame wars that seem to predominate other places on the inter-tubes. So I’ll let you know that this isn’t an attack on you in any way. Just addressing some of your points.

I don’t have a dog in this fight, as I haven’t been a fan of any particular driver since Kimi left. So I think I can be objective here.

First off. Lewis came into the series highly touted, in a top team. That put higher expectations on him before turning a single lap than any rookie in a long time. Expectations that he lived up to for the most part. Then he won the WDC in his second year and the expectations went up.

Now, once you’ve won a drivers title. Your number of years of experience compared to others will not be considered as much as it would be otherwise.

In any sport when you’re a highly rated performer and don’t meet expectations some pundits will have a go. It’s your reaction to those slings and arrows that determines how well you’re perceived afterwards. Going off on the officials doesn’t go over well, with either fans of the powers that be, no matter the sport. In fact some sports fine players (even owners in some cases) that criticize the referees (stewards).


Spot on San. Spot on. For some reason it’s overlooked in Lewis’ case (though not Vettel’s, oddly). A massively important factor. Maybe JA could do a post on it during the mid-season lull?…


Excellent post, and right on the money!


Great analysis, I really enjoyed reading that. It’s nice to read about mid-field runners and see how they adapt their strategy to achieve the best results. I personally feel that the skill in F1 accross the field is at an all time high. There is the exception of the odd pay driver here and there. I’ve read a lot about ‘the golden age of F1’. James do you agree we are in a golden age? What do others think? I was hugely impressed with the level of skill shown in Hungary.


Also enjoyed the analysis. I agree to a certain point. We are in a great period for F1, even with the DRS/KERS etc add-ons we have, which i don’t totally like, but live with. Sometimes the ‘mystery’ with tech specs and team decisions add to the intrigue. As like last year, we have 5 drivers, from 4 countries in 3 different cars battling it out for the championship, (sorry to the others) although one now looks to have it pretty much in the bag. The race for second place in the WCC is ON!. Throw in a few more than usual wet races only adds another dimension. Can’t do much better than that. Always hard to compare ‘golden’ eras in any sport, all are great for different reasons. We have had 2 or 3 drivers battling down to the wire in the past as well.


correction….race for WDC’s is ON!

RBR can only lose the WCC at this stage.


Very interesting analysis. More please!


This Hungarian Grand Prix should be nicknamed “How Lewis Hamilton snatched defeat from the jaws of victory”. What a disappointment! I am a big Lewis Hamilton fan.

I think what each of Jenson’s wins at McLaren have shown is that he makes EXCELLENT decisions. I don’t think Jenson is as fast as Lewis but he seems to consistently outthink him whenever the weather throws a spanner in the works. How often do we hear Lewis moaning about strategy calls in races? How often Jenson?

Just as much as getting a banker lap is important in qualifying (Lewis made this error in Monaco), surely getting the tyre requirements satisfied must also be a necessity. As soon as it was announced that Lewis was still on super softs while the other contenders had gone for the soft, my heart sank. Even without the dodgy weather, would Lewis really have opened up a 18 – 20 second lead? Hmm, not so sure.

I think Lewis’ raw speed advantage over Jenson is often cancelled out by Jenson’s better use of tyres and his better decision making ability.

As for the championship, Vettel should be sent on holiday while the others battle it out for 2nd. Apart from Vettel, the championship is really very close between Ham, But, Alo and Web.


thought hamilton’s post race interview was an interesting comparison on earlier in the season. In the past you got the feeling that it was everyones fault but his!

I think that Lewis still has a lot to learn when it comes to making strategy calls in these situations (always too late or too early), or am i being a bit harsh?


How interesting that DiResta’s strategy was identical to Button’s. I hadn’t spotted that during the race.


Button won another race !

OMG hurry up , build him a monument!

You guys are bliding yourself . JB won a race due to mistakes done by Lewis and Macca. Even more he got owned on track by Lewis with rubbish tyres . Still half of UK feels like that was a race JB controlled from start to finish, “JB is the king in changeable conditions” , yea right especially at the start of the race when it was starting to dry up and lewis changed to super-softs. If JB was king on this kind of conditions , he should had change to super-S before lewis. Yes i know the first driver on track has first choise.

Fact is JB was lucky.

Lewis lost cause of his own strategy pick and ofcourse of his brilliant race engineer and most important due to HIS OWN mistake !

Anyway the race was excellent. Especially the moves JB and Lewis did on each other.


I’m certainly not a Button fan, but he deserves credit for a sterling drive. There was some luck involved, but he exploited it brilliantly.


So JB won because Lewis made a mistake, making him lucky. Was it luck that JB didn’t make a mistake? I’d suggest it was skill, as you can’t be lucky for 70 laps in those conditions. Lewis said it himself, the better man won.

There’s no doubting Lewis is faster but in Hungary he wasn’t, again confirmed by him. By your admission he was making mistakes where JB wasn’t. Result JB drove better (that day)


Personally, I felt Hamilton reacted to Alonso going onto super-softs (mid race) as Fernando was putting in cracking times and closing on all those in front. The Red Bulls, thought let’s try something different and get to the end on the softs, as did Button… I was then expecting to see Hamilton pull away, but a combination of the green track (after the overnight\morning showers) and Lewis pushing it, early in each stint, meant super-soft tyre degradation for him was massive. Hamilton’s spin cost him time and gave us massive entertainment as the two McLaren drivers battled for the lead (other teams, please take note!!!!), but it did not cost him the race.

Button did his normal trick of keeping it mellow early in the stints and thus retaining some tyre-life for later on (he was confident after stint 1, that he was in with a chance of victory); he tried this in China, I think, and rued the decision as all those who went “hell for leather” burned up their rubber, did one extra stop, but ended up on fresh rubber at the end of the race; whereas Button was holding on, on old worn tyres… and had no defence.

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