Get closer to the sport with our new Race Strategy Calculator
Posted By: James Allen  |  16 Mar 2012   |  3:21 pm GMT  |  98 comments

Welcome to the Race Strategy Calculator, brought to you by UBS. This is an exciting new development in our Race Strategy programme, aimed at giving you the fan a closer understanding of how Formula 1 teams calculate the best strategy for a Grand Prix race.

Here you will find a step by step guide to the major considerations when planning a race strategy, such as tyre choice and the length of time it takes to make a stop. However the clever part is a sophisticated tyre model, which simulates the Pirelli tyre wear and the resulting drop off in performance. It is a simplified version of what the teams use to work out their strategies.

The aim of the Race Strategy Calculator is to see if you can find a better race strategy than the our default strategy. This is shown by a graph on the final page. If your graph shows a faster race time than the default, (ie your line is above the default line) you’ve found a better strategy for the race. Please use it for this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix and give us your feedback.

The Race Strategy Calculator can be found here.

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would be cool to share the results on social networks! 😀


I think he means if there was a way to actually share it, like a Facebook option. My guess is its quite a bit of work. James, how about going out on a limb and giving us a podium/winner prediction for the race tomorrow? C'mon 🙂


Great little tool...many thanks.

I beat you though James on a 2 stopper, 1st stop lap 16 for options, 2nd stop lap 35 for prime.


Pretty steep drop off at the end, would be really risky I think


Hmmm, a 17/36 Prime/Option 2 stopper is quicker than the JAF1 default but the drop off in the last few laps might be too much of a nail biter.

Interesting gizmo.


2 stop strategy

Stop 1 = Lap 18, New options (assuming they're available, most top teams should save a set from Q1)

Stop 2 = Lap 36, New primes (last year all the top teams seemed to have these)

Result: About 4-5 seconds faster than JAF1, and less reliant on traffic/clear air to boot. Easy this strategy lark 😉


If you wait one more lap on the second pit stop, you gain about a second on your previous strategy.

It seems you can afford a drop off in optimal performance over 3 laps and still be ahead, but any more and you end up being behind.

James in a real race would it work out about the same (max 3 laps on tires where performance is droppping off)??


That's the way the tyres are in 2012. Not as steep a drop off. Interesting isn't it?


This is a great feature James! Thanks for bringing it to us. It's facinating to work out for yourself.

Seems to me that it is going to be very hard for the teams to make a 1 stop work!


This is actually pretty cool!!!

But I dont know if it's working fine?? I tried a 2 stop strategy (option-prime-option) with pit stops on laps 16 and 38 and it ended up better than the 3 stop default strategy..


Brilliant, James!

You've outdone yourself

(Endless addicting, I might add!)

Here's a strategy that came up abt 5-6 secs ahead of the default.

- New Prime on Lap 20, New Option on Lap 40

Great tool, James.

Love the immersive feel you're bringing to your site.


"Anything the mind of man can conceive, it can achieve" - Nap. Hill


Awesome idea Allen. It brings the sport so much closer and engaged to the F1 fans. Tried out couple of race strategies in the new section.Really loved it.


Oops, typo!

(Endless-LY addicting!)


“Anything the mind of man can conceive, it can achieve” – Nap. Hill


Awesome. I beat you by about six seconds, on a 3stop strategy.

Stop1:Lap16/Options, Stop2:Lap31/Options, Stop3::Lap46/Prime

It would be even better if you can develop a way to submit/post user strategies to the blog to see who comes out best and how it compared to the actual race.


I got a faster strategy

lap 16 - new prime

lap 30 - new option

lap 44 - new option


Really cool tool by the way! Thanks James and UBS 🙂


Managed about 6 seconds faster 🙂


A two stopper is 5 seconds fater than the JAF1 3 stopper assuming new rubber is available for both stops. I selected an option at lap 17 and prime at lap 37.


Superb James. It took some playing around but I was able to figure out your optimum strategy(I won't give it away). Also, I came to the conclusion that saving a set of "new" option tyres from quali was the only way to beat your strategy. Sounds familiar to last season doesn't it? 😉


Doesn't seem to work on my system James. What is it? eg Is it a windows exe? an aspx? a java applet? a javascript or what?



It's not clear whether positive or negative "relative race position" is good. Do I want my curve to be above, or below, yours?

There doesn't appear to be a way to select whether you qualify on prime or option tyres, and therefore the type of tyre for the first stint.



For simplicity's sake it presumes you qualify on options and are starting in the top ten


Hmm, + should be deficit. That's how timing in F1 works. If you are - opponent, you are in the green. If you have time that is + your opponent's time, it means you are slower.


I guess the default option is pretty conservative as my 1st try at beating it was successful.

I am struggling to understand the metric though -- relative race time -- relative to what exactly? And how do you measure the end result? Is it one curve being above the other at the end of the race or do we need to integrate the area under the curve and then compare values?

I think it warrants further explanation either way 🙂

Top tool!


Relative to the default, which ends at zero anything more is slower, less is faster. It replicates the Race History Graph we publish in the post race Strategy Report.


Thanks for the reply! It did make sense eventually once I thought about it a bit more.

Funny thing is the sim is favouring a 2 stop vs 3 stop. The BBC backed the opposite view in their qualy analysis.

It's going to be a good race I think!


That's such great fun! And almost looks easy. Stop twice, once around lap 18 for option and around lap 38 for prime and you're good. Defo not as easy as it looks though.


This strategy is definitely about the fastest you can do, up to 7 seconds faster than the default.

I do wonder about traffic in the second stint however. Unless you're a front runner you could never afford to get stuck behind slower 3-stoppers during the middle stint for 8-10 laps like this strategy would require.

Great tool though James, it's much easier to see why the top teams often take different strategies to the midfield when you have this tool.


Thanks James.

Regarding the simulation, does it always assume that we have started on options from qualifying? I couldn't seem to figure out if there was a way to change that.

Anyway using all new tyres with changes as follows works out quite a bit quicker than default.

15 prime

31 option

45 option

cheers Matt

Grietzen Sinnema

Thanks! for this nice tool =)


Hi James - simulator is great...and just as I predicted Perez is going to put the primes on for the first 38 laps, switch to options and 1 stop it all the way to a win!!!!

Mind you I think the primes will have to be Bridgestones and the fuel will have to be angel fuel!


Adding to my previous thoughts, if I had Jenson Button as my driver I'd run a 2 stop strategy as follows. Seems about as quick as the other. It would be nice if it gave you an exact time differential at the end so you could compare similar times.

19 primes

40 options


That is quite good, but it is a perfect world scenario and being held up by a slower car would destroy the model. I guess the guys at the track run that model for hundreds of different scenarios....


There seems to be an error in the model: Using used tyres gives better race times than new tyres. It seems that used tyres start with the same initial lap time as new tyres but degrade less. Obviously, if there is tyre degradation, a used tyre should be slower than a new tyre


Pretty good. I wonder how this simulator will stack up against real life on Sunday? PS, I had a two stop that beat yours by a few seconds 🙂


If I copy the default grey strategy and put all the tires to "Used" the times are all faster. Why is this?


That's a really interesting exercise, something I look forward to revisiting to get a better understanding of the race stategy for each circuit. Will it be updated as we learn more about the tyres as the season progresses?


I was faster with 2 stops on laps 20 (new prime) and 38 (used option), but there were only about 4s in it.

It'll be fun to see if someone uses that strategy on Sunday.

One question, though: does the simulator assume the first stint is on used options?


Is there some randomness in the simulator or did I get things mixed? I tried to repeat what I (think I) had done and the result was different.

Tom Haythornthwaite

It doesn't seem to hard to beat the default but I think that's because I don't seem to need to use the primes. And we don't seem to be able to decide which tires we use at the start...?


It's based on using the used softs at the start, as that is what the top 10 would do.

Tom Haythornthwaite



Thanks James, the best F1 site out there. This is a great test, I beat you first crack


Like it, simple to use. I did beat the JA simulation on the first attempt, by about 6 points on the y axis. What does that equate to in time?


2 stop strategy seems to be the way to go in Melbourne.. 😉


Stop on lap 18 for primes and then on 40 for options. Do I win? 🙂 Obviously traffic would mess that up, but fun to see where the raw numbers would get you.


This is great fun!

I went with just 2 stops, with a shorter first stint, since the track would be green with less grip than later, so he tyres would have to work harder then. (Don't mean to be picky but the JA Strategy might not take that into account?!!). Overall I did OK. But this doesn't account for weather or safety cars so it's all quite unpredictable! Good fun though 😉


Don't worry, it does take that into account...


This is great!


James can u tell me why Ferrari hasn't got any air intake for driver cooling?is there a purpose behind it?


James, this is brilliant.. Got my strategy for Sunday. Thanks.


Superb stuff James, for those of us who love all the technical details of F1.

Looks like the default strategy is expecting 1 set new option, 1 set used and 1 set prime.

Of course we aren't allowing for safety cars, weather forecasts etc.

Bit of feedback

- can we have a number rather than just the graph to know how many seconds quicker or slower we are than the default strategy?

- Can you state what the tyre availability is for the default?Pretty easy to have better result if the user assumes all new tyres.




Well the idea is to experiment with new and used tyres, to see the difference it makes. If it's significant then it's worth saving a set of new softs in quali

The idea here is not just to beat the default - not too hard, but to see how the strategy planning works, looking at various scenarios, as the teams do


I just beat it on my first go!

Stop 1: Lap 10, new options

Stop 2: Lap 27, new primes

Stop 3: Lap 47, new options

On for a podium then James? 😀 Thanks, great fun!


Great fun. I managed to beat the default time by ~6secs with a 2 stop strategy.

Stop 1 on Lap 18 -- change to new options.

Stop 2 on Lap 38 -- change to new primes.

The advantage of a 2-stopper being less overtaking required, of course.


Excellant, Great fun. Challenged my 12 year old to have a go and it gave him a good insight into the decision making.


hi james,

I managed to get -12 seconds on a 3 stopper, supposing the teams had saved a new set of options.

1st stop-lap 14 options (new)

2nd stop-lap 38 prime (new)

3rd stop-lap 45 prime (new)

I dont think this is right though. only 7 laps after the second stop, although I have spent ages fiddling with this (great fun by the way) and can't find a faster one, other then switching the tyres to used, i then got -30 seconds!


This is very interesting, but I think you could evolve it.

That way we could see at least how the race strategy can change if different things happen. For example if you had the option to add a safety car (even for specific laps) and then we could see how this alters the best strategy and what might be the cost of the safety car to our strategy. Another parameter could be higher degradation of tyres in case it rains before the race or if people are unsure of how much degradation they will have.

Also running 24 simulations of cars, some slower and some faster with pre-chosen strategies would enable us to make an estimation of when it would be best to pit in order to avoid the traffic. Here if we can choose that our car is a more or a less competitive car we could see how different strategies might make sense for the midfield and the frontrunners. The competitiveness of the car could also be taken into account to assume behind which cars it could be found and how much time it would need to overtake them depending on track, competitiveness and tyres that where chosen after the pit stop. Also using the above simulation we could see how a penalty can affect your race.

Finally it would be nice to see how the rain forecasts that the teams have could affect the strategy if they do indeed happen or not. For example someone was waiting rain and stayed 3 or 5 more laps out than the optimal.

All these might sound too complicated, but they should have a programming cost of around 500-2000 pounds depending on how cheap and in which country your programmer is based. So depending on your sponsorship relationship it might be a good idea proposing it to UBS it would have good marketing potential as people could use it in every race and if the programming is done in such way then it could work for many years as you just change the numbers of how tyres etc work.

And btw I remember you said that the difference between prime and option in austra lia is 0.6 or 0.5, but now you count it for o,3. Did you get any new evidence?


Fantastic piece of kit James. Really great fun to play around with. The default strategy was very conservative. But, then I suppose it wouldn't have been fun if we couldn't beat it. If this is based off the 2012 tyre data then it looks like we can take a guess what the front guys will be doing for stops on Sunday. Unless it's a wet race of course...

Matthew Cheshire

The calculator is great, but I've always wondered if they use simulators to predict traffic by guessing the other team strategies.

Do they constantly run that during the race when the other team plans become apparent?

Tornillo Amarillo

I won!:))

2 stops:

new primes in Lap 22


new options in Lap 41

In the last stint I am just 1 or 2 seconds ahead of you until the end.

But James, what about if we have 1 or 2 safety cars?


Now, for more fun, graph other teams, with different cars, and add some overtaking. Now that's an entertaining simulation.


3 Stopper.

Lap 13-> Switch to new options

Lap 29-> Switch to 3 lap old options [one used in Q2]

Lap 42-> Switch to new primes.

Strategy about 3 sec faster. But all drop-offs have been considered. So could be an optimum one. Cheers!

Sebastiaan Hekman

Great tool James. Really innovative. Thanks.

I tried 3 different strategies so far. My best is:

Stop 1: lap 13 - new options

Stop 2: lap 28 - new options

Stop 3: lap 42 - new primes

Result: 5-6 secs faster than default.

The thinking is that at the 1st stop the car still carries quite a decent load of fuel, so tyre wear will be higher than towards the end of the race. And the prime at the end makes laptime longer but will be compensated with less fuel weight.

Have to assume that I started on used options, carried over from the Q3. Being a Q2 car it could be a prime set.

I will definitely keep this screen open to enter the real stop and changes of my favo driver.

Will try now to beat default with some used tyres in de the mix.


What's the assumption about starting compound?

Option (likely) or prime?

thomas in adelaide

Hi James, was very disappointed to learn that the 5 Live broadcast is not available online outside the U.K.



I beat the default...just! Two stopper:

1st Lap 15 - Options

2nd. Lap 35 - Prime


Hi James, this can itself be an Interesting App!


Great tool!

Stop 1 - Lap 10 used primes

Stop 2 - Lap 44 used options

About 30 seconds faster.


Who're you kidding?

That strategy puts you 23 seconds behind the default. I don't think you've quite got the hang of this strategy lark!


Slower - you're reading the graph wrong, Russ.


With a link to exciting racing. The tyres have done a lot. But have you realised a rule of thumb with overtaking corners. The corner before an overtaking corner is nearly always a mid to high speed corner and then the overtaking corner is not too tight. This is and was the case in Melbourne, Adelaide, Spa, Silverstone, Monza, Singapore, Monaco even, Korea, Suzuka, Fuji, Nurburgring, Shanghai, Turkey, Canada etc.

It seems that most of tilke's designs puts a hairpin before the overtaking corner we think should have overtaking. But all this does is create the unbunching effect where the car ahead pulls away first but in a fast corner this doesn't happen


Sadly, DRS has muddled this kind of research a bit, because now, you'd have to take into account whether or not there was a DRS zone before the corner where the overtaking occurred. And then consider where the detection point was, because the corner before that might have put the cars closer together or further apart. And so on...

By now, I find it upsetting that DRS is apparently here to stay even going forward from 2014. Exactly because it can create arbitrary passes and the interesting aspect of how racetracks could be engineered and designed differently could get out of focus.


James, a great little tool, I'll have fun with this! Is it possible for you to modify it so that you can pick what tyres you start on?


Great feature, James.

Would be even better if you gave us the option to set the starting tires as well - especially as we could well see Raikonnen starting on new primes...

I agree that the two stop strategy will work best for the leaders - though it's an interesting question as to whether it might make sense for someone to change to the primes at the first stop and run a longer middle stint.


Very interesting and great fun to play with but it's a shame the end result is just a vague line/dot on a small graph.

As everyone has said, they ended up ABOUT 5 or 6 seconds better. Is it possible to add a bit more resolution to the result, perhaps a little table giving the difference in +/- x.xx seconds at each stop? After all there must be something behind this calculating a number to plot those dots/lines.

As it is, it's virtually impossible to see what difference small changes of strategy make, stopping a lap earlier or later for example. That'd add a real level of insight and interest.

Also, as qualifying showed, the 83.5 second qualifying laptime in the simulation is about 1.5 seconds too optimistic. Any chance of tweaking it to closer to the real thing?


lap 19 - primes - new

lap 36 - options - new

about 7 seconds quicker 😀


Trying something like this as a website feature is a really cool idea. It probably won't produce tomorrow's winner's strategy exactly, as the teams' simulations have to consider many more things than the track rubbering in, the car burning fuel and the different rubber compounds degrading, but it's interesting to see how much difference Pirelli's preselection of the compounds does make.

I would also like to suggest a feature of being able to compare multiple strategies against each other, rather than just being able to put one up against the default. (Though it's obviously possible to print a few screenshots and lay them over another as it is...)


First of all, thanks to JA for this nice addition to his website, while the strategy simulator is very simple in its current form, it is a great idea!

For stats lovers, I think there are about 95 million of possible strategies to choose from!

While a lot of them do not make sense (e.g. pitting on laps 1, 2, 3 and 4), there are still quite a few possibilities to consider and to play with.

I have done quite a few tries and discovered the following things:

- all tires have a linear decrease in performance until they reach a critical point

- New Options last 18 laps before reaching the critical point

- New Primes last 20 laps before reaching the critical point

- Used tires performance is the same as New Ones which have been used for 2 laps

- Once they reach the critical point, all tires start to degrade a lot more in the following 3 laps

- 4 laps or more after the critical point all tires have the same performance (this is probably not true on real tires, it's just that the simulator doesn't show real data for very old tires as they shouldn't be used on a real strategy).

Tires have always the same performance regardless of pit lap, so:

- the simulator does not account for the track getting rubber on it as time passes

- the simulator does not account for the fact that as cars get lighter, there is probably less tire wear

That being said, the best 2 and 3 stops strategies seem to be about 6s faster than JAF1 strategy, with the 3-stop one being slightly faster.

(I assumed that two "New Option" and one "New Prime" sets where available).

However, as someone pointed out, a 3-stop one might be less safer traffic-wise.

The 2-stop strategy instead is quite stretched if you think that:

with used options, you can do a maximum of 16 laps before the drop-off

with new options, you can do 18 laps with Options before the drop-off

with new primes, you can do 20 laps with Options before the drop-off

16+18+20 = 54 laps

As Melbourne is 57 laps long, this means that a 2-stop strategy will expose your tires to "heavy" degradation at some point in the race. This is not a big problem in the simulation, but if the real tires for some reason will degrade even a little faster, it might put your strategy in real danger.


There's a mistake in my previous message:

new options last 20 laps

new primes last 22 laps

(before the critical point)

So the 2-stop isn't that stretched.


How confident are you in this model ?

Just now on the BBC's qualifying highlights they were predicting that the ideal three stop would be around 8 sec quicker than a two stop.

(I still quite like the idea of someone in the top 10 running a two stopper with a long middle stint on the primes.)


How many sets of unused options and primes will teams who made it to Q3 typically have? I find it hard to keep track of who's done how many runs on new/used tyres during qualifying, even when the pit lane reporters do relay that information.

Sebastiaan Hekman

Had it completely wrong. Aimed for a + result, of course must be a negative one.

This one beats the default by 10 seconds

10 seconds faster


stop 1 on lap 16 - fitting a new set of options

stop 2 on lap 30 - fitting a used set of primes

stop 3 on lap 51 - fitting a new set of options.

12 seconds faster

Oddly enough, if I change the last set of option (new) for a used set of option the time diff goes to 12 seconds faster. Meaning that the used set is faster than a new set. How is that possible?

The biggest gap comes from stretching the used primes over 21 laps.


You had it right the first time: you should aim for a positive result 🙂

That's why used options give you a more negative result.

Try to make 1 pit stop only at lap 1 and you will see that you get a very negative result.

As JA said, the graph "replicates the Race History Graph [...] in the post race Strategy Report", that's why higher is better.

Sebastiaan Hekman


Thanks for clarifying that.


awesome would be cool if we can upload the results back to you and may be you can decide who did best strategy and declare winners....

that would be awesome

here is my strategy

3 stops

1 stop option lap 13

2 stop option lap 26

3 stop prime lap 45

it was above the default line


James, how many laps does a driver have to do to signal that the tyres are 'used' ones?


I've run all the strategies posted here on the simulator and drawn a classification on how the race could have ended with those strategies:

P = Prime

O = Option

UP = Used Prime

UO = Used Option

The winner is... mattnz!

1. +0 mattnz 15/31/45 P/O/O

2. +0.18 S. Craddock 16/30/44 P/O/O

3. +0.18 S. Hekman 13/28/42 O/O/P

4. +0.34 Meeklo 16/31/46 O/O/P

5. +0.50 McLaren78 18/38 O/P

5. +0.50 mattnz (2 stop) 19/40 P/O

5. +0.50 Quercus 18/38 O/P

8. +0.78 Kieren 18/40 P/O

9. +0.98 gmb 17/37 O/P

10. +1.10 A. Murthy 20/40 P/O

11. +1.78 veeru 13/26/45 O/O/P

12. +1.96 Andrew M. 18/36 O/P

13. +2.14 DB 20/38 P/UO

14. +3.20 Varun 16/38 O/P

15. +4.04 J_Damper 16/35 O/P

16. +4.64 Husker 15/35 O/P

17. +4.80 Joe B 10/27/47 O/P/O

18. +4.88 Nigel F 17/36 P/N

18. +4.88 T. Amarillo 22/41 P/N

20. +5.38 Simmo 19/36 P/N

21. +5.78 Vivek 13/29/42 O/UO/P

22. +6.20 JAF1 Strategy 16/29/43 O/UO/P

23. +9.96 oak 15/38/45 O/P/P

24. DNF Russ 10/44 UP/UO

McLaren78, Quercus and mattnz have all found the best 2 stop strategies.

mattnz winning 3 stop strategy was very good, but even better would have been the following:

14/29/44 O/O/P which is 0.4s faster 🙂

Russ was listed as DNF as his strategy called for 34 laps on used primes which according to the simulator would suffer too much wear (as they last less than 25 laps).

Sebastiaan Hekman

Thanks BlueRacer. Well done. Could you do that for every race???


I will try 🙂

I've already checked some of the best strategies for Malaysian GP and it seems JAF1 default strategy is harder to beat this time: some of the strategies which beats it would have to overtake JA to work.

JAF1 default strategy for Malaysia is:

15/26/42 OU/OU/P

It would be nice if we had a separate place for each race where we could post and discuss our strategies.



I have an idea. You could include an option to select how aggressively you will drive, ie. faster (more aggressive driving) = more tyre wear, and slower = less tyre wear.

Just a suggestion 8)

Sebastiaan Hekman


I tried today to get back to the simulator for Australia - after the race - but can't select it. Is that not possible or is it browser dependent. I use Chrome/Safari, but neither allowed me to select Australia, only Malaysia.

Would be nice to be able to go back to older races and check real strategies out.


Yes, but we move on now to Sepang. Maybe on races which are not back to back we can leave previous race up longer


Interesting, I've been trying some sims for Sepang race and looks the best one is with 3 stops on laps 13.,30.,45. and all on prime new tires. No options tires, exept the one you carry from Q3. Is it possible?

By the way, Awesome site James!


Yes it's possible. It's not possible to use 3 new sets of options because you'll have used them in quali

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