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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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

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



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)


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.


Nice one!!


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


awesome james….it 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

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.


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.


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.)


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.


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…)


lap 19 – primes – new

lap 36 – options – new

about 7 seconds quicker 😀


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?


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.


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?


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.


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.


Hi James, this can itself be an Interesting App!



I beat the default…just! Two stopper:

1st Lap 15 – Options

2nd. Lap 35 – Prime

thomas in adelaide

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


What’s the assumption about starting compound?

Option (likely) or prime?

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.


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!


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

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?

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