How Vettel and Alonso came close to winning in Monaco
Insight
Strategy Report
Posted By: James Allen  |  29 May 2012   |  11:34 am GMT  |  191 comments

[Updated]History will show that Mark Webber was the winner of this race, ahead of Nico Rosberg with Fernando Alonso third. Rosberg tried a strategy gamble, to get the lead, by pitting first on lap 27, but it didn’t work out as Webber reacted to it. Sebastian Vettel surprised everyone with his strategy and from 9th on the grid came within five seconds of a winning position.

Fernando Alonso made a gain of two places to score a podium and he was happy with that. But with the benefit of hindsight, Alonso could also have won. However to do so he would have to have taken a gamble, which there was no obvious reason to take. Such is racing and the finely balanced world of race strategy.

In many ways the most important observation to make about this race is that for the fourth time in six races, the car leading on the first lap has gone on to win the race. Although some have described the 2012 season as a “lottery” due to the unpredictable behaviour of the Pirelli tyres from track to track and from day to day, this pattern shows that getting the basics right in qualifying and the start is still the foundation of a winning result.

It’s a significant point for several reasons; it highlights the importance of qualifying and starting well, but it also shows how much better the Pirelli tyres perform when they are able to run in clear air, rather than in the wake of another car.

On a circuit like Monaco where overtaking is hard, good race strategy is the only way to make up places as we will see by studying the strategies of Ferrari and Red Bull on Sunday. As last year, the tyres lasted longer than expected and the race turned out to be quite different to what was predicted by strategists, who forecast two stops for the top six cars. Vettel’s performance in the opening stint forced many to rethink.

Overview
Pre-race strategy plans were that the leading cars would stop twice around laps 26 and 52, starting the race on supersoft tyres, then taking new softs at each of the pit stops. But this was based on limited running on the supersoft tyre in practice due to poor weather. In the race they lasted much longer than expected.

Several things happened in the race which disrupted this plan and moved everyone to a one stop plan: first there was a forecast of rain around 28 laps into the race, which forced most teams to leave their cars out, as they would not want to have to stop again for rain tyres having made an initial pit stop. Second, Sebastian Vettel ran a long first stint on soft tyres, which showed that the softs were still very fast even after over 40 laps of running.

Once everyone saw this, there was no question of the leaders making a second stop, as this would give the win to Vettel. So they lapped very slowly in the second stint, preserving the tyres to the finish. Rosberg ended up doing 51 laps on his set of soft tyres.


How Alonso went from fifth to third
Understanding that the tyres needed clear air to run in, Fernando Alonso dropped back from Lewis Hamilton in the opening stint of Sunday’s race, in order to preserve the tyres. He was also practising a technique on the supersoft tyre which gave him better tyre life on a stint: the super soft doesn’t like wheelspin out of slow corners (longitudinal slide) and it doesn’t like it combined with lateral sliding. Alonso was straightening the wheels before applying the throttle, taking a little less out of his tyres at every corner than some of the others. This paid dividends at the end of the opening stint.

Alonso had started well, survived a tangle with Romain Grosjean in the run to turn one and almost passed Lewis Hamilton. He tucked in behind him in fourth place on the first lap. But he then dropped back to around three or four seconds behind the McLaren, focussing on preserving the super soft tyres.

However by the time Hamilton pitted on lap 29, Alonso had moved back up close to him. As soon as Hamilton went in, Alonso pushed hard and took advantage of the problems Hamilton was having with warming up the soft tyres, to jump him for third place when he made his own stop a lap later.

However with hindsight, Alonso could have won the race by staying out another lap or two on the supersoft as it was faster than the new soft tyre which Webber and Rosberg were struggling with. Webber did a 1m 24.518 on lap 30, which was 3 seconds slower than Alonso’s last lap on supersofts.

What probably stopped Ferrari from taking that gamble and going for gold, was Rosberg’s sector times on his first flying lap on new softs on lap 29, which was 1m 19.181s.

Seeing this and thinking quickly, Ferrari would reason that Rosberg was straight on the pace on new tyres and therefore Hamilton would likely be the same, so it was time to bring Alonso in.

But Rosberg, Webber and Hamilton all then struggled on the soft on laps 30 and 31 and the window of opportunity was there to jump them after all.

The downside of the gamble not paying off is that Alonso would have slipped to fifth place. So on balance it would have been an unreasonable gamble on Ferrari’s part and as consistency is the name of the game in 2012, the 15 points Alonso gained on Sunday took him to the lead of the championship.


Vettel changes the game

By this point another driver was bringing himself into contention: Sebastian Vettel. The world champion started the race in 9th place after a poor qualifying session. However he had two cards to play and he played them both brilliantly.

By not running in Q3, he had given himself a choice of starting tyre and went for the soft, planning a long first stint.

The prediction of rain around lap 28 laps into the race also played into his hands. The front runners were slow on the worn supersofts by the time they pitted and the gap back to him was not as large as it would have been if they were two-stopping.

By lap 31 he was leading and his pace on worn soft tyres was far better than that of the leaders on new softs. There is a strong feeling also that Webber held up the pack during this phase to bring Vettel into play. Whether it was discussed that he would hold them up until Vettel was n a position to jump all of them is not clear, but Webber did refer on the radio after the race to being grateful to the team for letting him win.

The quirk of the Pirelli tyres is that they operate in a very narrow temperature range and if you can’t get the tyres into that range they don’t perform. For lap after lap Vettel pulled away from Webber; by lap 37 the gap was 16 seconds. If Vettel could get the gap up to 21 seconds, he would be able to pit and rejoin ahead of Webber and go on to win the race.

But this was the high point of Vettel’s charge; on lap 38 Webber began reducing the gap. Now Vettel and the Red Bull strategists were focussed on when to bring him in and who he would slot back in front of.

Vettel stayed out longer, still getting good performance from the soft tyres. It was clear that Hamilton was the one they could beat and as he fell back from Alonso and was 21.4 seconds behind Vettel on lap 45, they picked that moment to bring Vettel in. He rejoined ahead of Hamilton in fourth place. Hamilton complained to the team about not warning him of Vettel’s threat. He was now down to fifth place, having started the race in third.

No wonder he was frustrated that Alonso and Vettel had beaten him through superior strategy and tyre management.

Di Resta also had a very strong result by starting on the soft tyre, pitting for the supersoft on lap 35. He did extremely well to keep them alive for 43 laps and went from 14th on the grid to 7th at the finish.

The UBS Race Strategy Report is written by James Allen with input and data from several F1 team strategists and from Pirelli.

New tyres available at the start of the race

Webber 2x Soft
Rosberg 1x Soft
Hamilton 1x Soft
Grosjean 1x Soft
Alonso 2x Soft
Schumacher 1x Soft
Massa 2x Soft
Raikkonen 1x Soft
Vettel 1x Soft, 1 x S/Soft
Hulkenberg 1x Soft, 2 x S/Soft
Kobayashi 1x Soft, 2x S/ Soft
Button 1x Soft, 1x S/ Soft
Senna 1 x Soft, 1 x S/ Soft
Di Resta 1 x Soft, 1 x S/Soft
Ricciardo 2 x Soft,
Vergne 2 x Soft, 1 x S/Soft
Kovalainen 3 x Soft, 1 x S/Soft
Petrov 3 x Soft
Glock 3 x Soft, 1 x S/Soft
De La Rosa 3 x Soft
Pic 3 x Soft, 1 x S/ Soft
Karthikeyan 3 x Soft, 1 x S/ Soft
Perez 2 x Soft, 3 x S/ Soft
Maldonado 1 x Soft

Tyre Strategies used in Monaco

Tyre Choice at pit stop
Webber: S/Soft used at start – Soft New on L29
Rosberg: S/Soft used at start – Soft New L27
Alonso: S/Soft used at start – Soft New L30
Vettel: Soft New at start – S/Soft New L46
Hamilton:S/S used at start – Soft New L29
Massa: S/S used at start – Soft New L31
Di Resta: Soft new at start – S/Soft New L35
Hülkenberg: S/Soft New – Soft New L29
Räikkönen: S/Soft Used – Soft New L29
Senna: S/soft New – Soft New L29
Perez: S/Soft New – Soft New L34 – Drive thru penalty L39
Vergne: S/Soft New – Soft New L17 – Intermediates L70
Kovalainen: S/Soft New – Soft New L30 – S/Soft Used L73
Glock: S/soft New – Soft New L30 – Soft New L54
Kartikeyan: S/Soft New – S/Soft Used L29 – Soft New L74
Button: Soft New – S/Soft New L38 – DNF

RACE HISTORY GRAPH

Courtesy of Williams F1 Team

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1

Vettel was very lucky that Alonso took out Growjohn and Schumi, he was able to get past them, and cut the track to get more positions.

2

Thank you James. That was a very good report. It explains a lot.

3

It was a good report overall, but missed some elements that I and Gate21 have added in our posts above.

I guess you didn’t have access to live timing, as that showed how the race was unfolding, and who had the opportunities to win/move up in the race. If one is observant enough, that is pretty much all the information one needs to have a solid understanding what is happening within a race – no explanations needed.

Great performance from Mark Webber overall. A great shame Michael Schumacher did not get to show us his Monaco skills due to the overzealous stewards in Spain. Bruno was driving around like a slowcoach (with his teammate showing how it could be done), and he was changing his line in front of Schumacher. Schumacher DNF’d from a strong position, while Bruno was in a very poor position in the race, when considering he hadn’t pitted. Therefore the DNF against Schumacher was surely enough punishment for Michael. But as it turned out, Bruno not only was partially responsible for Michael’s DNF from a good position, thanks to the stewards they then punished Michael incredibly severely for Monaco as it turned out.

4

James,

Are Mclaren going to have a major upgrade on the rear end, as the front has changed to a lower stepped nose. The reason for asking this question, as they have raised the front nose to allow air to reach the rear end, you would expect a change on the rear floor and the way air is travelling at the rear end.

RBR Floor is under clarification, as exhaust and rear end air is hitting the flap with a hole, just like a exhaust blown diffuser (Air flow blown diffuser).

I have a sneaky feeling that Mclaren will be evaluating the stepped nose and normal low nose.

Do you know when the FIA will provide an answer regarding the rear floor slot?.

Thanks

5

FIA indicated it could be within the week on floor clarification
Don’t know about McLaren

6

Hi sorry to bother you again, if the air blown diffuser is allowed then essentially the whole grid will need this tool. This brings back another question can you work out how much difference this air blown diffuser brings as it looks like redbull are strong through both slow and fast corners as witnessed in Bahrain to MonacoSpain to Monaco. This is effectively a diffuser that was turned to take air. the rules were to stop this technology by keeping the hole enclose and not open. Thanks

7

In terms of strategy, what I would have liked to see in this race is Massa pitting for new tyres on about Lap 55. He wouldn’t have dropped any positions, and could have easily re-caught the pack.

There was nothing to lose, and an outside chance that he could’ve taken a position or two at the end.

8

I haven’t crunched the numbers, but if it had started to pour down like a monsoon in the last three laps. Would Vergne’s gamble of switching to Inters have enabled him to win or get a podium?

What are your thoughts?

9

James

Nobody seems to have noticed, or commented upon the fact that many drivers e.g. Vettel, benefitted from cutting St Devote in the aftermath of the Grosjean affair. Contrast Vettel, Di Resta, Kovi with Button, who went the wrong side.

The Stewards investigated but took no action as it was a ‘racing incident’ -yet, especially Vettel gained significantly. I think this contributed far more to Vettel’s successful race, than clever tyre strategy..

What are your thoughts, please? Thanks. Nick

10

……….. but Webber did refer on the radio after the race to being grateful to the team for letting him win.

This tells me Webber is leaving Red Bull at the end of the season.

11

Great article and analysis again, thank you.

The review of all this, in hindsight, leads to a few problems. The point on Alonso is great however as you said, probably no team would make that decision, especially if they are wanting to ‘bank’ points in the ‘not so quickest’ car on the grid.

One is that we will never know how fast Webber could have gone before damaging his tyres. He kept enough of an advantage to Rosberg to keep him safe. He reacted each time Rosberg closed the gap to him. Webber also, I believe keep Vettel as close as he could without going too close to the 20+ sec margin that Vettel needed if Vettel was going for the win.

On the other hand if Webber was playing to team tactics, possibly Vettels tyres went off 2-3 laps earlier than RB wanted to so he could jump Alonso as well and get both RB’s on the podium.

These are two points we will never know until the book comes out!

One thing we do know is that the prediction of rain probably was the biggest influence on the teams thinking during the race.

12

Hey I think you used wrong data in your analysis.

Alonso by lap 28 was 7.7 seconds behind Mark. If we deduct 3 seconds for lap 29 and 1 second maximum for each consecutive lap it would be impossible for Alonso to pass Mark in 1 or 2 Laps. Moreover Alonso’s pace was becoming slower and slower after lap 26 and onwards and on lap 29 it was 1.21.474 while Mark was actually quicker on lap 31 doing a 1.21.134 and he did not really got slower at the next laps with the exception of lap 32 when he did a 1.21.5 which was probably a small mistake. After that he got just quicker. Moreover there is nothing to suggest that Mark was using his full pace at that moment and he could not go quicker if he wanted. Remember he wanted to nurse his tyres.

Things were closer with Rosberg. Alonso was 5.6 seconds behind before Rosberg pitted. By the time alonso pitted he had gained a total of 1.3 seconds on Rosberg. (won 3.6 on lap 28 lost 2.3 on lap 29). Alonso also gained 0.9 seconds if we compare the times of the pitstop laps (Alonso 1.36.242 Rosberg 1.37.180). That means that Alonso would still be 3.4 seconds behind. Rosberg was a bit slower than Mark on his next 4 laps but I doubt that he was pushing. He had no reason to and he wanted to get a few seconds off Mark to preserve his tyres better. But even if he could not go quicker still Alonso would have to put in some super laps to pass him and repeat his pace of lap 28 for all four laps. Then only he would emerge around 0.4 seconds in front of Rosberg. But Alonso was getting slower and slower after lap 26 so I cannot see how it could have happened.

What I say can be found also at

http://www.fia.com/en-GB/mediacentre/f1_media/Documents/mco-race-analysis.pdf

and

http://www.fia.com/en-GB/mediacentre/f1_media/Documents/mco-race-history.pdf

Also In my humble opinion and for the purpose of the strategy analysis it is important to say that probably after Saturday evening every team knew it was a 1 stop race. Schumacher told it clearly on saturday press conference. Also the pirelli’s Hembery told such numbers for the life expectancy of both tyres that it was clear everyone could do it with 1 stop. Unless of course you know something from the mechanics that we do not.

13

Good post Charalampos. However, check out my post above. Fernando would have been in the 1.18’s on Lap 30 if he did not pit. Therefore the assertion that Fernando was going slower and slower from Lap 26 onwards is incorrect. As I’ve pointed out in my post, the laptimes do not give enough detail.

However, I do agree that Webber and Rosberg were unlikely doing the maximum pace they could do.

14

Keep in mind with your analysis, Charalampos, that Alonso only had clear air for 2/3 of ONE lap – after Hamilton pitted. It is those puple sectors set on that lap (where up until S2, Alonso was 2.7″ up on Rosberg for that lap) that people (including me) are making the judgement that Alonso had enough pace to jump Rosberg and/or Webber.

Webber, Rosberg and Hamilton failed to set a green sector in the lap Alonso pitted and the lap after he pitted.

But the race is over and now it will be a case of “could he? would he? should he?”

15

Certainly the two briefings I went to with two of the leading team strategists on Sunday morning indicated that the likelihood was 2 stops for the from three rows

16

All this kimi could have done this .. Schumi would have done this .. Vettel could have done this … No-one apart from Webber actually knows how much faster Mark could have gone. All this supposition when Mark may have been able to turn up the heat and pull away if necessary.

After all he’s won there before, and is always awesome at Monaco. So I think he had time in his pocket it he had to, but didn’t need to risk it.

Great controlled drive.

17

I would agree with that sentiment. I think if Fernando had have stayed out, we would have seen Mark properly push. And yes Webber is awesome in Monaco – he is awesome at all the traditional venues. Tends to be bad in comparison to Vettel on the Tilkedromes. Of his 8 GP victories not a single one of them is on a Tilkedrome.

18

James, are you at all uneasy that Webber and Vettel may have had an unfair illegal advantage over the others?

19

Hi James, love your work as always, I need to point out a couple of things though.

Webber’s lap time of 1.24.5 on lap 30 takes into account the pitstop Webber made at the end of Lap 29. Also Alonso’s laptime of 1.21 is not appropriate to use, he was being held up by Hamilton on Lap 29. You also mention Nico doing a 1.19. Yet none of these laptimes can be compared to each other, as two of the laptimes in the above three involved give no indication of the absolute pace of the drivers. Yet, you, James use all three laptimes as if they are indicitive of the absolute pace of the three drivers, which they are not.

Now, let me do some further analysis. On Lap 30, Alonso, for the first time in the race in proper clean air, went absolutely nuts! He went purple in sectors 1 and 2, and we could see the slow sector 1 time for Webber and Rosberg and Hamilton. Here, at this moment, and I made the call, I was saying, “Ferrari have got to keep Fernando out”, and I was surprised they were not smart enough to simply say “stay out for one more lap – you are purple in sectors 1 and 2”. Then, if the following lap, he continued his pace, they could have kept him out for another lap, and so on.

So James, sure the lap times tell us a story, but an inaccurate story, it was the sector times which gave the detail. And if Fernando did not pit on Lap 30, it would have been a 1.18 from Fernando for that lap. I agree though, that yes, Ferrari were more concerned about Hamilton, and went for a risk averse strategy. I suspect they were also concerned about wanting to pit Massa too.

I have time, and time again, made good strategy calls for almost every driver on the grid. However, occasionally I do stuff it up, but there is always a clear rationale. And in this case, there was a clear rationale as to why Ferrari decided to pit Fernando, so it can be forgiven.

If Webber had have employed me in 2010, he would have won the title by at least 50 points, and probably 70. Sure, there were a few races where the team made a better call than me (for instance in Malaysia when he qualified on the intermediate tyre which gave him pole by 2 seconds – I would not have taken that gamble, simply because there was no need to in his position), but overall I would have thrashed what Red Bull did for him, losing points for him in some races, but gaining a lot more overall.

Although, I do acknowledge, that if one were actually making the strategy calls, one would be a lot more nervous and therefore likely to be more risk averse, and stick to a safer strategy which is what Ferrari did with Fernando on Sunday.

And everyone was quick to criticise Torro Rosso for putting on intermediate tyres on Vergne, but it was the best call, and I would have also made that call. Though I’d probably need another page to explain why!

Keep up the good work James.

20

legend345, I dont doubt your stategy skills but you really have missed the point…

Webber is a number two driver coming to the end of his career… the RB aim is t9 get Vettel into winning position – in what was a very fragile car – remember he lost nearly 100 points due to car failure…

21

So what you are saying is that Red Bull, despite publicly repeatedly claiming that both drivers are given equality in terms of equipment and strategy, deliberately compromised Webber in races where it would be to the benefit of Vettel. In effect, costing Webber world champion status. If we examine races such as, for instance, Australia 2010, Canada 2010 and Italy 2010, then that claim is certainly plausible.

22

Great comment! I wonder if Ferrari were primarily concerned with consolidating their podium at that point of the race? Alonso seems to be a bit like Prost in that he will choose a guaranteed 3rd over a possible 2nd or even 1st with an elevated risk of losing a position or 2. This approach has served him well thus far, as it did for Prost. Also consider that we are still fairly early in the season, Alonso is leading the championship and his 3rd place maintained that while re-shuffling the order of those behind him. If he continues to perform at this level he should slowly pull away from the rest as they take points off of each other. I imagine that as the season continues they may be willing to risk more.

23
Alanis Morissette

Agreed – the strategists in most teams seem to get entirely obvious risk/reward calculations very wrong….we appear to have a significant advantage in objectivity on the sofa!

And yep, although I thought throughout the race that the decisions made because of the expected rain were on the whole entirely baffling – in vergne’s case where he was struggling on that set, the potential gains compared to losses were completely in favour of chucking on the inters and praying for rain.

24

Like legend345, I came to the same conclusion. I have gone over the live timing data to confirm my theory on the day.

The only rationale for Ferrari’s decision I can find is that they were focused on Hamilton and not Webber/Rosberg. If they were studying Web/Ros, they would have left him out as you and I thought during the race.

On Rosberg’s first flying lap after pitting, he set a green S2 (36.6) and purple S3 (21.5) for a lap time of 1.19.181.

Hamliton and Webber pit BEFORE Rosberg finishes his first flying lap. Possibly reacting to the green S2.

But Rosberg’s times for that first flyer were barely better than Alonso’s best up until then (36.6 & 21.7).

It is then that Alonso has clear air and then sets purple S1 (20.4) and S2 (36.3) while Rosberg does a 21.6 and 37.8. That is 2.7s better for 2/3 of ONE LAP.

The key point is that Alonso enters the pits just as Rosberg crosses the S2 timing split so Alonso and Ferrari wouldn’t have been aware of how much time they have pulled out on Rosberg until it is too late.

While in the pits, the rest of the leading pack complete their laps without a hint of green in ANY sectors.

After the race Alonso spoke of “changing focus” from race to race on different competitors. To me this confirms that he nor the team really had eyes for the race win. They were concentrating on beating Hamilton and Vettel home.

In a conventional season, that might be fine. But this year the form is so variable that it is surely better to concentrate on finishing as high up the order as possible each race rather than beating whoever is nearer you in the WDC today?

25

great couple of posts – nice detail.

26
Tornillo Amarillo

Not a great win, but Webber was great for playing roles with Red Bull and Vettel, watching gaps with Vettel and then with Nico, why McLaren can’t do anything similar…?

I guess there is a decadent factor inside McLaren team, something is terrible wrong, just causing problems to Hamilton and ruining Button with setups, mistakes, wrong calls, etc.

27

I love reading this column – it’s very informative and helps shape my understanding of why the teams do what they do.

“So on balance it would have been an unreasonable gamble on Ferrari’s part and as consistency is the name of the game in 2012, the 15 points Alonso gained on Sunday took him to the lead of the championship.” I agree to a point here. Obviously Ferrari likes to be “winning” at any point of the season, and they probably had a better handle on the probability of the different outcomes, but it would have been interesting to gamble – to gain 10 points or to lose just 5. Assuming an equal probability, that’s a positive expected return. The difference of Alonso being just ahead or just behind Vettel/Webber vs. being 13 points clear seems huge to me. I know how Massa lost his, and how Alonso lost his two years ago, but it’s still early, and to have a half a win lead is very valuable, and you soon start to change other teams’ strategies in that case.

28

Did Vettel gain a significant advantage by cutting the first corner? I think he may have passed Raikkonen at that point, which could have been quite beneficial given that Raikkonen became something of a road block later in the first stint.

29

I appreciate that run-off areas are needed for safety, but I would like to see a mandatory penalty for any and all off track excursions regardless of the situation. I say run a loop around the track and if sensors indicate an off, you do a drive through. No excuses.

30
Alanis Morissette

That would probably have a significant effect on the racing. People would be less likely to attempt an overtake into the corner if they knew that if they did mess up and going off the track they’d get a penalty – and 90% of the time an off track excursion ends up in the driver losing time anyway.

I agree there are times when a driver may make up time by taking an escape road, and isn’t penalised for it because he didn’t gain a (visual) advantage. Under those circumstances, if his laptime shows a significant improvement, a penalty might be appropriate. But again, not always. Draconian rules like that would be a little too … draconian.

31

I suppose it may be too draconian, I just hate seeing people taking easy way out. In days gone by, an excursion off track often ended your race. Now we have paved run-off that drastically improve safety, but allows a driver to push beyond the limit with the knowledge that there will be no penalty for doing so. Even if there is no visual advantage, there is an advantage gained. Hamilton in Valencia against Rosberg for instance, there was an advantage because he didn’t have to back off (it was awesome to see that though!).

I suppose solution exists that isn’t so draconian, perhaps if an off-track (all 4 wheels off track) is registered and you gained a position or increased your lap/sector time then a penalty is automatically applied?

I re-watched the footage from Monaco and every driver that cut the first corner due to Grosjean’s incident could have backed out of it and made the corner still, but they didn’t because they knew they could take the paved shortcut and not be penalized. The only exception could be Vettel, but even then he had time to realize that Grosjean was coming for him and he kept his foot in it and took the cut-off, he could have just as easily slowed considerably to avoid Grosjean and stayed on circuit.

32

We’ve already got drivers refusing to push the cars for fear of eating their tyres up. Now you want introduce mandatory penalties for dipping a tyre over white lines?

Do you WANT to watch a 100mph procession for every race?

33

Not a tire, but all four tires, in violation of the rules which require that “drivers must use the track at all times” and the track being defined as the bit between the white lines.

Perhaps a clearer definition of what an “advantage” is. In my opinion, not ending your race equals an advantage. Not losing 2-3 positions because you overcooked it into a corner constitutes an advantage. Being able to make the pass stick because of good defensive driving is an advantage. I don’t think that an advantage is only gained when you have passed someone.

I also don’t want to 100mph processions, I just really don’t like the use of the run-off areas. We have seen great racing in the past on circuits where going off track means an end to your race (and your life if you go back a couple of decades). While I do like the run off areas for safety, I don’t like them being used as an “oops, I went over the limit” buffer.

34

He had nowhere else to go. Missed Grosjean by inches

35

Inches? Looked closer than that! Good point James .. Hardly a deliberate move by him, and I’m a Webber fan!

36
Bring Back Murray

That’s pretty insane, where at Monaco, a track where qualifying is so vital, Vettel can qualifty outside the top 10, get advantage of the soft tyre and use it to almost win the race. It’s like F1 has turned itself on its head this season.

Is that what everyone is going to try now on a track when its hard to overtake? Try and qualify outside the top ten to put the harder tyre compound on? Maybe that was even Red Bull’s plan right from the beginning!

37

Should have been a Red Bull 1-2!!!!

Why didn’t Webber back the pack up when Vettel was leading by about 16secs?

He could easily have backed them up giving Vettel the 20/21 secs (or more) that he needed to make his pitstop? Vettel would have re-emerged in the lead and the two could have swapped positions guaranteeing a Red Bull 1-2.

38

I don’t think anyone should risk giving Sebastian the lead. He may not give it back!

Plus, it would also put Vettel in front of Mark on the leaderboard.

Vettel is a major contender to win the WDC – he just keeps hanging around the top of tables. Just can’t shake him with his consistent point scoring drives.

39

What is the benefit to MW by giving Vettel an extra 8 points in the championship?

40

No Benefit to Webber but it is a benefit to the team and Mark Webber is a team player.

41

You’re missing an important step here… Nothing would have prevented Vettel from subsequently letting Webber past.

42

“Although some have described the 2012 season as a “lottery” due to the unpredictable behaviour of the Pirelli tyres from track to track and from day to day, this pattern shows that getting the basics right in qualifying and the start is still the foundation of a winning result.”

Indeed but getting that right IS part of the lottery.

43

Nice overview James. But So many people watched the raced but missed many things :

1. Grosjean was squeezed by Schumacher and Alonzo who had great starts he touched back of Alonzos car- not his fault !

2. Lewis said ” I don’t think my tyres will last much longer ” NOT his team. He was rightly upset that they didn’t warn him about Alonzos and Vettels positions. I think he could have dodged Vettel not certain on Alonzo. I think if he was warned about Fernando even if Fernando was within a few tenths ahead Ferrari would not have risked it and this decided the whole outcome of top 5 because this in turn may have changed RBR strategy with Sebastian.

3. It’s abundantly clear that Mark held up the pack to bring Vettel into top 4. But It got marginal after that ) rain etc-and he had to (and was told) press on !.Seems people here still doubt it.

4. I’m my humble couch potato opinion 2 stop strategy was always the right one despite the rain call. Except obviously for Vettel/ button. ( Kimi too ! )Because 15-16 laps warning still would have yielded 20sec gain anyway.

44

Track position was king. No use coming in on fresh tyres to join a possession and not be in a position to overtake. Often during the race the commentators explained that the 0.6s difference between new option and run in prime was not enough to overtake in Monaco. Most of the competitive overtakes were not fully completed at end of tunnel straight – rather barged pas car. So staying out when others stayed out was the best option I think.

45

But remember, don’t miss that Alonso is not Alonzo. In the same way Harriet is not Harrieth, or I daresay Elie is not Elle. To each its own.

46

Lol yeh Sorry! I kept thinking of him as the great Zoro and dropping the magic Z everywhere !

47

James,

Michael’s lap times before and after his pitstop were almost identical around 1.19.xxx.Had he stayed out few more laps,could that have resulted in him gaining 1-2 places?

It was interesting conversation between Merc pitwall and Michael before his stop.Pitwall wanted him to continue for 3 more laps and Micahel replied there was nothing left in the tyres.But the timing post his pitstop wasnt much better either.Was it the start of his fuel pump issue or Merc\Michael miss a trick there

Thanks.

48

He catch Lewis(lap 33) , and Lewis was doing 1:20 something. So he was losing time behind him. This is why he pit. His fuel problem started in lap 58.

49

Is it me, or does it seem like the “tires last longer than anyone expected” in every race? Since Pirelli came in…this has happened over and over.

50

I am with you on this one.

51

Its very dispiriting to read about drivers going to such lengths to preserve the tyres, notwithstanding that it may indeed require great skill and thought processes.

To be sure, it is a driving skill, but it can never count as a fundamental RACING skill. The relationship between racing and passive-conservative driving isnt one of identity like being the fastest is. It is greatly to be regretted that this brand of motorsport is being normalized. Ill trade so-called unpredictability for a race thats exhausting to watch because of its frenetic pace.

52

From what little I know of racing, tire management is paramount. Boring, yes, but probably one of the most important aspects of racing.

Also consider what Alonso did, he went the same speed as Hamilton overall, just at different points in the race. He fell back in the first part to conserve his tires which allowed him to go faster in the second part and jump Hamilton in the pits. This was a brilliant combination of racing skill and strategy.

An F1 race isn’t a sprint race with no consideration of strategy. It has been, and should remain a managed but very fast race.

53

I cannot agree more with your point. To which is the driver more like, to the horse or the jockey? F1 racing isn’t pushing and no thinking. It has never being a pure sprint until tires fade off. Is more like the 800 or 1500 meter races, lots of tactics in racer’s head.

54

But it’s not one in combination with the other at different times. Currently, the driver’s speed is always tempered by tyre limitations. So it’s never about sprinting (bar qualifying).

A very decaf version of “racing”.

55
Bring Back Murray

That’s pretty much my take on things too. Remember when Mansell used to keep going on about driving at 11/10ths? Distant memory, sadly…

56

Yet the highlight reels on ESPN show how close and exciting F1 is….. puke.

57

James,

what about Massa then. It seems to me that he should have stayed few laps longer on the supersoft.

Surely they didn’t want to mess Alonso’s race, but Massa couldn’t lose, he had the big gap.

58

Yo!

I would remove the chicane right after the tunnel and mandate a “two shots of whisky at every pitstop” rule to create more excitement at the Monaco GP

59

I like your 2 shots of whisky idea, anything to brighten up the boring race. Maybe they could extend the track over the water going around the harbour and introduce a wave machine!

60

I second this motion! though seriously, I know on safety, tradition and logistical grounds (a lot of grounds) its unlikely, but losing the clumsy chicane and opening up that whole section for a wide entry to the left hander would make Monaco properly suitable for modern F1 cars to overtake, as well as returning Tabac to its former glory. The old chicane was probably the oddest and most dangerous classic corner ever, 170mph through the eye of a needle, but the new one has always been a bit rubbish.

61

Vettel raised a valid point. Kimi was struggling with his tyres and held the pack behind him. This allowed the other cars to get away and rejoin in front of Kimi after their one and only pit stops. If Kimi would have been faster, then the leaders would have dropped behind Kimi thus giving the 5 seconds Vettel needed to rejoin in front and take the win.

62

And Webber held the train up for 7 seconds to allow Vettel to pick up 2 places.

63

You can’t have everything!

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