How Vettel and Alonso came close to winning in Monaco
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.

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


Courtesy of Williams F1 Team

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mohamed south africa

james had schumacher not got the penalty and lead into the first corner would he had won the race. at one stage he seemed to be catching the leaders after being held up for so long behind kimi

Aaron Noronha

If Kimi hadnt held up Vettel for 2 or 3 laps where he was nearly 2 to 3 seconds off the pace of the race leaders, Vettel would have easily have a gap of over 22-25 seconds enough to hand him the Victory. I really dont see why races should be held at events where even a car over 3 seconds slow can hold back faster cars. The organiser should redesign the circuit or the race should be dropped from the calender.


No, he would not as he had fuel pressure issues. Failing that he probably would have won.


I thought that the fuel pressure issue came as a result of his contact with Grosjean... so accident damage?


No. The team say that he would have had that problem whatever happened in the race before

mohamed south africa

yeah forgot to mention that



At the point where vettel on old tyres was faster than the leaders on new tyres - Schumacher was even faster - on even older tyres - which he qualified in P1 - remember!!

-If Schumacher gets a penalty when a backmarker weaves in front of him in the breaking zone - leaving him nowhere to go-- why does another driver have no sanction for smashing him into the barriers at the next race??

There is no consistancy in the application of the rules or the penatlites.

Its about time that the FIA made an effort to calm Grosjean in the opening laps -- as his team appear content to let him continue taking himself and others out!!


I agree on the general inconsistency and variating severity of penalties, however, Grosjean can hardly be blamed for the incident. For instance, check (Preemptive apology for linking to another f1 site). Grosjean had nowhere to go but left. By the looks of things, Schumacher could've gone towards the inside, originally did but opted otherwise. The outside slot was always going to disappear.


I thought Alonso crowded him left, so he had nowhere else to go but also left.

Yeh it was a shame that happened, because Schumi seemed to lose momentum after that. Doesn't really matter though seeing Schumacher had yet another gremlin.

Either way, not really penalty worthy for Grosjean this time.


I feel thats a bit harsh on Grosjean, he is a bit of a headless chicken admittedly, but on this occasion it seemed he had nowhere to go once the Ferrari moved across. Its a bit different from ploughing into the back of someone on an otherwise clear track.


I agree with the 3 points.


yes, consistency! I see no penalty for Maldonado for crashing into de la Rosa.


Yes - and accidents happen when inexperienced drivers weave around in the braking zone...


fair enough I guess.


Accidents happen at the startline when drivers are unsighted from anything else happening further ahead, hardly worth giving them a penalty, unlike Schumi's rather dozy move in Barcelona where he really has only himself to blame.


Be all that as it may, it took MacLaren almost a full second longer to change Hamilton's tyres than it took Ferrari to change Alonzo's.

THAT is why Alonzo jumped Hamilton on the pit stops. It also meant that when Vettel pitted and his stop was 3/4 of a second faster than Hamilton's had been, Hamilton dropped another place.

There is no wind tunnel or testing ban on practicing pit stops, so there is no excuse for MacLaren being so slow on pit stops all season. All the rest of the analysis is moot because it is about situations which shouldn't exist, and meaningless because until those times improve MacLaren will not be on the podium consitently.


It's not a new problem for Mclaren.

I joke that it's because of Sam Michael, maybe he has had a spell put on him by some witch in his past, but Mclaren has got form for this.

I well remember, and James may concur, as he was commentating at the time, but DC had problems with pit-stops in Magny Cours when he was contesting the race with MSc. That's one occasion, but Hakkinen suffered also.

What about Button leaving the pits at the British GP last year, never mind the bung in his radiator which over heated his engine in Monaco 2010.

For some reason, out of the top teams, Mclaren suffers an inordinate amount.

It was said after Whitmarsh took over from R Dennis that the team seemed more relaxed. Maybe Dennis placed pressure on everybody around him, but it hasn't changed the issues


From memory I think Ferrari did 3.7s pit stop for Fredo, and Macca did a 4.2 sec for Lewis, so half a second. Lewis was just slow at that point and Alonso got past.


Practicing pitstops in a wind tunnel LOL 😀


In the event Chicago gets a Grand Prix


I tend to disagree. You could see from the timing monitor that Alonso did 2 purple sectors before coming in. Had he finished the lap it would easily have been the fastest of the race at that point - at the same time when Hamilton was struggling to heat up his new tyres. The difference of this one lap alone was probably around 3-4 seconds.

That's why JA has it exactly right. The pace that Alonso was able to go at that point could have carried him even further up, provided he had another 1 or 2 clear laps ahead of him.


I shall bow to better informed/more knowledgeable fans.

I do however stand by my comment that there is no reason to be consistently spotting your competitors nearly a second per routine pit stop (and more when tyres won't go on, of course)


The extra second "might" have prevented Seb from taking 4th place off Lewis....


hamilton was more than 1sec back of alonso when alonso rejoined the race track back. so it is not only about the slow pit-stop of mclaren.


Alonso was more than a second away from Lewis when he join the race,so even without the "1 second mistake" from Mclaren, Alonso will be in front of Lewis.


Alonso came out the pits more than a second ahead of Lewis after the stops - ok it helped Alonso that the McLaren guys were/are having trouble turning the cars around, but Alonso's pace would have been enough to pip Lewis anyway.



Agree 100% with all your report but...

As I mentioned before, I do not think that it took them so many laps to warm up the Soft, as you can see by Rosberg first lap on new tires. In my opinion this was a game from RBR to maximize Vettel strategy. You can read between the lines on Webber conference..."ok thats enough, time to speed up" (more or less what he said with other words), and also the comments from Jaime on your show (he is the Pirelli test driver). Can you please comment on this?



Look at the graph. After the first stop, both Webber and Rosberg's times flattened. They should be getting faster (upward slope) with new tires and burning off fuel, but they weren't catching up to the "average"/zero-line car.

It's pretty obvious that their tires weren't coming in.


I think that the Pirelli's narrow tyre temp window is their major failing this year. I don't mind the allows strategy options, but the temp. issue introduces a 'luck' element into the proceedings which I feel that F1 doesn't need.

Who would have thought Lotus would struggle so much in the race after their free practice performance?

I actualy think the tyre temp issue doesn't look good for Pirelli..who wants to buy a tyre that only works on a Sunny day when it's bang on 22 degrees C? :-/


Just to clarify my third paragraph...I was only joking!

I do realise that race slicks & road tyres are miles appart & I like the fact that the high deg has been 'engineered' in to provide the teams/drivers with different strategy options.

I just find the narrow operating temperature window (which has been pretty well documented around the web Andrew) a little too 'random'.


I don't know where all this talk of a narrow temperature band has come from, Pirelli and the teams have all said the window is pretty similar to last year, it's that the teams are strugleing to keep it in that band.


I'm sorry, but it's a little naive to compare road car tyres to race slicks.

I understand what you mean, as in their marketing/ advertising etc, but still..


I agree with your first two ponts, but I have never understood the third. Being the brand used in formula 1 generates MASSIVE publicity and advertising. The tyres that Pirelli manufacture for formula 1 are very different to the ones we put on our road cars. Anyone who knows Formula 1 well knows this and can appreciate that Pirelli are doing what they are asked - precision engineering. Anyone who doesn't know formula 1 well surely doesn't care about tyre deg and that sort of thing and just sees the brand everywhere. Whether or not this influences someone to buy Pirelli is another thing. I just take what is cheapest for my car!


I do agree with you if you look at WEB, but the same cannot be said for the others. Its ok if you say that takes a couple of laps or even 3 laps to warm up the tires...but 10??? And again ROS was on WEB gearbox after 2 laps of joining the race


Alonso and Vettel were the smartest of nurses in Monaco

Grayzee (Australia)

Yeah, but not smart enough to win! Webber nursed his all the way to the winning post!

I love the 'nurses' metaphor, btw! 🙂


Vettel was the lucky boy of the day. First corner accident gave him the 4th place.

He did nothing special, he started on soft tyres because he did not make a time lap during q3, so it was all very normal that he stayed on track longer than the other front runners.


And after 30 laps on his softs he was matching the pace of Webber and/or Rosberg with new softs. Nothing special at all.


The Soft tyres lasted better than expected, so nothing to do with Vettel. He was just trying to go long to get the jump. As it turned out, the threat of rain slowed everyone on the supersofts so, it was pure luck he was there at the end.


Jimmy, the only comparison you can make between the times set on old and new soft tyres is Webber and Vettel. They were the only two cars running in clear air.

Rosberg, Alonso and Hamilton were all in the dirty air. No one knows how fast they could have lapped.

It's also pretty evident that Webber was restraining himself to allow Vettel to pit and rejoin in the following pack.


Even Schumacher can win that race if he didn't get hit by RG and if his car hold to the finish. He was planning to stay longer than the rest and he was very fast after Kimi pit, so he have speed. He just needed 7-8(5-6 laps more) sec to jump all.

I mean if he was 5-6th before the stop. He make 2 sec in his in and out lap comparing to Webber. And he take from Webber 1,7:1,5:1,1 sec in next laps(31-33). He can do more fast laps ,but he was stopped by slower Lewis on new softs.


Not if Webber was backing up the field to make sure Red Bull maximised their championship points. If there was a threat from another driver I'm certain Webber would have upped his pace.

Grayzee (Australia)

They ALL could have upped their pace....just chose not to preserve tyres.......


Poor Hamilton. The race for the WDC demands a bit more than just being able to drive quickly. You've also got to be able to think!

Maybe this is why Ron Dennis gets so exasperated with him!

Good luck with another team, Lewis.

Bring Back Murray

Its a shame isn't it. Hamilton is surely the fastest driver out there on raw speed. I'd prefer it if F1 was more blanaced towards raw speed alone, with the stategy taking a back seat rather than being the driving force in a race. I'd rather see the drivers driving at 11 tenths as Mansell used to say - rather than at about 6 tenths, acting like its a game of chess all the way through! Can't see Hamilton winning many more WDCs if it stays like this...


Getting the strategy right requires a team. Clearly, Lewis doesn't have the top strategy tea, that he needs behind him.

Fernando would likely have got him regardless of the poor pitstop, but there's no excuse for missing the threat of Sebastian's charge. How many points do McLaren have to lose before they wise up this year?


Lewis' driving is just fine. He'd be leading the WDC if it weren't for team screw ups.

Even in Monaco, there was nothing he could really do to avoid being leapfrogged by Alonso, but he could've been in front of Seb had his RE given him the proper information. Lewis could easily have closed the gap to Seb by another second or so preceding Seb's pit if he had known he needed to. The driver won't just know instinctively exactly where on the race track he needs to be in such a situation. The guys behind the pit wall have tell him.

I admit, Lewis isn't quite the thinker that Alonso and Button are, but he really shouldn't need to be. If he had the kind of pit work, and strategy that Fernando and Seb have had, he would be leading right now. So if McLaren can get their act together, and if the car is competitive, there's no reason Lewis can't be right in the hunt.


I'll second that. I'd like to see him go to Mercedes teaming with the best thinker on the grid - Ross Brawn...


As Mansell proved in 1986 and 1987, driving at 11/10ths doesn't win you many WDC's.

Villeneuve drove at 11/10ths and he became a legend, but not the dominant winner he should have become.

Motor-sport dating back to the 1st GP of 1906 has always had elements of strategy, conservation and endurance.

Pure speed was about what they could do in qualifying. This is why I struggled with qualifyng when they had to have race fuel in the car, because we never saw the cars ultimate speed.


But unfair making the comparison to Villeneuve there, he was coming into his prime when he was killed and the two years before that he had an absolute dog of a car.

Bring Back Murray

OK, fair point, Mansell only won 1 WDC. But I just think that the opportunity should be there to really go for it if you wanted to, without the tyres turning into wet Jelly after 3 laps.

Remember that race during Shumi's Benneton days when they had a semi-wet track but the Ferrari’s went out on dry tyres and everyone else went out on inters? The Ferraris gambe paid off and they ended up miles in front, but at the end, Schumacher chased them down and down for god knows how many laps and eventually caught them.

What about when Raikonnen chased down Fisichella in the closing stages of the 2005 Japanese GP? That was F1 racing at its finest.

Could he have done that on todays tyres?

I'm not saying strategy isn't part of F1 racing - it is obviously. But if people don't have the opportunity to really go for it over an extended period of laps, then whats the point! (well you've got to what Alonso did I guess, sit back and pounce when the time is right!)

And agree with you about the qualifying. Remember the days when they used to give them qualifying tyres and let them really go for it?

Good stuff.


Hi James

Reading this report it appears you don't subscribe to the theory that Mark was driving to a Red Bull team strategy From laps 29 to 38. By controlling the race pace he was in the perfect position to ensure that Vettel would be in the mix (but not too close!) when he eventually stopped for his super softs.

I believe both Mark and Christian Horner made post race comment to the effect that Mark "did what he had to do" to ensure the best result for the team...

As a Red Bull and Webber fan I say fair play to them for doing so (if that was the case).


I don't subscribe to the theory that Webber backed the rest up to help Vettel. First, Webber isnt that type of guy - Vettel is probably the one driver on the grid he would be least likely to help. Second, how would the team have given such a command? If over the radio, this would surely have been picked up and broadcast.



I think Mark followed the team order only partially.


Lotus team order in Bahrain too wasn't there on broadcast.


I know why u r saying that but teams shud back their drivers from 1st race to ensure WDC.


@ Angelina: what Lotus team order in Bahrain?


I can see how that might have been the case, yes and I mention it. Interesting point is why Webber speeded up when he did though.

It meant Vettel jumped only Massa and Hamilton, not the others

Grayzee (Australia)

He sped up when he did, with or without team orders, because....he didn't want be beaten!

And so he should. RB have no right to favour Vettel at this stage of the season. Great team his teamate in the points without losing the win. Brilliant!

( er..I may be biased....a little....:-) )


James, if you believe that Webber was having tyre heating problems, then you must believe in the tooth fairy.

Of couse he would speed up to protect his lead and remember who was coming third, his potential team mate for next year.

I just don't think you are giving Webber the the credit he should get. Vettel should be thanking him for the help.


It left me £1 under my pillow only last night....


James do you really think Mark was backing the field up? Listening to your interview after the race i am pretty certain i heard him say that was not the plan and may have been surprised at Sebs pace with older tyres. There seems to be a few conpiracy theorys about, were you tying to wind them up? lol


>Interesting point is why Webber speeded up when he did though.<

Presumably because it was difficult to be sure if the tyres would respond, so it was necessary (from Mark's point of view) to leave several seconds of margin.

The front group were too closely bunched to be sure of allowing Vettel through to second place without risking giving him the lead. I remember when watching the race thinking they were cutting it pretty fine as it was.

Demoting Webber through team orders would have resulted in some very bad PR.



Demoting Grosjean or Massa through team orders is not a bad PR then why would demoting Webber be?

James I think Mark followed the order only partially.


And Vettel would've been ahead in the WDC?



Good insight.


James has done well there to create a detailed report on a race that only contained two events of note! 🙂

Checking out the chart, it's worth noting that when Schumacher managed to get in clear air his pace was very good. Of course though we had Webber doing what he needed to and making sure he would get to the finish with no issues.


Hi James -- as insightful as ever. For me the takeaways are as follows:

(i) Nobody has a clue yet as to how these tyres will behave in a race -- your strategy brief is probably the closest thing to a team strategist's viewpoint, and it was way off;

(ii) It all has to do with track temperature. Ferrari and Mercedes are extremely strong in cooler temperatures - Rosberg and MSC appear to have picked up pace dramatically as cloud cover came on after about lap 20. Same goes for Alonso and Massa. In fact, I doubt it was anything to do with Alonso saving tyres early on -- if you look closely, Massa was on Alonso's tail throughout, and yet Massa's pace also picked up in tandem with Alonso at about lap 20. The opposite appears to be true of Lotus -- dramatically falling away when temperatures dropped. If you recall until lap 15, when the temperatures were still high, Kimi was all over the back of Vettel. His extreme drop in pace cannot merely be attributable to running in dirty air - a direct comparison is MSC who ran in Kimi's dirty air throughout the first stint, yet he was able to lap 5 seconds faster when Kimi pitted on super softs that were 30 laps old!

(iii) the incredibly close processional races we are now seeing at the finish line - in China and in Monaco - is not really producing close racing. It is one thing to have positions changing and drivers finishing within a handful of seconds of each other, and altogether a different story when you have five cars finishing within five seconds of the leader - and not a single overtaking manoevre involving any of them throughout the race in Monaco!

(iv) Watching the Monaco GP on TV is the worst advertisement for Formula one as a sport. I organized a viewing party at home for the Monaco GP, and there were a couple of F1 first timers. Believe me, they will never watch an F1 race again.


Luke Clements

Only do GP parties for 1st timers for Australia, Spa, Silverstone, Japan & maybe US and Singapore. 😉


Some good points there. Think you've hit the nail on the head with regards to the temperature being the cause of the apparent randomness this year. Having tyres that degrade is fine but these tyres do appear too temperature sensitive. It's isn't ideal to have teams whose competitiveness is to depend so heavily on the weather on the day.

On top of that though, we do have a very close grid this year, so you have to overlay that effect on to explaining results.

Also, you were asking for trouble getting first timers to watch the Monaco GP! Taking them to the Monaco GP would probably have been another matter, but not on a sofa in front of the box!


The TV coverage* was pretty poor. There's a million things you can point a camera at in Monaco when there's nothing happening on track. That's the whole point of the race - it's a beautiful setting. Yet the director just followed the procession of cars for lap after lap. We hardly even got any on-board footage. Roll on the helmet cams, I say. And get a decent director next year.

* The race, not the BBC stuff which was excellent.


Should have had the 5 Live Commentary on then!


Wouldn't of made a difference unless you were discussing astrophysics or the meaning of life!! Most boring race I have seen in years.

I get the whole monaco experience and the this is F1 argument. I went last year and got tickets on the start finish line with a good view of the first corner. I took my wife and she absolutely loved it one of her best experiences ever (a converted F1 fan because of it)! The atmosphere, the noise Hamilton putting a pass on Schumacher at sainte devote!!! Only downer was the safety car that robbed us of an even more exciting finish.

Maybe it was all of that experience that makes me bias and I know he TV cannot transfer the feeling of being there but I really felt this years monaco was really poor. It was tire management at its worst (no real rewards for managing them) on a track with limited overtaking.

It's not the tyres philosophy I am getting at ( I have supported Pirelli in the other races) but I think they got it wrong here they didn't degrade enough. The difference in strategies were none existent (except Vettel) and because everyone expected the tyres to drop off, when they didn't it ended up being a poor show. When overtaking is an option you see good defence and people pushing the tyres while managing the drop off but at monaco with no overtaking anyone leading is just going to manage them. Maybe there should be a mixture of refuelling and tyre degradation dependant on the track? Refuelling at tracks that are notorious for no overtaking so the excitement is still there.

I plan on going back to monaco for next years race as it truly was one of the best things I have done but I hope the race is not as bad as this years!!


😀 Good one James.

Seriously though, it was a bit too boring. The fact that Jenson couldn't overtake Heikki with DRS & KERS shows you that, although Monaco is a great's not really a great race.

Maybe Bernie's sprinkler system could sort it out? 🙂


Or maybe Jenson can sort out his driving?

Alonso in 2010 had no probs in slapping Heikki out of the way.


I live and work in Hong Kong. I see no reason why BBC cannot allow people outside of the UK to listen to radio. TV I can understand; but radio?

BTW, Star Sports is missing the wisdom of Gary Anderson.



From HK here too and it sucks to pay here when BBC gets free (though limited), AND lacking Gary Anderson having him moved over back to UK. He was good while he was at Star Sports.



Another benefit Vettel had was the 2 or 3 places he picked up by cutting the chicane on T1 due to the accident by Grosjean. It also had a big influence in getting him 'up the road' further. Now i am not saying in any way it was illegal since he had no options however it was a real benefit in playing his 'two cards' and greatly increased his finishing potential.

I suppose you have to take the advantage when it is offered.


on further review, Vettel already had the measure of Kimi just past the start line so he had a great start as well.


Big gamble for Webber to hold back the rest of the field while Vettel was flying in the lead. Had it rained as predicted, Vettel would have benefitted from a timely pit stop to switch to wets, with the rest behind him having to box for the 2nd time around.


I thought they did warn Hamilton about Vettel? Seem to remember a radio message from Ham along the lines of "at this pace the tyres aren't going to last long"


Lewis was ducking under his pit board instead of reading it.

double eyepatch

I'm interested on what you think of Raikonnen's race. Not only why he struggled, but what his impact he had in the race overall. In the first stint I can see him being the head of a train dropping behind the front runners. I'm inclined to think that the strategies up front would've turned on their heads a bit if the midfielders didn't drop as far back by the pitstops due to Kimis pace.

And regarding Vergne switching to the inters late in the race. I can see by then he was carrying his primes for 53 by the time he pitted. Against everyone else's laptimes it was clear the track was getting greasy, and his worn tyres didn't seem to hold temperature.

Also, with the extra tyre info you've included, where do you get the info regarding how many fresh sets they got. I normally look to Pirelli's website feed to see their tyre strategies but the other info is more illusive.


James you mention the threatened but absent rain but there's another glaring factor the teams may have had in their strategy (and always do at Monaco because there's a HUGE chance it'll happen) that you omitted to mention.

There was no safety car.


There was a safety car in the Monaco GP that I watched ... mind you it was unusually short, so I am not surprised it didn't register with you.

You make a good point though, there was no safety car at a time when it might trigger a tyre stop.


Yes there was - at the start!!


Which was also a factor in helping the one stop strategy.

Without it, we might well have seen some early stops.


Ooops sorry lazy post, I meant there wasn't a safety car at a point in the race that could have significantly messed up the strategies.


The Monaco race once again proved that Red Bull have the best strategists in the paddock, always calm and thinking ahead. It seems they can't do nothing wrong but also people like Vettel have to be one of the luckiest just like his father Papa Schumi used to be i.e. With the rain not coming, really helped his cause, add to that Mclaren forgot to tell Lewis of the looming danger.

Meanwhile, it's comforting to know that all but one of our race winners so far have come from the front row for this fact will give the we-hate-unpredictable-races brigade less ammo and no, I really doubt it's that difficult for the chasing cars to give the race winner a run for his money.

It's just that the people that have had opportunities to overtake for the lead aren't famous for their cunning overtaking moves e.g. Kimi in Bahrain & Perez in Malaysia.

So basically these pilots are just waiting for our Lewis to come through and show them how it's done just like last year when he was the first driver to overtake for the lead (matter of fact Lewis was the only driver that overtook for the lead on talent alone last year ~ ahem... Vettel slid off the road in Canada + Hammy spun in Hungary + Vettel had gearbox glitch in Brazil 2011 = not the same thing).

Regards Mclaren's pit stops, I don't how the solution to this problem for it's now become a mental block thing for they're scared of making another mistake and hence the slow pits.

Maybe it's time the team employed a former athlete like Carl Lewis (maybe) to help the pit bulls up their performance just like Williams did because Sam Michael isn't to blame for Mclaren's blunders because since Ron Dennis left have always been clumsy.

Ha, that Alonso really has a brain in his head. When I saw him drop back from the back of Hammy's rear, I was eagerly anticipating the sight of seeing Massa getting some sort of payback ---> Little did I know.

On the other hand, felt sorry for Torro Rosso that their gamble didn't pay off, lets hope Vergne won't regret this too much.


James, doesn't Ferrari have an ex-RBR man as their strategist?

Re: Mclaren pit stop blunders, as I mentioned on a post further up, this isn't a new phenomenon. Of all the top teams, they seem to have more issues with pitstops than anybody else.

Countless times, in the Schumacher/ Ferrari they would mess up the re-fueling, or the flap didn't open, or the tyres would not fit on properly.

What about the gantry falling on to Hakkinens car as he went out for the Australian GP (in 2001, I believe)

I used to put it down to Ron Dennis famous attention to detail, and that with the subsequent regime under Whitmarsh being less pressured things would improve.

I'm glad to say (as a Ferrari fan) it hasn't!


isnt alonso failed to overtook Pastor as well???


@ mayberth

Didn't alonso fail to overtake Pastor as




But in Alonso's defense, Barcelona is a notoriously difficult track to overtake at because of the twisty corners leading to the start-finish straight which give the car ahead enough space to avoid DRS

More so, the first bend is almost flat out making overtaking in that corner impossible as well.

If you recall, Lewis also failed to overtake Vettel in 2011 despite having a faster car towards the end of the race.


I seem to remember Vettel's move on Alonso for the lead at Monza wasn't entirely talent free, but I guess that doesn't fit with your irrelevant bigging up of your Lewis, does it.



I seem to remember Vettel’s move on

Alonso for the lead at Monza


Hahaha take it easy mate.

I had forgotten about Monza, thanks for the reminder.


I'd be interested to know whether worn softs were really quicker than fresh primes, or whether Webber was actually backing the pack up for Vettel's advantage or just for his own tyre preservation.

If the old tyres were actually quicker than new rubber after the first stops, then yeah Alonso would have been a big winner by staying out another 5 laps or so after the leaders pitted.

How much of SV's result was team orders (and if it was, do you think they would have slowed him down to improve Webbers result if the places were reversed)?


Mark was controlling the race but may have got a little caught out by Seb getting that far up the road. There's no way he would allow Vettel to score any more points than necessary. Perhaps Mark could also have been managing the team expectations by making it look like he was helping Vettel when really he was just foxing. I'd say mark would be just as disappointed as Lewis that Vettel managed to make that place.


What a joke, mclaren not only lose hamilton places with slow pit stops, but then dont warn hamilton to hurry up as vettel is opening up a 21 second lead over him.

Muppets, school boy error not to warn him!


I'm certain they did and Hamilton mentioned about his tyres having no life, or something like that.

Bring Back Murray

Do Hamilton's tyres ever have any life in them!


Well he was quite rightfully proud of having 1 stopped in Spain and making the tryes last.

It's obvious that the lad is a sensitive guy (much like Stoner) and reads the press against him because he brought up the fact that everyone said he couldn't look after his tyres like Button.

Is it just me, or has the Mclaren team dynamic changed since Hamilton started beating Button regularly.



In fact Hamilton repeated that like twice or three times to the team actually, and he had no choice but to stay out on track.


People call hamilton a school boy but what about his race engineer, he needs to go back to school!


Agree, managing just this kind of situation is Race Engineer 101.

Lewis clearly could have come out in front of seb if he had known he had to close the gap a little bit, but the driver doesn't have all the computers, and live timing screens in the cockpit, and is probably a little to busy to be doing math in his head anyway. This kind of stuff has to come from the guys behind the pit wall.

I think they really dropped the ball on this one.


Or Lewis could just try reading his pit board.

Bring Back Murray

Last year he was destroying himself. This year the team is destroying him. So sad, he should be fighting for wins every single race.


Great analysis and love the tyre availability/use information too. Don't know about others but I would so much prefer to see the tyres referred to as Prime and Option. This is what the teams and drivers do and, to my mind, it makes things clearer. I understand that the mainstream commentators and pundits might feel the need to put it in layman's terms but surely for the audience of this site, my number one reference for all things F1, the correct terminology is the way to go?


Totally agree. Please, all commentators refer to the tyres as Prime and Option. That way I don't have to keep clearing up the confusion to others in the house during the race that the soft tyre is not the softest tyre available in certain races. I can't stand the look on their faces when I say the soft tyres are the harder compound.


Shame on you Charlie for doing this again. The rule book says there can be no enclosed hole in this area.

Yet the RBR car has an enclosed hole.

Apart from not being in the spirit of the rules, this rule is clear as day. "No enclosed hole." No ambiguity what so ever.

So my question to you is:

Why did you approve this update on the RBR car?

It clearly breaks the rule book. Are the pleads of Adrian Newey too hard to resist?

And was it not you who tried to convince McLaren and Ferrari not to protest? If they had protested, I'm thinking you would find it mighty hard to justify your actions.

Stop being such a nice guy and learn to say no for once!


Hi James

Thank you for another brilliant insight into current Formula 1 racing. Whilst not wishing to detract from the brilliance of Vettels strategy call or driving I do think that the rules should be tightened for qualifying.

It is surely in the interest of all concerned that those cars that can participate in qualifying especially Q3. Much has been written about Qualifying Tyres and the costs involved.

James what do think about the idea that those cars do not complete a timed lap in Q3 start on the tyres that they achieved their best time in Q2.

I repeat that I realise that what Vettel did was entirely within the rules. His result did however erode the importance of qualifying especially if had he beaten Alonso.

Monaco is a one off but a brilliant performance like Alonso's deserved all that he received plus some as you pointed out. If he had been beaten by somebody who chose to sit out Q3 it would not have a good reflection of F1 in 2012.



My circle of friends beleive that reducing starting tyre rations and providing bonus sets of tyres for passing Q1 and Q2 in conjunction with, like you said, using fastest Q2 tyres for failing to set a time in Q3 would increase the fairness of qualifying.

That being said nobody has managed to win from sitting out in Q3 yet.


I was about to write about the same subject. Whilst Red Bull operated within the rules Vettel gained an unfair advantage by not running in Q3. It should be mandatory for all drivers in the top 10 to complete a competitive lap. There is much discussion about this issue at the moment and think changes should be made sooner rather than later.


I'm in 2 minds about it. I like the fact that he could do what he did on Sunday, but we also need 10 cars on track in Q3


I believe that keeping the format open as it is now allows teams with better race than single lap performance, to do something interesting.

Personally, I only see it as a problem if we get to a point where half the Q3 field or more are consistently taking the option to sit it out.

Can't see this happening, especially when most of the races this year have been won by the driver leading into the first corner.


2012, the Belgium GP (because it's a great track to over-take.)

Hypothetically, Hamilton and Button have a 2 second advantage, but due to wet/ dry Q2 they only qualify in 11th and 12th. But have fresh tyres available to them and a free choice for the race.

The remaining 10 drivers decide to save new tyres to defend against them come race day.

What happens if no-one goes out in Q3, and by the time everyone realises it's an easy pole if they complete a lap, it's too late to set a time.

It's crazy, but isn't that the way we're heading?


This matter was adressed in thursday's press conference, I believe. Teams that want to spend less, don't want to increase tyre allocation, forget about developing a qualifying compund. Pirelli says they are willing to provide one more set of the softer compound to teams reaching Q3. I liike the straight forwardness or Sir Frank Williams on spending more money, when he says if they need more money, they will find it. But I've made my mind, we need a F1 more accesible to new manufactures and privateers, but 10 more sets of tyres would not make that big of a difference. I think the solution lyes in getting rid of the two obligatories compounds, with a mandatory stop to change tyres. That rule was created because all the bridgestone compounds could laste all the race, and have lost all pourpose with the Pirelli. Also, what's the point in starting in Sunday with the tyre they set the fastest time? What would change if we also get rid of that rule?


Nursing racing to this degree is boaring!


It wasn't like this when there were two tyre manufacturers.


I don't understand why Hamilton is so quick to point fingers at his team. On the radio, it is understandable that he says something in the heat of the moment. But, even after the race, he has something bad to say about the team.

"I took the 'team's advice' regarding the clutch setting. The 'team' didn't inform me that Vettel was jumping me".

Yes, Mclaren has screwed up in 2012. Way more than what other teams will in an entire season. But F1 is a team-sport. You never hear Massa say a word about Ferrari when they let him go with the fuel hose attached. You never hear Alonso have a go at Ferrari for getting the pit-stop in Abu Dhabi wrong. You don't hear Button saying a word to the team after they bungled up his pit-stop in China.

All other drivers use a 'We' while saying anything. They understand that F1 is a team-sport and one wins together and one loses together. Only with Hamilton interviews do I find the usage of 'I' and 'team'. I think he needs to stop doing that. Yes, it is tough when the pit-wall is under-performing like it is now, but he must not forget he under-performed big time in 2011 while the team didn't and Mclaren never said anything bad about Hamilton then.


I don't have the footage or clip, but during the race, Smedley radioed Massa saying that Vettel is going to be a threat to his position so he'd better hurry up.

If Ferrari can do it, why couldn't McLaren?

It was really nip and tuck. Less that a second and Lewis would have held his position. He has every right to blame the team.

Perhaps someone can grab a clip of that to confirm....


Raikkonen's lack of pace towards the end of the first stint is striking in that graph, surely he'd have been better off two-stopping.


Hindsight is a wonderful thing, isn't it? 😀


Hi James,

Do you think a pattern is emerging now, that is the more fresh tyres you have the better?

Vettel nearly did what Kimi did in Bahrain by saving his tyres.

Like Alonso, if a driver keeps getting podium finishes he can fight for the WDC.


You can't draw many conclusions from Monaco, because it's unique. But when the degradation is an issue, new tyres are certainly an advantage


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.


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


You can't have everything!



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


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!


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.



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.


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.


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.


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.


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".

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...


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


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.


I am with you on this one.



Michael's lap times before and after his pitstop were almost identical around 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



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.


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.


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.


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.


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


"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.


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.


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.


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


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


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

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!


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.


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.

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.


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.


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?


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.


He had nowhere else to go. Missed Grosjean by inches


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


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.

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.


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.


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...


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.


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.

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.


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?


great couple of posts - nice detail.


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


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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?"


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


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.


........... 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.



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


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?


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.



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?.



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


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


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


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.


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.

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