Lotus and Sauber to spring a surprise in Valencia?
Posted By: James Allen  |  19 Jun 2012   |  9:41 am GMT  |  75 comments

This year’s race at Valencia will again hinge on race strategy, as this is a particularly hard track on which to overtake.

Last year the top three finishers all used a three stop strategy, with used Soft tyres for the first three stints and new Medium tyres for the final stint. This year with the gap in performance between the two tyre compounds likely to be smaller, we should see more variety than that.

And as the trend this year seems to be for one less stop at most of the venues, the decision is likely to be between one and two stops this weekend, with track position in the final stint the key, as overtaking will be tough even with degrading tyres and the DRS wing. Teams which can look after the tyres like Sauber and Lotus may well try to do one stop. And with a high safety car probability, it might bring them another surprising result.

Valencia is a street circuit, which loops around the docks of Valencia and the America’s Cup boatyards. By street circuit standards it is quite fast, with cars reaching speeds of 315 km/h on the long straight. With 25 corners, it is one of the most complex circuits on the F1 calendar, making for a long lap at 1m 40s.

It is also a track where the likelihood of a safety car is high, as it is lined with barriers and there are some difficult access points for cranes to lift the cars off the track.

Once you’ve read about how the teams will approach the race weekend, why not see if you can find the fastest race strategy using our RACE STRATEGY CALCULATOR

Track characteristics

Valencia – 5.41 kilometres. Race distance – 57 laps = 308.8 kilometres. 25 corners in total. A street circuit around the docks of Valencia. Smooth surface, few bumps, some fast corners.

Aerodynamic setup – High downforce. Top speed 325km/h (with Drag Reduction System active on rear wing) – 315km/h without.

Full throttle – 69% of the lap (high). Total fuel needed for race distance – 154 kilos (average/high). Fuel consumption – 2.7kg per lap (average/high)

Time spent braking: 16% of lap. 9 braking zones. Brake wear- High.

Loss time for a Pit stop = 16 seconds
Total time needed for pit stop: 21 seconds.

Fuel effect (cost in lap time per 10kg of fuel carried): 0.3 seconds

Form Guide

The European Grand Prix is the eighth round of the 2012 FIA F1 World Championship. So far there have been seven different winners, the only time in history this has happened in the first seven races of an F1 championship.

Qualifying is vitally important in Valencia because of the difficulty of overtaking.

However the statistics for this season show that the car which leads on the opening lap is likely to win the race; this has happened in four of the six dry races to date. This is because it is beneficial to the tyres to drive in clear air rather than following another car. They last longer and perform better, by a significant margin.

Red Bull has come into form since Bahrain with two wins and three pole positions from the last four races.

Ferrari has dramatically improved its car in the last month and there was little to choose between them, Red Bull and McLaren in Montreal.

As far as drivers’ form is concerned, Sebastian Vettel has won the race for the past two seasons, while Felipe Massa won the first race in 2008.

Weather Forecast

The weather for this race is usually very stable, with temperatures in the high 20s and little rain. The forecast for the weekend looks like it will be hotter than seasonal averages with temperatures of 30 degrees likely.

Likely tyre performance and other considerations

Pirelli tyre choice for Valencia: Prime tyre is Medium (White markings) and Option tyre is Soft (Yellow markings)

This is the same combination of tyres as we saw in Bahrain, where the temperatures again were very high. This seemed to suit the Red Bull and Lotus cars in particular and they were very competitive in the hot conditions on these tyres.

The two compounds will be much closer together on performance than last year. The difference between the two tyres is estimated to be around 0.7 secs per lap in qualifying trim. Estimates of tyre life are that the soft will start to experience a degradation in performance and lap time after around 18 laps, while with the medium it will kick in after around 25 laps.

This year we are seeing the tyres lasting 4-5 laps longer than last season and this is enough to mean that teams can do one less pit stop at most venues than in 2011.

Race Strategy: Number and likely timing of pit stops

Because it is so hard to overtake in Valencia track position is vital and being ahead in the final stint will be very important, even if a car is struggling on its tyres. Unlike Montreal, where the adjustable DRS wing made overtaking a car very easy, this will not be the case in Valencia.

The front runners are likely to do the fastest race strategy which is to stop twice, with stops around lap 19 and 42. But we are likely to see the Sauber and Lotus cars trying to do one stop less than their rivals, which will save them 21 seconds. As they are able to maintain good pace on worn tyres, this could give them a good result, particularly if they are able to qualify well into the top ten.

Chance of a safety car

With the track lined with walls and several blind corners, there is scope for accidents and dangerous conditions for the marshals when clearing an accident. So the chances of a safety car at Valencia on paper are high. But last year’s race was notable for featuring the fewest retirements and the most finishers of any race in F1 history with all 24 cars making the chequered flag.

Of the four races in Valencia, only the 2010 race featured a safety car.

Recent start performance

As far as 2012 start performance is concerned drivers have gained (+) or lost (-) places off the start line this season, on aggregate, as follows –

+23 Massa
+20 Kovalainen
+17 Glock
+14 Alonso
+13 Raikkonen
+11 Maldonado****
+10 Perez ***, Senna
+7 Pic, Vergne
+5 Schumacher* Hamilton, Kobayashi**** , Di Resta
+ 4, Karthikeyan
+ 2 
+1 Button, Rosberg

-2 Grosjean** ****
-3 De la Rosa ****, Petrov
– 5 Hulkenberg
– 7 Webber
-14 Ricciardo

* Senna, Ricciardo and Hulkenberg were all involved in accidents on 1st lap in Australia
** Schumacher and Grosjean collided on Lap 1 in Malaysia, Senna and Perez pitted for wet tyres on opening lap
***Perez punctured on lap 1 in Spain and went to back of field
**** Eliminated by or involved in first lap accident in Monaco

Pit Stop League Table
Of course good strategy planning also requires good pit stop execution by the mechanics and we have seen tyre stops carried out in less than two and a half seconds by F1 teams. Here again Ferrari leads the way consistently this year.

It is also clear that the field has significantly closed up in pit stops. The top seven teams’ fastest stops were within 3/10ths of a second of each other in Canada!

It shows how much work has gone on in this area.
The league table below shows the order of the pit crews based on their fastest time in the Canadian Grand Prix , from the car entering the pit lane to leaving it. The positions from previous race are in brackets.
Worth noting is that Caterham did the fifth fastest stop, well ahead of its championship position, also that Williams is losing a second to its rivals in pit stops.
1. Ferrari 21.115 secs (2)
2. Mercedes 21.179 (1)
3. Red Bull 21.199 (3)
4. McLaren 21.375 (4)
5. Caterham 21.403 (9)
6. Sauber 21.407 (8)
7. Force India 21.489 (7)
8. Lotus 21.534 (10)
9. Toro Rosso 21.689 (5)
10. Williams 22.704 (11)
11. Marussia 23.291 (6)
12. HRT – No Stop

Now you’ve read about how the teams will approach the race weekend, why not see if you can find the fastest race strategy using our RACE STRATEGY CALCULATOR

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

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As there is no blown diffusers this year, the cars have less downforce and therefore more prone to slip; which should result in an increased rate of wear.

Considering this, as well as the fact that the tyres are the same compound as last year, why are tyres lasting longer?

Surely the minor changes to the profile of the rear tyres has not had this great an impact?

Is it that this year car suspension is being set up to be extra kind on the tyres?

It just doesn't seem to add up.

Any other ideas?


The 2011 and 2012 Pirellis have proven time and time again they are very wear-resistant. Generally the problem is always degradation, which is a function of the heat history and energy put into the tyre.

Sliding doesn't affect their tyre life much at all. As such, even with reduced downforce the tyre doesn't mind, but with the reduced downforce reducing cornering speeds, it decreases the amount of energy put into the tyre.


The change in construction and profile of the tyre increases the surface area in contact with the road significantly enough to make a difference, but also the speeds are slower without the EBD reducing the amount of energy put through the tyres.


Martin has a great explanation, but to put it simply: more downforce means the tire is worked harder, and therefore degrades faster.


Funny, usually the teams and media report that the more downforce a car has, the less it takes out of its tyres, because they are not sliding through corners.

Christos Pallis

Some very well made points here.

I think the media assume that more downforce means less sliding. In some cases this is indeed true. The example we are left with this year is that the cars are capable of pushing the tyres beyond their limits. Hence all this talk of the drivers lapping at 95% as to not degrade them too much.

More downforce can result in a tyre that is looked after better as you would maybe only have to push to 90% to achieve the same cornering speeds whereas a car pushing to 99% may be sliding and degrading the tyres but has less donforce so is matching corner speed.

The argument about more downforce putting more energy through the tyre and degrading it more quickly only works if we assume all cars are driving at the same 100% attack mode. We all know that is not the way of things this year.

In short more downforce allows you to turn on the tyre and manage your race more effectively, until you push that envelope too far and your in the realm of too much downforce to be competitive over a race distance or lap.


Chris Pallis


Realistically, it can go both ways.

If you are running at 95%, it might be easier to keep the car from sliding as much if you have more downforce, so you might reduce some tire wear.

If you are pushing at 100% trying to chase someone down, you will be sliding the car whether you have lots of downforce or not, so having more downforce will allow the driver to simply work the tire that much harder.

If you are an aggressive driver, having more downforce may make it easier for you to prevent tire slippage.

If you are a smoother driver, more downforce would just result in you working the tire harder through increased corning speeds because you don't slip the tire in either instance.

If you have difficulty getting heat in the rear tires like Button (which would indicate he was previously getting much lower wear and degradation), you may end up trying a more aggressive set-up that could backfire and result in increased tire degradation.

It probably also depends on the track as well. A more abrasive track may cause the low-downforce car to abuse its tires more. A smoother track may be harder on the high-downforce car's tires. It may also be different from car to car, or even set-up to set-up (Button's recent troubles seem to back that up).

The tire with more energy being put through it will wear and degrade more. In most cases, the energy comes via more downforce making the tire work harder. In some cases, a driver with a heavy right foot may put more energy through the tire by spinning it.


It is interesting that, but we are getting fewer pitstops arent' we.

Part of it could be that with the reduced downforce, even though that offers the potential for more sliding, less energy is being put into the tyres and so they can last longer.

This is part of the reason I think why the likes of Red Bull - which has very high level of downforce - tend not to be able to obtain as long a tyre life as Sauber and Lotus, which are a bit slower over one lap and so put less energy into the tyres. I'm sure there's much more to it that that though, such as perhaps suspension design, etc. Afterall, it's not like we see the cars with very poor downforce performance able to make the tyres last the longest, for example.


Hi Wade,

There are a few factors involved as I see it. The cars have less rear downforce, which leads to a couple of things. The cars will have less traction, therefore the drivers have to moderate the engine power up to higher speeds, otherwise they will get wheelspin. Wheelspin will wear the tread surface, but more importantly increase the tread temperature, and this leads to heat related degradation of the tyre. The rubber slowly cooks and is less able to bond with the track surface.

Mid corner the reduced downforce level will mean less wear and less degradation. I could interpret your comment of "less slip" as suggeting that increasing downforce will reduce slip. This is a wrong. With more downforce a driver will go around a corner more quickly. The team will adjust the front downforce to balance the car. Greater downforce increases the load on the tyre at all times the car is moving, which increases wear and heat degradation.

The final point I'd make is that the teams have had a year to understand what the tyres do. For 2011 the chassis designers were in the dark with requirements for aerodynamic centre of pressure. This year they are more experienced, so while there are differences in the tyre construction (and case deflection will contribute to how a tyre heats up), the experience is still valuable.




Hi Martin,

When that is said "more downforce is less sliding," they're not actually talking of sliding as we see it - not over/understeer as is visible. At a micro level, if you're cornering, braking or accelerating, the tyre is always sliding. This is known as (generally) slip ratio/angle. With more downforce, this is what is meant.

It's not the actual over/understeer that is being meant.


Hi Raymond,

I think you've opened a different discussion than what Wade was talking about. As Wade replied to me, he was comparing static friction and sliding friction. And, put simply, I disagree with your view on slip angles and slip ratios.

The tyre slip angle results from the tyre being elastic. The centripetal acceleration of the car distorts the tyre around the contact patch. The contact patch is pointing at different angle to the wheel. If a tyre is sliding then this angle loses relevance. The tyre isn't always sliding. The tread surface is able to work in a regime of static friction. An example of this is driving a car on sand. At low speeds the tyres will leave their tread pattern behind. With sliding the tyres will pump much more sand out and you won't get a clear pattern.

Under braking a similar thing happens. Optimum braking performance on dry roads occurs when the tyres are rotating at a bit less than road speed, but it is not necessary for braking. The tyres will distort under any braking load, so there will be a brief lag between the braking force being translated to the tyre surface, but the tyre contact patch will not slip until the braking force exceeds the static friction coefficient multiplied by the dynamic weight on the tyre.

The tyre's ability to key itself into the surface means that it is quite able to exceed a coefficient of friction of 1. Greater forces can be transmitted through sliding, but with additional wasted energy.

For a given tyre greater downforce will allow a greater slip angle before the tyre starts sliding. There isn't a binary transition from not sliding to sliding, but pretty much by definition the maximum slip angle is the point just before the tyre starts sliding.




Thankyou for your thoughts Martin,

I was thinking that higher downforce will result in increased static friction between the tyres and the road surface, whereas less downforce will result in more sliding friction. Sliding friction generates more heat as well as a grinding like occurrence between the objects in question (the road surface and the tyres).




Hi Wade,

yes sliding causes more wear, but drivers will always approach the limits and some sliding will result. If you think how a tyre's contact patch changes as a car turns, the contact patch is being twisted even when the tyre isn't sliding. Tyre distortion is a key source of tyre heat and this occurs all the time a tyre is rolling, especially at high speeds, which is usually on a straight. If you recall Spa last year, that was the only real occasion where blistering was an issue. That came from large front camber combined with long straights and a medium downforce level.

Four wheel drifting can be a fast way of driving on a road. The problem with over or understeering is that one end of the car has to be slowed down to get back on line. Rally drivers slide to clear loose gravel so that the tyres can grip something more substantial. You can still get good grip with sliding tyres as shown in drag racing - 5 gs acceleration with enormous wheelspin.




I'm not sure it's a fact that the tyres are made of the same compounds or mixtures as last year. Also last year was the first season on the significantly different pirrelli rubber.


Wade, I also think that the tyres will last longer mainly because teams know alot more about the tyres than they used to know this time last year.

They are adapting their cars to these tyres.


Other than the Super Soft, the tyres arent the same compound as last year, they've all gone a bit softer. There's also been a small change in construction I believe, and it'll be this which has made the biggest impact on how the tyres behave and last.


Personally I don't think we will see anymore surprises this season. Should we be surprised if Schumacher, Grosjean or Kimi wins? I don't think so and I believe going forward we will see some sort of stability with teams settling in.

I can't comprehend why we are still racing in Valencia. What's the point racing at a circuit where you can't overtake? This is not Monaco or Singapore where you make some business deals. It is time for this circuit to go.

In Montreal Grosjean and Perez were able to make a one stop strategy work. With the unpredictable nature of the Pirelli's behaviour, I doubt it will be the same case this time.

I think this race will be won by a red car and I sincerely wish it will be Massa.


lol maybe Bernie pockets some big chunks of cash from Valencia 😀

Personally I don't really mind this place, looks pretty nice (other than those huge cranes in the background of course which makes the whole atmosphere feel a little bit like it's in a construction yard), but yer could do with some adjustment to make the race more exciting.


From what I can see from playing with your calculator, a 1-stop on lap 28 is optimum, and you can safely get to the end (without hitting into traffic of the default strategy or hitting the cliff) by a 1 stop for fresh primes anywhere between L24 to L30.

A stop on L23 would mean you'd encounter the cliff on the primes for 1 lap, and on L31 would see the cliff on 1 lap for the options.


The only issue with stopping on L29 is that if someone tries a one-stopper on L25, they'll get out ahead of you, and end up with almost the same overall race time.

It depends if you want the track position, or the slightly stronger tires at the end of the race.


I do apologise. I meant L29, not L30! An L30 stop will see the option cliff for 1 lap...


"The front runners are likely to do the fastest race strategy which is to stop twice, with stops around lap 19 and 42..."

According to your strategy calculator, a one stop for new primes around lap 26 is actually four or five seconds faster.

That would suggest that a successful two stop strategy would rely both being on the front row, and also preserving a new set of options (the used are another three seconds or so slower over a stint).

That's a pretty tough ask, so I would expect quite a few one stoppers - which in turn would mean more traffic for the two stoppers to get caught up in after their first stop.

Maybe a repeat of Monaco, but a bit faster ?


*****Sorry should read as follows*********Your right, a 1 stop on lap 28 for new primes is 5 seconds quicker than the default strategy.

However a 2-stop strategy - Lap 16/38 is 3 seconds quicker than the default strategy (2sets of used options).

If by some miracle you can qualify saving a set of new options, a 2-stop is 6 seconds quicker than default (16/38 New and used options).

Now add heat, traffic and potential pit delays + good chance of safety car with two stoppers trying to overtake one stoppers; and it’s a really difficult call.

I would imagine even Sauber will prefer a two stop for this race as the one stop requires them to overtake to make it work and this is not like Canada


"However a 2-stop strategy – Lap 16/38 is 3 seconds quicker than the default strategy (2sets of used options)..."

The simulator assumes you start on the options, and the rules require that you run the prime at some point.

One stoppers don't have to overtake: the two stoppers ought to be running faster, so don't get in their way, and they come out behind the one stoppers after their second stop.

In any event, we'll know what strategies the teams are likely to adopt after the practice sessions. Until then, we're all guessing.


Your 3rd para is the key here. It's not Montreal; it's hard to overtake


A late race safety car period would put the two-stoppers in a really good position as they'd have much newer tires without the time penalty of the second stop. That said, it's rather low probability.

Between the one-stoppers from L24-L29, you end up with some converging race times at the end, with some cars having slightly better tires than the others. It might actually be interesting to see how that works out.

Also, another factor will be traffic, and who is running ~20 sec behind you at lap 24. If you are pulling away at a second a lap, it might behoove you to wait for lap 29 to make sure you come out in front of them to ensure your overall race-time isn't impacted by traffic. If you were competing against only one other car, and they stopped on L24, and you stopped on L29, they would be ahead of you, but you could catch them at the end... but if there's a Caterham ~20 seconds behind, that would slow down the L24-stopper, allowing the L29-stopper to leapfrog or stay ahead.

They pay the people on the pitwall some good cash because this strategy stuff isn't easy!


A difference of a couple of seconds over the whole race isn't particularly significant.

With the difficulty of overtaking, what will count in the last few laps is track position, and (assuming the model is realistic), one stoppers are more than likely to be in front of two stop opponents with similar race pace.

Hamilton would find it very difficult to do a Canada in Valencia.

Likewise, what will count between the one stoppers is being in front after the pitstop. That could be very tight, like we saw with the front runners in Montreal.

Of course, it's entirely possible that tyre wear will be worse than the model shows, which would invalidate most of the above.


Hi malcolm.

A couple of seconds over the race really isn't that significant when you're looking at the Valencia simulator.

If you're looking at the different one stop strategies, for example, you're talking about two or three seconds difference over the last seven or eight laps - quite a lot less than half a second per lap.

And that's after the chasing car would have had to follow the leader for around 25 laps on one set of tyres.

In Valencia, getting close enough to use DRS is going to require a speed differential of quite a lot more than half a second a lap.


The difference of a few seconds is significant. If your race time is two seconds faster than the next guy, you win. If your predicted race time is 0.5 seconds faster than the next guy, he might be able to engage DRS and drive past you on the last lap.

With DRS, things are different these days. There is no more "catching him is one thing, passing him is another". With DRS, the lead driver is a sitting duck; someone gets on your tail, opens their wing and drives by.

A few years ago, I'd opt for track position if I were calling strategy. If it was just Pirellis and no DRS, I would put a bit more weight behind tire life, but still lean toward a track position preference. With DRS, I would definitely lean toward tire life, as it's almost impossible to defend now.

So I would say that being 1.5 seconds ahead versus 0.5 seconds ahead going into the last lap could mean the difference of winning or losing.


This race is quite possibly going to have the highest track temperature (except maybe Bahrain) so far this season. The tyres may behave even more unpredictably and deteriorate quicker than initially anticipated. I think a 2 stopper is going to be the way to go.

I think Red Bull will do well and Mercedes will probably struggle throughout the race, with Ferrari, McLaren and Lotus somewhere in between.


Well, Grosjean agrees with you rather than me;

“Strategy will be quite different here I think; it won’t be one stop like in Montreal that’s for sure! It’s usually been very hot here in the past so combined with the rough track that’s often led to a three-stop strategy..."


James, assuming your calculator is correct, why is Pirelli's Paul Hembery expecting a two or three stop race strategy for most teams ?


An expected high track temperature perhaps?


Possibly - but I would assume that a high track temperature would be the default assumption for the model here.

We'll find out over the next few days.

kowalsky is back

i am going to valencia. Last time i went to istambul park and i got a little disapointed for the lack of speed sensation. I hope at valencia i can see something more exciting.


Typo on Pit stop championship - Red Bull 21.199


'Surprise' is a misnomer.

Just draw one of the twelve top drivers' names out of a hat.


All this talk of random results is nonsense if you ask me. For all these supposedly mad, random races, the top three drivers in the championship are Hamilton, Alonso and Vettel. Very predictable if you ask me.


'Random' = Putting all the drivers' names in a hat.

'Predictable' = Boring.

Fortunately, F1 is 'interesting' at this point in time.


Well said!


Whilst I think there is a lot of valid hype regarding the Sauber and Lotus and fully agree they are quick I just cant see them winning. They are both missing a vital piece of the jigsaw and that is LUCK. My money is on Alonso as Ferrari would have learnt that they can't do a one stop and with Alonso race craft this race could fall into his hand.

I should point out that I'm a ferarri fan therefore my above thoughts may be wishful thinking 🙂


i agree with what you say about lotus and sauber not having any LUCK , but they are always way too far down the grid to use their very good race pace or great tyre usage .i can see alonso kicking bottom this weekend and from now on they have really turned a corner with the new car .i think their car is ready for a dry weather win .


I'm not expecting much, Valencia has never delivered an interesting GP.


The 'Recent Start Performance' is from the Canadian GP article.


i think mercedes will be strong in valencia. the double DRS could be very effective due to the nature of the track. if that gets them pole they should be able to control the race from there...


I would love to see Schumacher on the podium, but considering the way the Mercedes treats it's tyres, even if they get pole, have a great start and do a lot of masterful blocking, they will be undercut in the pitstops.


That's what I thought they would do in Canada but they just couldn't get near pole. I don't think Mercedes are getting everything out of this package - when they do it will be quicker than everyone- but I think they have way to go yet.


If the front couple of rows include Hamilton Vettel or Alonso I fully expect them to scamper away on to a 2 stop and possibly one of the Mercedes.

I think the race depends on where the Lotus cars can qualify.

Valencia could do with a wet race


In order for the Valencia street circuit to produce a race that doesn't put one to sleep, it either needs to be heavy wet weather or have a reversed grid. 🙂

Maybe this year will be better?


Haha i agree on te reverse grid and weather maybe even both!

I hope its unpredictable full of overtakes and marginal strategies - severely doubt it roll on Silverstone!


I would love for Lotus (Kimi) to win at Valencia with Sauber close by - that would be great for F1- but something tells me Sebastian will pull a quick Quali and then go on and win.

If the front runners are more than 1/2 a sec quicker I don't see a 1 stop strategy working. As the degradation will be higher .


My money's on Vettel. Red Bull will be strong here and Vettel is very good around this track. I'm sure with pole position and little overtaking, he'll be able to out-do the Lotus pair even with potential higher tyre degradation.


I concur.


lol HRT no stop.

That should put them on top above Ferrari, no? 😀 😀 😀 hahhahaha...

Rich in Norway

One word: Schumacher.

val from montreal

Schumacher for the win ... its about time the heavens opens up for him !


He still has lots of dirty driving years to pay back for.Even if he retires at the end of this year.


You forgot the other two: ...reliability problem


LOL. Jokes aside though, it is a tragic shame the way his comeback has turned out.

Tornillo Amarillo

Nice GP in Valencia to see about strategies and strategies errors.

What is the best strategie for Hamilton-Alonso-Vettel?

Red Bull had doubts in Canada and a late stop was made to gain one position to Alonso.

But in Valencia is not easy to overtake with new tyres, so...

I think Red Bull is the favorite because usually they got good strategies for Vettel (I don't know if we can say the same for Webber), but if McLaren is in good shape, maybe...


Found a minor fact error. One less pit stop should save 16s, not 21s, as stated earlier in the post under time lost in the pits.


No, it's 21 secs saved by not making a stop. You lose 16 secs plus the stop time by pitting



I wanted to ask about the pit stop time as well, because it got me confused a time or 2. Like in Monaco I remember that total pit stop time was 25 secs (and all pit stops under f1 site --> resute --> pit stop summary are longer than that. But I remember that drivers were trying to be 21 seconds in front of their opponents so that they can pit and emerge in front of them.

So what happens? which number should we use to determine which driver will emerge in front when someone pits? Is it the 16 the 21 and why?


I'll try to explain it best I can.

You have 3 numbers to think about.

1 - the "drive through" penalty. This is the time it takes for a driver to go from pit entry to pit exit on the limiter

2 - the "stop time." This is the time the driver adds to the drivethrough time to slow down for his box, pit, and leave.

3 - the time that a driver NOT pitting takes, to get from pit entry to pit exit.

When a driver pits, he will be in the pits for "drive through" time, added to "stop time." ie the full time it takes for him to enter the pits, box, and leave the pits. This is the Monaco "25s" you speak of.


During these 25seconds, the stopping driver travels. The driver who DOESN'T pit also needs to spend some time getting from pit entry to pit exit, on track.

As such it would seem in this case that this time is 4 seconds. As such, the driver on track takes 4 seconds to travel the same distance that the driver in the pits takes 25 seconds to travel. Hence, there is a net time gain of 21s.

Hope this explains it well for you.


I think there won't be any surprise this time -- one of the last seven winners will duplicate the win -- and the pole-setter will make it.


I am not a fan of trying the one stopper... yes, Romain and Perez made it work in Canada, but should there be a reason to push you could be left out BIG TIME. I would always rather be in the place of someone like Hamilton in Canada knowing I could push full on


My feeling is that while there is a disadvantage when running behind someone as your tyres degrade quicker, if the driver decides deliberately to stay a few seconds back and push around the pit stop window then the penalty from the whole situation is relatively small. While this was not a known factor at the first races, it is now, so I do not believe that the polesitter has a significant advantage because of this.

Adrian Newey Jnr

James - It would be great to see a blog post or podcast discussion about the performance of the new drivers this season. In particular, Daniel seems to be not living up to the hype.


As always very interesting to play around with the simulator. The prospect of running twenty something laps on your qualifying tires to make a one-stopper work seems remote given high temperatures and fast corners.

Actually, I would love to see a comparative analysis of proposed optimal simulator strategies and actual racing strategies. Admittedly, your post race analysis often adresses aspects, which ultimately explains any inconsistencies. However, it seems to me it could be an interesting exercise for the purpose of understanding, crystalizing or documenting what factors outside the simulation model determins succesfull race strategies.



I posted 2 comments over 2 days ago and still haven't appeared. I am one of many who wants a clearer answer with regards to the 21 vs 16 second pit stop loss. Please clarify based on what I said.




You know, for all the stick this circuit gets, I don't think it's THAT bad. I love seeing the F1 cars and seeing the aero upgrades they have, and also, I love looking at the art of driving fast. Sometimes I think of the Valencia and Monaco Grands Prix as really the two races where I can appreciate the technique of each driver better. Honestly. Try it out. If you get the same shot of one driver versus another, just see how he takes a particular corner. It's fascinating watching it. Given Vettel and Hamilton are two drivers who are specialists of Valencia, I like to watch the lines they take, versus teammates.

The last corner is particularly fascinating in Valencia as it blends the exit of a flat out right hander right into the braking for a hairpin left. Webber takes a conventional line through the penultimate right kink and just points his car to then brake for the last hairpin, before he then takes a tight line through the hairpin until he can power out. Vettel takes the penultimate corner tighter and has it pointed wider off the apex of the hairpin. The line Vettel takes means that he will inevitably reach the last braking slower, as his tyres will scrub more over the right-hander kink. However the payback here is given the wide entry, he can turn the car and get it pointed straighter. You'll see him pointing dead straight at the exit kerb of the last corner, and his right foot can afford to be much heavier.

The entry to Sector 3 is also fascinating. There's a hairpin right, leading into a left kink before a double apex fast right. Webber vs Vettel again, Vettel slows down for the apex more, and gets the car turned more. Webber carries more speed through on a wider line. Mark however then ends up being slightly compromised for the left kink, which he has to take tighter, to be on the right line for the double right. (the line through a fast corner is very much a dictated line, and there's much less variety in terms of lines you can take to maximise your laptime) Vettel is slower on the apex, but the payback is he has a smoother run through the fast bits, and also there is much more margin for him through the left kink, in that if he makes some sort of mistake, he has spare grip in the tyres to correct it. It also means he's on the correct line through the double right.


You make it sound almost poetic!

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