Why the Indian Grand Prix was not like other races in 2012
Strategy Report
Posted By: James Allen  |  30 Oct 2012   |  5:27 pm GMT  |  100 comments

The Indian Grand Prix was an interesting race by recent standards in that, for once, the teams didn’t have to worry about the tyres wearing out and their race strategy was not decided by that. Instead they could focus on pure pace, the drivers able to push to the maximum throughout the Grand Prix.

So there was little opportunity for drivers starting outside the top ten to make the kind of progress into the points which we have seen this year from Sergio Perez or more recently the Toro Rosso drivers in Korea.

There were two reasons for this: to a certain extent the teams have now got wise to the 2012 Pirelli tyres and know how to get far more out of them now than six months ago, when we saw seven different winners in the first seven races.

But the main reason was that the tyre choice from Pirelli for the weekend, soft and hard compounds, was too conservative. After the race the Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery conceded that using the supersoft tyre instead would have made the race more like the other races we have seen this year with two pit stops and encouraged a variety of strategy options. But this underlines a trend we have seen in the closing stages of the season of Pirelli being more conservative as the championship reaches its climax.

On Sunday almost everyone went for a single stop strategy, as the tyres suffered little degradation or wear.

The proof of this is that the four fastest laps in the race were all set on the final lap, so there was plenty left in the tyres at the end.

Pre race expectations

The weather was benign and stable all weekend in Delhi, so the teams were able to do extensive running on Friday and Saturday morning and had a very complete picture of the way the tyres would behave in the race.

Before the race the strategists were planning to make one stop around lap 25, as one stop was showing as between five and 15 seconds faster than two stops.

Race pace looked evenly matched between the Red Bulls, McLarens, Ferraris and Lotus cars from practice.

Looking at the grid, then, it was clear that for the McLarens on the second row of the grid, they had to try to pass pole sitter Sebastian Vettel and his team mate Mark Webber on the opening lap when they would both be vulnerable down the long back straight. Once they got into the faster corners of sectors 2 and 3 the Red Bulls would be gone.

Likewise for Fernando Alonso starting fifth on the grid, he had to get past the McLarens at the start to be able to push the Red Bulls and hope they made a mistake or hit problems. The strategy worked out pretty much as intended for him, with a second place finish, but not for the McLarens, which came in fourth and fifth, one place lower than they started.

For the midfield runners, the chance to effect any major position changes through strategy were limited, but there was the chance of overtake at Buddh and with mistakes quite likely on the dusty track, there was scope to make some progress through the field.

The Race: Tough to make moves

In the opening stint Vettel was able to push very hard and to open a gap which gave him control of the race, but he found it tougher on the hard tyre as the Ferrari and the McLaren were slightly faster on that tyre (see Race History Chart). Ferrari was consistently fast on both tyres, while the McLaren was slower on the soft but stronger on the hard tyre.

In Vettel’s second stint his pace backed off by between 7/10ths and 1 second per lap, which was also partly due to running the engine lean and managing the gap to Alonso, once he had passed Webber.

Four drivers started the race on the hard tyres; Grosjean, starting11th; Ricciardo, starting 15th; Kobayashi, starting 17th and Schumacher, starting 14th. All of them gained two or three places except for Schumacher, who retired. In most cases this was not enough to get into the points, but Grosjean managed to get two points for 9th place, despite losing one place at the start to Maldonado.

The key to the final points positions for the cars running behind Rosberg in the opening stint was dealing with the Mercedes’ lack of pace. Rosberg pulled back everyone behind him, opening up the possibility for a 9th and 10th place finish for anyone who had a workable alternative strategy.

Everyone behind him, who was on the standard one stop, didn’t manage to clear him, but where Grosjean’s strategy worked well was that he ran a longer first stint and was able to clear Rosberg.

Grosjean ran a long first stint on the hard tyres, stopping last of all the runners on lap 36, for the soft tyre.

His plan in running longer on the hard tyre was to let the others who had stoped earlier age their hard tyres, so that the time delta when he came out of his stop on new softs would be greater and he could come through the field on new soft tyres in the final 24 laps.

It was thwarted as he came out behind Nico Hulkenberg, who managed to hold him off on a new set of hard tyres.

Grosjean was unable to maintain a gap to Hulkenberg prior to his stop and missed out on emerging from the pits ahead by 4 seconds. But one cannot say that he might have gained the place if he had stopped a lap or two earlier as he lost only 1.7 seconds to Hulkenberg in the three laps preceding his stop.

It was a shame that Lotus could not fully exploit its pace on Sunday. In Friday practice it was as fast as the leading cars, but Grosjean’s poor grid slot and Raikkonen being stuck behind Massa meant that they didn’t get the result the car’s pace deserved.

Raikkonen managed to undercut Massa on strategy, by pitting a lap earlier, but lost the place back again due to having too short a top gear on the straight.

It was odd that Massa had problems with fuel load, however he wasn’t able to run a full race test on Friday and they may have go their calculations wrong as a result. He was 35 seconds behind Alonso at the end, so working backwards, Ferrari would have started him on less fuel than his team mate as he was over half a second a lap slower. But without seeing the difference in fuel consumption on a race simulation run, due to spending longer on the straight at full throttle (without DRS), they ended up critical on fuel.


Vettel: SU HN (33) 1 Stop
Alonso: SU HN (29) 1
Webber: SU HN (30) 1
Hamilton: SU HN (32) 1
Button: SU HN (25) 1
Massa: SU HN (28) 1
Räikkönen: SU HN (27) 1
Hülkenberg: SN HN (28) 1
Grosjean: HN SN (36) 1
Senna: SN HN (26) 1
Rosberg: SN HN (27) 1
Di Resta: SN HN (28) 1
Ricciardo: HN SN (27) 1
Kobayashi: HN SN (36) 1
Vergne: SN SN (1) HN (33) 2
Maldonado: SU HN (27) HN (30) 2
Petrov: SN HN (31) 1
Kovalainen: SN HN (32) 1
Pic: SN HN (28) 1
Glock: SN HN (31) 1
Kartikeyan: SN HN (26) 1
Schumacher: HN SN (1) SU (33) 2 DNF

The UBS Race Strategy Report is written by James Allen with input and data from several of the teams’ strategists and from Pirelli

Kindly provided by Williams F1 Team

Note how Ferrari and McLaren were a shade stronger than Vettel’s Red Bull on the hard tyres; Vettel’s opening stint was what won the race for him.

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One wonders, if the McLarens preferred the Hard tyres so much, then why didn't they stop sooner?


My guess is no-one expected the hard tyres would last quite as long as they did. Button was the first in the field to change, they probably thought they were going to struggle to make the finish without stopping again at that point. If they'd known the hard tyres would still have fastest-lap pace in them on lap 59, I'm sure several others would have stopped earlier - Raikkonen for example.


I wondered the same thing... Did they know how much they liked the hard tyres before they switched to them?

It was brilliant to watch F1 cars being driven on the limit for much of the race again. Watching the very best drivers throw their cars through the corners was thrilling. This is what I expect from F1! I'd rather watch this skill on display that 100 defenceless drivers being blasted past on the straight due to DRS or comedy tyres.


I'd rather see a bit more in terms of position changes over the race. Comparing the qualifying and finishing positions there aren't that many significant changes.

Don't forget that not long ago F1 was boring because very little happened in the races. The 'comedy' tyres at least make teams think a bit and have to react during the race, DRS at least makes passing possible where aero stops you getting too close through corners otherwise.


Too conservative choice of tyres was my post race moan.

On the matter of tyres - the lesser spending teams appear to find themselves able to compete better at the start of the season (part 1), presumably because the unknown quanitity of the tyres is the biggest performance differential influence then

As the season develops (part 2), the bigger spending teams end up almost 2x2 at the front. The tyres are now no longer the biggest influence on performance.

So if the bigger teams refuse to cut spending - how about the FIA/BE introduce tyres for part 1 of the season and a different spec of tyres for part 2?

Then if tyres are consistently the biggest influence on performance, less will be spent on widgets, winklers and wankels to improve aero by 0.000435678%


I don't think that the tyre supplier should be able to determine the personality of a race. They should manufacture 3 or 4 different compounds and let the teams choose what they will run. Pirelli have taken us from wildly unpredictable to absolute boredom. I think there is far too much interference from the FIA and the tyre supplier. Teams should be able to buy their tyres from any manufacturer that will supply them and not be locked into only one. Competition leads to progress and there isn't much of that left in F1 these days.


Patrick, exactly my thoughts.

I'm extremely eager to understand what method specifically is being used to determine the tire allocation for a particular race.

Let's also assume that certain team is having / found large advantage with Super Soft compound, and Pirelli are repeatedly selecting this very same compound? What would/could prevent that?

We are likely to run into the same boredom for Abu Dhabi, given the track characteristics and tire allocation - Soft and Medium.

I can understand that Super Soft is very unpredictable and Pirelli don't want to risk their reputation for ruining a certain team championship ambitions and they bet on the hard solid facts, but as the season progresses, let's not forget, teams have found various ways to tackle tire degradation.


I agree with you to some extent; the teams should not have to run both tires during the race. I've always thought it too artificial a requirement; let the teams decide strategy and choose tires to suit. It would make for much more exciting racing, in my opinion.

And also, James, the strategy calculator you supplied totally rubbished a one stop strategy. It certainly doesn't seem realistic as to tire longevity. Maybe it needs some work.


Yes the deg model wasn't as accurate as it normally is.


I like that idea as well, goes back to a 90's early 2000 scenario where teams would play with tire compound, setup, and (undisclosed) fuel levels to make their own strategy. For example Schu/Brawn often won races on alternate strategies much more extreme than what is possible today. Would be interesting watching a race between cars burning through supersofts (3 or 4 stops) vs cars that maybe don't stop at all on hard tires. That said, no matter the format, someone will be unhappy.


When you have such an advantage as in times you mentioned, you can play with many more things 😀


So Pirelli can't win! Too soft and too degrading tyres that force more pitstops and therefore strategic variation, and you're not happy because the tyres influence too much. But with tyres that allow the driver to push all the way with no care, which stifles strategy, and you blame the tyres for making the race boring!

The the tyres in India were like what we had with Bridgestone, which at the beginning of the year many were clamouring for.

And a tyre war is not a good thing and would be infeasible. The tyre war will send car speeds rocketing and too dangerous for the tracks and car development restrictions will be forced to become even more severe, which no one wants. Also one or two teams will establish a monopoly with their tyre like Ferrari did in the 2000s, at the disadvantage of other similarly tyre shod teams. And general the race will be less close as one tyre could dominate. Not to mention increased costs that the sport doesn't need. So no, a tyre war is not good at this moment in time.

I can appreciate the need for pure racing where a driver is always on the limit and isn't a conservation fest, but strategy is important too in F1 as well as, lets face it, an entertainment factor. So on balance it's better to have tyres that can't go to the end of the race, I feel.


I think the better solution isn't a tyre war, but just let the team choose what compound they want to use and not limiting them to just choose from 2 types. Okay, if that isn't realistic enough (because of the cost?), then remove that stupid mandatory use of both compounds... that rule is definitely stupid now. If I want to run fast, I want to use O-O-O for my whole stint. If I want to run long, I want to use O (because of qualy)- P. If I want to gamble it, I want to qualy in P and the next stint also in P. That would open up a lot more strategies instead of the usual O-P-O/P.

O:Option (softer compound)

P:Prime (harder compound)


I agree, especially with what you said about Pirelli not winning.

People say "they're too degradable. It's boring because drivers can't push to the limit."

Yet when Pirelli do what the people say then it suddenly becomes "the tyres are boring. What happened to the interesting tyre strategies."


Thanks James. I thought that Mercedes strategy of not running in Q3 was bizarre. Nico's times in Q1and Q2 were not bad and he might have started higher up the grid if he had run. Were they saving tyres? It shows a lack of confidence. But the race pace is even more worrying as shown by the graph, for Mercedes and Lewis.


Come on James, please a little more insight, if you have the information.

Did mclaren and lotus make a mistake with their gearing? Would a longer top gear hurt their overall lap time or qualifying position and therefore was FA set up much better for qualifying and race day combined?

why did Jenson stop so early. It appears horrible planning by mclaren to put him in traffic?

Lewis on the graph appears to be going faster on the softs just before he pitted, should they have kept him out longer....or from Jensons hard tire data and the stint Grojean had done on the prime, should Lewis have pitted earlier lap 28 or 29 and if so by looking at his graph he could have had webber, and chased FA.

Thanks James


You could that Buttons left front was shot several laps before he came in. I think they wanted to push him to their ideal pit window, but both McLarens were blistering the soft tires.


James I hear that Alonso is giving Pat Fry and Domenicali a rough time, with late-night rowing in Maranello and verbal abuse and flying off the handle. Apparently he threatened to post a anti-Fry message on Twitter....

This, if true, undermines completely the view I had taken after the race that Alonso was in a stronger position than Vettel.


It seems that we are starting to see Alonso's true colours shining through again.


I'd like to hear James' views on that as well. If true, it really would seem to imply that Alonso's famous "We're not just racing Sebastian, but also Newey" comment was also a dig at Ferrari's engineers for not providing him with a fast enough car.


i started this season (as always) rooting for Ferrari, but Alonso always making the comment that he has an inferior car, is simply "self-serving". if he wins the WDC in that "dog of a Ferrari" (as many people have called it) he will seem the greatest of them all. i agree he has driven well this season but it is a team sport and if i was a member of the Ferrari team i would feel discouraged by his constant whining that he does not have the fastest car. for me it's been a big turn-off to being an Alonso fan.


For me that quote is plain and simple. Fernando feels like Sebastian is helped along by Adrian so in order to win the championship he (Alonso) has to fight both of them triumphantly.

Nothing new here. The championship is as much about luck as it is about the driver and as it is about the car. Everything has to come together in many ways and many times in order to become World Champion. What Fernando speaks about is what makes 'winning it all' so special!

I'm not sure why people read more into it than that?


Can they not just bring in the rubbish tyres on the really boring mostly modern tilke tracks to spice things up.

And on the classics like Spa, Brazil etc keep the tyres conservative so drivers can actually race instead of conserving tyres.


Bring back cross-plies!


I'll third that


I'll second that


I know we're all F1 fans, but does anyone else find the season too long these days? I'll be watching the remaining races, but for the last two years, come this time of the season, I've been struggling to maintain the excitement.


Great question. I'm a major Vettle fan so have come to love this part of the season. Having said that I wonder if this is where they start to lose casual fans as at least in the northern hemisphere it doesn't really feel like racing season.. We Canadians are sensitive to this as our alledgedly beloved Stanley Cup generally ends in June which is definitely too late for Hockey. Also, the NFL has one tenth the games as Baseball and one fifth that of the NHL and NBA but it's by far the largest sport on the continent.


I think the boredom is because there is no battle toward the end of the season. If red bull stopped winning everything, and there was still a championship left then it would be an exciting season close 🙂


How can you be serious I'm getting depressed that the seasons nearly over the winter break takes forever !!!!!!





Me too - by about mid-January - I can't wait for the F1 season to start again.


At least that's 2 of us. Im gutted when the last race goes off the tv it's a horrible empty feeling.

Kind Regards



Go to testing if you can. You often end up in same hotels as drivers and watch and listen to he cars 8 hours a day. Jerez is usually 1st week of Feb - so only 2 months of no F1 instead of nearly 4.


Wow great idea will try and look things up would be great to watch over the winter.

Kind Regards



Last year I understand, but 2010?


I meant this year and last year really.


Bored? I'm guessing you are seeing Vettel taking the lead for the 3rd year running. That's boring. Not his fault. But we all saw how exciting WRC got after Loeb won his 3rd title..


I do think the season should max out at 16 races. 20 is too many for my liking. Especially because we have some tracks that really shouldn't be on the calendar.


Heresy! 😀


I agree that tires should not determine the outcome of race strategies,with so much investment in other aspects of the car and engine, something a simple as tires should not be controlled.

F1 for me is now too political


The way I understand is Pirelli has high jacked F1. They decide how the races should be run. Is this good? Will this favour any particular team?


Same for everyone, as it was in Bridgestone times. Difference is all the races were like India, whereas now there more variety



I think the point is that, it's one thing for Pirelli to make tyres that create greater entertainment, but it's a whole other issue if they are going to become more "conservative" whenever they feel like it.

Pirelli should have no decision in regard to the type of tyre that they bring as this then means that they can easily make decisions which benefits certain teams at the expense of others as (according to your report) they have done by adopting the so-called conservative approach.


But conversely the choices early in the season favoured the likes of Lotus and Sauber, someone always gets an advantage whatever the choice.

Apparently Red Bull do not lobby them as much as some teams to being a certain type of tyre.

Pirelli have to have the final say on what they bring for safety reasons among other things


is the tremendous haze seen at india just natural haze, or is it smog?

seems excessive.


mostly natural but pollution mixed in too. Hot air from the south moves up while cold air from the himalayas comes south. they meet around Delhi and the haze is what you get when a cold, dry airmass, runs into a hot, wet one.


Sorry to go off topic a bit, but James did an article on Wind Tunnels last week following the Ferrari.com thesis on all things wind tunnel.

I thought at the time the amount of detail was more than just Ferrari educating its fans. It appeared to fly in the face of Stefano's comments a few days earlier (post Japanese GP) that the wind tunnel was no excuse for his engineers.

Well La Stampa reports today, that Fry's comments post qualifying were taken by Alonso as criticism of his qualifying performance. He apparently flew into a rage threatening to tweet to his 1.2 million fans that the car had received no significant aero updates since May.

It took Stefano until 1am Sunday morning to calm Alonso down and prevent twittergate #3 of this F1 season. http://wp.me/p2HWOP-iq


Interesting link thanks for that.

I have to wonder how much sleep Alonso looses over not taking the drive at Redbull (I believe he had teh chance to go there after Maclaren)?

He may have been a 5x WDC if he had taken that.


He is lucky to have two, and the way he entered Ferrari, I doubt his karma can stretch to a third title.


The interesting twist here is that La Stampa is the newspaper of Turin, owned by the Agnellis and very much part of the same family as Ferrari.

Alonso threw his helmet through a door in Shanghai in 2007 so he has his moments, but he will also know that he didn't get the perfect lap in quali in India


This is exactly what I said on this forum after qualifying; Alonso didn't qualify well. But I don't think that would have made any difference on race day. The McLarens were not strong enough and he would have overtaken them anyway. If it wasn't for Red Bull's unreliability, Alonso would have finished 3rd only.


@Myer: interesting analysis. Webber ` obvious defending role is another aspect for SV comfortable lead in the last races. In India he was within 3 sec untill RBR crew reported a KERS issue .........

Then there seems to be another element. Tyres play a major role in track performance as always. But how can it be that Vettl seems able to improve his pace again before his pitstop while other start to struggle with their first set of tyres ?

India is not the first race where this happens. How can it be that Perez and Button, known both as gentle on tyres, were the first ones to stop for their prime tyres here ?

It must be that tyre quality plays a role here too, since their manufacturing process will have a "minimum" normal quality spread as every production processes has. Some questions :

- How much spread is actually tolerated by the FIA regs ?

- How exactly is this quality spread defined and handled in terms of performance level in the FIA regs ?

- How the FIA is able to assure a level of tyre equality over the season for all teams ?

Since the gaps in F1 are abt 1-2 % only, it can be expected Pirelli has a real tough job here to execute .... Tyres are not just tyres.


Exactly JA.

The first 10 laps are crucial for Seb, that is where he wins in races.

He pushes hard for the first ten laps to open up a decent gap, roughly 10 seconds. He can then maintain this gap through the first stint, because usually Alonso thinks that he should save his tires. But as the first set of pit stops approaches, Fernando pushes hard and makes some gain.

Unfortunately, he leaves the push too late because Vettel pits as soon as his times fall below Fernando's (only if his times are slower). This undercut allows him to negate any faster laps by Alonso, as now Seb is on fresher tyres.

Seb plays the same game until the last 10 laps, where Seb cruises. He does this because RBR knows that if the engine over heats, that is alternator failure territory. The 10 second lead provides him with a buffer of 1 sec per lap should need need to nurse the car home.

Also, it allows him to attempt for the fastest lap because he has been cruising the last 10 laps, the guy behind pushes hard to win. On the last lap, with the fresher tyres and lowest fuel, he goes for the fastest lap.

Fernando/Jenson caught on to this trick in India. They knew the couldn't catch the guy in front. So by backing off until the last lap, they had the best chance of claiming the fastest lap.

As an aside:

Sebastian is a very intelligent and "stable" young gentleman. His race craft is perfect (no doubt, the full backing of the team helps). Stars who rise too quickly eventually fall quickly as well (eg Lewis), but I cannot see that for Seb because he is way too grounded.

This Newey/Vettel team will be unbeatable for some time yet. (I hope I am wrong though).


A very well thought out post.

Don't agree on the fastest lap thing but apart from that..


He could have attacked RBR on the opening lap from P3 on the grid. That's the difference


Agreed. Few circuits are appear as difficult to get in a perfect lap. Not many did this weekend and the Indian circuit is one of Tilke's successes. It looks very tough from a precision point of view.

I watched extensive onboard's in practice and qualy and the variety of lines, and how much to steal on certain corners was an inexact science at best. Clearly the if drivers made a mistake on apex it would compromises them for another 1 or 2 more corners.

Maybe that's why Lewis loved it.


This season is in desperate need for a wet race

Unfortunately it is probably not going to happen before Brazil


have more races in England then


James (or anyone), a bit off topic...

After 10 years I feel sudden need to play video games again (F1 especially) and I was wondering what F1 drivers think about modern F1 simulators like Codemasters's F1 2012, rFactor, iRacing... is some of them a real thing or are they all crap.

I heard Lewis likes to play one of them with his brother...

Do you have some info on that?


Vileneuve was a fan of the simulators too if I remember.


Don't quote me on it, but if memory serves correctly I recall iRacing as the game Lewis likes to play with his brother.

That said, here's my take. F1 2010 and 2011 (I haven't tried F1 2012 yet) are pretty awesome games. They aren't super realistic, I would call them a nice balance between simulator and arcade styles. For pure simulator type racing, rFactor is as good as it gets. The plain vanilla program has a small selection of cars and tracks, but there are tons of cars, series, tracks, etc that can be added (all free) but it does take a bit of fiddling sometimes. If you are decent with a PC it shouldn't be an issue. rFactor 2 is currently in beta, and can be purchased. It takes rFactor to new heights IMO. I haven't tried iRacing, so can't comment there.


One of the few boring races in an otherwise great season. Note to Pirelli: please, please, please don't give in to the pressure to make the tires more durable and predictable! You have changed this jaded old fan's opinion that F1 was stuck in a rut of processional races forever.


I've watched every season from 1992 onwards, and I can tell you this season is one of the most boring ones I'v ever had the displeasure of seeing.

The current rules are terrible and make overtaking a thing of the past. And no, drs does not count in the same way that breezing past a lorry in the slow lane does not count


"The current rules are terrible and make overtaking a thing of the past."

WHAT?! Are you serious? Have you been watching the same races the rest of us have? Even without the DRS passes there have still been way more passes this year and last than any any of the previous 3 seasons. "For many years, a Grand Prix in Barcelona was synonymous with almost no overtaking - there were an average of just two overtaking moves per race between 2008 and 2010. That all changed last year: not only did 'normal' (i.e. non-DRS assisted) overtakes increase by a factor of ten - with a total of 22...":(http://www.formula1.com/news/features/2012/5/13319.html)


The weather was benign and stable all

weekend in Delhi


I believe that's what is killing off the 2012 season more than the conservative tyres and the teams getting to grips with the 2012 Pirelli raw eggs i.e. The fact that the rain clouds have dried up.

We saw in Europe what a wet practice did for the action i.e. Not only did it deny Red Bull pole but it also threw a number of strategy options up in the air.

So I think, we seriously getting cheated out here for never have I seen a season such as this were we have only had one wet race i.e. Malaysia.

Now contrast that with a true classic season from back in the day ---> 2008 where we had at least 4 wet races.

So until the global warming epidemic halts in it's tracks, I can only envision a Red Bull domination carrying on for a couple of decades.


It doesn't if it rained at every single race of the season. The pansies in charge of race control would not let the drivers race until the track was bone dry. Otherwise it would be "dangerous". Motorsport is not checkers, it is inherently dangerous.

It's a shame because I do agree that wet races are always more interesting than dry ones


Lets hope so mate


maybe start a campaign for the 500m viewers FOM claims f1 to have - to all use double deodorant and boost those greenhouse gases


Thanks James on the great insight. It was nice not to see tire klag all over the track. Korea was horrendous for that. I was getting sick of seeing the teams race against the tire instead of each other. It's like, you guys spend xxx millions on building a car and it's all decided by a crummy tire?

Tornillo Amarillo

James, can you explain, even if it were in two words:

1. why McLaren couldn't race well with the soft?

2. if Button pitted on lap 25 for hards, with 2 DRS zones, why he did not get more positions?


Two lines in the graphic of RAI and MAS glued together for almost the whole race. Massa's only directive from Ferrari seems to be to block Kimi however he can, protecting Alonso's back from a Kimi charge. For at least two races he has succeeded admirably.

This time I think he could have done better for himself than just be a spoiler for Kimi and I wonder if he was purposely short fuelled to give him a weight advantage....

As James says, "It was odd that Massa had problems with fuel load."


Title decider goes to Brazil, and it's a wet race. That would be fun. Oh, and just to cap it off, because it's wet, Schumacher puts in a stonking drive, and gets a podium on his last race.


I don't know if Pirelli has "magic rubber", but if they can influence the final GP's to be as unpredictable as the first 7, then I say go for it. The first 7 races had 7 different winners. I pray the final 7 don't have 1 & the same winner.

Don't care who wins, just want gripping, hammer & tongs dicing all the way to Sau Paulo.



Here's a suggestion: Why doesn't Pirelli just make ALL the compounds available at ALL the races. The teams can choose whatever tyres they want and focus on strategy that works for their cars, drivers, and equipment.


Why on earth some people want to see a wet race ? Do many laps behind safety car, red flagged races, poor visibility both for driver and spectators. Absolutely ridiculous. Hope it net rains again!- boring as batshit!

I like to see some changes to the rules- like making changes to the car before the race - it would have given teams like Lotus a chance to correct mistakes and create a bit of mystery. I think you should be allowed to run whatever tyre you like at the start of the GP as long as you race only one new tyre.


Elie, where were you when we had a wet race last time? Ferrari were strong in wet conditions. That's why everyone wants a wet race.


Valencia has produced the most interesting race of 2012.More than the tracks,it was the tyre performance that made races interesting, in the early part of the season.

Why is Pirelli making such conservative tyre choices now? Options lasting 33 laps, primes lasting 36 laps etc..

Also starting with Korea , we have 4 Hermann Tilke tracks in a row : Korea, India, Abu Dhabi, and now Austin. These tracks have a sameness about them and are producing boring races. They could do well to shuffle up the races in Asia and put Singapore and Suzuka in the middle of the Tilke track races.

But then hardly any chance of that happening as Bernie thinks all the Tilke tracks are great...


For the record, Austin wasn't designed by Tilke. From what I've read, the layout of the Austin track was actually designed by Tavo Hellmund and another person who's name escapes me. Tilke's company was brought in as advisers to make sure the track met F1 standards and other minutiae.

It looks to be an epic circuit, but we'll obviously have to wait a few weeks to see if it's really as good as it looks.


It was a bit like other races, in which the pole-sitter won and there were just two main place changes among the runners up.

If you see this James - are 2013 car regs exactly the same?

Are there any rumours or even slight possibilities that anything will change or be tightened up?

For example as they tried to tighten some 2012 mid-season (allegedly to stop RB running away with it... which didn't work!)

Surely a certain old man is aware that if RB are 0.3 / 0.5 seconds ahead from Australia 2013, commercial activity may be altered for the year?


Not any significant changes for 2013, a few things like ban on Merc style DDRS,

I see 2013 being more like 2011 for RBR, looking at performance advantage they have now as season does to an end


How about an article on what its going to take for McLaren or Ferrari or Lotus or Mercedes to pull us out of the boredom that is Red Bull dominance?



How you can just glibly write off a whole year!

Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooo, say it ain't so!


Because Mercedes' DDRS has given them a HUGE advantage. 😉


"Raikkonen being stuck behind Massa meant that they didn’t get the result the car’s pace deserved." - for the fifth race in a row, sometimes I'm not sure what is going on in that Lotus team.

What lack of straight line speed are they talking about when they were bouncing on a rev limiter ever since Spa? I would understand their decision if they were 75% sure of getting the pole, but honestly......


DRS should be allowed from the start of the 2nd lap. Vettel had clear air in a high downforce car while Alonso and the McLarens were tripping over each other losing time. If Alonso had DRS available to use for lap 2, he would have been able to get Webber straight away, then at least have a chance to get Vettel. That additional lap without DRS is more than enough for the lead car (especially a Red Bull) to get out of the 1 second striking distance.

Sujith Radhakrishnan

I am an Indian. So my opinion might be biased. But I say no racetrack is to be blamed. We all were so quick to slam on Velencia for its lack of overtaking. But this year, we had a wonderful European Grand Prix. Frankly I am not a big fan of tyre strategy. Let the teams choose the compounds that suit their car and driver. And I want fuel strategy to return to Formula 1 as well. The processional nature of F1 will not be a problem if we have well placed DRS zones on a track. All said and done, all of this is not gonna happen in the future. So in the spirit of enjoying with what we got now, I want to ask, why did Pirelli made the same mistake again? Last year they were totally new to the track so they wanted something that would stay on if the track turn out to be super abrasive. They learned their lessons in 2011 and they could have done the noble thing and would have gone with Softs and the Mediums or Softs and Supersofts. Are they deliberately being conservative?

Sujith Radhakrishnan

And James, something off topic. Are tyre warmers going to be banned in 2013? If so, how is it gonna affect tyre warm up? Can you shed some light into that? I am not a regular reader of your blog. So I don't know if this was covered earlier..

Thanks James 🙂


Hi James, Would love to hear from you your experience in India where you have been for the second time now. The organizers have come under a lot of Flak for asking the Import duty to be removed and the attendance has dropped significantly. In a Cricket mad nation F1 has become another event meant for the elite rich and the local media was not too interested to cover the Excitement leading the Indian GP. Would like to hear from you how you enjoyed your stay in India and the Event in itself?.


I enjoyed it, love the track and the people there are very enthusiastic. I'm sad to hear you say its for elite rich, certainly there were plenty of empty seats and the pricing seemed too high to me - over £100 for a seat.

Apart from that the other negative was the fact that the air quality was really terrible and the smog hung in the air, which you can clearly see on the TV pictures and in photos.

Sujith Radhakrishnan

That is the climate of New Delhi at that time of the year. Unlike most of the other tracks we've been to, this place is nowhere near the sea.

A Grand Prix somewhere in the Indian city of Mumbai would be a totally different story though. With that, you'll get another hot one like Singapore and Malaysia.


just great.. Vettal is born legend:)


Hi James, just how good is Maldonado? Sometimes he looks like he has some raw pace but is that the car flattering him or vice versa?? As a Williams fan (and huuuge Webber fan!) I feel that Williams missed a trick in not signing Raikkonen or another genuinely fast driver (keeping Hulkenburg wouldve been a good start).

With any luck Bottas is promoted and follows the footsteps of Hakkinen/Raikkonen.


He's definitely very quick. Needs a bit more composure in race situations, doesn't always make the right decisions but he has potential if he can channel his speed

Massa did


Maldonado has potential and so as Senna, regularly the quicker Williams driver in races and the man who set the second fastest lap of the race in India!

The qualifying issues Senna had this year will be fixed next year if he stays with a good team, as he will no longer lose 15 FP1 and 2013's tyres will suit his style more. Remember Button also had the same kind of problems Bruno had this year. Remember Button did nothing better than Senna in his former years in F1. Remember Button won his first GP in his 7th season, while Bruno Senna is still in his first with a decent car and not yet in equal terms with his rivals, as he loses all those FP1.


James, you raise an interesting point with "due to spending longer on the straight at full throttle (without DRS), they ended up critical on fuel."

Is it known what burns more fuel? With DRS there is less drag but higher revs, and without DRS you have more drag but at lower revs.

I'm sure there are a few variables such as how long the DRS zone is and such but is there some kind of rule of thumb?


Lewis Hamilton's comment said it all that the Indian GP was the best race of the year because they could really push, although I expect it was limited to a degree by fuel saving. Indeed the McLaren's came alive on the hard tyre when given the all clear to push, unfortunately for them the soft tyre did not suit the car so well which is why the Red Bull, and Ferrari were faster in the opening stint. In my opinion all races should be like this as we then get a clearer picture of whose car is performing the best. I still do not like the narrow operating window of the Pirelli tyre, and as such has a harmful effect on the relative quality of proper racing we see.


Kobayashi's pace on his soft tyres - wow!


Getting back to the original theme, James is absolutely right that the tyres determined how the race would turn out. And I reiterate that the decision of what compounds will be used should not be Pirelli's choice but rather a decision made by the teams. So they should be able to choose from a range of compounds that suit their car. And if there was more than one supplier, then they will usually sponsor teams to run their product thereby making progress and making it CHEAPER for the teams not more expensive as Craig sugests. I don't see how this competition between suppliers woul create a "war" but rather healthy competition, so Craig I would thank you for not putting words in my mouth for me. Getting back to compound choices, if it were open, you might even see teams trying soft on the front and hard on the rear like we often do on bikes. All I want to se is real racing, not the artificial stuff that Bernie and Pirelli are dishing up. F1 is supposed to be the pinnacle of motor sport, so let the teams rise to the occasion on their own.


James, you say:

"...Everyone behind him, who was on the standard one stop, didn’t manage to clear him, but where Grosjean’s strategy worked well was that he ran a longer first stint and was able to clear Rosberg...".

But Senna started 13nd and overtake Rosberg with 1 pit.

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