A game of strategy between Lotus, Ferrari and Red Bull on record day for leaders
Strategy Report
Posted By: James Allen  |  19 Mar 2013   |  1:59 pm GMT  |  248 comments

The Australian Grand Prix got the new season off to a great start, with seven different leaders – a modern day record – and a fascinating strategic battle between Lotus, Ferrari and Red Bull.

There were many talking points from the race and things to analyse closely; Lotus’ confidence in opting for two stops; how Red Bull managed to lose a race for which they had qualified in pole position by over a second; how strategy cost Massa a podium finish; why Mercedes switched Hamilton’s plan half way through the race and some desperate moves by McLaren to try to salvage something from a difficult weekend.

Confident Lotus execute plan to perfection
After confirmation of their long run pace in testing at Barcelona and on Friday in Australia, Lotus planned to make 2 stops on Sunday, knowing that their main rivals would struggle to do the same. The key to it was being able to get to lap 8 or 9 on the supersofts at the start. This left them with 25 laps on the first set of medium tyres and 24 on the second set. That Kimi Raikkonen was able to use one less set of tyres than his rivals but still maintain the pace, says a lot for the Lotus pace as well as its tyre management (see graph at bottom of post)

The strategy team at Lotus were confident their plan would work and it got a boost when Raikkonen gained three places on the opening lap to come around fourth. Knowing that their main rival Fernando Alonso was three stopping and would be fast in the final stint, they did not want to pit Raikkonen too early second time around. So the laps between 25 and 34 were the only nervous time for the team. Had Raikkonen been forced to pit before lap 30, the race could have been lost to Ferrari.

Once Raikkonen had passed that marker, when he reported that the tyres were staring to go, they pitted him and he was able to run comfortably to the finish, with Alonso well covered. The impressive note was that Raikkonen set the fastest lap near the end, 1.2 seconds faster than the Red Bull, having been 1.2 seconds slower in qualifying than Vettel.

Ferrari cost Massa a podium and give points to Red Bull
Felipe Massa felt after the race that he had lost a podium through strategy and he is right. At the end of the second stint, Massa was behind of Vettel and ahead of Alonso. But the Brazilian was left out too long on his second stint and lost time. Ideally he should have pitted first, but as soon as Alonso pitted on lap 20 Massa had to react, as Vettel did. Instead he went to lap 23, losing time and two track positions in the process, trying to outrun Vettel who was now on new tyres. This handed three championship points to Red Bull and Vettel which could be important later in the season. It is no surprise that Ferrari prioritised Alonso’s race, but Massa was fast enough to beat Vettel in Melbourne and it hinged on this moment. It shows how fine the margins are in decision making.

That said, the fuel corrected graphs (botom of post) show that Massa held Alonso up in the opening 20 laps and Ferrari didn’t swap them over. Massa had outqualified and outstarted his team mate so was in position on merit and he had the fastest pit stops. But it definitely took something away from Alonso’s race effort. It’s debatable whether Alonso could have beaten Raikkonen had he been clear, probably not.

Mercedes salvage result despite strategy switch
The Mercedes qualified very well and had looked quick in the wet. So the question was, would they be hard on their tyres as in the past? The strategy team clearly tried to do the same as Lotus and cover the race in two stops, but the plan fell apart and Hamilton was forced to pit for a third time on lap 42. He finished fifth, 12 seconds behind Massa, whom he was racing. He would have been better off from third on the grid setting out to do three stops; he would have spaced them out more evenly to have optimum tyre performance.

For example – Hamilton stayed out until lap 13 on the supersofts. He was 7.3 seconds behind the Ferrari before it stopped on lap 8, but after losing time staying out, he was 16.7 seconds behind in the second stint. Without the consistency of the Lotus he was forced to pit on lap 31, which meant he was trying to do a final stint of 27 laps. They gave up the plan on lap 42 when it was clear it wasn’t going to work. There were plenty of positives for Mercedes to take away, but in Malaysia they will surely be working more carefully studying tyre life on long runs during Friday practice.

McLaren make some desperate moves

All the strategists in the pit lane were mystified by McLaren’s decision to put Sergio Perez on the supersoft tyres at the first stop, having taken the sensible decision to starting him on the medium, as Force India did with Sutil.

Perez started the race in 15th, while Sutil was 12th, so they had the same idea. But by taking the supersoft on lap 16 and then being forced to come in again on lap 23, it pushed Perez back into the traffic. Earlier, in qualifying, McLaren had also taken a big gamble with him on the supersoft on a wet track and that didn’t pay off either.

With a slower than expected car and clearly some problems to deal with, it looked like there was an element of desperation about their moves; shake the tree and hope something happens. On his first outing in a top team it was a tough way to welcome the young Mexican.

McLaren’s pit stops were shaky too: they were only 6th best on combined average stops in Melbourne at 22.462secs, whereas Ferrari’s combined average was 21.646secs.

Sutil and the Force India strategy team pulled their plan off brilliantly. He started behind Di Resta but had the advantage of starting on new medium tyres. He did the longest first stint of anyone at 21 laps, keeping the pace up and although Di Resta caught him at the end, the team told the drivers to hold station, finishing 7th and 8th.

With points for midfielders likely to be harder to get this year, it was the best possible way to start the year.

The UBS Race Strategy Report is written by James Allen with input and data from several of the leading teams’ strategists, from Pirelli and from JA on F1 Technical Adviser Mark Gillan.

Graph – Fuel corrected lap times

This graph, prepared by Mark Gillan, shows the fuel corrected pace of the leading cars in Melbourne and can teach us a number of things about the relative performance of the packages.

The lap times in seconds are shown down the vertical axis (ie The lower the number the faster the pace)

The first thing to note is Raikkonen’s fundamental pace. Last year Lotus relied on good tyre management to get the results. This year they have combined that with a fast car as well as good tyre management and that is clear from this graph. If they can keep up that pace while using the tyres for longer than rivals, it means that they will be a threat for the forseeable future as this is the optimum for race performance on Pirelli tyres.

Secondly you can clearly see that Alonso loses time early on behind Massa but his Ferrari is very quick when he gets clear. Also note his final stint, to the right, where he pushes very hard in the early laps and damages the tyres, with the result that his pace drops off. Ferrari had to stop three times to do the lap times Lotus were doing with two.

Considering Vettel’s pace, it’s clear from this graph that the Red Bull didn’t have anything like the pace in race conditions that it had in qualifying. This could be due to a number of factors, but thermal tyre management is the most likely culprit. Having been a second faster than the Ferraris and 1.3s faster than the Lotus in qualifying, they are reduced to third fastest car in the race. And Vettel’s fastest race lap is 1.2 slower than the Lotus, despite using one more new set of new tyres in the race than Raikkonen.

This is perhaps the most telling stat of all. If they can repeat that in the heat of Malaysia then the championship will get really interesting.

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I found Hamilton to do quite well, but one mistake that I think he made was when he blocked all of his wheels in an attempt to defend against Alonso at a moment that the Spaniard was clearly quicker. Could it be that the resulting tyre damage was one of the factors that forced them into 'plan B'?


Yes, but he was told to keep ALO behind him by his team - no idea why but there you have it.

Guys can it really be fundamentally right that every other word spoken about modern f1 is 'tyres'. How the hell can this be the right way to go when it is so artificial that it all becomes superficial? Being overtaken means nothing most of the time now when it used to mean so much that drivers fought every position on track. Drivers are now criticised for 'fighting to maintain position too hard'! How can this be right?

Enough is enough, let's stop being forced to talk about 'tyre saving' through the entirety of every race - Surely F1 has more to offer and talk about? Doesn't it?


But then up to 2008 when the regulations where changed to water down the importance of aerodynamics and dirty air in the wake of cars we were complaining of the fact that cars needed to be more than a second per lap faster than the preceeding one to attempt an overtake. I remeber people saying "first lap, pit stops, podium" as the only relevance of F1, the rest was purely processional.

You ask if it is fundamentally right that tyres be the most important part of F1? I think that the take is purely subjective. What is fundamental about anything? There's a list of rules that is re-written every so often to counter the main aspect of F1, which is evolving technology and loopholes. the other factor which I think is taken into account is the spectacle itself: Is it boring? Is it loosing audiences worldwide? As business you know you can't keep averybody happy, but you will not keep anybody happy if you dissapear: as great as Schumacher was in his hey-day, the Ferrari dominance was a bore fest and you rarely saw overtaking. When people remeber the great defense Alo put against Schu in Imola back in 2006 I think, they fail to mention that Schu was basically much faster than Alo but could not overtake because it was aerodynamically next to impossible. is that racing?

Andrew complains that looking after your tyres is more important than RBR's aerodynamic package. Not really: it will be during the first races, while as James says, teams study the tyres -which by the way could be also blamed on test restrictions-, and I have no doubt that if Ferrari and others don't up their game it will well difficult for them to match RBR.

I personally don't have much against the current F1: I watch the race entirely and don't get bored; it certainly has an element of superficiality with the DRS and I realize it... but the purist hard line would have us all watch the few overtakes on youtube post race and go to the park with our kids instead of snoring in front of the telly. Get over it, the purist view would only lead to a dying sport with no audiences.


Yet world-wide viewing figures for F1 went down last year......



On Alonso: "Also note his final stint, to the right, where he pushes very hard in the early laps and damages the tyres, with the result that his pace drops off." My heart sinks when I read this. Come on, let's see more racing. Drivers going as fast as their ability allows rather than having to deal with only being able to push for a few laps in a race. What I find surprising is that only Schumacher and Webber, amongst the drivers, have been outspoken about the Pirellis. You'd think Hamilton would rather offer his opinion on this issue than talk about his dog getting a pitlane pass.


At first I agreed with you....but then with this year tyres being much more sensitive and dropped off easily, does make drivers and teams even more crafty in their strategies. I kinda like the mayhem though. Remember many of us groused about the Bridgestone and the bore fest races.

Now drivers have to proof how they can manage well and pit at the perfect time and I want to see them entertain me.


Remember that by early summer all the teams will have worked tyres out, development will be immense and we"ll be back to one stop races by September - that's the speed of progress in F1


Remember that by early summer all the teams will have worked tyres out, development will be immense and we"ll be back to one stop races by September - that's the speed of progress in F1


Nicki Lauda just said the same thing about the tyre politics of FIA. It's ridiculous we are all talking about tyres, and only tyres. This thing should change immidiately. Besides, it would be better to reintroduce refueling.


i agree with you about tyres, i'd prefer the fastest driver or the fastest car winning not the most efficient tyre wear. the idea of democracy is to place the best people for the right jobs in their respectful places, allowing nature to take its course on the outcomes. therefore elimination corruption. this tyre manipulation introduces corruption, the race results being decided by the decision to use a certain car to develop the tyres. let there be fairness and introduce a rule that says each tyre must last at least 20 laps.

that'll still give teams the opportunity to use 1 or 3 stop strategies. i don't like manditory 3 stop races.


I agree with you on tyres, I'm sick of hearing about them and the fact that tyre wear is now more important that aero efficiency (hence Lotus and Ferrari beat Red Bull) is a complete joke. However, I think the ease of overtaking in Melbourne was more to do with the excessive DRS zones.

Excessive DRS zones take all the skill and excitement out of overtaking and defensive driving, in Melbourne overtaking was really a triviality. Some tracks have get the DRS zones spot on so that overtaking is still a challenge but this certainly wasn't the case in Melbourne, the FIA have had enough testing of DRS zones and should really be on top of this issue by now.

Andrew (Another)

I disagree. Tyre performance has far more relevance to road cars than fancy aero.

Tyre performanceance has always been crucial apart from those tedious indestructible Bridgestone years.

Prost won many races for the McLaren Tag against the faster Williams Honda's because he looked after his tyres better in the race. At the same time Senna won some races in the slower Lotus Honda because he had active suspension that was kinder to the tyres.

I'm sorry but the people who are moaning know nothing about the history of Formula 1.

Regarding DRS, it is necessary because of the overpowering aero of today. If we didn't have DRS and Tyres with a limited life then the races would be dreadful.

It's as simple as that.


Exactly. Check out some photos of shredded tyres from the 1950s too!!


I don't think so, he was already pitting that lap because of how much slower he was compared to Vettel.


Yeh, she had more than 1 big lockup that I thought had to be tyre damaging. I always thought it was ironic that a driver who hates tyre micro management went to join the team that has been hardest on its tyres for 3 years - but still it is obviously something Merc have been working on and overall she made the right decision to leave McLaren.


Yes you're absolutely right by braking late and locking up he flat spotted his tyres, and I think changed then on the next lap. I suspect Mercedes performance deficit to Ferrari was all to do with tyre temperature, and perhaps they are not working them well enough although it could simply be a downforce deficit. Anyway with the higher temperatures in Malaysia things could change dramatically, and I suspect their is more performance in the Mercedes than has currently been demonstrated.


I think no, that was at the end of that stint. He would stop anyway I guess, and that's why he tried to block Alonso as much as he could. The switch for plan B was after that stop, when he did just 11 laps, and did another pit stop.


Highly probably. Although to be fair, his race engineer did tell him to defend his position, which frankly was ridiculous, when in fact he should of just been protecting his tyres, and so should of let Alonso pass.

Hindsight tells us, that probably 2 stops would of been too much for Mercedes anyway, and that they would of been better to go for a 3 stopper like everyone else, from the very beginning.


locked his nsf wheel you mean not "blocked" one or any of his wheels!


It certainly made him pit earlier than planned. He had a major flat spot after that incident and pitted right away.


On the sky programme they showed Lewis hit one of the black painted lines and his suspension bottomed out - that seems to be the cause of the lock up more than Hamilton over defending - still it makes sense that this ruined those tyres and possibly caused a more panicked changeover strategy.


I think Lewis said after the race he had to stop earlier than planned due to flat spotting his tyres.

I think that is one of Hamiltons weaknesses, he doens't know when to give it up, and let a faster driver go, looking at the long game!

tom in adelaide

Lucky for us viewers....

Who knows how holding up Alonso for a few seconds might have influenced the rest of his race. Maybe it helped to keep him from the top spot.


He was told by his race engineer to keep Alonso behind him. This was just before the lock-up, and would explain his spirited defence from the spaniard. After the lock-up, he knew this would be impossible as it was clear his tires were in a bad way. He pitted on the sme lap, i think.


I'd watch the race again then ... Hamilton fought, but not overly hard. He really only put up something amounting to a fight against Kimi at first, then Alonso. Vettel passed him with DRS down the straight, so nothing he could do. And with Massa, if anything he gave a big open door to Massa to go past.


He pitted the same lap as the lockup, but he was already losing bucket loads of time to the 3-stoppers ... once they were past, and with a sizeable gap back to the next cars, they were always going to switch to a 3-stopper.

If you think Hamilton could've 2-stopped IF ONLY he hadn't flat-spotted that tire, then we'll agree to disagree. Well, I suppose he could've 2-stopped, but he likely would've ended up further down from where he eventually finished.

Brawn has already come out and said that they got the balance wrong, and that they weren't able to do the two-stop.


No need to watch the race again, Lewis pushed too hard, and flat spotted his tyres, hence needing to pit earlier than was initially planned, and meaning he had to switch to a 3 stop strategy.

If he'd realised that he wasn't racing Alonso at that time, and played the long game, he probably would have ended up on the podium.


I have a feeling he was on his way into the pits anyway, as his tyres were in terrible shape - as is evident from the ease with which Alonso was able to catch up with him. In that case, locking up his tyres will not have cost him much.


Fascinating stuff as always guys. I think its wrong though to say that Massa was holding up Alonso, considering Felipe was in turn being held up by Vettel, particularly in the first stint.

I felt for Massa in the closing stages. It was clear from his lap times that he was upset with his teams' poor strategy with regard to himself. I suspect he can go quite a bit faster than that if he had a podium to fight for. After being kept out too long however, and not covering Alonso and Vettel at the end of stint two, it was clear that he was racing for 4th.

On a side note, Raikkonen's consistency on fuel corrected time is amazing. He really did drive the perfect race, no mistakes whatsoever.

I just hope that the Lotus team can keep pace in the development race. If they can, there is no doubt that Kimi is a major threat to Alonso and Vettel.


I agree that James' comments on the Ferrari approach seem a bit odd. Massa was quicker in qualifying, but it was clear from the sector times that neither got all of them right. To say Massa outsmarted Alonso is a bit generous - Massa defended well on lap one at turn 14.

When Alonso went for the undercut on lap 20 Vettel reacted the next lap, so Massa would have followed Vettel and Sutil into the pits. As it turned out Massa's stop on lap 23 was a second quicker than both of them, it would have been tricky to jump both of them.

Ferrari were trapped behind two slower cars that were compromising its race relative to Raikkonen. Pitting Alonso was always likely to cause a reaction, which meant Massa was always going to be compromised if he stayed on the same strategy. The key for Ferrari was that its tyre performance was better than Red Bull's so it could try an undercut before Red Bull could consider a defensive/pre-emptive stop as it did to get off the supersofts.


Can anyone confirm what I have read elsewhere, that Alonso didn't have use of the DRS in qualifying and lost a little time, but more than the 3/1000ths Massa eventually beat him by?


If you whatch again the last moments of Q3, you can see Alonso has the DRS closed during the whole main straight (first DRS zone). That alone I belive could be more than a tenth. On the other hand, it can be seen also that he has it opened when he crosses the finish line, so whether he was able to use it in the second DRS zone is uncertain.

Alonso himshelf refused to do any comments about it, even when the spanish tv asked him if he was happy after being beaten by his teammate. He said that was not a problem at all, that he was happy.


Hi Martin,

I see that a lot of people think Massa was quicker than alonso in qualifying, including James. I can tell you Alonso did his lap with no DRS, at least in the main straight. This can be seen from the broadcast. A Ferrari ingeneer made a coment about it also. That surely is more than a tenth and the difference between them was 3/1000. That hardly is been faster.



Thanks Yago, I wasn't aware of the DRS problem. I purely meant the 0.003 second rather than some commentary on ability, and was more looking at the outsmarted bit.




I agree 100%... Massa too was being held up. James makes it sound like if Massa switched with Alonso that Alonso had clear track... He too would have been held up Vettel....


I agree Massa was in Vettels wake and nothing else from those opening laps really support the notion that Alonso was held up by Massa. I've already been corrected in the forum on this matter, but comparing lap times under different track conditions is pointless. I watched the race on tv and if Alonso was truly being held up, why didn't he overtake, especially as he was in the DRS several times?

I think if Ferrari believed this, they would have pitted Alonso first at the first stops, to give him an advantage. The way it happened at the second stop, was I think more unfortunate, than a premeditated act to favour Alonso.


Alonso couldn't overtake Massa under DRS because Massa had DRS as well (from following Vettel). Overtaking the sister car without the DRS advantage is about the hardest thing to do, second only to overtaking a faster car... (and no team order jokes, please - there was 0 evidence of that in this race).


Correct - Vettel held up Massa, held up Alonso, allowed Kimi to stay in range.

VP of Common Sense

Alonso was faster than Massa once he made that second pit stop. The lap chart confirms it, Felipe was holding up Fernando. If Massa's fragile mind made his lap times suffer over those final 30+ laps, then clearly Ferrari made the right call. Felipe had newer tyres, he should have been able to catch back up to Alonso and Vettel over those last two stops. Maybe he will in Malaysia.


Not sure if this is true, but it seemed to me that Alonso made the choice to go in and use the "undercut". Vettel reacted, Massa then came on the radio sounding rather desperate "what do we do now".

It seemed as if Alonso made the decision to make a move, Vettel reacted to cover him and Massa simply didn't know what to do. Might be wrong, don't have all the data, but this is what it looked like from my couch. I've got the feeling Alonso tends to "read" the race better than others, definitely better than Massa. Their reaction was to push (on old tyres), but that didn't work. I guess they could have seen from Alonso's / Vettel's sector times whether or not they stood a chance, so I don't get the decision. If they felt it could work but just got unlucky as Massa's tyres went off at that moment (and they had to pit him) it makes sense, otherwise it doesn't.


ALO's move was a winning strategic move made either by him or his engineer (I don't know). The question is why didn't MAS get this opportunity esp cos he was the lead driver at the time and doing a fine job. The team just kept MAS on the 'normal' strategy...

It was great for ALO and he put the move to good use by pulling a gap on the field and chasing down RAI at the end.

The reason I don't think it was MAS's decision to stay out longer was because when ALO pitted, he immediately jumped on the radio and blasted his engineer asking why he didn't get the undercut. To which Rob Smedley (his engineer) replied saying "if you want it, then you have to take it, show us what you've got now". Smedley was implying that if MAS wanted to beat ALO or win the race then this is his chance, to push for the last few laps of his stint to try and stay out in front of ALO after he pits... But of course this was impossible as MAS was on old tyres compared to ALO and he was tucked up behind VET...

Whether anybody rates MAS or not, you cannot deny that he got jipped in the race. Ferrari gave the superior strategy to ALO despite MAS doing a good job at the time. Like I said, ALO did well with his opportunity so Ferrari will be happy.

For the record, I don't how we can be sure that MAS was holding ALO up? VET was holding them both up. MAS couldn't pass VET and ALO couldn't pass MAS. Who knows what MAS could've done if he got the superior strat and got out in front. And if you point out the lap times after the stops and both ALO and MAS were in clear air when ALO was faster, then I don't think this is a reliable comparison... Cos even though you expect a F1 driver to be emotionless and to just get the job done, you can't blame MAS for feeling dejected and de-motivated (if he was) after seeing his team favour ALO. If I am right, then I believe this is the same thing that happened in Hockenhiem 2011 and what started MAS's downward spiral of results.


Your first paragraph -I've said this about 6 times on other posts and yes I did hear Rob Smedley say if you want to do it go for it now- that was too late !! - Felipe should have been told immediately that Fernando was going for the undercut- don't tell me any driver with more than half a brain wouldn't have gone for the undercut if he knew - that's why he blew up.

Unfortunately for us the question of will Felipe ever get a fair go has just been confirmed.


Your Massa/Alonso senario seems probable.


couple of weeks back i mentioned that the second driver in every team may have his pitstops compromised because the rapidly deteriorating tyres mean that its vital to pit at exactly the right time. both ferrari's drivers qualified and started on the same tyre. odds are that both drivers will need to stop for fresh tyres at the same time. i thought massa got compromised.

nothing new there. pity.


Bring back race the history graph! Thank you!


Dear Dan

To those who have gotten used to it, and missed the Race History Graph and James’ comments on it, here’s one for the Top 6 teams. http://postimage.org/image/m9uvmaf2p/


I agree - the fuel correction doesn't provide much value. I guess you could suggest that Raikkonen didn't hustle the car at his second stop to look after the tyres, but you could see that from the race history graph.

Otherwise what we are getting is Mark Gillan's guess at fuel consumption vs track evolution. The temperature would have been dropping and additional rubber going down on line, but that is the same for everyone. Fuel consumption wouldn't have been linear for drivers and the starting levels would vary - so it is just an approximation.


Martin: good perspective; while it does provide one method of evaluating the results, it must be taken with caution, as there are just many more variables not accounted for.

Yet I appreciate the reporting, so as to give yet another insight into how it all compares.


Martin W. is that you?


No mate. I was once asked if I'm Martin Brundle - I'll take it as flattery 🙂


Hi James,

I'll explain my thinking given your !!!! reaction.

The data used is just the laptimes from the cars. That is the sole fact in the analysis. The rest is effectively opinion. The starting fuel weights will vary from car to car - Senna mentioned that he sometimes started with 10 kg less fuel than Maldonado - and the usage will vary at different stages in the race. Mark does not have that information so he is only estimating it. The fuel effect will also vary with the downforce level of the cars, and the rate of benefit is not linear with mass either.

So to me, the chart only prompts more questions, rather than answering any that non-adjusted laptimes would. All the fuel effect adjustment does is change the scale. As a reader we have no idea if Mark is right is his calculations as we have no data. If he is approximately right, why did the cars get slower? Were they all running at maximum power at the start to try to get away from drivers such as Sutil who were starting on the Medium tyres? Did the track temperature drop? Did atmospheric conditions change significantly, such as wind speeds picking up?

What the plot shows is manipulated data where the change from the true data is made on assumptions the reader cannot challenge. To give an analogy, it is similar to reading an opinion piece in a newspaper which just says the Green party will win fewer votes at the next election without any arguments. The opinion writer could be a long-term political analyst, but without reasons to back up the opionion, you'd rather just look at opinion polls.




So would you prefer that we don't bother with these insights any more?

If the work of Mark, who has just stepped out of being senior operations engineer at Williams isn't kosher enough for you, I wonder what would suffice?


You must've an anticipated this response?

The mischief, he he!



I love the confusion it brings to some people out there!



This fuel corrected graph is fine for seeing who has more pace (although a better scaling of the vertical axis whould have helped to better distinguish between the drivers) but the race history graph you had accustomed us to, was waaaay better to understand the race. Bring it back!

Anyway, great website.



Yes, please.



It's easier to read (curves not fluctuating on top of each other wildly) and contains much more information (race positions, relative speeds and one can include all the drivers without making the graph too crowded).


Race history graph was brilliant!


James, would there be any chance of uploading larger versions of the graphs so we can zoom in without distortion?

Dan, Luca, interactive version of race history here;



That's awesome. McLaren can get something right!


Yeah, the race history graph gives a clearer picture of the development of the race. In addition, it shows quite graphically how different pit-stop strategies work.

This fuel-corrected graph is interesting for the analysis of each stint, but is quite hard to read for the whole race.

I was expecting a more interactive race history graph for this year. Maybe one with the possibility to turn on/off the history of different drivers. Will be that possible in the near future James? Thanks in advance.


Mark Gillan needs to work on his layout skills, the graph is torture! #simpledoesit:)


Yes please


Great report as always James, it makes the race weekend complete.

The fuel corrected graph is big improvement on last years, which was always difficult to determine who was where (limiting the numbers of drivers allows us to more easily analyse what you your saying).

Its a great start for Lotus and for us as we know Redbull will solve the issues sooner or later and be back on top so it gives them a fighting chance to win a championship, although were a long way from that kind of talk yet.

I do hope the Mercs can solve their issue and complete as it would be great for Hamilton and Rosberg to be in the mix. I must admit my enjoyment for the race was lessened by watching Hamilton have to nurse his tyres to try and make a strategy work, whereas Kimi could race. We are all used to Hamilton’s full on aggression, but hopefully with more time to develop the car we will see this.

I too am mystified by McLaren’s strategy and unless there is a rule change i don’t know about why didn't Jenson not run in qualifying and then chose to start on new mediums as they knew they would qualify high and their pace was well off??

I’m surprised they sacrificed Massa in this way. It appears their perfection of strategy decisions we heard them laud so much last year hasn’t developed to two cars yet. They had a real chance to hurt Redbull in Aus and they may regret that decision if the points table is as close as last year.

I do feel sorry for Paul in the force India. He drove a good race (as did Sutil) but was denied his position and air time, because of good team strategy and the artificial position he had during the race. I wonder if teams respect the driver holding station as much as a driver who goes for the result?? Whilst I’m sure F.I. appreciate this, is this lacking killer instinct that lead to Perez being selected rather than Paul for a seat in McLaren (not saying Paul was second in-line)?

Looking forward to the strategy report for Malaysia and I’m hoping for wet weather to keep us all guessing that little bit longer.


As JA said, it could be very hard for midfield teams to pick up decent points this year. I know one thing that would strike him off any team's "one to watch" list, and that would be not holding station, going for the extra two points (but the same amount for the team), and taking himself and his teammate off.

It's the first race of the year ... with a team like Force India, better to play yourself in, get on the board, off the mark ... all those cliches. Di Resta should get that.


Ferrari's strategy is hardly perfect - Autosport will quite happily criticise its efforts in Barcelona, Monaco and Canada, any and all of which with less rigid thinking they feel Alonso could have won.

In Australia it was different in that at the first stops the team was reacting, and so the lead driver - Massa - was the first to stop after Vettel went in. At the end of the second stint it was a case of Stella and Alonso deciding they could get to the end of the race at that point and undercutting Sutil and Vettel. If Massa and Smedley felt they could make the last two sets last from there they could have made the call too. Once Alonso came in, Vettel and Sutil were always going to come in the next lap as that would stop Massa getting ahead as well. So Ferrari decided to try something different, but Massa had taken too much out of his tyres as he was running to a three stop strategy and was in dirty air.


Well, I must point out a few things here mate.

First of all, Lotus worked really smart over the winter. They had the kindest cars on tyres last year anyway. So, all Lotus had to work on is reliability & pace. Few years back teams used to make the sacrifice either straight line speed or corner speed (Bridgestone & Michelin days). Now the teams have to sacrifice quali pace over race pace or the other way around. Lotus & Ferrari improved on that significantly. That's what have them the results. That is also where McLaren suffered. All mcLaren had to do is to work on reliability & tyre management on this year's car. But instead they changed things around too much. Bad gamble didn't pay off for them & playing catch up from so far behind is gonna take them out of the championship within the first half of the season.

Secondly about Massa, yes the strategy error cost him the podium finish. However, the graphs show that Alonso was faster than Massa in all sector. Having said that, Massa's performance was very strong & he surely will beat Alonso in coming races. The result could've reversed if Alonso's early stop didn't work. Then we would be talking about how good Massa's strategy was. That's F1, some strategy pays off & some don't.

Finally about Mercedes, the car has found unthinkable amount of time over the winter. So, it's perfect foundation for them to build on. Reliability cost Nico, nothing else. Over the next few weeks Merc will flat out on tyre management & reliability. The race pace will follow. Hamilton's over aggression cost him a lot of win & possibly chance of being in the championship mix when he was at McLaren. Now at Mercedes he is starting to show quality of a complete driver. He has grown more in 3/4 months as a driver compare to his entire career at McLaren. Lewis did push very hard on the first & initially on the second stint. But he had to be wise & take his team's advice to settle down. That's what a matured driver does & that's what gave Lewis a strong start to his Mercedes career.

I want to add one more thing about Perez & Di Resta. Perez has shown better quality & results to earn his seat at McLaren compare to Di Resta. It's not about nationality war. Now it's up to McLaren to provide him with the car that he needs to showcase his talent by wining races. Otherwise, he is gonna be another fast driver like Hamilton without well deserved results.

tom in adelaide

Could DiResta's ties to Mercedes also be a turn-off for McLaren? The two organisations are enemies on a number of fronts.


@ formula zero, jean Todt never signed Alonso and Vettel only won one race with STR, Monza 2008.


It is a good point. But I doubt that McLaren will be that shallow to ignore Di Resta's talent because of Mercedes ties. I remember John Todt's comment about Alonso when he was the Ferrari boss that he would never sign Alonso because Alonso broke promise & moved to Renault when it was a done deal for him to move to Ferrari! But look at it now. Politics is the dirtiest thing in F1, but that's what also make F1 such a global phenomena. Otherwise F1 will turn into chess/tennis (no disrespect). So, Di Resta will move to McLaren one day when he can earn results in a small team. For example, Vettel won 2 races in STR!!! Drove brilliantly as a sub at BMW!! Merc ties won't stop any big team including McLaren.


Good comment.

But don't you think there is a little active management at Ferrari?


Yes I do agree with you.

Having said that, Ferrari is good at winning championships. Second or third place for Ferrari is not an acceptable result. That is why they recognize which driver to back up at what point of the championship. But it doesn't mean that they are going to swap 6/7 places between the drivers during the race. Massa won good chunk of races in 2006. If those results went to Schumacher's way MS would've won his 8th championship. But it's too early too talk about that kind of points. At the moment it is about understanding the tyres & the race pace. And my goodness they look very promising for the rest of the season. And it is because of the strong team (money can't buy everything, look at BMW & Honda) with very active & hungry management.


I dont think that that the Merc lacks in tyre management, Hamilton didnt have to nurse his tires anymore than Alonso/Massa/Vettel. They tried to do a 2 stopper and they couldnt save the tires, they clearly had the same tire performance as Ferrari and RB, the exception to the rule is Lotus, not Merc. IMO if Merc had planned a 3 stopper from the get go, Lewis would have finished closer to Massa, and perhaps ahead of him.


Agreed on the Ferrari point.

Their strategists have been a bit short-sighted (e.g. when they covered Webber and handed Vettel the championship.) This past weekend, they hobbled Massa for the sake of promoting Alonso, but as James rightly pointed out, they allowed Vettel to limit the damage (FA can tell you how impt 3 pts are).

Perhaps keeping points out of the hands of Vettel is a better championship strategy atm than ensuing that Alonso gets the maximum possible all of the time.


there were better candidates for mclaren race seat than paul who has been beaten by his last two teammates and got beaten by race rusty sutil in aus. Paul is really overrated and only hyped up by sky pundits. nobody would be talking about him if he was not british.


I wouldn't worry about Paul D. Both he and his teammate have many more races to show who's best. Time will tell. I don't think anyone will be deciding based on one race.


Also, please consider removing the lines that connect the dots (data points) on the graph. The lines are meaningless and make it more difficult to extract information.

thanks again 😀


I disagree, I think the dots confuse things.


I think what both of you are asking is to remove the lines near the pit-stops as the lines go up and cause a distraction in the whole picture.


Please could you include the pit stop times and positions as this was good to see last year?

Thanks again James


What is most interesting is that the Merc appears, abeit on a strange low grip street circuit, to be almost as good as Renault on tyre management, for Lewis to get 13 laps from the "rubbish" supersoft is quite staggering, it also bodes well for the whole season for them.

However, really we have so few genuine clues, Melbourne is always unrepresentative....


Melbourne is supposedly unrepresentative, but don't forget that the winner in Melbourne more often than not wins the championship. There's not really ever been a truly out-of-left-field winner in Melbourne, maybe with the exception of DC in '97.

So I think there's a reason to take notice of this result...


Did you watch the race??? the Merc are terrible on their tires!! Lewis got 13 laps from the “rubbish” supersoft but he had terrible pace. They also had to switch from 2 to 3 stop because of the medium tires degradation.


The difference is that the Lotus was much quicker than the Merc on the super-soft, since Kimi was able to pick off Lewis and then pull away. And though the Mercs ran longer on the super-soft, they were only able to do 15 or so laps on the medium tyres while Kimi did 24 laps and was still faster.

But you're right - Melbourne is not representative of the other circuits so we'll have to wait and see what the situation is like in the other races.


I hope Lotus/Kimi can repeat what they did in Melbourne then it would be interesting for us F1 fans for first half of the season before Redbull & Ferrari fight it out again later part of the season.


Hi James,

Am I not correct in understanding that the Lotus was the kindest on it's tyres in the heat last year.

In KL wouldn't the heat cause higher tyre deg or will it be in its optimum to favor the Redbull's?


If I were Adrian Newey, I would optimize for the greatest number of outcomes, also Mercedes, Ferrari.

The cold of Melbourne was an outlier in terms of probability.

It could be that the other teams have god their tire management capability ready for the heat, as opposed to the lower probability environment, the cold.

KL will give us the answer to this question.


Provided we don't get Bernie's scheduled for TV viewing in Europe monsoon...

The Melbourne track surface is also unusual, so that is another factor.


Someone should do a blog entry about Bernie; he takes a lot of heat, but he's the architect of modern F1, and I am loving the racing right now.

But this is about machinery comparables, and the Malaysian track will give us a decent delta over climactic conditions, even in the rain, we'll learn more.


Yes, also Bahrain, where KR should have won

It struggled in the cold, ie China. So the result in cold of Melbourne is very encouraging for them


I love how no one really saw the Kimster and Lotus coming all weekend. They were quietly getting on with it as the media ran away with the Hamilton/Mercedes and McLaren/Crisis headlines.

Never underestimate the Raikkonen, lol.


Looks like leaving Ferrari for a gap year or two then coming back with Lotus isn't so bad afterall! 🙂

Ferrari's loss.


Yeah agree Erik people can continue to underestimate this guy and then completely wipe the egg off their face when proves everybody wrong - that's why love him.

You already got a bite from a "beaten" Ferrari fan - Enzo who forgets that Lotus actually passed both Mercedes and a Red Bull in the first few laps on cold and worn super softs. & He made Alonso look like he was standing still toward the end of the race -- oh the joy!


I did I backed him for the championship at odds of 18/1!


Well that was the Lotus strategy of course, win the race, without actually having to race your opponents.


I would also like to make a complaint against Seb Vettel, Seb is already using dirty tactics by trying to drown Kimi's left ear in Campaign.




I guessing that's supposed to be 'champagne', not PR tactics 🙂

If so, I noticed that too. When they're on the podium dumping champagne on someone's head or spraying their body is one thing, but direct injection is quite another and should probably be frowned upon.

Kimi seemed a tad annoyed - I'm pretty sure he actually ended up saying to Vettel something that amounted to 'enough!'.

Side note: I think it was funny to hear the announcer telling the drivers to watch their language, but I can understand why they did 🙂


Direct injection is allowed and mandated next year. No more than 25% through the inlet throat. 🙂 All the tatoos that are appearing are probably to hide IV injections...

Seb was probably venting after losing too many table tennis matches to Kimi.


Thanks for the info, I missed that one in the regulations 🙂

Well, at least if F1 goes south it's good to know we have a backup sport in place 😉


Ferrari - p2 p4, both cars able to do well on 3 stops. Without having to follow Massa at the start, Alonso would have got a bit closer to Kimi. This bodes very well for the team.

Lotus - there was more to Kimi's win than just having a car that was kind to its tyres. His teammate drove the same car on a 3stop strategy and finished 10th, having started alongside him. Kimi's class made the difference!


+1 on Ferrari.

On Kimi, if he gets his single lap pace back like earlier in his career he will be the most complete F1 driver. He's currently exactly on par with Alonso, get that quali pace back and he's by far the best.

Feel a bit sorry for McLaren. Button's not as bad as a lot of people make out and Perez is promising so would've been good to see them in a decent car.

Happy for Lewis too! I didn't like his decision initially but reading some of his interviews I see why he went to Merc.. and to top it off with a half decent car, nice.

I thought Hamilton would decimate Rosberg from the off but it's looking very much like Rosberg will do a better job than JB.. Should be interesting to watch!


Rosberg is constantly underestimated, but I admit I was still a bit surprised to see him in front of Lewis at times. Best of luck to both of them - hopefully they can sort the reliability problems soon.


Totally agree. Frank Williams once said Rosberg was worth half a second a lap, but then his team mate was Nakajima.

He was never going to look good against Shumacher because everyone was so focussed on him being old and rusty. While Shumacher clearly was not in his prime, I don't think he was as slow as people were making out, Rosberg is just fast.

The fight between Rosberg and Hamilton will be fascinating. I reckon Hamilton will come out on top, but it will be close.


Yeh, Kimi is good but in Romans defense Kimi got to use the new parts in the practice sessions while Romans parts were bolted on before Qualifying began so he did'nt get to setup his car right.


That's wrong, Grosjean didn't get the same updates at Kimi until Saturday morning, meaning he had no time to set up the car and find the sweet spot.

Expect him to me a lot better this week.

Also Merc will be a lot better on race day I predict.


Kimi is the best - but you gotta note that Romains car was broken during the Grand Prix.


Yes, puzzling for Grosjean- he said he thought there was something wrong with the car, didn't he? I think he'll be back on song for Malaysia.

That's my tip- a Maldonado-esque first win for the unfancied Grosjean!


Also Kimi has a smooth (and fast in the same time) driving style. He is very efficient. According to Mr. Rob Wilson Kimi is a "machine".


His teammate apparently had only a few laps to set up new updates on his car where as Kimi had all weekend.

It's Romans's own fault though as if he didn't crash so many times last year he would have equal treatment with Kimi.


The story about Grosjean not getting the updates is not quite correct. I dont know where it comes from.

Kimi and Grosjean had to share testing on Friday. Kimi tested the new floor while Grosjean tested the front wing and new rear wing.

On Saturday Lotus give both drivers the new floor, rear wing and front wing.

So one could say Grosjean didn't have all of the parts, but then you would also have to say that Kimi didn't have all of the parts on Friday.


Well it appears the story is true after all with James Alison saying

"He's not had an easy weekend either here or there (Australia), because we haven't been able to provide two cars in exactly the same configuration on either occasions,

"In Melbourne on Friday he was running a step behind Kimi in terms of his aero package, and then he had the upgrade for Saturday morning but then Saturday was disturbed by the weather. Here, once again, we only have one set of (new) kit and we've chosen to run that with Kimi and Romain is disadvantaged for that."


Thanks Zinobia, that makes more sense, I don't even recall where that story is originally from but seen it a couple of places and definitely didn't hear it from Lotus.


..and that is normal Friday work, splitting resources

The floor is for Malaysia I believe


That's interesting about Grosjean. Last year he seemed to have more speed than Kimi but he was also a pin ball wizard. Has Kimi shed the rust from his layoff and become faster, or has Grosjean slowed down because he's focusing on not hitting the other drivers? Or has Kimi finally got a seat to his liking?


Just occurred to me that I haven't heard one word about his power steering this year - maybe they finally got that right too!


'Pin ball wizard' - love it 🙂


James Allison claim Romain was too harsh on rear tyres.

Speaks alot about Kimi 's effort + car nature that work the tyre to its fullest potential.


Also grosjean didn't get the new lotus parts on until Sunday morning whereas kimi had them all weekend. Not saying that made a huge difference but grosjean only had two laps to dial his setup in - according to Martin brundle anyway.


Romain is fast, no doubt, but now he's also careful - which is probably a good thing 😉


Grosjean can do better but his contrasting start to Kimi's played a big role. Perhaps he's trying hard to find a balance between (overly-) aggressive and safe starts.


Yes, Kimi made up quite a few positions at the start. He did the same last year. Him and Alonso have very good initial laps.

It will be interesting to see what the Mercedes pace looks like when they race at a 3 stop pace rather than a 2 stop pace.


Great insightful analysis, the best; keep it coming.

Lotus look good, with Kimi, at least.

Ferrari appear, indeed, to have championship-winning potential, especially with their acknowledged focus on their primary driver.

Red Bull is the real enigma for me. How could they (read AD), not have foreseen the primacy of tire management capability for this year's championship? It just does not seem a viable suppositition that AD messed this one up!

So what is really going on at Red Bull?

If we look at their trajectory last year, perhaps the mostly closely fought development war in Formula One, ever, we see their strategic development plan, bringing advantageous, but also potentially copiable developments, AFTER the summer break, leaving short time, and limited team resources (at that stage much development effort must have been devoted to the 2013 cars), for their adversaries to adapt.

I believe that they must be playing this strategic development introduction, now in 2013!

Ferrari will certainly be going 'full guns ablazing' to attain a similar tire-wear capability as Lotus, as will all of the teams, but Ferrari appear to be the closest.

Mercedes are for real, and it will be interesting to see their implementation of developments 'in the pipeline' as referred to by Lewis. Ross Brawn must certainly recognize the need for strategic introduction of upgrades, as well as anybody.

This season is going to be dominated by this game, the strategic development game, this season. Showing your goodies will be giving advantage to rivals.

The question is, can Lotus hold on to their tire management comparative advantage?

I don;t believe it will be possible; so the season will definitely be an evolution, as opposed to a revolution, though we may well see some little revolutions along the way.

Ah, it's so good!


After this race, it was quite telling how Kimi could talk to his car whilst Grosjean's race couldn't quite come together >>> Maybe Grosjean lost his confidence after last season's incidents

Now seems Kimi has got his steering wheel problems sorted and so he won't be that far off the Red Bulls in qualifying next time for there was talk that they didn't extract their full potential due to this and that.

Anyway I was astonished the Lotus was able to look after it's tyres this well considering last season the team didn't like the cooler conditions.

As for Ferrari, yes, they lost Massa a place to Vettel but it has been clear for sometime that the team aren't overly interested in the WCC trophy so perhaps didn't want to bring him out too close to Alonso.

Regards Red Bull, I don't think it was just the weather or track characteristics that affected their tyres, I believe the RB9 doesn't like these 2013 Pirellis as mentioned by Vettel in winter testing.

Mercedes believe they have learnt their lesson from Australia and will be much stronger in Malaysia. Maybe it was a setup and strategy miscalcualtion on their part.

Last but not least, this last race proved once again that Mclaren's strategy and pitstop team are still wanting in the execution department.


I like this, but I have one request please:

Any chance of having the graph in a "click to enlarge" format?



I was wondering if Rosberg could have done the 2 stop strategy? Hamilton didn't pull it of but let's assume that Rosberg is a bit easier on his tires due to driving style and has more knowledge of Mercedes. He would have been a contender for a podium.


At the time Rosberg ground to a halt, he was already almost 5 sec behind Lewis. That was while their pitsops where in synch, nut Rosberg would have had to travel even more slowly than Lewis to make a two stop work. Extrapolating observations up till the point he halted, Nico would clearly have fared worse than Lewis, regardless of number of pitsops.

There is widespread belief that Merc were set up for a wet race on a warmer track. If so, their strategy was dead even before the 5 lights went out.


Rosberg stopped 2 laps later in the first stint and if didn't flat spot his tyres like Hamilton there is probably a good chance he would have made it work.


Your right Quade, my mistake. Thinking about it maybe it was just Rosberg was set up more for a wet track as he was so much faster than Hamilton in the wet then slower when it dried.


No, Lewis stopped on lap 13 and Rosberg on lap 14.


Hi James

Any comment as to how close Hamilton may have been to Ferrari if Merc had gone for a 3 stop strategy? It looked like he was very comparable once he had his 2nd set of medium's on, but they were newer than both the Ferrari's. What is your take?


This is my first year following your site James, so it was good to actually see firsthand what your regulars have been talking about.

Very interesting - looking forward to more 🙂


There is no point in Ferrari supporting Massa or Redbull giving equal status to Webber as over a full season they just are not as fast or as consistent as their team mates.They have to be a supporting act to the number one driver in their teams as every point is crucial as we learnt in 2007,08,10 and 12 🙂


I think Massa's target is to finish ahead of Webber consistently. This would culminate in the WCC going to Ferrari, assuming that RBR is still the outfit to beat.

My assumption is based on the fact that Grosjean is just not consistent enough to challenge the other number 2's of their respective teams.


Thanks James and Mark. Do you think Massa could have go for two stops (or Alonso) and win the race? If not, is the Ferrari not easy enough on the tyres, not fast enough to beat Lotus at their game, they never had clean air?

I hope RB doesn't solve their tyre managment issues too soon.


Hamilton who finished the race 12 seconds behind Massa, was some 20 seconds behind him after his third stop on lap 42.

Anyways, Hamilton now has more points than Rosberg and Schumacher in the past 5 races together.


And Rosberg would have more points than himself and Schumacher in the last 5 races if it was Hamilton's car that broke down.

Is it not better comparing last years Australian grand prix were Schumacher was in 3rd place before his car broke down.

unF1nnished business

James, do you know if Grosjean initially had the same 2-stop strategy?


No his tyre deg was always worse he was on a planned 3


James I read somewhere that Grosjean was on a 2 stopper but the team switched to a 3 stop strategy because he was stuck in traffic and the tyres were degrading.


VERY interesting info... Is the car build with Kimi's driving style in mind, or does Kimi's experience count for all his good fortune. Not complaining, as I'm the biggest Kimi fan around.


Very in depth analysis as always, James. Thank you.

Feel so sorry for Massa. Tend to think that the team purposely kept Massa out to make sure Massa not in front of Alonso after their 2nd pit stop.

It will all come to what you are saying: "This handed three championship points to Red Bull and Vettel which could be important later in the season."


I don't see how Ferrari cost Massa anything. Alonso pit, Vettel (and Sutil) reacted by pitting the next lap, which Massa could have done also but why? He would have stayed behind Vettel. Why not stay out, attack the clear track, and try and set some times faster than the others. It didn't work, but he had nothing to lose. All this talk of Ferrari letting down Massa is nonsense.


There was an article which Massa said he and Alonso called the shots for the pit stops and pointed out there were no team orders at all. I wished the anti-Nando fans will get a grip of themselves. Good on Massa and he will thrive well this year.


Exactly it. Anti Nando and Ferrari fans will always invent a new angle.


He was ahead of ALO, but ALO pitted first and undercut so Vettel reacted

They tried the long way round but it didn't work and he lost ground



Just to say how much I appreciate your strategy reports, this is a valuable information that I cannot find anywhere else.

A small typo though, at the end of the second stint (before the pit stops) Massa was not ahead of Vettel, he was behind Vettel and ahead of Alonso. This can explain why Ferrari chose to keep him out a little longer, once Alonso did the undercut, Massa could pit at the same time as Vettel (and continue behind him with most probability) or try something different (although it didn't work).


When was Massa ahead of Vettel? I don't remember that. Maybe only after Alonso and Vettel pitted, but that shouldn't count as ahead of Vettel and losing a place by staying longer, as he was behind Vettel before the stops.

I am quite confused of how you worded that James, as for someone who didn't see the race or didn't pay enough attention to the running order, would look like Massa overtook Vettel on track and then lost it at the pit stop. That was not what happened.


First of all, thank you James for the excellent reports and thank you for this forum.

A few questions ....

Horner and Lauda are now complaining about the tires. Tire wear has diluted the dominant importance of aerodynamics. Balance and general ease on the tires has increased in importance. This has to some extent reduced the Newey effect. Whether or not you agree with the powers that be doing this is a matter of preference. (Someone in an earlier post did remind us of the boring Bridgestone era.) I wonder if this tire direction was consciously done to slow down the Newey Express?

James, you nimbly danced around the Massa question. Generally who makes the decision to come in: the driver, his engineer, someone higher up? Is Massa less able to manage his pit strategy that Alonso? Does he rely more on the advice of his helpers?

With the small budget success of Lotus in the last two years, I see other teams raiding their technical staff.

Finally I have some questions about the physical conditioning of the drivers. We heard about Alonso’s training over the winter. Button is well known for his training. Webber, Seb, Alonso, and Button all look extremely slim. How much does being in top shape help? I ask because Kimi is looking a bit chubby compared to the others. Is Kimi burning the candle at both ends and if so, when will it catch up to him?


In fact it's not the first time the FIA has changed tyre regulations to nullify a teams advantage.

In 2005, the regulations stated that a tyre had to complete qualifying and the race too. It could only be changed if damaged or if the track was wet, obviously.

That season, Ferrari won the infamous Indianapolis GP, when the Michelin runners had to withdraw because of safety concerns due to the high speed of the banking.

The rest of the season, was dominated by Michelin shod teams.

Ferrari had won 6 WCC and 5 WDC consecutively to that point and it was obvious to observers that Michelin, which supplied tyres to Renault, Mclaren, Williams, BAR, Red Bull, Sauber, BMW and Toyota had a huge advantage with data gathered from unlimited testing.

In 2006, with the tyre war in full effect and tyres being allowed to be changed, Ferrari were back at the front once more.


Kimi likes to wear oversized racing overalls, and doesn't always remind everyone how hard he trains. But Kimi is in great shape, according to his trainer he is in some of the best shape his ever been in. If you looked at the podium Alonso was sweating a lot more Kimi. Here is a rare photo of Kimi training during the winter.


You need to be in really good shape to get through a race like the Malaysian GP for example. Kimi has never had any fitness issues.


He looks fitter than I can remember seeing him at any stage if his career - his face shows it clearly


Agree James he looks great. Dont be fooled by that laid back look.

This guy is blindingly quick and I expect he will give everyone a really hard time this year! About time as we need a change.

James again your posts are fantastic, keep up the good work, and enjoyed your comments on channel 10 in Melbourne.


There's rumours of him being a chain smoker too. The Bild's headline was “He smokes! He drinks! And he still wins,”

LOL, what a character he is!


Kimi's unfailing exercise is a good swig of vodka and the good life. He was the bomb at McLaren, when life in the UK always saw him in one greasy Soho situation or the other. Lol!

Sadly, Ferrari killed his spirit and sent him on exile.

Kimi, do pushups, lift dumbells? What for? You gotta be kidding!


I hope this is to be a regular feature as it is a very useful way of reading, understanding the race. Thank you.

Lotus with Kimi, seem to be up there as the graph illustrates. If it remains so in the higher temperatures in Malaysia, you would expect Lotus to be very competitive over the first few races. I have no ideas as to how well Lotus is funded, so beyond that it will depend on how close they can remain in the development race. It could also be that Melbourne actually flattered Lotus even as unlikely as it seems.

Ferrari aren't that far behind. If all had gone their way, as may be to an extent, it went Kimi's way, Fernando could have won this race. Ferrari will be please to be starting near, if not the top.

As for Red Bull,I can't see them struggle with their tires for too long, If there are no other cause to their relative poor race pace, they will be up there as well sooner than later.

With a Merc may be not too far behind and a midfield surprise here and there, it could be quite season.

McLaren is the story of the first race in many ways but alas for the wrong reasons. They will of course get a lot better.How fast they can do it is where McLaren's challenge lays.

3 days to the next chapter. Marc


Interesting point about Melbourne flattering Lotus.

Even in pre season testing, Alonso and many others said Melbourne is an unusual track and there won't be a definite picture of the teams performances until Malaysia and more likely China are completed.


Hi James,

I would like to comment on something, its sort of just an opinion: i don't understand why people criticize pirelli so much for their tires. In fact, the racing is much much more exciting than what we had with brigestone. I just read an article about nicki lauda saying that the tire situation is bad for formula one and that the fans are getting confused with having so many pit stops.

It seems like Mr lauda forgot that in 2004, we used to have 4 pitstops sometimes so i dont know whats the issue, just because Mercedes is eating the tires, doesn't mean the tires are bad. Its called Formula 1, and this is the formula for 2013: degrading tires. Pirelli supplies the same tires to all the teams and it's up to them to figure them out. Enough with this silly business. just my 2 cents.


the bridgestone years were a bore when Schumacher was winning with Ferrari. Otherwise from Alonso winning, and from 2008-2010 I think there were a number of races that while not as busy as many of the races we see today with Pirelli felt more substantial as oppose artificial. I have said this before, but put together a collection of Hamilton's best overtakes and see how many of them are on Pirelli tyres. There were overtaking issues before but F1 fans should ask themselves how many truly memorable overtakes are there on the Pirellis? That is the soul of racing, surely, not making tyres with the express intention of only giving one or two laps of peak performance before they start going off.


Find yourself a copy of the 1981 Spanish GP, or the 1982 Monaco GP.

If DRS had been around then, both these classic races would have been consigned to the history books.

The first showed a brilliant drive by Villeneuve, using his top speed to hold back other cars for most of the race. This in a car that didn't handle, or as Gordon Murray stated, a car that had 25% of the Brabham's downforce.

The second showed Senna in a car with worn tyres, holding back Mansell in the dominant 1982 Williams on brand new tyres for 5 laps.

These respective winners showed staggering racing ability despite poor road holding. There's many more classic races throughout the years which highlights different driver abilities.

DRS is more wrestling than the tyres which Pirelli have been asked to produce.


Damn iPhone, predictive text!! 1992 not 1982!


Your 2 cents is of worthy opinion +1.


I like the uncertainty the tires bring these days. It is, next to weather, the only thing that teams do not have under control. One of the best news for me before any race is "It is raining!" The constant search for grip in changing conditions is what mixes things up, as the values of variables that make the fastest package change continuously. With tires that are less known to the teams who has the fastest package changes not only from race to race, but from lap to lap (and could even be unknown until the very end of the race). I love that stuff! This forces the teams to evaluate various approaches continuously with uncertainty who would come with something smart next just adds to the suspense. The sad thing is that as the season progresses the teams get more and more understanding of what was unknown at the beginning of the season (after all, they are all very smart folk). I hope that changing tire compound and construction every season would become a standard practice from now on. Just my 2 cents. 😉


I understand why people criticise, but I don't agree with them because I had to commentate on years of Bridgestone F1 and it was processional

This is more fun to commentate on so in my eyes it's more entertaining

What the critics fail to appreciate is that tyres have always had to be managed; by Nuvolari, Fangio and Moss, Clark, Senna and Prost to now. There have been periods of bulletproof tyres, like Bridgestone, but what we have now with seven leaders is good

Anyone who isn't winning criticises the tyres.Fans listen

Then strangely when that team wins, they don't criticise the tyres...


James, you handily failed to mention the flick-ups and other aero devices pre-Pirelli era, which contributed more to processional than the tyres did.


James, it seems as we get the same comments come up every year.

Last year, a declining Schumacher made very sharp comments regarding tyres which seemed to incite fans to complain.

Vettel, in pre-season testing this year, has made more negative remarks about the tyres again.

I remember your commentaries in the Ferrari/ Schumacher era and I applaud your skills to keep some semblance of interest on the proceedings.

A perfect formula for sprint races.

I can't remember the year, was it 2010, when the Bridgestone tyres fell apart at the Canadian GP and actually made the race fascinating to watch.

I wonder if this was part of the FIA demand to Pirelli. I just can't imagine a conservative Japanese company providing tyres that "fall apart"


Yes, tires have always been a factor, but not to the extent that they are now. This is the issue.

Now drivers CANNOT drive to their maximum ability - even at any time and throughout the whole race as they have to "save" tires, or drive to specified delta's. Kimi's fastest lap 2 laps from the end showcased this. What is the point?

Engineers are now designing cars that are easy on the tires, and these are the cars that will win the races.

Put simply,F1 is not becoming less of a Drivers Championship, and more of a "Who Can Design the Easiest Car On its Tires Championship. This i think is the main issue fans are complaining about.

Why can you have tires that allow drivers to showcase their speed without excessive degradation or "falling off a cliff"? If F1 is about drivers having different talents, then the sport should allow ALL those talents to be showcased - speed, tyre management, strategy, etc. What is wrong with that? I simply do not understand this route Formula 1 is taking.


Sorry, that line should have read - "F1 IS becoming less of a Drivers Champiosnhip"

Alberto Martínez

+1000000 I recommend those who criticize to rewatch a GP from the Schumacher dominant era to rethink about their comments.


Hi James,

If I'm not mistaken, when Pirelli became the new tyresupplier they were asked to make the tyres degrade faster to make the racing more interesting, and it was not Pirelli that came with the idea.

In the Bridgestone years they just made the best tyre possible. As even more in the years of Bridgestone/Michelin.

And as you mentioned tyre management has always been important in F1.


Tyres never dominated and influenced the outcome of a race this much. If present drivers and ex-drivers are saying this, there must be something there?

It has become American Wrestling this way. Focus on entertainment, not on sporting performance.

F1 should be about going as fast with the best materials available. Not going as slow as you can with the fastest cars on the planet after just a few laps without damaging the weak tyres. It never was like this in F1 and you know it too.


+10! I don't remember dozing off since Pirelli came in again.


good comment and reply.

this is the best era of racing, now! We are living it, now.


The formula is great right now.


I guess you're happy Dean.


Thank you so much for your reply James !

unF1nnished business



"...Also note his (Alonso's) final stint, to the right, where he pushes very hard in the early laps and damages the tyres, with the result that his pace drops off."

Now that we have a range of competitive cars at the front, what can't we go back to the tyre formula of 2008/9? We were robbed of seeing Alonso & Raikonnen (and Vettel to be fair) going at it hammer & tongs in the final quarter of the race. It's hardly as if it was exciting with the current tyres anyway?


It is a very bad situation for McLaren fans, they must have known they had a slow car in testing and did not so much about it it seems. They simply relied on the weather being hotter and that didn't work so i think they will be stuffed for the first half of the season.


I was under the assumption red bull lacked race pace not only due to thermal tyre management but because they were running more wing, would not this explain better why they were so fast in quali trim?


I agree with chromatic 100% , having Kimi only makes f1 only the more exciting and it would not quite be the same without him , I stopped watching for the two years he was away , maybe you can say that i loved what he brings to F1.Saying that i also appreciate class and skill of alonso,vettel and hamilton.


Question? This appreciation of class and skill of the three you mention, did you miss that when you weren't watching because Kimi was away?

Just curious, because they were competing in 2010 and 2011


Excellent stuff, James, as usual.

Only one question: "Fuel corrected lap times" mean that the times included in the table have been corrected taking off the effect of the fuel carried by the cars at each lap (that .34 secs per lap that here cost every 10 kilos of fuel carried)?

Thanks in advance.


Very strange that the focus was on Perez and not Button? He thinks he's the team leader doesn't he?....


Hi James! Another great piece. Any chance of posting Webber's data? It appeared to me that he was better on his tyres and faster during the last few stints than Seb?


This is simply the best F1 website that has ever existed! Well done James and team!!! Thanks Mark Gillan, what an excellent and telling graph. This really gives us plebs an insight into the minds of true F1 insiders.

Is it just me or did Massa have the fastest pace of all for a brief stint around lap 10?


To those who have gotten used to it, and missed the Race History Graph and James' comments on it, here's one for the Top 6 teams. http://postimage.org/image/m9uvmaf2p/


Now that Lotus has managed to produce a car that can win on using a tire strategy (apart from speed and having a cool and blindingly-fast driver) the top teams will start a chorus of blame on Pirelli for robbing the fans of adventure!! Looks like Niki Lauda has already started it (Planet F1). Then, like last year, Pirelli will bring more durable rubber and really rob the fans of a classic season!


Lauda's comments are actually quite insulting. t

To assume that fans are confused if there're more than 2 pit stops underestimates the average F1 fan's intelligence.


And I guess Lauda should ask more intelligent questions from his engineers, like how does Lotus run one stop lesser and still put in a fast lap on its 23rd lap on the tire?

Eduardo Gutierrez

I agree, if the teams do a good job with the tires, will be quick to two or three stops, if they do not succeed then complain.


I heard from people who were at the race that Raikkonen was very gentle and smooth on the throttle the whole race.


But, Pirelli executed tyre tests only with Lotus!


yes, but apparently Lotus was the only team willing to give their car for Pirellli's tyre testing, as the other teams did'nt want to disclose "car secrets"? Good move on Lotus's part.


Very,very good point.


JohnBt, it is true that they're basically using a Lotus as the test car, as they did for the 2012 season. From memory it's the 2010 Renault R30, so it's not like Lotus are going to get some kind of unfair advantage over the other teams from it. The cars have all changed a lot since then, the tyres have changed a lot.


How is this possible?


Good point James, but doesn't it happen with the agreement of all the teams? And isn't there a proper governance structure to ensure that the data (if shared) is shared with all teams?


I sure hope it's not true!


I thought the general consensus is that a track gets faster towards the end of the race. But lap times in this chart seem to go up instead of down. Any idea why? Backmarkers maybe?


...But the lotus is soooooo UGLY!

I don't know if thats a tactic to frighten 7 devils out of the opposition. 🙂


I reckon its won of the best looking cars.


lol..one..that wasnt a play on words


LOL! Looks like they'll be keeping the stepped nose.


Great report James, thanks.

Just one point of view from this race in Melbourne, which i would like to listen your opinion and it is the way the drivers start the stints and the cause it makes in there durability.

From what i saw the in the GP, both RedBull and Ferrari start all stints on full attack mode, beginning of the race, and after all pit stops, every time those teams came out of boxes, they put their fastest laps and the tyres dont last long. In contraste, Mercedes tried the two stops, and they start the GP easy on tyres,and could do 13 laps on Super Soft (SS), once they could do so many laps on SS they tought it would be easy deal make the Mediums last 22 laps and Hamilton stars pushing after the first pit, result, the tyres only last 17 laps, only 5 more then SS and lighter on fuel.

Kimi startes the race on attack in the need to overtake Hamilton and then triyng to catch the front, result, pit in the same laps as Alonso, but he was faster by that time. Meanwhile, after the stops he was very easy on tyres, never putting personnal best and was controling the gap to the front, standing at 2 seconds from alonso, result, he could psh at the end of stint and could make those tyres lasts, and it was the same in the final stint, and after Alonso burn the new rubber it was easy for him to control the race.

It´s the beginning of the stint one possibility to preserve those tyres?


Hi James, Thanks for the excellent reports. I also enjoyed your interviews in MLB at the Breakfast show.

Can you explain how Lotus have managed a car that is so kind to its tyres? This kind of advantage is substantial especially in the hands of a quick driver like KR. One wonders if in fact it will give Lotus the kind of advantage that Brawn had in 09 until the opposition manage to overcome it.

Second - the Ferraris make consistently good starts. Is it the drivers or clever electronics?

Look forward to any insight you may have.

Thank you


I will explain shortly have a nice tech insight from Mark Gillan


I am hardly waiting!

The fact that Pirelli test their tires on Lotus (ex-Renault) car probably helps.

And yes, I'm also interested in Ferrari perfect starts.


That man seem to be earning his biscuits 🙂


I expected to see both Ferraris on the podium..(a prediction I made to friends before quali)

Massa never held up Alonso, FA couldn't catch him.

I had a WTF moment when Ferrari pitted Alonso to undercut Massa and Vettel. They shot themselves in the foot.

Of course I understand Alonso is their priority, but it's too early in the season to sacrifice the faster driver of the day...and I'm sure Felipe's confidence could do without it.

As you say James, 3pts to Vettel may come back to bite them.

Slightly off topic... Webbers starts.

James, A few years ago I asked you if Webbers starts were down to him or his car?

Your answer was "a bit of both"

His starts have now become a thing of legend, to the point where we hardly notice the good ones (yes it occasionally happens).

{Alan Jones put it about as succinctly as you can at the F1 breakfast on Saturday.(a fantastic event btw)}.

Now we read Horner blames McLaren ECU and McLaren puts the blame back on Red Bull.

Do you have any insights as to what happened and who is to blame?


@ racyboy

which race you watched ?

Only until lap 10 for the first stint massa and alonso had identical lap times. Once Alonso did the undercut. He lap times were quicker and consistent. Massa's second and third stint were too poor.

Massa held and blocked alonso all the way from start until the stop when ferrari cleared him out of the way

FA couldn’t catch him - Complete Joke

Alonso was closer to massa all the time in race 0.7 tenths to 1.5 secs

Ferrari sacrificed nothing.

Massa faster driver of the day for Ferrari - Another joke

Confidence, preferances, priority stories are complete Nonsesne



From memory, Webbers starts were fine until he joined Red Bull....just remembered Sepang 10yrs ago when he put the Jag on the front row next to Shuey, one of the most painful starts I've ever seen.


Can anyone comment on what I noticed throughout the race that Raikonen's car was bottoming out quite a lot. Sparks flying from the skid pan. No other car did that. Does that mean he has a lower ride height (advantage with setup).


Yes, more sparks than any car in recent years. As the modern tendency is to run the rear of the car high, it's curious.


I was wondering the same when I saw Raikkonen's car in the last few laps and I was thinking hopefully his car will not breakdown. But as others said, may be it was with other cars too and the cameras did not catch that.


I hope McLaren can soften their springs and lower the car too, then it would go faster. Just like the first day at Jerez.


If the solution were that simple, they would have done that long time ago.


Martin Whitmarsh claims that McLaren was super quick at Jerez (day one) after fitting a part the wrong way, cos it lowered the car.

Even though the story sounds quite dodgy (to cover for setup issues), it would seem that all the McLaren wants is a lower ride height. Lewis said that the 2013 car he worked on was fantastic.

In the right hands, I'm sure the 2013 McLaren will blow the field away, its not normal to have had the fastest car last season and have a cow this season.


Could be also lower tyre pressure or softer suspension or a combination


Standing trackside at turn 12, Raikkonen's car wasn't the only one producing sparks. The TV coverage doesn't get everything though, and this race in particularly I felt it seemed to centre a lot on just a few drivers.


I was wondering about that too, anyone have insight into it?


Yes i thought that too. it was especially doing that towards the end of the race when the ride height should not have been effected by fuel load. that said Melbourne is a bumpy street circuit.


Hi James,

The McLaren ECU issue that affected the Red Bull Racing RB9 of Mark Webber on the weekend raises an interesting question, what oversight is there on McLaren by the FIA to help stop any question of conflict of interest?


The ECU should really be open source software, with any changes having to be agreed by all teams.


If it were open source then any team could make the changes they wanted and not tell anybody. They could have traction control, and ABS and many other driver aids. Thats the reason why they went to a "spec" ECU, so noone could cheat.

There was a rumor in the 90s that MSC's Benetton had a secret menu only accesible by pressing a sequence of buttons and that it accesed TC, ABS and launch control.


Hero, I didnt know all the facts and I didnt want to open that can of worms lol

Quade, really? They have software engineers, they'd figure out a way to get in. Example, Im a machinist, I use a piece of software to program my cnc machines that is worth $25,000 fully optioned, but theres a crack for it.


That explains a lot - no wonder he liked to have so many buttons on his wheel 😉


It wasn't a rumour, it was fact.

The FIA checked the software of Benetton, Mckaren and Ferrari at the San Marino GP in 1994.

They had to get passwords for all the systems. Ferrari was open to the inspectors, Mclaren initially resisted but Max Mosley told them that the software specialists worked on top secret military contracts for governments and F1 was a little to up its own .... To use that excuse.

These specialists when searching the Benetton system found secret paths to different menus which were accessed via specific button presses from the steering wheel.

They claimed that to remove this software would have caused fundamental problems to the system, so "hid" them. The FIA couldn't prove they'd been used so couldn't punish the team.


The FIA would be in charge and be the only party to be able to effect changes after all teams are agreed.


I agree with you in theory, but in practice the teams would never agree - they'd all push for changes to themselves an advantage and protest any changes that didn't for fear of giving another team an advantage.

Best to have a (semi) benign dictatorship 🙂


Good question, but I don't think it was a conflict of interest - they just messed up.

In all honesty, if they were going to rig the system it to stop a driver getting off the line, Vettel & Alonso would be a better bet 🙂


"... got the new season off to a great start, with seven different leaders – a modern day record"

Very close to one ... there were 7 different leaders in the 2008 Canadian GP - HAM, HEI, BAR, COU, TRU, GLO, KUB.

But yeah, one off the all-time record, and one of only five races to have 7 or more race leaders:

ITA 1971 - 8

CAN 1973 - 7

BRI 1975 - 7

CAN 2008 - 7

AUS 2013 - 7


There was a threat of rain as well as historical occurrence of safety cars. That would have benefitted Force India and Merc? Thanks.


if tyre wear / performance is the most critical issue in f1 in 2013 then that's where teams need to spend their budgets. maybe that last percentage of aero just isn't worth all the expense. that seems to be the intention of the fia. every time someone comes up with a trick aero tweak it gets banned.

race pace is what matters.


You know that, I know that, probably everyone else knows that too, but if the teams think that they can get even a 0.01 second advantage for even one race and they have the budget for it, then they'll go for it every time.

You're absolutely on the money with the last line: Race pace *is* what matters 🙂


Hi James,

You have produced another excellent analysis.

I hope that we will have another dry race in Malaysia. I don't like the lottery that rain brings.

Eric Boullier wished for very hot conditions in Malaysia. Do you think that Lotus's dominance in tyre degradation would be automatic if the weather gets hotter? Is it possible that everyone would be forced to change tyres so often that Lotus's advantage would become marginal?

Tornillo Amarillo

Hamilton was never fast enough in the race, either with plan A or plan B, he was losing time with the front-runners.

Not nice also to go backwards, he cannot feel good about that. For him maybe should be better to qualify 6th and get P5 than starting 3rd and getting also P5 at the end...

Also he cannot be happy when you negotiate to keep the trophies and then you don't reach the podium, so nothing physical to grab and bring home proudly, but anyway, he will be there soon, hopefully, he is very capable.


Unfortunately, Ferrari screwed Massa's race in favor of Alonso's. That's fact. Leaving him that long on track with old rubber made him lost positions and be back on track stuck behind Sutil.

Not fair to compare races between similar drives in different "clean air conditions"


Yep, but the fact that he first out-qualified Alonso and then still came in fourth after they stuffed up his strategy speaks volumes for his potential this year 🙂


A fundamental thing to note was Kimi Raikkonen's racecraft which was genuinely superior to everyone. If you note in supersoft his attack on Hamilton was aggressive and then closed in on the Ferraris, but after going on his mediums which were scheduled for long runs he deliberately dropped his pace and maintained a two second margin to the car in front, but when he had to overtake, such as he did to Sutil, he closed in without a moment's hesitation he passed him, he was staying away from the rumble strips to extract that extra lap from the tires, while others were nose-to-tail and destroying their tires.

So, it was lesson by Kimi on how to deal with 2013 Pirellis.


Why people still use to read news papers when in this technological globe all is available on net?

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