Could Lotus have won Bahrain and could Force India have had a podium?
Strategy Report
Posted By: James Allen  |  23 Apr 2013   |  10:30 pm GMT  |  157 comments

The Bahrain Grand Prix was another race packed with action and incident, the outcome heavily influenced by race strategy.

The drivers who finished in the top ten tried a wide variety of strategies to attain their result, working around the limitations of the medium and hard Pirelli tyres and the intensely high track temperatures.

The DRS wing technical problems encountered by Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, who started third on the grid, meant that it was a relatively easy win for Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel. But behind him, everyone else was reliant on strategy for their result as we shall see.

The decision for most teams was whether to make two or three stops, but a surge in track temperature an hour before the race to 50 degrees put a few teams off the idea of doing two stops.

The restriction in Bahrain was not tyre wear, as at other venues this season, it was drop off in performance due to overheating tyres. So the question was whether a driver could be consistent over the length of a stint.

The hard tyre was the preferred race tyre for most. However, because most teams did not feel confident they could be consistent over the race with just two stops (three sets of tyres) they went for three stops, it led to some furious racing action on track as the drivers had to come through and pass other cars on track to make their strategies work.

Lotus – same outcome as last year

Last year Lotus went away from Bahrain with second and third places thinking that they could have won the race. This year the outcome is similar, but could they have challenged Sebastian Vettel for the win?

It is very difficult to say whether Raikkonen would have won the race had he started in the front two rows of the grid, where the team expected him to qualify, especially after the penalties for Webber and Hamilton.

Although the pace of the car in the race was as strong as any car, the problem for Lotus, once again, was the qualifying performance. Last year the car wasn’t strong in qualifying trim, this year the drivers were not able to match their Q2 times in Q3, where the grid places are handed out. Had Kimi Raikkonen simply repeated his Q2 time in Q3, he would have started fifth on the grid instead of 8th. Had he improved by a few tenths, as he did in China and as most drivers did in Bahrain, he would have started 4th in front of Massa and could have mounted a challenge for the win.

From 5th he would have done the race on a three stop strategy, which was the fastest this year in Bahrain and had a go at challenging Vettel.
But from 8th, he was forced to do a two stop strategy because the team knew he would be good on the tyres on long runs and the strategists wanted him to run in free air. By doing two stops you pass cars when they come in for their extra pit stops, not on the race track, so you can run at your pace for more of the time.

Raikkonen’s pace and strategy were spot on and easily enough to move him through the field to second place.

The Finn’s consistent driving in the Lotus once again meant that he was able to maintain performance over long stints on the tyres. Lotus didn’t have any problems with the tyres in Bahrain.

Raikkonen questioned whether he had pitted too early by coming in on Lap 35, having just passed Di Resta, but the team was worried about being undercut by Di Resta stopping before them and then having to repass him on similar age tyres. He might have been a little closer to Vettel at the end by stopping a lap or two later, but Vettel had pace to spare in the final stint anyway.

With his main rivals Alonso out of the picture and Raikkonen two stopping from 8th, Vettel had the race won very early on. He pushed hard in the first three stints of the race and eased off significantly in the fourth and final stint. He was able to measure out his stint lengths evenly and popped in a fastest lap just before the end to show that he could have gone faster.

Di Resta vs Grosjean
Romain Grosjean’s race was interesting. He started 11th, six places behind Paul di Resta, but managed to pass him before the end to take the podium. So how did that work out and could Force India have done anything to get Di Resta the podium?

Grosjean had to stop earlier than planned on Lap 8 as he had a piece of front wing endplate lodged in the entry duct so his engine was overheating and so were the rear brakes. This meant that his stint lengths were lobsided, with a 19 lap second stint, followed by 13 laps and 15 laps in the remaining stints. He also had to pass a number of cars on track, so there was a lot more risk for him, but having been forced into the early stop, he had no choice but to stop three times. The further back on the grid you are, the more traffic there is, but with his car pace and new tyres he was able to come through

The key was that the Lotus gets significantly better performance from its tyres from lap 10 of a stint onwards. Once the rear tyres heat up and the thermal degradation kicks in, the performance clearly drops off on the Force India in comparison with the Lotus and this is where there was nothing that could have been done to prevent losing the podium to Grosjean.

Di Resta did the same strategy as Raikkonen; two stops taking new Hard compound tyres at both of his stops. Could he have beaten Grosjean with the faster three stop strategy?

The answer is no. Grosjean’s advantage was that he did the entire race on new tyres (as Raikkonen did from 11th on the grid last year). Di Resta had only two sets of new Hard tyres left after qualifying and no new sets of Mediums. The pace advantage of the Lotus wasn’t the decisive factor in this outcome, it was the two new sets of tyres that swung it. Look at the plot below with Grosjean in black and Di Resta in yellow. The lap times are fuel adjusted and the lower the line on the plot, the faster the lap time. Di Resta’s times are fairly consistent, where Grosjean’s are all over the place due to traffic, but the underlying pace advantage of the Lotus on new tyres is clear.

Bahrain was one of Lotus’ most competitive tracks last year and they had the pace to challenge for the win this year. So the fact that Force India competed with them across qualifying and race is a positive sign for the Silverstone-based team.

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


M=Medium; H=Hard; N=new; U=Used

Vettel MU HN(10) HN(25) HN (42)
Raikkonen MU HN(16) HN(34)
Grosjean HN HN(16) MN(27) MN (42)
Di Resta MU HN(14) HN(36)
Hamilton MU MU(10) HN(22) HN (38)
Perez MN HN(10) HN(20) HN (39)
Webber MU HN(8) HN(21) HN (37)
Alonso MU HN(7) HU(8) HU (24) HN (39)
Rosberg MU HN(9) HN(20) MU (33) MU (44)
Button MN HN(9) HN(21) HN (34) MU(46)
Maldonado MN HN(10) HN(23) HN (39)
Hulkenberg HN HN(12) MU(26) MN (41)
Sutil MU HN(1) HN(18) MU (42)
Bottas HN HN(13) HN(29) MU (47)
Massa HU HN(10) MN(17) HU (28) MU(36)
Ricciardo MN HN(9) HN(25) HU (41)
Pic MN HN(11) HN(23) HN (35)
Gutierrez HN HN(1) HU(16) MN (33) MN(43)
Bianchi MN HN(9) HN(22) HU (36) MU (48)
Chilton MN HN(10) HN(23) HU (37) MU(46)
Van der Garde MN HN(2) MN(14) HN (24) MU(39) HU (47)


(Courtesy of Williams F1 Team)

The graph shows the relative pace of the cars across the race. The dips downwards are pit stops. THe zero line is an imaginary car travelling at the race winner’s average lap speed every lap.

It is used to demonstrate stint performance, to show drop off in pace at the ends of stints (compare Mercedes with Lotus, for example). Note how hard Vettel pushes in the second and third stints and note also the consistency and pace of both Lotus cars in the final stint.

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it was an entertaining race strategy wise..really good ontrack action as well.

anyone still moaning about tyres...please take a look at darren heath's race blog..I could not have put my opinion any better than that...

Tornillo Amarillo

James, very interesting article.

I have to say I'm not agree with Darren Heath because he says that Pirellis are right to do races unpredictably (and criticism is ridiculous), but he miss the main point: SPEED.

Heath did not mention any reference to "speed", "flatout", "faster" and the like. For many fans, and for many old fans, that's what F1 is about. "DRS", "thermal degradation" are not in this league.

Heath mention "STRATEGY" as the source of entertainment, and maybe that's why this is a different Formula 1. You like it or not, but it's what it is this 2013.

It's worthy to express discontent in order to improve the show, but think: what direction has to take the tyres in the future?

For me is just what I said: speed, flatout, etc. Do you see the difference?


I'm with Spinodontosaurus on this. F1 have never been flat out in the races. There are certainly times when the fuel effect has exceeded tyre wear, but until the 90s refueling era and greater reliability, drivers were cruising for much of the race, just as they are now.

To have the racing determined by car pace makes the racing very reliant on the teams being very even in performance. Otherwise we get 2004 style results again.

I took a look at 2008, a season where overall Ferrari and McLaren were fairly even. During the year the only dry track lead change that we saw on the circuit was when Hamilton went for a short stint in Turkey. Flat out all the way gave us no passing for the lead on the track, only in the pits. Drivers had to put up with being stuck in the Trulli train.

If there was a safe way to make the tyres wear out, rather than degrade, that would be preferable, but there is the significant risk of tyre failure.


When in Formula One's history has it ever been about pure speed for an entire race? The sport just doesn't work like that, whether whining fans like it or not.

Tornillo Amarillo

Clearly nobody is askink an entire race of speed, but just more speed than strategy and not the other way around.


LOL, thumbs up for Darren!


Great blog from Darren! thank you for sharing.

James did remind me that the teams will get to grips with the tyre issues and fast too. As an eager fan I might have forgotten that's what happened in 2012. So as the season progresses the top teams will be on the podium more often. Every race seems to be more exciting this year. Let's hope it will carry through 2013.


Will be interesting to see how far into the season it will be before the teams are on top of the tyres and things become more predictable.


Is it just me or did you get the feeling that Red Bull and Seb may have just turned a corner in Bahrain.


I pretty much agree Darren Heath's take on it.

For me, random events are what make the races a lot of the time, predictable is boring.

If the number crunchers in the back of the pits and their colleagues back at base can't calculate outcomes with accuracy, it's working well.

I want to see teams have to improvise and react to events as much as possible rather than sticking to plans, the tyres are making that more likely IMO.

I can understand why team bosses and fans of particular drivers don't like it when their man has his day ruined but for me, I want to be entertained and I don't really care if some drivers and teams have a little blubber about it not being fair that they can't work out what's going to happen.


I'm VERY happy that Mr Heath makes pictures and Mr Allen writes story's.....


Exactly.... 🙂


When a tire cannot be driven at maximum speed without high degradation or used to fight hard for position, what sort of racing tire is it? Despite the show it generates, it degrades F1 as the pinnacle of motor racing sports.


Ok. Formula One is not you, because tyre conservation has always been the name of the game, even in the days of the everlasting Bridgestone tyres.


Fully agree with you; the current situation with tyres is so wrong. What's the answer though? I am convinced that the trye should be more durable so that the fastest car/ driver combination comes to the fore. I accept that the best drivers do seem to be winning, but I don't like the situation where the tyres are such a variable factor and we don't get proper racing.


What I don't like is that a following car could be slightly faster, but not enough of a difference to make an overtake a given. But following in turbulent air for so many laps just shreds the tires. Now that's mostly b/c of the aerodynamics, rather than the tires, but the tires aren't helping on that score either.

I would like to see less aero dependency, exhausts high on the car and pointing 90 degrees up! Narrower front wings (are there any stats on how many front wings have been damaged since the 2009 regulations came into force, versus other regulation era's in F1? I'd love to see them) - yes I know they're coming next year, but even narrower. Wider bigger tires. More of a balance between aero and mechanical grip. Right now aero accounts for between 80-90% of a car's downforce.

I'm hoping next year's regulations will be a step in that direction. It would be nice if DRS wasn't needed, but I doubt that's gonna happen. DRS is good in allowing a faster car to get past w/o being stuck behind a slower car all race. It's bad in that it seems some drivers push any thoughts of an overtake outside of the prescribed DRS zones, right out of their minds. The Senna quote is appropriate here: "if you see a gap and don't go for it, you're no longer a racing driver."


Bravo. Couldn't have said it any better.


Wow, he's nailed that I reckon.

One thing that's been underlined to me since I started visiting this blog is that, no matter how good the state of F1 is, people will complain.

I'm not even complaining about the complainers - it's just an observation. In part in might be because different people want F1 to be different things - an unbridled technical pursuit; an exercise in teamwork and strategic perfection; an on-the-edge duel between brave pilots out on the track.

But rose-tinted glasses seem far more prevalent among F1 fans than most.


Good read. I have watched F1 for a lot of years, (26/27 or so ... from senna/prost era) and I believe the current situation is the most enjoyable I have experienced. I am a Fan of Pirelli's and what they have done (and been asked to do for the fans sake).

I look forward to more races that don't pan out with the pole sitter guaranteed to win, where the engineers are pulling there hair out on hard difficult compromises, where drivers need to use vastly more skill then we realise.

roll on the good times....

Adrian Newey Jnr

Well said. Seems people have forgotten the Schumacher domination years already. Sure the results have their surprises, but all that emphasises is that the teams need to be smarter in getting the best out of their car. The BBCF1 podcast highlighted that RBR's budget is more than Lotus and FI's combined. Fair play to the smaller/mid teams for getting the results.


Great link, it sums up my feelings perfectly. The races aren't predictable but equally they're not a lottery; it's always possible to look back and see why the race unfolded as it did. I love the tyres and I hope we keep them for as long as possible.


I completely agree with Darren Heath's article too, it's good to see someone speaking up for Pirelli like this too.


This Darren heath totally missed the issues raised in China. Can you imagine what would have happened if they had brought that ridiculous soft tyre to Bahrain.

All people are saying is that we don't need these drivers to be racing on qualifying tyres, which they essentially were in China. No need at all for that extreme approach as we witnessed in Bahrain where they changed to medium tyres and we still got excellent racing, some 2 stopping, some 3 and some 4. it was still agreat show without going to extremes!


I love the way you refer to the guy who uncovered an illegal steering system just by listening to a car go through a corner as 'this Darren Heath"...


The extreme case of China wasn't great I know. But some people didn't like Bahrain either. However I think that article was very good.


Three stops is about one too many. I dislike the strategy of driving slow to protect your tires and trying to eliminate one pit stop to jump the field and get up on the podium. Lotus in particular seem to be employing this strategy in every race. Until they can win on track and not through pit strategy gimicks they will get no respect from me. As a result even though he is 10 points out of the WDC I do not mention Kimi in the same breath as VET HAM or ALO. those guys are all generally earning their points by racing not tire nursing. No respect for that in my book.

Tornillo Amarillo

For me F1 RECIPE should be MOST of the time:


1/3 Strategy,

and not the other way around.

You have always, you had it before in the old times, both ingredients, but now drivers and teams reduce speed in order to reach the strategy in almost all circuits and this is not good, no pure F1, it does not taste good!!


make your own formula then


There was a programe on the a while ago about F1 when Fangio and Hawthorn etc was driving. Fangio had to pit his Merc for new tyres which took 30odd seconds, but the Ferrari's didnt need to stop they could do the race on one set. So after Fangio had made his stop he went out to hunt down the Ferrari's and won. So even in the good old days tyres played a big part in strategie, and driving the fastest way to the finnish.


Haha... After the first lap kimi was 9th and he did overtake most of them in front of him over the course of the race except Vettel who was running completely on clean air. So was the case with grosjean. Their pace was matching with all except for redbulls pace which has always been superior due to design.


Kimi flushes your opinion about him every morning 🙂


Perhaps kimi and lotus is racing smarter than everyone else, when you can manage your tires and still lap faster than the other cars that takes skills. I seem to recall kimi winning in Australia on a two stop and setting fastest lap i dont see anything kimi driving slowly than the others if thats what you mean. Perhaps you could also explain why Kimi can do a two stop strategy and Grosjean could not. Strategy have always been a key factor and races and now when a team your not supporting is doing it better than your favoured team your crying and moaning lol


I guess you don't respect Michael Schumacher and Ross Brawn then. I remember an awful lot of races they won together because of crafty pit strategies.

You also mustn't respect Vettel for driving very slowly on old tyres at Monaco in 2011 to keep Alonso and Button at bay.

The tyre life is like fuel: You have a finite life in them. You have to manage the usage of it. Managing all the components that make up an F1 car is part of racing.

To finish first, first you have to finish. And if you finish first, regardless of how hard you push or how often you pit, you get the big trophy and the champagne.


The respect and support will go to Hamilton, I think Vettel is not really liked.


Vettel is the superior driver, obviously. Three championships at a 'drinks company'. LOL


Depends who you are doesn't it?

What's there to like about any of them?


A driver should adapt to whatever situation it is. Kimi adjusted his driving to suit Lotus' strengths. I see that to be positive. Sure, he can drive the car very fast and eat away the tires like Merc drivers do and and end up with almost no points. I'm sure you won't even think of him then. At least now he gives you a chance to think of him by doing tire nursing and earn second place in WDC. That is what finally matters anyway - how many point you got. How you got is secondary (not in the Vettel sense).


Well Hello everybody bar Raikkonen and Di Resta did 3 stops.How can you say everyone did one too many then you dont agree with Lotus doing 2.

Most observers even Alonso and Hamilton said Kimi has been driving the best. He was very quick in Australia and was faster than the Ferrari even on single lap pace-as well as doing 1 lap less.


“win on track and not through pit strategy gimicks they will get no respect from me”

You mean like Schumacher did during the refuelling era? I think I could count the number of times he overtook on track to win a race on my fingers. It was nearly always done in the pits.

There was nothing, absolutely nothing, more boring than an entire season of Grands Prix decided entirely on predetermined fuel strategies. Yes, the current tyre situation is slightly artificial, but it's only artificially recreating how tyres always used to just be before technology developed to such an extent that Bridgestone could produce that bulletproof rubber that would last practically forever. Driving flat-out without having to think about your tyres is the modern innovation, not the skill of protecting them, which was always part of motor racing. I'm not against technological progress - quite the opposite - but some things have to be limited for the sake of sport, otherwise we'd have self-driving cars controlled by software that never made a mistake, and the entire thing would boil down to who could build the most powerful engine. The drivers' skill has to be tested (“challenged” might be a better word) and Pirelli's tyres are doing that.

Read the Darren Heath link Tarun posted above. It's spot-on.


Didn't Kimi race supremely hard in shanghai with broken nose cone and fw cascade?? Despite the team struggling for balance on medium compound??

Again, its easy for armchair fan to say anything. which include the journalist.


you're wrong. the fastest way to win the race is the fastest way of driving.

Drivers that push without using their brain will find himself needing more pit stop and ended up further behind. It tooks much more skills to protect the tyres while remain reasonably fast.


Let me ask you something. The fact is that Kimi was mainly on the same strategy as others every GP in 2012. Who has had the most and the best overtakes? Hamilton? No! Alonso? No! Vettel? Neither! Kimi has had the best overtakes and most of the overtakes weren't through DRS zones.

I can't hear you...

Every driver or team should choose the strategy that suits them best. If 4 stopper suits somebody, go for that. If 2 stopper or 3 stopper suits somebody, they should just go for that. The strategies have never been the same for everybody, even in the 90s.

I am 10000% sure that neither Alonso, Vettel or Hamilton will ever go for extra pit stop just to earn your respect. LOL


'Best' overtake is completely subjective, and I for one found Kimi to be far too soft in his overtaking in 2012, in contrast to Vettel who was extremely robust and assertive.


It's better to be a bit conservative than a bit over the line. Vettel was always agressive overtaker. Remember Turkey 2010, Spa 2010, Malaysia 2012... Although I like Vettel, he is not the best overtaker for sure. Ask others who had the best overtake maneuvers in 2012.


Agree. The fact that some teams go for 2 stops and others choose to run with three mixes up the positions during the race (so we get overtaking and defending) but have to wait until near the end to see how it is panning out (so we get suspense).

Darren Heath is spot-on, the last thing F1 needs is a return to the Schumacher-Ferrari-Bridgestone boreathons - viewing figures across the world would drop like a stone



Surely the idea of winning a race is to drive the predetermined distance as fast as possible or to drive the furthest distance in the time allocated. Therefore if 2 stops is faster than 3 stops, why would you have no respect for the winner? Also take a look at the lotus graph. They are not driving slowly to preserve their tyres, their car is just good at utilising the tyre underneath and not destroying it. Opinions are fine, but baseless comments like this don't belong on such a well informed site.


Kimi has done more on-track passes than any other driver this year (not counting passes at start), how is that not a good measure of him racing?


Well in order to pass one must be behind, so there is that.

Vettel and Kimi have been by far the best two drivers this year with Hamilton in a close third, if not equal. Considering Hamilton has lesser equipment than Lotus. The Merc's might be better funded but I think we can all agree they are not as good as the Lotus. Too many mistakes from Alonso puts him behind Hamilton. This could all change but I doubt it very much.


I think we can see that just by looking at the points table.


If you say 3 stops is too many you don't remember the last refueling era where a 3-stopper was a thing to do in many cases. When stop times were determined by the amount of fuel added making many quick stops and having new tyres and a light car was often quicker but riskier as passing, even with advantages, was much harder due to lack of DRS and much more sensitive aero. MSC was a master at pulling these sprints off.


'Until they can win on track and not through pit strategy gimicks they will get no respect from me'

How do you think a significant portion of the overtaking was done on the Bridgestones?

Most of the racing there was between the pit crews.


I remember Bahrain 2010, yeah the most boring race in history.


It's slightly irrelevant to the topic, but I'd vote Indianapolis 2005 for most boring, Bahrain close runner up 🙂


Three stops too many... that's your opinion.

"Until they can win on track and not through pit strategy gimicks they will get no respect from me.", I'm sure all the teams are shocked and dismayed to hear that from you...


On a more serious note, though, I think the attitude from "Fan" (what a misnomer, btw) is typically lopsided.

Lotus and Raikkonen are having to do their best with their limited resources and smaller budgets as compared with Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari. In that situation if they have chosen to build their car in a way that works well with the given tyres it is a whole lot better than the rich teams and their drivers moaning about the same tyres.

Unless, of course, "Fan" defines "respect" as whining incessantly to get the same tyres changed to help Alonso, Vettel and Hamilton.


I also believe that attitude to be lopsided, but each to their own.

I tune in to enjoy motor racing, it doesn't matter to me what type of tyres they're using.


Amen to that!


Well, that can only work at tracks where the loss time for a pit stop is quite big. Certainly won't be the case in Montreal. And Monaco is usually a special case, where track position is king. We'll see what Lotus try to do at those places.

Stats to date


Wins: VET2,RAI1,ALO1

Podiums: VET3,RAI3,HAM2,ALO2,WEB1,GRO1




Pts Finishes:



Longest podium streaks (2+): VET2,RAI2,HAM2

Current podium streak: RAI2,VET1,GRO1

Longest T5 streaks (2+): VET4,HAM4,RAI2,MAS2

Current T5 streak: VET4,HAM4,RAI2,GRO1,DIR1

Longest pts finish streaks (2+):



Current pts finish streak:



Retirements (not classified):


T10-DWC Race Finishes:




Strategy has been important in F1 for a long time make strategies work drivers have to adjust their styles. In Australia, don't forget that Kimi swiftly dispatched of the Mercs to run in free air behind the leading trio, setting up his win by virtue of having to then do one less stop. In his earlier career, Kimi has scored some memorable wins based on sheer speed (pick something from '05 or '07) and overtaking (how about Japan '05). Alonso, Vettel and Hamilton are equally good racers IMO.




This is just an off the cuff thought, but it seemed that those that had a lot of work to do fell foul of the tyres, Button and Rosberg both had this problem where as Perez not so much and Lewis hardly at all.

It's just a casual observation.

Vettel went completely unchallenged. I do believe the race would have panned out differently for Vettel had he had a challenger to push his tyres. Alonso would have been that one.


Yes but Seb dispensed with the Ferrari rather quickly don't you think. Same with the Merc. If they had the pace they would have gone with him early on..but he was already opening a good gap by Lap 3- I doubt very much anyone was going to threaten RBR at Bahrain


Alonso had no pace because he took two early unscheduled stops and had problems with a permanently open drs, so he was never able to challenge Vettel.

My point is that had Vettel been challenged, he would not have disappeared into the distance, he would have suffered more tyre wear.


You think Alonso's tires would have outlasted Vettel's?

Not likely.


It all depends how hard a driver is pushing. We saw the same thing in Malaysia, where Merc asked Lewis to push the Bulls, while Rosberg was running his own race. By the end Lewis had to drop back and appeared slower than Rosberg who had hardly raced anyone at all throughout the whole race, thus conserving fuel and tyres.


Blackmamba; you're dreaming. If Rosberg was racing no one how did he get on Hamilton's tail?

Oh,'s a conspiracy, right? LOL


Agree, that seems was the story of the race. Webber to would have been a good example when you compare his pace to Vettel.


Could be right.


Brilliant article, as always. It's good to see the figures, especially giving an insight into the tyre strategy as I'd thought Di Resta had a shot.

Oh well, turns out I was wrong. Roll on Barcelona.


Hi James. It seems to me that as the tyres drop off at different rates for different teams leading to a speed differential between cars, DRS is no longer necessary for overtaking. Some tracks with long straights make it a non event. Perhaps the zone is too long.

Do you have any information on whether it is here to stay or if it will disappear? Thanks.


Raikkonen could be leading the championship if he improved his abysmal performances in Quali. I feel if Redbull had had to fight for that win they would have run out of tyres and fallen prey to Lotus, but Kimi always under-performs in quali and starts so far back that he does not give himself a chance to take more wins. This year is all about tyres, and Lotus are the best in that regard, so IMO they should win the DWC.


They won't win any world championships, someone's in the way and he's called Vettel.


I think you missed out on Vettels 2nd stint if Redbull were not being conservative they could have done a two stopper as well.


Apparently, Eric Boullier said that they encounter problem with medium compound

In my opinion, you need to read more articles before voicing out your own armchair opinions.

James Allison said they couldn't even came out with rear wing that provide more downforce to switch on wet tyres. Meaning, any wet weekend is goodbye for them to get good results.


Yes, but if you look at Q2, which was only 15 mins earlier than Q3 run, Kimi was in the top few cars...


Yeah it was not perfect in q3. He may have ended up in 4th or 5th had he done so. 2/10 separated 5 spots on the Bahrain grid.

James do you know if Lotus were open to changing their strategy from 2 to 3 stops during quali. Because they have stated that 2 was the plan even before quali. I wonder if a driver could push to the limit of these tyres with this in the back of his mind. Had they qualified top 5 their strategy maybe different but I think they doubted they had the speed to run with RBR & Ferrari. Would be good to know.


Yes. As it says in Strategy Report Lotus would have raced Kimi on three stops had he qualified top 5


Did Kimi just make a mistake in Q3 or was he slower everywhere over the lap? That really would be a puzzle.


track evolution James.

Balance switch from 1 d celcius to another.


Do you imagine that I didn't speak to the Lotus engineers on Saturday and Sunday?


hahaha, always underperforming huh?? guy just place lotus on 2nd grid position out of nowhere in China.

And the so call 1 lap specialist Lewis Hamilton couldn't even fight for pole when his teammate got it.


And Rosberg paid the price therefore. We all saw who had the smarter set up between the Mercedes Pilots


Well he was second on the grid in China. It's hard to improve by much from there...


Yep and he is convincingly beating his team mate who showed last year that he is no slouch over a single lap. I think people are expecting too much from Lotus and not crediting one of the best drivers in the sports history. Oh look!- his name is on the fastest lap at the next race Barcelona 2008-fancy that. It's funny how people forget how quick he was with 16 poles ?to his name before he joined Lotus. ( That was in a time of Ferraris bespoke Bridgestone tyres) The guy waits for no one - it's silly to doubt his speed.


James, please write an article on why lewis couldn't get pole in Bahrain?? He could ended up in podium if he does so.



He would have ended up like Nico if he had set up his car for pole.

Scuderia McLaren




What is the difference per lap with DRS and without?, I guess is just the capacity to pass the car in front of you, but there is not major difference in the performance per lap.


James, please read this article before slamming Kimi.

Its easy to say what if, without looking into details.


to say Lotus has no issues with tyre at all is plain nonsense.


and you missed out an important point. Vettel was cruising after the 2nd stint. He didn't has to stop 1 more time but he did anyway due to massive pace advantage.

I doubt Kimi could've won when he already pulled out 2 sec ++ gap on Alonso prior to his DRS issues.


This race and the tyre allocations were a product of the criticism. Most people are missing that point. I demand that F1 drivers be able to race. Anything less is unacceptable. And the marbling is an absolute joke, effectively creating a single lane to race in.


Single-lane racing where 'marbling' occurs has been part of racing for years, even in go-karts.

Be careful what you 'demand'. The good fans of US based NASCAR have had their demands met; endless passing, endless pitstops, huge accidents, a lottery to decide whom wins each week. Almost total access to drivers to the point you can go online and learn the names of their dogs.

Is this really what you want? I hope not.


Demand away...


I am starting to turn on the tyres situation now. When webber says if u race someone u are punished it isn't right. The tyres have to allow guys to race but also need managing. Jenson said also that trying to keep Perez behind made his race worse and fell back to 10th as a result and he should just of let him past. Surely that can't be right?


Why can't that be right?

They're team mates, he was going slower, what was the point in holding him up?


The point is the art of great defence is lost. Think Senna/Mansell at Monaco or Alonso/Schumi at Imola..


The rules are different. The lead car in all of those cases would have received a drive-through or worse with the current overtaking rules in place. I agree with you but blame the FIA, and the fans.

Think Schumi/Hamilton at Monza. Ham was calling for penalties from the car radio and the fans afterwards were calling Schumi's defending illegal because of all the new FIA rules.


That's all very well, but you very rarely saw any of those drivers holding up there own team mate, unless of course they didn't get along, Senna/Prost, Mansell/Patrese... Shoemaker/Anybody...


come think of it had Alonso not had issues he might very well have run behind vettel and in doing so put pressure on both there tires. Would of helped Kimi for the win, maybe


Well the premise of this story by James is flawed anyway, Kimi would likely have come third and Force India would not have been a story IF Alonso had a trouble free race. To get the points Alonso did in a DRS free car was a real achievement. I am NOT an Alonso fan, but I will recognize good driving when I see it! I believe he could have forced Vettle to run his tires off at the end of the race.

Regardless it was a great race for action


James it very clear the effect of the fuel on tyres just looking at most of those final stints -be it 2 or 3 stops how the upward trend increases. Lotus must look at that yellow line and really smile quite amazing. How to find quali pace now!

I think Lotus will have FI breathing down their necks at all the longer circuits where horsepower and speed take precedence. Unless of course Lotus find something.


Yes, the split strategy races (thanks to the tyres) are always the most fun because this means we have action till the last lap as drivers on the 3 stop try to overtake the 2 stoppers plus the 3 stoppers also have a go at each other as the tyres hold on or fall off.

For sure the Lotus cars have an advantage when it comes to making tyres last, maybe this ability can be classed in the same group as the double diffusers of this world.

Anyway it appears Lotus have no choice but to go about their business this way because Kimi mentioned after the race that the Red Bulls were too fast and thus the win was out of the question irrespective of good qualifying positions.

Force India did very well with their strategy and seeing as they were going with the 2 stop from the get go,

perhaps Di Resta should have sat out Q3 and saved his tyres and with fresher rubber he could have probably held off Grosjean at the end >>> Maybe they have learnt their lesson.

As for Mclaren, it seems they unwittingly created the inter-team battle for by bringing in Perez first in one of his pit stops, this brought him out ahead of Jenson and hence the tug of war begun.

Regards Ferrari, it would have been revealing to see if they could have taken on Red Bull but I doubt it for in the early laps before Alonso pitted, Vettel was comfortably pulling away so no, I don't think Ferrari had the Red Bull pace even on the hard tyre.

Overall, what the Bahrain race confirmed is

i) Lotus, Ferrari and Red Bull are equally matched and it's just the track characteristics that favour one over the others.

ii) Mercedes do not like the heat

iii) Force India are the strongest mid field team

iv) Williams, Mclaren and Caterham are much improved.


"i) Lotus, Ferrari and Red Bull are equally matched and it’s just the track characteristics that favour one over the others"

I couldn´t agree more!!!

Their challenge this season is to win in a less favour type of track. How are they planning to do it?


@ Anne

How are they planning to do it


Well my dear, this is were good fortune comes in.

All that's required is to position yourself in such a position i.e. P2 or P3 where by you can take full advantage of your competition if they encounter any issue.


The thing that really amazed me was how early Massa stopped: 10 laps on the Prime from the start.

Everyone (including myself) was talking about how he was going to be the darkhorse for a podium finish on a counter strategy.

But then to only run for as long as the Option starters was bizarre indeed.

Was it only a strategy to hold Vettel up that Ferrari didn't need to use once Alonso's rear wing failed?


Massa had an incident with Sutil at the start of the race. He got a broken frontwing because of that so nothing went as planned from the begining. And you have to add 2 punctures as well


James, it wasnt Kimis fault he did not qualify further up the grid, it was the car. The E21 is very sensitive to track conditions and weather conditions as already stated by James Alisson,kimi and grosjean. It seems kimi could not get the tires into the optimum window in quali, remember it was overcast and the temperatures were cooler than it was in fp3. Even if Kimi qualified 5th he still wouldnt beat Vettel on that race, Kimi said they opted for a two stop strategy on Friday already.If we compare Vettel and Grosjeans lap times on the same strategy, Vettel’s pace and grosjean’s on clean air, Vettel’s pace was faster by a clear margin.


Yea, James Allen need to read more articles before writing 1.


Used to be Formula One Racing, now its Formula One Entertainment. I'll take the legendary former over the somewhat embarrassing latter.


So the legends never had to nurse their cars?? Brakes wouldn't last a full race, gearboxes had to be babied, engine revs had to be managed to preserve engines. All those factors are now largely 100% throughout the race, it is the tyres are now the limiting factor, but drivers have always had to drive at less than 100% for long periods of races.

Remember the turbo days when cars ran out of fuel unless the drivers backed off for half the race??



Catman, these tryes are going off after 2 laps of attacking!!! thats the big differnece. The graph clearly indicates this, while Vettel just raced to a managed strategy, his teammate was racing against cars and getting penalised with rapid degredation.

This is what the problem is! Don't compare the "legends" with today's drivers. The legends wouldn't have stood for this nonsense too long!


I completely agree. F1 has really taken quite a severe lurch into artificially spicing up the racing over the last 5 years. Whilst there was a lack of overtaking in the old days, at least you knew you were seeing the absolute fastest cars win on a given day. These days there are far too many variables.

Lazy TV coverage meant we lost the old 2 session 12 lap qualifying sessions which was an entirely sensible format ensuring a truly representitive grid. TV stations moaned that drivers wouldn't go out for the first half hour, well stick your filler interviews with Button's dad on during the wait rather than giving us a 90 minute pre and post show which is totally unnecessary.

Why have KERS and DRS when surely only one of those systems is required to alleviate the old overtaking problem. Now overtaking is far too easy.

Ensure car design means that the cars can actually run during wet weather. These days a rain storm seems to stop the race more often that not which is absolutely ridiculous.

But most importantly for me, go back to when penalties were issued in relation to precedent and not different for each team and driver.

Also, make sure penalties are issued during the race to protect the result for the fans as much as possible. "Provisional result" is far too common a phrase these days.

Oh and we should never again have a race where tires last just 6 laps.


I'm starting to agree with all this sentiment.

After reading the article, I can see that these tyres are not only causing headaches on track, but also for technical Anylists as well. Too much discussion around strategies these days, because, thats what its all about now. Its getting boring!.....but not for tech geeks as we can see here.

Just get more rubber on those boots and we can get back to real racing!...every driver will agree!

Fans comment on a race and drivers performance like its some kind of Video console game. But thats what its starting to look like, so cant really blame them. "steering wheels" or "console control units".....not much difference. LOL


"Lazy TV coverage meant we lost the old 2 session 12 lap qualifying sessions"

I think you mean 4 session?

4 x 3 laps?


@Matt W

Ah... I thought you meant the old one hour twelve lap format.

Not one of the newer formats... my mistake.


No it was two sessions of 12 laps each. Friday and Saturday qualifying. It gave a much fairer grid in that the fastest time from both sessions was counted towards your grid position. Also meant fans attending on Friday actually saw a competitive session.


Or you could just switch off your television set and do something less boring instead... (why don't you...)


From looking at the graphs, it seems that Mark Webber could have finished second, or given Kimi a fight for second, but his second set of tyres did not work well. Note how his pace fails to improve as the car lightens. If his performance had been the same as Vettel, he could have finished higher.


Of course Webber could have finished 2nd but he had no pace, in fact if Vettel and Webber swapped places on the grid before the start and the race panned out how it did i.e. Alonso still broke his DRS I do think Vettel would still havee won and Mark would do well to be in the top 4 ahead of Di Resta. Vettel is a quality driver and the best of this era its hard to dispute that now,


I think this just shows the difference between being in traffic most of the race and getting out front in the clear air...quali is ever important



But what is interesting is how close Alonso was to the pack at the end with no DRS. Anyone work out what he lost in time over the race from that failure??

I guess he would have taken vettel.


I think there was a problem with the set of mediums Kimi started on. He was really slow on that set of tyres, qualifying badly and even falling behind the Mclarens in the early part of the race, which he could do nothing about. His pace was significantly better after his first pit stop.


Grosjean used 2 sets of new hard and 2 sets of new medium.


Spotted and changed, thanks

Adrian Newey Jnr

James - you may disagree, but I think the first say 5-10 laps of the race were some of the most exciting we've seen for years. Usually after about lap 2, we get Vettel or whomever jumping to a 2-3 second lead and then a train behind them. The Bahrain race saw so many scraps between drivers. If thats tyres or DRS or other black magic, we need more of it.


For those that feel like Alonso could have pressed Vettel into using up his tires, there is one huge problem:

Alonso MU HN(7) HU(8) HU (24) HN (39)

Vettel MU HN(10) HN(25) HN (42)

My understanding was that RBR and maybe 1 or 2 (Force India)other teams were the only ones with enough New Hard compounds to run the race, everyone else needed to either mix and match Hard and Medium or Used and New. I think Perez used all New Hard as well but he was never in the mix either.

I just don't see where Alonso could have pushed Vettel much. Maybe I am wrong but Vettel had a tremendous amount of pace to spare and it seems to me he would have just pushed enough to separate from Alonso and gone back to cruising.

Sky's Ted Kravitz (sp) said on his wrap up that RBR could have ran a 2 stop as well. He kind of implied that they did not think it was the fastest strategy.

James like everyone else thanks for the information.


They didn't need to, given they were in clear air with Vettel. Why take the risk? Run the fastest strategy every time.

Especially when VET could pit and rejoin still ahead of the car behind, ie he had more than 22 secs advantage


Clear Air. Your followers seem to keep forgetting how critical this is for these tryes to give you any joy. I think you need to provide another Analysis on the Clear Air factor over the course of a race. I'm sure you got the boffins to knock that out James 😉

BTW, my wife is very unimpressed with your website. Nevermind, she's sleeping. hehe hehe.


Clear air has always been highly advantageous. Even in the Bridgestone days drivers would often find it better to hang back from a car to stay in clear air rather than suffer the understeer and instead wait for space through strategy. largely this was of course because it was so difficult to overtake at many tracks (Barcelona, Bagrain even), they couldn't get closer than a second without feeling the effects.

A key objective a driver aims for is always to find clear air. In Bahrain that Button pack squabbled to get it. Thanks to DRS I guess, none of them could pull away, certainly not until those who had worked their tyres hardest and fell back. That would prompt them to pit early, get the undercut and find that clear air again. Of course there was then the danger of some pushing the tyre envelope too far and suffered at the end. They all lost out in a way but it was such a battle.

It's all part of the challenge for me. It can be confusing if you can't follow all the data and see where every car is, but a single pitstop for all event on race-lasting tyres would be less involving, for me.


What does she dislike, apart from you spending time on it! 🙂


James, had Fernando not committed the mistake of using his DRS a 2nd time requiring a revisit to pit on lap 8, do you think he could end up being in top 5??


very tough with no DRS. That's a lot to give away. I'm preparing a post on that story


Let's not forget also that for virtually the entire race, whoever was in second place was also running in clean air, owing to the size of Vettel's lead. For a good chunk of the race, that was DiResta -- would've hoped he'd have had more left to fight at the end.


Forget the race strategy what about this strategy for the Bahrain GP. Scary stuff.


the drivers and teams want to win as many points as possible and act within the rules to do so. to them, points mean prices. the spectators on the other hand, want to witness spectacles so it is up to the rule makers to ensure that the drivers and teams are spectacular in their pursuit of points. this is where the difficulty lies, not all spectators find events to be equally exciting. so they say you cannot please all of the people all of the time.

it took the rule makers until recently to interfere with the tyres, kers and drs. while schumacher was winning his 7 championships no one battered an eyelid. alonso also won his 2 without interference.

change will always happen so we just need to adjust with it or adapt to it instead of trying to oppose it.


If the tyres are spray painted with initials does it mean they are used? If so Raikkonen put a used set of hards on the first stop.


Thank you for bringing back the race history graph! What a race from Sutil! And what a dog car are the Saubers. They are matched with the Williams.



Can you explain what you mean by qualifying trim? My understanding was that the set up for qualifying and race was the exact same.


I am an F1 fan, I like a driver let's call him Bob. Bob drives a race, comes second, and after the race a reporter with year experience suggests ways he could have done better. He can do better because he came second, but obviously he did OK anyway so maybe he is being picky but, hey it is all about being the best...

But then I read lines like "Had Bob simply repeated his Q2 time in Q3, he would have started fifth on the grid instead of 8th" and get really angry and write comments about how stupid the reporter is or how he doesn't know what he is talking about, and he should read other articles so that he doesn't think about blaming my favourite hero Bob for anything ever!

Because remember in F1, the car is solely the problem if your favourite drive loses, the car is solely responsible when a German driver wins, and your hero is nothing other than infallible.

Bob for the title.


I like Bob too, he seems to have this going for him!

yeah, Bob for the title...


I have great respect for Bob and get on fine with him, as the latest Podcast interview shows.

I'm not criticising Bob for what happened in Bahrain; he is a bt erratic in quali, but we are talking fine margins at the very top end of F1.

Bob did a super job once again on Sunday and the post piece says that had Bob started where he could have (with a similar Q3 time to his Q2 time) he probably still would not have beaten Vettel, who was surprisingly fast in the race, given the RBR performance in long runs on Friday.

So as he would say, what happened in qualifying probably "Makes no difference"


Bob is actually no non sense driver, he is the first one to admit mistakes and won't blame car for his poor driving. To write a long article on one mistake of Bob was unwarranted.


Are we talking about same Bob who was laid to waste by a certain Brazilian driver in 2008 with figures 12-6 in qualifying?? Or are we talking about Bob who narrowly beat his erratic, lackluster team-mate by 10-9 in qualifying last year??? 😛


James do u think that Sunday was like Valencia last year for vettel in that he had the car set up just 100 per cent perfect or is this red bull on top of the tyres now and the hard and medium tyres really helping them also? Webbers struggles suggest to me it was vettel, and red bull setting the car up perfect for the race.


Webber had traffic to deal with but Vettel was on it and it's always an advantage to run in clear air and save new tyres


"The DRS wing technical problems encountered by Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, who started third on the grid, meant that it was a relatively easy win for Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel". I find this statement strange. Once Vettel passed Alonso, Vettel simply disappeared and Alonso was under attack by Di Resta. There was no way Alonso would have finished on the podium.

Whenever Alonso has a problem and doesn't finish on top, the team like to say that Alonso could have won the race. What a joke! Even McLaren used to say the same thing last year when they didn't win a race.

Vettel was dominant in Bahrain but I am sure this is just a one off. We saw this last year as well. Things will be much more different in Europe.


Yeah you're right no 1 was expecting it but Vettel showed why Bahrain is one of his strongest track and dominated, Alonso had no chance for the win he would have been fighting the Lotus for a podium, the difference was Vettel and the boy has come of age and he will be the strongest driver in F1 for probably the rest of the decade and maybe if/when he does go to Ferrari and they are competitive then Seb could look to beat Schumi's 7 titles, the 4th and 5th title are his for the taking, Im sure Newey's new regulation first car should be a good 1 just like 1998 and 2009, this year already Vettel is odds on for the title and yet 2 years in a row he doesn't have the overall fastest car.


All this talk about tyres and tyre strategy. So, they may, or may not get on top of the tyres, sooner, or later... No surprise to read comments from Porsche today that F1 technology is largely irrelevant to road cars (not dissimilar to what Montesemolo has been saying for years).

Looking at the big picture and not just transient cheap thrills, is F1 heading in the right direction..? Is it more interesting to the casual fan now, or simply odd and irrelevant? Is it still a sport..?


So why does Luca keep saying his road cars are derived from F1 technology and why is the new hyper car La Ferrari the closest thing to a road going F1 car? Porsche are owned by VW and they're just saying the same thing over and over, they think the manopoly they have on the Le Mans scene gives them the rights to shoot their mouth but in actual facts they would probably be embarrased if they entered F1, they're more suited to the big fish small pond routine at La Sarthe every year with small competition. I for 1 will not buy any dull souless cars from the VW group, and besides Le Mans and endurance racing in general are dull.


Porsche are not the only manufacturer saying this and most of them (except Mercedes) have left the sport. Renault simply provide engines and that's also what Honda will do.

Porsche made the choice to return to the LMP1 category in 2014, with a hybrid car, instead of entering F1. I don't see why you think they'd be embarassed if they entered F1... You probably know they'd have to buy or sponsor an existiing team. VW have a long standing association with Red Bull...

LaFerrari is not exactly the kind of car for you and me, is it. And there is not much F1 technology on it. Its hybrid..

Anyway, what was your point? That degrading tyres are relevant to road cars and enticing to car manufacturers?


Interesting reading the various opinions on here with regards to the tyres. My view is that things were better in Bahrain and probably the only thing I would prefer is no DRS. I don't think we need all 3 at once Pirelli Kers and DRS.

Also, there is so much talk about the Bridgestone days and I wonder if people would be happier with Bridgestone type tyres with DRS and Kers. Mind you I imagine then people would complain then that it was still fake!

The only conclusion I can make is China was too much and possibly would have preferred Bahrain without DRS. That being said I felt the Bahrain GP was proper racing where as China just felt wrong.


Hello James,

Are you planning to do an article on the tyres?

Like how the tyres are manufactured, how they are tested and what are the performance criteria, what the teams get as "Tyre Models", what sort of work the teams do to understand the compounds and how do the teams get on top of it.

Some complain, some moan, some dont comment....

It just a blame game as of now: Pirelli insists they are doing what they were asked to do and Teams/Drivers blame that these tyres for not having proper racing..

Thanks in advance.

P.S: An article on similar lines like the Factory visit to Shell will be awesome... 🙂


Those who dream of no-nursing-needed cars: that never existed. Ne-ver. (Except at your local rent-a-kart track, where you can push for a full 15’, woohoow)

But let's just pretend it exists. No single part of the car would need nursing. Not the tyres, not the engine, not even the fuel (solar powered for instance).

The limiting factor would then be the driver. If he's then not driving qualifying-speed laps all the time, he's basically not “racing" according to some of the purists out there. Because purists want the maximum out of the car, every lap.

Every driver knows fastest times requires the most concentration. Concentration you cannot uphold for 2 hours.

So you do a qualifying lap and take a bit more risk left and right, jumping over a certain kerb a bit harder, risking a slightly higher cornerspeed and praying the car won't escape on you. That's what you do during qualifying. You risk more, because it’s only 1’30”.

But hitting that kerb the same way for 50 laps WILL lead to damage in the long run. So during the race you don't.

Will the purists then state you're no longer racing "100%"? Will they complain if not all of your laps are exactly like your qualifying lap?


As I been saying its the new Hamilton 'fans' that complain about the sport when things don't go his way they will bad mouth the sport to the bones just for the sake of it, they're not F1 fans they just want Hamilton to win at any cost, I agree the tyres needs to be modified by KERS and DRS has been a success and I would rather have action on track rather than the 2010 Bahrain race.



James I wanted to ask you a question regarding prize money.

I hear that even if Lotus win the Constructors Championship they will receive less money then Ferrari, RB, Macca and Merc.

Is there any truth to this?

I'm astonished as RB and Merc are teams that are likely to fold if they were unsuccessful where as on the other hand the Enstone team have always participated in the good times and the less successful times.


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