Raikkonen vs Hamilton and Vettel’s gamble: The inside track on race strategies in China
Insight
Strategy Report
Posted By: James Allen  |  16 Apr 2013   |  10:44 am GMT  |  189 comments

The UBS Chinese Grand Prix was another tense race and the outcome was once again decided by race strategy. What made it particularly interesting was that there were different approaches among the leading teams, forced by the disparate performance levels of the soft and medium Pirelli tyres. Team strategists had to find a way to do the fastest race, which meant spending the least amount of time on the weaker tyre and running in clear air as much as possible.

Here, with the help and input of several team strategists as well as JA on F1 technical adviser Mark Gillan, we analyse the key decisions which shaped the outcome.


Could Mercedes have kept Hamilton ahead of Raikkonen?

Kimi Raikkonen had another terrific race and could have challenged for the win had he not suffered two setbacks; a poor getaway from the startline due to a wrong clutch setting which cost him two places and damage to the front wing from a collision with Sergio Perez. Lotus estimate that the damage cost him 0.25s in lap time loss, but took the view that changing the nose at their next pit stop would cost them 10 seconds and drop Raikkonen into traffic, so they left the nose on.

The next challenge was to get ahead of Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes. The Lotus strategy team did this with a classic undercut on lap 34. Raikkonen pitted first, but Mercedes did not react to cover the stop. The Lotus had been just over a second behind when it pitted. But Mercedes left Hamilton out until lap 37. When he came out of the pits Raikkonen had done enough on fresh tyres to get ahead. They stayed that way to the finish, second and third. So why did Mercedes not react and could they have played it differently?

Lotus challenged them by coming in on lap 34, knowing that they had better tyre life than the Mercedes. There were still 22 laps to go to the finish. Hamilton had the pace to react; on lap 35 he did a 1m 41.8s lap, which was quicker than the previous laps. So he could have reacted on lap 35 and retained the position.

However the reason they left Hamilton out was because they knew that he would run into trouble with tyres at the end of the race if he stopped at this point. It was a real Catch 22 situation for them.

With Sebastian Vettel set to be very fast in the last five laps on new soft tyres, it would have cost Hamilton the podium had he reacted for a short term gain. This can be seen from the way Hamilton’s pace tailed off in the last two laps, indicating that even on a 19 lap stint his tyres suffered.

It’s a tough one for the team, but that’s why Ross Brawn said at the end to Hamilton, “We are not quite there,”

Lotus played their advantage very cleverly, but Mercedes did the right thing. It’s also worth pointing out the double pit stop they pulled off on lap five, which cost Rosberg just 2 seconds in the pit lane (their stop times were identical at 3.3 seconds). This is a sign of a group, which is confident and mature in its decision making and its execution. That could have gone horribly wrong.


Where did the race swing towards Alonso? And what happened to Massa?

Analysis of Fernando Alonso’s winning drive shows that the key moments were the start, where he got ahead of Raikkonen; the run up to the first pit stop, where got ahead of Hamilton; and then the second and third stints of the race, where he was the fastest car on the circuit.

It was a victory which was meticulous in strategic execution. Ferrari had done their homework during Friday practice and knew the best way to manage the long runs on the tyres. They spread the stops fairly evenly, with 17 laps in the second stint, 18 in the third and 15 laps in the final stint, so Alonso was never at risk of running out of tyre life and crucially they managed to get him into gaps in traffic after his second and third stops so he could make use of his fresh tyres. After the second stop he quickly passed Vettel and Hulkenberg, who were out of sequence, losing little time in the process and he was able to run in clear air.

Strategists say that in terms of energy damaging these tyres, between running a stint in clear air compared to behind another car the difference is as much as 20%. So you can see how vital it is to find the gaps.

As for Felipe Massa, who followed his team mate in the opening stint, he fell away because he was made to stay out an extra lap before his first stop and came out behind Raikkonen and Webber. He was now in traffic and struggled to get the medium tyres to work as well as he had done the softs. This lost him time, so he fell prey to Vettel and the two-stopping Button. A very tentative second stint meant he missed the opportunity to keep Vettel behind him after Vettel’s stop on lap 32 and to get ahead of Button at his final stop on lap 49.

To illustrate the point, in that second stint, between laps 24 and 35 Massa went from 10 seconds behind Alonso to 27 seconds behind!


Did Vettel’s strategy gamble work?
For a team that has been used to winning in quite a conservative way in the last few years, Red Bull has now taken two big strategy gambles in two Grands Prix with Vettel, when not really under pressure to do so. In Malaysia Vettel pitted too early on a wet track for slicks and lost the lead to Webber, while in Shanghai Red Bull took a gamble which gave Vettel a huge amount to do on race day and ultimately failed to bring him a podium.

For once Red Bull knew that they did not have the pace to challenge Ferrari, and Lotus for the win in China. So they took a different approach from qualifying onwards. Vettel did not run in Q3, leaving himself the option to start the race on new medium tyres. Vettel had saved two sets of new mediums and one set of new softs for the race. However by doing this he put himself in ninth place on the grid, and therefore in traffic, with drivers like Ricciardo and Grosjean ahead of him.

The reason why this plan failed to bring a podium was because, unlike Alonso, Vettel was stuck in traffic for much of the first half of the race. His first stint he lost time behind Hulkenberg and in the second he was held up by Perez. This hurt his lap times and sitting behind other cars also took more out of the tyres.

This sense of “edginess” at Red Bull is also illustrated by the error strewn weekend Mark Webber suffered; he was underfuelled by 3kg on Saturday for qualifying, which is a lot given how rigorously the process is tested and checked, but the best example is when he pitted in the race for a front wing change on lap 15. This process slowed the stop down to around 8 seconds from the usual 2.5 seconds and yet the right rear wheel gun man failed to secure the wheel and it came off. It’s very strange to have an error like that when you have a spare six seconds to play with in a stop. It’s almost as if they are putting pressure on themselves and at the moment it’s not working.


Worth a gamble: Analysis of McLaren’s strategy

In each of the three races so far McLaren has known that it does not have the pace to race its usual rivals. So the team has taken some big gambles on strategy to try to get a better outcome. Some have worked and others have not. Sergio Perez is yet to see a good outcome from his bold strategies, for example. In China he was one of only two drivers to try a short stint on the soft tyre in the middle of the race, rather than at the end. It didn’t work out.

Jenson Button, however, managed to get a fifth place finish, which the team was happy with, by making one less stop than the opposition in China.

The pre-race data showed that the first stop on this plan would be around lap 18, but starting on used mediums, Button managed to get to lap 23 still setting competitive lap times, comparable with Alonso’s at that stage. From lap 20 to the end of the race, both drivers had two more stops to make and they were together on the race track. Button looked like he had a chance of a big result.

However his second stint of 26 laps was less effective and, mindful of the need to protect the tyres over the longest stint anyone would do in this race, his pace dropped off, particularly around laps 35-42. And that is where a better result got away from him.

Race Tyre Strategies

Alonso: SU MN (6) MN (23) MN (41)
Raikkonen: SU MN (6) MN (21) MU (34)
Hamilton: SU MN (5) MN (21) MN (37)
Vettel: MN MU (14) MN(31) SN (51)
Button: MU MN (23) SN (49)
Massa: SU MN (7) MN (19) MN (36)
Ricciardo: SU MN (4) MN (23) MU (38)
Di Resta: MN MN (14) MN (32) SU (53)
Grosjean: SU MN (7) MN (23) MU (37)
Hulkenberg: MN MN (14) SN (29) MN (36)
Perez: MN SN (24) MN (31)
Vergne: MN MN (15) SN (37) MU (43)
Bottas: MN MN (16) MN (34) SN (51)
Maldonado: SN MN (7) MN (23) MN (39)
Bianchi: SN MN (6) MN (16) MU (32)
Pic: SN MN (5) MN (17) MN (33)
Chilton: SN MN (7) MN (21) MU (33)
Van Der Garde: SN MN (6) MN (20) MN (37)

Rosberg: SU MN (5) MN 19) MN (20)
Webber: SN MN (1) MN (15)
Sutil: SN
Gutierrez: MN

S= Soft tyre
M = Medium tyre
N = New
U = Used


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

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1

I am genuinely thankful to the owner of this web site who has shared this impressive article at here.

2

I thought it was interesting the different approaches of Lotus and Red Bull, regarding their damaged front wings. Sure, Webber was missing more than Raikkonen was, but it’s not like it was hanging off the front of the car like Alonso’s in Malaysia. They asked Webber how the car felt and he said, “Not too bad”, and yet they responded straight away for him to come back into the pits. Why not at least give it a lap or two to see how the times and data look? Maybe it would have been competitive enough until they hit their next pit window. Why even ask Webber if they were just going to bring him straight in regardless?

Raikkonen indeed stayed out with his damaged wing and went on to finish with a great result. Even when he did come in for tyres, they not only didn’t bother changing the wing, but they didn’t even bother to quickly slap a bit of tape over the tip of the nose that was lifting up.

3

This might be off topic a bit but when Pirelli was asked to produce high-degradation tyres, my first thought was that hmm… Maybe Button could use 1 less pit stop and Hamilton will have to make do with more but can drive around faster so that they could end up next to each other at the end of the race.

Reality: It does not matter who drives what, those tyres simply go off like a ticking time-bomb. Every driver ends up driving JensonButton’s style and hope the tires last till the end of the race.

The car set up that suits tyre-track-weather on the race day is able to go faster on that day. The result is that he will win the race. Drivers are not able to bring their talents to the fight.

Seriously, this has to be fixed.

4

James,

while accepting that Mercedes might not “be quite there’, if Hamilton had stopped on lap four at the beginning of the race, might he not have successfully undercut Alonso.

It would have been very interesting to see how the car might have benefitted from running in clear air as Alonso managed to. As it was, Hamilton didn’t seem to find any gaps at all, running most of his race close behind another car.

Even in the last stint, if he’d covered Raikkonen’s stop, might not his tyres have lasted the extra laps had he been in front ?

It is quite difficult to compare the race pace of the cars unless you allow for the traffic effect:

“Strategists say that in terms of energy damaging these tyres, between running a stint in clear air compared to behind another car the difference is as much as 20%. So you can see how vital it is to find the gaps…”

5

James,

What was different between Alonso – Vettel situation 2012 in Monza. Vettel was penalized for not leaving space. Compared to Raikkonen – Perez battle in Shanghai?

6

Interesting, so what you are saying is that according to the FIA a driver must make room for the following car? I would have thought that the leading driver was entitled to the racing line. Webber even said that about his incident. The rules on passing seem a little too complex maybe.

7

James, I noticed that half of my comments are not being posted. I do not think it is moderation as they are absolutely normal, nothing that disturb people (just discuss strategies, drivers, etc). Maybe it goes to your SPAM or something? I think there were cases like this reported by other people. Thank you for checking.

8

Not sure how many “half” is

You posted three or four unpleasant comments which were deleted in last few days, but nothing in spam folder etc

Please be polite and constructive in comments and remember the rules about no slagging people off so the sake of it

We’re tightening up a lot on this – Mod

9

Thanks, James. I indeed was not very fond of what Vettel did, but do not think I showed lack of respect or anything. Anyways, I agree that there are other topics to talk here. Thanks for a great blog and content.

10

OK cool

11

To make Q3 relevant, why doesn’t the FIA consider giving out 1 point for Pole Position? Very simple Solution to get drivers to compete rather than run to a time.

OR, give drivers the ability to use the option tire only in Q3, but nominate the tire they start on before the race.

12

If points are given for qualifying, the championship could be decided on a Saturday which is not something fans would like.

13

10 points for pole

9 for 2nd

8 for 3rd

7 for 4th

6 for 5th

5 for 6th

4 for 7th

3 for 8th

2 for 9th

1 for 10th

If nothing else it would stop the press confrance’s most said answer “no points for today”. In this sinerio you would have to push for pole.

14

Agreed – there should be points for Pole, just as I think there should be a point for fastest laps and even points for fastest pitstops – maybe even points for the amount of gap at the finish – perhaps even extra points if your team finishes on 1 and 2. It would encourage and reward for overal team work.

15

I totally agree your website is gggrrrreat mr.Allen,

This report is right but wrong in my eyes. Its right when you look at what happened after but wrong in what could have been. I personally think that DRS was the turning point and the reason it turned out this way, If hamilton had streched out 0.1 second more in the 3rd lap, Alonso (massa also but through Alonso) would not have got DRS and hammy would have stayed in 1stvplace all the way toothe pit stops,

1. end of lap 2 ham – alo .745

2. start of lap 3 ham – alo 1.059

hamilton goes a touch wide turn 9 and alonso got drs

3. with drs lap 4 .ham – alo .400

and so on untill alonso and massa with drs take Hamilton to the cleaners,

Mercedes had planed to pit lap 6, if Alonso didnt get DRS I think Lewis he had the momentem to go on and win this race. Who knows?

16

Great article as always James and as I have mentioned before I have been going through your archives attempting to catch up on F1, great job.

First my thoughts on the race:

While many see the Ferrari as the class of the grid, I think with the news today that by Barcelona we will have more durable tire compounds we can through China’s results out the window as far as predicting the future.

On thing we do know for sure is that RBR has their hands full and while I see ton’s of support for Ferrari and Lotus I think Mr. Brawn’s Mercedes will benefit the most from this. As the year wears on it will be dominated by Lewis and Vettel with Ferrari’s Alonso in a close third. Kimi needs the tires to remain in their current state even more so than Ferrari but good Ole Mr. Ecclestone took one look at qualifying and realized he can’t charge almost a billion bucks a year for that kind of TV. It looks like we might have additional sets of tires as early as this week.

Vettel’s strategy was nearly flawless and had he not had a couple of issues would have pulled it off. On the US broadcast they pretty much felt like Vettel would be able to get a podium if things went well so the anticipation of Vettel storming back after his last stop was palpable for the whole race.

I don’t see how anyone can honestly look at this GP and say well this proves it Ferrari is the best car, when they have not been the most consistent. Last race it was RBR by far and the first it was Lotus due to tire wear.

The one thing I am baffled about is how seemingly intelligent posters can issue statements like “Vettel’s unfair advantage” and Vettel cheated/stolen points is really beyond me.

Not posting a lap in Q3 is allowed by the rules, how is following the rules unfair? Vettel didn’t steal anything in Malaysia, he won a race fair and square, Mark gave plenty of defense.

17

We get it, you’re a Vettel fan. You guys are a dying breed.

😉

18

I think there are 2 left but alas we are both males, so breeding seems limited. 🙂

19

That was funny, love it

20

James, with all the controversy on Q3 in China, I’ve been wondering if we even need Q3 nowadays.

Q3 used to determine the starting grid in relation to fuel and tire strategies. They have always run with the least amount of fuel and the fastest tyres on Q2 and that’s why before the refueling ban, the fastest times were usually set in Q2 anyway. People might qualify in the front because they had less fuel as they wanted an aggressive strategy (ie. – Alonso in Hungary 2009. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

Now that there is no more refueling, what is Q3 for? If they are really cost cutting shouldn’t they just skip Q3. Think about it…Q1 eliminates the slowest from 17 up, Q2 eliminates the slowest from 11 to 16. What is Q3 for? To find the order of the top 10? You could do that in Q2.

What do you think?

21

I’ve always thought that WDC and WCC points should be awarded for qualifying. Not many, perhaps for the top five places, say 5 for pole down to 1 for fifth.

Perhaps this would encourage more participation and give Q3 more meaning?

22

I think one of the main reasons they introduced the 3 qualifying sessions, was to ensure some on track action for the whole hour of qualifying. It was to avoid a repeat of a wet session, where all the cars sat in their pits for about 55 minutes waiting for the track to dry.

Mind you, I might have made that up in a dream 🙂

23

I think one of the best things that happened in China was having Vettel pushing like hell on the Softs at the end of the race, and showing the pace he was able to produce. It’ll hopefully make people forget Sutil’s failed attempt to do something similar at Australia this year, and show that it’s indeed possible to run a counter-tire strategy to see benfits at the end.

The downside– it may encourage more ‘sit out of Q3’ strategies from drivers, but I’m willing to accept that to see the kind of excitement that Vettel’s final laps produced.

24

It was only exciting because he was the only driver that was given the opportunity to push like Hell ( Button was taking it easy ). I think you’d find that if a lot more drivers chose the Softs as their final stint it wouldn’t have been so exciting. There wouldn’t have been such a difference between lap times.

25

James another one off topic. Looking to go to Spa in August. Where would u suggest sitting for the best view, what corner/grandstand would be best for the race on Sunday.

26

Pouhon is good, Eau Rouge obviously, Bus Stop chicane

27

Hi James, did Romain having the same updates as Kimi. Its such a shame that all the criticism he got last year seems to have affected him big time.

28

He seems to be finishing more races this year.

29

he got exactly the same car since melbourne. Except in Mal when Kimi had the rush update on exhaust.

Dont blame it on pressure…every drivers have pressure.

Romain said himself he struggle to setup the car to his liking. And it seems that E21 is very sensitive to setup change.

30

I felt it was quite odd that if Red Bull had planned to not run in Q3, and to come through the field in mediums, that they did not gear the car for higher top speed. That would have helped SV do an Abu Dhabi 2012.

31

Vetel didn’t do an Abu Dhabi 2012 because it’s Hamilton he needs to overtake, not Button like in Abu Dhabi 2012.

32

Mr Allen.

Slightly of the subject but being an old

petrol head from way back, in my hey days

I done few laps with the Alfa Romeo Giulia

Sprint GTA,I feel to know somthing about

Motor racing which brings me to say the

Ferrari F-138 is a Class of a grid so far in

2013 in Alonso hands,statistics shows he

raced in two races for a 2nd and the 1st.and

may I say he has a top (chic)does he not?

good luck to him.

Mr Allen you run a top site and I salute you

Sir,the best in the business, unfortunately

to many (would be’s and could be’s)that are

shooting from the hip with non constructive

coments.

Once again keep it up.

33

I adore that Alfa. Be it the humble junior, to the mighty GTA, they are sublime.

I watched my father rebuild a 1750GTV from the ground up, bare metal re spray, blue printed engine etc.

I’d sit in it for hours just dreaming.

When he passed, I inherited it and after a couple if years, sold it on.

My ambition to get another some day soon. Magical

34

I thank you for your coment.

Being an Alfa Romeo Dealer for many,many

years and may I say the very first BMW

corporate image dealer in Australia, I have

had many memories in Motor sport.I agree

with you the 1750GTV was simply the best in

particular 1971 the last of a series.Had a

1971 Dino-246 to,for me the 1750 was more

enjoyable to drive then Dino,the 1750 had

gear box second to none,

As I walk towards sunset the memory lingers

on,I thank you again to believe as I do.

Cheers.

35

Thanks

36

I disagree that stopping early would have harmed Hamilton’s chances for the podium, James. Part of the reason why he had no tires left on the last two laps is because he (presumably) pushed a little harder during the last run to have a go at Kimi. If he came out ahead of Kimi, it would have given him a little more flexibility to manage his pace, and it would have made Kimi force the issue a bit- maybe even to back off due to his front-wing problem and the effect it was having on the front tires. On top of it, Hamilton had a little more pace on the opening laps of a stint. I think Hamilton would have finished second if he had reacted immediately to Raikkonen’s stop.

37

Your assessment is based on hindsight. Based on their free practice long runs on the medium, the Merc engineers probably concluded that Hamilton could not do as many laps as the Lotus regardless of track position. So they concluded that it was likely he’d lose a place to Kimi regardless, but also be driving on dead tires for 2 laps longer, which would risk falling prey to Vettel. Not an easy decision without hindsight.

As we saw, the tires barely held on, and they wouldnt have been helped by following Kimi. We don’t know how hard Kimi was pushing to stay ahead of Lewis, since it was obvious he was not going to catch Alonso. It’s possible he would be able to go faster still, were he to find himself behind the Merc. Given the variables involved, 3rd place seemed like the best possible result for Merc.

38

It was said that a car following another is doing more damage to its tyres than when its in front. One could assume that if Hamilton reacted to Kimi’s pitstop and remained in 2nd he could have treated his tyres better? Its possible that Hamiltons tyres were as worn as they were simply because he was behind. Guess we’ll never know.

40

James,

What was the logic of Webber only doing one lap on his new softs at the start? Was it purely to put him in absolute clean air. Seems odd to me that he did not run on the SN for 5 laps.

41

I’m guessing the plan was to pit him straight away before he wasted time trying to fight through the pack. Everyone else keeps going, he comes out basically 20 seconds (or however long a trip into the pits takes in China) behind the pack, free to run for a while on the primes in clean air. Possibly before he’d even caught the back of the pack, or maybe not long after, the guys running options (who would have been fighting along the way, or at least just trying to hold position in dirty air) would have to start making their stops.

So with a good few laps of free running on the better tyre, he’d jump a fair few guys when they came in to get off the options, without even having to waste time battling them on track.

42

I don’t understand either – it had nothing to do with putting him into clear air because it put him into traffic anyway. I would assume the options were already buggered after only 1 lap or at least lapping slower than what he could do on the prime which is a real worry.

43

The amount of time he’d have lost having to overtake the back of the field wouldn’t have been more than the doing slow laps at the end of a longer stint, having pitted earlier than others.

He was ahead of Vettel after he’d pitted so he had brought himself into a solid points chance.

44

I guess starting from last, get rid of the softs quickly, he just loses pit stop time, but no places

If he drives for 5 laps, he has to fight tail enders first and then again after the pit stop

45

As I see it in the Bridgestone days where we had refuelling but incredibly durable tyres, the problem was that a car couldn’t push past the dirty air of a car it was following even if it was a couple of seconds a lap faster. Nobody can un-invent aerodynamics, so the solution was to have DRS as a tool to allow the following car to push through that last crucial second behind someone, to counteract the disadvantage. When we lost refuelling Pirelli were asked to keep the strategy element alive and avoid processional racing by providing tyres with differing grip levels that degrade at different rates.

The problem now is that all the artificial elements that have been added need controlling and tweaking ad infinitum, so we either have incredibly complicated races or incredibly un-satisfying races. The tyres are now so fragile that a car in dirty air is still being penalised massively by having the tyres chewed up. DRS is not doing what it was set out to do: it is not giving the faster following car a fair chance of an overtake but it is guaranteeing that the following car will zoom past – a wholly un-satisfying thing to watch.

We have ended up with the same problem – cars can’t follow other cars – but now we have the added problem that no one wants to go out and qualify as well!

Solutions are harder to find, but bringing back refuelling, having tyres that last more than 6 laps, having qualifying and race tyres as separate allocations and letting cars start on whatever tyre they want to would be my solutions to the problem.

I am begging to think that I’m I the only person that enjoyed the races at the end of 2012 rather than the beginning. I though Austin was one of the best races of the year, with Hamilton and Vettel going full-chap for the entire race and and a few incredible overtakes, yet Pirelli were roundly criticised for having conservative tyre choices in the latter half of the year.

Great site by the way James!

46

+1 good post

47

You’re not the only person. 🙂 There were some great races towards the end of the year…Austin is a perfect example. What made it special was two drivers at the top of their game lap after lap, until a variable in the form of a backmarker created a tiny opening which Lewis emphatically grabbed. Far more satisfying to watch a race win earned in this way through skill, rather than by Vettel’s tyres giving up one lap from the finish. We also need races like this where the best drivers can show why they are the best, without being forced to drive slowly in the hope that their tyres last. Defending against a faster car on old tires used to be an art, but with today’s performance “cliff”, you have no chance, so everyone has to be especially cautious so they don’t reach the cliff.

48

I recall that the reason for removing refueling was to save the financial costs of hauling fuel rigs around the world.

Personally I find 2 second pitstops very exciting and entertaining. Makes it a team sport – the mechanics changing the tyres are part of the race performance.

49

To the experts on the forum – how difficult is it to redesign a very fast car to be easy on the tires? Is it a fundamental flaw that cannot be eliminated if the car is too hard on the tires? I would like to see Red Bull and Mercedes come back in the fight for race wins.

50

There are no experts on this forum, only fans with opinions, half baked at best and usually ruled by emotion rather than fact; nature of forums. James A is very well informed and experienced, and has with expert contacts, but not a full fledged expert. That sort of praise falls to the Brawns, Byrnes, Neweys etc.

51

It seems Lotus has good pace..raikkonen posted his best lap 1:39:955 on lap 51 on used medium tyres for 17laps and vettel did his best lap on lap 53 1:36:808 which is 3.187 slower. and take into account the broken nose and the endplate breakage..

raikkonen sure is in contention for bahrain and wdc

52

Still 4/10th down on the times that Alonso was doing and if you believe what he said he wasn’t pushing- no chance that he would losing that much time with a broken nose.

53

I still think one of Vettel’s and Red Bull’s big mistakes was not setting a time in Q3. They could have had Button’s 8th place on the grid which could have given him a better chance in the first stint. Button set a time some 20 sec off the pole time and so didnt take any life out of the tyres.

54

Its not that they didn’t set it, its that Vettel stuffed it in the final lap ( they claim it was a brake problem? ) and didn’t have enough time to do another lap.

55

that cost him for or 5 secounds. something he could have caught back I think

56

No chance you could have recovered 5 seconds with only a 2 corners left to the finish line.

Its typical of what sebastian does at every qualification runs, leaves it all the last minute and has to rely on a perfect lap with no mistakes – usually works out for him, didn’t this time.

57

If Raikkonen had a clean start, he would have been the one to pass Hamilton and scamper off in the clean air.

I’m not a fan of these tire preservation processions. Perhaps all teams should be forced to do at least four stops and use both compounds intermittently.

58
VP of Common Sense

Alonso would have caught and passed Kimi before or after the first stops. Lotus were not faster than Ferrari in Shanghai.

59

That Merc didn’t belong on the podium. They clearly weren’t as fast as the Ferrari and Lotus in race trim. If it wasn’t for Lewis incredible pole which gave him a chance in a bit of clear air and be ahead in strategy, Vettel would have been on the podium. Massa, with the same car as Alonso, should have been there, as well. Lewis’ pole gave him that podium. Well done!

Watch out for Jenson when the Mclaren gets sorted. With this year’s tires he will hook that Mclaren up and contend.

60

So what you’re saying is that only the fastest cars deserves to be on the podium?

I think its more a balance between a great car, great driving skill, a great qualification result, tyre management, luck and good strategy.

This is why Massa and Jenson didn’t get the podium.

61
Tornillo Amarillo

What’s worse for Hamilton’s fans, leading for McLaren and have reliability issues, or leading for Mercedes and go backwards due a fundamental design of the car?

We’ve never saw Hamilton starting on pole and being overtake so easily by the Ferraris, without fighting, boring indeed. Same feeling when Vettel was catching him up, IMO it hurts Hamilton’s image.

62

I thought it was a fantastic job done by Hamilton. He qualified pole. He fended off Vettel at the end of the race.

Plus, he did it in an inferior car.

Moreover, he won’t even be on the podium if he is in the rubbish McLaren car now.

I think he is way better now than when he was at McLaren. Like Kimi who a proper F1 star but McLaren never gave him the tools to win. You could almost argue that Hamilton and Raikkonen was robbed of WDC at McLaren.

63

I’m an Hamilton and now Merc fan – and have to confess so far he is driving superbly. Whats impressive is what he appears to have brought to Mercedes about, 0.5 of a second.

he’s brought the team from the midfield to the sharp end (Nicos misfortune aside) seriously who expected Merc to be wollowing in the midfield by this stage considering how they finished last season or overtaking Button/Mclaren on track.

12points off the leader.

great season so far.

64

Yes Hamilton has redesigned the car, trained the mechanics and with Lauda and Wolff have revamped Mercedes.

One word of caution, Mercedes started last year strong and fell away over the season. If any of the engineers feel Brawn is on his way out, they won’t stay with Lauda

65

sympathy for HAM fans, but it was a beautiful Ferrari double take in the same moment. ALO went outside, MAS went inside, and HAM was the filling in a pizza sandwich. This can’t ever happen on most tracks, [Hungary for exmple]. There’s just so much width of road in China.

66

The timing of the safety car also played into the hands of the leaders, who pitted at that time.

67

What safety car? Which race you are referring to (or watching)?

68

I don’t remember being a safety car. Just yellow flags being waved. 🙂

69

What Safety Car????…. Did you watch the race, there wasn’t a safety car period.

70

He’s talking about the race the other year.

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