Making the right calls: The strategic battle for supremacy in Canadian Grand Prix
Strategy Report
Posted By: James Allen  |  11 Jun 2013   |  9:02 am GMT  |  87 comments

What made the Canadian Grand Prix unusual was the fact that after a wet qualifying session, where no dry running was done at all, teams had all new Pirelli slick tyres to race on. This meant that potentially less stops would be possible as the tyres had more life. Against that the track was green because of the rain, so no-one knew what the tyre life would be like in the first stint.

The result was a fascinating strategy battle with lots of different approaches taken by the various teams. Although it was a runaway win for Sebastian Vettel, the results behind were down to strategy.

Here’s how it all came about.

Pre-race expectations

It was also hotter on Sunday than Friday, which made some teams, who were thinking about doing one stop, hedge their bets and plan for two. Also the tyre data that teams had from Friday practice did not necessarily carry across to race day, where temperatures were 10-15 degrees hotter.

This lack of precise data made for an interesting strategy battle, which decided the outcome for many of the points finishers behind the winner Sebastian Vettel. It meant that teams with a better capability on tyre analysis did a better job on Sunday.

Teams were thus divided about which was the better tyre to do the most stints on; the supersoft with its 1.2 seconds per lap initial pace advantage, or the medium with its better life? Some teams had very little data on the medium tyre, but the ones who did were able to really benefit in the race.

What would be critical would be to stay clear of traffic at the start of the stints to maximise the performance in the tyre. In the event, the medium was clearly the better race tyre; after the first round of pit stops were made the supersoft was used in only seven of the 41 stints the drivers made.

With Ferrari and Lotus both having one car at the front of the grid and one at the back, the expectation was that Massa and Grosjean would start on the medium tyre to assess its performance and play a long game. Grosjean did it, but Massa went for the supersoft at the start and went on the attack, gaining places until he came upon Adrian Sutil (see below)

The battle at the front – behind Vettel

Sebastian Vettel had the race won on the opening lap, as he pulled away from pole position to escape the one second DRS zone. He was over two seconds clear of Hamilton at the end of the first lap.

Alonso and Ferrari were stronger at the end of the race and on the medium tyre in particular, but Alonso’s problem is that he had lost track position with another frustrating qualifying performance; 6th on the grid put him behind Hamilton, Bottas, Rosberg and Webber and he had to come through them before he could challenge Vettel. He was 16 seconds behind him when they both stopped on Lap 16 and 24 seconds behind before the second stops.

Lewis Hamilton was caught by Alonso seven laps before the end, but his performance showed that Mercedes has made some progress on improving tyre life in the race. The consistency on Hamilton’s car was much better than they have had before this season.

He made a two stop strategy work by running a longer first stint, which was because Mercedes was hedging its bets, unsure how long the medium tyre was going to last. He didn’t want to leave himself with too many laps to do in the final stint and then lose ground at the finish as a result.

Hamilton wasn’t in the race with Vettel, he was just trying to do a nice fast race with well balanced stint lengths, ideally staying clear of Alonso and Webber.

The long first stint cost him some time, but thanks to his team-mate, he almost got away with it.

The Mercedes of Nico Rosberg struggled on the day and was forced to do three pit stops.

But in that second stint he held back Alonso and Webber as they tried to catch Hamilton for second place.

After Hamilton’s first stop on Lap 19 he had had a five second lead over Webber and Alonso, but while Rosberg toiled on the second set of supersfofts he had taken at his stop on Lap 14, that gap opened out over the course of the next nine laps to 11 seconds. This helped Hamilton to make it onto the podium, as Alonso only caught him near the end of the race.

Mercedes made a curious decision – which Rosberg described afterwards as “a mistake” – to take the supersoft tyre again on his car at the first stop, despite all evidence that it wasn’t as good as the medium.

He was clearly not acting defensively here. The defensive choice, when he pitted on lap 15, reacting to cover fourth place Mark Webber’s stop on lap 14, would have been the medium tyre. The team knew that Webber had gone to the medium tyre, but they went for supersoft for a bit of extra pace.

It didn’t last and he lost two places during that stint. It also meant that he couldn’t make the finish on Lap 70 from his second stop on Lap 31, so he needed to make a third stop and his strategy was compromised.

Rosberg had Webber and Alonso covered on the same tyres in the first stint, so arguably if Rosberg had gone onto the same medium tyre as them for the second stint the same would have applied.

In that scenario he would have kept them behind him for longer and Hamilton might have finished second.

Over-qualifiers split the field

There were some stunning performances in the wet qualifying session, most notably Valterri Bottas , Jean Eric Vergne, and Nico Hulkenberg. But with race day warm and sunny, this group were always likely to fall back and in doing so, drag the rest of the midfield back with them, opening out a gap between the front runners and the rest.

Bottas went backwards through the field, Vergne did an excellent job to maintain position but the midfield was soon cut off from the front-runners.

The question was how do you escape that and get to run your own race? Managing that was what separated the ones who had a clean race in the midfield and those who spent the race scrapping in traffic.

Di Resta makes a one-stop strategy work

Paul di Resta was one of the drivers who was able to have a clean race with consistent lap times and able to gap everyone, to the extent that in the second half of the Grand Prix he could decide when he wanted to make his stop. He went from 17th on the grid to 7th at the flag.

After another mistake in qualifying where he wasn’t in a position to set a quick lap at the right time in changeable conditions, di Resta did a great job on Sunday to come through from 17th on the grid to finish 7th. He did it with a long one stop strategy, covering 56 laps on the medium tyre. Impressively his times in the final laps of that marathon stint – the longest by far of this 2013 season – were competitive.

One of the keys to Di Resta’s result was that his team mate Adrian Sutil held Massa back in the second stint. The Brazilian had cut through the field in the opening stint but couldn’t pass Sutil. Di Resta was ahead of them and able to run at his own pace, matching the lap times of the two-stopping Vergne ahead.

This is another good example, like Mercedes, of how you team mate can affect rivals’ performance to the benefit of your race.

Grosjean in contrast, tried the same one stop plan, but wasn’t quick, couldn’t avoid traffic, used up his tyres and ended up making a second stop which lost him track position and compromised his race.

McLaren try two plans, neither of them works

It was a wretched weekend for McLaren. They underperformed in qualifying and in the race. Given that their underlying car pace is similar to Force India and better than Toro Rosso, they should have finished where Vergne and Di Resta finished. They set the 7th and 8th fastest race laps, to illustrate that.

Instead they finished the race 11th and 12th.

Jenson Button found himself on the wrong side of race strategy in Montreal. He did a one-stop strategy, clearly hoping that there would be a safety car, of which there is a high probability at Montreal. But he did it with supersoft in the first stint and medium in the second. He complained afterwards that the team had given him too conservative a lap time to drive to on the medium tyre and he could have attacked more.

If you are going to try to one-stop you have to trap the two stoppers behind you after their second stops otherwise it has been a pointless exercise. To do that you have to risk a certain amount on the tyres.

This goes back to the knowledge of tyres from the Friday session.

It is odd that on the first race of the season where tyre life was clearly not an issue and everyone was able to push, McLaren were driving to a conservative lap time.

That said, he started behind his team mate Perez, who did an opposing strategy of two stops and finished with Button, so that didn’t really make a big difference. It was just a race to forget for the Woking team, which saw both its cars lapped by its former driver Hamilton.

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

Courtesy of Williams F1 Team

The relatively flat curve in Vettel’s middle stint, compared with the final stint, shows that he could have pushed harder had he needed to. It was a fairly easy win for the reigning champion.

Once Alonso gets in clear air his pace matches Vettel’s especially in the final part of the race, but lost track position before the start due to his qualifying 6th costs him dearly.

Look at how Massa was held up by Sutil and this allowed Di Resta to stay ahead to the flag, even though the Ferrari was very fast in the closing stages.

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The Canada race was a good advertisement for durable tyres for with the mediums lasting as they did, we got to see something similar to real racing between the drivers and not delta times.

Yes usually Pirelli were bringing the supersofts and softs for Canada but after the horror show in China, Pirelli is rather wary of those and hence we got a good show with some gambling on a one stop.

But of course, conservative tyre choices would mean Vettel would be pulling 2 seconds on the first lap so why we have this political dead lock.

Anyway regards Alonso, he didn't really lose the win due to the qualifying but rather because of the short run down to the first corner.

On a normal circuit, Alonso would have jumped from P6 to P3 on the first lap alone and the strong race pace would have taken care of the rest.

Other teams enjoyed the medium tyres better than the supersoft, but for Mercedes, this was the opposite and this is why Lewis was losing large chunks of time towards the end.

And this is why I think if Rosberg put on the mediums after his first stop, Webber and Alonso would have jumped him much sooner and not the opposite.

However, seeing the way Rosberg struggled, am not sure Mercedes have made any improvement via the tyre situation, it's just that Lewis was easier on his tyres for this race maybe due to a better set up or something e.g. China 2013.

Concerning Di Resta, he went for the i-have-nothing-to-lose-strategy and good for him it paid off.

Am afraid Mclaren's result showed once again the team haven't got good strategists on the pitwall and hence the reason why Sam Michael was hired.


Pretty odd that the DRS worked just fine this time round and yet last year, cars seemed to overtake easily.


whoa whoa whoa. were we even watching the same race?

Mercedes ran the mediums better than supersofts. they admitted it themselves. which is why rosberg was complaining the team made the wrong strategical choice to run the options on his second stint. They ran supersofts because they were worried he can't get the mediums up to temperature. Hamiltons considerably slower pace in his final stint on the primes were due to him not being able to get the tires back onto temperature. But observing the last few laps he was flying (well relatively) but was unable to match the pace of alonso thanks to drs coupled with ferraris superior straight line speed. He was also having trouble in the second sector as, like we all know hamilton was struggling with the breaks and that gave alonso the upper hand there.


Unless Alonso could get ahead of Vettel by turn 1 (by starting on pole or P2) he was never going to win.

At his first stop at the end of lap 15 he was 16 seconds behind Vettel and 3 behind Webber. He lost 1 second (maybe 2 - worst case) passing Bottas on lap 1. There was no traffic or tyre saving going on, it was just Ferrari's inadequacies on the Super Soft tyre.

Let's say he jumped to P3 on lap 1. He'd still have been 16 seconds off Vettel after his first stop. He would have saved some time by not having to pass Rosberg and Webber, but Vettel wasn't exactly struggling to make his tyres last either.

From lap 17 to 37 Vettel was setting very consistent times. He wasn't exerting himself until it came to set fastest lap.

The end result wold have been the same, just a smaller margin between the two.


@ Multi 21

But do recall Vettel's two mistakes.

This is where Alonso would have pounced probably forced Vettel into a third mistake.


You're way off on your analysis of the Mercedes tire use.

The Mercedes did better on the mediums than super soft, Rosberg was on super sorts in the second stint, and Hamilton was on the mediums at the end.


The last two races, the Red Bulls have had terrific starts. Not sure Alonso would have made 3 places last weekend.


Have to agree on your end point about the DRS - it is rather odd (although could be that teams aren't developing it as much this year due to the qualifying limitations). There was a good balance of DRS overall though.


Canada is a circuit that I think doesn't need DRS at all, since it offers wonderful natural passing opportunities through its layout. I was there, in the grandstand inside the hairpin, and I feel like we were likely deprived of passes there, as drivers would not bother passing because of the DRS detection point immediately following the hairpin. I anticipated this, but when a circuit naturally promotes overtaking due to its layout, DRS seems extra artificial. And that's my two cents from the first race I've ever attended. Best experience ever!


James, what is the current thinking on RBR's devastating first lap pace ? 2 years ago people were speculating that they had some device, possibly illegal, but that talk has since died down. Is there some characteristic of the chassis that allows them to run off at the starts when others need to be more circumspect with their tyres ? It is not a pace or driver thing, we saw Lewis nearly take pole... the car clearly works very well on full tanks, as the Ferrari does to a lesser extent on empty ones, in the race not quali. Is this "just" setup compromises being well judged by RBR ?


Ok I appreciate this is inflammatory but.....

For goodness sake it's time for one of these teams to substantially challenge RBR for the good of the sport. What in the hell are the likes of Ferrari and McLaren DOING? They should both be bloody ashamed of themselves!

VET is a good driver, a very good driver but then they all are really. What VET is not, on personal merit, is a 5 times WDC when he is in the company of ALO and HAM. Once, Twice? Sure. But 5 TIMES? Would even his most loyal fans claim that he is that good, he is more than two times better than ALO or five times better than HAM and RAI?

It's a bloody joke that RBR have been allowed, by teams who should know better, to propel this kid to undeserved legendary status because they keep building the best bloody car. This is not a rant against RBR, this is a rant against the so called competition!

VET could easily leave this sport as the most successful F1 driver of all time, and that would be a shame rather than a reflection of true ability when compared with drivers past and present.

Yes I am a big HAM fan, and I really like and respect ALO but it would be a disgrace if VET won 7 WDCs and HAM won one. My GOD I'd love to see HAM and VET in the same car! Can't we have a whip-around or something to make it happen?


The high competition is so close, that one tends to minimize the litlle differences and give more merit to his idol. But when someone wins so consistenly as Sebastian does, even a Lewis fan like me has to admit, that the team Vettel-RB is unbeatable in the long term, and it is precisely the way to win championships. Besides, one cannot separate the virtues of driver and car, by just comparing with a mate driver. In this case Webber is not doing so good as Seb.


I understand your point of, with there being such a depth of quality in the field it can seem a bit rich that Vettel was won the last 3 Championships and may go on to win a 4th!

However it's unfair to give all credit to Red Bull or all blame to Ferrari and McLaren. Red Bull have certainly had many races with an unbeatable car (notably during 2011), however the other teams have also had races where their cars were race winning.

In 2010 and 2012 Vettel's competitors had the chance of beating him to the WC (I don't mean the loo)! But in 2010 Webber blew it in Korea, Alonso also made mistakes (not really in 2012 though), and Hamilton crashed out of contention with a number of crashes, especially in 2011 (I think). Yes there were team mistakes as well but through that Vettel got the job done. And he's always been especially strong in the back end of the season.

I'm not a fan of Vettel's and don't appreciate his attitude. But all the top drivers are great drivers. I don't think you can really put much between Alonso, Vettel, Hamilton and Raikkonen, with the likes of Button, Webber and Rosberg being in a quality 2nd tier also.

However some fans of Hamilton's appear to put him in a God like status. He's top quality sure, but he's been beaten at times by Alonso, Button and Rosberg. Regardless of settling in issues, if Hamilton was so much a cut above the rest he *would* have got pole and won in Monaco (a place he once said "I know I'm faster than anyone around here") and not played second fiddle to Rosberg.

So I'm saying Hamilton is one of the best but it's silly not to recognise Vettel too. I can quite easily imagine Vettel beating Hamilton in the same car just as I can imagine Hamilton coming out on top. But right now I do think Vettel is a more complete package than Hamilton, and Alonso is the wisest driver of them all! Vettel is consistently good regardless of what you make of his car. And that Red Bull is not a dominant car when looking at the whole season thus far.



When considering the 2 DNFs you didn't consider where they were from. Vettel had a DNF in Valencia, which lost him a likely 25 points (gaining Alonso 7 in the process), and from 6th at Monza (plus Vettel's puncture in Sepang near the end of the race from 4th position). Alonso's happened on lap 1 (with the one at Suzuka largely being of his owen doing), neither from likely winning positions.

And as I said, the difference between Massa and Webber wasn't huge, especially looking at their championship positions and podium tallies.



"To say the Ferrari was only capable of podiums, wins or the championship “in Alonso’s hands” is to judge the car by the abilities of the second driver, Felipe Massa. Do the same for Red Bull, and you’ll see the RB8 was faster. But not to a massive extent, given that Webber did not fight for the championship either, only managing 4 podiums himself, and only finishing 1 place ahead of Massa"

Ok, I will do the same to RBR, by comparing Webber vs Massa:

Wins: WEB-2; MAS-0

Podiums: WEB-4; MAS-2

Total points (at the end of the year):WEB-179; MAS-122

Poles: WEB-2; MAS-0

Average finish position (race finishes only): WEB-6.2; MAS-8.0

Average qualifying position: WEB-5.5; MAS-9.9

As you can see, if we do the analysis correctly, judging the car by the abilities of the second drivers gives as a result a BIG performance advantage, by F1 standards of course, from the combo WEB-RBR over MAS-FERRARI.

I know it is not easy to analyze relative performances in F1, even more from drivers in different cars, but it is possible. A careful and unbiased analysis of 2012 tells that the Ferrari was well off the Red Bull peace for the majority of the season. Given that both ALO and VET had two DNF's each, and neither of them did more than one or two costly mistakes, and given that at the end there were 3 points between them, it is crystal clear what driver did the better job, and not precisely by a small margin.

Judging ALO vs HAM is much more difficult, because HAM had 5 DNF's and costly mistakes from his team. But again the points difference was 88 between the two. 55 would be up for two of the three HAM extra DNF's, those were he was leading comfortably the race (the extra 5 count for those points loosed by ALO). Then we have 33 to spare between the remaining DNF and the team mistakes (not forgetting Ferrari also did some mistakes, as in Canada). So maybe without the extra three DNF's and compensating for the team errors HAM could have ended tied with ALO and VET, or with a few more points (but very few). Given the big overall difference in car performance between the Ferrari and the Mclaren over the season, which I partially analyzed in my previous post, I think it is pretty clear too that again ALO did the better job of the two.


@Yago -

To say the Ferrari was only capable of podiums, wins or the championship "in Alonso's hands" is to judge the car by the abilities of the second driver, Felipe Massa. Do the same for Red Bull, and you'll see the RB8 was faster. But not to a massive extent, given that Webber did not fight for the championship either, only managing 4 podiums himself, and only finishing 1 place ahead of Massa. Massa back in 2012 was also under huge pressure from fans, as well as Ferrari because of the level of his underachievement.

Were Ferrari better than RBR? No. But were they so much worse than RBR and Mclaren that another top driver wouldn't have won any races in that car? Absolutely not, given that Alonso won from pole in Germany, and needed a car failure for Vettel to win in Valencia. Also consider that Ferrari didn't have any mechanical DNFs, while RBR and Mclaren had several costly ones each. With the cars swapped around, Vettel (or Hamilton) would have benefitted from this as well.



I will be very clear. No other driver on the grid would have been able to win three races with the 2012 Ferrari, probably not even one (given the reliability problem at Monza). I'm pretty sure about this. Think how all three 2012 ALO wins have been won. Last year Ferrari was a car capable to fight for the podium, only regularly on ALO's hands, but not to fight for wins. It is clear there is no driver able to fight for a championship with a car that can not be regularly in the fight for wins, unless his name is ALO and his competitors underachieve (Vettel during the first half of the championship and Mclaren with reliability and pitstop issues). If you want to believe 2012 Ferrari was a winning car based on "a very poor Massa was regularly scoring well last year and fighting for podiums", it is your own problem. But just to show you how wrong you are:

2012 Massa's podium finishes: 2

Other statistics of 2012:

Wins: RBR-7; Mclaren-7; Ferrari-3 (one in wet conditions, one of the two wet races of 2012)

Poles: RBR-8; Mclaren-8; Ferrari-2 (both in wet conditions, in the only two wet quali sessions of 2012)

Fastest Laps: RBR-7; Mclaren-3; Ferrari-0 (perhaps not that fast a race car...)

DNFs: HAM-5; VET-2; ALO-2

Now tell me again Vettel would have been able to fight for the championship with that 2012 Ferrari (specially if ALO was in the Red Bull)... Please be objective during your analisis.


@Yago -

"Do you think if the positions had been reversed, with ALO in RB and VET in Ferrari, you would be debating right now on the chances Ferrari has had to beat Red Bull since 2010? If you say yes, you would be lying to your self."

You're lying to yourself all over the shop, by ignoring Ferrari's superior car reliability (which won Alonso a lot of points over Vettel's Red Bull and Hamilton's Mclaren), and underrating Ferrari's race pace. Even a very poor Massa was regularly scoring well last year and fighting for podiums.

So, yes, if Vettel or Hamilton was in the Ferrari, he'd have won races and fought for the title. In fact, I bet if Vettel was in this year's Ferrari, he'd still be leading the championship.


"In 2010 and 2012 Vettel’s competitors had the chance of beating him to the WC. But in 2010 Webber blew it in Korea, Alonso also made mistakes (not really in 2012 though), and Hamilton crashed out of contention with a number of crashes, especially in 2011 (I think)"

Is this a joke? If there was not certain Fernando Alonso on the grid, 2010 and 2012 would have been easily dominated by the same car, that is a Red Bull. And I mean DOMINATED. The absolutely incredible performances of certain driver during 2010 and 2012 (2011 too but the difference in car performance was too big) made it seem like Ferrari had two chances of winning the WC, but the reality is that if the field was as even in terms of driving ability and consistency as some of you point out, that chances would have never existed. How could ALO and VET be at the same level and yet end 2010 and 2012 with almost the same points? Do you think if the positions had been reversed, with ALO in RB and VET in Ferrari, you would be debating right now on the chances Ferrari has had to beat Red Bull since 2010? If you say yes, you would be lying to your self.


Wayne, I hear what you're saying. However, try (if you can) to think of it this way; put Alonso, Hamilton or any other favorite drivers of yours in the same car. Let them compete throughout the whole season.

I think there is still a good chance that Vettel will come out on top. He is one guy who gets stronger when the pressure is on while most would simply falter. Remember, this man is only 26 year old! He has yet to reach his full scale capability.

Please don't blame it on the cars because that insults over 500+ engineers, designers, mechanics who worked hard to make a championship winning car.


Does that not just show you how much of a great driver he his? winning with the amount of talent in the field


"What VET is not, on personal merit, is a 5 times WDC when he is in the company of ALO and HAM. Once, Twice? Sure. But 5 TIMES? "

Vettel hasn't actually won four or five yet.

"Would even his most loyal fans claim that he is that good, he is more than two times better than ALO or five times better than HAM and RAI?"

Number of championships is not a number used as a multiple to determine how good a driver is. Alonso isn't necessarily twice as good as Hamilton, Button isn't as good as Hamilton, nor are any of them infinitely better than every zero time champion. However, there is nothing wrong with the idea that Vettel could be, or is better than all of those drivers, even if not twice or five times better.

"VET could easily leave this sport as the most successful F1 driver of all time, and that would be a shame rather than a reflection of true ability when compared with drivers past and present."

Considering that Vettel is just doing what drivers past and present did, or aspired to do (get the most out his car, win races, fight for titles), I see no reason that Vettel couldn't prove to be a legend, with the stats reflecting his ability.

"Yes I am a big HAM fan, and I really like and respect ALO but it would be a disgrace if VET won 7 WDCs and HAM won one."

Lewis Hamilton doesn't earn championships by just showing up, or being called Lewis Hamilton, or for being your favourite. He has to earn them through winning races and collecting points, and so far, he's earned exactly one title, like it or not.


"Lewis Hamilton doesn’t earn championships by just showing up, or being called Lewis Hamilton, or for being your favourite. He has to earn them through winning races and collecting points, and so far, he’s earned exactly one title, like it or not."

Ah yes, and that was Massa's title for half a lap of Interlagos, too.


That's a bit over the top. The reality is that all the cars are closer to one another in performance in the current era than at any other time in the history if F1. We've never seen drivers in such closely matched cars fighting for the WDC, ever. If anything it seems that F1 has gone too far in turning itself into basically another spec series.

The way people go on you'd think Vettel was driving the equivalent of an MP4/4 or FW14B every season.


I'm no VET or HAM fan, but so no bias here. Vettel is a better racing package than Lewis, and I'm not factoring in the cars. He just keeps stepping up and getting it done.


Uhmm, I'm a Kimi fan but I think Vettel is just as good as his results show.

The way he dominated the end of last season was amasing. At the same time, Alonso, the Driver of

The Year was being shown around by Massa...

And this is the difference between these two.


Is any of this new? Was Fangio 2.5 times as good as Ascari? Clark twice as good as Surtees? Lauda three times as good as Andretti? Prost four times as good as Mansell? Or has it always been that this is not a spec series and that the engineering race is as important and compelling as the drivers championship?

Also, why use the number of championships as a multiplier of a driver's greatness? Great drivers have retired without winning one, Moss, for example, Alesi has his supporters here. Or died before having the chance, Gilles Villeneuve, Ronnie Peterson, etc.

If Vettel beats Kimi, will he get any more respect from fans?(he is already respected by most experts) I think the old chestnuts of team familiarity or preference will be brought out, or Kimi will suddenly be over the hill or overrated all along. Btw, its three championships so far, not five.


Yes, yes , yes VET is 'exceptional' and all the other adjectives we want to throw at him, that's obvious to me with my two good eyes. However, this guy is probably going to go on to win 5 or more WDCs, most of them back to back during a time where we have HAM, RAI and ALO on track with him - during a time where we probably have stronger depth of talent than at any other time in F1! Surly people can see the point I am making here?

There are many clever and scientific/statistical-based answers to why I am wrong and VET deserves everything he has achieved - but sometimes the scientific answers are not the only or right answers. It's easy to rush in with the politically correct answer and get everyone here to back you 'if a driver wins, he deserves it', 'the driver with the most points at the end of the season deserves the WDC' but that's often not the real world we all live in.

Yes I was using sweeping generalisations in order to convey a general point, but I thought that was obvious.

As I said, the main thrust of my point was a rant AT RBR's competitors and how they manage to justify continually loosing to a team with a fraction of their experience. Ferrari and McLaren owe it to themselves and to us to step up to the plate and give their drivers a car which can match the RBR over a full season.

And we were just starting to get there (McLaren's disgrace this year aside)so what does F1 go and do? Completely change the rules for next year - no doubt one team will steal a march on everyone else and we'll be in the same situation. Worryingly, Newey is at his best during times of revolution in F1. Ferrari and McLaren rely on evolution.


I see why people resent him over the way he and the team have done certain things

But ask any of the engineers and people who really know F1 and they will all say VET is an exceptional driver. Surely it's obvious to even the most one eyes detractor by now?


The Renault engine is the most fuel efficient, so they can start lighter than the Mercs, Mclarens and Ferraris. The Lotus usually have good starts too. Plus as others have said, the gearing and good traction helps them to be fast out of corners. They also run a vary aggressive setup geared towards ultimate lap time, so are at their best in clear air, thus also qualitying.


"The Lotus usually have good starts too"

I wouldn't say that considering Raikkonen has lost more positions than he has won this year in the first lap.


JCA is right about the lighter fuel load of the Renault powered cars. I think I remember reading somewhere that it's good for about .3 secs per lap at the start of a race. The reason Lotus doesn't benefit in the same way is probably because the Lotus can't generate heat in it's tires quickly.


They gear short so are very quick out of the corners even on heavy fuel.

I wonder if they are doing something with regards to tyre pressures too..


There's not so much to it.

The Mercedes of Hamilton was behind and they tend to take it slowly in the first part of every stinth. Brawn said they found out they had to gradually increase the speed in order to have the tires last longer.

Same as they did in Monaco.


From the graph looks like JEV and PDR saw alot of each other or more likr PDR saw alot of the back of JEVs car. Suprised PDR couldnt make the undercut work at the last stop considering the Force India is faster than the Torro Rosso. There wasnt much of this battle broadcast. On this basis im changing my driver of the day to JEV


The undercut won't work well when the tyres aren't degrading much, as we saw in Canada. The gradient before and after pit stops in the lap chart is pretty similar for most cars, and di Resta had to make sure he didn't kill his super softs.

On di Resta's first stint he had to make sure he didn't wear his tyres too quickly, so he couldn't take quite as much out of his tyres as he did 56 laps on his tyres while Vergne did 45 laps on his first set of mediums, so Verge could push a little harder.


I know that and the two of them were the top two performers in my opinion but you would expect di Resta on his brand new super software to be faster than Vergne on his 40 odd lap old mediums. The force India is a faster car two so that's why I was impressed by . Also they both ran the last stint on the same tyre and Vergne kept the faster force India behind.


Nice analysis, as usual, though one small correction: PDR finished P7, not 8.


I don't buy Rosberg strategy mistake, IMO Merc has sacrificed him to let Hamilton pull away, even Hamilton's engineer said Rosberg is blocking Alonso and Webber.

BTW James do you know why Alonso was so slow in the first half of the race? suddenly he started lapping 0,5-0,8s faster, also he went to for his 1st pitstop very early, from oboards shots his tires were in way better shape than the ones of Vettel, Hamilton and Raikkonen?


Being a Hamilton fan, I agree with you that Rosberg was used to help Hamilton build a lead, although I won't call it a sacrifice. But, from Merc's point of view, that is the only way they could hang-on to 2nd spot or 3rd spot.

It din't work perfectly as they lost the 2nd spot. However, it helped them take the 3rd spot.


Unless they truly thought Rosberg could hold Webber and Alonso off for the remainder of the race, then it is the definition of "sacrificing" him.


There was no sacrificing here; Rosberg would have complained for all to hear


Maybe trying to convince Hamilton to slow down to preserve tyres since Rosberg was blocking Alonso and Webber.The two guys Hamilton was trying to create a gap to at least end on the podium


Ferrati doesn't like supersofts. Not in Montreal and not anywhere else. As soon as they put on mediums their pace gets better compared to others teams.


The thing that has stuck with me after this race is that even with the super bridgestones on 2010 that was a easy 1 stop at every other track Canada destroyed the bridgestones and this year 2 tracks have been 4 stop races and people saying Pirelli tyres are rubbish some teams did a 1 stop race. Doesn't make much sense when you think about it really.

2nd point is watching the race over again I noticed that alonso slowed coming up to the detection point of the drs when trying to pass Hamilton. Is that really how we want people to be racing? But with the tyres being so good this weekend we wouldn't of had much passing without drs. And also this year it seems Ferrari are gaining a lot less top speed with drs open compared to before but are still mega fast in a straight line with it closed which is why Lewis couldn't pass Fernando back.


The bridgestone went too hard for that race, which meant that on such a slippy surface there was too much wheel spin, thus wrecking tyres.

I remember being really surprised hearing that for the first Pirelli race in Canada they were going supersoft soft, when bridgestone were suffered. Nevertheless it was a good call by Pirelli.


Dominicali is calling time on F1 criticism of Pirelli.

He even suggests TV commentators need to get a better grip on what is going on and explain the evolving scenarios to the viewers (present company excepted of course 🙂

I have to say I've given up on the tyre whinging SKY race commentators (when BBC are not live) and it's 5 live radio, with TV pictures is now my norm.

Amusing the way Stefano concludes saying it is "tiresome for our fantastic fans. We should be sending a positive message to them. Every Sunday is now different with more pit stops, the races are more exciting and now with this format we have to work differently and be dedicated in our attention".

And I say AMEN to our Italian brother, even as a depressed McLaren fan


Did you not find the racing for position exciting in Canada, excluding SV, the battles throughout the field were fierce. Instead of crushing up to someone and passing on the first straight, they were cruising up and then sizing up their pray and getting the job done after two or three laps (if even). Every overtake was earned and I think you miss that when the tyres go off too easily.

Tornillo Amarillo

James , somebody said Hamilton was stuck behind Sutil to benefit of the two DRS zones... Is it possible for a driver to do that as strategy to gain some advantage in lap time and at the same time preserving the tyres?


What is the use of the DRS if you are not going to pass the car in-front? You may gain a tenth with DRS, however you will lose 3 or 4 tenth by not passing the back-marker.

It is well knows in the paddock, Sutil is very hard to pass on a racing track. In this situation, he should have yeilded as he was blue-flagged. Hamilton, hasn't comment on this so as not to stir the pot. He wasn't happy in the podium - must be because he was help up & he was passed by Alonso. But, even if Sutil hadn't help up Hamilton, Alonso would have passed him eventually.


Wouldn't have thought so....dirty hot air doesn't save tyres.

Alexander Supertramp

Lewis had a 1.5 sec advantage on Alonso when he got stuck behind Sutil. By the time they were at the hairpin Alonso was right behind Lewis. Lewis at that moment probably decided to stay behind Sutil to benefit from the Drs on the back straight, otherwise Fernando would have had his first real shot at passing him.


I think the rest of the field has to be very concerned at how easily Vettel dominated this race. Foreshadows another title, in my opinion.

Is there no one taking a look at Alonso passing under yellow?


It was flashing yellow hence yellow and orange flags


Yep, thanks. I finally saw an explanation elsewhere. Learn something new every day. I blame NBC for not following up on this during the coverage and not clearing it up.


Very good analysis. I was expecting more on Kimi and how Vettel was able to lap Kimi by half race.

That was pretty bad for F1, when the guy leading the championship is lapping the guy in 2nd place by mid-race.

James, maybe you can do a short piece on weekend preparations, starting with the practice sesions and what kind of data the teams are looking to gather and moving on to qualy and race. We often see Ferrari doing stints in practice with one car on one tyre and the other on the second tyre. Why wouldn't all teams do that? Are there teams which don't share the data from one driver to the other?

Also, I am following F1 for about 7 years and realized on Saturday, I still don't know how many sets of tyres each team/driver gets. I'm a bit confused if they get couple of sets for practice and then get other sets for qualy and race or they get a total number and it's up to the teams to use them how they want for the whole weekend.

Much appreciated!


This may help...

From the 2013 F1 Sporting Regulations

25.4 Use of tyres :

Tyres will only be deemed to have been used once the car’s timing transponder has shown that it has left the pit lane.

a) Eleven sets of dry-weather tyres will be allocated by the FIA technical delegate to each nominated driver six of “prime” specification and five of “option” specification.

One set of “prime” specification must be returned to the tyre supplier before the start of P2 and one further set of “prime” specification and one set of “option” specification before the start of P3. If P1 and P2 are both declared wet one set of the tyres normally returned before the start of P3 may be retained by each driver but must be returned to the tyre supplier before the start of the qualifying practice session.

If Article 25.2(d) is invoked an additional set of either “prime” or “option” specification tyres will be available to each nominated driver for use during P1 and P2. This set of tyres must be returned to the tyre supplier before the start of P3.

If an additional driver is used (see Article 19.1(b) he must use the tyres allocated to the nominated driver he replaced.

b) If an additional specification of dry-weather tyre is made available in accordance with Article 25.1(a) two sets of these tyres will be allocated to each driver for use during P1 and P2. Any such tyres must be returned to the tyre supplier before the start of P3.

c) From the remaining dry-weather tyres one set of each specification must be returned to the tyre supplier before the start of the qualifying practice session.

d) Prior to the start of the qualifying practice session intermediate and wet-weather tyres may only be used after the track has been declared wet by the race director, following which intermediate, wet or dry-weather tyres may be used for the remainder of the session.

e) At the start of the race each car which took part in Q3 must be fitted with the tyres with which the driver set his grid time. This will only be necessary if dry-weather tyres were used to set the grid time and if dry-weather are used at the start of the race.

Any such tyres damaged during Q3 will be inspected by the FIA technical delegate who will decide, at his absolute discretion, whether any may be replaced and, if so, which tyres they should be replaced with.

A penalty under Article 16.3(b) will be imposed on any driver whose car is not fitted with the tyres with which he set his grid time (except if damaged tyres have been replaced with the approval of the FIA technical delegate).

f) Unless he has used intermediate or wet-weather tyres during the race, each driver must use at least one set of each specification of dry-weather tyres during the race.

If the race is suspended and cannot be re-started, thirty seconds will be added to the elapsed time of any driver who was unable to use both specifications of dry-weather tyre during the race. However, any driver who completes the race without using both specifications of dry-weather tyre will be excluded from the race results.

g) If the race is started behind the safety car because of heavy rain (see Article 40.16), or resumed in accordance with Article 42.5(a), the use of wet-weather tyres until the safety car returns to the pits is compulsory.

A penalty under Article 16.3(b) will be imposed on any driver who does not use wet weather tyres whilst the safety car is on the track at such times.


I think the lotus chassis is outclassed and will continue to slide back in the WCC. They seem to be a one trick pony - be gentle on the tires and do one less stop than everyone else. On tracks that are already gentle on the tires this doen not yield enough of an advantage to them to get on the podium. This has been the case in the last two races. They don't have the pace of red bull or Ferrari. I also feel that as teams better understand the tires that this advantage of being gentle on tires will evaporate. They need to get busy on development, but will be easy outspent and outdeveloped by the top teams. I fear 2013 will not yeild another WDC for Kimi. VET main competion from here on out is ALO.

Adrian Newey Jnr

F1 is development race and its starting to show that the bigger teams (eg RBR) can out develop the smaller teams (like Renault). I think you'll see Renault continue to slide back unfortunately.


Hi James,

Do you think Lotus could have done anything in terms of strategy to better their poor result in Canada?


James Im a little puzzled by how the teams could say they are unsure of how the medium tyres would last. It has been the most common tyre since Australia and in fact That was a very representative circuit albeit temperature slightly less. I think after Silverstone we will hear less about tyres and more about different strategies because it will be much clearer.

I really want to see Lotus go aggressive more often - a bit like Hungary last year and both cars were there or thereabouts. I feared as soon as teams like RBR and Mercedes started coming to terms with tyres that Lotus might be shown out if they don't react. I hope at Silverstone they react because they cannot keep playing the long game and in that process they may also find that extra pace their lacking. Right now they are sitting ducks.


The last sector of Melbourne puts a lot more energy into the tyres than anything Canada does, making it a degradation dominated circuit rather than a wear limited track like Monaco and Canada.

Wear limited tracks give a small advantage to teams like Ferrari and Lotus, but they still need everything to go right.

Silverstone should be degradation limited if dry, so there will be a different set of parameters for the engineers to consider. All the teams are learning all the time, so a team with an edge in Australia will not have a consistent edge anywhere else. A hot Hungary should still favour the Lotus cars, but they will face a Red Bull that is just like Hamilton's McLaren last year.


James any knowledge of RB9 updates for Canada, or is it because RB9 has better traction and braking stability?

As we have never seen the RB9 pull such a dominating run for a while. I have feeling that the RB9 does not like following another car as Webber was having cooling issues, for example driving offline from Rosberg's car. Therefore it was vital that Redbull were on pole to control the race.


Gary Anderson said it was mostly due to the circuit layout. But I also read that they have made changes in their front wing


That's partially correct. The front wing changes were only to Webbers car, and on one side only.


Hi James,

Webber actually went faster after he broke part of his front wing. Alonso even made several fastest laps behind him. Did most of the teams setup the cars above the optimal downforce?

Adrian Newey Jnr

Don't forget that the car is losing weight by using up more fuel. The track also rubbers up more the longer the race goes on. So thats why the lap times might be getting better- regardless of the condition of the front winglets.


He went faster in the race because of decreasing fuel road.

Wilma the Great

Probably RBR now discovered that they could run different setups for qualifying and the race by "modifying" the front wing. So watch out for cars deliberately breaking their front wing in the first part of the race. RBR will eventually get the edge by developing a predetermined breaking point that lets part of the front wing last for only the qualifying and then falling off in the race. They will claim however that this was purely "accidental".


Mr Allen, a superb articles appear on your

site , but your Race Strategy Report takes

the cake.

Thank you Mr Allen, keep it up.



I was able to catch you on BBC 5 Live on Sirius when I was driving home, I usually watch the races on NBC Sports here in the States. I must say I prefer your broadcast over what I have grown accustomed to. If I could just get it at home and play it and mute the TV it would be perfect!

As for the race, it wasn't too bad. Some good racing as always in Canada.


Great insights. Indeed the over qualifiers had a big impact.

They killed the race for under qualifiers Massa, Kimi and the McLarens.

If Alonso were in Kimi's position he would have sliced through the over qualifiers the same way he disposed of the Mercedes. It's really puzzling how slow Kimi was. Why a fuel consumption problem? Did they fuel him for a wet race and/or safety car? If so - was it a case of being too smart so as to look completely silly?

Or is it the start of Lotus losing the in-season development race. Is James Allison providing "consultancy advice" to Red Bull on tyre preservation set-ups?


FYI - To those of you who are tyred.

Canadian GP 2012

Pole: Vettel 1:13.784

Race: Lewis 1:32:29.586

Canadian GP 2013

Pole: Vettel 1:25.425 (wet)

Race: Vettel 1:32:09.143

That's right gals and gents, F1 ain't gettin' no slower. So many negatives! 🙂


So, according to Horner, Redbull was racing flat out, and indeed Vettel was visibly over the edge a couple of times. According to Button, he was driving to lap times, and ones that were ridiculously slow at that, regardless of what others were doing around him, as his team blindly carried on a common practice of the season so far. Three options: 1.We get tires that permit real flat out racing at all of the tracks, 2. all "driver aids" including radios, telemetry and stop watches should be banned so its up to the driver to feel the limits of the equipment, not the tactician, or 3. we go "bracket racing" (Europeans may need to look it up). I vote for 1.


Your real flat out racing will just result in the fastest car starting first and winning. You'll also need more than four tyre compounds to make that work. Fans have already worked out that they don't like one team winning all the time, as much as some don't like what we have now. The teams at the moment won't agree to Pirelli making more than four compounds, and what works in Monaco doesn't translate well elsewhere. Bridgestone was tailoring tyres to each track and in 2010 we had minimal passing. DRS would just help out of position cars.


"Bridgestone was tailoring tyres to each track and in 2010 we had minimal passing."

2010 actually had more dry-GP overtakes than any year since 1993.


I suspect a lot of those passes were McLarens coming through the field in the early races when they had the f-duct and no one else did, and then the pick up through the field. 2010 was characterised by the fastest car leading from the front.

There wasn't much dry track racing for the lead. Turkey was a pretty rare event in having racing for the lead, which probably came from Webber not being that fast.



I am surprised that not any of the front of the field tried to used the Mediums in the first stint considering they had a freedom of choice on what tyres to start with.

Someone like Webber could have started on the Medium and seen how long they lasted and then could have potentially gone soft and soft again. My thinking is that in the final stint that soft tyres and low fuel would have been very interesting.

Adrian Newey Jnr

James - who do you think is winning the Torro Rosso battle this year? J-E's performance in Canada was impressive.


At the moment JEV but RIC was on a roll before that

It's a good car and they are starting to show it

JEV is a bit like Kobayashi in that his qualifying is erratic and often poor

If he cracks that he has a future


THIS is the kind of race we want to watch! No more racing to delta times, no more saving tyres, just flat out racing. Fantastic battles for positions up and down the grid with no reserves.

So for goodness sake, stop those stupid tyres, Pirelli.


The tyres haven't changed, just the circuits. If you are happy to watch races without fast corners then we should be fine.

The "fantastic battles" were the result of the wet qualifying and cars being out of position. Japan 2005 is a good example. If the tyres were purely wear limited for all tracks the design of the Ferrari and Lotus would be different and they'd qualify ahaed of the Mercedes.

F1 has done what you suggest before. And we got bored. Now the cars are more reliable than ever before and that variable is also taken away. The next variable will be the ability to havest electrical energy from the engine and run an electrical boost for up to 33.3 seconds in a lap, but collection under braking is limited to 16.7 seconds worth.

The FIA has decreed that Pirelli is not allowed to change the tyre compounds for this year, btw.


The graph is fascinating: one of the things I take from it is the performance by the two RBR drivers. Vettel had the clean air and could dictate pace, while for the first third of the race Webber was pinned behind Rosberg, and fell behind at the same rate. From then on their performances appear to be almost parallel. Alonso gives credence to Ferrari's suggestion that they could have competed for the win, as once he got around the Webber / Rosberg roadblock he made significant inroads.


What's up colleagues, fastidious paragraph and nice urging commented at this place, I am genuinely enjoying by these.


People are saying that tyres were less important here, but that's not the case. They played a crucial role again, just for different teams.

If the temperatures had been a few degrees different either way, we'd have seen a very different race. A few degrees warmer and Lotus would have been able to get their tyres to work and we might well have seen Kimi on the podium. At the same time warmer temps would have seen Mercedes going backward and perhaps finishing 7th - 10th. They were right on the edge as it was.

I don't think any teams have "figured out the tyres" yet, or that they even have a somewhat decent understanding of them.


Dear James, I´m an engineer, and will be glad to know what parameter is in the vertical axis of the graph. It is very interesting to analize and will be even more if one knows what is in vertical, horizontally are the rounds.

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