Could Rosberg have beaten Alonso and Raikkonen with a different strategy call?
Insight
Strategy Report
Posted By: James Allen  |  24 Sep 2013   |  6:35 pm GMT  |  175 comments

The Singapore Grand Prix has always been a race where strategy plays a large part in the result and this year was no different. Partly this is because there is usually a safety car to work around, which can change the game as it did this year. Partly it’s because this is a race where cars which are more gentle on their tyres can take advantage and do one less pit stop than their rivals. And with a stop taking almost 30 seconds, that’s a big advantage.

The safety car presented an opportunity for some and a risk for others. Mercedes didn’t take the risk and lost out to Ferrari and Lotus. Other teams did try to take the opportunity of pitting under the safety car and tried to reach the end of the race, over 30 laps, on a single set of tyres, but they either lost performance or had to pit again before the end.

In fact the safety car spoiled the race in many ways, although it did set up an exciting finish, as cars that gambled on pitting under the safety car, had to struggle to the end on the tyres while others on fresher tyres came through the field.

Pre race expectations

This race was set up in a fascinating way thanks to the performance difference between the two Pirelli tyre compounds; medium and supersoft. It was a significant margin; some teams were seeing two seconds a lap of difference in pace. This meant that a three stop strategy looked to be 12 seconds faster than two stops. But if there were to be a safety car this would offer teams a chance to switch strategy and go for two, depending on where it fell.


Vettel thinking strategically already in qualifying

Sebastian Vettel took a strategy gamble on Saturday; opting not to do a final run in qualifying to save a new set of supersoft tyres for the race. All the indications were that the supersoft would be the faster race tyre and that without a safety car, teams would need to be prepared to do three stops, meaning four stints in total, of which three would be on supersoft.

Having a new set would mean Vettel could have superior pace at a key point in the race or if he was under pressure and forced into stopping earlier than ideal to avoid an undercut, he could put on a new set of tyres which would give him the pace to get out of trouble. In the end he didn’t need to worry; his pace advantage was so significant that even with a safety car cutting down his lead, he still had a huge margin over his rivals. And in any case the safety car made it a two stop race for everyone.

But it was an interesting moment. To lose pole and start from the dirty side of the grid wouldn’t have been worth having a new set of tyres for. Red Bull took the risk because they didn’t believe anyone would get close to beating Vettel’s time and they were lucky that Rosberg was 9/100ths of a second slower, rather than faster on his final run.

Much has been made of Vettel having a fastest race lap, one second faster than the next best car, but this isn’t as simple or meaningful as it looks. Vettel put on a new set of supersofts on lap 44 and two laps later set the fastest time of the race. His main rivals were not in a position to challenge that because they were all tyre saving in the final 20 laps of the race. Adrian Sutil had the second fastest race lap, while the second fastest car last weekend, Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes, put on a new set of mediums on lap 41 – which were two seconds a lap slower than the supersofts – and set his fastest lap of the race on lap 51, two seconds slower than Vettel’s.


How could Rosberg have beaten Alonso and Raikkonen?

The key to Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen getting onto the podium was that the Ferrari and Lotus teams had confidence that they could get to the finish on a set of medium tyres should the safety car be deployed around lap 25. This was based on knowledge gained from Friday practice, where almost 4,000kms of running was done by the field, with 26 laps the most anyone managed on a set of mediums.

Mercedes did not have that confidence and the strategy team maintains that they would more likely have ended up like the McLaren drivers, losing performance and track positions at the end, than the Ferrari and Lotus cars.

Ferrari had to take the risk, there was nothing to lose from a championship point of view. If Alonso had followed the Mercedes strategy he would have finished behind Rosberg. By pitting under the safety car he gave himself a shot at second place and it worked, meaning that at least he was able to minimise the championship points loss to Vettel.

For Rosberg, who stayed out when the safety car was deployed on lap 25 along with Vettel, Webber and Hamilton, his nine second lead over Alonso was lost. It was only four seconds when Rosberg made his second stop on lap 41 and lost track position to both Alonso and Raikkonen.

Complicating matters further Rosberg got some discarded tyre rubber jammed in his front wing and this hurt the aerodynamic performance of the Mercedes and affected tyre performance. So even if he had decided to gamble on a stop under the safety car, he would have been forced to stop again before the end of the race.

The risk for Alonso and Raikkonen was that they would be caught by cars like Rosberg and Webber who would be on new tyres In the final 20 laps. Rosberg had the pace to catch them but lost time in traffic (Hulkenberg and Gutierrez) when they were on fresh tyres and that saved Alonso and Raikkonen.

If they had pitted Rosberg under the safety car he would have lost a place to Webber but would have still been ahead of Alonso with a fresh set of tyres. To lose one place for a fresh set may have been worth it. Without the rubber getting stuck in the front wing, Rosberg would have been able to build a gap to Raikkonen, so that he could pit again, if needed, and still challenge the Finn for third place before the flag, especially as Raikkonen lost time behind Button towards the end.

But with the poor pace in the second stint from having rubber in his wing, it wouldn’t have made any difference.

Mercedes were beaten by two cars whose strength has been making the tyres last.


Di Resta loses a good result
Force India and Paul di Resta have a strong history at Singapore; last year he finished fourth and in 2011 he was sixth, in both cases using innovative strategy.

This year he was at it again. Although he qualified a disappointing 17th on the grid, he tried an ambitious two stop strategy with two stints on new supersoft tyres and the stops well balanced out for the fastest race time. He pulled off a 22 lap first stint on supersoft, the longest any driver managed. The Force India strategists managed to drop him back out into clear air with an eight second gap to the car in front, so he was motoring when the safety car came out at the end of lap 24.

Because he was targeting a two stop strategy the safety car actually worked against him, because it gave many other cars a chance to do two stops as well. Some of them ran into trouble trying to get to the end on the same set of tyres having pitted on lap 25, drivers like Button, Perez and Hulkenberg and these were picked off by the cars with the more evenly spaced stop plan in the closing laps. Di Resta had track position ahead of Massa after his second stop and thus was headed for sixth place, which would have maintained a strong record on this track. But he went off the circuit seven laps from the end.

Tyre Strategies

Vettel SSU MN (17) SSN (44) 2 stops
Alonso SSU MN (14) MU(25) 2
Raikkonen SSU SSN (10) MN (25) 2
Rosberg SSU MN (15) MN (43) 2
Hamilton SSU MN(15) MU(43) 2
Massa SSU MN (12) SSU (25) MU (42) 3
Button SSU SSU (13) MN(25) 2
Perez SSN SSU (14) MN (25) 2
Hulkenberg SSU SSU (13) MN (25) 2
Sutil MN SSU (12) SSU (25) SSU (40) 3

Maldonado SSN SSN (16) MN (25) SSU (41) 3
Gutierrez SSU SSU (11) MN (25) 2
Bottas SSN SSU (13) MN (24) SSU (42) 3
Vergne SSU MN (11) MN (24) SSN (39) 3
Webber SSU MN (13) MU (40) 2

V der Garde SSN MN (13) MN (26) MN (42) 3
Chilton SSU SSN (11) MN (24) MN (41) 3
Bianchi SSU SSN (10) SSU (11) MN (23) MN (40) 4
Pic SSN MN (11) MN (25) SSU (54) 3
Di Resta SSN SSN(20) MN (42)

Grosjean SSU SSU (15) MN(25) MU (33) 3 NC
Ricciardo SSU MN (15) 1 NC

Code:
M = Medium compound
H = Hard compound
N = New compound
U = Used compound


The UBS Race Strategy Briefing is written by James Allen with input and data from some of the F1 team strategists and from Pirelli.

Race History, provided by Williams F1 team

The orange band is the safety car period. Note how Rosberg’s slow pace after that caused the field to bunch up behind. Had he been able to attack on fresh tyres he might have been able to pit and challenge Raikkonen and possible Alonso in the closing stages, as their tyres faded. But this would have required him passing Webber and possibly Hamilton. On balance that may have been difficult. Mercedes played it safe and got a result.

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1

James, as aver, thanks for the unparaleled deatil and analysis.

interesting views from Minardi in the following article, any comments please?

http://www.pitpass.com/50014/Minardi-questions-Vettels-Singapore-superiority

2

Post coming up

3

If I’m Mercedes, I would have split the strategies. That’s the benefit of having two drivers who are competitive in the race: you can split the strategies, and chances are one of them are going to come out with a top result.

If they were concerned about tire wear, they should have kept the driver who was ahead- Rosberg- on the track and put him on the conservative strategy to mark the leader. They should have brought in Hamilton- the driver behind- to mark Alonso, Grosjean, the McLarens, and Raikkonen. Maybe the cars who stop have their tires completely fall off and they fade away, and Rosberg takes second. Maybe Hamilton makes the tires last, gets by Grosjean when his car fails, and he grabs the podium.

Always split strategies when you can.

4

I was standing at turn 11/12 for both the GP2 race and the F1 race. The GP2 guys – mostly mid-field runners – pulled off maybe 6 or 7 passes there by going round the outside at turn 10 (throwing up a cloud of dust) and then making it stick through the inside of turn 11.

The F1 guys followed each other nose to tail for 61 tedious laps – I didn’t see a single pass through that complex.

Why the difference? One contributing factor may be that the F1 tyres drop a lot more marbles over the course of the longer race so going off line is riskier. But this isn’t much of a factor in the early laps and the discrepancy still seems a bit mysterious.

5

In my book what you describe is exactly all that is wrong with F1.

There is TOO much focus on grip from AERO and too little from MECHANICAL grip. This causes more problems when going off-line and causes problems getting close in the first place.

Part of the reason started with why we moved to grooved tyres to to REDUCE mechancial grip (and hence mid-corner speed) in the wake of Senna.

This was completely in the wrong direction for the racing.

6

James, could you please comment on this.

I just read a great feature by Autosports Edd Straw: “Ferrari must take blame for 2013 failures”, which states that tires is far from the only explanation to the difference between Spain in May and Singapore in September.

What is the most significant element in Red Bull-Vettel being so dominant in this part of the season.

a) The midseason change to Pirelli tires, which clearly is better for Red Bull.

b) Vettel improving from an already high level of skills (being much faster than his teammate)

c) Red Bull outperforming Ferrari (and others) in car Development (helped by Ferraris windtunnel problems)

And could I add, will this continue or is there a chance of championship thrill Again ?

7

Hi Lars,

I’m not James, but I’ll make a few observations:

1: Edd’s comparison of lap times is flawed. When several qualifying sessions are rain affected, the fastest times then to come from irrelevant sessions. The fastest race lap is similar – average pace of a stint is more relevant, but not always visible due to traffic and as Guiterrez showed in Spain, if you stop for tyres late in the race there is an immediate advantage right there.

2: Edd’s comment on the percentage of points Alonso had relative to Vettel 84% going down to 76% ignores the points thrown away by Ferrari in Malaysia and Bahrain and Vettel’s DNF while leading in the UK.

3: as with last year, all the teams are learning how to exploit the tyres as the season goes along. There were suggestions that Red Bull were initially holding back the total downforce the cars could make to look after the tyres and this helped give Mercedes an edge in qualifying.

4: The easiest way to win a race is to qualify the fastest race car on pole position. Anything else has limitations.

5: Ricciardo has said Webber told him that Vettel keeps finding ways to improve.

The original design of the RB9 is better than the Ferrari. Your point (a) allows point (c) to be exploited to the maximum. Your point (b) might win an additional race over a season, but there really isn’t much difference between now and Vettel’s streak of four in the run home last year.

cheers,

Martin

8

Thanks for a interesting comment.

I believe you’re right.

I sometimes thinks, that F1 is basically such a marginal sport, that it makes one look for very special explanations to what in truth is small differences.

Even in Singapore, where Vettel-Red Bull in F1-terms was extremely in control and dominating, the difference between Vettel and Alonso after racing 1.59.13 hours, is 32 sec’s, which equals Vettel doing 100%, and Alonso 99,55%

9

Line from the post “Di Resta loses a good result”……This line summarizes why Di Resta is not in a top car.

If Merc had tried different strategy Raikonnen may have lost the podium. But knowing Merc’s tire problems not sure the strategy would have worked.

Victory for Vettel was a given thing whatever strategy (except for a DNF); we were only watching P2 and onwards.

10

Must admit I was fast asleep on the sofa by lap 10. Might have a cursory look at the US and Brazilian GP’s Otherwise I’ll see y’all for the first race in 2014!

Happy Christmas!!

11

Seems logical that all teams focus is on 2014, since RB is running away with this year’s championship.

For the rest of 2013, I doubt there will be any more surprises. Unless naughty Pirelli decides on some ridiculous tyres.

Redbull might be less prepared with 2014. Merc and Ferrari which have in-house powertrain development might have advantage if they can develop efficiently.

I think Merc could be the strongest since they started last year acquiring the best people at high pricetag.

Ferrari is reacting to Merc’s move with James Allison and Kimi Raikkonen.

Both of them are trying to out-do the RedBulls.

If RedBull fail to win championship next year, I won’t be all that surprise. If RB manage to hang on and still wins, the taste of their win will be even sweeter.

That’s my forecast and yes, I really look forward to next year (except the V6 engine sound).

12

James,

Is that the real Psy in the header of the page, or the fake one from Monaco? 🙂

Yeah yeah everyone…I can see the marshals vest.

13

Real of course!

14

FYI – Fake “Monaco Psy” at least had the decency not to use his ear plugs!

15

So let me get this right. We have to listen to his terrible “style”, yet he puts earplugs in when the sweet heavently sound of an F1 V8 is fired up on the grid?

If you bump into him on in the paddock, just rip his VIP pass right off his chest! He doesn’t deserve it.

16

Also, I think we may see something unusual by end of this year.

If Vettel clinches the WDC with races to spare, he will support Webber for a win. Or if running 1-2 will pull over for Webber to “give that Malaysian win back”. I have a feeling this Malaysia story may not be over!

If Vettel “gave the win” back to Webber, wonder how the masses would see it? As act of generousity? As a thank you to Webber? As an insult?

17

Vettel has given Webber a win before, Brazil 2011. So there is precedent for his doing so. Whether he’d feel like doing so again given Webbers behavior since then? I doubt it. Of course Webber would have to be running second to Vettel in a race after Vettel has won the WDC for this scenario even to be possible, which means that Alonso would probably also have to move over and let Webber past him.

18

I cant see Webber going for that, he’s not about taking it off a plate; even for what went down in Malaysia. I have a lot of respect for Webber, he’s fair, square & a down to earth Ausi and will be missed by the sport next year.

19

GWD, you’re probably right. They can make up something new. Bottom line,

Vettel will have many more win opportunities.

Webber has only 6 chances left for P1 finish.

That’s why I think it will happen. In fact, I think if Vettel wraps it up early, RBR will probably come out and declare Webber #1 with goal of race wins from that point on! 🙂

20

Probably not an alternator, it would have to be a newer problem, but not unrelated. Fuel pickup, perhaps? SV’s as hard on his brakes as MW is generally on his tires, so brake problems? If they did manufacture a win for MW, and I disagree that they should (and I’m Australian, a MW fan, and don’t particularly like SV – there, I’ve said it!), then it needs to correlate to similar issues SV has experienced during the year. What was it in Brazil 2011? Oil pressure or something? With no collaborating telemetry? As others have said, it was pretty much a reward for being a ‘good boy’. I disagree with giftings regardless of whoever the gifter and the recipient are. If SV is in a position to win with MW right behind and there’s no problems with either car, then SV should take the win. You’ll never get a chance to get those missed/gifted wins back, no matter what eventual career win record.

21

You’re right Goerge. I think it’s not in Webber’s character to pick up scraps. But I think the whole thing can be engineered in a way to not look like scraps being handed willingly by Vettel over to Webber.

Look at my post above “predicting” a Vettel DNF to stretch the WDC fight and keep the TV ratings up. It would be a perfect scenario for RBR to have Vettel-Webber run 1-2, then have an “alternator problem” on #1 car, let Webber take the win, bring the championship closer and streetch it out, etc. This scenario kills so many birds with one stone, it may just happen.

You read the first draft of the script here if it does happen! 🙂

22

I don’t want Vettel to help Mark win. If you see/read what Mark has been saying in the media in the recent days, he is lambasting Vettel and also the team with a smiley face. This is the main cause for all these booing. He is still portraying him as an innocent victim.

The media is not helping by not asking the right questions. Mark is saying the team took his front wing and gave it to Vettel. But the media is not asking why he is crying over a front wing he didn’t want. He is talking about Multi-21. Why can’t the media ask him that he also ignored team orders many times and why he was not punished for that. These are just a few examples.

In contrast, Vettel has not said anything bad. So why should he move over? After all Mark is leaving and the damage is done. Even Rubens wasn’t so vocal about Schumi or Ferrari.

Webber doesn’t deserve any gifts from Vettel on track. But he can still win without Vettel’s help.

23

Valid points Rob. What is say is definately one of the likely interpretations. And say what you want, that Malaysia P1 was taken against team orders, but with a fair fight on the track. No one who’s serious believes Mark turned down the settings. I certainly don’t. Otherwise, it wouldn’t have taken that long to make the pass.

Anyhow, the reason why I was thinking that Vettel would “give the win” back is just to shut people up, and in a way to pay back Mark for being a decent #2. After all, even Schumi “let” Rubens win a few as pay-back. No?

24

Or he could do a last race ‘repayment’ for Suzuka 2007 lol! Only kidding. A win is a win, and with it contractural bonuses. So no gifting will occur…

25

Yes, win is a win. Does Vettel need another bonus this year for a win? And doesn’t Webber deserve a P1 trophy amd a bonus. He’s owed, before he goes.

26

first of all, he is going to mathematically clinch it, with several to spare; can we agree on that one?

second, would he/could he, GIVE UP A WIN?????

what say you?

then, how do you think his (totally hypothetically) gifting a win to Webber?

Obvious, a la Schumy/Irvine?

Or subtle, like we don’t even know if it happened?

27

well, what do you think?

28

I think Webber will accept the gesture like a gentleman. No doubt, he’s owed.

29

Nah mate, Webber wouldn’t want that at all. It’s a different kinda pain. Que sera sera.

30

Just checked. Mark has 9 wins. Now I’m 100% sure Vettel will yield and get him to a perfect 10!

31

Webber too much of a man to take a hand-me-down, eh? Win is a win.

32

James – Totally off topic, but do you have any insight on why Raikonnen chose Ferrari over Red Bull? From all media reports I have seen it is obvious now why he did not stay at Lotus, but in retrospect his choice now seems to have been whether to drive alongside a 2 times world champion or a 3/4 times one, neither of which has a reputation as a good team mate. Does all this mean that it was actually that Red Bull did not want him after all?

33

The Race History Chart will give us more insight.

E.g. the effect if Mercedes delivered a good first pit stop to Rosberg and not losing the position to Webber.

34

James,

I think Rosberg was racing Grosjean and it would have been close. I do not think Mercedes thought they were racing Kimi.

Mercedes should have split their strategy to race Alonso and Grosjean, who were on different strategies. But would you tell Lewis who was behind Niko, that he could not push for the rest of the rest to ensure his tyres lasted until the end?

You are a brave man if you would!

35

No graph?

36

Waiting for it from Williams

37

It would be interesting to know how the teams calculated the duration of the savety car phase.

I think it was out for at least one round too long, rather two.

So with a shorter SC time Mercedes tactic may have worked. More time to hunt on a prey that would have been more slower at the end.

38

Hi James. Quite unrelated..

Could you do a post on Vettel’s dominance these last few races. It appears again due to his oversteery driving style and being able to press the throttle very early on.. and so benefiting from better traction in the slow speed corners. It is in sector 3 that he had a huge advantage over Webber, and sector 3 has all the slow speed corners. May be yourself and Mark Gillan can make a post on this?

It is not depressing to see such a pace. RedBull are beatable. McLaren were on balance a faster car last year.

39

We are working on it

40

Could I request a piece on McLaren. No top drivers, hoping for Alonso, engine change in 2015 – just seems to me that for a historically very strong F1 team – they are going throughand will continue to go through an unusually long period of under performance.

Understandable if it’s Sauber – but given all the financial resources brought to bear – there must be immense pressures. I’m not sure how many investors can make financial investment plans with payouts over 2 years in the horizon? It’s a sadly impatient Internet speed business world these days – filled with CEOs with short term horizons and short term careers.

41

Get Vettel!

42

Thank you James once more for the great analysis, especially since it gives me the insight of a GP that I missed because I fall a sleep on my couch after the start. It seems that strategy alternatives were the core interest of this GP and makes me wonder if during the next GP booing podium is going to be the reason for giving a premature finish of a another me long sunday siesta.

43

+1

I think Paul had a fair shot at F1 in a solid enough team to make some waves over the years. Frankly, he hasn’t. It’s time to move either down the field or out of F1 altogether to let a new emerging star have a strong midfield car opportunity.

But please…. NO blatantly obvious pay driver. Financial Backing is fine, but at least have a strong junior career. I was hoping Bianchi would get the Force India drive this year.

44

That was a response to post 16 by Rayz.

Something went wrong with the reply button.

45

Well, I think this post just states what happened in the race, but that is a fact… for me the points are:

– Ferrari was not sure that the strategy would work;

– Lotus was not sure that the strategy would work;

– Mercedes was not sure that the strategy would work;

Rhe difderence was that Ferrari and Lotus tried, and Mercedes don’t. As in the end things worked for both, I think it could be worked for Mercedes too. And that is the whole point in my opinion.

Another thing is that Mercedes did the same for both drivers, and tjis is another thing that does not make any sense for me, as one driver is third in the WDC. I think Mercedes could have tried two different approaches and as Nico was racing Alonso, could have followed ferrari and cover the Spanish. If that worked, they woild be fine with one car, at least. If not, Hamilton would finish ahead of Alonso, and Mercedes would have a better understanding of the tyres and would have sire about things we today are in the field of “IF’s”.

One last point is that, again, LH was lapping fast around lap 43 when he pitted, if he could do that for more 3 or 4 laps, would be a matter of saving until the end. The tyres can be bad at the end, the portant is to have a good margin ao the others will not catch you. Kimi was not so good at the end, but the margin was “big”, and everyone that overtook JB had a hard time.. catch is one thing, pass is another.

Mercedes now has better tyre management than McLaren…

46

How can Nico “follow Alonso into the pits” when Alonso was behind him? The point is that Ross Brawn had to make a split second call. He didn’t know how many cars were going to pit under the safety car.

If Alonso pitted, and the rest of the field didn’t because they knew they could not get to the end – Alonso would have come out in 15th position and would lose time and tyres fighting his way back.

The point is that Alonso could gamble because he had nothing to lose – since he’s only interested in the WDC – not where he finishes.

Mercedes were protecting points and had given up on the WDC, and so took the more conservative decision.

47
Tornillo Amarillo

Anyway,

Ferrari got 26 points

Red Bull 25

and Mercedes 22

No driver shines, but Di Resta got off AGAIN, is it because he loses focus, fatigue, the car behaves different at the end?

48

There was the suggestion that the team were studying the data to explain what went wrong.

49

Massa pitted 3 times (as per the lap details) not twice as the total says

50

Question James how is it looking for Paul? Another year at Force India?

51

Probably

52

For all this Vettel dominance jazz, if Vettel had a couple of sec lower gap, Alonso would have came out ahead of him at the last pit stop, when Vettel pitted on lap 44.

And it wouldn’t have been quite a given that SV would have passed FA on track in the last laps even with faster machinery and new tyres on this particular track + RB’s weaker performance on dirty air vs. clear air + perhaps another SC.

Just my 2c, shows the importance of right strategy & track position at turn 1. It was not such a straightforward win as media might lead you to believe.

53

You are right. This is a difficult circuit to overtake. That is why Vettel had problems in Hungary. Unless Alonso struggled with his tyres like Button did, Vettel may not have overtaken Alonso if had come behind him.

54

What you miss is the same fate as Button would have happened to him he would run out of tyres!

Its easier to maintain tyres when no one’s around you or hounding you lap after lap.

56

I disagree. Vettel on new super softs would have breezed past all cars on used mediums….even alonso. Rebull appear to have legally got there blown diffuser back (James tweet to very interesting article). And unless others can replicate this they are now unstoppable.

From an engineering point if view the car is amazing. In Vettels hands on the super softs it was mind blowing!

57

Are you serious? Although I would prefer to see FA beat SV any day of the week, SV had plenty in reserve. There is no way any car would have held him up for more than a lap out there. He demolished everyone.

58

Spot on. I agree. However, what is fascinating is that Red Bull knew what Fernando was doing and unleased Sebastian to open the gap and once it was 30 sec they pitted him on lap 44.

I was watching Sky feed and even Martin Brundell and David Croft didn’t realize that Fernando won’t stop till the end until lap 46-47. Only after the Merc’s radio to Nico that Fernando is not stopping that they gave it a thought.

James, when did you figure out the Ferrari strategy during the race?

59

I noticed Horner mentioning to Alonso in the room just before the podium that RB were very surprised and impressed that Alonso made it to the end after the safety car.

I think RB were surprised but covered the possibility because they could.

60

We figured they would try to go to the end and we were asking ourselves will they make it?

Gary Anderson said that over 30 laps was a journey into the unknown.

Once you saw the size of the gaps you could see that no one would catch Alonso so he would stay out

61

No way. Vettel on new SSN and Ferrari on old mediums with inherent slower pace in the car itself — everything is stacked up against Ferrari in that duel. You just have to see how Webber, Rosberg and Raikkonen overtook the McLarens and RBR in the hands of Vettel with new tires would be a very easy overtake on Ferrari with old medium tires.

62

Without a dominant car, RBR/SV would’ve been screwed by Alonso and Raikkonen pitting and going to the end at that point.

It just highlights the scale of their current pace advantage, that they’re able to overcome a scenario that, for all other teams, would mean the win going out the window.

63

It was tyre management of one set of rubber (by Alonso and Raikkonen) vs going hard for two sets (by Vettel). Given that one of SV’s sets was the super-soft, and that the SS was a much faster tyre, there was only one possible outcome. Ferrari/Alonso were never in it for the win and they knew, I think they were delighted to take second place. Which, to be fair, was a fantastic (if slightly lucky) result for them.

64

Doesn’t address what I was talking about … remove Vettel/RBR from the equation, and place Rosberg as the lead car doing a two-stop. Rosberg/Merc would’ve been screwed in the same circumstance, as he wouldn’t have been able to pull a big enough gap before the 2nd pitstop, even w/o rubber in the front wing.

The 4-sec gap he was able to build up could maybe have been a 9-10 sec lead w/o the rubber in the wing, putting him 15 sec’s behind after the stop with 18 laps to go, having to pass Perez, Button, and Kimi just to get to Alonso, nevermind pass him. Would never have happened.

65

Am I the only one who thinks Paul Di Resta could (or at least should) be under pressure to save his race seat for next season. I’m delving into my memory bank here for 2013 and all I can come up with is his excellent drive in Bahrain where he nearly bagged a podium.

However, looking at it simply,

-he has binned the car in the last two races, Singapore was very costly for the team with regards to 5th place in the constructors.

-he cant get himself out of Q1 at the moment, which given the pace of the Williams team is ridiculous. Bottas outqualified him in a car that could barely beat the Caterhams during the race.

-he got put in his place by a superior Hulkenberg at the end of last season once Nico got fully up to speed.

-he hasnt dominated Sutil despite Adrian being out for an entire season and his very evident averageness. Lets face it, Sutil is going nowhere in F1.

People are questioning why Paul is being overlooked by the big teams. So far as I can see, Hulkenberg is the leading young talent coming through. Bianchi has shown promise this season, as has Bottas. Any one of these three drivers have more potential than a Di Resta who has now had 3 full years in the sport and despite a couple of good showings here and there, really hasnt shown enough.

He is no longer a rookie, and his attitude to his team when things go wrong stinks frankly. Sooner or later Force India will lose patience and decide they need a better no.1 driver. I’m sure they regret not being able to keep Hulkenberg. Right now, I’d look to bag Massa and get back Hulkenbeg or bring in Bottas. Send Di Resta and Sutil packing. That McLaren has been a dog of a car for most of the season and the two FI drivers havent got the job done. Simple as in my opinion. Anyone agree?

66

yeah I think de Resta is not good enough, he seems to think he deserves a top drive but he hasn’t shown enough. Always seems to have a lot of excuses and blames the team, he thinks he is better than he actually is. Will never go to a top team

67

I second your opinion @Rayz. While @forzaminardi makes some very valid points on di Resta’s behalf, I think 3 yrs is a long enough time not to learn from your mistakes and be a consistent performer in a pretty solid SFI outfit. This goes for Sutil as well. This yr was their big chance to leapfrog McLaren; granted the tyre change hasn’t helped, but consistency in at least succefully finishing races should have been accomplished. Can’t blow it coming in 6th and binning the car – its just too costly in more ways than one.

I’d gladly switch them but alas I fear it’ll be status quo given the 2014 changes.

68

I don’t really want to get into a debate, but has di Resta not been consistent? OK, he made a bit of a costly mistake in Singapore, but what driver hasn’t binned a good result once or twice? I agree, 3 years is ample time to make a mark, and 3 years of reasonably competitive machinery is more than many drivers get, but honestly, by and large could you expect any driver to have done much more than consistently score points and come close to a podium or two in a Force India? It’s all very well saying “this was their chance to eclipse McLaren” but that forgets that Force India itself is a far smaller, less slick operation than McLaren, and that while the McLaren car is poor (for a McLaren) it’s probably ultimately a more competitive proposition than a Force India. The same arguments apply to Sutil really, and I’m less of a fan of him than I am di Resta. In the grand scheme of things, if they were both out in 2014 you’d say they’d had a better chance than most drivers, but on the other hand they’ve not done so badly to make replacement by someone else an easy decision. In retrospect, it would have been good to see Bianchi in the Force India, but by the same token choosing Sutil hasn’t been the ‘wrong’ decision.

69

“It’s all very well saying “this was their chance to eclipse McLaren” but that forgets that Force India itself is a far smaller, less slick operation than McLaren, and that while the McLaren car is poor (for a McLaren) it’s probably ultimately a more competitive proposition than a Force India.”

There is no denying what you say it the above quote. For multiple reasons McLaren have underperformed hence presenting SFI with a rare opportunity to compete with them. Given this, had di Resta (and Sutil) truly stepped up and delivered good results, he’d have made a strong and justifyable case for a seat further up the grid. Instead he has had 4 DNFs in the last 4 races. You’ll agree Timing is critial in making and breaking F1 careers; lately he’s not been helping his case.

70

Fair point. In my opinion though, he is no better than Kovalainen, Glock or Kobayashi…… and look where they are now. Careers that could have been. Paul will be lucky to survive another year of that standard of driving.

71

I tend to agree. There was an interesting article about Vettel’s 2005 F3 team boss. Hamilton won almost everything that year. Sutil was his team mate and won a couple. Vettel was the leading rookie. Vettel’s team boss basically said Vettel and the team took a long time to catch up to the set up edge Hamilton had and for 2006 BMW switched Vettel to another team and that set him back again. In 2006 it was the same team as di Resta but different race engineering. Di Resta won the title that year. For some di Resta fans that is something to cling to. For me that is F3 and not F1. The F1 drivers are the best F1 drivers of the current cars in the world, i.e. it is highly qualified.

Some drivers stand out with a particular type of tyre (Heidfeld for me was one). For me di Resta is not as adaptable as Vettel, Alonso or Hamilton. Given that the teams cannot control what Pirelli does, di Resta is too much of a performance risk to take on – a 2/3 chance of him being average.

Comparing di Resta to Hulkenberg is potentially harsh – the guy has possibly the best lower class record of any driver in history. Rookie champion in the premier F3 class and GP2 plus winning A1GP for Germany, the guy is very strong. He also looks very handy in any F1 car to me. If I were McLaren I’d replace Perez with him. If I were Lotus I’d take him if Massa’s money wasn’t critical. Hulkenberg is too good for Force India in my opinion.

For me Sutil and di Resta are good enough to be justifiable to any mid field team, but in terms of the Toro Rosso test, I’d say di Resta is a bit better than Alguersuari, but not Red Bull worthy, so time to try someone new.

72

Yes, I fail to see the hype about Di Resta (which doesn’t even exist outside the UK). The bloke is quick, no question, but inconsistent, and has about as much charisma as a wet blanket. Who’d pay 50 quid for a t-shirt with his scowl on it? If he wants to keep a seat in F1, he needs to start respecting his team, and being thankful for the drive he has. It’s all right for hotheads Hamilton, Alonso, and Raikkonen to bag their teams – they’re world champions and have earned their place. Paul is still small fry and needs to show some class and up his game, or risk going down the road of F1 has-beens.

73

You’re very harsh on Di Resta – he could be the next Kimi! I might even buy a T-shirt with his scowl on it to be worn for the rest of this season if Kimi has a back operation and fails to show his miserable face at the races before 2014. I hope this will not happen, but if it does, Di Resta is pretty much my only hope if I want to see drivers suffering a bit. Alonso doesn’t seem to care anymore 🙁

And yes, Merc should have split their strategies and given a pit stop to one of the drivers during SC.

74

Consider it tough love. I’m not dissing the bloke. He IS fast. He HAS talent. But he’s not the complete PACKAGE to be worthy of a top seat… yet. In my opinion, he needs to lose the angsty attitude, put more faith in his team and work better with them to make his car as fast and drivable as possible, and to make his race strategies work. Improvements here will give him the confidence he needs to relax more and think clearly as a driver (leading to quicker laps and better race strategies, taking less risks) and blossom as a mature charismatic man, which he needs for the PR side of his job. Look at all the work Grosjean’s done this year to improve himself as a person – it’s now improving his racing and reputation immensely. Di Resta needs to swallow his pride and do the same thing if he wants a shot at a championship title.

75

*Rayz*; Agree completely. So many times we read posts telling us how this driver or that driver is performing on the track. In our daily lives, far away from the world of F-1 however, advancement is often predicated on personalities more than job performance.

Following F-1 through the media, as most of us do, I can’t help but get the impression (correct me if I’m wrong, please) that Mr. Di Resta is lacking in communication skills when it comes to dealing with the public world of Formula One. One example is his telling the world of his interest in Ferrari’s open seat while struggling at Force India. Surely comments such as this can’t help but leave a negative impression with team principal Vijay Mallya and it’s Mr. Mallya he must impress if he desires to remain in the sport.

76

I think you mistake a driver “saying something” with a driver “answering a standard question”. If everyone were asked “are you interested in a better paid job that offers more success in your profession with a bigger and more succesful organisation”, most would say “yes”, and those who say “no” would be dismissed as lacking ambition or being too keen to not upset. I’m not a huge di Resta fan, nor do I think he’s a brilliant driver, but while he may attract more ‘hype’ in the UK than elsewhere (doesn’t any middling driver of any nationality?), and while he may not be especially photogenic or charismatic, I think you underestimate his abilities. Mercedes, Force India and the best F3 teams, I think, are qualified to judge a driver’s merits and so far he’s done pretty well for a lad from Midlothian. As I said above, I think Hulkenberg is better, but as much as you might not understand the appreciation for di Resta’s abilities in the British media, equally I don’t understand why he’s regarded so negatively elsewhere. He’s not brilliant, no, but he’s far from the worst driver on the grid – and clearly demonstrably so!

77

I’d agree that Hulkenberg is the better of the two, but I don’t think di Resta is as bad as you say. He’s not the next Senna, but never was he claimed to be. He’s a good professional driver, who generally speaking gets a fairly good result out of the car he’s given and occasionally gets a great result. I do think his chance at a ‘top team’ has passed (in a Hamilton-stayed-at-McLaren scenario I’m sure he’d have slotted into Mercedes quite easily, and he’d have been a good no.2 choice for Ferrari had they wanted that option) but I don’t think he’s in danger of losing his seat (finances permitting) at Force India. He seems to let his head drop a bit during the season, but I don’t think his moans about the team were out of order after they kept stuffing his qualifying chances several races on the trot. Really, di Resta and Sutil have a hard job proving anything because if you’re in a better car, you have a better opportunity to get a standout result, while in a lesser car even a pretty meaningless result (like say a Caterham getting to Q2, or finishing 11th) gets a lot of attention. Di Resta and Sutil typically do a good job most races, but its easy to dismiss that as being “meh, Force India’s a pretty good team”. I’d suggest di Resta’s general level of consistency over the course of his career suggests he’s by and large done as well as any driver might. Sure there are always mistakes, but that happens.

Suggesting he be replaced by Massa is madness. Massa, on a like-for-like basis, is surely one of, if not THE, worst driver this season.

78

James of course Mercedes got it wrong with the strategy. Why would they not cover Alonso, Massa at the safety car ? (let alone Raikkonon who anyone could have guessed would come into play at the end). Its Kind of silly if you get virtually a free stop at lap 25 which is almost in the window of a 2nd stop anyway. It would be really interesting to know what was the condition of the used tyres Merc had left- perhaps this limited their options particularly the softs- but strategically I could never understand their position at the safety car.

79

Yeah, I thought the same thing that Mercedes had really stuffed the strategy. I felt really sorry for the Mercedes drivers because baring the strategy they looked so strong (minus Vettel).

Then I realised it always easy looking back, hindsight and all that. I also am happy that James has explained why Mercedes did what they did. Mercedes were kinda stuck and took the most logical strategy but one that wouldn’t result in a stellar result. Maybe Mercedes should have taken the gamble a greater risk for a greater reward.

80

Because you know that both Lotus and Ferrari cars are likely to try to go to the finish without stopping again. So you need to be sure that if you cover them you can either go to the finish yourself (doubtfurl for Mercedes) or open a gap big enough to stop again and challenge them to the finish.

Strategy has shown this year that the worse thing you can do is get caught between two strategies. That said, as the post points out they could have had a new set of tyres for the price of one track position (to Webber) so I would have been inclined to go for it with Rosberg.

81

Actually Rosberg would have lost 2 positions James, to Webber and Hamilton…..Now Lewis could have been asked to give way but discounting that, there were a few more factors for Merc to not pit him.

There was an obvious threat of Romain Grosjean. Apart from some fine driving, Alonso got lucky because he could conserve his tyres behind Hamilton from lap 35, (Romain’s car trouble) to lap 43 (Hamilton pits). Romain had enough pace to trouble Alonso which prompted Merc to think he would pit again.

Rosberg (through his radio comm) was convinced Alonso would pit again that he even said he wanted to conserve his tyres to defend when Alonso came back at him with fresher tyres.

Now that said there was one outside chance for Merc, between lap 31 and 43 Rosberg averaged 1 min 52s (same as his average from lap 18 to lap 25) and Seb averaged low 1 min 50s, now the RBR was fast but as friday practice suggested it was a second fast but not by 2.5 seconds. So for some reason Rosberg held the field up.

This allowed seb to build the 28 seconds gap to Alonso. Now had Rosberg pushed it to the limit, Vettel would have come into traffic behind Alonso and that meant Alonso would have lost his tyre life trying to fight Seb tipping the scales in favour of Merc.

Now the only possible explanations to why Rosberg held the field after the Safety car period are 2.

One being the obvious, Vettel was so superior that it appeared to the viewers, Rosberg was holding the field (not the case as indicated by his pace from lap 18 to 25) fuel corrected lap times meant he should have averaged in mid 1 min 51s.

The other was, he was trying to prolong the middle stint so he would have enough life left in tyres to fight what he presumed an Alonso on a fresh set of tyres.

Somehow merc failed to spot any of it, least of it being to pit at least hamilton so as to chase Alonso.

82

He had rubber bits stuck on his front wing too, which slowed him. He was conserving tyres

83

It was hard for them to do with Rosberg, as he was ahead of Alonso. But if they had made the decision to pit Rosberg, and hope that Alonso and Webber would follow him in, then they could’ve used Rosberg to hold up the train to let Hamilton build a gap.

Interesting that Alonso, Hamilton and Massa took on used mediums for their last stint. Hamilton and Massa were pretty racy at the end there.

On an aside, what happened with Bianchi on laps 11 & 12?

84

any comment on what would have been outcome if nico and Lewis ran super soft in final stint, i think lewis pitted lap 43 ish, seb vettel ran supersoft from lap 44. Obviously sebs supersofts were a new set so the mercs may have had to go a lap or 2 deeper before pitting.

The options would have been 2 seconds or more quicker than old primes, surely this would have been better as they would have cleared traffic faster and possibly put kimi and alonso under pressure to use thier tyres up sooner

I cant understand why they did not at least split the strategy eg put rosberg on the options and ham on the mediums, nico looked like he was holding lewis up toward the end

85

Something is missing in this report … ah, the Race History Chart.

As JA has rightly put it, Vettel is not actually 2 seconds a lap faster. He had fresh tyres and others either managed their tyres or struggled under the heat.

Rosberg or even Hamilton wouldn’t have been able to challenge for 1st or 2nd place. But yes, good strategy call by Ferrari helped Alonso.

Ferrari has a very good launch mechanism which propelled Alonso to 3rd place. But on track he couldn’t overtake anyone; not even di Resta who was on worn tyres.

I don’t know whether it was worth Button trying to defend from Kimi for so long. Some drivers don’t know when to give up.

86

“But on track he couldn’t overtake anyone; not even di Resta who was on worn tyres”.

Guess it goes to show that that Ferrari didn’t even have the pace to outclass a Force India. So the first corner move was that much more crucial for “Formula 1’s resident escapologist Fernando Alonso” (disclaimer – phrase borrowed from Sky pundits JG & PG).

87

“Ferrari has a very good launch mechanism which propelled Alonso to 3rd place.”

haha, I’m sure Alonso enjoyed a lot the views from his car while he was “propelled by the launch system”

88

Exactly. Everyone in front were scampering to the opposite side which opened up a big gap for Alonso. Strangely no one was covering Alonso which gave him enough space. But we all know Ferraris have the best starts and it is one of the best cars on the grid.

89

I agree, his ‘amazing’ starts are just down to the ferrari being the best starting car, they have good launch, massa even gets good starts. I was also surprised how he could not overtake Di Resta on worn tyres

90

He was two seconds a lap faster *at times*, would be the best way to put it. One of those times was the opening two laps of the race. That’s just a characteristic of Vettel though, he’s always outstanding in the first laps on cold tyres. It’s as common an occurrence as Alonso making up four positions by the first corner.

91
Alexander Supertramp

I don’t believe any driver on the grid is worth 2 seconds a lap and I’m positive I would be able to find a lot of people to agree with me. Other times he’s about 1-1.5 seconds/lap quicker in the opening stages. The driver has his share in this performance, but Vettel is not God Steve :D.

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