Korean GP: Behind the scenes on how the teams coped with the challenges in the race
Strategy Report
Posted By: James Allen  |  08 Oct 2013   |  6:30 pm GMT  |  163 comments

The Korean Grand Prix was a slow-burner, which came alive in the final part of the race. Once again Sebastian Vettel controlled the race, but he did not dominate it as he had in Singapore.

Meanwhile race strategy again played a huge part in the outcome, with Lotus’ Kimi Raikkonen again using strategy to make his way from 9th on the grid to 2nd at the flag while teams had to deal with two safety cars.

The race also saw some highly unusual happenings: a fire truck on circuit, without the knowledge of Race Control and a front nose failure on Nico Rosberg’s car.

There was a lot therefore for strategists to deal with. Here is our analysis of why the race worked out the way it did.

Pre race expectations

Before the race, based on the data the teams had gathered from practice, it appeared that two stops would be around eight seconds faster than three stops. The new supersoft tyre had shown itself to be 0.7s a lap faster than the new medium. The pit lane window would open around lap 11 for the cars, which had started on the supersofts used in qualifying.

In fact the level of tyre degradation was higher than expected. Most people planned a two-stop race, but it was marginal for many and the two safety cars really helped them. We saw a tyre failure for Sergio Perez after he flat spotted a tyre that was near the end of its life.

Vettel controls but doesn’t dominate

After his performance in Singapore two weeks ago, which aroused suspicions and rumours about his car, Sebastian Vettel was noticeably more subdued in the Korean race.

Starting from pole, he built an early cushion over his rivals and then managed the race with a gap of four to five seconds. He had no need at any stage to run at full pace, so he managed his pace throughout. In Singapore, there was a moment after the safety car where he needed to build an advantage of almost 30 seconds to avoid losing position at his pit stop and here we saw the true absolute pace of the Red Bull.

The reason why he kept the gap at around five seconds in Korea is that this provides protection from the car behind undercutting him in a pit stop. That’s too much time to make up by making a pit stop a lap earlier and taking fresh tyres. With a five second gap Vettel can react and cover the car behind.

The only time it looked like it might be close in Korea was the final stint. Both Vettel and Grosjean pitted on lap 31 during the first safety car. The tyres that came off his car had done over 20 laps (they were used when he started with them) and he was told that they were finished. So with 24 laps to the finish on a new set of mediums, it could be marginal for him in the closing laps. However he was fortunate in that a second safety car was then deployed, which meant it was easy to reach the finish on the tyres. Meanwhile, Grosjean made a mistake and this allowed Raikkonen through into second place. Raikkonen’s pace was slower than Grosjean’s in the final stint and the team didn’t allow Grosjean a team order to repass his team-mate. They knew he wouldn’t be able to challenge Vettel anyway by then.

Raikkonen does it again – P9 to P2

Kimi Raikkonen has made a speciality of coming through from lowly grid positions to podium finishes, using clever race strategy and varying his pace as required. He was at his best in Korea, but he did also get a large helping of luck from the safety car.

Raikkonen made a poor start, but recovered and with the mix up on the opening lap giving some slower cars an opportunity to get into the top ten, Raikkonen had little problem passing them to get to 7th place on lap four. He wasn’t happy with the tyres and at this stage Lotus’ plan was to stop three times.

The key to his race lay in his undercut on lap 26, where he took a new set of medium tyres. This allowed him to undercut Hulkenberg, Alonso, Hamilton and Rosberg and with Webber’s puncture he also stayed ahead of him. In one strategy move he had gone from 8th to 3rd.

Hulkenberg reacted and tried in vain to cover him, but Mercedes left Rosberg out for three laps and Hamilton out for four laps, losing time, because lap 26 was too early for them to bring him in and make the finish on a set of tyres on a two stop plan. They should have switched to a three stop plan when they saw Raikkonen’s move, but they stayed out and lost time.

This is a pattern we have seen a few times this season, where Lotus has been able to be aggressive and make stops on the front foot, forcing rivals to lose places either by staying out or by covering the stop and condemning themselves to tyre worries later in the race. It’s a Catch 22 when they do it to you. Pitting Raikkonen on lap 26, which was at the time part of a three stop plan, put rivals into no-man’s land. Alonso pitted on lap 28 which is neither a two or three stop window, it sits in between and he duly lost track position to Raikkonen.

Although he has made life difficult for himself by qualifying poorly – and lately he has been some way off the pace of Grosjean who has mastered qualifying now – Raikkonen has the perfect qualities for this era of Pirelli tyre degradation racing. He knows how to push the tyres up to the limit but not over them, so he never burns them out and loses the performance as a result. His feel for the limit of the tyres, like Vettel’s is impressive.

Mercedes hit problems

With hindsight, Mercedes should have used a three stop strategy because Hamilton lost too much time staying out after Raikkonen had undercut him on lap 26.

Hamilton had tried to undercut Grosjean at the first stop, pitting on lap 9, which Lotus covered a lap later and retained the position. Hamilton therefore did a 20 lap middle stint and lost position to Raikkonen, as outlined above. But he lost a lot of time at the end of the second stint, over two seconds a lap at times.

To compound matters, Rosberg suffered a highly unusual front nose fixing failure, just as he passed Hamilton. So Hamilton lost four seconds in the process as he was compromised by the problem on Rosberg’s car.

The timing wasn’t great from there onwards – he pitted just before the safety car, so wasn’t able to take the benefit of a free pit stop at just the right moment.

Maldonado unable to capitalise on strong start

Williams is badly in need of some points and Pastor Maldonado looked like he was shaping up to get some after a fantastic start which took him from 18th to ninth on the first lap. Williams tried to do a two stop race from this point, but because Maldonado was running with quick cars at the front, his tyre degradation was quite severe and he ended up cutting his second stint short. This extended his final stint to 22 laps and meant that in the final stint his tyres were far worse than those on Gutierrez who had lucked in to being able to pit under the safety car on lap 31, as well as Perez. A ninth place had been there for the taking, but it shows how easily it can be taken away and how much a safety car at the wrong moment can turn a race on its head.

The UBS Race Strategy Report is written by James Allen with input and data from several of the F1 teams strategists, from JA on F1 technical adviser Mark Gillan and from Pirelli

Vettel: SSU MU (11) MN (31) 2 stops
Räikkönen: SSU MN (11) MN (25) 2
Grosjean: SSU MN (10) MN (31)2
Hülkenberg: SSU MN (10) MN (26) 2
Hamilton: SSU MN (9) MN (29) 2
Alonso: SSU MN (9) MU (28) 2
Rosberg: SSU MN (10) MN (28) 2
Button: SSN MN (4) MN (22) 2

Massa:SSU MU (6) MN (29) 2
Perez: SSN MN (10) MN (31) 2
Gutierrez: SSU MN (7) MN (31) 2
Bottas: SSN MN (8) MN (28)2
Maldonado: SSN MN (7) MN (23) 2
Pic: SSN MN (9) MN (30) 2
Van Der Garde: SSN DT (10) MN (11) MN (30) 3
Bianchi: SSN MN (10) MN (30) 2
Chilton: SSN MN (12) MN (30) 2
Vergne:SSN MN (12) MN (24) MU (38) 3
Ricciardo: MN MN (18) SSN (31) 2
Sutil: SSU MN (3) MN (28) SSN (38) SSU (41) 4

Webber: SSU MU (12) MU (30) SSU (31) 3 NC
Di Resta: SSN MN (7) MN (23) 2 NC

SS = Supersoft compound
M = Medium compound
N = New compound
U = Used compound
NC = Not classified
DT = Drive Through

Kindly provided by Williams F1 Team

Note the controlled pace of Vettel, relative to the Lotus and Mercedes cars. Note also the undercut by Raikkonen on the cars in front of him by pitting on lap 26. This is a text book undercut, but even he was surprised by how many places it netted him!

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Another Pirelli tyre delamination AND blowout...I am guessing that next time ALO speaks, a certain mr Hembery will be listening, not talking.

Maybe before Mr Hembery once again starts blaming the driver/circumstances, he should take a close look at his/Pirellis competitors, especially those who are on their way to add another SUCCESSful seasons as a tire supplier on their belt in other series - Ask them how they manage to deliver tires that fulfill requested specifications AND with high quality. I e without exposing their customers (teams/drivers) to potentially life threatening danger due to events such as front tires exploding at high speed following a lock-up or similar event that you would think RACING tires should be able to handle.

Ask great tire companies how they do it please, you may learn a thing or two!


The tyres are a joke. F1 is supposed to be about promoting speed with safety and trying to cut costs. Someone will be killed before a there is a change. Hembery says ask the 4 time champion about the tyres, he forgets they were moaning a few races ago. Besides it is easier to conserve rubber if you are in the lead at your own pace. Lastly the teams chasing are spending millions trying to crack the code of tyre wear in traffic. It is a joke.


You could for example ask this company who supplied tyres in China, 2007, when Hamilton's tyres gave up at pit entry.


Try to put yourself in Pirelli's shoes..

You are asked to make more marginal tyres BUT you are not allowed to test them for stability and longeveity. If that was Ferrai being told they must build a very light fragile car with out any form of testing and then it broke, possibly killing the driver Ferrari would make a huge fuss...

The problem from Pirelli's point of view with Ferrari ( and Fernando's) argument is that whilst it understandable to point out Red Bull and say Saubers change in fortune's and then their own and force india since the new tyre arrived... The Elephant in the room is Lotus. They also were strongly against bringing in the new tyre, yet they adapted and now are very strong. This show that it was and is possible to adapt to the new situation.

Have you noticed how there has been no comment fromLotus about the new tyre... why would they complain.. they are outscoring the others

So Paul Hembreys comments are no worse than Fernando's..just comments of frustration about a difficult situation...

I don'tthink Pirelli need to have Fernando point something out in the press about something they are aware of and don't want to happen. The conclusion of the matter after they both spoke to each other was that they both agreed Pirelli need more testing time

Then they both sang from the same hymn sheet


Why don't FIA build a specification car everytime there are specification changes, and hand it to the tire supplier who would have an in house testing driver?

I think the teams won't object and it will solve the testing problem for the tire supplier, something similar to the ARM specification processor, if your software works with it, it will probably work on implementations of the specifications from Samsung, Qualcomm and others.


Are you serious with that comment? The FIA should build a car and loan it to Pirelli - I have heard it all........


Perez's tire delaminated because he and his team ran it too long, and then he made a mistake which damaged it. If you want to see tyres that can stand up to that kind of use, look back to the Bridgestone days and remember how dull that was.

Rubinho's Keyfob

"Ask them how they manage to deliver tires that fulfill requested specifications AND with high quality"

It's called testing. Pirelli are producing tyres (to a strict brief which requires them to degrade safely after a certain number of laps) based on forces generated by the 2010 cars they are allowed to use, and only then if they can persuade the teams to allow it.

The delamination you refer to was to a tyre that was on its 28th lap (when Pirelli specified a 21 lap limit - but some of those were admittedly under a pace car) shortly after the driver had flat-spotted it for a significant time in the previous corner.

Any tyre fitted to an F1 car will fail eventually - at the end of the day, the teams gamble during the race as to when that will be given their specific setup. Don't blame the type manufacturer when they are taken past the recommended limits (number of laps, inflation pressures, placement on the car etc).


i did request a posting of the 'claimed' details/specifications for tyres given to pirelli as specified by deancassady. so far no one has produced these. posters are claiming that pirelli are entirely innocent and being unfairly penalised for producing trash tyres when they are 'mandated' to produce them by the FIA.

this all seems to be fastly becoming a myth on the basis that if you allude to these 'specs' often enough it will somehow become the truth as is the case with deancassady's post.

what i am saying is simply this. if the tyres are failing to last the distance then someone has to carry the can. it, by default, must be either pirelli, the FIA or both. show me the details and then i will form an opinion based on these facts rather than resort to 'they are only doing what was asked of them' based on hearsay or pulled out of the ether.


+1, finally some technical insight regarding the matter instead of the ol' same "pirelli-is-endangering-drivers-lifes" whining.


Plus 12 bazilion


is that more than elevnty thousand?


1. Pirelli were mandated to provide tires that do what the Pirelli tires have done.

2. A mid-season change to the specification seems like it should be in contravention of the rules, but was bolstered into necessity by the bogus 'safety' issue, which was actually attributable to teams mal-using the tires, outside the specified ranges (and on opposite sides?!?).

3. The change going into the German Grand Prix was attrocious, but resulting from the bogus need for change!

4. Now we have new tires again, more like last years, and still no better than the original 2013 tires, j=ust a different specification that only one team had a change to learn about, (I won;t go into that whole riot in this post).

5. Still the chronic whingers, whing, except the super-duper German munchkin, who now is without challenge.

All those (besides RB) either behind, and/or demanding tire specification change, you're getting what you deserve.

The men get on with it, instead of wasting their time and energy complaining; I'm glad to see them moving ahead of the whiners.


+1. We will probably see that nothing will change in terms of tire specs till end of the season "for the sake of safety, boo hoo".


You get it, great summary, thanks. There are always limits of one form or another to 'drive within' & that includes the driver. Tyres are the 'excuse' conveniently available for poor development, poor strategies, and poor driving. Everyone has the same tyres - it's a level playing field, I don't like the fabrication of circumstance that Bernie has introduced but there we have it.


@ deancassady in reference to your point 1. could you please furnish the written evidence that pirelli were 'mandated' to provide tires that degrade/disintegrate over such short distances.

i refer specifically to your use of the past tense, 'have done'. i look forward to your response.


Can somebody please dig up a link to the tire specification brief, mentioned by Rubinho's Keyfob, below; so Kenny can get his proof of this, seemingly to me, generally accepted fact?

Kenny: I have no agenda; I call them as I see them; the tire debacle was fabricated by special interest groups jockeying out of the ring for position, and ultimately for a profit motive; messing with the specification after the start of the season should only be done in case of bona fide safety reasons.

The reasons behind the tire failures up to and including Silverstone, have now been well identified, and relate to the application of the tires, not the tire specification itself.

What about you Kenny, what is your position on the tires?

Do you have an agenda/objective here?

If so, what is it?


Did you even see Perez lock up? Looking at the huge amount of smoke coming off it and the fact that it was an old tyre I'm not surprised he burned through to the canvas.

We all know the tyres arent perfect but this is without a doubt on Sergio's head. I'll also point out that no other racing tyres are remotely under the kind of loads that F1 tyres get except for maybe NASCAR with the superspeedways and very heavy cars, and Goodyear have had more than a few problems in recent years with tyres destroying themselves after a handful of laps.


Listen to Alonso? He doesn't blame himself for anything its always someone else that are the "idiots". If it wasn't for his and Hamilton's egos Mclaren wouldn't have lost the 2007 WDC, they had the best overall car and both drivers imploded near the end of the season, I just wish Vettel and Hulkenberg was mature enough back then and with a competitive car they would have made these 2 clowns look ordinary.


Equinox posts that have no mention of Hamilton (lifetime score): 0


Ferrari was one of the teams that demanded the supersofts to be used in Korea because they believe that is the weak spot of the RBR. Confirmed by Pirelli in an interview on another popular F1 site (which I don't know if I am allowed to link).

Ironically, that tyre is what Alonso complained about all weekend 😉


Funny, but it was Alonso's boss who asked for the super soft. So maybe next time Alonso might also listen before he talks


Lets ignore the big lockup into Turn 1 and the fact that the same tyre was used last year with no issues; and didn't JB manage to do around 30 laps on the same tyre?


JB didn't manage to do a single lap in Korea 2012, let alone manage to do any laps on any tyre.


are you absolutely sure about that? the construction might have been the same but the compounds are all suposed to be one grade softer this season, i am led to believe.

as for the laps, well hembery has stated that 'perez had completed 21 laps on that tyre and the tyre was only supposed to last 20 laps max'?

someone has got something mixed up....IMO.


Agree - if the tyres couldn't adequately cope with the demands of a supposedly easy circuit on tyres, who knows what will happen in Japan. I fear the worst.


the only thing to fear is fear itself.

d'you know why?

Because, one worries, (DE-NIAL), spending time attributing failure to 'the problem', instead of acknowledging the behavioural characteristics of them, and creating strategy and tactics to maximize end results.

One of the teams more (and perhaps the driver package most) adversely affected by the reversion of tire specification, is getting on with it, and since most of the other competitors are worrying, and not getting on with it, those maximizing their new reality are succeeding.

Of course the championship is all but mathematically over, but there is now the opportunity to develop next year's cars, using this year's platform as test bed for the 2014 car development.

The teams that 'get on with it', getting ready for the futuire will have the best success over the remainder of the year.

The only question is, why are the whiners wasting energy whining?


Good point Dean.

I see 3 options for teams:

1. Get on with it, as you say

2. Keep on whining and achieve nothing

3. Hang their nuts in a pool....


What else are they going to do all day? 😉


I have to put in a word here for Renault, who don't get the credit they deserve for supplying excellent engines. This was the third race this season where the podium was locked out by Renault powered cars. They've also made up nearly two-thirds of all podium finishers this season.


Yep...Nobody mentions Renault that much.

They deserve a shout out.


Well, they don't get the credit, because the chose to sell their works team and allowed an affiliate to sponsor their most successful team, thus taking all the limelight. The obvious solution would be to either buy a share of Lotus, or to become a major, maybe even title, sponsor like Infiniti is to RBR, with a big Renault logo on the side.


Good observation @ Steves. Next year should be fascinating. James, can you talk to Renault guys also. Great site. So addictive really.

Scuderia McLaren


Also worth noting, 100% of all winners this year were Pirelli shod cars. And amazingly 100% if all podiums were Pirelli lock outs. Clearly the dominant tyre, so everyone give em a break.



To be fair, the numbers are somewhat skewed in their favour. Ferrari only has one front running team running their engines (themselves, and even they're not performing too consistently), and with McLaren's terrible performance this year Mercedes are the same (and like Ferrari, they've been a bit hit and miss in races). Renault on the other hand have Red Bull and Lotus, two teams that are fairly consistently up the front, especially Vettel and Raikkonen.


Are Renault "lucky" to have two teams up in the front, or are the teams up in the front there because they have Renault engines?

F1 success is built on three legs: chassis, engine, and driver. There are Renault engineers on site at every GP helping RB and Lotus customize the power delivery to the needs of each specific circuit. Obviously they are doing a very good job and I think it needs to be pointed out.


Good analysis. As Kimi fan I really hope he can up his game in quali. The "first" Pirelli tyres were much better for Kimi's qualifying. They were faster on the right temperature, resulting in qualifying on the front row in China and outqualifying Grosjean almost every race. In race pace he's still much better than Grosjean in my opinion, maybe with a bit of luck but still you've got to be in the position to strike and claim another podium.


As far as Kimi’s qualifying is concerned I think he’s having trouble with the switch to the Kevlar belts. If you look at the quali stats, he was 7-0 on steel belts vs. 2-5 on the kevlar. He has throughout his career regularly had trouble getting his tyres to optimal temperature for qualifying. I believe I first remember hearing him mention this during his first year at Ferrari. He had trouble getting the Bridgestones up to temp and actually never seemed to get on top of it. Maybe that’s why he put in so many fast laps in 07/08 but was out qualified by Massa on the whole. It would make sense that his smoother than normal style takes longer to get the tyres in the perfect operating range.

Any word on if Pirelli is planning the switch back to steel belts? Especially considering they weren't the determining factor in the failures.


How can you be sure it is kevlar-steel thing or 2013-2012 rubber that is causing the troubles? We had only one race in Germany where 2013 rubber with steel belts were used. Races before Germany were kevlar-2013 rubber and after that they are steel-2012 rubber. I think it is rubber difference that is causing the issue.


Very interesting insight...thanks.


Yup, I was thinking exactly the same. For sure Grosjean could've upped his game in qualifying, but Kimi just has so much more trouble with these new tyres. Like you I also think this is probably caused by his extremely smooth drivingstyle. In short, I totally agree with your view.


It's clear that the supersoft tyre is too soft. Whenever it is used a huge amount of rubber "marbles" quickly builds up just off the racing line. Watching slow-motion video of the Korean GP you could actually see bits of rubber coming off the tyres.


It freaks me out when Vettel never gone full throttle in order to protect the tire.

And when was Grosjean faster than Kimi anyway?? During the first SC restart, Kimi was all over his gearbox and Vettel was pulling away easily from him. His mistake afterward just made it easy for kimi to overtook him.

Worth mentioning, Kimi's tire was 7 laps older than Romain's. Romain was not able to get into DRS range all the time until the last two laps when kimi said post race that his tire was gone in the end.

Its promising to heard Kimi claimed that he knew what went wrong with his setup afterward, and hope he can get rid of the new pirelli tire struggle that caused too much understeer.



from the graph we can see VET lead each lap but it seemed to me WEB lead a lap after VET's pit stop.

If it is true then back to back Grand Chelem for VET, that is amazing.


I dont think WEB stayed out for the entire lap, ie. from finish line to finish line. I believe he pitted before completing the lap. not sure if the finish line extends into the pits or not. Seems it doesnt.


I think it does, in 1998 Shumacher won a GP because he needed to do an stop and go for a penalty, he did it in the last lap crossing the line before Hakkinen and won the race, probably it still is like those days.


I believe Webber never actually crossed the finish line in first place, as he pitted the lap after Vettel and Vettel overtook him before the start finish straight, so technically it is a Grand Chelem. I think it's a bit dodgy though 🙂


Webber pitted at the end of the lap he was leading so officially he didn't lead the whole lap.


"with Webber’s puncture he also got ahead of him"

IIRC, Kimi was already in front of webber before he had puncture.

Funny you didn't mention the strategy blunder of Lotus for not covering Alonso 's undercut when Kimi overtook him on his first stint. Kimi ended up coming from the pit and got stucked behind Alonso again. Otherwise, Kimi would've caught the merc duo and later challenge Romain.

SC helped kimi?? he was already P3 before the first SC. LOL


..."SC helped kimi?? he was already P3 before the first SC. LOL"...

Candice, in you're dream mate!

lap 30 Vettel 1:44.774 Grosjean 1:45.014 gap 5.411 Raikkonen gap 51.385



Kimi drove a great race no doubt after a shocking qually, but the SC did help him a bit, to close up to Rom and Seb.

The thing that helped him most was the undercut, yet again. It's well noted in this article and it's something that Lotus in particular have been excellent at this year.

Kimi has made a load of undercut places because Lotus are not afraid to adapt their strategy and are not afraid of doing an extra couple of laps on the tyres by pitting early as Kimi and their car are so good on tyres. If they miss out in the first stop they tend to undercut with Kimi in the second, catching a few teams by surprise. Something that Ferrari in particular should have learnds from by now.


I think what James means is that the SC periods helped Kimi stretch out the life of his tyres, turning a risky two stop strategy into a much safer one.


Yeah I agree. And after the first safety car period RAI and Lotus were planning to run to the end anyway whereas GRO and VET were going to have to stop again before the race.


Yes, Kimi came out from his last pitstop ahead of Webber.


Yes, I was mad that they lost so much time with first pit-stop. But then again, he ended race on the limit, so pitting earlier might have different end result.


"Raikkonen’s pace was slower than Grosjean’s in the final stint and the team didn’t allow Grosjean to repass his team-mate. "

James, that is not what we all heard, with respect. What happened was the opposite. In fact they urged Grosjean to go on and overtake. Race, they told him.

His response? I can't. I CAN'T.

He "begged" them [Eric's words] to impose team orders. Farcical.


Yes I think they played fair and refused RG's request that Kimi let him back ahead. But Kimi had got ahead fair and square.....


Where did you hear that, actually?


You have misunderstood my comment. I saw the interview that sky did with EB as he was walking down the pit lane towards the podium ceremony. I just googled sky interview with Eric boullier at Korea and it's on YouTube (if you don't believe me)!


Well, I know what Boullier had told Sky, but it wasn't what I was looking for.

Meanwhile I found the transcript, at f1fanatic.co.uk, I believe it's not the only place. Very interesting thing to read.


Sky spoke to EB on the way to the podium ceremony and that is what he said.


So you didn't hear the actual broadcast, all these 'what we all heard', 'they urged Grosjean', 'I can't he said'.

And that was what I was asking about.


"Raikkonen’s pace was slower than Grosjean’s in the final stint and the team didn’t allow Grosjean a team order to repass his team-mate"

I guess it's fixed now 🙂

Why Grosjean thought the team would impose team orders is beyond me. That door doesn't revolve that way.


"The key to his race lay in his undercut on lap 26, where he took a new set of medium tyres. This allowed him to undercut Hulkenberg, Alonso, Hamilton and Rosberg and with Webber’s puncture he also got ahead of him. So in one strategy move he had gone from 8th to 3rd."

Kimi already got rid of Alonso on his first stint. Lotus' poor strategy call for not reacting to Alonso's undercut costed kimi and got stucked again behind fernando and hulkenberg when he finally pitted for Med. Otherwise he would've got rid of Hulk and chased the front with struggling Merc duo.

And webber was never in front of Kimi except when Kimi pitted.

Don't understand why James missed out hell lots of details and make it out like kimi did nothing. Without SC, he would've been 3rd. Without Lotus blunder on first pit stop call he might even got close with his teammate. So i guess bad luck and good luck does even itself up.

And wasn't kimi was qualifying with broken front wing in Q3?? Confirmed by Edd Straw by the way on twitter.


Excellent comment. +1


Yeah I agree.


James why can't we have a go at making our own race strategies any more ? I used to love that feature.


Yeah, that was cool. I reckon the reason is that the latest tyres are too random for any meaningful predictions.

Seymour Quilter

You know what? The different strategies caused by the tyres and the safety car made that a much more interesting race than if the tyres had lasted predictably for half the race. Thank god Pirelli have made F1 interesting! Surely we don't want boring 1 stop races where everyone had the same strategy!


In order to learn one firstly got to realize that doesn't know something. In order to fill the glass with water the glass has to be empty. Glass full to the brim can't take not even one drop.


Quite profound Grasshopper.


Thanks Fernando.


Don't worry KART, there are plenty of half full glasses out there...or half full ones if you're an optimist 🙂


" the team didn’t allow Grosjean to repass his team-mate. They knew he wouldn’t be able to challenge Vettel anyway by then."

I think in fairness he was allowed to overtake Kimi, he simply had to do it himself. The team was not going to order Kimi to move over. This was not a Ferrari situation where team orders were on...


...and it was not a Red Bull situation where they told the guy in front to ease of and turn down his car so the guy behind could pass with a stab in the back and the 'boss' just giggled and said don't be silly now, then he apologised, then he didn't and said he wasn't sorry and got the 'real boss' to back him again and got booed and then....

...deep breath....

..and relax...

...let it go...

...anyway, think Rom Gro was just annoyed as he had a good race, was on fresher tyres and made a tiny mistake that led to a safety car aided Kimi to nail him. His frustration led him to think he was owed payback for letting Kimi through earlier in the year when he should have realised that Kimi nailed him fair and square. At least he didn't shout down the radio something like "Kimi's too slow, get him out of the way!" 😉


Nobody was told to "ease off" or "turn down their car".


sorry steve but that is wrong. webber wias told to turn down the revs in order to finsh strongly with enough fuel. it was a multi 21 scenario.


Yeah & even if they did, why should Kimi move over? Kimi will be 3rd in WDC & Grosjean??

Fair play by Boullier even though Grosjean was begging for TO.


Webber was already behind Kimi when he flat spotted his tyre.


Webber didn't flat spot - Perez did, Webber avoided by driving through marbles, and picked up a puncture there.

But yes, Kimi was already set for 2nd, and Webber for 3rd.


That was Perez. Webber picked up his puncture when he drove over the carbon fibres spread out by Perez.



Any chance of making the graph interactive by linking to a live spreadsheet or transfer the graph data to an interactive flash file? It would be nice to zoom closer in on various drivers' timing/laps


- Safety cars changed the complexion of the race.

- Mercs made mistakes.

- Raikonnen was lucky with safety car to claim 2nd.

- Vettel and RBR were probably not tested to their limit


I'd say the only sense in which Kimi was lucky, was that he had already passed Perez when Perez's tyre blew. Webber was at that time following Perez and picked up his puncture on the debris.

Otherwise, it's fair to say Kimi was a bit 'lucky' and a lot 'plucky'.


So what we learned from Korea is that the tyres do not like the cooler weather for cool weather wears them out faster making life difficult for everybody.

Yes, it was another day were the tyres was the main topic so much so that the Pirelli boss decided to shut down his Twitter page as the hailstones rained in.

So Vettel was just playing with his prey as he maintained a small gap at the front and there I was thinking the champion was in a bit of difficulty.

For sure, the second safety car was a get-out-of-jail card but we have seen this all before i.e. things always fall in Vettel's lap.

It was surprising seeing the Lotus' pace during the race because the Lotus have always preferred the hot conditions and struggled at the cooler ones.

Once again Kimi let himself down with a poor qualifying and if it wasn't for the fact Grosjean is pretty good, the fans would have been tempted to believe that was what the car was capable of.

According to Gary Anderson, Sauber adopted a new exhaust design somewhat similar to the Red Bulls and Lotus which helps with rear downforce.

It's because of this that we have seen a marked improvement in the team and also why Hulkenburg was able to have good traction out of corners just like Vettel in Singapore.

As for other teams not using the Red Bull design philosophy namely Ferrari, it was just wasn't their day for a day when Alonso doesn't somehow benefit from a safety car deployment is the day you know the Samurai isn't up for the fight.

Likewise, it was a pretty miserable day for the Mercedes team as what could possibly go wrong, went wrong.

But once again, this isn't anything new for Lewis is the sort of bloke to get a puncture immediately after passing the pitlane entrance whilst the other lucky onces get such issues on their in-lap.

In a way, it's better for the team to encounter such problems when they aren't fighting for the win or the championship, this just makes them come back stronger the next time round >>> at least I hope so.

Last but not least, Pirelli owe Williams a couple of points for it isn't fair for Maldonado to suffer that way with the tyres after he made a brilliant start to his race.


"It’s because of this that we have seen a marked improvement in the team and also why Hulkenburg was able to have good traction out of corners just like Vettel in Singapore."

You mean Sauber have traction control too?!?


@ Andrew M


It appears Sauber too have a special system that's working for them.


You make it sound like it's so easy to overtake. Tell that to Lewis and Fernando, stuck behind the slower car.


Looking at his rate of progress, if nothing else KR will be a massive lost to Lotus (end of season prize money).


Not if they replace him with the Hulk. The Hulk smoked Kimi on a fast track like Monza.


Massive. That point difference between Kimi and Romain, this year as well as last - I would hate to be Eric Boulier to motivate sponsors, partners and crew for next year.


Pirelli has to take greater blame for tire failure. They have to find a way to construct safe tires that degrade.


My prediction came almost true. Lotus 2 and 3. Not 1 and 2. Maybe this weekend?..


Maybe if Pirelli got to do proper testing with current cars they would be able to produce quick degrading tyres that were safe? I happen to like the quick degrading tyres and since they changed it's lost some excitement. Change the rules, let everyone test the darn things



We don’t hear much about the Williams car these days, but your report showed that it seems to “eat” its tyres. Has this been the case all season long?

Alberto Martínez

James, I´m surprised with the fact that Vettel used a set of used mediums in his first stint. Why didn´t he use a set of new mediums? Even other teams such as Ferrari, Lotus, Mercedes or Sauber had 2 sets of new mediums to race with.

On the other hand, I think that in this race Vettel was not controlling his pace as you say. There are several facts that makes me think that:

- His raw pace in Qualifying (the moment where you can evaluate the sheer pace of a car) was only 0.35s faster than Grosjean´s.

- At the beginning of his second stint Vettel pushed like hell because his advantage had been reduced to only 2 seconds. During these laps he was around 0.4s faster than Grosjean, but Lotus confirmed that at that stage they had in mind to leave Grosjean 5 laps longer to attack Vettel in his final and last stint.

- Although his fastest lap of the race was 0.55s faster than Grosjean´s, one has to take into account the Frenchman was slowed down by his teammate (6 lap older tyres) and at least had 0.2s-0.3s in his pocket in a GP where he was clearly faster than Raikkonen.

IMO the advantage of RB against Lotus was too marginal to be controlling the pace, less knowing that Lotus main advantage is tyre degradation.


Didn't watch it for the most obvious reasons in the world!!!


Your dog ate your homework?

Always worked for me 🙂


I do not think Kimi was slower than Romain in the final stint; otherwise Romain would be immediately at DRS range.But even though Kimi had 6 laps older tyres than his teammate, Romain couldn't use DRS except last two laps, so how did you conclude that Kimi was slower ?


lap Vettel Grosjean gap Raikkonen gap

30 1:44.774 1:45.014 5.411 SC 51.385

40 2:35.628 2:34.166 1.125 SC 2:34.958 0.532

41 1:42.185 1:43.481 2.421 1:43.055 1.402

42 1:41.996 1:42.680 3.105 1:42.641 2.047

43 1:41.726 1:42.244 3.623 1:42.134 2.455

44 1:41.671 1:42.217 4.169 1:42.098 2.882

45 1:42.095 1:42.062 4.136 1:42.131 2.918

46 1:41.829 1:41.936 4.243 1:42.114 3.203

47 1:42.006 1:42.332 4.569 1:42.128 3.325

48 1:41.976 1:42.355 4.948 1:42.297 3.646

49 1:41.862 1:42.360 5.446 1:42.269 4.053

50 1:42.051 1:42.146 5.541 1:42.269 4.271

51 1:41.666 1:42.049 5.924 1:41.975 4.580

52 1:42.029 1:42.022 5.917 1:42.358 4.907

53 1:41.380 1:41.944 6.481 1:42.207 5.734

54 1:42.614 1:42.235 6.102 1:42.237 5.357

55 1:43.578 1:42.403 4.927 1:42.445 4.224


Nodoubtyourpostisvalidandwouldbeofinteresttoothers. Perhapsifyouhadspaceditouttheywouldbeabletoreadit 😉


Sorry 'bout that!

However, I did spaced it in my post but t'was busted by wordpress I suppose...

You'll be able to get all data at this FIA link (assuming it goes thru)


ha ha ha love it! :-P;-)


Unfortunately the safety car did rob us of a potentially interesting finish between Sebastian and the Lotus'.

However it did provide a great finish down the rest of the order.


What has happened to Ross Brawn lately? He would never have made mistakes like this a few years ago. Has he dropped off or was he not in control of race strategy?


Rumors say he is quitting Mercedes by the end of this year. He said to the Team/Lauda at the end of Korean GP.

Lauda of course denies it saying "talks are on to keep him for next year".


Great question, what is the historically greatest strategist in the sport doing?

Could it be that his calls are not the ones that are being followed?

What is Ross doing?


Ross B was busy updating his CV for Honda HR, when suddenly . . . oops safety car.



If you wear a tyre down to nothing then lock the brake until it wears right through it goes bang!

I can verify that this will happen on road tyres too.

Once you reach the second canvas you are on borrowed time. Maybe you are not old enough to remember crossply tyres with canvas reinforcement. I used to buy second hand tyres and sometimes put a tube in them, days of zero grip in the wet but they worked like slicks in the dry (which indeed they were) until they wore through.


Is it confirmed somewhere that Lotus was really planning 3rd stop for Kimi before SC? I have been thinking earlier that Lotus strategists are using just pure luck.. If that planned 3rd stop is true, Im convicted about it.. They have no idea what they are doing 😀


Kimi said after the race that they were planning to try to go to the end of the race after the second pit stop, but wasn't sure if that had been possible. According to him, his tires were more or less done after the race, so without the SC, he most likely would have been forced to come to pits for the third time.


That sounds reasonable. Tyre strategy was on the edge but I cant see reason why they wouldnt have tried it. I think pace car made tyre situation more difficult because Kimi was trying to hold Grosjean´s fresh tyres. Without pace car, he would have been far away behind Grosjean and he could have saved more when racing against struggling Mercs for 3th intead of Grosjean.


Wasn't Kimi asked over the radio about what he thinks of the tyres will they last? To which he replied, not sure lets see how many laps we'll do behind the safety car. I think I can make it without a stop. This was at the first SC period. Where they were letting the back markers unlap. (Well atleast that is what Ted Reported on Sky)


Korea and Singapore are pretty good bets for safety cars, aren't they?

If that's is your best bet, and the likelihood is statistically high, what would you do?


There's a great article on Sky Sports by Mark Hughes covering the tyre issue. The link is too long to post here but it's well worth a read.

Basically, Pirelli wanted to bring harder compounds to Korea but gave in to pressure from several teams (especially Ferrari) to go with softer compounds in an effort to slow down RB.

"Ferrari had been part of a group of teams pushing to have the softest tyre here - and although Pirelli has no way of knowing for certain what their motivation was in this, it can be safely assumed it was to reduce the advantage of Red Bull."


"he then asked the Ferrari driver if he knew who had asked that Pirelli bring the super-soft as the option tyre rather than the soft. Fernando did not. "Your boss," Hembery was able to inform him."


Life is funnier than a Hollywood script.


Thanks for that. I have posted the correct link here: http://bit.ly/1hyBThV


Two thumbs up for Ferrari, that was a master stroke 🙂

What next? Insisting to the FIA that Vettel be given a more powerful engine in the hopes that it will blow up?


Just look at that graph from Vettek, thats almost machine lije consistency whilst driving an excellent car, I suppose 2 geniuses in 1 average team can create this sort of poetry emotion on a graph, Vettel and Newey combined are like something supernatural, only a bery poor Renault engine can stop these 2 in the next few years.


Why is Vettel and Alonso using used mediums? Where did they use the set that others are having as new? Or are they just called used if they have been broken in or used while driving to starting grid.

what is the rule when driving from the pits to the starting grid? Are you able to use any tyre or must it be the qualifying tyre?


Slight correction James, Perez didn't luck into pitting behind the safety car on lap 31, he caused it with his giant lock up and subsequent blow out.


Hmmm mistyping on these smartphones seems rather easy lol but anyway shame Rosberg's wing failed he had a good run up til then.


Trust me, mistyping on a proper keyboard is just as easy lol 🙂


Interesting, KImi from ninth to the best of the competition.

Vettel-Red Bull is really not in the competition, but as comprehensively ahead of it the slower Marussia is behind it.

I write again, the only package really, even close to, challenging the V-RB is Grosjean-Lotus; he drove a good race, only one mistake, but when the mistake is to your team mate, the best and most aggressive driver in the competition, that is enough to lose the spot.

Bringing it back to strategic analysis:

FINALLY, Lotus is driving their race to their strengths; at least where there is a safety car, this has resulted in the most points that can be scored by them.

Though easy in hindsight to identify the short-comings in the Mercedes strategy, even at the time, I was wondering, why?

I got the feeling that the Grosjean snatch of second off the start psychologically finished Hamilton, but the poor strategy didn't help it.

One could also notice the trend of Kimi never really getting comfortable with the revised edition Pirelli tires; they just won't bite properly, do they, for that style.

But they suit Grosjean, who seems to drive a bit more like Vettel, touching the throttle and turning early, kicking the back end out a bit, to get around the corner. It must wear the rears a bit more, but it's working for Grosjean, so far.

About the continued whining and complaining (though starkly moderated after the fact) directed at the Pirelli: it is not at all old, nor worn, Hembrey's assertion that Pirelli delivered what they were asked for, in the first place.

The mid-season change was wrong, but that is the way it goes in this sport; there is a very clear trend.

So we have now, what we have, regardless of the validity of the reason for the mid-season change to the specification.

Now that the drivers and team strategists have the trends in tire degradation characteristics, get on with it!

It is, what it is.

Get over it!

Speaking of strategy, I wonder what good old, extremely strategically clever Ross Braun is up to? He could go just about anywhere he wants, I wonder where that will be?

Good report; I am telling...



Grosjean 40 GP - Raikkonen 190 GP

..."but when the mistake is to your team mate, the best and most aggressive driver in the competition, that is enough to lose the spot."...

I'm convinced that Grosjean will remember the trick for a long time 😛


Thanks James. After three seasons with Pirelli, what is your assessment on what they have brought to F1? Has Pirelli and the aggressive tyre options (at Bernie's bidding) improved the spectacle or not? Has it improved the "actual" racing between the cars or has it just mixed "things" up enough to hold the spectators' interest? Tyres have brought much anguish to F1 this year and does this suggest a different direction needs serious consideration?


The real issue here is - is F1 sports or entertainment?

In case it's sports, then these tyres are just ridiculous.

In case it's entertainment, they are +/- Ok. But then of course one must be prepared that this is just the first gimmick to "spice up the show". Medals, short races, reversed grids, and whatnot may come next.

So, I say this is a very dangerous road F1 is taking now. Bending over to please the channel jumpers it may turn into a silly WWF type "lowest common denominator" show and loose the hard core fans. Channel jumpers though are such a finicky lot, they can be lost in an eyeblink. And then what?

I believe Jean Todt understands this well enough, but with the famous Mosley-Ecclestone deal his hands are tied.


There have been plenty of exciting races, the strategy side has been pretty interesting, which I enjoy. On the whole it's mixed things up a bit (not lately!)

Obvious negatives are drivers not being able to push and the failures, which are scary in the case of Alonso almost being hit by bits of steel belt in Silverstone and Webber in the debris of Perez in Korea


just a small point james, but have you read the transcript of the pit to car to pit messages?

if not then i would suggest that you do so as it puts these trash tyres into greater perspective, especially from the drivers viewpoint. almost total domination as a subject matter and, IMO, totally detracting from the racing element.


Whatever happens at Suzuka this weekend nothing can top this



Good one, thank you


As far as Kimi's qualifying is concerned I think he's having trouble with the switch to the Kevlar belts. If you look at the quali stats, he was 7-0 on steel belts vs. 2-5 on the kevlar. He has throughout his career regularly had trouble getting his tyres to optimal temperature for qualifying. I believe I first remember hearing him mention this during his first year at Ferrari. He had trouble getting the Bridgestones up to temp and actually never seemed to get on top of it. Maybe that's why he put in so many fast laps in 07/08 but was out qualified by Massa on the whole. It would make sense that his smoother than normal style takes longer to get the tyres in the perfect operating range.

Any word on if Pirelli is planning the switch back to steel belts? Especially considering they weren't the determining factor in the failures.


IIRC 2007, Kimi often did a lap after his out lap to warm the tyres before another fast lap to set the time. Tyres were different in those days. Massa did not do likewise.


You know James, Vettel tires were marginal as Horner said but he set the fastest lap on lap 53....I'm just suspicious he's been holding his pace to just a mere 4.2 secs from Kimi so as not to create another uproar for more questioning like in Singapore.

The only thrill left for me this season is Alonso trying to stop him from wrapping up his WDC in Japan and hopefully a few more races later. Then try to get excited from Alonso and the rest fighting for 2nd, 3rd and so forth. Better than nothing.

Let's just enjoy what's left for us poor fans as Hamilton remarked.

F1 is like an addiction even as we moan about the runaway Vettel. And as for me I'll still watch all the races despite the RB domination.


@ deancassady, your exhortation for those who simply don't share your opinion, 'to get over it' and disagree on a sound and logical basis is uncalled for.

in this specific case my opinion is as valid as is yours, despite my thinking that you are totally misguided. i try to keep an open mind but at the same time allow for other opinions. you might try and do the same.


Here is Kimi's reaction when Romain was explaining to Vettel being overtaken and then "stuck" behind Kimi.






Next time I must shorten the link...



Kimi laughing behind his towel!

Too happy to have tricked Romain fair and square!

that's the difference between someone having 1 CDM and 190 GPs under his cap and a fellow with only 40 GPs to show.

This is called experience isn't?


Hi James,

at the beginning of the season all the talk was about FRIC and DDRS, but recently we have heard nothing about those. What is the latest news? Do all the big teams have some form of FRIC working now? And have teams abandoned DDRS for now?

What is your view regarding these two gadgets for 2014? They should become relatively more important than exhaust blown diffusers, which appear yet again to be the must have innovation of the moment.


Good point. I'll check


Not trying to be picky, I just find it amusing when we talk about "front nose", I mean where else would the nose be...?


James why did Vettel change to a used set of mediums at his first stop , I thought he had two sets of new ones available after only using one set during qualifying?


All this BS about tyres is just an indication of how short sighted, narrow minded, and forgetful EVERYONE involved in F1 are.... teams, drivers, FIA, fans and the media....

We all remember 10 years ago, when there were fears and complaints throughout the grid, in teams, in FOM and complaints from the fans that races were boring, with no overtaking and little "show"

Now, having been mandated to provide a variable that spices up the races, and with new technology to aid overtaking and complicate strategy, fans and media are again whinging, only this time its gone the other way, and teams are doing what the teams do best, looking after their own self interest, and individually lobbying for their own benefits, rather than the collective.

Petty, petulant, and tiresome (pun intentional 😉 on all parts


i don't know how many times i have had to point out that most of those 'processional' races were not down to tyres preventing passing but 'aero' problems.

if you have been following F1 you would remember the 'adjustable flap/front wings' and the supposed but never introduced new rear wings for variable 'aero downwash'. these were all designed to overcome the aero problems that hindered passing. why do you think KERS and DRS systems were introduced? aero aero aero. nothing to do with the tyres as a solo issue.


How can Vettel be 2 seconds a lap faster than the next car within one lap after the safety car and 4 seconds a lap faster on the second lap after the safety car when he's not 2 seconds a lap faster than any car in qualifying. Then is constantly told to look after his tyres as he continually does fastest laps! Apart from the winner an entertaining race!


Some drivers work hard while others hang their private parts in the pool!


I think you meant "designers".


because he is driving a different car. different to webbers car as well. that much is blatantly obvious.

sauber have also learnt new tricks.


Here's a tech question for James. We saw both Force Indias's involved in very similar crashes where the back end suddenly came around and the car spun.Some have said the new tyres are the cause but it's not obvious to me how that could be. Any insights on that?


Something I've noticed. When Grosjean up there after a good Saturday Up there in the top rows, he has fairly good starts and is great dicing with the big boys.

Busapest, Alonso tried his party move on turn 2 around the outside he fairly closed the door on him. And he owned Hamilton at the start here 😛


have just finished reading the transcripts of pit to car to pit during the korean GP. very interesting to note that approx 90% of all communications related to tyres.

absolutely wrong, IMO, that these tyres are the single most dominating factor in the entire race.


Kenneth, where did you find these transcripts of pit to car to pit communication? I'd love to read it. Thanks.


@ stefan, hope you don't mind james....F1fanatic has posted the transcripts. they do it a few days after every GP.

makes for very interesting reading, sometimes.


Thank you. I'm sure it does.


Thanks Kenneth

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