Alonso versus Hulkenberg and other tales from Malaysian GP
Strategy Report
Posted By: James Allen  |  01 Apr 2014   |  1:21 pm GMT  |  177 comments

Only two races into the new hybrid turbo formula, the intense heat of Malaysia was always going to be a stiff challenge for the teams, but once again an impressive 15 cars from the 22 starters made it to the end.

Pace was the ultimate decider of this race, with Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton simply too fast for the rest, leading home a Mercedes 1-2, but behind him there were some good battles in which strategy played a key part in the outcome.

Alonso vs Hulkenberg: Different strategies at play
Before the race one of the key decisions was whether to go for two or three stops. In the end only Hulkenberg, starting seventh and Kobayashi, starting 20th went for it.

It was much hotter on race day than it had been in practice, despite the fact that the race started at 16-00hrs local time on Sunday while practice had been held at 14-00hrs on Friday. On top of that heavy rain on Saturday night had washed the rubber away and the track was very dirty on race day, which meant that the cars were sliding around more and overheating the tyres.

The pace of the race was therefore lower than expected – a second a lap slower than Friday practice in fact.

Most teams went for a three stop plan, Magnussen was forced into an early stop on lap 9 with a damaged front wing from the collision with Raikkonen, while Alonso was being very aggressive by taking his first stop on lap 11, a lap or two earlier than the optimum. He was locked once again into a fascinating battle with Hulkenberg’s Force India.

Ferrari went for the aggressive route to let Alonso really attack the German, while Force India decided to try something different; they went for a two stopper. There were several reasons for this; although their pace was similar, as Melbourne had showed, they didn’t believe that they could overtake Alonso on the same strategy.

Also there was a threat of rain and having a more flexible strategy meant that they could potentially luck into a stop as the rain arrived and catch out Ferrari who would be multi stopping and might have just been in when the rain came.

Ferrari was also mindful of tyre degradation. In Friday practice Alonso’s car did a long run on hard tyres, which didn’t look great from the tyre degradation perspective. In the race his degradation was as high as anyone’s, this will be a concern to Ferrari moving forward and must be addressed if they are to be competitive.

A two stopper puts you ahead of the three stopper you are racing against after his final stop. So Hulkenberg found himself 14 seconds ahead after Alonso’s last stop, with 13 laps to go. Anything could happen. Force India had lost nothing and it was well worth a go. In the end it did not work out, Alonso made the most of his aggressive plan and used the new medium tyres in the final stint to catch and pass the German for fourth place.

Alonso had taken the hard tyre in his third stint, rather than at the end because he knew he would need the extra performance to pass Hulkenberg.

The Alonso Hulkenberg battle gave the race an interesting strategic case study and was another heroic performance from Hulkenberg and Force India.

Keeping cool on track.. and on the pit wall

Cooling strategies were also a significant player in the outcome in Malaysia. All teams knew that they would have to compensate for the high temperatures by opening up the bodywork for cooling in some way and that this would cost them aerodynamic performance.
This was a factor in Ferrari having stronger performance in Malaysia than McLaren, despite McLaren’s upgrade package with a new front wing. It had been the other way around in Australia.

It also played a role in the “team orders” controversy at Williams, as Massa’s car was running hotter than Bottas’, according to Williams’ senior engineer Rod Nelson. Bottas had been instructed to stay behind Massa early in the race, despite believing he was faster. The pair was behind Button – Bottas felt he had the pace to pass the McLaren.

Bottas’ strategy involved him pitting two laps later each time than Massa and four laps later than Button at the final stop. So he had a car with no cooling issue and much fresher tyres for an attack on Button in the final stint.

Williams say that the plan was for Massa to let Bottas have three or four laps to attack Button and then if he were unsuccessful, Bottas would drop back behind Massa again for the finish. Massa refused to co-operate and they finished in that order.

There is a fine line between team orders and strategic plays and this was a strategic play by Williams; the trouble is Massa has been on the wrong end of team orders many times in his career and it definitely affected his self-esteem and his trust in the team.

It was extremely unfortunate that Williams chose similar wording here to the infamous “Fernando is faster than you” coded message from Ferrari in Germany 2010 to let Alonso through to win the race. And psychologically this may well have contributed to Massa refusing to collaborate, making it look more like a team orders situation than a strategic play.

Would Bottas have passed Button for sixth place if allowed to try? Well in Australia he was the driver who made the most significant overtakes and in Malaysia he had made up six places on the opening lap after being hit with a grid penalty. So he certainly looked racy. Pace wise it would have been difficult, but his fresher tyres would have given him a chance, perhaps. Williams are mindful that although they have 20 points on the board and lie fourth in the constructors’ table, they need to maximise their results in these early races with a very quick car. They probably feel that they haven’t really been able to do that.

In terms of strategy the question here is, was it worth the risk of damaging Massa psychologically and potentially undermining his trust in the team at this early stage for the sake of an extra two points?

The team clearly felt he would understand the strategic side of their intentions and they will be working with him now to understand. It is important for fans also to understand the difference between a team order and a strategic play.

Reliable pit stops count for more
It is noticeable this season that many teams are not chasing the ultimate speed in pit stops, preferring to be consistent and eliminate the risk of something going wrong.

Rather than go for the sub 2 seconds stops we saw last season, many teams prefer now to take half a second longer and avoid foul-ups. It is noticeable, for example, how Mercedes has slipped down the table of fastest stops, but its stops are consistent. Red Bull showed in Malaysia how time lost in a botched stop can ruin a driver’s race and take away all chance of points.

Daniel Ricciardo’s front left wheel was not properly fixed on after his third stop and it cost him fourth place. Ferrari remains the benchmark team for pit stops this season.

The UBS Race Strategy Report is prepared by JA on F1, with input and data from several F1 teams, from Pirelli and from JA on F1 technical adviser Mark Gilla

Race History Graph, Courtesy of Williams Martini Racing

[Click on graph to enlarge] The zero line is an imaginary car setting the winner’s average lap speed every lap.
Note the Button, Massa, Bottas battle and the way Bottas had set himself up for an attack in the final stint by staggering his stops so his tyres would be fresher for the final stint. Note also the pace of Hamilton in the opening stint and the way he eases off to control the race after that. It is very reminiscent of a trace from Vettel in the second half of last year.

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Boring race, slept through most of it. And sadly although they are technologically sophisticated…boring cars to match.


Hi James,

Any thoughts on the Ricciardo V Vettel battle so far? Seems to be heating up also i think!!! But I think we still need a few races to still to see..


Early days yet. RIC had a good run in Australia, needs some points on the board this weekend to steady the ship

Will be harder with a 10 place grid drop, however


With the Williams scenario we have to ask ourselves one question, if Massa let Bottas past , how keen would Bottas be to let Massa back past if he didnt get past Button, it would make Bottas look very silly indeed, I personally feel that once Bottas was in front of Massa he wouldnt of given the place back as position rules and his inability to pass Button wouldnt look as bad if he finished behind him rather than behind Massa after a botched attempt.


James, please would you consider adding a little more information?

What happened to the ease of overtaking here? Does the Ferrari have a large top speed deficit?

After the lap one puncture the second Ferrari ran the same strategy as Hulkenberg (not sure about which tyres in each stint though), but lost over 25 seconds apparently stuck behind a Caterham and a Lotus for about ten laps each.


“It is important for fans also to understand the difference between a team order and a strategic play.” Yes, if is Alonso envolved we talk about Team orders, if is Williams at 2nd race of the season: strategic play. O please, in both cases we are talking about one driver faster than the other but Alonso’s – Massa situation is by far (strategically speaking) more justifiable than this one. The difference of score between two mates, in the midlle of the season, and the chances for fight for the WDC are heavy resons to “play strategically”. So then…. What’s the real reason to justify one and generate so noise and Media headlines in the other? Thanks James, we know now: “strategic play & team orders”.


Hi James,

What is the reasoning behind penalising Ricciardo twice for the bad pitstop? It seems a bit unfair for him to be assigned a penalty during the race and then another one after the race and affecting next week’s race.


The FIA clearly favors Vettel over Ricciardo..



It is the new regulation, one goes with the penalty


If Botta was 100% sure of passing Button, then just pass Massa on your own first!

I believe Massa would not have made an extremely defensive move to prevent Botta to pass if he attempted to pass.

It seems more likely that Botta could have passed Massa only if Massa slowed down and let him through. That is not fast enough my dear.


Hello James, off topic.

Is there any truth to the story on the websit,

Thay claim Redbull are devaloping it’s own engine

and planing to start using it from Austria on.


I don’t think so. We’d have known about that, if it was happening!


“Williams are mindful that although they have 20 pouts on the board…”

No doubt the pouts are evenly split between Massa and Bottas with 10 pouts each.

5 pouts from Massa for being taken out in Melbourne and 5 pouts from team orders.

5 pouts from Bottas for hitting the wall in Melbourne and 5 pouts because Massa did not move over.


What’s going on with McLaren? With around 80HP more than Red Bull and Ferrari they really ought to finishing behind Mercedes at worst. They’re a big team with a lot of resources and money. Yet Eric Boullier has said he expects about the same results in Bahrain as they managed in Malaysia.


Re merc pit stop slowing, would comment that merc car being a league of there own will most certainly slow pit stops down whilst there is no competition to de-risk, can guarantee as soon as the bulls pick up pace so too will the pit stops


Hey James Allen,

Why not do an April fool’s joke article?

Make it really outrageous but with enough circumstantial bits to make it believable.


LOL! how could you ask James to do that, he’s a very busy man.


I have better things to do with my time


This made me laugh anyway. Mission accomplished.

James not Allen

Hopefully just a quick question.

Could we get some clarification on what the ‘zero’ line represents? Call me a pedant, but if it is the average line, shouldn’t the lead driver spend as much time above the line as under it? If the +’s and -‘s don’t all sum to zero then how can it be the average? Is there a treatment being used to deal with the slower pit stop laps, and if so, what is it please?

And yes, OCD could well be at play here…


Let T = total time required for the winner to travel the entire race distance. Let N = total number of laps.

Then the average lap time, t_avg = T/N.

Imagine a ball which rolls around the track during the race, and it takes the ball a time of t_avg to complete each and every lap.

The vertical axis on the graph is the amount of time by which a particular driver is ahead of the ball (a negative value means that the driver is behind the ball).

Therefore, by definition, the winner of the race MUST have a value of zero after the final lap, and every other driver MUST have a negative value after the final lap.

James not Allen

Thanks Cincy, A lot of confusion could be avoided if the term ‘average’ was applied correctly. The graph is far more of a cumulative exercise. It would also help if the axis were labelled.

The graph tells you very little about actual lap times, rather the position of the drivers relative to an ‘artificial’ leader and whether they are gaining or falling back. Useful, interesting once you get it, but not intuitive.


It’s common parlance in English to use the simple term “average” when referring to the arithmetic mean, you should feel free to intuit that much! (unless and until you find it doesn’t fit)

And the description of the zero line is very good in that it’s concise, precise, and accurate (though I cannot comment on how intuitive it might be to individuals).

If you had any confusion (and your final paragraph suggests you have it clear now), surely it was from the lack of a description of the driver’s respective lines and the unlabelled axes?


Agreed. I remember a while back when an entire post was devoted to explaining this graph, and it was incorrect even then. On this particular graph, the zero point (on the vertical axis) is very clearly not the winner’s average lap time (i.e. total race time / number of laps). The area above and below the curve would have to be the same, and it’s clearly not. Also, given the start is from a standstill, one would expect the first lap to much slower than any other lap of the race, excluding laps on which pit stops occurred.


> On this particular graph, the zero point

> (on the vertical axis) is very clearly not

> the winner’s average lap time (i.e. total

> race time / number of laps). The area above

> and below the curve would have to be the

> same, and it’s clearly not.

Odd, given that your explanation in your reply of 11:27pm just below is correct, that you have this detail wrong.

If the drivers’ respective lines showed their individual lap times in sequence, *then* the zero line would be the average and give you the equal area above and below the zero line you refer to.

But you know they’re not, they’re showing what you yourself describe below, and hence areas above and below the zero line are not relevant.


So why is Hulkenberg not in a Ferrari or RBR seat this season? He proved the end of last season and is proving again this season he is one helluva driver. I know why RBR chose Ricciardo(promote drivers from within) but they should’ve at least given Nico the chance at the spot. And Ferrari could’ve avoided so much ego on 1 team by opting to sign Nico instead of Kimi. He’s obviously shown he is far superior driver than Perez and hopefully he can continue to string solid finishes this year, which will be remarkable for a mid-pack team.


I have a feeling he will be at MacLaren next year replacing JB specially if JB is beaten by Magnesium.

I am just guessing/wishing.

Torchwood Five

Not Ferarri’s policy.

Ferarri’s policy is to “Have a Champion in the car.”

They took Alonso’s (two time world champion) comments last year as a sign that he might leave them, so re-hired Raikonnen (World Champion) as backup if Fernando abandoned them.

Also, Fernando criticized the car. Historically a severe no-no, so just as likely that (at the time in 2013 with those strained press conferences) Luca De Montezemolo could fire his ****.


can someone explain the graphs 0 line? if its average lap time of hamilton, how come hamilton is below it for most of the race?


It is an accumulative average.

Let’s say the winners average is 100 seconds.

A driver does Lap 1 in 120 seconds, lap 2 takes 115 seconds, and lap 3 takes 110 seconds. The graph after lap 3 would show 45 seconds (20 + 15 + 10).

I have to confess that it is the first time I’ve seen this graph where the winner has actual gone ABOVE the 0 line, during the race.


It happens quite often where there is a wet race or a safety car, but yes I don’t remember ever seeing that in a totally dry non-SC race before.


Agree, you have to start from last lap. The first are much slower


I am so, so, so addicted to the UBS post race report from James. Race weekend is not over for me until this comes out. Thanks again James. Waiting for the podcast now. Dang!


Did I miss the lengthy, techno/political arguments about fuel flow this race?

Haven’t read one word about it.



Good point – makes you think.


Gonna need some new colors. The oranges of Hulk and Alonso were confusing and the blacks of Button, Massa and Bottas, the same.


…….concern to Ferrari moving forward……

You mean ‘In the future’


“…was it worth the risk of damaging Massa psychologically and potentially undermining his trust in the team..” And the converse too, was it worth the risk to Massa of damaging the team’s trust in Massa. I like FM, wished he’d refused the Ferrari order, that would’ve shown far more courage than now with a lesser team.

And I agree about whoever gave him the message, using the same words, beyond stupid and insensitive…

Torchwood Five

“Beyond stupid and insensitive”?

What would you be saying if they told him “to get the **** out of the way!”


I expect his Ferrari contract contained a clause resulting in employment termination if he didn’t follow coded orders (other 2nd drivers have mentioned this is common at Ferrari) I expect he didn’t sign a similar clause at Williams so he’s not risking defaulting on conditions.


This is one driver’s battle that would be fantastic to see settled out on track. Until the two demonstrate that they can’t race each other hard but fair, Williams would do well to just sit back, watch what happens and enjoy the show. The retro drinks livery deserves that sort of show.


Notice. No talk about actual racing. No thrill. Just who said what, how many stops who did, what happened to who, how brilliantly Hamilton did in this head above car, what percentage of fuel somebody abused (ps. choice of words intentional).

I bet it seems interesting for a person inside. But outsiders it is starting to annoy a little bit too much.

To my grandmother knitting process is interesting. I love her but this is very boring to me. F1 is starting to be like that too.


Hi James,

I feel this season constructor champion is Mercedes to lost! Can’t recall we have seen such dominant season after Ferrari+MS era! Do you really believe other will be able to challenge them, even RBR?


We’ve only had two races! If it keeps up like this, then yeah, it’s theirs to lose. But things can change rapidly in F1.


I still think (read hope) RBR and Ferrari have something to say in this championship. To me it looks like Mercedes has their PU already running 100%, while Renault and Ferrari ones are still beeing calibrated. Solving this problems could let them make bigger performance steps than Mercedes can do by “only” bringing updates. Red Bull is bringing a full new B-spec update for their car in Spain, and Ferrari’s plans are to have a major aero update for the same race and also their final step on their PU matter. Until Barcelona, I say wait and see.


Choice of words were very bad from Williams. Hard to imagine that they used exactly same line as Ferrari did.

Corporate obligations in such an insulting manner are disgusting, Rosberg style.

This weekend it seemed like Rosberg was there just to say that line. Money earned. Back to home. Never a true racer. He will get stuck to this mentality.

Probably just imagine this but Red Bull and FIA are at war and if one side will step over gentleman agreements it will be flood.

Maldonado is in very dark place indeed. Almost sorry but nooooot.

Fernando is a time traveler. Same talk different year. It`s not even a serious anymore. You are where you are. Why to say it every now and then. Freaky.

Example: Fernando finished 4th. He said we took maximum. Traction bad. He said we are behind RB. Ahead of Raikkonen. He said i`m ahead of Raikkonen. Like an eskimo.

Very bad publicity towards Renault from Red Bull. Renault must feel very angry and humiliated.


So what we learnt from Malaysia is that the new tyres don’t really give anybody an advantage when it comes to the heat as we saw last season. For now if it’s hot, everybody has to go for the 3 stops.

Fair play to Force India and Caterham’s Kobayashi for trying something different for as always you never know what gifts can presented with a conservative tyre strategy.

As for Mercedes, am still surprised that without Brawn, they haven’t put a foot wrong strategy wise unlike Monaco 2013 when the team should have won it’s first 1-2.

The Williams drama reminded me what a cool head Jenson is for when it comes to defending, Jenson is up there with the best of them.

Regards the pitstops, it sure makes sense to have slower pitstops after the new penalties came into force but unlike Mercedes who had no threat, Riccardo was racing Alonso and so risks had to be taken.


“As for Mercedes, am still surprised that without Brawn, they haven’t put a foot wrong strategy wise unlike Monaco 2013 when the team should have won it’s first 1-2.”

That didn’t lose that 1-2 due to “strategy”, they lost it because Lewis made a mistake and left too big a gap, as he admitted himself afterwards.


Lewis admitted to a mistake, but there was no way he would’ve emerged 2nd even if he didn’t trail 3 seconds behind where he should’ve been. I watched the video of that at least 30x. Even Rosberg JUST got out ahead of Vettel, and Webber was close behind. Hamilton wasn’t even close to exiting pit lane when Webber had gone past. And that is with Vettel and Webber having been held up temporarily by the SC, before they were waved past. Without that it would’ve been an RBR 1-2.

Mercedes made a mistake in not pitting at least one of their cars after seeing Massa’s accident, which it was clear would produce a SC. RBR called Vettel in (Webber had already pitted before), and the SC was deployed as he was coming into his pit box.

That should’ve been an easy call for Mercedes to make.


Lewis is part of the team…


@ SteveS

Aah yes, I remember now. Thanks.


In looking at this graph I have to wonder if Mercedes wasn’t playing with Vettel to see what kind of pace the RB could muster. Look in the first and last stint- Nico pulled on Vettel consistently. The second stint had Nico just maintaining a few seconds to Vettel- enough to make Vettel chase and see the actual pace of the RB. Had they just pulled away, Vettel could have turned everything down as he didn’t have much challenge from behind him. It is clear that Merc has a lot of pace in hand at the moment- were they just monitoring how far RB had come from Aus? I hope we get some speed out of the RB and Ferarri- this Merc domination will grow old very quickly…


Sorry- 1st and 3rd stint show the pace advantage- the 2nd stint shows the “rabbit” phase where Nico was just letting Vettel chase as fast as he could.


Was Rob Smedley instrumental in the phrasing of the message or was he holding his head weeping?


I really don’t see any thrill anymore on this kind of racing. The Alonso-Hulk battle was decided by tyres, two vs three stops. Massa-Bottas also down to tyres. The fact Williams was unable to handle properly their teams orders is the big news! And it should be about the only guy in this 2014 season that is really racing whoever is in front. Bottas represents what we want to see and it is a shame he wasn’t allowed to go after Button. For sure, the way in which they told Massa to let him by must have been like a creepy Deja-vu. But the sad point here is that Williams denied Bottas the chance to race his team mate and therefore Button.

2nd race and still I don’t like the sound. Sounds like F3. Shame…


Didn’t the team also say to Bottas ‘go past Massa?’ I’m pretty sure I heard a message relayed to Bottas as well. While everyone is focusing on Massa ‘disobeying’ if Bottas was so massively talented and faster than Massa why didn’t he just pass him? Let’s face it Button is a far better defensive driver than Massa anyway so if Bottas couldn’t easily take his teammate it wasn’t going to be a pushover taking JB in 2-3 laps.

Sorry to Bottas but if he wants to show he’s dominating his teammate he’ll have to do a Vettel and take matters into his own hands.


James, please pardon my ignorance. Is it Hulk lead part of the race when Lewis in Pit, so he must be top for few laps in the graph, but the graph is not showing. I dont have the details which lap and how many laps he lead..but when Lewis went for Pit that time Hulk lap graph suppose to be higger than Lewis. Isn’t so? please clarify. Thanks.


Remember Lewis got grand chelem!


Lewis crossed the line first and overtook Hulk on his out lap, I believe.


Hulk led for part of a lap but Lewis overtook him before they crossed the finish line, so he never actually had a “lead lap”


Hulk didnt actually lead a lap since Ham passed him after pitting but before ending next lap, so averages will show Ham leading every lap

I do think (feel) lines should be closer though


James would you say that Williams issue of downforce played a big part in the difficulty of both cars challenging Mclaren as well as each other through the traditional braking zones ?- this also seemed to negate their corner exit strengths. Obviously passing down the straights or on corner exits over lessor cars was relatively easy.

If this is the case then both Felipe and even Valtteri have some work to do because they both appeared to lack creativity in their driving lines to make up deficits on each other or Jenson. The smarter drivers drive the car differently to get out of the dirty air and onto the corner exits right on the tail of opponents to get that tow down the straights or take different lines into corners to get a switch back etc..Im sure the easy answer is “more downforce” but there is a little more these drivers can do. Hate to say it but Fernandos passes were perfect examples and his fight with Hulk & the passes on a few others was exemplary.

Funny how Alonso / Hulk lines and Erikson/ Chilton lines compare.Wonder if that was half decent battle.!


I agree with Force India trying a two-stop for Hulky; yes, it could have gone either way in terms of the weather. Had it rained, they would have had to make a third stop anyway, so I see the logic in what they did.

As for the pit stops themselves, yet again an Australasian driver driving for Red Bull has a bungled pit-stop………….no, stop it, I don’t believe in conspiracies……..but what I do believe is incompetence and negligence, and what with the illegal fuel flow in AUS, and a bungled pit stop for Daniel in MAL, Red Bull are guilty of that.

Is grand prix racing about bad luck or bad preparation? Bit of both really. Lewis and Sebastian had engine failures in AUS, but that’s motor racing, sometimes when you push the limits, an engine will break, and racing drivers accept mechanical failures as part of the game, it always has been and always will be. However, what happened in AUS and MAL for Daniel is not part of the normal F1 mechanical failures, it is a combination of arrogance and incompetence from his team. I’ve talked a lot on this forum about operational efficiency and the Milton Keynes mob are lacking in that.

On the other hand, respect to Force India. This year’s car looks like a neat package indeed. The fact that Hulky and India finished ahead of Macca and Williams on a bone dry track was very, very impressive. Whether they can keep up the performance during the European season will be their biggest challenge, but will done so far. Keep up it Force India and the Hulk!


“Australasian”? I think Daniel is more Australitalian. 🙂


Ha ha! Nice one, I like that!

Advance Daniel, for you are young and free……….free for your team to keep spoiling your chances unfortunately, but, I’ll give Red Bull third chance lucky for Bahrain.


Sorry error, I meant operational errors.

I’ve just realised my auto-correct is that new Red Bull-Renault turbo V6 system……….no one it keeps going wrong. I’ll have to upgrade to that Mercedes V6 turbo auto-correct……


RE Robb: At best this weekend, Daniel can start 11th, 14th or 15th is more likely. However, I can’t wait to see if he can steam through the field – I’m sure he can.

I’ve been very impressed with Dan’s speed and maturity in the 2 races thus far, he has been within a tenth or two of Sebastian, and as the bench-mark in F1, that is very impressive. Having said that, should I be impressed when Daniel consistently qualified the Torro Rosso in the Top 10 last year? In other words, Dan has always had the performance.

In a way, Daniel reminds me of Jenson, not so much in his driving technique (although Dan does have the finesse and lightness of touch of Jenson), but more in his calm, placid, pragmatic and very measured approach to F1. Daniel has the right attitude, temperament and mental attitude to win races on a consistent basis, so let’s hope the Milton Keynes mob don’t keep making operational areas and like Daniel harvest points on a regular basis.


Yeah, I hope Daniel has better luck in Bahrain. I would really like to see RB give Dan a chance, but I think they really want another WDC with Seb, and would like him to be there to be a rear gunner for Seb towards the end of the year if RB catch up, but not taking points off him now while he needs every point he can get to try to stay close enough to mount a late season charge.


Fascinating graph. Quite clearly shows how dominant Hamilton was on the day and how much better he was than Nico at this race. It was interesting to see the line profile change as he eased off as you pointed out. The other data comparison I found interesting was the comparison between Alonso and Kimi, clearly Kimi must have been dealing with a wounded animal. Has there been any word from Ferrari concerning this?


I’m not sure about the Lewis dominated Nico story. I think Nico did a lot of damage to his rear tyres in turn 4 of the first lap when he lit them up on exit. I think this left him in a tyre management phase through stint 1 and a fuel management phase in stint 2 (I suspect they used more fuel in the first stint to compensate). Everything re balanced in the third stint and Nico pulls out a gap to Vetell.

Don’t know if James can confirm this.

If I’m right it means that this enabled RBR to be closer to the Mercs at this race i.e. Nico defends and Lewis manages the gap.

If Nico had not damaged his tyres right from the first lap, he may have pushed Lewis a bit more and we would have had more insight into the speed of the Mercs.

Perhaps we will see that at Sakhir, which brings me to another point.

James, Sakhir is the first track with a significant climb for the new PUs. Is this more likely to play into the hands of the Merc powered teams and was this one of the factors in testing?


Lewis clearly dominated Nico, everyone could see it. It doesn’t matter that Nico lit up his tires or not, the fact that he did shows you how how he was trying to keep up…


Do Williams really expect us to believe that if Massa had let Bottas through, and Bottas didn’t pass Button, then they would have told Bottas to drop back behind Massa for the chequered flag?

Just as unbelievable is the logic that Bottas would have obeyed the order to drop back behind Massa again.



especially when Bottas says that he was 100% sure he would’ve passed Button. He could, then, just say that he was 100% sure he would pass Massa and not give the place back…


Well, if Bottas thought he could overtake Button, then he surely should be able to overtake Massa in the first place (after all, Massa had an overheating car…). So, IMO he wouldn’t be able to overtake Button. And to believe that, if that was the case, he would return the place to Massa is a bit of a overstretch…


Not necessarily….suppose to get a clean overtake you need to be 1.5 seconds a lap faster. If Massa is one second faster than Button he can’t get by, if Bottas is one second faster than Massa he can’t get by either, BUT that makes Bottas two seconds faster than Button – if he can just get past Massa he has a shot at Button.


sorry for not being clear, but that was exactly the point I was trying to make…


Thanks for the insight james

yet Ferrari and Alonso had to rely on the strategy and fresh set of Mediums to overtake Hulkenburg. The most notable worry is Alonso tried to overtake Hulk in the starights and he simply could not get closer to the Force India, also the pace differential is not big enough. Force India had more or less the same pace which Ferrari showed. Also Alonso opted to make the pasing move out of a slow corner with the help of fresh tyres. At least this reflects Alonso used his application to make the passing move

Big worry is Ferrari are way off the pace when compared to RBR and not comparable at all with Mercedes. Good bye 2014 for Ferrari and Alonso as far as title is concerned.


You’re right about Ferrari being caught off-guard, yet again.

The one crumb of comfort – and it is a crumb – is that perhaps James Allison has implemented an upgrade for the European season that actually works, but we’ll wait and see.

Ferrari’s problems are that are used to the old empirical way of designing and testing cars by wheeling out their machines on to their test track. Their British rivals developed complex simulation software, CFD systems and mathematical modelling to compensate for lack of available track time, and now testing has been effectively banned, relying on clever simulation is the best way to design and develop an F1 car.


But the aero of the car is working completely fine. Their issue is down to drivability and the way the ERS kicks in, which makes the car undrivable our of slow corners and therefore also destroys the rear tyres.

They are apparently bringing a software update to Bahain (relatively small) and then a much bigger one to Spain.


In my previous comment I meant “software for Bahrain”.


As far as I know its a 3 scale update. Softer for Bahrain, new batteries hardware for China and final software for Spain. after that they hope they will be able to exploit electric engines at 100%.


I suspect you’re right. The issue about Ferrari is that there is always an issue – they just can’t put together the complete package in these test restricted days.

Still, lets hope the upgrade works. I hope so – the more competition to challenge a dominant team, the better.


Nice insight, again, thanks!

However, I’m haveing diffuculties getting the full meaning of the Race History Graph:

How can the zero line be the average lap time of the winner’s car when the vast majority of the winner’s car’s lap times are below (slower than) the zero line?

Or are the plots of each car their average lap time (total race time/amount of laps completed so far) at the respective laps?

Richard Groves

I think the graph works like this:

The zero line is the winners total time / number of laps. All the rest are plotted relative to that time.

So if the winner took 60 mins to complete 60 laps then each lap on the X axis would be 1 minute more in time (so the zero line would be 30 mins on lap 30).

The non-winning cars are generally slower throughout the race and therefore are below the winners line: ie in the example I give it might have taken the second place car 31 mins to complete 30 laps and they would then be at 60 seconds below the winner on the lap 30 mark on the X axis. And so on….: The position on the right hand side is how far each car finishes behind the winner.

In the graph for this race you can see that HAM is ahead of his average time at lap 49 – when he was setting the fastest lap I guess – and then is told to slow down until the end.


Well explained. I thought that peak above the line was the fast laps, but I think it is also to do with the late pitstop. If it was 60 seconds a lap and the winner stops at the start of the last lap he’d be 20 seconds or so ahead of his race average and then the stop wipes that out.

What you’d expect is the leader to go bit slower than average at the start of the race and as the fuel burns off go faster than average near the end. What the first few laps of HAM’s trace show, is that early on he was going pretty much at his race average speed. It’s interesting to wonder how much quicker his overall time could have been – he was last to stop for tyres and used less few than the other front runners.


Yes – I think the change in lap time (getting faster towards the end) is the fuel burn off, and explains why all cars are below the zero line for most of the race. Basically the lap time of the cars gets quicker, but the graph has a constant time per X interval.

HAM’s trace does show how much faster he could’ve gone if he’d needed to push right until the end – I hope there are some races this season where we see the Merc’s challenged and really having to go for it.


I think your assumption is indeed correct. Plots of each car are their average lap time until that lap.

Nice and very informative graph!!


1. Ferrari brought Raikkonen in to have a proven baseline for Alonso’s performance. Raikkonen was Ferrari world champion. No comments. Good baseline.

2. Alonso proves he is faster than Raikkonen.

3. Ferrari proves it is slower than Force India (with Merc), Mercedes itself. So Merc power unit does matter.

4. Ferrari proves it is faster than McLaren (with Merc) which proves aero also does matter.

5. Red Bull (with Renault) is faster than Ferrari. Which proves aero does matter.

6. Chassis matter.

7. Hulkenberg would lose to Alonso in Ferrari. He is a talent, he is perspective, but it’s still his car more than him. Let’s watch more difficult races in the rain or in Monte-Carlo turns.


“3. Ferrari proves it is slower than Force India (with Merc), Mercedes itself. So Merc power unit does matter.

4. Ferrari proves it is faster than McLaren (with Merc) which proves aero also does matter.”

You don’t see any contradiction in these statements?


Watch for “more difficult races in the rain”?!?!?

Were you not watching Interlagos a couple of years ago when it rained and rained, and ONLY Jenson Button and Hulk stayed out on slicks? Everyone, even Lewis, pitted for intermediates – and The Hulk chased possibly the best wet weather driver of his generation for almost 15 laps on slicks, in the rain. And they left the rest of the field behind, until a safety car brought the rest of the pack back up to them. They were 40 seconds ahead of the pack before the SC.

I was unsure of The Hulk until that day, but it was a massive drive, and massive skill (until he came together with Lewis). Yep, he’s real.


Racing on slicks in the rain is not a criteria. Winning in the rain is the criteria. So bravity of your favorites is exciting but useless points wise.


JB won that race at Interlagos – do you not watch the races? …and won from last place in the field after a crash in Canada in the rain, and after driving Vettel off the road when he tried to defend against him. I don’t know how long you have been watching F1, but they were rather convincing displays, and rather large points wins.

You JB haters seem to take last year as the only year that matters, but in truth, he has been #1 and #2 in the WDC in the last 5 years, on two different teams.



This is no critism of Hulk (i’m a big fan), Ted was talking to the Force India team after that race, and they said and im paraphrasing slightly, if it rains (not just that race), they just copy whatever Button is doing, as he always seems to get it right.


Jenson best wet weather driver of his generation? Give me a break! No grip gets luckyevery now and then when conditions change. If he’s so good in the rain, where was he in qualy on the last 2 races?


@fox: point 7 – nonsense. Hulkenberg is almost universally recognised as one of the biggest talents on the grid. He has put cars from Williams, Force India and Sauber in places they had absolutely no claim to. Have no idea how you’re drawing the conclusion that he would be beaten by Alonso in the same car from that race! I am a big fan of Alonso, Ferrari have let him down badly a number of times, but in terms of raw speed Hulkenberg is at least as good. It’s a travesty he’s not been picked up by a top team, although I doubt he’s looking with too much regret at the Lotus garage!


@Tom, sorry if I was too categorical. It’s your point of view and I respect it! However, it would be hard to argue for anyone that Hulkenberg is as fast as Alonso, as there are not enough reference points. Maybe with time, when he shares team with a top driver, or better known quantities than his previous teammates. But don’t get me wrong, I think he is one of the four or five best drivers. Alonso, Hamilton, Vettel, Hulkenberg, Rosberg and maybe Raikkonen.


@ Tom

Hulk is superb pilot no doubts about that, yet to say hulk is as quicker as Alonso is little premature. Yes hulk have out in some commendable performances in dodgy cars which reflects his credence. Yet he has not had a shot or chance to drive for the top teams

We will have wot wait and see when hulk will get the chance to drive for the top teams, by then we will know how he can cope with big pressure and expectations. If hulk can deliver at big stage with top teams then he is certainly right up there. Until then everything is little to quick predict

What is true though Hulk is easily rest of the best behind the top 4 or 5 for now, maybe this can change in the future


“but in terms of raw speed Hulkenberg is at least as good” Hulkenberg is an amazing driver, but mate, that really is a silly thing to say. How does this thing of Alonso’s not so great raw speed has arised? It’s beyond me, a really really stupid cliche. Tell me one only driver who has proven to be faster than Alonso (and don’t say Hamilton, they were pretty even, 9-8 for HAM in qualy, and with all extra laps on his side, and underfuelling in many races, as his pole position in Silverstone, for example). Don’t say Truli neither, as that was not the case, you can check the teammate comparison.


Not saying Alonso is slow at all. He combines great speed with relentless consistency and is in my view one of the greatest of all time. What I’m saying is that Hulkenberg has the speed of Alonso, if not maybe the racecraft, although that will come with experience. And I stand by that.


Because of the fact that none from top teams invited Hulk. They are not idiots. Senna, Alonso, Vettel were quickly up to the top team. Think about what we don’t know about Hulk. probably stupid regulations vs. his anthropology for damn 2014 year?


No, Ferrari bought Raikkonen because they feared losing their star driver (after his manager went to meet Horner) and looking like idiots if he had left with all top drivers contracted to other teams. They were also unhappy about Alonso’s quali performances so taking Raikkonen would help give Alonso extra motivation on quali, and so far, Alonso is responding very well, but not sure how long he can cope with Ferrari being the third team from a competitive point of view, behind on power and aero.


Your version is interesting.


That’s hardly interesting, is the standard version in this site. For me it is clear it was not a move triggered by the risk of loosing Alonso, however that’s the view of James Allen, and maybe there is something on it. Your view is even more inacurate for me, Ferrari didn’t need to compare Alonso to anyone else to learn about his skill, they are not fools, his skills were very clear for them. And all this thing of him doing weak qualifyings… well, that really is a silly thing to say, specially when his qualifying record against Massa is similar to Vettel’s against Webber (you can see the numbers, there are several webpages that do teammate comparisons), and Vettel is considered the gratest qualifier by these same people that claim for Alonso’s weak qualifyings (James Allen among them). Not to say that for me Massa is a super fast qualy driver, faster than Webber, and that beat Kimi on saturdays on a regular basis.

On the Kimi thing, he was hired because he was the best option available on the market, and Ferrari knew he was not going to be too much of a problem to Alonso. They still don’t want to have two roosters in the team, how was that politic going to change from one year to another? Nonsense.


Two races is surely way too soon to confirm who is the quicker Ferrari driver?


Right. This last race was ruined for Kimi right off the start. His practice race sim pace was on par with Alonso’s.


@Mocho_Pikuain Do you have a source or are you speculating?


With less fuel. Kimi was all the FPs with less fuel so he could feel more comfortable and help with settings. In Bahrain he will have new parts to suit him, lets see what happense then.


Was it also his car more than him when he was stringing together impressive results in the Sauber last year? Or when he put the Williams on pole?


Seems that a little bit of weight penalty can easily be overcome with talent/skill. Go HULK


I don’t understand how anyone can deny Hulk’s talent..It’s like Vettel in the Toro Rosso or Alonso in the minardi..obvious for all to see.


Exactly, The Hulk is the real deal. He has beat every driver he’s competed against in the same equipment. I thought he deserved the seat at McLaren that Perez got last year. I think, Perez just go lucky at Sauber, when they had a good chassis that was easy on the tires and good strategy. I was really hoping to see Hulk and Perez battle it out in equal machinery, but Perez has been hit with bad luck the last 2 races. I hope the rest of the season will prove that point.


Hulk is a talent but if he would be really a diamond some team would take him. There are some issues we don’t know about.


It still doesn’t explain why no big teams hire him… If his talent is so obvious and he’s considered on a par with Alonso, Vettel, Hamilton etc, surely a big team would take him.

Weight is only part of the issue – do you think if Alonso put on 4kg Ferrari would kick him out and nobody else would be interested?

Must be more to it than just ‘wrong place at the wrong time’?


He didn’t beat Barrichello, although that was his debut season.


Really wished we’d seen more of the Button vs. Williams team battle during the race. I kept noticing just how close the timing was with them chasing him, but the broadcast director didn’t seem interested.


Massa only really had one go at it and Button held him off with pretty fair defensive positioning. After that it wasn’t really happening so I can see the race director looking around for other possible stories (admittedly there weren’t many this time around).


I couldn’t believe the manner in which they chose to tell MAS to move aside for BOT. I believe 100% had the wording been different MAS would’ve stepped aside.


How about Alonso vs. Kimi?

I know there has been some bad luck, but I really hope Kimi gets the first podium for Ferrari really soon to even things up a bit.


I notice the more discerning folks here are keeping their ink dry for the moment, while the foolhardy are already writing off Kimi and hailing Alonso as king.

My friends, the battle is yet to begin ….

Shame Alonso did not have the means to score higher in these early races …. while he can!!


My ink hasnt dried – the step Kimi took from Aus to Mal being. Hundreths off Merc in dry free practise and watching Kimi going around the outside of Fernando at turns1,2 suggests its just starting..!


right on, Kimi deserves a few trouble-free races to prove himself. kimi is too high a calibre of driver to write off and he is not going to get sucked in to alonso’s mind games…


Alonso the King, souns good… my friend, maybe you didn’t notice, but this has already started. Domenicalli has put it rightly: “Fernando has proved he is faster for the moment. Kimi needs some more time to understand the car but he is on it”.

Will Kimi get to Alonso’s level? If so when? He already is 16 points behind, which is not a small difference given the competitiveness of the car. But the most worrying thing for him is the speed difference in both qualifyings.


You are crazy. Ferrari is AT BEST, the 3rd fastest car on the grid. And looking at the williams dry pace numbers from melbourne and malaysia, I’m not convinced that williams is faster than ferrari as well.


But really, who do you love?

We’ll see, what we’ll see.

The discerning eye knows that the best driver doesn’t always win the intra-team battles.

You got to hand it to Lewy for that.


Kimi lost 5 sec behind Bianchi/Erickson on hards. With no puncture, running his 2 stop strategy M-H-M, he would have been 4 seconds behind HULK after last pitstop with mediums. And not descounting damage to floor.

Clearly he would have finished 4th and ahead of Alo.


Omg, really? Kimi was never near Alonso’s pace, he was almsot lapped by him, and even without the puncture he would have suffered a lot to beat Hulkenberg.


Hello!- he lost a minute crawling all the back to the pits and an extra pit stop23-25 sec…I believe thats a lap right there !!..he almost went round the outside of Fernando at turns 1 & 2 before Ricciardo forced Alonso wide towards him.. Make no mistake Kimi was a real chance at 4. He wad consistently fadt all weekend


Offcource! He was running a 2-stopper. He ran 1 lap, then puncture for 1 lap, then 2 stop M-H-M.

If you look at the graph, and time lost/gaps, he would have been around 4 sec behind HULK on mediums, and 10 sec ahead of ALO with tires that where 8 laps older than ALO.


Williams’ choice of words to Massa were indeed insensitive…so I am not surprised by his reaction. Judging by the team’s comments after the race, I think they have immediately realised thier mistake. I hope there is no hard feeling, as Williams are on track for good season.


I believe if Rob Smedley had joined Williams for that race instead of the coming one, those words would never have been used as he knows Massa better than anyone.


Agree. Williams team totally in the wrong for rubbing up Massa the wrong way in the wording of their radio message. They should have said something like “Filippe, Bottas is on fresher tyres. Please give him chance to have a go at Button. If he can’t get past, then he’ll drop behind you again.”


Yep, would have been much more appropriate and may have resulted in Massa following their request.


Another collateral advantage of fewer stops is straining a little less the engine, since Hulkenberg’s third stint was very slow.


Also. interesting to note Merc could easily have won this race on a 2 stopper with Lewis.


I never noticed this until looking at the graph but this is very true!

Imagine if they had switched to the primes at the 2nd pit stop; how far ahead would Hamilton have finished then… Im guessing another 20ish secs up the road (unless Rosberg followed suit).

The stop was out of necessity, due to the tyre rule which requires both sets of compounds to be used in a dry race, it wasnt due to the tyres going off. (Compare the trace to Hulkenbergs 2 stopper).

…and all this from a man who cannot look after his tyres, etc etc (although James and others have pretty much debunked that theory now.)


@D17MO.D: does it mean Merc has more then what we see on track?

Until now Merc in running only on clean air, what if they had to follow a red hot v6 for 10 or 15 laps? But this wont happen in next races.


@F1Cat the point you make about running in clean air/dirty air is a very valid one.

In my personal opinion though, i don’t think running in dirty air is, or will be an issue for the next few races at least, such is the mercedes’ advantage.

Due to the fact that they have so much more down force than everyone else (obviously it’s debatable where buy red bull are concerned), the best engine, are apparently now very easy on the tyres and have such a drivable car; i don’t think it will be a matter of ‘can they pass’, but rather ‘how quickly WILL they pass’. And i haven’t even mentioned there immense top speed yet.

Obviously i am just speculating here, but i genuinely cannot see how it would be any other way!

Roll on this weekends Bahrain grand prix and hopefully we can have some more questions answered 😉

Alexander Supertramp

Good observation, that 2nd by Nico, Lewis and Seb was impressive.


William just trying to do damage limitation her. They could easily have explained to Massa that positions would be reversed if Bottas was unsuccessful. How on earth was Massa to know this if they did not inform him? If they had, the fisaco would have been averted IMO.

David in Sydney

Yes the reliability is impressive but Malaysia was a technical race, not an exciting one.

Hamilton outshone everyone.

Everyone else was either saving fuel, saving tyres or driving badly.


Agree, but second boring race. I DO NOT mind the turbo engines, but I thought the lack of grip should mean more overtaking, not less!!

David in Sydney

Well, I found the first race exciting because it was my home Grand Prix AND it’s been months since we’ve seen a race. 🙂

The fuel flow/limit rules are spoiling the racing. The drivers cannot go flat out to pass each other even though overtaking opportunities may eventuate.

The engines are remarkable hybrid engines now – I would have thought going to 1.6 litre hybrid engines was enough to show off green credentials without limiting fuel usage as well.

Formula Prius?


Correct weight at Randwick.

“The Qantas Formula One Australian Grand Prius”.

F1 was so desperate to get the big manufacturers on side by nominating roadbased engines, but I can’t see too many hybrid turbo V6s in showrooms. Their earlier idea of inline 1.4L screamers might have been closer to that ideal after all. Porsche as ever are on to it with their 2.0 engine – WSC may offer a great refuge for disaffected F1 sad sacks. And WEB sure picked a good time to exit!


Perhaps on the horsepower and torque front, a Red Bull turbo V6 would actually be superior to the current under-powered Renault?


Sorry error, I meant Tyrrell 1991. In 1990 Uncle Ken had the customer Ford/Cosworth V8 engine – installed in a Tyrrell chassis and with Jean Alesi at the wheel, it was superb at Phoenix and Monaco that year, with Jean finishing 2nd in both races.


I was half joking, but yes, you’re right on the time length to develop a new engine, not to mention the huge cost.

Interesting comment about a possible tie up between Milton Keynes and Tokyo. Do Macca have exclusive rights and use of the new Honda V6, or will the Japanese loan out their engines to customers like they did with Lotus in 1987-88 and Tyrrell in 1990?

I never thought about Honda supplying teams – plural. Of course, Macca will have exclusive access for next year, but 2016 and beyond?


It would take 3-4 years to build a team up to manufacture a world class power plant. I know Red Bull are comparatively rich but I don’t see them pouring money into a new area. Much more likely they’ll see how Honda seems to progress and enquire for 2016…

Assuming mateschitz hasn’t walked out in a huff by then of course…


April fool jokes aside, I have been thinking about the Redbull and Renault relationship.

Now, RedBull is the Renault “works” team, but very often I get the impression, Renault mostly get negative publicity.

RedBull’s management never misses an opportunity to point out – how their engine side is weak on horsepower and they are loosing time on the straights.

Their title sponsors are Infiniti. Pitstop lights feature Infiniti logo and the same is abundantly visible on the car and driver’s clothing. Forget this year, I believe even when they won 4 titles using Renault engines, even those years there were constant complains about “supposedly” weaker engine.

I won’t be utterly surprised that if RedBull decide to pump insane amount of money to build their own engines, not this year but maybe in the years to come. Another option might be to team up with another manufacturer. (Though it does not look like anyone is very keen to enter F1 as engine supplier).

One thing is very clear, in this new “Formula”, the likelihood of any customer team beating the works team are fairly close to zero. Hence, McLaren’s decision to part ways with Mercedes to team up with Honda might be painful at start but I believe that’s the only way they will be able to compete with Mercedes or other works teams.


Is winningest a word or just made up like a red bull engine that runs on sugar and caffeine and needs 3 laps at the end of a race just to calm down


Yea they have been tough on Renault this year but, Infiniti is part of Nissan which is a part of Renault so there isn’t much conflict between title sponsor and engine supplier.


I think it interesting that Porsche is entering LeMans with a car to challenge perennial champs Audi (same conglomerate), using aggressive energy recovery technology.

Also Toyota.

Many people have taken issue with the new formula, but one of the key considerations was to get more constructors/engine manufacturers.

This technology will be relevant for the next generation of road cars, and I believe it will be of strategic advantage to be in on the technology.

Even Ferrari, who complained bitterly about the technology will be certainly making an offerring with this type of engine/recovery power system.

I think it likely that we will have more constructors announcing applications to enter, within 18 months.

Other likely candidates:

A Korean manufacturer

could an American manufacturer enter? GM???

If another manufacturer enters, it is almost certain that Deiter will be in discussions with them, but in the end, Renault is one of the winningest manufacturers in history, if not the winningest. But the possibility of Red Bull/Porsche would be too much for Deiter, and why not?


There’s always someone that gets tricked on April fool’s day..


Not likely. I think the date on this story tells you all you need to know.


Good to see a nice clear explanation of the Williams situation from a strategic viewpoint – it gets very tiring when fans believe that the team is solely there to give a driver a car to do what he likes with and it’s ‘hands-off’ once the lights go out.

Massa’s big selling point was never his speed, but his willingness to work for the team – even if that didn’t go his way. Intransigence is all well and good, but only really if you’re bloody quick…


Isn’t it ironic that Felipe big selling point has been denuded just two races into his career at Grove……….

I can’t imagine Frank and Claire issuing him with a P45 – not yet anway – but I bet they have had a “nice chat” with him.

Felipe is very lucky Patrick Head isn’t at the team any more. If Patrick had to deal with this situation, he would asked Felipe to come to a quite corner and told him something like this: “Do that again son, and you can [expletive] well [expletive] off from this team and don’t come back. And don’t both asking about your [expletive] salary because you’re not [expletive] getting paid, and if you want a court case about it, fine, get in touch with your [expletive] lawyers.

Now son, don’t [expletive] do that again. Have you [expletive] got it? Good.”

I’ll leave you to insert the deleted expletives, but I’ll think you can guess what they are.


If Patrick Head was there I doubt the ‘order’ would have come across in those words in the first place. I think it would have been more a case of ‘[expletive] well overtake Massa then and stop wasting time…’



The problem with robots is that they have not yet replaced humans everywhere. Computers may spout out data that indicates that Bottas may be “faster” than Massa, but since Massa was running behind Button the data lacks compensation.

I have yet to see teammates exchanging places 10 times in a race to take advantage of “opportunity windows”, but since intelligence seems to be more required than ever in strategy, I am willing to give that a thought.

I really want to see Alonso and Raikkonen exchanging places like that in a race, for instance.

What I see though is that come the end of the season and folks take a look at the driver results, they pay attention to who finished in front of the other more than they do how the teams did compared to one another. Say, Alonso finished the Sunday races nearly always ahead of Massa. Nevermind the many team strategies that favored Alonso so he could wind up ahead of Massa, with some consent from Massa himself. Now all that remains is the cold hard data that shows how much worse Massa did compared to Alonso.

Now with Bottas and Massa, sure let Bottas finish ahead of Massa 90% of the time and then say how much greater Bottas was just because he beat Massa. Not that Williams did well as a team considering the circumstances.

It kind of reminds me of the frustating season Hamilton had last year. And how the expectations were that he was toast this year because of his aggressiveness in using up the tyres and such. Somehow aggressive drivers like Massa and Hamilton should be punished by their more conservative peers because Massa and Hamilton can’t save their equipment as well.

Since Hamilton this year is not being held by traffic there isn’t as much problem for him. The same could have happened to Massa in the right circumstances. But… reality is another one.


In my view, the only driver who has ever really earned the trust to be favored as No. 1 was Michael Schumacher.

In his prime, you were foolish to give equal treatment to the driver in the sister car. Rubens? Irvine? Herbert? Verstappen?

Way to scupper the championship if you don’t support No. 1.


There were favoured #1’s before Schumacher of course, but Benetton did seem to take it to a new level. I blame the move to award wins 10 pts instead of 9, that started in 1991, for it. Even in the older 9-6-4-3-2-1 era, it was clear that a team with a win and a no-score could only be beaten in the table by a double-podium (2nd-3rd) from another team, and even then just by 1 point. When it went to 10 pts, the 1st/no-score combo could not be beat, and would win on any countback.

Not hard to work out that running a 1-car team is easier and less expensive than putting out 2 equal cars.


yes nice post. I do think that even if a ‘strategic play’ is different to a team order…what they should do is bin that concept and simply allow the driver to have to overtake their team mate – without aggressive defending. Surely if they cant do a simple pass on their team mate – they are not fast enough to gain any significant benefit further on that their team mate has failed to capitalise on…


If Bottas had to fight Massa for the position, he’d possibly be eating up more of his tyres to do so, giving him less of a chance at Button afterwards. With no one behind them to worry about, the sensible play for strategy would have been for Massa to let Bottas by without a fight.

It seemed pretty clear to me Bottas was hanging back and just maintaining a gap, waiting to be given his chance. After Massa decided to ignore the radio messages and Bottas was told he was fighting Massa, Bottas was able to close right up on him.


….and this is why Massa remains my least favourite driver. Always acts a litte entitled at the wrong times. Poor Massa might have had his ego bruised. Are these F1 drivers really that frail mentally?

My favourite team has my least favourite driver.. sigh


yes thats true – but you have to draw the line somewhere – and for me – a team mate should have to pass his other mate (with not too aggressive defence)…that is opposed to neutering your drivers by telling them to give a free pass…the idea of then swapping back seems a bit ludicrous…put them out there and let them race…


Correct, and running in the air behind FM would have resulted in heating the motor in addition to destroying his rubber. Those commenting that VB couldn’t get past FM because he wasn’t quick enough and thus unable to seriously challenge JB have failed to comprehend that important element. I don’t see FM in a Williams next year (he would have served well to keep back his hysterics re Kobi in Australia until the truth was established) and they may struggle to hold on to Bottas unless, that is, there is a continued positive trend in their performance (I hope).


If it was a strategic move, Williams sure picked a poor choice of words to tell Massa. Perhaps an explanation of the strategy over the radio would have been more effective than saying “Valtteri is faster than you” and opening old wounds.


Does anyone know if Massa was fully informed on the “considerations” submitted post-race by the Williams engineer? Most fundamentally, was he informed of the “re-swap” intent if VB didn’t get by JB in 3 laps time as well as his ‘overheating’ and VB’s tire ‘superiority’ which were stated issues on the pit wall?

A lot of the comment appears to assume he was informed, but would be illuminating to know if that was a pre-planned option or one that just came up during the race and the ‘unfortunately similar’ language was the result.

And yes, we didn’t hear all of the radio transmissions, but the comments haven’t shed any light, either, so thought asking might generate some information.

Thanks again for the substantive information above.


Was wondering exactly that, it’s all very well to explain after the race that “the plan” was to swap them back if VB didn’t manage the overtake, but if they had said to Massa to let VB have a go for 3 laps and if it doesn’t work out then we will swap back then maybe Massa might have been more willing to go along with it.

James, do you have any sources that can confirm whether Massa was aware of the planned “swap back” when they made the request?

Scuderia McLaren


Top post.


I wonder if Alonso’s tyre degradation will be fixed by future software updates, as the drivability of that Ferrari out of traction zones looks horrible and is likely causing the tyre problems?


I think software is certainly part of their problem. They look fairly terrible off the line, a complete opposite from last year and both drivers are having to work harder at the steering wheels than their competition.

I still think their overall lack of downforce is the other thing that is destroying their tyres.

Ferrari’s Sector 2 in Malaysia vs the Red Bulls shows how bad the gap is.

(In fact, it would have been highlighted even more if the sector times feature hadn’t been taken away from their live timing site!)

So, di Monty, instead of predictably whinging about the new Formula, sort things out in this order 😉

1) New aero package, rear and front.

2) Improved software for better high torque traction out of corners, off the line and look at the brake by wire.

3) A more powerful engine/p.u. (surely you can pass this on safety grounds – it’s not safe for Lewis and Nico to have to deal the closing speeds on such a slow Ferrari)

4) A less thirsty engine/p.u. so you can carry less fuel weight from the start.

5) Improved tyre wear and hard tyre warming using 1 and 2 above.

6) There is no #6, as 1-5 is a fair bit to be getting on with seeing as there doesn’t seem to be anything good with the car. Except for the drivers, and the pitcrew who changed Alonso’s steering arm so quickly. I guess I also quite like the turbo winddown noise on the Ferrari but that doesn’t give you speed. 😉


Probably. Rumours say Ferrari will bring updates on that matter (and not only software ones) to bahrain, china and Spain, where they expect to reach 100% power.


After they reach 100% power we can give up the hope for this season for a Ferrari win.


I hope this season of Ferrari is not like Mclaren’s 2013


Well, it was 21 starters really as Perez didnt start


Hydraulic issue, I think? That’s an old fashioned and analogue retirement reason in this new digital age of F1!

Still, goes to show you, despite it being a digital era, you still have to get the basic mechanical structure correct.

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