Analysis: Why the Bahrain Grand Prix turned out as it did
Insight
Strategy Report
Posted By: James Allen  |  08 Apr 2014   |  11:12 am GMT  |  145 comments

The Bahrain Grand Prix was one of the most exciting races for many years, featuring wheel to wheel battles throughout the field and lots of interesting strategy work, which affected the outcome. There was a Safety Car, which is a rare occurrence at this circuit and it made for a thrilling climax after the restart, with cars using a mixture of different strategies.

But even without the Safety Car, this was a fascinating race from a strategy point of view and here we will analyse and explain some fundamental details which led to the race turning out as it did.

The Mercedes duo were significantly faster than the rest of the field once again, but Mercedes’ strategy team split the strategies, giving both drivers and equal chance of winning the race. Although the Safety Car played more to the strategy of Rosberg, Hamilton was able to hold on to win the race.


Pre-race expectations

Before the race, the teams were evaluating whether to make two stops or three and the Friday practice session was an important part of deciding this. With this year’s event taking place at night under floodlights, the conditions in the evening were quite different from those in the daylight and from what the teams had experienced at the pre-season tests.

Long run data and data from high fuel running were vital in establishing tyre degradation and this was a crucial factor. There was a significant disparity between the teams, with Mercedes and Force India enjoying low degradation and Williams and Ferrari quite high degradation.

However Williams didn’t really learn this as they did very limited mileage in Friday running – just over half the laps Force India covered, for example. This cost them in the race as their degradation was high and they were forced into doing three stops, with very early stops for both drivers in the first stint.

This meant that they were not able to capitalize on the pace of their car in Bahrain. Having qualified third and seventh, they finished seventh and eighth.

Also suffering were Ferrari. Unlike Williams they had done extensive Friday long run homework and knew they were in trouble – they also had a deficiency of straight line speed, with Alonso 21km/h slower than Massa’s Williams through the speed trap. Alonso pitted on lap 12 and Raikkonen on lap 13, committing the pair to a three stop strategy and so, forced to play a defensive strategy throughout, they could not compete with the Mercedes powered cars and the Red Bulls, finishing 9th and 10th.

In the end analysis two stops was around five seconds faster than three.


Mercedes duo battle for the win

The duel at the front between Hamilton and Rosberg was a real highlight, with close racing at three stages of the race as the team gave the drivers free permission to race.

For Mercedes the race was a clear two stopper; they had good tyre performance and no fear of degradation.

After losing the start to Hamilton, polesiter Nico Rosberg sat back and saved fuel and tyres for an attack at the end of the first stint. Rosberg was actually slightly faster on the day than Hamilton and had slightly less tyre degradation, but losing the start was the decisive moment in his race. Had he won the start he would probably have been able to use the slight pace advantage to hold on and win.

As it was, he challenged Hamilton for the lead on laps 18 and 19 and briefly got ahead, before the Briton retook the lead.

At this point Mercedes decided to put Rosberg onto a Plan B strategy, whereby he would take the slower Medium compound tyre at the first stop and run a long middle stint. The idea here was for him to have the faster soft tyre in the final stint so that he could mount an attack on Hamilton at the end of the race, when the Briton would be on the slower medium tyre.

The middle stint then was all about managing the gap. The difference in performance between the two tyres on the Mercedes was 6/10ths of a second. Hamilton’s crew worked out that they needed 10 seconds in hand to be sure of holding Rosberg behind in the final stint. He had nine and a half when the Safety Car was deployed for Gutierrez’ rolling the Sauber after contact with Maldonado.

Both cars pitted straight away, the gap between them proving useful as the team could service both of them without losing time queuing in the pit lane.

But Hamilton’s lead had been wiped out and Rosberg was now sitting behind him with faster tyres on his car and no gap to make up.

On paper this should have handed the race to Rosberg, but he still had to pass his team mate. He knew he had to do it straight away while the soft tyres were at their best and Hamilton’s medium tyres were still warming up.

But he couldn’t make the pass stick, despite several bouts of racing side by side.

As his tyres overheated he dropped back and settled for second place. The battle between them had also featured some sophisticated use of the Energy Recovery System, with both drivers managing the discharge of energy as an attacking or defensive tool as the need arose. This was mirrored throughout the field and definitely gave an extra dimension to the battles between cars.


Vettel does something different

It wasn’t a vintage weekend for world champion Sebastian Vettel, who still seems to be coming to terms with the new hybrid turbo formula and who has had a series of problems with reduced power.

He made a mistake in Free Practice 3 on Saturday morning and spun off, damaging the turbo wastegate in the process. This needed changing for the race. It affected his qualifying performance and he missed the cut for the top ten. But the upside was that he had two new sets of soft tyres for the race.

Starting from 10th on the grid, knowing he would be in traffic for the first stint, he chose the slower medium tyres and took the losses at the start. The idea was to then use new softs for the second and third stints and to make progress on a clear track. He did a good job to keep the pace in the opening stint and then switched to new softs on lap lap 16. He was forced to move aside to let Ricciardo through before then, as the Australian was on the faster tyre and Vettel team mate would have held him up.

Ricciardo, meanwhile, made good progress from 13th on the grid in the opening stint and then went to the medium tyre at the first stop for a 17 lap stint. This was a team tactic, to get the medium tyre out of the way to minimize the race time loss and so that both the cars would be on the faster soft tyre in the final stint.

This played out well for them, as the safety car closed the field up it brought the Williams and Force India cars within reach, all of which were on worn medium tyres, so Ricciardo was able to cut through them and finish 4th.


Force India goes second in Constructors’ championship

The feelgood story of the day was the performance of Force India, with Sergio Perez getting on the podium, Nico Hulkenberg moving into third place in the drivers’ championship and Force India grabbing second place in the Constructors’ table after a strong first three races.

Force India’s race was all based on thorough research of the tyre degradation and set up on Friday which meant that they had very low degrdadation. The car had plenty of pace too and, unlike Williams who were just as fast, they were able to translate this into results on a two stop strategy. As last year here in Bahrain, they played to their strengths on strategy and got a fine result. THe Safety Car could easily have derailed their careful plans, by closing up their rivals on fresher tyres, but it was all the more impressive that they still got the result, despite the Safety Car.


The UBS Race Strategy Report is prepared by James Allen and Mark Gillan with input and data from several leading F1 teams’ strategists and from Pirelli

Race History Chart, kindly provided by Williams Martini Racing, click to enlarge
The number of laps is on the horizontal axis, the gap behind the leaders is on the vertical axis.

Note the gap between Mercedes and the rest, particularly after the restart from the safety car. The field was held back by Perez who was on used tyres, the Mercedes were on new tyres, but nevertheless a huge difference.

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1

After a week of dodging all media Likely Lads style I caught up on the race yesterday. I’m curious if anyone can explain how the volume of pre-season testing in Bahrain affected the quality of the race (which was superb), as it normally has the opposite effect in Barcelona.

2

Hi James

I have a simple question. Is the information on the car’s weigth (at the end of the race) public? and the pilots’s weigth too?…

Thanks in advance…

3

Not that I’m aware of

The driver weights do come out

4

James & others

I have an interesting question. Having read Sky’s in-depth analysis on the Mercedes pit-stop strategy for both drivers, it prompts me to think.

Assuming there was no late safety car in Bahrain, Which Merc driver would have got the first call on their 2nd Pit stop?

It seems out of the 9.5 second advantage that Lewis pulled out over the course of 19 laps, nearly 5-6 seconds was gained through the pit stop alone. Had he got the first pit call for the 2nd pit stop, he would have surely extended his advantage to about 14 – 15 seconds before Nico pitted?

Would this have been fair OR would Merc have given preference to Nico for the 2nd Pitstop? The general belief is that the leading driver always gets the first priority. But if Merc really wanted to give both drivers an even shot at victory, Nico would have to pit first, the second time around.

What are your thoughts?

5

Well, after reading what the engine manufacturers have revealed about not continuing (Renault & Mercedes) or simply not coming to a F1 +V8 engines (Honda), it is clear that the “The Formula One” of the last decades has died and it is buried for good.

I think it is for fans to decide if the current economy class type racing is worth to inherit the glory of the F1 name, or should be given a more representative one as ” E Saving Formula”-or whatever.

The fact that drivers did fight for position ( especially as they did it in team pairs), means nothing as F1 Racing is concerned.

This kind of fierce fight is present in any motor race starting with “Pufo” & “Mini” classes in any national karting competition and it it is not justification to call them F1 races.

F1 is about, breaking “in catastrophe” ,mastering raw power to achieve incredible cornering speed in a smooth, incredible way, then explode with a roar on the following straight line.

That is what F1 spectators come to see, not a silent coasting through chicanes.

F1 is dead, ling live the …(?)

6

I still can’t help think that Daniel is being used as the test dummy for Seb in the race. For example, the moves for Daniel to be on prime tyre has happened earlier in two races now, kinda like how it used to happen for Mark also, instead of saving them for the last stint, which is what Seb always got. It was lucky with the Safety car this time, but for Daniel to beat Seb over the course of the season just seems unlikely.

7

Interesting side note to what was an excellent race and despite misquotes across a number of websites and media outlets, what are the odds that Daniel R will be wearing a t-shirt under his racesuit with the “move over” quote of Bahrain from now on in?

8
Tornillo Amarillo

McLaren ditch Hamilton, Hamilton got a shot in the WDC this year.

McLaren ditch Perez, Perez got a podium.

McLaren ditch Mercedes engine and got a contract with Honda, Mercedes got the faster engine in the grid…

McLaren… in troubles.

9

they also lost vodafone, so they are now looking for a new name for the f-duct

I met the police chief of Amarillo once…

10
Tornillo Amarillo

LOL!

11
Tornillo Amarillo

*ditches

12

Trouble…not troubles. 😉

They also didn’t ditch LH, he left.

If JB hadn’t had his clutch issue he may well have passed Perez for the podium.

McLaren knew that as a customer rather than works team they would always be 1 shot behind the works car, hence their shift to Honda to become a works team again.

McLaren in trouble? They were last year but they are moving forward again.

13
Tornillo Amarillo

Thanks, yes trouble.

I think (and I said that last year) that when managers are wrong… most of thing they decides will go wrong, and I really think it is the case with Ron Denis NOW.

14

Wow what a show that’s right SHOW. LDM and CH complain F1 is to boring ( it’s a quick an easy way to catch up) then the silver cars put on a WWF show for the punters and F1 is not so boring anymore Nico just forgot race craft 101. It was almost embarrassing how far he left the door open for Ham to retake his position LDM and CH have the rug pulled out from under them and Merc get to keep there massive advantage .

By the way I am a williams fan and like the new motor but come on

15

Hey. I just had a thought. Might be crap, but here it is. Couldn’t air from outside the car be ducted around the turbine part of the Merc engine unit and be used to blow the diffuser? That turbine should be hot enuff to do that, and there’s no downside to concentrating the heat in that area since the compressor is miles away…

16

You could call it a BT46, Bernie has one in his shed

17

Hi James,

I am wondering about how much energy the teams are managing to harvest from the MGU-H?

From the graphics in the race, and comments from people like yourself, it would appear that they are not able to deploy the full 4MJ per lap?

Obviously this means they aren’t getting 2MJ from the MGU-H, so any indication of how much they are getting?

18

I think they are allowed to use 2MJ per lap, but the battery can store 4MJ, but I can’t be bothered to check the rule just now. The MGU-K harvests a lot of the energy, the -H is allowed to harvest an unlimited amount, some of which goes back in the Turbo.

It looks like they are leaving some scope for some very interesting developments in the future, maybe burn fuel to drive the -H which feeds directly into the -K for more boost? It might be a more efficient way to produce power, turbine driven F1 cars :-P, 200mph, 40mpg? (with a loud hailer making a parping noise for Bernie)

19

They are allowed to use up to 4MJ each lap.

2MJ comes from the rear brakes, the rest (if you can get it) from the MGU-H, which has unlimited harvesting capacity.

But it does not seem that they are achieving the 4MJ/lap from the on board information that was showing energy usage, it seemed that they were just over 50% usage on any given lap.

20

thanks. That’s something else I’ve mis-remembered :-/

21

hello James, is it not more sensible to call the strategies by the number of stints rather than the number of stops?

22

But then we would miss that excellent joke made about Lotus in Oz and their ‘2 stop strategy’, both cars started, then stopped.

Plus that’s a major change to the F1 timing screen, would we have to re-buy the F1 app?

And you could ask them to only show the time difference of each driver to Hamilton, you know, if you were a Hamilton fan :O

23

keep your hands out of the cookie jar! are you ok? oh must still be buzzing from the bahrain race. unless you’re still crying over it.

24

Sadly LDM did not see Aldo Costa on a podium. It looks like Costa is a capable professional when he’s got the right people around him. Allison was good at Lotus too….

25

“He made a mistake in Free Practice 3 on Saturday morning and spun off, damaging the turbo wastegate in the process.”

Do you have a source for that? Because I’ve read the accounts from Red Bull and Renault and while they mention the wastegate problem they don’t attribute it to Vettel.

26

From the man himself:

“We weren’t quick enough today. I was pretty happy yesterday, but I think this afternoon didn’t help us when I spun off and did some damage to the car”

http://www.infiniti-redbullracing.com/article/daniel-shines-under-bahrain-lights

(I also like the fact they describe Ricciardo’s time as “finishing just adrift of the Mercedes cars”)

27
Alexander Supertramp

China, Barcelona and Monaco. If last year’s form is any good indication, all three races will be battlegrounds between Nico and Lewis. The fans are in for a threat.

Nico missed a big opportunity in Bahrein (he seems more comfortable at this track, had faster tyres, DRS,..)

My prediction: Lewis wins China+ Barcelona and takes the WDC lead (3points) and Nico wins Monaco and retakes the WDC lead (by 4 points). After that comes Hungary and Silverstone..

28
Alexander Supertramp

And off course I mean ‘treat’, not “threat” !

29

Alexander, you were right first time – the threat of Lewis and Nico Ros running into each other – it may happen folks! – and also the threat of Red Bull possibly keeping Mercedes very honest.

Make it happen Adrian, Sebastian, Daniel and all at the Milton Keynes mob!

30

Brawn were miles ahead in 2009, they got caught by race 8 and only just held on for the championship. 3 teams have the same engine, one of which has as much money as Merc

31

No. It’s too late. The season is going to be only between Nico and Lewis. The rest is too far behind. Maybe next year. But even that is a big question.

32

PS I’m not implying I want Nico and Lewis to crash into each other, I like – an want – a fair sporting contest (and hopefully with some Maccas and Bulls to gatecrash the Merc party). However, when a team has two cars running in close proximity, it only takes a locked front axle from the following car to……………cause issues, lets say.

Austria 1999?

33

Thanks again for this James.

Does anyone think thay if they didn’t split the strategies of the two Mercs, it would have been Rosberg on the top step? He had the better pace and better fuel and tyre management throughout the whole race.

If they were both on softs on the 2nd stint, I think Nico would have passed Lewis just before the safety car.

34

If he couldn’t do it at the end with the faster options on, and Lewis on the slower mediums, you really think he would’ve been able to do it if they were both on the same tire?

Anything’s possible I suppose, but the evidence on the day would suggest not.

35

I know, I’m starting to think that Nico needs at least a 17 second lead or a Lewis DNF to win a race against his teammate in a car with the same pace.

Without the safety car though, there would have been traffic to contend with plus being on the same tyres, their degradation levels would have been pretty much the same except Nico would have had the fresher tyres and more fuel to use because he managed it better than Lewis.

36

The only real answer is ‘we just don’t know’. I think if the roles had been reversed, and it was Lewis behind on faster options, and he had got by to steal the win, I think the general feeling would’ve been that he had been ‘gifted’ the win via the safety car. And there would’ve been no alternate dimension for us to peak into, to see that hey, he would’ve won also if he was the guy in front. So it’s better that we saw him win in the more difficult circumstance. It cleared up quite a lot of questions.

I thought Lewis was toast with the safety car. I don’t think I’m the only one who thought that. Indeed I know I’m not as Coulthard’s race commentary basically echoed my thoughts: “how is he doing this?!”

37

@Fastfastfast Nico had new softer tires (faster), no time disadvantage + DRS without fuel or energy conservation mode (flat out racing) against Hamilton New hard tyers (at least 6/10th slower), Yet he couldn’t pass Lewis on odd 10 laps. Nico had the best favorable scenario to win the race, but could not. So I don’t see a better scenario from the one that happened on Sunday for Nico. How Safety Car turned the strategy to favour Nico is what I call being lucky, but Nico didn’t seize the moment.

38

I’m more in awe of Lewis now than yesterday and converesly, more disappointed by Rosberg.

With all the advantages handed to him, Nico should have won that race.

39

Slightly (or hugely..) off topic, but I never REALLY paid attention to the weight difference between Vettel and Webber!!! Forget ALL ABOUT luck, jinx, conspiracy theories etc etc…..Webber never stood a chance even before the races started!! And the few races he won, it was probably because of really bad days on Seb’s part!! 17 kgs??? Really??? That’s half a second already!!! Wow….F1 is a lot more complicated than us, romantic fans, believe!!!

40

Tommy, if you are responding to my post, yes, it is correct: Mark was about 75KG, and Daniel is 58KG. I know, 17 KG is a huge weight difference between drivers – it makes you wonder sometimes how Mark kept his motivation and focus when he knew he was at least – at least! – four tenths behind his team-mate just on weight difference alone.

The other issue is height: Sebastian is about 5’7′, and Mark is about 6’1, so Sebastian has 5 inches odd less height than Mark, meaning Sebastian can sit lower in the chassis, and all the benefits that brings with ballast and the like.

That’s why Red Bull probably plumped for Daniel: yes he has excellent ability, but he only weights 63 KG, so already that is 12 KG saved for the designers and engineers at Bull – and 12 KG is about two tenths to three tenths of a second.

You are right – F1 is much more complicated than the romantic image of yore. When I found out the weight difference between Mark and Sebastian I was shocked………….to say the least.

41

Jesus….Also, I want to say a big congrats to the F1 media, for keeping the interest to everybody in this sport, by skillfully not telling the whole truth to the public!! They managed to keep people in the dark all those years, until James Allen created this site, where so many views can be expressed!! Imagine the weight difference between Schumacher and Barrichello, for example!!!! Rubens didn’t stand a chance, in the long run….Same goes for Montoya I would imagine! And the media were creating heroic images of those guys….

42

Tommy.. I think you’re stretching things a bit too far. Why do you think teams like Ferrari or McLaren would keep Rubens or Juan for so many years if they didn’t stand a chance? To protect Kimi or Michael or whoever from being beaten by a teammate?

43

F1 is more complicated than that. Both Vettel and Webber were still less than min allowed 600kg combined with a car, so 17kg (or whatever) difference in weight influenced only the amount of ballast, that is weight distribution. Forget about half a second difference.

44

Yes, but small differences count in F1. Now I know why Sebastian was so much quicker than Mark: firstly, his driving technique was able to cope with an oversteering car in slow corners, and being 17KG lighter meant he could shift the ballast to where he wanted the aero balance/centre of pressure – which gives him even more confidence. It’s a domino effect that Mark couldn’t do nothing about.

45

I only mean that saying “17 kg is half a second difference on driver weight alone” is incorrect, and you just proved that, by taking into account individual driving technique, oversteering tendencies in the car, etc. Yes he had more ballast to play around, that’s an advantage, but hardly as much as 0.5s. Would be interesting to look at statistics, where the heavier driver in a team was also the faster one. Mm, James?

46

OK, it’s 11 kgs….but still….Gutierez is 16kgs less than Sutil in Sauber….

47

If you go back to the early 1990’s and play back the Indy Car races, the only difference is the lack of Emerson Fittipaldi, Mario Andretti and sticker tires.

What has Formula One come to. The most contrived, fake and slow race I’ve seen in 30 years. This is not Formula One. They say the drivers are taxi drivers. They better watch out they might get passed by a taxi. These cars are so slow in the corners I run out of patience. Disgusting.

48

This is a new formula. Just three races old. The only race which we can use to compare last season at this moment is Bahrain in the sense that it was dry throughout the race weekend. The time difference from last year Bahrain and this years Bahrain Grand Prix is not alarming as many people wants us to believe that the new formula is slower than a taxi.

For comparison.

Bahrain 2013 pole position.

Nico Rosberg: 1:32.330

Bahrain 2014 pole position.

Nico Rosberg: 1:33.185 (just less than a second slower)

Bahrain 2013 fastest lap.

Sebastian Vettel: 1:36.961 on lap 55

Bahrain 2014 fastest lap.

Nico Rosberg: 1:37:020 On lap 49 (Do the math yourself)

Bahrain 2013 race duration: 1:36:00.498

Bahrain 2014 race duration: 1:39:42.743 (with a safety car)

Also note that the tyer compounds of this year is one step harder than last year (Super-Soft 2014 is as hard is Soft 2013)

There is no doubt that the cars are slower than last year (not as taxi), but would be much closer to last year’s times by the end of the season, I believe.

49

I’m guessing you didn’t like it then, more power than grip. I thought it was great.

I hope you find something more to your liking, with it’s own blog.

50

You’re right, the average James Allen on F1 commenter is satisfied with anything put in front of them. I’ve been watching Formula One since 1977. I got married in a city that hosts a Formula One race. My kids are named after my favorite drivers. My wife was thankful that I was not a fan of Ayrton Senna. But in this day of political correctness, don’t have an opposing point of view, no matter who you are.

As a rabid fan of Formula One what’s being sold to us is crap. Wake up and tell them to take a hike and give us what we want.

51

I couldn’t respond to Paul Hallets comment so I responded here.

Why is there such animosity to anyone who criticises the current formula? My argument was not an ad hominem attack only an attempt to qualify that I am coming on 40 years as a rabid formula one fan.

Speaking of ad hominem attacks I’ve seen arguments here where Adrian Newey has been put down for his comments last weekend. An Oxford PhD who has dominated Formula One design since 1991 and this websites commenters can’t accept his comments? Or Luca de Montezemolo who has been running Ferrari or Fiat for almost 40 years has no right criticise Formula One?

Where is the passion in the sport. Where is the Formula One spirit that made the sport great. Where teams were competing with new technologies and innovations to win. Now we have homologated 1990 styled Indy Car racing.

52

Paul Hallett +1

‘Ad hominem’, I had to look it up, fancy, thank goodness for wikipedia.

It looks like you got autospelled from denigrate to degenerate

53

If you have been watching F1 since the 70’s, then you would have watched a variety of terrible racing in that time. I know, as I too have been watching it since the 70’s, although early 70’s in my case. The grooved tyres being worse than anything I have ever seen regarding processional racing and little excitement.

These cars are relevant and they are quick, they move around a lot, like a lot of the early cars, as they have a surfeit of power over grip, which is what is creating the spectacle; you think this is crap, and that is fine, but to degenerate anyone else’s opinion as unworthy as you’ve named your kids after F1 drivers is a simple ad hominem argument and shouldn’t be here. I like the fact the cars are harder to drive and harder to manage. They are still quick, much quicker accelerating than previously, which is remarkable and by the end of the season, they will be much quicker than the V8’s. As for sound, they don’t sound much different to the engines in the 80’s and some of the 70’s.

If you don’t like it, then don’t watch it, go and watch something else. It’s here, and it’s apparently here to stay. It’s going to be a long 5 years if you can’t get on with it.

54

I know what you mean qualifying they were 0.8 seconds less than last year, with the fastest lap of the race being a whole 0.1 seconds slower than last year. That is so noticeable I agree a taxi could get closer than 0.1 seconds to last years pace.

55

Interesting information…

If it was 0.1 seconds slower than last years race, and this race featured a safety car then it’s only taken 3 races for the engineers to tune the current cars to go FASTER than last years cars.

56

The acceleration from the batteries and the turbo’s making up for the slowness in the corners. Watch the change in direction during the race. You’ll see what I mean.

57

Hi James, I read in some sites that someone at Mercedes did a study on behalf of Nico to show him how to beat Hamilton, is this normal practice for f1 teams? It seems a bit sinister

58

Yeah, I found it quite interesting how Lewis explained the situation. From Autosport, April 8th:

He [Hamilton] said Rosberg had gone into a lot of depth to analyse his Malaysia performance.

“Someone in the team did a huge study on my pace last week and, as I arrived here this weekend, there was this big document with all the reasons why I was quick. And he used that to his advantage,” said Hamilton.

“So I’ll do the same and hope that it works for me.”

If that “someone” was from Nico’s side of the garage then that would seem perfectly normal. If, on the other hand, that someone is still a mystery to Lewis, or if that someone was ostensibly a neutral team member (or members) then the slight paranoia I sense in Lewis’ statement might well be justified.

Some folks may choose to ignore the obvious, but the fact is, there is a German driver in a symbolically German team that has built a rocket this year seemingly capable of running away with the driver’s Championship. There is also – shall we say – a non German driver in the team who is more than capable of upsetting what some would like to think is the ‘natural order’.

Lest we forget the story that hit the newswires on March 6th, 2012…

“…According to Bild, however, more than 50 per cent of German fans surveyed want Marussia’s Timo Glock to replace Schumacher. Hamilton secured 3.9 per cent of the vote.”

THREE POINT NINE PERCENT. Think about that. There’s perfectly acceptable ‘patriotic pride’ and then there’s 3.9% of the vote.

Realism would suggest, and 3.9% would confirm that, although this is 2014 not 1914, Lewis Hamilton sitting in a Mercedes F1 car (not to mention being ‘responsible’ for Schumacher’s retirement and subsequent misfortune) is not sitting well with MILLIONS of “fans” and who knows how many “insiders” – however you choose to define the term.

I can only imagine the nasty (and cowardly) phone calls, email messages and twitter bombs that Mercedes Corporate, Mercedes F1 and Team Lewis Hamilton are having to deal with from the fuhrious “Deutschland Über Alles” contingent and their sympathizers around the world. No wonder Hamilton tattoed “Still I Rise” on his back and helmet.

Make no mistake, Nico Rosberg is under TREMENDOUS pressure from the motherland and diaspora to put the very “uppity” Hamilton back in his place, and Mercedes F1 is under tremendous pressure to engineer the best possible solutions for both championships while making every effort to appear as scrupulously fair and transparent as possible.

Add to that Red Bull’s relentless rate of development, the Prancing Horse drivers’ remarkable ability to be there when it counts, plus a few dark horses punching well above their weight and this year is shaping up to be one hell of barn burner.

I can’t wait to see how it all plays out.

59

I don’t like unpleasant and insidiously racist tone of what YOU wrote. I shan’t read any more from you.

60
kenneth chapman

oooh ahhhh, nothing wrong with voicing an opinion?

61

It’s pretty standard in all sports to study your opponents and devise specific strategies to counter their strengths. When your closest opponent is also your team mate it just means the information is closer to hand.

62
Alexander Supertramp

It souds sinister if you tell it like that. My view was that Nico’s crew made a study of Lewis’ pace in Malaysia to help Nico understand why he was that quick. At this point all information is shared between team mates as it serves the greater good (bagging a lot of championship points). I see no problems (but you weren’t asking me so..).

63

James,

Kimi had put on Mediums which were 7 laps old when the SC came out. Do you think Ferrari should have risked it by staying out and not pitting under SC car.

At worst, Kimi would have been overtaken by other cars and could have finished 9/10th, but still do you think they should have risked it for a possibly better finish than 10th?

64
The Spanish Inquisitor

At first glance I thought that was a strategy for protecting Fernando from Kimi, but now I think that the result would be the same, Alonso/Kimi or Kimi/Alonso. Impossible to overpass Massa.

65

Well, Alonso did punch the air wildly on the finish, so it must have been very important to him!

66

Yeah hasn’t been much said about that.. was it a sarcastic punch? A dig at Ferrari?

67

Good analysis of the race.

After all the carping about the new cars etc. including me, this was probably the best race I have ever seen. And I mean completely down through the field. I have been following the sport seriously since the early seventies…..and this race was tremendous entertainment with an amazing finish. Hamilton and Rosberg were the complete professionals and were the class of the field. Congratulations to Perez for a fine best of the rest, especially after being dumped by McLaren after a season in a subpar car. Hopefully this season has the potential to be one of the best ever.

68

What an epic race! Truly a joy to watch. Thanks for the excellent reporting James.

69
Michael Powell

Looks to be two separate races from viewing the chart: one for Lewis and Nico, and another for the rest.

But the figures don’t convey the drama. It was a race involving tussles up and down the field, much of the time between team mates.

It’s the first race that I can even remember wanting to watch all over again.

70

James,

historically speaking, how many times has the safety car had this sort of speed/traction advantage over the Ferrari?

71

just once in a downpour I seem to remember, the F1 cars couldn’t keep up

72

I remember that too, though I couldn’t say where it might have been.

73

Salt. Wound. Lol 🙂

74

I was going to add on the word slug, but slugs across the world would be insulted to be compared to this years F1 Ferrari.

75

The interesting thing is how the Energy Recovery System is being used in to overtake and defend. More power and less downforce esp at the back has certainly livened things up. I know the mercs are so far out in front, but at least we are getting inter team racing.

Great job as ever James. I do enjoy your strategy reports.

76

I am incredibly surprised Rosberg didn’t take the win given his apparent advantages for the last 10 laps and was wondering just how Ham managed to keep him behind. It was a superb display of defensive driving, but I am a little concerned about Rosberg’s standing in the F1 world now. I am quite sure it would not have ended so well for Hamilton if Alonso or dare I say Vettel were behind him. I even believe Button would have shown a bit more gumption. I think Mercedes may well be looking at their investment in Hamilton as looking fairly gilt edged at the moment, for Rosberg isn’t showing he’s hewn from the same stuff as his team mate. If Hamilton turns up again in China, as he did in Malaysia, I am not sure where Rosberg is going to go mentally; he’s been beaten when he was off the pace, and beaten when he was on it, in faster, it would appear, machinery. I am fascinated by how this will pan out to be honest. Seeing RIC vs. VET honest is another battle I am relishing too. However, Hamilton is showing just why people rate him so highly. When he’s on it, he really is spectacular and even when he’s not, he’s great there too.

A great GP if not for 57 laps of spectacle, then of almost chess like intrigue and suspense.

Unfortunately for BE and his friends, this weekend looks to have upped the price of F1, not lowered it as he looks like he’s hoping.

77

Alonso couldn’t do it Indianapolis in 2007 and Button tried in Turkey in 2010. I think Lewis is just hard to pass in the same car, with the same pace in a corner to corner battle.

Even in different cars, as in Germany 2011 with his passes and subsequent defense of Webber and Alonso. Lewis will always be a handful in wheel to wheel situations. Unbelievable racer.

Me thinks he’s also learned abit from Schumi in Monza in 2011. Now that’s defending. Classic Schumi.

78

I remember those well. But ros still had the advantages the others didn’t e.g. Tyres, drs, etc.

I guess ham is worth his salt.

79

I agree with that; they would have had a higher percentage chance; I think that’s the best way you could put it.

Thanks.

80

You’re right. I think they did have kers on 2010, 2011 but that was about it.

I now see your point. With all the advantages, I now believe that the drivers you mentioned would have had a higher percentage of passing Lewis. Nico must be gutted.

81

Totally agree Paul, I think Nico needed to take a few different lines and really use those softs – he had plenty of life in them. Raikkonen or Alonso in the same car would have found 2 or 3 different ways around him. Full credit to Lewis for a cracking drive -a highlight in his incredible CV for sure

82

They are team mates. Sure Merc says they can “race” but they can’t race no holds barred– too risky– so its a mild form of racing compared to if two different teams were going for it. They did a great drive but the level of actual competition here is overrated. Others in the “know” may say that internal sources will say that the guys were really racing but in todays F1 even the lowliest mechanic will have been heavily coached as to what he/she can say to journalists so insider info still needs to be taken with a grain of salt.

83

Silly comment. That was hard racing. Any harder, and someone’s losing a wheel or a wing! This ain’t NASCAR … bump ‘n’ run doesn’t work too well in open-wheel racing.

84

I don’t wish to appear rude, but did you actually watch the race? Hamilton wasn’t being mild in his defence, or attack. He nearly took Rosberg’s front wing off twice and they were going flat out, as evidenced by their lap times, pulling a 24 second lead from the pace car going in until the end; that was genuine racing, which was why it was so enthralling.

Hamilton lost the place to Rosberg in the race and took it back within 4 corners, but attacking and being aggressive and it is this attitude, or lack of it, I was alluding to about Rosberg and watching the ‘duel’ between the two again this morning, seems to cement that in my mind.

If you think that wasn’t real racing, then I’d love to see what you consider to be real.

85

We’ll have to agree to disagree; they nearly clipped tyres and wings. It was as close as you’d get without touching, and or a penalty.

The defence was robust and I can’t see how HAM could have defended more without touching and regardless if he touched an AMG or RBR, they’d have been penalties. It isn’t bump and grind

86

It was real racing, but it was team racing. If it were a fast RedBull or Ferrari behind him, I suspect the defence would have turned up a level higher.

87

Nico could have been a bit more aggressive, but then with Hamilton defending so hard he might have ended up binning them both.

He gave it a shot, but he still walks away with 18 points and the chance to fight another day.

88

Indeed. If you finish second, you get a good spoonful of points. If you stick it in the barrier or get wiped out via your team-mate you get no points. Ask Sebastian about Turkey 2010……………..

Also I would imagine if team-mates crash then the drivers get a salary deduction, or even a non payment a month or two. Think of the ching-ching-ching as well as the points……..

89

No chance of the non payment, but I am sure an alonso, a vetted, a hulkenberg even would have got through: remember, he had drs, newer tyres and the advantages of a tow. Hamilton, I am convinced, would have made it work. I just watched it again and nico was very meek. The Daimler board will be watching this and glad of the investment in Hamilton. Watching china with interest here, as it Hamilton takes another win, nico is staring down the barrel as there is no way the Daimler board will allow this kind of toe to toe stuff all season long, because when they bin it, which they will as one or the other gets more and more desperate, everyone looks silly.

As for Hamilton being aggressive, well that’s what fans want, they want wheel to wheel action. If nico had been more aggressive once he did get past, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

90

I was thinking that they would be more worried about getting a bollicking from Niki, Paddy and Toto – not necessarily in that order and possibly all at once.

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