How any of five drivers could have won in Canada and how Ricciardo pulled it off
Strategy Report
Posted By: James Allen  |  10 Jun 2014   |  1:55 pm GMT  |  111 comments

The Canadian Grand Prix was an absolute thriller this year with drama, excitement and strategic tension right to the finish.

Daniel Ricciardo won the race, the first non-Mercedes victory of 2014, but any one of four other drivers could have won – the outcome was decided by strategy, as we will find out in our UBS Race Strategy Report.

Mercedes hit reliability problems with both cars, although Nico Rosberg did an astonishing job of managing his fuel and brakes to nurse the car to the finish.
Pre-race expectations
This race was always going to be touch and go on the fuel consumption, with only 100kg allowed for the race. But the long safety car period early on for the accident involving the Marussia drivers, let everyone off the hook, as they saved fuel for seven laps at low speed.

Simulations showed that there was little to choose between one and two stops in race time although a two stop was preferable if you could run in clear air, as the Mercedes could at the front.

However driving one stop required a more careful approach. This was another factor against Mercedes going that route as they knew that the drivers would be racing each other hard and that would damage the tyres too much to do the race on one stop.

Pirelli were confident that many other teams would stop once. But with temperatures soaring to 50 degrees on track before the start of the race, which takes its toll on the tyres, most teams were geared up to make it a two stop race, the exception being Force India, which had planned all along to do one stop – even before qualifying – and they set the car up specifically in qualifying to make a one-stop race strategy work.

The soft tyre was by far the preferable race tyre and very durable; to do one pit stop, you needed to get to lap 20 at least. For two stops, the pit window for the first stop was around lap 12.

One of the key considerations, however, was that the soft tyre took some time to warm up, at least a lap, so in a close battle that delay in getting up to speed could be decisive.
Red Bull aggressive at the expense of Williams

Daniel Ricciardo was a very popular first time winner, with most rivals rushing to congratulate him on getting his maiden win. Even his team mate Sebastian Vettel was very magnanimous; it was hard on Vettel because he had the chance to win the race, but it didn’t work out for him on strategy.

Vettel started third on the grid and Ricciardo sixth. They stayed in those positions for the opening stint.

Although there were seven laps of safety car, which got many strategists thinking about extending the first stint length, Red Bull were extremely aggressive and pitted Ricciardo on lap 13, more or less when he would have stopped without a safety car. They did this because they knew that they would easily be able to do the rest of the race (57 laps) with two stints on softs and they tried to undercut the Williams cars of Bottas and Massa.

Bottas covered Ricciardo’s stop a lap later and retained position. However his team mate Massa, behind Bottas on the road, was badly compromised by this turn of events. Had he stopped on lap 14 he might have stayed ahead, but as Bottas was the lead Williams car on track, he had the stop priority.

So Massa came in on lap 15 knowing that he’d lost position to Ricciardo, but then to make matters worse he lost 4.5 seconds with a slow stop and also lost positions to Vergne and Alonso.

Without that, he would have been fighting for the win, as he was ahead of Ricciardo in the first stint, remember, and had good pace for the rest of the race, unlike Bottas.

Williams were caught out by Red Bull’s extreme aggression. If they had been similarly bold, from 4th and 5th on the grid and been really aggressive and had really gone for it, they would have pitted Massa on lap 12/13, even though he was not the lead Williams car, knowing that they would be able to cover Ricciardo with Bottas. But the safety car clearly made them think longer term and there is also an anxiety the strategists talk about in being the first to stop. Red Bull had no such qualms and this aggression won Ricciardo the race.
In Williams’ defence it wasn’t clear at that early point that Massa had more pace on the day than Bottas. But by doing this at least they would at least have held Ricciardo behind them and given both drivers a strong platform to challenge for the podium or even better…

Bottas lost pace later on with overheating in the MGU-K part of his hybrid system and slipped to seventh at the flag.

The second stops were decisive in deciding which Red Bull driver would win the race.

After his first stop, Vettel had lost time behind the one-stopping Hulkenberg, who was managing his tyres, but also was hard to pass because of his straight line speed advantage. This brought Vettel back towards Bottas and Ricciardo.

When it got to lap 34/35 and there was still no sign of Hulkenberg taking his stop, Vettel asked for the team to help him “do something on strategy” to get him ahead of the Force India. What happened then was that Red Bull made a mistake, bringing Vettel in on lap 36, because he went back out into traffic on his out-lap.

Vettel’s in-lap to the pits, behind Hulkenberg, was 0.9s slower than Ricciardo when he pitted a lap later and Ricciardo’s stop was a fraction faster, with the result that he cleared the world champion, moving up into position behind the one-stopping Perez.

This was the defining moment of the race, as far as deciding the winner was concerned.

From there on, Hamilton retired, Perez and Rosberg hit reliability issues too and Ricciardo was able to pick them off in the final laps before the flag to win his first Grand Prix.
Force India decides the outcome of the race
Force India always planned to do one stop in this race, even before qualifying and their race affected the outcome of the Grand Prix, as we have seen above, with Hulkenberg holding Vettel back so Ricciardo could catch him.

Force India found on Friday that they had great race pace but didn’t have the single lap pace in Montreal. So before qualifying, they decided to set the car up for the optimum race with less downforce and more understeer. This protects the rear tyres and means that you can run much longer stints at a good pace.

Inevitably this compromised their qualifying performance, with Hulkenberg 11th and Perez 13th, but it gave them a great chance in the race, as it is easy to overtake in Montreal and they had good straight line speed.

Perez is another driver, along with the Mercedes and Red Bull drivers and Felipe Massa, who could have won in Canada. He was all set up to capitalise on Mercedes’ reliability issues; he was perfectly placed behind an ailing Rosberg, following Hamilton’s retirement, and ready to pounce, when he suffered a sensor failure which compromised his brake performance. Without that he would have closed into the DRS zone behind Rosberg and passed him for the win.

Perez had no problems with the tyres and was even able to make his initial set of super soft tyres last 34 laps. With only 36 laps to do on the softs in the second stint he was in good shape, before the brake problems hit. Hulkenberg did more defending, which took more life out of his tyres.

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

Race History Graph – kindly supplied by Martini Williams Racing [ click to enlarge image]

Look at how close the two Mercedes are on pace throughout the race until their reliability issues kicked in – and how much faster they were than the rest of the field, once again. It will take a long time until the others close up that performance gap.

Lok at the relative pace of Massa (black line) and Bottas (dotted black line) in the second and third stints; Massa is quite a bit faster as Bottas struggles his car.

Also look at how Hulkenberg (brown line) maintains strong pace at the end of the long first stint on soft tyres. Note the strong second and third stints from Button (solid black line), which set him up for a strong finish, passing four cars at the end, when others hit problems.

Williams Martini Racing

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As far as I can remember, Perez has spent some fifteen laps close behind Rosberg, if not in his DRS zone (he was below 1 sec at the finish line many times) - and made no overtaking attempt. Therefore, I doubt that sensor failure prevented him from winning, I just believe that he might hold P2 with his tyres ten laps older than leader's.


Sorry but you are wrong. Rosberg was able to extend his lead over Perez at every single corner, gaining over 0.75 seconds every lap between the end of the start/finish straight and the activation point for the DRS zone. Hence Perez did not ever have DRS and never got close enough to attempt an overtake.

The reason for this gap was almost entirely due to Perez having to break earlier for the corners, without the braking problems he would have been able to stay within 1 second and thus have DRS. He was also 0.75 seconds faster than Rosberg down the straight even without the DRS so between being closer initially and the extra speed again Rosberg would have been a sitting duck, as indeed he was for Ricciardo.

Of course if we play the "if this hadn't failed" game then Rosberg (and Hamilton) would have been miles in front without his failure.


You've missed the point.

If Rosberg could get away in S1 and S2 for .75 sec and then Perez came back .75 sec in S3, how on earth he was to get past Rosberg even if incidental sensor failure had not occurred?

Or have I missed the point and the sensor failure mentioned in the text wasn't an incidental issue that forced Perez to reset his systems and allowed Dan to get close and past?

PS Oh, was I really too fast writing down the above lines, sir?


Excellent analysis as always, but that's the thing with're always a bit wiser!

Having said that, Montreal in the last 10 odd years has always been the "lottery" grand prix, what with the safety cars and tyre/brake issues that the track layout engenders. Teams/drivers make a strategy decision without knowing the full implications at Montreal - it's always been that way in the last decade.

I still blame Checo for the last lap incident. It seems to me that this new generation of drivers, the GP2 brigade, seem to think "pinching" their opponents and gently arcing/weaving on the straights is perfectly OK.............previously Grosjean, Maldonado and now Checo seem to think other drivers on the track will just jump out of the way!

Probably normal service will resume in Austria.......


Love the posts on strategy. Being new to F1, there is a lot of this stuff that I still don't quite understand, but posts like this really help. Can you explain more how to read the graph a little better? What exactly is the number system on the left side of the graph?



One other interesting thing is the slope of the graph shows the relative speed of each runner at that time - steeper slopes mean faster pace. This is evident clearly with HAM/ROS, moderate pace in the first stint, pit stop, faster pace on the second stint until around lap 35 when they are going slower than RIC's average (i.e. downward slope). After ROS pits he maintains pace but not quite as good as the second stint (shallower slope line).

Another thing that is evident from this graph is Raikkonen's pace (dashed red line near the bottom) - just as fast as the leaders in clear air after lap 40, but went nowhere during the middle stint of the race due to being in traffic.


The numbers on the top are the laps. The numbers on the left are seconds, that shows how far behind (or ahead of) the winner's pace each car is at each stage of the race. This is why HAM/ROS lines are well above RIC line until around lap 45 when they fall back due to problems. If you look at any lap you can see the order of runners by looking at which lines come first as you go downwards on the graph. The sawtooth effect is mostly caused by pit stops which cause each runner to lose time. You can also see how the runners start very bunched up and then over the course of the race become further apart, up to 100 seconds apart in this case.


Significant day for Ferrari when Mercedes, Force India, Red Bull and Williams could have won the race and they are still going absolutely nowhere with power, traction, aerodynamics, strategy and driveability.


Incredible last stint by Button- wish we saw more of that on the coverage. Hoping someone had captured some footage.

Its amazing how many cars were limping home with the temperatures. Montreal was always shocking on brakes. It would be really interesting to know which teams suffered MGU-K issues as a result of the braking and which teams suffered braking issues as a result of overheating MGU-K . Really surprising given they tested in the heat of Bahrain but I guess the braking energy generated by Montreal is quite unique. I hope they have some answers come Monza because that one will test this aspect even more I think.


What a brilliant race Canada was which was very unpredictable till the last lap.

Discounting the Mercedes, if Perez's car had held, he had the best chance of winning with his one stop as the powerful Mercedes engine would have kept him out of the Red Bull clutches.

So seeing as it was difficult to overtake, I think a one stop was the way to go e.g. If Vettel (with his weaker engine) switched to a one stop, he wouldn't have got stuck behind Hulkenberg and thus would have gone on to a possible win as it would have been tricky for Riccardo to overtake the same car.

As for Williams, once again, their pitstops let them down for if Massa had a clear stop he would have been closer to the Red Bulls and maybe avoided Perez's Force India when it was at it's worst shape.

Regards Mercedes, according to Coulthard, in hindsight, the team should have called off the fight once it became clear they had reliability issues for this would have put less strain on the cars.

Overall, the race had more to do with good fortune than strategy for any driver could have won it.


The one thing that worried me about Ricciardo's win was the out powering of goodwill from the paddock.

In the past, people that were loved this much were Berger, Massa, Coulthard, Rubens, Webber, Jenson, Heikki etc.


I doubt Vettel could have made a one stop work, look how badly his tyres went off at the end of the first stint.


"In the past, people that were loved this much were Berger, Massa, Coulthard, Rubens, Webber, Jenson, Heikki etc"

Probably true (although not everyone loved those guys, just as not everyone likes Ricciardo), but somehow despite being generally well liked Ricciardo still has that killer instinct and that's something that you could argue the others lacked somewhat.

Give him a car that's on par with the leaders and he'll be a genuine contender for WDC.


@ Random 79

Yes it true, Ricciardo appears to have the killer instinct as shown by his overtake on Perez.


Apart from Jenson none of them were destined to be a WDC...............yes, I can see the correlation! Oh dear, has the wooly haired Honey Badger been cursed? Speaking of his hirsute state, he'll need to wash that champagne out of his locks!

I agree it was a wildcard race, and ultimately it was about being in the right place at the right time rather than a bog standard normal qualify well, good start, control the pace sort of a race weekend win - usually the case in Montreal. Still, to finish first you have to finish in the first place, so well done Honey Badger, Bulls and Renault.

Speaking of being in the right place at the right time, how fortunate was Mr Vettel on the last lap? Another couple of feet and he could have been beheaded a la Alonso Belgium 2012.............I'm being a bit flippant, but driving standards among the young guns really need sorting out before some blameless driver is wiped out by some renegade.


PS Watch the accident in slow motion, and you'll see just how close Vettel came to nearly being decapitated. Scary stuff, just like Alonso Belgium 2012.

I remember 10 years ago this month Ralfie was badly injured at Indy (his spine was chipped), but that was caused by a tyre failure. Having a tyre blow out is part of racing, all drivers accept that. However, dangerous driving including arcing into a driver is certainly not part of the risk of a drivers job, as is a near beheading.

These tyros need a good talking too before somebody is critically injured, watching the start of Belgium 2012 still makes me shudder.


@ Gaz Boy

Lord help us, we pray we do not have a serious incident happening this season of all seasons as it's Senna's anniversary.

We have lost too many people already this year.


James how come Lewis was so much faster on the primes after the first pit stop? He was 3 seconds behind and came straight back at nico. I'm getting the impression (after Monaco to) that nico has a slight edge over Lewis on the super soft tyres (look at quali at Monaco and Montreal ) but vice versa on the soft compound. Any thruth in this? I rate rosberg but still don't think he's had a clear outright victory over Hamilton at a GP weekend this season. If Lewis didn't have bad luck he'd have no luck at all!

What tyre compounds are they using in Austria?


"...If Lewis didn’t have bad luck he’d have no luck at all!..."

I'm sorry, but I have to call utter RUBBISH on this!

Hamilton is one of the luckiest F1 drivers in history. Tell me any other driver in F1 history who has started his career in one of the fastest cars on the grid and has been given a front running, race winning car EVERY SINGLE season he has competed. Tell me.

Not only that, but of all the World Champions there have ever been in all of F1 history, Hamilton has by far the best reliability record of them all.

This is not an opinion, it's a fact. Look it up.

Maybe you believe Hamilton is unlucky because of where he was born? Hamilton sure thinks so...


Ok so far this season :

Melbourne- mechanical dnf after qualifying on pole ( nico inherits win instant 25 point lead in championship)

Bahrain- safety car comes out ruins Lewis tyre strategy playing into nico's hands ( holds off to win though)

Monaco - "team" mate secures pole after questionable mistake in quali causing Lewis unable to complete lap (nico wins as pole almost guarantees win in Monaco )


Mechanical Dnf and nico gets 2nd due to the fast in straight line force India holding up red bulls for so long

Nico rosberg bad luck: hmmm can't think of any


I don't believe McLaren thought they were being charitable, by putting Lewis into the 2nd car in 2007. They only did it b/c they thought he could do the business. And did he ever!

Race-winning cars does not equate to title-challenging cars. Hamilton's had that in 2007, 2008, and this year. 2010 was close only b/c of Red Bull screw-ups.

In 2007 he was a rookie with the 2x current DWC as his teammate, with an equally fast Ferrari to contend with. In 2008 he won. This year it's an in-house fight, no one else is close, and the differentiator so far is unequal reliability. With all scores counting, it could be that factors out of the drivers' control decide the title.


As far as I know he was born in England. There's nothing he can do about that now. He just has to suck it up and get over it. Obviously his fans have, to their credit. I admire them for that.


[mod]NO world champion has won a championship in a rubbish car.
Secondly, it speaks volumes that McLaren gave a young driver his debut in such a good car.
Thirdly, considering that Hamilton became a champ in only his second season with such a great car, if we then use your logic, then tell me why such experienced drivers with so many races under their belts such as Coulthard, Berger, Massa, Barichello, Webber, Montoya, and many more, were unable to win the championship.

PS: Raikonnen was given a race winning car in only his second season whilst Coulthard went straight into a race winning Williams. And guess what, despite their years and experience as an advantage, Hamilton has the better record, by miles.


Pretty much everyone agrees Lewis is unlucky, not quite Webber levels but his bad luck seems to strike at the worst time. When was the last time Lewis lucked into a race win like Melbourne 2014 or Silverstone 2013?


My theory on this one is that the Rosberg on the primes was already managing his car as Lewis caught him on the primes, as both were close on the two types of tyre over the weekend as a whole.

Merc said the brake issues (which both cars had I believe) appeared directly after the pit stops. It makes sense that Rosberg immediately went into car management mode, and thus allowed his team mate to catch him at a far faster rate than one driver liking certain tyres. The fact Lewis's rear brakes failed within a lap of passing Nico suggests that someone on the Hamilton side of the garage, be that driver or engineer took a calculated risk to try and win the race and pass Nico (LH running more rear bias). That risk backfired in a pretty monumental way. The big question of the weekend is who on the Hamilton side of the garage took that risk. As DC suggested, calling off the fight when they had car issues and nursing them both home would have seen Lewis only lose 3 pts to Nico, rather than 18pts.

Until it's known who made that call, it's not possible to say that Lewis was unlucky and Rosberg was Lucky as we don't know who was responsible for the decision to attack Rosberg, nor do we know who decided to protect the Rosberg car.


I don't think they could risk a retirement and let nico take a 25 point hawl of points over Lewis , too big a blow in the championship. It sounded to me like nico wanted to know what bias Lewis was running (to copy it) as he was slower at that point and massively under pressure.


I like how you start off with speculation as to why Lewis caught Nico on the primes, then in the latter paragraphs use this speculative "decision" as though it's confirmed fact.

Lewis was faster than Nico on the primes all weekend, from FP2 long-runs on. I noted before the race that their long run pace was similar on supersofts, but that Lewis was ahead on the softs. It will likely be the same in Austria this weekend.


It's Soft and Supersoft in Austria, Medium and Hard for Silverstone, Soft and Supersoft for Germany and Medium and Soft for Hungary.


James, you don't mention the [illegal??] test that RBR conducted in Austria, and here they are winning a race. Last year Merc won their first race just after a dodgy test too.

Beats me why Ferrari don't try it.

kenneth chapman

@phil your post, illegal? what would make you even suggest that? it has no legs despite some attempts to resurrect a dead issue. the 'dyno'test was legal.


No reason to mention it:

- The test was a dyno test and within the regulations

- All teams are allowed to do this including Merc and Ferrari

- It was actually Toro Rosso who conducted the test with Renault

So basically nothing to report, it was a false allegation of an illegal test by some random source to stir up trouble/cause headlines.


Great summary, it seems the undercut was not working and not best way forward. Maybe similar to what would have happened in Monaco if no safety car?

James, Do you know how the Control Electronic units usage is counted? The FIA technical reports don't appear to be very clear. There are several different types of Control Electronics (such as TRAK, OBI, PSU, DCDC and others), looking at the technical reports when one is changed, such as TRAK, it seems to suggest the driver has 5 TRAK control units they can use, however when reading the total power units used charts it seems to count anytime anyone CE part is changed towards the total - a few drivers have now reached the limit of 5 for the season (although don't seem to have used 5 of anyone individual CE) so how they count will be crucial as to whether these drivers will pick up a grid penalty at the next event they change a CE part. Thanks very much if you are able to answer.


Great insight into the strategy, definitely one of the better ones ive read here! Amazing race once the Merc's started to fail but theyre still bloody fast even without their ERS! Perez definitely held the Bulls back otherwise they would've pounced sooner. Massa had a great chance but couldn't capitalize, that guy has no luck, same as Raikkonen.


For me , this last few years Red Bull have been very bold on strategy and trying to turn things arround when they ´re not going well. On the other hand ferrari are always very conservative and a litle bit naif.


Remember last time Ferrari tried to do something different in Canada? Started off as a two stop, then decided to not worry about that 2nd stop and just ran 'til the end of the race. They stuck with it despite the obviously terrible pace, and despite Vettel/RB giving up on the strategy and coming in for new tyres. Instead of 2nd or 3rd, Alonso finished 5th.

Given how well that worked out, maybe it's best Ferrari don't try to be too clever with strategy.


Can you explain why Ricciardo did overtake Vettel?

Vettels inlap can't be the reason. Because at this moment Vettel was still in front of Ricciardo.

To find the difference we probably have to compare Vettels outlap with Ricciardos inlap?

Was the traffic realy the problem in Vettels outlap? Ricciardo came out between Vettel and Perez. Therefore i conclude that Perez wasn't the reason for Vettel to be to slow in his outlap.


I posted this the other day, but in summary...

Vettel was right up behind Hulkenburg, behind him was Bottas, then Ricciardo. Bottas pits. This gave DR ~2s to his team mate, which he caught as the Hulkenburg car was slow (but not in a straight line). Then Vettel pits, again giving DR some more free air just as he caught the rear of his team mates car. Vettels out lap was compromised by one of the Saubers and Kimi (IIRC). Ricciardo only just caught Hulk as he pitted - perfect timing for Dan, as he didn't lose any time sitting behind those cars.

So, Vettels in lap - sat behind Hulk.

Ricciardos in lap - not sat behind anyone.

That's basically what won Ricciardo the race. If Bottas had stayed in front of him even a lap longer Vettel would have won the race rather than Ricciardo. It wasn't so much of what the Red Bull drivers did or didn't do that dictated the race result, rather what the Force India/Williams drivers did who neither could pass until they had car trouble or pitted.


Generally the undercut did not work as it was hard to get heat into the tyres after the stops. Vettel's pace on his inlap dictated by hulkenburg so he was not that quick but him pitting gave Ricciardo a slight gap in front so he was able to put in a quick lap so it is understandable that ricciardo's inlap would be a second quicker than vettel's. Added to the fact that vettel would be on his outlap on a cold set of primes explains why this was possible. This is also how Alonso passed Vergne in the first stint


"Ricciardo came out between Vettel and Perez. Therefore i conclude that Perez wasn’t the reason for Vettel to be to slow in his outlap."

Vettel wasn't slow in his outlap.

Ricciardo was able to overtake Vettel because his inlap was faster than Vettel's - 79.41 seconds vs 80.36 seconds. And his inlap was faster due to luck. First Vettel pitted, opening up space ahead of RIC, then Hulkenberg, who had been going slowly with Vettel behind him, suddenly sped up by half a second a lap, allowing Ricciardo to speed up as well.. The lap prior to Vettel pitting Hulk lapped in 80.67 secs, the lap prior to RIC pitting Hulk lapped in 80.12 seconds. That, plus his slower pitstop, is what put Vettel behind Ricciardo.


Seb wanted the pitstop though. Shame how it worked out for him.


No, when Vettel did his inlap he was in front of Ricciardo. Even if Vettels inlap would ve been 2 sec. slower than Ricciardos thats not the reason Ricciardo was able to overtook him.

Because at the end of his inlap Vettel was still in front of Ricciardo.


What did you not understand from the explanation given above, and what alternative can you offer?


Takes time to warm up the soft tyres.Maybe that also could be the reason for slower outlap.

Also the report says Ricciardo's in lap was .9 s faster than Vettel's. This could be because Vettel used up his tyres more than Ricciardo, chasing Hulkenberg.

All in all,Vettel lost it on strategy. The team should have done better


While the race had a strong strategic component, it is too much of a pro-F1-marketing-exercise to say that it's 'outcome was decided by strategy'. Truth is that it was decided 1. by reliability (i.e. Mercedes lack of it!) and 2. by Massa's ineptitude.

But these days truth will not do much for F1...


You don't think Ricciardo winning rather than Vettel was about strategy?


The strategy helped Daniel, but it should have favoured Vettel.

Quite rightly Vettel was allowed to make his second stop before Dan, because he was ahead on the road. Race fans don't mind this kind of favouritism, as long as it is fair and applied consistently.

Where Red Bull has upset fans in the past, was by making strategy calls that disadvantaged Webber, while in race-winning positions in both Malaysia & Japan last year.

Daniel has been able to turn the tables on Seb, by displaying the type of skills that Webber was accused of lacking at that time.

He was able to overtake at crucial times in the race, when Vettel couldn't ... and he laid a scintillating in-lap that left Christian Horner shaking his head in disbelief.

Isn't it ironic?

P.S. I still say that Dan has the demeanour of a young Mick Doohan.


I don't know if I totally agree about Dan having the demeanour of a young Mick Doohan. Mick let his arrogance show through a bit more than what Daniel does and was more critical of his opponents. This is only my personal opinion though!


I do think the strategy was about pitting Daniel early on lap 13 to get him ahead of the Williams'. I don't believe it was ever Red Bull's intention to allow Dan to win at Vettel's expense!!!

Clearly, Horner et al were gob-smacked by Dan's remarkable victory, but extremely pleased nonetheless.

The strategy SHOULD have worked in Seb's favour. But Dan was able to turn the race on it's ear by leap-frogging VET at the second pit stop and then timing his attacks on PER and ROS to perfection.

The victory was pure opportunism. It was about Dan taking his chances and making them work for him.

kenneth chapman

@ rachael.... yes, you are right. it was about racing. there is no way that RB would compromise vettel winning but he is being outraced when push comes to shove and he doesn't like it. that is understandable but ricciardo is no patsy.

i love opportunism and the old 'carpe diem' motto. that is the difference beween winners and losers. i still feel as vettel will get on top of it all soon and then we will see some spirited challenges. so far ricciardo is in front so he should be getting the call more often than not. whether red bull will let that happen is a moot point. going on their past performances i should think that vettel will be getting the rub.

kenneth chapman

@ james... not necessarily. i'm pretty sure that no one on the pit wall had factored in just how fast ricciado's in-lap would be. that was the one deciding factor that kicked off the ensuing run of events enabling ricciardo to be in contention.

vettel was in place on many occasions where he could've launched an attempt to pass but he didn't., for what ever reason. ricciardo then took every opportunity he had including his rather gutsy pass on perez. if you listen to the brundle post race interview it was, by ricciardo's own admission a rather calculated but somewhat dangerous move that he was able to make it stick. he even went onto the grass? he held it, for a prelude to chasing down a wounded merc. great driving and he made it on merit.


It was partly strategy James as it could have easily gone Vettel's way. Though I do find that you don't seem to give credit to Ricciardo on seizing his opportunity when he did, something other drivers did not do.

- Ricciardo still had to put in a great in lap regardless of whether Vettel was stuck in traffic

- Their pit stops were within 0.2 of a second of each other so there was no favouritism there when it fact Vettel was pitted first for the undercut to cover off Bottas so Vettel still got the better strategy

- Had Vettel stayed out, he would have lost of both Bottas and Ricciardo as RB did not know how long Hulkenburg was going to be out for

- Ricciardo made the move stick on Perez, something Vettel couldn't do when he was behind Hulk

So no I don't think it was entirely strategy and Ricciardo made the most of it. He fully deserved he win and he didn't win it based on strategy alone. I don't believe the article gives Daniel enough credit where it is due.


@gp back to adelaide:

Vettel didn't try to get attack to Ricciardo. He tried to conserve tires.

He closed the gap after he came under pressure by Massa.

But no possibility to attack, because Ricciardo had DRS on the straights.


Ricciardo made the move on Perez stick because Perez ran into an electrical issue which he was trying to sort out by doing a reset. Not because of superior driving skills. Whereas Vettel didn't have such luck when he was hounding Hulkenburg.

Second, Ricciardo managed a better in-lap because of the space created behing Hulkenburg when Vettel pitted. Vettel's in-lap was limited by Hulkenberg's pace. In my opinion, Vettel made a mistake by not dropping back a little bit to create space before his in-lap.

Third, Vettel's out-lap was compromised because the soft tires took 1 lap to get upto temprature.

So all in all, the article gives the right amount of credit.

GP Back To Adelaide

Completely agree with this.

The RBR's were in formation for most of that last stint. Vettel struggled to get close enough at any point...except...there was one occasion where Ricciardo ran too deep into turn 8 at around lap 60 or so. This compromised his exit and run to the hairpin and provided Vettel a prime opportunity to close up and attempt a pass. What happened next was the difference between the 2 drivers on the day...Seb overshot the hairpin slightly, fluffed his overtaking opportunity completely and, as a result of his mistake, had to defend off Massa down the straight. Compare with RIC's sublime overtake on Perez.

For what it's worth, RIC had been climbing all over the back of Perez's Force India on several occasions at the exit of the final turn. Why they decided to "do a reset" there and then is beyond me.

I also recall that when Vettel left the pits after his second stop that the gap between him and Perez appeared 1 second (about 1.2 IIRC), allowing Ricciardo to slot right in between them. I understand that the softs take time to wear in, but he should have been able to close up to Perez (who was on older rubber) over the course of that lap.


Why was Vettel told via radio that Daniel would eventually destroy his tires? The implication was that Vettel should hold station until Daniel's tires fell off. I find it difficult to believe that Red Bull made such a gross miscalculation in refernce to Daniel's tires. Had Seb attacked earlier a 1, 2 may have been possible, no?


Vettel and ricciardo fighting for position would not have allowed them to get past perez any quicker. if at all


You are right on that. But Mercedes not making it a one-two was about reliability. After having won everything up until Canada, that's the headline.

Certainly it was strategy that defined what other contenders jumped in and indeed it was an extremely interesting race from that point of view. But while both Mercedes were in contention, any try to win through strategy was a joke.

However, great analysis (as always) which actually is what your post is about! And thank you always for providing insight to understand better the sport.

It's just that provocative criticism makes fun


Did Perez DRS worked ? It seemed he was in the 1 second zone behind rosberg at times but never opened his DRS ?


Perez was losing out to rosberg in sector 1 and 2 and at the DRS detection zone before turn 10 he was generally about 1.2 to 1.3 seconds behind. He was gaining about 0.7 sec on the long straight as rosberg lost his MGU-K so if he had got in DRS range then he would have flown past as ricciardo did.


Do we know why the Mercedes both failed so similarly? (Or were the failures actually different?) They were so simultaneous that it tempts me to wonder if there was a common software error. It seems to me that here would have been more randomness if it were purely mechanical.


I speculated that the problems Mercedes experienced with the ERS were due to the extreme heat in Montreal (Coulthard also suggested this may have been the cause as well). Mercedes may have gone aggressive on straight line speed and compromised on cooling - the opposite of what Ferrari did - and caused the ERS to over heat.

If James does not mind here is a link to a technical explanation of the Mercedes ERS issue -


The team said the failure happened when components overheated during the pitstop so it does sound like Mercedes were cutting things fine in terms of cooling at this race.

I'm sure they'll do something about it which is a pity in some ways because it certainly spiced up the race for the rest of us 🙂


Great strategy report James! 😀

Well done Riccy! The boy just keeps on schooling the supposed 'greatest ever driver' again and again. I wonder where is Tealeaf, Equin0x and the rest of the Vet fanboys now? Probably still licking their wounds...haha..Red Bull now see that Ric is their best hope, and as he 99% of the time extracts the maximum from the machinery (Vet: 'He gets more out of the car than I do' after China GP), Red Bull have now installed him as the de facto no. 1 driver in the team. I predict Ric to be a future champion and get better and better, probably forcing Vettel into eventual involuntary retirement. Sweet 😀


Well I must say, I thought it was going to be a HAM Slam before the weekend (given his record at the circuit), and was baffled when Rosberg came out on top in qualifying. Lewis was a little quicker in the race though, still with superior fuel consumption, and once past was going to take a comfortable win, except his car failed.

After that, 10 laps from the end, I saw Massa coming through to take victory for the first time in...6 years! Mercedes power to get past the Red Bulls, clear the hold up of Perez, then get past the hobbled Mercedes. It seemed a little strange when Massa couldn't get past Vettel. Was there a problem with his DRS? That ended, Ricciardo took his chances, and well....I told a colleague if he wanted a 50/50 bet, should keep his money off the lottery and put it on a Mercedes victory.

An interesting race, except I find it hard to be thrilled when the engines are quiet, and the cars still can't follow each other properly since 1998. The last 15 laps were good though, as it could have been won by Rosberg, Perez, Massa, Ricciardo, and unlikely Vettel. Hamilton has now won this race 3 times, and failed to finish in 2008, 2011, and 2014.

The next race is Austria is a "new" race. Without checking, only Button and Alonso have raced there before? Vettel tested a Ferrari recently at the circuit. Some drivers perform better at new venues, so am looking forward to it.


So what you're saying is that Lewis is a lock to win in Canada next year? 🙂 He always wins the next Canadian GP after a DNF. Although it used to be that he would "win it or bin it" ... that went out the window in 2013.


Vettel tested a Ferrari there??? What, what, what? Do you have a source?


Ok, not really a test. Drove the Ferrari F1/87/88C while Berger got the RB8.


There are multiple pics of the event. He drove one of Berger's old cars 🙂


Ha,ha. Calm down mate. It was a Ferrari that Berger once drove. A real race car with a gear stick.


For pete's sake, he was just driving Gerhard Bergers old Ferrari for a promotional activity


It was Gerhard Berger's 1988 Ferrari, not any recent ones. Berger also drove the RB8.

It was done for a short promotional video I believe:


Kimi's raced in Austria too.


Yes, you're right. Forgot about Raikkonen. Proper F1 driver est. 2001.


Just a simple question from someone who has followed F1 for..maybe too many years....did the convenience of Merc problems crossed anybody's mind? Last the most favorable circuit, suddenly both Mercs have issues one lap if some strange software code had planned that. ... I try to avoid conspiracy theories, but when money drives a sport, TV audience is key and same as Adrian, I'm getting a little bored of F1 lack of development and rigid rules for one full year. I was always attracted by technical innovation and development...this year the Championship is driven by the engine..where there is no chance to improve but for some small changes thanks to rules and regulations. I really hope this is not becoming another TV entertainment program. perhaps they can go back to a full hour of open qualifying time and we cna have some fun on Saturdays.


No, they failed because both cars performed very very similarly. No software involved.


Williams suffered from Merc PU problems in Monaco too, so it's not like they're indestructible. And it's not hard to consider that two of the same car running in the same conditions might encounter the same unforeseen problem. Maybe the control gear mounted where ever it is, with the car in whatever aero and cooling configuration they were running for Canada, overheated and failed. Or maybe they just changed something about the layout that clearly didn't work as predicted. Or maybe it's been exactly the same all the way through the season, but Canada being quite a unique circuit was the first to uncover a problem. The only other circuit on the calendar that's basically a series of straights connected by chicanes is Monza, and obviously they've not been there yet.


@ Gaz Boy

I too was wondering about that m8 for top athletes are usually decisive figures so it will be interesting to see if the honey badger can achieve more success from here on out.

As for Mr. Vettel, it was encouraging to see he hadn't lost his good luck completely for it doesn't get much better than that.

Meanwhile, have you noticed good ol' Maldonado has stayed out of trouble for sometime now. It would appear the penalties do work after all.


Yeah, I've noticed a certain South American has been quiet recently.............ah well, everything happens for a reason!

The more I watch the last lap accident, the more I flinch. Tell you what, good old Seb's guardian angel was watching over him in Canada; he may not have won the race, but at least he's in one piece - a couple of feet and that wouldn't have been the case..............


He raced only 21 laps. So he avoids penalty. Just imagine what would have happened if he was still there at lap 70. I am sure there would be no two safety cars on track 😉


Did Maldonado not retire less than a third of the way into the race? And he retired before he even started in Monaco. It's not hard to stay out of trouble when you're not even on the track.


@ Yak

Lol... Poor Maldonado.


It seems probable that Mercedes only encountered problems in Canada because they allowed their drivers to race one another and push their cars to the limit. In Austria they will most likely employ strict team orders and run their cars at a good deal less than 100%.


Nope. Based on the timing of the problem and the news that it was overheating and not wear they would have failed anyway (possibly a lap or two later at best). The only thing you could say is maybe hamilton's breaks would have survived had they flown formation after that.


If Lewis loses the championship because of this result, then he has no-one to blame but himself. What was he thinking, pushing the car so hard when he knew he had big problems???

I like Lewis, but he should have never commenced playing mind games. Apparently Nico is mentally stronger.


All in all I think that Vettel is a very very good number 2. He certainly was an effective rear gunner for Daniel and if RBR can close the gap, I can see he will be a great support to Dan in his title quest next season!!


Dont jump your guns too early. Dan has just won a race whereas Vettel is a 4 time world champ. Dan has long way to go before he can sit at big boys table


What an exciting race. I am so happy that a non Mercedes car won the race. The season was getting very boring, if Mercedes won all races and 1 - 2s as well. Congrats to Dan on a great win, you have to be there to win it as we know.

I maybe now just realising that Hamilton is an all or nothing driver and can't nurse his car home if he gets a problem, not referring to the tear in his eye at Monaco. Are there any examples of when he nursed a car home? I can't recall one such instance.

Great report James and team, always love the technical analysis.


It would be hard to nurse a car home in the first race. This time around perhaps but it's a risk/reward thing, one of them was going to fail, the only reason Rosberg survived after that was he didnt need to race anyone.


noone is talking about Ferrari. Hope they will come back


Because they have done nothing noteworthy


Nice analysis... I think also that something else has been learned by the Canadian GP.. The Mercs have an Achilles heal... the heat and their rear brakes.


Possibly. but that is unlikely to be a big problem at any of the remaining races as the hotter ones are not as hard on the brakes.


How did Nico keep the others behind with 160hp down, that I'm amazed. RIC must have been very appreciative for his victory but he too drove a cool and calculated race. RIC sure feels like WDC material sooner or later. Pity the attention of Filipe and Perez has been the main focus at the moment.

Another important finish was Button, where did that come from as he finished fourth and there were no footage of his overtake? Guess the last few laps had too sensational hence the tv director couldn't focus but I won't blame him at all. Not an easy task though.

The race was truly dramatic with so much to digest, gotta watch it again. Was caught up watching the Filipe and Perez incident over and over again. My opinion, Massa jinked to the right too suddenly.

Whatever, both of them are fine. Was thinking if Massa did pass Perez, but he overcooked it and would his nose be directed at Vettel sidepod causing a highly serious accident not in favor of Vettel. But Vettel was smart and did braked a little just enough as Massa shot across like a bullet.


How did Nico keep the others behind with 160hp down


Because Perez had shot bakes, meaning he lost ground on every corner and couldnt get within DRS range. He wouldn't have held off anyone else.


All season Ricciardo has looked like the guy who was going to pick up the pieces when the Mercs cracked.

Whether it be through car problems or driver problems Merc were probably going to come unstuck eventually and Dan seems to have a knack for putting himself in the right place at the right time.

When the Mercedes both started having problems I thought Massa was going to capitalise.

Poor Dan looked totally gobsmacked at his first win....imagine if he'd won Monaco...he'd have to be rushed to hospital.


James really happy for Dan even if he had a couple of things go his way he still had to be there, and it seems fitting an Aussie won this week when the great SIR JACK was put to rest today.


I am wondering what Hamilton is going to do and what Merc is thinking about him. He had 2 DNFs, not his fault. He is faster than Rosberg. One thing I would hate to see this year is to see a better drive lose title due to reliability. But you also need luck on your side and you need to make the most of it, just like Rosberg did in Canada. He qualified ahead of Hamilton, managed to stay ahead going into turn 1 and then....managed to nurse the car home on a 2nd position. Not bad, he won plenty of points which will keep him ahead of Hamilton.

Now....Hamilton needs to win 4 races with Rosberg coming 2nd to be ahead in points and hope he is not going to get another DNF.

But....that is another story. As a Ferrari is painful to see how deep is the crisis that Ferrari is going through with no signs of improvement for next year.

James, I wanted to let you know that with this new release of your blog I no longer get eMail notifications when people comment on my post.


Hamilton certainly has been unlucky, and has driven in the form worthy of a Championship (4 wins on the trot, etc). I also think Rosberg has been driving in a Championship worthy form too, so if he does win it I won't judge him as being unworthy. Luck is always a factor in sport. Rosberg will likely have his DNFs. But back in 2008 it can be viewed Massa was unlucky to have not been Champion with things like Hungary, Singapore and Hamilton's last corner fortune in Brazil. Of course Hamilton had his own issues, such as Spa. But luck always plays a part in these things; each driver can list a load of "If onlys" at the end of a year.

kenneth chapman

if as you say, mercedes run their cars at less than 100% then they may, just may, encourage the 'others' to 'boldly go where no others have gone'. it all depends i guess on the likely superiority of the merc when we see what they are capable of in FP/quali3.

the red bull ring is short and with only seven corners it should be a mercedes doddle as the merc has great cornering qualities as well as outright grunt. it is pretty much an all round car.

once more the merc engined cars will have an advantage over the others but maybe red bull can pull something off althgough i wouldn't be putting the 'sheep station' on it.


First of all congratulations to James Allen for these very clarifying reports.

Reading them makes me think about how much of the racing is done nowadays by people other than the pilots. That is, strategy relies mostly on the "back office" rather than in the pilots mind in the heat of the moment.

I think that is hindering the racing to a big extent and that the sport should be pursuing ways to let the pilots being "on their own" as much as posible, maybe by limiting the two way radio.

The perfect example is Vettel asking for "help" strategy wise: how much better would this race had been if all of the pilots were obliged to make the strategy calls without any exterior help.

By the way, I think that the one an only"Honey Badger" of the moment is Nick Cummins (operating from Perth, by the way).


So you'd rather a driver relies on blind luck? Because that is what would happen if he doesn't know where a pit stop will put him in relation to other cars. F1 is a team sport, unless you are going to ask them to change all the tyres too?


Great post.


Presumably x is laps, and y is related to lap time?


Ok, didn't know there where other drivers than perez who compromised Vettels outlap.

If the cold primes where still slower than the used tires of Ricciardos car, it was realy a stupid moment to box.


It wouldn't have been any better a few laps later as Hulkenberg was staying out.


Has elie explained to us how Kimi has been sabotaged by Ferrari again.....could he have won if he didn't drive so badly? Also will Santander allow Ferrari to give Kimi the steering wheel foam that he needs to feel at one with the car?....Kimi needs a soft foam and the current foam is way to dense for a guy who has lost his fine touch.....also why can't Kimi just drive a bit faster than Fernando. James Allison said that too......


If we are willing to accept that Force India had a hint of a shot at winning the race why is it that Ferrari couldn't pursue a similar tactic to FI, or did they deduce that starting behind a dozen mercedes powered cars would be too much of a handicap in the first place.


Because Ferrari do not have the ability to look after the tyres as well as Force India (Or Mercedes or Red Bull for that matter). Despite the engine being underpowerd compared to the Merc it is snappy, causing more wheelspin and sideways movement out of the corners and hence higher tyre degredation.


Spot on, James. While watching the race on tv, I thought we might see Hulkenberg's first win.



I thought so do. James, how come Hulk didn't have an pace on the super soft tyre?


In my view, Hamilton as a driver has.....average to good luck, if it's even quantifiable.

I think he went from 2007-2009 with only one mechanical failure, his retirement from Abu Dhabi in 2009? In 2008 he was lucky with Massa's problems and unlucky with some of his own.

In 2012, he and Button had poor reliability in the context of that season, and some dreadful pit stops. So both McLaren men had "bad luck" that season.

In 2014 he has the great luck of having the most competitive car in the field. Rosberg will (probably) suffer at least 2 DNFs by the season's end, and if Hamilton has 3, throw in a bit more speed than his team mate, stupid double points, and the person who's luckiest will probably be the one who wins the finale.

Of course, Hamilton's also had title capable cars in half of his active seasons as an F1 driver. Also this season, as with everything else, there will be some unanticipated events which could skew the luck in anyone's favour.....


"In 2014 he has the great luck of having the most competitive car in the field"

That was not luck, that was a result of a very brave career decision and excellent judgement call on HAMs part to leave McLaren for a lower team.

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