Analysis: The tactics and battles going on behind the scenes in German GP
Start of the German GP
Strategy Report
Posted By: James Allen  |  22 Jul 2014   |  3:25 pm GMT  |  103 comments

The German Grand Prix was another in a series of 2014 races, which have featured close racing through the field but where strategy was central to the story. To understand the results it’s important to understand the strategies that the teams were employing and how some changed as the race went on.

It was a familiar story at the front with Nico Rosberg dominating in the Mercedes from pole position. An untroubled race for him with two calm pit stops and only the sixth fastest race lap, showed how untroubled he really was.

However behind him, the rest of the results were directly affected by strategy and in many cases by decisions made on the hoof, as once again teams found that conditions on race day were not as expected from practice, largely due to the track temperatures being up to 20 degrees cooler.

Throw in the great unknown of how the cars would perform over 67 laps without the FRIC suspension for the first time and you had a lot of unknowns on race day.

Nico Rosberg on the grid

Pre-race considerations

It was the first race in 2014 with no FRIC suspension on the cars and coupled with the relatively aggressive Pirelli tyre choice of soft and supersoft tyres the teams were monitoring their tyre degradation data even more closely than normal to ensure that they choose the optimum race strategy. The left front tyre turned out to be the restricting factor, due to the higher energy corners being right handers.

The much cooler race conditions looked set to make the Supersofts less likely to degrade as quickly as expected, the question however was, with the loss of FRIC would it be a default 3 stop strategy, or could you stretch out the tyre life to make it in two? A few drivers came unstuck trying to do that and lost ground, Alonso and Button most notably.

Felipe Massa crashes at Hockenheim 2014

The Startline accident and the Safety Car

For once Valterri Bottas did not have a great start compared to the cars around him; Magnussen and Massa. As they approached the first corner Massa was unaware that Magnussen had gone up the inside of Bottas and as he took the racing line for Turn 1 he was tagged by Magnussen – the heavy contact rolled Massa’s car. Ricciardo, starting fifth, did well to avoid the incident but found himself back in 15th place on a recovery strategy.

The Safety Car was deployed, but only briefly until the end of lap two. Magnussen meanwhile pitted for a set of soft tyres and went for a long second stint to try to get himself back in the game.

Lewis Hamilton passes Kimi Raikkonen

Hamilton’s fight through the field

After crashing in qualifying due to a brake disc failure and a forced gearbox change, Lewis Hamilton was once again on damage limitation mode. He progressed more slowly than expected to start with, perhaps because he was on the soft compound tyre, which proved to be around a second a lap slower than the supersoft.

But, around laps 12 and 13 there was some great wheel to wheel action as Ricciardo, Raikkonen and Hamilton fought over 8th, 9th and 10th positions. The constant close quarter attacking for position put a lot more energy into their tyres, reducing their ability to go as long in the race as they would in clear air. Hamilton lunged up the inside of Raikkonen and Ricciardo, clipping Raikkonen’s front wing endplate and was very lucky not to pick up a puncture.

By this stage it was clear that the supersoft tyres were graining badly for some runners and Alonso was the first front-runner to pit on lap 12, on schedule for a three stop strategy. Ricciardo pitted on lap 13 and Vettel on 14, also three-stop plans.

Rosberg and Bottas both stretched it out and pitted on lap 16, which was in the window for two stops and took the soft tyre, aiming to divide the remaining 51 laps into two relatively equal parts on a two stop plan.

All eyes therefore were on Hamilton, who had started on the soft tyres, to see how long his tyres would last as this would give the cue to the others on how to manage their race.

When Bottas pitted, Hamilton was able to move up to 2nd position without overtaking Bottas on track.

Hamilton stayed out as long as possible as there was a chance of rain at this time, with some spots falling. As his tyres began to fade, he let Bottas past on L20 having being told that it was not critical to maintain position in terms of the long game of beating him to second at the flag,

Hamilton pitted on Lap 26 for a second set of soft tyres, coming out in 8th place racing on a clear two stop strategy. This clearly gave McLaren and Ferrari the feeling that, with lighter fuel loads later in the race, they could manage a longer stint on the soft. It backfired on Button who pitted on lap 31, leaving him 36 laps to the finish. His tyres faded and he had to make a late third stop on lap 61, six laps short of the end.

Lewis Hamilton passes Jenson Button

Button was a protagonist in the Hamilton story as he and his former team-mate collided as Hamilton tried to overtake, damaging the front wing of the Mercedes. This compromised Hamilton’s strategy as the imbalance meant he had excessive front left tyre use and his team was forced to change strategy, splitting the rest of the race into two 12 lap stints on the supersoft, with the aim still of beating Bottas to second place. They did not change the front wing, as it would have lost them a minimum of 10 seconds, more if the wing didn’t come off easily.

Meanwhile on Lap 41 Bottas stopped for another set of soft tyres, aiming to do the race on two stops, giving himself 26 laps to do on the softs.

Hamilton’s strategy was revised again when Sutil spun on lap 47. With his car blocking half the circuit and marshals running on to remove it, Mercedes reacted to the likely safety car and brought Hamilton in, but it was five laps earlier than planned.

This was the correct thing to do, as a safety car would have wrecked his plan, but strangely the Safety Car was not deployed and this left Hamilton with too many laps to do to the finish on supersofts to be effective against Bottas at the end, especially as the Williams has the best straight line speed in the field. He could not pass him.

Fernando Alonso meanwhile had also tried to do two stops, but switched to three, the same as the Red Bull drivers against whom he was racing for position.

The problem for him was that there was indecision about when to take the third stop and he ran too long in the penultimate stint. He was undercut by Vettel, but still managed to fend off Ricciardo.

Report Sm Rect bann

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

Race History Graph, Kindly provided by Williams Martini Racing

Compare Bottas’ final stint pace and consistency with the other cars that tried to do a long final stint on soft tyres.

Look at Button’s third stint, the team was trying to be aggressive, but the tyres couldn’t hold for those last few laps.

Williams Martini Racing

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The reason for both Hamilton’s tire decision and the team orders seems clear, though it’s not an explanation Mercedes is ever likely to publicly admit.

The Mercedes race strategists ( the computer wizards who determine strategy on the fly ) were unlikely to have been charged with maximizing points for either Lewis or Nico. They were likely told to prioritize race victories over all other factors.

If this was the direction given to them by the team leadership, they cannot be blamed for believing Hamilton had fewer victory prospects than Rosberg. At that point in the race, Hamilton did have fewer victory prospects than Rosberg.

If the strategist’s charge was to focus on race wins, they would seem to have knowingly sacrificed Hamilton’s strategy by giving him the medium compound in order to assist Rosberg’s win. Hamilton outperformed the strategist’s greatest vision and threw a wrench in the works, which explains the ill conceived team orders. The strategists likely told the pit wall that the victory strategy was being compromised, it was. The reaction was team orders.

This was not done because the team favored Rosberg, but because on that day, at that time, Rosberg had the better chance of winning. If the race strategists were told to maximize victories over all other factors, they certainly did their job as directed.

Wolff seems to have admitted this when he stated they had split the strategies of the drivers. They haven’t split strategies all season, why start now?

From here on out, the Mercedes strategists will have to stop focusing on race wins and start focusing on maximizing each driver’s points.. This could be difficult. It may require a pair of dueling strategic computation teams in order to achieve equality between Lewis and Nico, each group of wizards focused on maximizing points for their given driver.


Interesting Drivers Press Conference line up – Marcus Ericsson (Caterham), Esteban Gutierrez (Sauber), Kamui Kobayashi (Caterham), Pastor Maldonado (Lotus), Sergio Perez (Force India), Jean-Eric Vergne (Toro Rosso).

Apart from Marcus Ericsson, will the main line of questions be why is your team mate out performing you?


serious questions need to be asked about the decision not to bring out the safety car after the sutil incident.

only last year a marshall was killed at the canadian gp. is f1’s memory that short. shame.

the deployment of the safety car would probably have completely changed the result.


Just putting the impact of the (lack of) safety car on the race result aside for a moment, I find it appalling that marshals are allowed on track while race cars are driving through at speed. Even under double-yellows, there was nothing to prevent a car from having some sort of failure, spinning out and clobbering Sutil’s car and the marshals trying to remove it.

It may have been acceptable had the field been compressed enough for the marshals to find a decent gap in the traffic to remove the Sauber but this wasn’t the case. Instead, one of the marshals pushing the car had to momentarily stop and wave oncoming cars to the far side of the track.

Earlier in the race, we had a recovery vehicle removing Kvyat’s Toro Rosso just metres away from cars that were racing. Martin Brundle made the comment about how dangerous that really is.

There are many categories around the world where you simply wouldn’t see this taking place. Safety cars are treated like the weather – yes they may impact the result of the race but as a team or a driver, they are out of your control; sometimes they will benefit you, other times they will do the opposite.

Why is Formula 1 so against deploying safety cars? That track marshal in Canada last year may not have lost their life had he and his team been slightly less rushed to remove Gutierrez’s Sauber from the track. These are volunteers with a true passion for motorsport; why needlessly risk their lives? Besides, we saw what a safety car can sometimes result in during this year’s Bahrain GP – bunching the field up is hardly a bad thing from an entertainment perspective.


Had there been a safety car would Hamilton be fighting for first on newer tires since Rosberg used more supersofts?

Craig in Manila

Sir James,

Have stewards/whoever explained why :

1. ROS was, so I hear, allowed to change discs in parc ferme after qualifying when, in the past, this was seen as a no-no ?

2. Safety Car was not sent out when, in any recent race in the past, it would’ve DEFINITELY been sent out ?


What is funny is now everyone can have qualifying brakes and race bakes. Since the FIA said they are the same size so it is no big deal, anyone can do it.

Both Mercs should have been told to start from the pitlane.


Hello. I’ll give my views on why the safety car was not necessary when Sutil spun from safety point of view.

1. The fastest route (racing line) through Turn 1 at Hockenheim is to attack the apex on the inside and exit on the outside. Given Sutil’s spin, a double-waved yellow was deployed. Drivers would’ve been shown the double-yellows even before they approached Turn 1. Given the natural racing line and where Sutil was, that situation was manageable under yellows. double-waved yellow means there’s danger ahead; be prepared to stop if needed. It isn’t the same situation Massa found himself when Raikonnen crashed at Silverstone. Drivers took turn 1 at Hockenheim (when Sutil spun) at significantly slow pace to expect to have enough reflex time to stop. Sutil was also not blocking the natural line there (he was much more on the inside), nor were there debris on track.

No overtaking under yellows, so incidents like Massa and Magnussen at Turn 1 (at Hockenheim start) wouldn’t have happened there. There is only one true racing line there. If two cars enter Turn 1 side by side, one car has to yield in a racing situation or crash, unless the overtake attempt is made before attacking the apex on Turn 1. When cars aren’t fighting there, these situations are irrelevant. Safety cars are deployed when yellows don’t provide enough safety on their own. It wasn’t necessary for a safety car to be deployed there as I’ve argued.

Having said that, Charlie is very inconsistent with regards to safety policy. There have been times when safety cars were deployed in much less hazardous conditions. We already know he choses when to respect the rules; when not. Case in point is all 4 wheels off the white lines being accepted at Hockenheim, but not at Red Bull Ring. Merc brought Lewis in at that point expecting a safety car. Lewis was disadvantaged, because Merc made a ruling based on Charlie’s whimsical nature. All fault goes to Charlie here.


PS We all saw Marshals cutting across to push Sutil’s car back. Another bad call by Charlie. But, one can argue that unlike yesteryear, Marshals have access to track footage and information about all the cars position on the racetrack. Hence, what looked like a dangerous act may not have been one. Still F1 safety protocols are inconsistent.



Mark Webber said after retiring that Vettel would struggle without exhaust blown diffusers as he was better able to adjust his driving to maximize its benefit. Looks like Mark was right.


James, had the safety car been deployed as it bafflingly would have been in most other races, what do you think the final result would have been? Would Merc not have just brought Nico in aswell 1 lap later and to no loss?


I’d be interested to know what tyres he had left – used or unused. I think Hamilton would have won or taken them both out trying.


James has FIA released an explanation why the safety car was not sent out?


Also, when the marshalls finally did come out, why cross the live track from the outside of the track? About 3 or 4 came from the inside of the track at the beginning of the pitlane. But when they started pushing the car, about TEN marshalls came from the pitlane side where the track was not live.

Why didnt they come from the pitlane side of the track in the first place??!!

But, yes, there should have been a safety car!


sorry, should have said

“About 3 or 4 came from the outside of the track which was live”




German driver leading German GP in German car.



In Spain there is a very big debate about Ferrari strategy with Alonso and many people think Ferrari made a blunder by not covering Vettel´s undercut. I have analized the race and draw this conclusion.

I think Ferrari decided not to respond to Vettel´s pit stop in lap45 because they thought it was impossible for Alonso to do 22 laps on “USED softs” (the ones used in Q1) based on the fact that previous stints with “NEW softs” lasted only 19 and 20 laps respectively. But in my view Ferrari didn´t realise that after the pit stop, Vettel didn´t have free air at the beginning of the stint because Jenson Button was ahead: In fact Alonso´s lap times in lap47 and 48 are faster than Vettel´s (lap 47: 1:22.372 vs 1:22.603 // lap 48: 1:22.694 vs 1:22.957).

I think Ferrari were caught napping and could have pitted Alonso on lap48 or lap49 with the possibility of being ahead or at least taking the fight to Vettel on “USED softs” (Vettel also had to do the last stint of 22 laps on USED softs) that now “only” have to do 19 laps or 18 laps, something I think was feasible with far less fuel in the car than in previous stints. Ferrari ignored this for some reason, lost the chance of fighting for 4th with Vettel and put Alonso in a fight with Ricciardo that, in my opinion, he shouldn´t have been.

This reasoning is based on the fact that Ferrari had a game of “USED softs” which wasn´t defective. What is your take on this? Could you ask insiders about it and give me an answer?

Thanks a lot


Tyre strategy of Alonso, Vettel, and Ricciardo.

Alonso: Super soft (12) , Soft (21), Soft (22), Super soft (12)

Vettel: Super soft (14), Soft (20), Super soft (11), Soft (22)

Ricc: Super soft (13), Soft (22), Super soft (11), Soft (21)

What’s crucial here is that Alonso changed to softs on lap 34, and a lap later Vettel changed to super-softs, and on lap 36 DR changed to super-softs. From that point on strategy was set and Alonso’s subsequent pit stops and tyre selections had to be what they were.

“many people think Ferrari made a blunder by not covering Vettel´s undercut”

It wasn’t really an undercut, not if an undercut is defined as a pit stop made purely to gain position. VET pitted before ALO because he was short duration tyres while Alonso was on long duration tyres.

This was a race where fuel strategy was as important as tyre strategy. VET, ALO and RIC all slowed down dramatically over the last few laps in an effort to save fuel. Alonso on new super-softs was not really any faster than the RB guys on twelve lap old softs, presumably because of the need to ease off the throttle.


Understand you point but you are not taking into account that Ferrari didn´t need to use Supersofts in his last stint because they had also the set of soft tyres used in Q1, so my reasoning is based on the fact they could have responded to Vettel´s pit stop (lap 45) even 3 laps later because in lap47 and 48 Vettel was slower than Alonso and both would have been in “USED softs” for their last stint (Vettel for 22 laps and Alonso for only 19).

For me it is clearly a Ferrari mistake unless the set of soft tyres used in Q1 were faulty.


hamilton should’ve got rid of the soft tyres under the safety car and used three sets of suppersofs at maximum attack considering the difference in performance. i can’t believe they let him use the slower tyre for 2 stints. that would’ve resulted in a win. hamilton was asked to allow bottas through only for bottas to finish ahead of him. what a crazy decision. hamilton should’ve held bottas back to improve his chances of finishing second. if you put together all the decisions taken my mercedes with their pitstops times and car failures it tempts you to suspect underhand tactics going on. i couldn’t believed they thought the safety car would be deployed. no other team thought so and they didn’t pit rosberg at the same time. sutil’s car wasn’t damaged and didn’t require specialist equipment to remove it from where it was. all they had to do was push it off track. if this goes on all season it can only be down to underhand tactics.

all the drivers were lucky not to have crashed so why was raikkonen lucky not to have sustained a puncture?

massa drove like he has never driven in f1 and spoke a lot of rubbish soon afterwards accusing magnussen of being at fault for being behind. we have seen many races with crowds of cars into the first corner of races and rarely see a car go from one edge of the track to the opposite edge into the corner with so many other cars around. crazy driving from massa. i think he should step down and enjoy a non driver career in f1.

i am keen to find out the twists and turns of the story this weekend in hungary.


I was willing Hamilton to pit – it was the only sensible call for his strategy at that time and had the safety car come out, he would have won the race. It was entirely unsafe to leave Sutil’s car there and not deploy the safety car to remove it and I can’t see why Whiting left Meylander twiddling his thumbs. Maybe he’d gone to the loo. As for Hamilton letting Bottas past, without Sutil’s spin and subsequent early stop, Hamilton would have been in second. Hamilton would have destroyed his own tyres defending, resulting in a slower strategy overall (something Button might want to take heed of – yes he was fighting for position, but did he really think he could keep the merc behind?) So letting Bottas past was sensible. If he’d run longer after his second stop there would have been enough rubber left to take Bottas, but Sutil destroyed that strategy and the odds on gamble for a safety car failed.


It is pretty clear that Button thought that the faster Merc was going to pass him easily in the next straight out of the turn, not IN the turn itself. I think that is why he ran wide initially, to cut back to the right side of the track on exit and allow Hamilton the racing line on the straight. Why Hamilton thought he had to pass him riskily in the turn given his speed advantage is beyond me, and clearly Jenson. Crucially, the next lap it was VERY obvious JB didn’t even try to defend…on Sky they said “they will not like THAT in the McLaren pits”. Despite their fans being rabidly opposed, it is pretty clear that JB and Lewis are at least very respectful of each other on and off the track.


It took nearly 2 laps as far as I recall. It may have been the right call (I don’t think it was given that Sutil’s car was blocking 2/3 of the track and more dangerously so that the marshals had to cross a ‘live’ track), but it was inconsistent with other instances when a safety car has been deployed. If Hamilton had stayed out and a safety car been deployed, he would have lost so many positions, as it was he finished only one further back – could be crucial in the end, but it was the right decision to pit.

At the time Hamilton let Bottas through he was on a strategy that required him to run a lot further and to do that he needed to be conservative with his tyres. Defending position would not have allowed him to do that and compromised him later on (requiring an earlier stop and leaving him vulnerable at the end).

I said nothing of the relative merits of Rosberg and Bottas, but I do know that letting Bottas through, at that point, meant that had the race gone without incident, Hamilton would have had a better chance of P2 later on.


sutil’s car was removed without incident. it took less than a lap to have the car taken away under yellow flags. if they car was damaged or on fire, may be the safety car could have been used but i think whiting made the right call. hamilton has to mentally prepare for nothing nothing going in his favour. he needs to convince himself that he has to earn all the points on merit. gambling for the safety car shouldn’t be part of his game plan unless there is no doubt that the safety car would be deployed.

if hamilton held up bottas and destroyed his tyres, bottas’s tyres would also have been destroyed. the best option is to hold up any driver who is in direct competition with you for any position. mercedes thought they were fast enough to allow him to go to catch him later and guess what? they were wrong. hamilton has the skills to keep bottas behind. we all saw how he kept rosberg behind. i sincerelyhope you don’t think bottas is a better racer than rosberg.


Re your comment on not deploying the safety car for this incident, the key concern here is that there were marshals coming in to clear the car from the outside of the track…with cars approaching that part of the circuit at over 200km/h, it is questionable whether it was the right decision not to deploy the safety car…hindsight is great, but we could all have been sitting here mourning the loss of life or serious injury had history repeated itself.


how can you still question the decision while it was so successful? sutil’s car was removed without incident.


“Fernando Alonso meanwhile had also tried to do two stops”

What’s the evidence for that? He did his first stop on lap 12, his second 21 laps later. By comparison SV made his first stop on lap 14 and his next after a further 20 laps. And DR stopped first on lap 13, then ran for 22 laps on his second set of tyres.

Alonso’s first two pit stops are consistent with his being on a three stopper all along, and inconsistent with his trying to do a two stopper. In order to two-stop Alonso would have had to do about 40 laps on his first two sets of tyres (as Rosberg and Bottas did) but instead he did 33 (fewer than VET or RIC).

Alonso was on a very slightly different tyre strategy to the RB guys. While they did super-soft, soft, super-soft, soft, he did super-soft, soft, soft, super-soft. He ran longer on his third set of rubber because he was on the softs and HAD to make them last 22 laps to get the the super-softs, just as Seb and Danial did 21-22 laps on their final soft stint.

Alonso was on a three stop strategy from the start. He differed from the Bull’s in the order of tyre selection, but there’s nothing to suggest that his mirroring their tyre selection would have changed the finishing order.


Great work as usual, but the graphic is far too small to see clearly.


click on it, it gets bigger!


Thank you aezydoc and chris, when I clicked it yesterday it didn’t open like usual. Today it does. Thank you internet!


Click it and it opens up larger and much easier to read.


Only other really impressive long stint was Hulkenberg- look at how consistent that pace was. I think he was stuck behind Jenson for a while thats why he could not push. Then when Jenson pit they must have gone into conservation mode.

Looks like Williams have the confidence to do what Merc do. I sometimes wish they would take the gamble on an aggressive strategy because Im sure they have the pace to take it to Merc at some circuits and Bottas must be growing in confidence- Im so pleased -hes a terrific talent that I always believed will get there.


Williams are still a very long way behind Mercedes. Hamilton managed a lap 1.5 seconds quicker than Rosberg’s best lap, so there is no way Rosberg was driving flat out. He was cruising and must have had another 1 sec in hand had he needed it.



Vettel’s line in the Graph disappears between laps 34-43, is it due to chasing Alonso with under 1 sec gap?


I think we need a change in tyre rules. Allow two dry tyres per race: one capable of doing the full race distance at full speed, a second grippy fast tyre but good enough for less than half the race. Then allow a driver a ‘non-stop’ option with a built-in say 30 second penalty to be taken at the beginning of the race – so a two part grid at the start. The idea is to give cars out of position from qualifying another option for the race.


Cars out of position already have another option for the race. There are two dry tyre compounds at each GP – they call them prime and option – and anyone outside of the top ten can choose which compound to start on and how many stops they would like to do.. To have a tyre that would last an entire race with no degradation or requirement to drive conservatively would mean that there would never be any pit stops again – what incentive is there to use the other tyre if that one already allows you to go full-speed for the entire race? How would your grid even work? Say the guys in 3rd and 4th decide to take your 30 second penalty and all the cars behind them don’t, do they then just sit in their grid slots while everyone else squeezes by? That’s a wee bit dangerous dontcha think? All in all, your ideas are barmy.


I hope you are joking? Are you taking the p*ss about all the ridiculous rules that have been implemented over the last 12 – 18 months? Please tell me you’re joking. 😛


I am a Ham adm (irer).

But when is a driver penalised for causing a collision, and when is he just seen as quote “very lucky not to pick up a puncture.”

He broke a competitor’s car, and picked up a damaged wing that probably made it harder for him to pass Bottas later. Coming through the field is great, but here’s the catch:

– You gotta do it without hitting other cars. That’s not so easy is it.


Button appeared to leave the door open, ran very wide then slammed it shut, Button even said as much himself post race so what is your point? Some times cars come together, it happens.

Hamilton fan, are you sure?


He hit Kimi too.


Only a bit off-topic: Interesting comment published regarding German GP attendance:

“As a four-time world champion from Germany, people believe him more than they would the sales people. So if he says there’s nothing any more for the fans, it’s not Formula One like it used to be, that was 100% quite damaging.”


Great analysis & breakdown of the race 🙂

If the safety car had been deployed after Sutils skid & risky recovery 180 turn which caused the engine shutdown. Would the Mercedes strategists have considered a front wing change for Lewis?

Or would that have been a pointless strategy?


Should Adrian have been penalized for spinning towards traffic like Lewis was in Budapest a couple years ago? I realize di Resta was compromised by Lewis’ spin, but Sutil’s was no less dangerous.


They pitted him to cover the safety car so if it had Ben deployed he would have already pitted, nothing else to do


If the safety car had come out, Lewis would have been on fresh tyres vs two guys in front who were not. I think he would have passed Bottas and then had a run at Rosberg. Not saying he would have passed since we’ve yet to see a pass from the Mercs on track this year aside some switching at Bahrain.


Understood 🙂

Still cannot believe the safety car was not deployed…but I assume the track stewards were in no great danger. Though still a risky decision to have them try & push a car that for all intent & purposes may’ve seazed in gear, while the cars whizzed by under yellow flags.


Halfway through the season, these are the observations:

1. Alonso absolutely phenomenal, this season is pretty much on the level of 2012 with some exceptional performances – most probably the best driver on the grid

2. Rosberg- impressed with his progress and recovery after being dominated by Hamilton early in the season. I think he has some luck on his side too. He might be 0,1 per lap slower than Hamilton, but he is more consistent

3. Ricciardo is a huge surprise – I would never-ever expect to see him being better than Vettel

4. Bottas – another revelation and he is lucky to have a very competitive Williams car to show what he can do

I think Rosberg will take the title this year….Hamilton has too many ups and downs. Alonso needs a winning car for next year, but it will not be Ferrari….I am really sorry for him. I would love to see him fighting for the title with the same kind of performance he is delivering. Hamiltons is a difficult case- I like him overall, like him more than Rosberg, but he is really not consistent…and not just this year, his whole F1 career is inconsistent with spectacular ups and annoying downs.


Pretty even handed and fair observations … in my opinion.

H.Guderian (ALO Fan)



@ AlexD Hard to believe u are picking Rosberg for the title with so many races left. We have 9 races left with a 50 point decider in Abu Dhabi. It’s really shortsighted to pick a winner at this point. 14 points is not a lot to make up with so many races remaining. Remember this is motor racing anything can…..


“Ricciardo is a huge surprise – I would never-ever expect to see him being better than Vettel”

You have not seen that so far this year.

“Alonso absolutely phenomenal”

What exactly do you think he has done which has been absolutely phenomenal? He’s competing closely with the Red Bull drivers in a car which is very similar in performance to theirs. If he was up there fighting with the Merc’s, that would be absolutely phenomenal.


“He has not. He has had a better (more reliable) car this season. “

Let’s look at it, shall we?

Oz – DR ahead in qualy, SV retires

Mal – SV ahead in qualy, DR retires

Bah – DR starts behind, finishes ahead

Chi – DR starts and finishes ahead

Spa – DR starts and finishes ahead

Mon – DR starts ahead, SV retires

Can – DR starts behind, finishes ahead

Aus – DR starts ahead, SV retires

GB – DR starts behind, finishes ahead

Ger – DR starts ahead, finishes behind

DR has beaten SV in 5 of the 6 races they have both finished. Even on that (not insignificant) measure alone, DR is “being better than Vettel”. Or are you going to argue that?


Steve S: Ricciardo has had his share of bad luck/points taken away as well (granted not as much mechanical failures as Vettel, one could argue that the way the 2 drivers use their cars has contributed to a couple of incidents but even I don’t really think that).. he had a 2nd place podium stripped through no fault of his own (at his home race, imagine how gutted he would have been after that?), a competitive race ruined because of a blunder in the pits and a couple of unlucky on track events (such as Austria/Germany).. His results otherwise are consistently of real quality and showing that of a really mature, likable young driver.. Your posts just prove that people will see what they want to see. The fact that you can’t even bring yourself to acknowledge the fact that he’s doing a good job just says to me that you’re a bad sport.

Even when Vettel was dominating and I was totally sick of seeing him up the top in the best car etc.. I could always find it within myself to acknowledge that he was doing a damn good job and that he wasn’t just up on the winning step by luck, he was incredibly consistent, he had to earn it still. Just as Ricciardo is doing, he has not finished on the podium 4 times (1 win) this year by twiddling his thumbs.


“Ricciardo has out-performed Vettel by every measure this season”

He has not. He has had a better (more reliable) car this season.

You might as well try to claim that Rosberg has out-performed Hamilton by every measure this season. It’s curious that people who are very aware (even hyper-aware) of every last piece of misfortune Lewis has suffered can deliberately turn a blind eye to similar things in the case of other drivers.

“You’d be delusional to suggest that Vettel’s doing a better job”

I never made any such suggestion. But he’s certainly doing a job every bit as good as Ricciardo in inferior equipment. Which is why teams like Ferrari, McLaren, and Mercedes are keen to sign him.


But then, you would also say, he was competing with Mercs with a car that has similar performance, wouldn’t you? Its only justified to say Ferarri is comparable to Redbulls pace wise if Ferarri was qualifying close to the Redbulls.


how do you interpret ‘better than’?

Ricciardo has out-performed Vettel by every measure this season. You’d be delusional to suggest that Vettel’s doing a better job.


@steve s – Good grief you are relentless in your pursuit to degrade Ricciardo and prop up Vettel. Can you just give it a rest please it’s getting really tiring all the negative comments. Can you not just give the kid his due? He’s having a tremendous season and should be very proud of the way he’s performing.


My observation is that one should be careful in assessing drivers when one of the two teammates is clearly underperforming. For example:

• Alonso has a clearly underperforming teammate in Kimi.

• Ricciardo has an underperforming Vettel.

• Bottas has an underperforming Massa. Of course Massa has been on an underperforming streak for several years now, so no surprise there.

The point being that while Alonso, Ricciardo and Bottas have driven extremely well, their performance may be slightly exaggerated by the non-performance of their teammates.


James, when Lewis last won the WDC he needed Timo Glock to stop for sandwiches on the last corner. If he is ever to win it again does he need the safety car to come out every time Nico manages to build up a decent lead?



C’mon… put this aside and move on with life, shall we?


if it had come out we may of had a fantastic finish,

if a marshal had died what would you have said then?

but in the end it all come to nothing so why speculate?


No, karen. He just needs a reliable car.


No he needs his brakes to not give way without warning and needs to be running with all his cylinders.

Strangely enough wasn’t it Nico who needed the safety car to come to his rescue in Bahrain??

Peter Scandlyn

Wicked SOH


Oh dear, not that old chestnut. What anyone needs to win a championship is a fast car and a reliable car and, yes, even some luck. You could apply equally derogatory comments to every world champion there’s ever been.


And the safety car has never come out when Lewis has been in the lead over Nico? Convenient memory loss?


Hmm. Very funny.


No karen he just doesnt need to qualify 20th. Anywhere in the top 6 he is easily chance. Why do people forget this.. it was an outstanding drive to get to a podium in any car even if he made a few mistakes along the way.


When will people stop trying to make out Timo let lewis past .Timo stayed on slicks and lewis went to inters ,Timo was slipping and sliding all over the place becuse the track was damp and he was on the wrong tire taking a gamble to make it to the end .End of .


People will always make up things. If you compare Glock’s time to that of Trulli on the same tyres, they were very comparable. Glock never slowed even a bit. Lewis won that on merit.


To be honest, I didn’t know what was going on during the race as some teams were revising their strategies which made the race unpredictable.

Yes Rosberg and Bottas had straight forward strategies as they didn’t have teammates to battle.

The fans long for another Austria race when two Williams can take on the two Mercedes for only then will things get tight at the front.

Considering the kick Lewis and Alonso got from the supersoft, I think a three stop strategy was the way to go with the supersoft to be used at the end though having said that, am not sure if everybody had extra rubber.

Now with the ban of FRIC, maybe the sport made the right decision for we once again saw split strategies of 2 pitstops versus 3 stops.


I still can’t understand why Macca chanced on a two stopper if Jenson pitted on lap 31

Stopping on lap 31, and then stopping, say around lap 50 odd, would have been a sensible, strategically mature way of running the race. It was pretty obvious from around lap 50 that Jenson tyres were pretty shot, so why didn’t McLaren react and put him on fresh rubber instead of leaving him out on threadbare wheels that was loosing chunks of lap time?

Common sense you say?

McLaren’s strategy was a bit wayward at Hockenheim to say the least, but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt for Hungary.

At least if you make 3 pit stops at Hockenheim or Hungary coming up, a driver doesn’t have to “nurse” or “baby” the tyres and just tart around, driving if there’s an egg under the brake pedal!


I agree, McLaren’s strategy on Button’s car looked more bone-headed than aggressive to me. I don’t understand how they could think a 2-stop was going to work, when they made the second stop before most of the 3-stoppers made theirs. And as you say by the time they were 15 laps from the end, it was clear it wasn’t going to work. It looked obvious to me and I wasn’t even watching the race live so I didn’t have live timing. Surely it must have been clear to McLaren that Hulkenberg (also on a 2-stopper, but with tyres about 8 laps newer) was going to beat them. At that point, why not switch to a 3 and give Button a final 15 laps on option tyres to try to chase down Hulkenberg? Especially if a car gets stranded on the track and a safety car looks likely at exactly that point of the race.


PS Slightly off topic, but a lot of pundits have noticed that Bottas getting three consecutive podiums in a Williams is the first time that has been achieved since the days of Big Boy Montoya.

I know technically it is a correct fact, but would Bottas want to be associated with the Burger King of F1 circa 2001 to 2006????


@Gaz: Nice comparison, but JPM is a live wire and TT is more tactical Fin (IMO)

I always thought Kimi would replace Mika at maca, it did happen to some extent except WDC there.

Now I wish I see another Flying Fin.

(TT is pulling gap to his current team mate with great consistency)

Fernando 150% Alonso

Yes, he will love to be associated with one of the fastest driver F1 ever had 😉


Valteri does look like could lose a coupla pounds, and I mean that in the nicest possible way.

He is defo the stocky boy on the grid, but is some of it plain old JPM love handles that he could profitably dispense with …. Could mean a tenth or two off the lap time!


James, can you do an article on Vettel’s season so far? I mean watching his seasons since 2008, his championship triumphs and studying live data, it is fairly obvious that he is amongst the very best today. However his beating at the hands of Ricciardo indicates two things, either he is not that good and he’s been shown up by his new teammate and raises questions about the aussie grit or that Ricciardo is exceptional, probably the fastest out there.

Going back to live data, I have been studying his sector times and it’s shocking to me that he was sometimes as slow as 3 tenths in only S1 @ german GP which includes just a kink and a straight. I know for a fact that he was fuel saving but he can’t be doing that for 2/3rds of the race. When in clean air, Ricciardo was pumping much much faster times, even after their last stops where they pitted within one lap of each other. And despite fighting with Alonso, Ricciardo was faster.

We needs answers James, and therefore I request you to do an article on their duel and also why Vettel was at his old best at Malaysian GP and hasn’t been the same ever since.


love your post! it’s true that Dadding is more fun than racing, any day! and the couple posters that have mentioned Seb’s fatherhood may be onto something! i forget who, but some old-time racing legend once said something like….becoming a father will cost you a half-a-second a lap!

i’m a big Seb fan….he’ll come around, ’cause every driver has off years (yes, i would say even Freddie!)….but i sure don’t mind wating, ’cause in the meantime, Dan is SOOO entertaining!

cheers to all, and let’s always remember posters….let’s stick to facts and opinions and leave out all personal digs and insults!

we’re here on this planet to be nice to one another!!


Maybe, in Malaysia, it was Ricciardo who was not at his best


It’s amusing how Ricciardo finishing ahead of Vettel thanks to Vettel having engine problems counts as Ricciardo being a fabulous driver, “perhaps the best out there.” But not as amusing as Vettel finishing ahead of Ricciardo in a race where Ricciardo had no engine problems and people STILL insisting that even this result shows Ricciardo is faster!

Over the course of the race Seb was quicker than Daniel – five seconds up after lap two and eight and a half seconds up at the flag.

“despite fighting with Alonso, Ricciardo was faster”

What “despite”? He was faster BECAUSE he was fighting with Alonso, just as Hamilton was faster than Rosberg because he was fighting to try to get second from Bottas while Nico was in race management mode. The faster laps of the race almost invariably going to the drivers fighting for positions and not the ones cruising home.


ahhh, that is not how it works.


Lets take the staring point for MY observation as lap 5 which is when the safety car train is strung out due to the slower cars naturally holding up the faster cars behind.

Vettel was 9.1s ahead of Riccardo, so despite having to overtake 10 cars some of which were faster in a straight line he closed the gap to Vettel to 8.5 sec.

So from lap 5 onwards Riccardo was the faster driver.

Of course all this is academic.

I wouldn’t pick random start points for cars out of position to prove someone is faster or not, because having to overtake 10 cars, some of which were faster in a straight line would lose you far more time.

Some people only see what they want to see.


I thnk finishing ahead is a difficult point to make in this race since Ricciardo had to avoid the Massa crash and went from 5th to 15th whereas Vettel was up to 3rd!


Did you even watch the race?


Riccardo went from 5th to 15th if you remember on lap one,

then had to fight his way back,

i guess what we are saying is all those world champion wins count as squat due to the fact Vete’s car had so much down force it ran on rails, it suited his driving style,

now he has to drive the car he can not compete.


“Vettel finishing ahead of Ricciardo in a race where Ricciardo had no engine problems”

“Over the course of the race Seb was quicker than Daniel – five seconds up after lap two and eight and a half seconds up at the flag”

In case you missed it,

1. Ricciardo qualified ahead of Vettel (not the first time this year) when both didn’t have engine problems (= he was the faster driver)

2. At the end of lap 2, Ricciardo was 5 seconds behind BUT more significantly, he was 10 positions behind in P15 through no fault of his own (and no engine problems)!

3. By the end of the race Ricciardo was just 8.5 seconds behind the reigning world champion despite being 10 positions further back at the beginning of the race and no engine problems for either driver (= he was the faster driver)

But regardless of all logic and reasoning, one has the right to live in denial if one so prefers…


Steve S: I wonder if you missed what happened to Vettel and Ricciardo at the start?

Claiming that a driver’s faster when battling for position just makes you sound ridiculous.

Matthew Cheshire

You are badly mangling two points here.

Ricciardo lost time and ten places at the start. Vettel was gifted 5th and Ricciardo was fighting traffic ahead, and Hamilton from behind. Comparing the time gaps while ignoring the traffic has no meaning. Even without overtaking, drivers at the back loose time as the pack spreads out. More than a few seconds.

It is always slower to fight for position than to run by yourself. Firstly, driving off the racing line is slower, so is braking at the wrong time and changing direction unnecessarily. Secondly, wearing tyres, using fuel and overheating will impact in the long run.

So yes, “despite fighting with Alonso, Ricciardo was faster”. The clock may not prove it but Dan was the quicker/better driver.


Hey Steve, I was really naive to have overlooked what you pointed out… That does answer some questions… But I still think Vet is going through his tyres faster than last year n still struggling with this year’s car despite half the season gone. His mistake on last run in q3 was highly uncharacteristic of him…

I also think after fatherhood his focus n hunger are probably slightly dwindled resulting in him not at his absolute best


Vettel beat him today and has had more dnfs over all. It’s a nonsense to suggest that Ricciardo is that much better if he is at all. It’s only been half a season – far too soon to judge.


How so? Let’s just end the championship now then. Ricciardo may well be better – time will tell. But nine races is far too few to make a call. Vettel is a very very good racing driver and has the trophies in his cabinet to prove it. What does Ricciardo have in comparison? Really the measure of a racing driver should be analysed over his career, not a mere nine races.


couldn’t disagree more.


Sorry, we’re waiting on a Raikkonen article from James first. Please get in line 🙂


I second that … Please get in line. Raikonnen article first 🙂


It’s rally unbelievable to me how lucky Nico Rosberg’s been so far.


No one said that in Silverstone. Wait until the end of the season before summing up ‘luck’, I’m a fan of Lewis but it’s not luck that Rosberg is winning, it’s just consistency






Yep, he’s definitely had lady luck on his side; as much as Hamilton’s had some bad luck, but he’s also been clever.

Has anyone else noted how early Nico is booting it once the race resumes after the safety car deployments? Clearly his engineers have done some work measuring the speed of the safety car and he’s able to floor it early and yet not overtake the safety car before it enters the pit lane. Twice now he’s left the rest of the field behind with that trick.

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