Spanish GP debrief: Who made the bigger mistake – Red Bull or Ferrari?
Spanish GP 2016
Strategy Report
Posted By: James Allen  |  17 May 2016   |  10:02 am GMT  |  422 comments

Max Verstappen’s victory in the Spanish Grand Prix owed a lot to the collision between the two Mercedes drivers at the start, but once they were out, what swung it his way was pure race strategy decision making and flawless execution from the 18 year old.

This race pivoted on a key decision; to switch to the riskier three-stop strategy. Both Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel lost the race because of this call.

Here we will analyse this momentous decision and look at why it was made and how it affected the outcome; but which team made the bigger mistake – Ferrari or Red Bull?

Lewis Hamilton

Pre-race considerations

Before the race Pirelli said that three stops was a marginally faster strategy, but the experienced team strategists were all saying that they would be surprised if anyone did anything different from a two stop with a short stint on softs at the start and then two stints on mediums.

Simulations in recent years have shown that a three-stop is more risky at Barcelona, with the extra 22-second pit stop and with the need to pass a two-stopping car in the closing stages.

Overtaking has always proved difficult on this track unless there was a significant difference in tyre life or car pace. Even then, the lead car needs only to get a good drive out of the final chicane to have enough of a margin across the start finish line to hold onto the position.

Friday running showed that the degradation numbers all pointed to a comfortable two stop; the soft tyre was good for up to 14-16 laps, which meant around 30-32 laps each on two sets of new mediums to reach 66 laps. Straightforward.

Vettel, Ricciardo

Red Bull switches strategy for Ricciardo, Vettel covers, Verstappen wins

As much as Verstappen won this race, Ricciardo and Vettel both lost it.

The most controversial decisions were Red Bull’s surprise move to switch Ricciardo onto a three-stop strategy on Lap 28, when he had the race under control and even more controversially, Ferrari’s decision to follow him.

Once the two Mercedes cars were out of the race, there was a golden opportunity to win a Grand Prix for both teams, who badly needed it.

The whip hand was with Red Bull. They had track position advantage with Daniel Ricciardo ahead of Max Verstappen, while Ferrari were third and fourth with Vettel and Raikkonen.

Both teams felt that the Ferrari was faster. But the red cars had underperformed in qualifying, leaving the door open for Red Bull. Surely they would be aggressive on strategy to go for the win?

Vettel lost time behind Carlos Sainz early on, but once clear of the Spaniard, he looked quick.

Ricciardo stopped first on Lap 11, followed by Verstappen and Raikkonen a lap later. Vettel stayed out until Lap 15 to start building a tyre offset to the others. This was not the move of a man who was planning to stop three times. Quite the reverse.

Daniel Ricciardo

Still, Red Bull felt vulnerable to a Ferrari attack. In selecting their tactics, they may have recalled Suzuka 2013 with Vettel and Webber racing against Lotus and Romain Grosjean. Back then they pitted the lead car Webber, onto a three stop strategy, knowing that Grosjean would react and Vettel on a two stop could win the race, which is what happened.

But this was different. The obvious thing to do in Barcelona was to ask Verstappen to drop back three seconds behind Ricciardo, dropping Vettel out of range of undercutting the Australian. From there Ricciardo would be certain to win the race and a team victory would be secure. Verstappen would probably have finished third in that scenario.

But they either didn’t want to ask Verstappen to do that or didn’t want to prioritise Ricciardo for the win. Perhaps a supremely strong result for Verstappen on his Red Bull debut would justify dropping Daniil Kvyat in favour of the Dutchman. Perhaps, based on his track record of accepting team orders at Toro Rosso, they didn’t think he’d comply!

Daniel Ricciardo

Verstappen looked slightly quicker than Ricciardo in the second stint, but the Australian was also driving to a two-stop plan and so was pacing his tyres.

Either way, the strange moment came on Lap 28 when Red Bull pitted the lead car, Ricciardo, committing him to a three-stop strategy. The problem with 3 stops in that scenario is three-fold; he had already lost three or four seconds by running at his pace compared to an optimised three stopper, plus you don’t get enough back from the pace of the extra tyres to make up for the 22 seconds lost in the extra stop, plus you commit to having to overtake 2 stoppers at the end of the race.

So it was a big and unnecessary risk for the lead car and none of the other teams’ race strategists could quite believe it when Ricciardo pitted. Christian Horner said after the race that they did so to pre-empt Vettel three stopping and splitting the strategies was the best way to cover their bases.

This sounds a little like a retrofit of the story to the events, but to be fair to them there was an argument for splitting the strategies to make Red Bull have to work for the win. It was just very odd not to give the lead car with the most experienced race winning driver the best strategy.

Ferrari F1
Ferrari make an even bigger mistake

At this point Ferrari could have laughed out loud and carried on with both cars on two stop strategies. Yes they would have to deal with a fast finishing Ricciardo late in the race, but they would have two cars for him to try to pass and that would have been hard.

Meanwhile they would have had two cars against Verstappen, which meant that they could have undercut him with Vettel at the second stop and won the race.

The key for Ferrari at this point was to put pressure on Red Bull, but Ferrari failed to do this. Vettel followed Ricciardo’s switch to three stops and condemned him not to win the race at that point.

They did have Kimi Raikkonen still in the game with Verstappen, covering his two-stop strategy, but again they were unable to put enough pressure on the teenager and didn’t try the undercut on the second stop.

Verstappen, Raikkonen

Verstappen was allowed the luxury of pitting first on Lap 34, with Raikkonen coming in a lap later. He followed closely to the finish but didn’t make life difficult enough for the teenager.

How to read this approach from Ferrari? The most likely scenario is that they lacked confidence; especially with chairman Sergio Marchionne dropping in on race day, after they had underperformed in qualifying. Having told them they ‘have to win’ before the race weekend, the team needed to respond to the pressure by being bold but they looked more like they wanted to avoid taking a risk that might backfire in front of the boss.

Sergio Marchionne

But with no pressure from behind as Williams and Bottas were a long way in arrears, they could have tried some aggressive moves; there were no negatives.

Red Bull and Mercedes have both noticed this lack of confidence and will seek to exploit it; Ferrari has to address it internally so they can be more bold in future races, as they were many times with strategy last season.

The UBS Race Strategy Report is written by James Allen with input and data from several of the leading teams’ strategists and from Pirelli.

Report Sm Rect bann

Race History Graph, courtesy Williams Martini Racing – Click to enlarge

The zero line is the lap time of an imaginary car doing the winner’s average lap speed every lap. It is intended to show the gaps between car performance.

Note the massive gap back to Bottas (solid blue line), showing no threat to Ferrari from behind. And yet they didn’t want to take a risk to try to win.

Spanish GP 2016

Williams Martini Racing

Strategy Insights
Strategy Briefings
Share This:
Posted by:

Add comment

E-mail is already registered on the site. Please use the login form or enter another.

You entered an incorrect username or password

Sorry, you must be logged in to post a comment.


by Oldest
by Best by Newest by Oldest

"But they either didn’t want to ask Verstappen to do that or didn’t want to prioritise Ricciardo for the win. Perhaps a supremely strong result for Verstappen on his Red Bull debut would justify dropping Daniil Kvyat in favour of the Dutchman. Perhaps, based on his track record of accepting team orders at Toro Rosso, they didn’t think he’d comply!

Perfect summation as usual James. I had wondered myself why when splitting the strategies; didn't the leading driver get "awarded" the optimal strategy. Reeks of politics, but boy; Max did well to keep Kimi behind him.


They had to beat Vettel as he was quick and would have a huge tire advantage after 2nd pit stop. Horner said they needed to brat Vettel inorder to win so they optimised their strategy towards that.

If they had 3-stopped Verstappen Ferrari would cover with Kimi. If they did not 3 stop any car they's be up against a 3-stopping Ferrari on softs at last stint.

Ferrari bothched their strategy and fell into the RB trap.


F1 has made the biggest strategy mistake... by selling its soul to Mr Murdoch and his new wife Jerry Hall.
I missed the GP. I don't have Foxtel or whatever its called in Australia. I forgot this was one of the few GP to air this year on free to air.
I thought about ignoring the internet for a day and waiting to watch it by other means but someone at work couldn't keep his mouth closed and spilled the beans on who won.
So I read about the GP on this good site. Looks like that will be the way of the future for me.
Great result. Shame I missed it.
Up until 2014 I had never missed watching a GP.
So hard to do so these days without giving in to the Evil Empire of Darth Murdoch.
I'm sorry F1, that guy isn't getting fifteen hundred bucks a year off me to watch adverts with wheels. The world seems to have a short memory on people's past misdemeanours....


F1... a slow and painful death, but don't worry, the greedy ones will make sure their pockets are well lined before the end and they don't actually care for you, me or F1!


I would say Mercedes messed up big time! 😉


I wonder if its dawning on Ric that he has become the new Mark Webber of Red Bull.


It dawned on me the moment RBR did it. Daniel - you are a great #2 in RBR eyes. If the opportunity comes to move to Ferrari or Mercedes, take it. Unless the contract is iron clad, RBR have shown you no loyalty, show them none. Don't expect Max to obey team orders.


I'm certain Max would have gotten away with disobeying team orders too - he's one of the few drivers who seems invulnerable in that sense. Red Bull must have also been rather nervous of having Max and Ricci running close to eachother on track, because of the risk of them colliding in an overtake situation - and ending up like the two Mercs


I will agree this strategy analysis by James is by far and away his best to date for looking at the alternatives. Sure Ferrari made it easy for James to have alternatives to look at. I hope that the rest of the season has equal action for James to dig into afterwards.


Totally agree. Ricciardo faster better on tyres and all round should have won quite easily over Vettel with Max third. Points thrown away yet again
Marko no doubt heavily involved


Stupid assumption from the writer. Why should Max throw away a potential win by giving up his position? All drivers are there to race for the win and I am surprised that an experienced writer should have forgotten about that and that each team manager has to take the driver's desire to win into consideration when making his decisions. I must admit that I have only glanced through his article for that I apologize..


I understood that Ricciardo added some extra downforce in Q3 to prevent being outqualified by Max. I also understood that additional downforce will eat tires faster... A two-stopper might therefore not have been an option anymore???


I understood you're watching dutch MV bias tv.

Marc van Straelen

Ricciardo faster better on tyres and all round should have won quite easily over Vettel with Max third. Points thrown away yet again
Marko no doubt heavily involved

I do not agree here, as he blew his tyre out after 22 laps in round 65. I also think that the strategy assumptions made are a bit far fetched as we all know that Barcelona is heavy on the tyres and has only onelocation to pass, being start-finish straight. IF any of you would have followed Dutch TV, analysis is that MV had well studied the race through video, and found that races were won in the final sector. Also, the three stop was analyzed to be the slightly faster option. So I do not fully agree with the complete strategy analysis. I don't see how two Ferraris trailing a Red Bull would have made the result any different. They would still have been trailing up to the finish.


And the headline is somewhat laughable, I don't think you can speak of a mistake when Red Bull is winning a race, since two years! 😉 I would say excellent strategy!


DR puncture caused by slow leak/debris according to Pirelli. Your analysis is faulty from your first sentence. The balance of it therefore fails.


Ricciardo puncture on lap 22 was found to be a slow tyre puncture, not the result of tyre mismanagement. All the drivers are extremely experienced on this circuit as it is used for most tests
I'm sorry but a Dutch broadcasting station who would obviously be biased towards max is not really a reputable source.

Marcus Anderson

I wouldnt say better on tyres, as he blew one up at the end. Verstappen is very gentle with his tyres. Only look back on his stint on the used super softs at Russia.


No, RIC, to say it polite, is very average at managing tyres, but anyway they've robbed him from the first win.
Ferrari can only mimic moves of other teams - patetic.


I'm not sure if your being serious, but Ric is easily one of the best when it comes to managing tires.

His Spa victory being a glaring example.


Have you watched F1 in the last few years? Ricciardo is renowned for treating his tyres well.

James says it all - a very strange decision which even other team's strategists struggled to understand..


@thinktank -you must be talking about a different guy...RIC's tyre management this year in particular has been better than anyone on the grid.


yeah and that's why he had a flat tyre even with a three stop strategy, you are al moaning on Red Bull, but they actually won the race, so what's the point? At first they thought a three stop was the best strategy otherwise Vettel would not have follow! Come on, be a good sportsman and just recognize that Max did an excellent job! You are all so sour!


I understood you're watching dutch MV bias tv.


actually sky sports, I like the British commentary...


@ LKFE you are correct. in the early stages ricci was controlling the race and keeping a minimal distance whilst he conserved at the same time. brundle was at first critical but when he saw what ricci was doing he commented that ricci knew what he was doing and doing it well.


The outcome of Barcelona was either politically manufactured or strategically incompetent to the point of lunacy on Red Bull's part. With four WDC's and WCC's apiece, and a new driver in VES, incompetence doesn't seem too likely..!


hindsight is a wonderful thing - I wonder if we would have had a similar discussion / conspiracy theory had Kimi passed Max


There is no doubt that fans of the sport would have raised a proverbial eyebrow even if RAI had passed VES. Conspiracy versus idiocy is a tough choice for us to settle upon... I personally am more interested in RIC's confidence in his team and their overt strategy making.


how can red bull ask Max to slow down as driver coaching team radio is banned? They should have decided/agreed before the race about what to do in that scenario


Strategy advice is allowed


It's a shame we don't hear strategy radio calls either if they are allowed, there must be a lot of radio chatter that doesn't get played, to me that is a real negative for the show. I enjoyed hearing what was going on in the cockpit.


I agree, they've messed up


I can't understand why you think they messed up, since this is the first number one place since 2014! I think it was incredible judgement from Red Bull and it delivered!


Not by radio. What about pit board?


Oh okay, thanks for clarifying that.


Kimi didn't even try to put a move on Verstappen and didn't give Max any reason to fear an overtake might happen. Disappointing. At least Ricciardo had a go at Vettel.


Shooting through the corner is not overtaking. If he had remained on track - ok.
Ricciardo is a victim of F1 politics encouraging little no-no`s in order to spice up F1 action. 2015 Monaco RAI incident a clear example.
Sooner than later RIC will be treated the same way and VES arrival will show RIC his actual place as an entertainer.


Kimi must have been thinking about taking 2nd place in the drivers championship 😉


Lets look at it this way......
RIC had go at VET only in the final 8-10 laps,that too only far was Bottas behind RIC at this stage? If RIC came off worse, with a small damage or needed to pit; which he did due to puncture he would still maintain his position.
Did Kimi have this luxury? If he tried a divebomb move like RIC & came off worse, not he would've lost his 2nd place, but also a podium place for Ferrari. It would've been RBR 1-3, with Seb sandwiched in between. How this would've been seen in front of the Ferrari president; a 2nd place thrown away after being 0.5 sec of victory....tell me any other driver on the grid would risk that especially when his seat is up for grabs..


I'll accept that. It depends how desperate Marchionne is for victory, or is he happy to accept a safe second place?


Let's just say P2-P3 is much better than P2-P4, especially when you start P5-P6.
Also, its not the first time that a quicker car has been stuck behind a slower car at this venue. It has happened many times before (2011/2012 to be recent), & will probably happen again.


Yes...but RICs attempt was a bit ham fisted. It was only Vettels quick reactions that prevented him and RIC coming together. It was an inherreted win for Max no doubt but he drove very well.


You can just imagine the rage if Kimi had made a dive on Verstappen and had taken him or both of them out in the process. The discussion here and elsewhere would be very different then I suppose... So better this way than a dive bomb that might have ended in tears.


raikkonen had no motivation to take any risks. he was ahead of his teammate with a hand full of points to be had so why risk it?


Because he's a racing driver.....


If anything we know about Raikkonen all these years...he is an all or nothing driver...remember germany 05 or many of his past races...or with bottas last year...
Again the move could have only happened if Verstappen made a mistake and in his credit he didn' can't hardly overtake in Spain...the ferrari was nervous on the slow chicane being on wake of max...what did you expect him to do...Kimi stayed in touching distance...but max never cracked..that is where he won the race...instead of bashing kimi we should credit max he drove well and won the race!


Because he ain't going to win the championship so race wins is all he has to aim for!


The Red Bull was much better in the final sector and exiting the silly chicane, Kimi had no chance. Especially with the same tyres and virtually the same tyre life. You need to be 1.5-2 seconds faster around Barcelona to be able to pass.

Ricciardo had a tyre off set and the Red Bull was better than the Ferrari out of the chicane.

You should look at all of the information that's available to you before getting disappointed.


I did. I'm still disappointed and have been with Kimi for a long time. At no point did Kimi put Max under pressure, at no point did he use any guile or his considerable experience to raise doubt in Max's mind. A dummy here, a shimmy there... But nothing. Disappointing.


I wonder why Alonso, widely regarded as one of the greatest drivers in the history of the sport, didn't use any 'guile' or his 'considerable experience' against Maldonado in 2012?


Kimi never put that pressure because the RB was too fast in the corners, in the second DRS sector he was about 4 tenths behind, but after the chicane prior the main straight he was 7 tenths behind. If the track had the old layout without the chicane, Kimi would have passed Max.


'A dummy here, a shimmy there'

Would have resulted in zero overtakes.


You don't know that. All we know is that if you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you always got. Kimi did nothing different in all the laps he was following. Even if the overtake is not 'on', Kimi could have put some doubt into Max's mind. Fill his mirrors, make him watch you, give him more reasons to be nervous. Dive bomb and bail out (are you telling me that Ricciardo's move on Vettel didn't distract Vettel? At least Ricci did something different!) Yes Max is a bit special but he is still only in his second season and was leading an F1 race for the first time in a new car and Kimi could have done more to unsettle him and possibly force a mistake. I'm not saying it would have but it could have and I'm disappointed Kimi didn't try something!


You are still skirting around the fact Ricciardo had much newer tyres on than Vettel and that is the only reason he had a slight chance of having a go. Plus the fact the RB was better in Sector 3, the sector you need good traction to have a go at overtaking. Several have posted these two reasons and you still fail to acknowledge it or give a response.

I assume you were as equally up in arms when Alonso couldn't get anywhere near overtaking Maldonado in 2012. A worse driver than Verstappen. What are your thoughts on that??


I'm not up in arms! I probably care a little less about this than you think I do. I also already acknowledged your earlier points that Ricciardo was on younger tyres than Vettel (when I responded to your accusation that I hadn't looked at all the info). I also acknowledge that the Red Bull had good traction. And yes that made it easier for Ricci to have a go at Vettel. Am I not allowed therefore to be disappointed that Kimi didn't try anything different for 15 laps? Now I'm not saying Raikkonen WOULD have got past if he'd done anything diffrent but he MAY have. As it was he didn't do anything different and surprise surprise he didn't get past or even look like he was ever going to. I was also frustrated in 2012. I've made my point, you disagree. Now let's get on with the rest of our lives!


Agreed Nick, a lot of these posters don't understand the subtly involved. There was no chance for Kimi to pass unless Max made an error. Red Bull two strong in sector three. The fact that Riccardo couldn't pass Vettel with much newer tires and a big advantage in sector 3 says it all.


Oh please. Of course I understand, which is why I'm disappointed.
'There was no chance for Kimi to pass unless Max made an error'. Max was not going to make an error without being pressured.
'The fact that Ricciardo couldn't pass Vettel with much newer tires and a big advantage in sector 3 says it all.' Vettel had to at least defend. Kimi never even got close, never looked like getting close and settled for second.


@aezy_doc, you have just answered your own complaint! Kimi had no chance to put any pressure on Max, he could not get close enough because of that final sector - Ricciardo only managed to get close enough to Vettel one time as Vettel was so slow and Ricciardo much faster in that final sector. Kimi did the best job he could, no other car still on that track could have done any better.


No other car could have done better, but a different driver might have! Would Verstappen himself have sat there for 15 laps without having a go?


They pretty much want to criticize kimi for every second thing on every weekend. This has become some sort of norm, in the last couple of years.....even the journos seem to have a go at him. Those Journos' article get more views/attention when you write something about popular driver on the grid you know....

Let's see what we have this year...

Australia--->Kimi retires to a car problem, people say he was poor never had the speed of Seb...even though he was right behind him till he retired...

Bahrain---> Poor start to Kimi costs him the victory they say....The poor start was due to minor issue in the car; the driver didn't make any mistake....Also Mercedes ate Ferrari for Breakfast & Lunch in China & Sochi so how was he suppose to defeat them in Bahrain???

China-----> Some people blame Kimi for the first corner incident, questioning his sharp turn in....this was a classic racing incident & he was a victim of circumstance more than anything else...He came off worse & they still blame him!!!

Russia----> He got the max that Ferrari could've achieved,but they will say he lost 2nd place after the safety car restart..While his safety car restart was poor did they forget how strong Mercedes were??

Spain----> Didn't make an overtaking they understand racing or for them its all about divebombing into other car's path & then call it racing...

So you see, no matter what the poor guy does they will criticize him, its better to press the ignore button & move on 🙂


Australia - he was BEHIND before he retired. That says something.
Bahrain - fair enough.
China - So what if he came off worse? His actions DID contribute to the melee (whether he was 'to blame' or not is another question.
Russia. - Fair enough.
Spain - I've made my point elsewhere. But what's Kimi going to be remembered for in this race? His first place after an audacious overtake or his inability/unwillingness to pressure an eighteen year old leading an F1 race for the first time in a new car?


In Australia, he was right behind Seb & after starting P4 he was P2 within a couple of corners.....There is nothing to be disappointed in that...unless of course you wanna take a dig at him for almost every second thing.

In Spain, lot of posters have already said, overtaking is difficult in Spain & a lot of drivers have been stuck behind a slower car in the years gone by. Also, Kimi did put pressure on MAX, he was within half a second all the time; never let the gap grow & He did mention that he thought of doing a "RIC" type move but bailed out of it because it couldn't have ended well.
Also, by being within half a second for 15 odd laps is not putting pressure to you then I have nothing to say......May be you are the "showman" type where you like people taking lunges, move their cars around without making any serious overtaking attempt just to make it look like they tried.....The way I see it, is that Kimi always put pressure on little mistake from MAX & Kimi would've gobbled him...That is the very reason why Kimi kept himself within about 0.5 sec from MAX!!


I'm not a perennial Kimi basher. He's second in the WDC in a car that is arguably only third best. That's an achievement! I do however think he could show more aggression sometimes. Some people regard that as considered and cool but I think it lacks ambition. Happy to disagree. As for pressure on Max, at no point was Max worried about Kimi having a go - no pressure. Had it been Hamilton or Ricci behind I reckon he'd have had more to think about and possibly be forced into an error. Just my opinion.


seriously man...people in f1 have turned into kimi bashers since he started for ferrari back in 07...they've always questioned his motivation and what not...even when he's getting podium beating vettel in qualy people find reasons to accuse of not doing enough...I really don't get it!


You could just imagine the rage if Kimi had made a risky dive on Verstappen and had taken him or both of them out. A Ferrari win, yes, but the discussion would be very different here then...


Go and watch a military parade. Plenty of processions there. You and Kimi will have a great time.


Go and watch some other Barcelona races so can try and understand what everyone is talking about.



Go watch "best of F1 passes" on YouTube so you can try and understand why some of us watch this (ex) sport.

If you're happy with the dirty air situation so be it, but don't expect your pompous comments to change what other people like (or used to like) about the sport.



I'm not sure how you've interpreted from my posts that I don't like overtaking in F1, please point out where I've said that.

I'm sure Barcelona doesn't feature at all in the video you mention, which is the point I'm making. Barcelona is almost as difficult to overtake on as Monaco.

Can you actually name any memorable overtaking moves at Barcelona? Aside from Schumacher in the wet 20 years ago, and Alonso having a few frantic starts on the first lap, has there been any genuine overtakes for the win that stand out?? Can you think of any aezy_doc??


Mansell v Senna 1991! Okay that wasn't for the lead and it was before they neutered the last corner and was 25 years ago (yes I have been watching F1 that long!).
My complaint is not that Kimi didn't overtake though, I think you misunderstand. Check this video out and scroll through to about 8:30 to see what I mean about moving around and giving the leader a reason to watch you.

Perhaps...and I'm not saying it would have.. but perhaps Kimi doing something like that would have caused Max some concern - enough to take his eyes of his braking point perhaps? we'll never know because he didn't do it!


I would like to see those moves when behind, but seriously with the current tires even doing that can screw them up, then they can easily get away from you. Tires are the biggest problem currently in my opinion, but Barcelona is notoriously hard to overtake on. Rosberg couldn't overtake Lewis in 2014 despite being faster; same with Alonso on Maldonado in 2012, or Hamilton on Vettel in 2011, etc.

Really Kimi would've needed RBR's traction out of the final corner, then Ferrari's better grunt down the straight, PLUS getting DRS, to be able to pass.


You make a good point re tyres. I'm just lamenting what I see as lack of ambition from some drivers. I'm almost sure that Verstappen would have had a go somewhere if the roles (and cars) were reversed. The exuberance of youth perhaps and it may not have worked, but win or bust is what I say, especially when a title is out of reach.


Most people (myself but more importantly Pirelli included) didn't think it was possible to do 32 laps on Mediums. So I think Red Bull made a bold decision to try it with Max and with that, Ferrari couldn't do the undercut as I think they didn't want to gamble on 33 or more laps (had they stopped earlier). So in fairness, I think Red Bull stopped Max when they stopped him to prevent Kimi from doing the undercut.


I think Peter Windsor explains it very well in this video... 8.10 min
He talks about that Max is not winning because the strategy, but because of his excellent tyre management... I also saw the video on youtube were they ask Vettel about the strategy and he also said it's very easy with hind side view to say what is the best strategy....


Friday running showed that the degradation numbers all pointed to a comfortable two stop; the soft tyre was good for up to 14-16 laps, which meant around 30-32 laps each on two sets of new mediums to reach 66 laps. Straightforward.

Bang on!! I was waiting for someone to mention this in the comments. Everyone was wondering how they would get 32 laps out of mediums. What I want to know is how come know one knew this based on the FP sessions. I've quoted James above, but can't make it out if it was clear such a long stint was possible. If it was possible, then RB sacrificed RIC. If it was an unknown, then makes sense to try it on the rookie.


Behind the decision of Red Bull there is much to think that there was favouritism for Verstappen. What an opportunity for a teenager RB pilot winning a F1 GP, first and only time. Lovers of conspiracy, come in, is your time right now!


Verstappen is going to play better to Red Bull's very young adrenaline fuelled target demographic than RIC, so he is going to be favoured at the team in the long term. Therefore if RIC ever wants to be World Champion he needs to look for a new team because Verstappen is better marketing for RB. Period.


Hmm, is he? Shaun White, while also not having the "coolest" outward countenance, has the cool laid-back snowboarder attitude in spades. Not sure Max will ever be considered cool by his cohort.


Are you angry at it? Then period shall be also on my part.


Mr Mateschitz is in it for one reason and one reason only and that is publicity. RBR are very smart and act on every feasable opportunity. The amount of publicity the swap gave them was a marketing master move, everybody was aiming their mics and lensen at anything and anyone with the logo on it. On lap one this opportunity of winning arises and the young new driver can all of a sudden win it. Unexpected but immediate succes fused with Red Bull, who would'nt want that association for their product and brand!


Thanks. I had understood the scenario in full. ;D


Sebee, that's your cue 🙂


Ok, I've got a theory for you Random.

Ricciardo was just a 'rebound boyfriend' after the Vettel epic quadruple romance. Irresistible because of his smile, Daniel lifted everyone when their hearts were broken by Vettel's departure. But now, it's time for the entire RBR family to get back into a serious long term relationship. RBR says - Danny, it's not you, it's me! We'll always be friends.

Go ahead, try to dispute this one. It's air tight.


Bravo Sebee.


Seb, Gosh a lot of your theories are drivel....
But not this one...absolute gold!

What happens next? Does Danny finally listen to his mother, stop chasing tall ayrian girls and finds himself a nice Italian girl?


Why did you pick an Italian girl? Because they know that a way to a man's heart is through his stomach?


Because all Italian mumma's want their boy in a red car....


Thats right! And they have all the data on just how quick Ricciardo really is, and they are putting their priority on Max. The situation presented it self and they capitalised. There is a huge pr value to this story of Max winning his first race at Red Bull, the younges winner ever! And its giving him the experience of winning early on.
The real mistakes were made by Ferrari.


Here's some data for you: Ricciardo was 0.4sec faster than Max in Q3. He was plenty quick enough when it mattered.


Well well. Did you know why Ricciardo was faster driving in q3? He changed the frontwing and used all his knowledge of the RBR and put a magic lap together with all personal best sector. Max did not otherwise he would be at .293. Besided that Max was faster in the first part of the race and RBR asked DR to go fasther. He could not. So different strategie was pulled out for DR. All the lap times and info is out on the web. Look for it.


Nope. I don't want to hurt your feelings.

Bottom line: Bunch of older men in charge just found a new play thing to project their youthful ambitions onto.


I need new meds!
Somehow you actually posted something I agree with ????


Last week I would have argued that.

This week, after what seems to have happened in Spain, I have to agree.

Let's hope that Ric's already found something better 🙂


Look at it like a TV show. He had a few episodes where his story line was the focus. Now his character was established and he can fall back to a background player. RBR need someone to be the wingman.

Question is - do they always cast those Australians in the same role?
Is Max & Ricciardo just Vettel&Webber....V. 2.0?


"Is Max & Ricciardo just Vettel&Webber....V. 2.0?"

I don't think so, although you won't be the first (or last) to make that comparison.

Webber was a holdover from the Jaguar days racing against Marko's driver, and apparently Marko wanted him gone in favour of one of his own.

Ric *is* one of Marko's drivers and so should get equal treatment (in theory at least), but I think it's as you said: Verstappen's the exciting new thing, they wanted to to justify his quick promotion, they saw the chance to do that and so they did.


How are RBR going to do the old Multi 21 thing now?
Multi 333? Who's on first?


It will be called Multi 33 and a third.

Turns out the whole thing has already been done as a movie.

Naked Gun 33 and a Third! The final insult!




On Ricciardo switching to 3 stops: I read somewhere (don't have the source anymore) that when VET cleared SAI and closed in on the Red Bull pair VES started to speed up but RIC didn't have the pace to do so. From my couch it looked like RB was afraid VET would try the undercut on RIC, use the pace advantage on the red car to build a 22 second gap somewhere and steal the win away. My guess is they figured it would be a race between RIC and VET and this way they could keep track advantage. Doesn't explain why VET switched to 2 stops as well especially as he was building a tire life offset. If this really was because of the chairman being there then there's something seriously wrong in the red camp.


Jeroen, I think you are correct in your analysis. I came to the same conclusion during the race. Ricciardo lost the race as a result of his pace in the second stint (for whatever reason). He had something like 2.5s after the first stops but both Verstappen (came as close as 0.7s) and more dangerously from a RB point of view Vettel came very close. Two more laps and Vettel would have had a big chance to undercut RB/Ricciardo. On lap 28 RB was well aware of this risk and brought Ricciardo in. At this point RB was "protecting" Ricciardo's victory - it didn't work out because all were surprised that the medium tyre could do 32 laps. Martin Brundle has the same opinion and Christian Horner was pretty vocal about the miracle of the 32 lap-medium tyre. If Ricciardo had only kept that 2.5s gap to Verstappen and more importantly Vettel he would have won the race.


Having told them they ‘have to win’ before the race weekend, the team needed to respond to the pressure by being bold but they looked more like they wanted to avoid taking a risk that might backfire in front of the boss.

After Ricciardo pitted on lap 29 the race was Ferrari's to take. There was no risk in 2 stopping as it was the optimal strategy. Instead, they took the risk of 3 stopping and it backfired them. Only 'good thing' it did was to put Daniel out of podium.


Thank you for stating the obvious James, that Red Bull made the choice to give the win to Max. I can't believe that they didn't know the probabilities ahead of time.

It begins...


Yep. They see max as the next Vettel and are already giving him priority over his teammate. They must really not like Aussies over at RBR. Danny Ric should be pissed. I hope he finds another drive soon.


Max once said that he never is gonna be a second driver. He'd rather race not at all.


No, and now it ends.


God, I hope RB have the common sense not to turn Max in to another SV.

Fursty ferret

Trouble with that theory is Ricardo is no mark webber


Mark Webber was no Mark Webber till his starts started going wrong when ever he out qualified Vettel or the car failures when ahead of Vettel...... no conspiracy, just saying.


Good point mate.
There's a particular Mercedes driver suffering the bad start doldrums at the moment. Nah, no conspiracy there either 😉


Just like Lewis' starts have started to go wrong whenever he out qualifies Rosberg. ... Is it déjà vu all over again or a conspiracy?


Hamilton always had bad nerves when he was under pressure. THe last two years he dominated, so it was no big deal. Lately, ROS is putting a lot of pressure, so he is making more and more stupid mistakes. Just look at this weekend.


Except the Dan wa there before Seb left and was smiling because he was kicking Sebs back-side


No he is not he will continue to out qualify his partners as he did time and again with Vettel and Kyvyat as he is faster than them both
Saint and Max always close in Qualifying


Why? It makes complete sense - they got 4 in a row with Vettel.


And yes RB's approach of favouring one driver over the other is perhaps contemptible but by no means unique in F1 current or past!


It may not be unique, but they are the ones that have protested equal treatment whenever this question is raised. At least the other teams are (slightly!) more transparent.


Why? ...Because they were universally loathed for it.
.... Just take a look at how many people expressed disappointment at Mercedes not winning... (sound of crickets chirping)
Most people don't follow F1 to celebrate hollow victories.


So that makes it 2 races this season, that Ferrari have contrived to lose due to poor strategy. They lost the Spanish race twice, once each with Seb and Kimi. RB so nearly gifted the race to Ferrari with their own strategic error ...




I think many of us made faces when Vettel pitted after 8 on softs. If they had 7 laps in them, how does it make sense to translate those 7 faster laps into slow cautious laps end of GP on worn out mediums? Do those 7 laps put Vettel ahead of Kimi? Max?


If Vettel's engine hadn't failed before the race in Bahrain they could have challenged for the win there too - that a potential 3 victories out of 5 races this year that could have been Ferrari's. Instead they haven't won anything.

Foghorn Leghorn

Fascinating stuff James. Sheds a whole new light on the race. No wonder Ricciardo was 'bitter'...


All true statements, but Vettel should be upset too.
Ferrari were again the losers, smelled blood after RBR move and lacked the balls to stay on 2-stop strategy. Just curious how long is gonna take for Vettel to get emotional... The Reds and Kvyat screwed up all his 5 races.
I am afraid Arrivabene is not the man for the job, his lack of mental coherence and power of language every time he talks on TV mirrors something wrong - right man for Marlboro, not for Ferrari.


Ferrari certainly aren't helping themselves. If (and only if) Arrivabene is intimidated by his boss being present at the circuit, then questions of him should be asked. But, more likely, this is an example of Ferrari getting it strategically wrong again and not learning from prior mistakes.


I wonder if anyone at Ferrari still has Ross Brawn's number 🙂 If they do, they should use it and offer him anything to come back as he was a very good tactician and they need someone like him in the team.


Was Ricciardo really saving tyres in the second stint to go for a two stopper? To me it looks like Verstappen had better pace in the second stint and he actually showed that he could maintain this better pace until his second stop. If both Ricciardo and Verstappen were set for a two stopper, why couldn't Ricciardo maintain the gap to Verstappen? Additionally, wouldn't the team ask the driver to push for the last laps before the pit stop? It doesn't look like Ricciardo suddenly upped his speed right before his second stop, which you might expect for a sudden change to a three-stop strategy.

Another question: is it known why Ricciardo suffered a puncture? Was it due to debris on the track? Or was it tyre wear?


I believe that under the current radio rules, the team would not be able to tell Ricciardo that they'd switched him to a 3 stop, allowing him to up his speed. All they're allowed to do (I believe) is tell him "box this lap".


@Andy T, as James said somewhere here in the comments, strategy advice is allowed.


the radio rules do permit phrases like "push" which effectively means the same.


I think it was tyre wear. He pushed more than anyone among the top 4.

Guybrush Threepwood

Ricciardo's last couple of laps in the second stint were much quicker than his previous laps, confirming that he was conserving his tyres.

Guybrush Threepwood

Factoring in the wear they were. In fact they were around 2 tenths quicker than Verstappen's times where as previously Ricciardo was mostly slower to manage his tyres but still maintaining the 1+ second gap to keep Max out of DRS.


As stated several times before.. VES did not attacked RIC because he was controlling his tires form the start. There was never a plan to attack RIC.
The laptimes of VES were consistently faster after the new tires were fitted lap 13 tot 25 but he kept the distance tot RIC . Only as of lap 30 RIC gained some time. As of lap 45 RIC was much faster on his new tyre but failed to deliver during the fight with VET.
So still, the three stop was the best option if done properly. The two stop was a gamble and the bes toption was to gamble with VES. ( as did Ferrari with kimi)


@Guybrush Threepwood, I would expect more like pulling away around 0.5 s per lap, 2 tenths is practically nothing. If that was what he could do when pushing, it means that he didn't suffer from the change of strategy, as he was already on the limit.

Guybrush Threepwood

2 tenths is actually quite a reasonable amount in F1 terms. Multiply that by the remainder of the race and you'd have an 8 second lead. In this case I agree with one of the most knowledgeable, respected and experienced journalists in F1 as opposed to you 😉


@Guybrush Threepwood, the links posted JohnH and Ed (thanks!) disprove your point. Verstappen did a 1:30.337 on lap 29, 3 tenths faster than Ricciardo on his supposed "push" laps (26 and 27). In addition, you have to consider that Verstappen had to keep these tyres for 6 more laps.

I value James' opinion, but I think he didn't state anything about Ricciardo's final laps before his second stop. The lap times speak for themselves.


I don't have the lap times at hand, but considering the slope of the Ricciardo graph (which is a measure of lap time), he didn't go much quicker (if at all) in the last couple of laps, even though his car was getting lighter. He was also hardly pulling away from Verstappen (on a two stopper, so managing tyres) in the final laps of his second stint.


I for one was surprised that both Ferrari and Red Bull went for the 3 stopper as they were easily clear of the other cars so it was always going to be a fight just between them for the podium positions. I guess they thought that with the way the race was panning out that the 3 stopper was going to be faster - plus those medium tyres lasted longer than initially predicted. But really surprised at Vettel's really short stint on both the first mediums and especially the second softs - he got 15 laps out of the first set which he had run in qualifying and then only 8 on the second pair.

What stuck me the most with the Ferrari's though is how bad they were at that last chicane, they were losing so much time which prevented Kimi from having a good run at Verstappen and giving Ricciardo the opportunity to have a go at Vettel.

I think Ferrari need to really rethink their tactics for the rest of the season, they effectively gave away the wins in at least 2 races now this season by bad judgement of the situation and if they want to challenge Mercedes (or even RBR if their new upgrade is as good as predicted) they are going to have to step up their tactical side - they need Ross Brawn! 🙂

One question James, if I may - through Friday practice, the Ferrari looked pretty good but come Saturday they really dropped, I know Mercs can go up an engine notch or two but it did really seem as if the Ferrari dropped back a bit overnight - Singapore all over again for a different team or weather specific? I'd be interested to know.


That chicane ruins the whole circuit, there is just no chance you can stay close through the exit and onto the main straight. You have to be about 2 seconds faster to have any chance, so virtually impossible without a big tyre off-set.

They should re-design that whole section and make a nice flowing sweep so cars actually have a chance to follow. It's still tragic they got rid of the old section and even though for safety reasons they won't go back to that I'm sure they can do a damn sight better job than what's currently in place.


totally agree with you on this nick,..whatever advanatage one might build through the first two sectors gets ruined in that final chicane if it was nice flowing right hander kimi surely would have got a jump on verstappen or atleast had a chance to make a move!


Yes Tarun, fully agree. You'd think as it is used so often they could have made it into a good 'race track'' for the fans. Instead they barely gave it a seconds thought and installed that horrible chicane.

It really is just a test track.


I was surprised at Vettel's short stint too. But with the benefit of hindsight: they were undercutting Ricciardo, as at that point they thought they were fighting Ricciardo for the win.


Messed up on setting car up for Quali, dealing with high tyre pressures overheated rear tyres


Thank you James for taking the time to reply and to explain.


Great analysis James. Putting Ricciardo on a 3 stopper didn't seem right, and given the track record at Red Bull - they had ulterior motives.


Red Bull took a deliberate decision designed to ensure MV finished in first. In that sense they will think they didn't make a mistake (but hopefully Ric reads the signs and starts talking to Merc/Ferrari which will make it a mistake).


Ricciardo has to get out. Redbull will want to break the record for youngest world champion with Verstappen. The Red Bull management have shown their hand too early, and what they did to Webber is enough evidence. The problem is where can he go?


Is it possible that RB already know that Ric is on his way to greener pastures (or maybe that should be redder pastures 😉 ) and so don't feel too obliged to make sure he gets the best strategy?


I think were ignoring the whole slow second stint by RIC and the mediums lasting longer. Had he maintained the pace, or the mediums not made it, there would be no debate. In saying all that, you probably right that RIC needs to think about an exit because RB no doubt no where SAI ranks alongside him. What a tough place the RB world is....


Random, i'll add also that this is the first time that Ric has so openly criticised the team. I suspect the apron strings have already been cut.
Max and Carlos at RB in 2017.


Kind of...there was his "things that need to change" interview last year, but that was more general.

The other thing though is this is the first time the team has shanked him but yes, I wouldn't be surprised to see Sainz at RBR in 2017.


I had wondered about that as well. When there is no obvious explanation for why they put Ric on a 3 stop you start analysing all the different explantations that might exist - They wanted all the publicity a MV win would bring, they know Ric is intending to leave, maybe even it was an honest strategy error but it sure smells like something is rotten to me.


They wanted Max to win and took Daniel out of the way. When you are leading in Barcelona, you don't take your lead car and put it in 4th place and force it to overtake 2-3 cars to win, you keep track possition. They wanted the publicity of Max winning. this is going to be a wake up call for Daniel. He won't stay there long if he gets other offers.


Ah no, more conspiracy theorists......................

In admittance, RB are known for their love of the "chosen one", but on the flip side - and I'm not one for defending RB - they were hedging their bets with split strategies, which makes sense, although inevitably one driver will come off better suited to the superior strategy. Which was Max in this instance.

Give credit to the kid - he soaked up all the pressure from a former champion for 30 odd laps driving a car/engine combo he never so much as tested before and never as much put a wheel wrong. Barcelona isn't easy to overtake at, but it only takes a locked wheel or a fumbled gear change and Kimi would have nailed the Dutch star - but Max never did make the slip.


Why take the lead driver and put it on a risky strategy? Why not do that with the 2nd guy? Track possition is everything in F1 on a track that is hard to overtake on.


Publicity....Publicity, thats what they are here for.


Maybe, just maybe, Kimi and Max have surpassed the expectations of their team. Maybe they had serious doubts whether the tires would hold until the end of the race with two stopper


So the idea is to get the leader to the 4e place to gamble on a driver with less experience on the second place to win a race...
Smoke something different, thats a real winning scenario for ... Haas maybe 😉


And who is going to partner him if Ricciardo leaves? Sainz?


That only works in hindsight. Would be a huge risk for Red Bull to expect the inexperienced 18 year old holding off the faster Ferrari duo over a 32-lap stint. Ferrari covered Ricciardo with Vettel, so at least there was someone at another team who believed in the 3-stop strategy. Surely Ferrari wouldn't ruin Vettel's race on purpose, nor would Red Bull risk a race win on purpose.


Red Bull didn't risk a race win for the team, they just decided it would be better if MV won on debut. Ferrari made a mistake in responding as Vettel would have caught and undercut MV and then had track position even if Ric had caught the 2 stoppers later in the race.


so what you say is RBR gambled on Ferrari to make a mistake 😉
And the second gable is to let a rookie ""win"" halfway a 66lap race..


@Peterelise, come on, that's nonsense. If Ferrari changes to a three stopper it's just a mistake, but if Red Bull does it, it is conspiracy to let Verstappen win?

They would risk a win for the team if on purpose. Verstappen didn't drive the car before last weekend. It takes just a small lock up at the end of the long straight and Kimi profits. Or Verstappen killing his tyres too fast because of inexperience with the car. Or a puncture like Ricciardo suffered. Than Ferrari would have a 1-2 finish and Red Bull would have looked like cows.

If Verstappen would have been put on a 3-stop strategy instead (mathematically faster) and would have managed to overtake the 2- stoppers in the end, there would be still be people complaining about conspiracies to favour Verstappen. Only because then, in hindsight, that turned out to be the better strategy.


@Garry, Why do people keep saying that the 3 stopper was mathematically faster as a way to justify that RB had Ric on the best strategy? It might be mathematically faster in theory but James has confirmed that no one expected the 3 stop strategy to be used as everyone knew a 3 stop would put you behind the two stoppers and needing to overtake. As evidenced on Sunday and at every single Barcelona race I have watched in the current aero era, no one has been able to pass including Alo v Mal in 2012 (does anyone think Mal is a high calibre driver not capable of making errors under pressure?). I don't dispute the fact that RB split their strategy to increase the odds of a win but I do think they chose to put Ric on the one that everyone knew would require him to make multiple difficult passes at the end of the race while Ves was given the strategy that gave him prized track position. Read James article, "but the experienced team strategists were all saying that they would be surprised if anyone did anything different from a two stop" and "So it was a big and unnecessary risk for the lead car and none of the other teams’ race strategists could quite believe it when Ricciardo pitted".


There were 7 teams choosing the 3 stop strategy.. all wrong of course 😉


We're all talking with the benefit of hindsight. I could believe someone with RB expected the soft compound to be a LOT faster, and keep in mind the fact that Vet had raced 16+3 laps on the first set, with a lot of fuel. They probably didn't think about the 4 laps that don't count fully: the out-lap in Q2, and the 3 SC laps.
They could have wrongly assumed that the Softs would keep up for 20+ laps and have had the plan to opt for 2 stints on softs instead of 1 long stint on mediums, only to find out their expectations weren't met at all.
Actually, I got the impression that the Soft wasn't faster at all...
Since Vet had a serious tire offset to Ric, RB had no way to recover from their error. I believe the choice for RIC to go to 3 stops came from the times on lap 24 and 25, where RIC lost a lot of time to VES, without a clear reason AFAIK. I guess RB could've believed the tires on #3 to be far worse than those on #33.
The way Ferrari reacted is an other matter: someone needs to untangle the spaghetti. You don't cover/undercut a competitor by throwing away two sets of tires only 30-45% used. Track position is worth something, but those 22 seconds lost on an extra pitstop ...


Thank you for that insight into a fascinating race. It would appear that Red Bull's decision to change the strategies as they did suggests there are some interesting dynamics going on within the team at the moment. Ricciardo was very diplomatic about it all but has justifiable reasons for asking some fairly direct questions behind closed doors. Ferrari...I do despair sometimes. With a team under pressure (albeit much of it self-induced) is there really a need for the boss to add to it by publicly demanding wins? That to my mind is not the most effective form of leadership in that situation. Keep those comments private because it's a given that everyone in the team is working their socks off to win & is it demoralising, & somewhat insulting to professionals, to be told in public that winning is what you have to do. Sometimes emotion overcomes logic & in this sport it is fascinating to see that happen when the pressure is on. But forcing that change when it is likely to be counter-productive is not helpful. It is just handing an opportunity to the opposition. In Ferrari's case, this situation presents either Sebastian or Kimi with an opportunity to make that point to the highest levels & really LEAD the team. I watched Schumacher do that with considerable success.
I have little to say about the Merc drama on the first lap. I doesn't fundamentally change anything between Hamilton & Rosberg. What it did do was expose some of the interesting dynamics between the other protagonists & that has made a good season into a potentially great one.


It does n harm to have two winners in the team

Ricc will have his days


It's not the sort of thing that will engender confidence in Ricciardo in listening to the team's strategy though.

It will be interesting to watch how it plays out for the remainder of the year.


James, it was interesting to see RIC's demenour after the race. I haven't seen him openly criticise the team like that before. Do you sense something is "up" with regard to next year?


No but I know he's not happy with Spain


I completely disagree, the most successful teams back one driver and history tells us this. You have written a lot about Schumacher and this philosophy underpinned his success throughout his career and justifiably so. RBR did this with Vettel and it netted them four world championships. As tough as it was for Webber they backed the right guy but the world enjoyed watching Webber beat Vettel (Silvertone 2010)!! The disappointing thing for Ricciardo is that he deserves more respect given his performances this year and in 2014 than what he was shown last week, but hey you could say the same for Kyvat. He could do better than surrounding himself with people like Marko and Horner. Talk about dancing with the devil (as it is he that calls the tune)!

Good on you for calling Horner out on the garbage he fed the media. I hope Ricciardo is speaking with other teams and I hope Marchionne stops micro managing Ferrari. As you said their decision making was symptomatic of individuals terrified to back themselves. The irony for Ferrari is that if Kimi was his usual pace relative to Vettel (I.e. Behind by some margin) then they would never have made the call that they did.


" He followed closely to the finish but didn’t make life difficult enough for the teenager. "

The reason why all of us are hailing "the Teenager" is precisely because he is oblivious to pressure. It's water off a duck's back. You can heap as much as you like, he ain't bothered.
James has suddenly forgotten to remember that !!
Sure Kimi put pressure. It's difficult to follow in the mucky air of another car, and your tyres go off faster.
James overlooks that both VES and RAI actually had the more risky strategy to execute. Those tyres were really not supposed to last as long as they did. Everyone expected them to wear out totally before race end. Ferrari intended for Vettel to win. RAI and the Teen were on melting ice for at least the last 10 laps.
It was a wonder they managed it, and they def deserved p1 and p2


KImi was chasing like a lone wolff, steady is his trail. sometimes the prey makes it. but one little mistake and it's over. I believe the call him the ice man, from finland. He will hunt again.


Nonsense. Pre- season testing and Friday running showed deg numbers did not favour 3 stops


Nonsense. Pre season testing cannot be compared. It is called winter testing for a reason! Friday running showed it was the fastest math wise. Sorry. Listening to experienced drivers how incredible verstappens performance was and given the feedback that no one expected the stint to last (including here former world champions) i can only guess why you would come up withis article. Who helped you in this analysis i wonder! And what did they smoke?


Agree with Phil Glass, plus
Why RIC lost his tyre (which was much younger to other three) on his last lap?
RAI was looking for Dutchman's error and it was proper cost/benefit analysis done by Kimi.


No, three stops could work if done properly.
Look at the laptimes and do the math ( as Pitellig did) it's a winning strategy but you have to do the right moves on the right time.
RIC did not deliver, and VET did not do it.. their struggle prevented this. They had the speed!


No they didn't. You need a massive lap time differential to pass a car at Barcelona. Ricciardo was catching Vettel at close to 1.5s a lap on his last set of tyres and as soon as he caught him he was stuck.

Vettel had the same problem in the first stint. After he cleared Sainz he caught Verstappen in a handful of laps and then stayed there till the first round of stops.

Fundamentallly Redbull made a mistake or chose to put Ricciardo behind Verstappen on the road. End of.


Track position is king at this track, just like Monaco.


You have to start out with the intention of doing three, not switch mid race


Missing in this analyse is the situation n the track, the traffic you will encounter during and after the stop. The teams look to lots of information about the right time to plan a stop. Looking back it's easy to see the mistakes or better the judgement calls made during the race.
No one makes mistakes by purpose. No one will gamble on a driver halfway a race to win. Sacrificing the leader in the proces..


If so, then why commentators from almost all channels saying that 31 laps on Mediums would be very hard, almost impossible. Brundle, Coulthard couldn't even believe that MAX & KIMI are able to pull this off, it was only in the last 3-4 laps did they start talking about MAX's victory. Until then it was all about SEB's race to lose..


And yet it looks like it does. Ricciardo was bound to reach and overtake the leading pair by the end of the race, if you would extrapolate his final stint. Ricciardo's only problem was that a relatively slow - but yet too fast to overtake - Vettel was in his way. Vettel's strategy was weird and could not be predicted. With the fresher tyres and taking Vettel out of the equation, Ricciardo could have made a DRS pass on Raikkonen - and possibly Verstappen - in the closing stages. He almost pulled it off against Vettel, so he quite possibly would have managed the overtake on Raikkonen, considering the greater tyre-life offset.

Of course track position in the end is what counted, but it still looks like 3 stops was the faster way around if you disregard traffic.


Wow James! Have you joined the conspiracy theorists?


No, it's called analysis


Also called stating the obvious.


Following your analysis:
Is a team allowed to ask a second driver to fall back a couple of seconds to prevent an undercut for the lead? How could they make it clear to Max what they wanted?
Max would have complied, IMO, because it would not have made no difference for him. He would have been undercut by Vettel anyways.

Fursty ferret

Come join us James,what ever the evidence or analysis is , my driver is always in the right


Oh no, sebee will be using that line from now on!


Let's hope RIC doesn't read this article. Sober reading for him. If he hasn't thought about moving out of RBR, he should start ASAP before he morphs into Webber version 2.0 (albeit a much faster very smiley version).

If RBR were seriously worried that Verstappen wouldn't follow team orders very well as an 18 year old, perceived no.2 driver, then RIC has zero chance of having an even playing field already. He can forget a win in Monaco if Max is remotely in the running. I respect RBR (& genuinely believe they have brought much to F1 in a short time), but this stuff from them induces vomit from me & is contemptible.

RIC should be considering McHonda, Renault or possibly Merc (depending what happens there). No point going to Ferrari as designated no.2 to VET. The conundrum is that with aero changes in 2017, RBR are very likely to have best package in that department. But McHonda may have turned the corner at last?


I think RIC is in a really tough position in terms of who to drive for next.

- Merc would probably be the best option, but it's uncertain if a seat will be available.

- lots of people say Ferrari...but why? They have a golden boy who wants to be the next Schumacher, does he want to be the next Barichello? That bit aside, what has Ferrari done outside of the Schumacher era to entice a top driver to them. The Ferrari we are seeing right now - unreliable, bumbling strategy, maybe even some handling/chassis issues as displayed by the final chicane....that IS Ferrari. Outside of Schumacher era, that's what Ferrari has always been.

- Redbull may very well have the best car next year, dependent on their engine situation of course. If I'm RIC, I have a tough time committing to RB without knowing what's going on with the engine for next year.

- if the Renault engine upgrade is as good as some are saying it might be, then they might be a legit option. RIC could go to Renault and be the #1, stay with them for several years, and have the car developed around him. This soon after their return though, Renault is a massive risk.

McLaren - still a massive risk. The car is not yet a front runner, and the engine is still very suspect. We've also heard talk from BUT and ALO that there have been many errors made within the team regarding stratgey both in the races and in other sessions throughout the race weekend.

- anywhere else is a step back from where he is, and does not put him in position to compete for wins and a championship.

Talk about an impossible decision to make ????


I am hearing rumours Nico has started talks with Ferrari and Wolff said on Monday

He spoke to us, but we could not negotiate as we promised Lewis that while we tried to renew his (Hamilton) deal we would not talk with other drivers and we did not,Fernando is one of the best drivers in history and I like his character, but our priority now is NicoIf he (Rosberg) does not want to renew, then we will consider other options, like Fernando. His (Alonso's) age is not a problem -- his speed and his motivation are still there,

Fernando 150% Alonso

Maybe no. 1 driver alongside Vet ;))


Reading between the lines it sounds like James might be a little bit of a conspiracy theorist! It was baffling why RB changes Ricciardo's strategy. From the above, it sounds like there was no logical explanation...

Matthew Cheshire

Changing Riccardo to a three stop looked insane at the time. I'm glad James has confirmed I wasn't going mad. Riccardo conserved his tyres to pit early? A long stint on mediums at the end - to overtake 2 faster cars on a track where overtaking is difficult?

Maybe there was benefit to RB for Max to take the win. But how much is Riccardo's trust worth?


Has anyone ever won a GP by switching from the preferred 2 stop to a 3 stopper and been able to overtake their way to the win?


I think Jenson Button did just that to win his first grand prix in Hungary. The track was wet but drying, but still a bit too marginal for dry tyres. When JB pitted on lap 50 he didn't change tyres, but a few laps later he came in again for slicks, and went to on win.

He did technically "pass" Fernando Alonso who had spun off after a loose wheel nut fell off after FA's second stop, albeit by the simple expedient of staying on the track!

Fernando 150% Alonso

Schumacher win at Hungaroring in '98 it springs first to my mind. Another track where is difficult to overtake, but he was behind, not leading when Ross decided to do that.


I don't think Schumi had to overtake anyone on track though.


I don't know which was preferred, but Hamilton switched to a three stopper in China 2011 and caught and passed Vettel for the win. Overtaking is comparatively easy at China though. Ominously, a few races later he caught Vettel with several laps to go at Barcelona and was stuck behind him lap after lap and couldn't overtake, even with DRS...

He also did something similar in Canada 2012, catching and passing Vettel and Alonso for the win having done one fewer stop. Again, much easier to overtake there.


Thanks @Andrew M, @Gaz Boy and @150%
So aside from rain affected races, the ONLY time you should think of changing from 2stops to 3 is in China.
Teams, please take note of this!


Running on the straight on barcelona with DRS is a succes for passing: everytime. But you have to get close enough and need some balls.


That's not true at all, there's a host of evidence to show that it's one of the hardest tracks to pass at even with DRS. Are you seriously saying that drivers like Hamilton and Ricciardo just needed some "balls" to overcome the clear laws of aerodynamics?


Yes at some tracks. It's risky in Spain as the overtake is so hard


Great article.

none of the other teams’ race strategists could quite believe it when Ricciardo pitted.

But Ferrari didn't say "Crazy" but copied it. That's twice this year where a bad call for Vettel put him on an extra stop when he could have won. (The red flag in Australia being the other).

. Vettel stayed out until Lap 15 to start building a tyre offset to the others. This was not the move of a man who was planning to stop three times. Quite the reverse ....
Christian Horner said [they were pre-empting] Vettel three stopping . This sounds a little like a retrofit of the story to the events,

Indeed - if either Ferrari was set for a three stop it was Kimi, RBR could have covered Seb, *IF* he came in for an early second stop.

When RIC pitted Ferrari should have stayed out. The worst that would have happened is 3 stops ended up faster and VES,VET and RAI maintained their order and ended up behind RIC at the end. Which is just where they started. If 2 stops was faster, VET could undercut VES at the second round of stops for track position and win. If they had stopped Kimi instead of Seb, they could have covered 3 stops being faster, and guaranteed at least second place.

I think 2 stops has to be Soft [from quali] and two medium stints because the softs won't last; 3 stops needs more laps on softs than either VET or RIC put in to get the 22 second stop time advantage.

To me (and it's easy to be what the Americans call a Monday Morning quarter back), if you are leading the race you stick with your planned strategy. If you aren't leading you might try plan B to see if you can make something happen. It's then down to the leader to react or stick to their plan. RBR should have kept RIC on 2 stops and pitted at the earliest point they dared for each to avoid being undercut. If VET had gone to 3 stops, then they could have made the call whether to copy or not.


You're starting to make me wonder if even Ferrari wanted Max to win!


In this theory that must e the case here 😉


I know nobody likes a conspiracy theory more than you 🙂
But no, if Ferrari still had any hopes for getting Max they would his time at Red Bull to be horrible. If there is a conspiracy anywhere it was to take the win of RIC and give it to Max (I think RIC is in the last year of a 3 year contract, so maybe Max is in and the other seat is up for grabs), but it seems a bit far fetched.
Ferrari's strategists seem to lack a bit of self belief - "He's done it , so we have to copy". They should have seen RIC pit and gone "They've handed us the race - Seb just has to undercut VES at the next stop". RIC was the first car to make a second stop, I'm guessing Ferrari expected RBR to pull VES in the next lap. But if Ferrari were going to two stop they should have stuck with it. It looks like there weren't a lot soft tyres for anyone to use, so if anyone was thinking of a final stint on mediums and catching a car in front with 30 lap old, conserved, mediums and trying to pass on 20 lap old, hard-raced mediums it seems optimistic. At that track unless I expected a huge tyre advantage I would look for track position every time.
Of course, easy to say from my armchair after the race; when you have just over a minute to make the call and maybe people shouting in your ear "do we pit him ?", maybe not so easy.


Why the hell is Know one working out these scenarios in the first place!! Any one could see at the strategy for a 2 stopper Ferrari F1 Should have cleary decided to undercut the Red Bulls and got Kimi in a lap earlier and undercut them to stay ahead and won the race!! This is NOT ROCKET SCIENCE WAKE UP!!! and sort out this out! PLS

Harry Snapper Organs

And thankyou so much James.

That is THE story that needed to be written of the strange way a Red Bull driver got his name in the history books, FOREVER. With the change of age rules, no one is ever going to win at a younger age.

"and none of the other teams' race strategists could quite believe it when Ricciardo pitted"...

RIC's race was sacrificed at the altar of Max's publicity.
Marko et al won't hesitate to do the same to RIC's career.

Better start looking elsewhere Dan, and let someone else be the number 2 driver at Red Bull. I'm sure Mark Webber might have some further perspective for you....


MW has already implied as much on Twitter


This was the most interesting strategic race I have seen in some time. It revealed some of the fallacy about overtaking too, as this race was exciting with very little passing on track.

My immediate reaction when Vettel went back on to medium tyres was that Ferrari had done a huge favour to Verstappen, but it took the tyre history chart to see that Ricciardo taking the softs in the first place was the initial step in that story. I'm not sure the tyre graphics were 100% correct during the race (if they ever have been) which doesn't help viewers follow what's happening. Perhaps I, and others, had also assumed that Kimi and Max would have both required third stops too.


You are right, the live graphics are occasionally incorrect


To be honest, Ferrari is pretty much the same as under Domenicali. Last year there was some hype and hope of challenging the Merc in 2016 and I actually think they have moved backwards...peobably because of the pressure from Marcione. I understand what Alonso had in mind - tired of coming second. Max was the most shocking thing for me in F1 over the last several years. Interesting what will happen next. And...I do think that Rosberg will take the title this year.


They were very aggressive on strategy at a number of races last year - and it worked


That's why he said "they have moved backwards" this year. Actually Vetttel's strategy was just plain stupid since lap 28.

Fernando 150% Alonso

Probably because last year they didn't believe they could beat Mercedes just relying on pure pace so they took the risks. This year they where suppose to be closer and maybe all the strategy is done with this in mind. But they are not closer to Merc and strategy wise they are not taking risks which is hurting them. I can't say i cry to much about this 😀


Thanks James
As long as Daniel Ricciardo doesn't read this we should all be ok,


Makes you wonder though, Ferrari could REALLY do with reading this analysis!


it seemed strange to commit to having to overtake at a track where it is so difficult. Running a split strategy only guarantees that one of your drivers is on the wrong strategy....


"Running a split strategy only guarantees that one of your drivers is on the wrong strategy"

Well said Tim.


Yes but it also means one is right.


Not necessarily - They could have both been wrong 😉


Unless there is a third way James....


Interesting summary –
F1 is certainly an ‘ifs and buts’ game.
And Ferrari’s chairman ‘influencing’ team strategy –
Whatever next?

Is it possible that teams will soon be mutually discussing potential strategies before the race as part of a ‘fan-engagement’ drive?


Nowhere does it say that Marchionne influenced team strategy in the sense of having a say

His presence may have dictated a certain caution however


Quite agreed. But surely Arrivabene is sufficiently empowered to be confident in directing his team's approach to a race.


This is a serious site so I refuse to use emoticons!
Hence the quotes around ‘influencing’.


In the first stint of mediums Ricciardo held up Verstappen and Vettel. Actually Max told the team he was being held up. Vettel shortpitted because of this ofcourse, and then RBR covered it way too late with Ricciardo.

Vettel might have beaten Max with a 2 stop strategy, not so sure about Ricciardo judging the first medium stint, especially with Max/Kimi's well known tire management...


ricciardo was controlling the pace and his tyres.


James says in a comment in this thread, to a comment similar to yours, that Ricciardo sped up in the last few laps of his medium stint. He was conserving tyres and driving to suit a two stopper (before they changed his strategy).


History shows that Red Bull like to have a young gun leading the team with a sacrificial Aussie making up the numbers - I see no difference in their approch to this race. DR needs to find himself another seat as soon as possible because he's only going to end up looking like a no. 2 at red bull


It's easy to criticise afterwards. During the race almost all commentators and analysts were going for the 3 stops. The split seemed perfectly logical, because RedBull could control both scenarios.Daniel lost that battle with Seb, because Vettel was simply better with the tyres, especially in the 2nd on the mediums and 3rd stint on the softs. They were both on s-m-s-m. And no one knew if Max's and Kimi's tyres were going to last. B.t.w.: Do take a look at the difference in degradation after each pitstop. Max was doing a better job with his tyres. So, who would you pick for the 2 stop strategy?


I totally disagree with James Allen, I think it is a master set from Red Bull to let Ricciardo do a three stop, they knew that Vettel would follow. I think they knew that Max is better in managing his tyres, and took a high risk to go for a two stop. Max did an excellent job and shows his talent what Helmut Marko saw in Max immediately at Nourishing Ring. I think when Ricciardo did a two stop, Vettel had won....


interesting perspective. I hadn't considered that they knew VES could get close to making the 2-stop work because of better tyre management skills than the one who is already lauded as being the best. Good point....


Actually I think they took a risk, to let Max drive 32 laps on medium tyres, but if Max had to do a three stop in the end, they always had Ricciardo, so it was a little bit of a gamble, therefore I think it was an excellent strategy... It worked out above there expectations. I don't understand the dislikes of Red Bull, I think it's really nice that they give young drivers a change. And off course it is a harsh world you have to deliver, but that's quite understandable with so much money involved! They didn't degrade Kvyat for only the mistakes he made in Russia. The figures showed for a long time that Max did a extremely good job.... So it is not alone by making a fast lap, it is also the consistency Max is showing, his former race-engineer Pujolar said that Max is like a machine....


what evidence do you have for MV being better on his tyres than DR? DR is actually better on his tyres than anyone, let alone a guy driving a car in his first race. That said MV did a stunning job.


in a previous race, Max drove 23 laps on used soft tyres, they already stated that every race Max tyres looking after the race quite alright comparing to other racers tyres... and how can you say Ricciardo management of tyres is good when he even had a flat tyre after 25 laps, with a three stop strategy?


Just look at the race and pitstops again, and look at the tyres that came off! And was DR better than Seb?? Daniel had destroyed his tyres. They had the SAME strategy (s-m-s-m). Daniel LOST his significant advantage to Seb within that SAME strategy! So how can people think that Daniel would have done better with a 2 stopper? Only blind Ricciardo-fans can. Max won this race on his tyre-management.


Thank you James. I have been waiting for this report. I assume that Red Bull will now be wanting to once again break the record for the having the youngest F1 World Champion. Challenging times ahead for Daniel Ricciardo.


There is undoubted recognition of the driver as being the youngest to win an F1 race. But I'm not convinced that there is anything in it for the team. Certainly not enough to risk what were at the time 1st and 2nd positions in the race.


Great analysis. It highlighted many things I hadn't realised. Were the Red Bull and Ferrari simply strategist simply not firing on all cyclinders or did Red Bull really want to favour Verstappen?

The fact both teams put their "number 1" and lead driver onto the weaker strategy implies they thought they were doing the right thing to win but I'm not so sure.

And as pointed out, a bigger failing was doing a half-cooked 3 stopper. The fact there was such a huge gap behind meant the Red Bull and Ferrari could have ran in clear air a lot of the time.

I don't know if they had enough softs available but an aggressive 3 stopper for Ricciardo could have meant something like:

- start on softs (12 lap stint);

- pit lap 12 (13 lap stint): softs - you'll end up back in the lead on faster tyres to aggressively extend the lead (not take it easy on mediums as Ricciardo did);

- pit lap 25 (26 lap stint): mediums - will end up behind 2 stoppers for a while until they pit but should probably be still leading after 2 stoppers have pitted;

- pit lap 51 (15 lap stint): softs - will probably be in 3rd now but having driven aggressively throughout, Ricciardo shouldn't be too far behind the leaders. Soft tyres will provide a good grip-offset opportunity to overtake the leaders.

As I say, they probably didn't have the softs available for this and of course, easy to say this from my armchair...! 🙂


Well two things stand apparent in this analysis.
1. RBR regard Verstappen as their #1 (what a joke, I'm disgusted)
2. Ferrari need to start running their own race and stop worrying so much what others are doing.


Have been watching F1 for 25 years and knew as soon as they put Dan on softs and committing to 3 stops he was done. What Verdrappen did was still inpressive but Dan has abattlenon his hands if he wants to be their no. 1 driver. Time is in Verstappens side. Dan is in win now mode if Red Bull can get it together in 2017.


"2. Ferrari need to start running their own race and stop worrying so much what others are doing."

yes, remember what they did to Alonso in Abu Dhabi a few years back. Gifted the world championship to Vettel with a boneheaded decision to cover Weber and doomed Alonso to being stuck behind Petrov.


Not at all

1. It's a team win
2. It led to Ferrari not winning


Sorry i meant two things which are apparent to myself.


Danny Ric needs to find another team. Horner said that moving Max to Redbull has put the driver market to bed. I don't think so.


Great analysis. I think it was a game of chess more than anything. RBR split up their strategies and wanted to lure Ferrari to follow. They felt they had to give the 3-stop to Ricciardo, or Ferrari would not answer. The strategy has never been "how to let a specific driver win", but "how to beat Ferrari by all means".


Sorry James, I love your articles as well as the comments below. However what I am missing in this article is the level of tyre degradation between RIC and VES. You assume that both drivers experienced equal tyre deg but is this true? Do you have inside knowledge or do you base your conclusions on other information? For me the pivotal move of the race was VES gaining back his fourth place by passing VET on the outside of turn 3. In an interview on dutch TV he said he watched videos of previous GPstarts and saw Alonso do the same. His engineer said to him jokingly; "would be nice if could pull that one off"


"As much as Verstappen won this race, Ricciardo and Vettel both lost it."

Sums up what I think pretty much. A lot of people are praising MAx for making the tyres last, but a look at the lap charts shows what he did wasn't particularly outlandish. He was very impressive under pressure in the situation though.

In terms of winning the race, you can't really fault Red Bull - they've shown in the past that they're willing to split strategies to get the better result for the team (Japan 2013, Monza 2014); I don't think there's any conspiracy theory, it's just the rather cold, hard, calculating the team operates. Ricciardo can feel very hard done by though.


You are aware of the fact that Max was managing his tires and let Kimi close in on him, right? knowing all he had to do was to make no mistakes in sector 3 ensuring a sufficient gap for the straight?

The lap charts just show that, nothing more...

The "iceman" was at the lead, last Sunday, and gave Kimi not a single chance for a pass...


I meant the tyre history graph, it shows that other drivers (Kimi obviously, Perez, Wehrlein, Gutierrez) made their tyres last pretty much as long, it was Max's stint length I was referring to when I said it wasn't that out of the ordinary, should have been clearer. I said that I was impressed by his calmness under pressure given it was his first chance of a big result in F1.

Jonathan Warren

The surprising thing that I see in that chart is Vettel, after his last pit stop, not being able to catch Raikonnen. After his stop the three lead cars are all on the same tyres, with Vettel's being the freshest, but you can see the gap to Raikonnen increase until around lap 49 when Ricciardo catches up to Vettel. Ricciardo's trajectory at that point is slowed by Vettel's inability to catch the two in front. What was going on?


How about this explanation: Vettel must have believed there was a good chance Max and Kimi would hit a cliff with their tires since they stopped too soon. He was saving his tires to take advantage for when they would pit or become easy to overtake. There was nothing to be gained by chasing the top two, overtaking woild have been impossible.


good catch!


Judging from Vettel's words after the race saying they were surprised how good the 2 stop strategy was, I guess it wasn't clear cut after Friday practice which strategy was the best.

Also Vettel says he struggled a bit with the mediums which could have been another factor to switch to a 3 stop


Your correct , only in hindsight these analyses surface.. Best captains.. and so on...
The most succesfull strategy was the three stop when done correctly. They did not do that.. so the alternate stategy worked better..


@ ed

Yes, it's days like these that one wishes Groundhog day would work it's magic


James, there seems to be some trouble posting with my mail. It would be much appreciated if you could sort it out. When I try to enter my credentials again they are asking for password.


I had this error previously. Found out my browser autofill was sometimes entering the email twice in the box the first time i tried. I got "this email already registered" and then it asked for a password after. I always check the email now before the first submit and haven't had any issues. I think the email already registered error may come up if the email is not valid.


Ricciardo would be certain to win the race and a team victory would be secure. Verstappen would probably have finished third in that scenario.
But they either didn’t want to ask Verstappen to do that or didn’t want to prioritise Ricciardo for the win.

Great article James, but you could really have left it a that.

Wonder if Dan will be on the phone to Mark for a chat about how it feels.
Better still, hopefully he'll be on the phone to Ferrari instead.


At the beginning of the season the talk in Italy was DR to replace Rai next year. Contracts such as one with Red Bull only will not work if the driver wants out. Watch this space!

Stephen Taylor

James could a partial explanation of Ferrari did be that the chief strategists of Ferrari team decide to give Kimi the better strategy because he qualified in front? Could that be true Ferrari's plan was/ is for future races that whoever qualifies first out of the two cars gets a chance to use the optimum strategy? That said it they would do best just to try and get a winning strategy. James do you think the fact Ric stopped three times means that RBR don't trust Dan to look after his tyres as well as Max?


No because he was behind after the start!


and was holding up Vettel and Max, I think this was the best strategy for Red Bull and the race showed they made the right decision, Ricciardo had a flat tyre even with a three stop strategy, also the take over from Max in the third turn to Vettel was showing how good Max actually is... So I don't agree with you on this article written by you....

Stephen Taylor

James do think Vettel will start becoming concerned say if after Monaco if he falls further behind Kimi in terms of points that he might be the one and Kimi who will be told to help Kimi later in the season rather than the other way around as most people presumably including yourself expect?


No I don't them so, there's a long way to go


How about if Kimi would have waited couple of laps for his second stop, to build some more offset to Verstappen? That's probably just hindsight..


Great article James. This whole thing smells of Webber vs Vettel. It is obvious from RB tactics who their priority is. Let's not sugar coat this, watching both Mercs take each other out at the very beginning left Helmut Marko rubbing his hands like Mr Burns... RB knew exactly what they were doing. I truly hope Ricciardo moves on this year.. Mercedes maybe?? Either way, they will never allow him to win the title at RB.


I don't think so

It's so unfortunate the way the Webber Vettel thing was handled and now fans look at them through that prism of suspicion


Thoughtful post and I agree 100% it was very odd and very wrong moves by both Red Bull and Ferrari. As you say, more so from Ferrari after RBR blinked first with RIC.

What is your view James that in recent years with these Tyres, strategists have perhaps gone backwards? I am probably looking back with rose tinted specs thinking of Brawn and his famous strategies in race, but it feels like teams are quite inflexible with strategy these days. Once they get an idea they are stuck with it, or once they convince themselves of some data or risk %s they go with that instead of looking at it from more of a pure racing point of view.

Who would you say is the best strategist in the paddock right now?


Brawn was working with fuel strategy too, remember

I think it's cool, there are some good people doing it

Wouldn't like to say who's best, several of them help with insights for this report so I don't want to have favourites !

Carlos Marques

James, how do they do it? Manually in their head and a stop clock in their hand? Or do they have a massive mainframe at the factory running all possible outcomes and spitting out best strategy recommendations every lap? What do they look at in their screens? How do they know what the other teams are up to and how do they keep track? Do they spy on each other?

Personally I think they should listen to the TV commentary...they always seem to get it right...maybe somethign to do with being away from the noise...

I would love to read an article on this side of F1...


It's all mathematical modelling driven these days. They'll be lots of probability models and monte carlo simulations going on.

Basically, it'll be a bit like weather modelling. They'll continuously run models for a range of initial conditions and that will output various scenarios with a probability of success or risk attached. It won't be that a computer will tell them the perfect strategy to guarantee a results. The output will suggest something like, "It's lap 24, based on current the race situation, the simulations say if we do strategy A, we'll have an 86% chance of finishing 3rd. If we do strategy B, and stop 4 laps later, there's this percentage chance of this or that being the result.

Something like that, but probably not described well or correctly!!!


Another one who would love an article about how the strategy is decided/worked out by each team and what information they use and where they get it from. I always used to love the strategy, especially when we had refueling in the races.

Tornillo Amarillo

FERRARI did the biggest mistake, they didn't win and they have collected 33 points versus 37 for Red Bull.

RED BULL, in the other hand, also made a fabulous publicity with the win and the story of a record-breaker teen who won with a RED BULL in his first race with the team, well done, very difficult to better in the future of Formula 1.


Once RIC stopped on 28, Ferarri should have pitted RAI if they wanted to split strategy. Then they would have track position with VET and hedged their bets with RAI


Great article James. I just couldn't understand the 3 stops on Sunday. Red Bull definitely favoured Max in my eyes, really hope it doesn't continue. There is no doubt that Dan's strategy would have remained a 2 stop if it was still Kyvat in the other car!


James, I noticed on the Race History graph that the two Haas cars are not labelled on the key, despite their inclusion in the graph itself as the black lines. Is there any chance these could be included in later Race History graphs?


The question is also why did they keep RIC on the track so long on the third stint (soft), while the his lap times were becoming under performing?
VET reacted when seeing soft didn't work while RB left RIC on the track 6 more laps and being undercut by VET.


I remember thinking the same at the time and assumed (wrongly) that they were going to go for another set of softs and were trying to ensure he wasn't too far from the end to make it. When they went to another set of mediums I was gobsmacked.


James, how much of this is down to Jock Clear? he is new to the team, so may be the confidence factor could directly be down to him as not to be making aggressive calls?
Also, I agree Ferrari president didn't help by putting them under enormous pressure demanding victories+rumors of Arrivabene replacement didn't help either.


I look forward to Verstappen's reaction if and wen the roles are reversed.
Best case scenario; this was a ploy by RBR to show they have two guns and you dryer watch out for both
Worst case; Max IS the new Schumacher and RBR is the new Ferrari.

Marcus Anderson

Why say this is worst case, if he is really that good? Should you not be happy to have a great talented driver in F1? [mod]


What hate? Maybe you're projecting your psyche onto what you read.
Do you not remember how well Michael Schumacher's teammates were treated?
Google it.


Can someone please tell Maruzio to tell Sergio to take a hike? Seriously, when are they going to learn that people don't perform well when a boss with an axe in his hand is just hovering over you all day.


Personally, I would like to see the end of pit to driver radio communication.
Go back to the chalk board hung over the pit wall and tyres that encourage drivers to give it all every lap, and return race management to them instead of the soulless corporate muppets that currently dictate who wins or loses.


I've thought for a long time that Ferrari need to review their strategy team. That's my polite way of saying fire them! They were top dogs in the days of Schumacher and Brawn but have frequently made very poor decisions in the last few years. Given their willingness to poach top talent from other teams I'm surprised they haven't got somebody better. Or maybe they just rely on the computer simulations and don't do any inspired independent thinking any more?

I have to say I've also been disappointed by Vettel so far this year. I had thought he was the perfect choice to reinvigorate Ferrari but his ability to deal with racing in the pack and dealing with aggressive overtaking attempts by others is very poor. And then he gets on the radio to complain which only makes him look worse!

I do think Riccardio needs to consider his Red Bull future as Marko seems to have a close interest in Max. Perhaps Ferrari should think about replacing Vettel with the honey badger and getting a young and upcoming driver (Sainz) for the other spot?


Well, Vettel has only taken part in three out of five races so far (DNS in Bahrain, torpedoed by Kvyat in Russia) and ended up in the podium in all three of them. He made a fantastic start in Australia but bad strategy after the red flag cost him the win, ended up second in China after the first lap drama with Kimi and last Sunday in Spain it was in plain sight how much both Kimi and him had to struggle with the handling of the car in the curves in general and the last twisty sector in particular. Keeping in mind that he is not driving a Mercedes, that the SF16 reveals a new problem every racing weekend and that the Ferrari strategists have let him down in Oz and Spain, I'd say it's still early days to say he has dissapointed.

He's a driving a Ferrari that's clearly not in par with a Mercedes in terms of power and design, and unless the Canada upgrade with the new turbo solves the problems of the power unit, his team is at risk of being surpassed by Red Bull if the upcoming Renault upgrade give the Bulls the expected gain in power of more or less 30 HP.

The shortcomings of the SF16 along with the strategic blunders are the main reason behind the absence of victories and not a lack of driver skill or commitment to the team of his dreams. So don't judge him too harshly just yet.

As for his ability to race in the pack, just remember how many times he had to fight from behind to end up in the podium or close to it last year. And he defended his position from Ricciardo masterfully on Sunday.

The Honey Badger is fast and agressive in his racing and any team would be lucky to have him, but he wouldn't be the right choice for team mate for Vettel given their past history. Sainz, on the other hand looks like a healthy choice... but for 2018, if Kimi continues to perform at his current level and wants to continue in F1, Ferrari should keep him for one more year IMHO :))


Thanks James for a frank discussion of the Red Bull and Ferraris blunders. It's easy to second guess in hindsight but in this case it was easy to second guess them in real time as well. Very strange decisions.


So I guess that will be the tone for the entire season right? Ricciardo fans will point the finger to favoritism any time Verstappen gets ahead of him. Such an easy cop-out.
Ricciardo blew his tyre on a three stopper but he would have automatically won on a two-stopper. Right...


No, no one said that. The consensus on this post is that James has presented a fair and reasonable analysis. It's only your perogative if you don't agree with it.

Yes, you are correct in your last sentence, although "automatically" is a poor choice of words. He would have used the same skill and composure as Max did.


My comment wasn't about the article, it's about what I am expecting based on the attitude and behaviour from f lot of Ricciardo fans here and elsewhere. To start calling out favoritism and conspiracy theories after just one race is ridiculous, childish, unsporting an it sets a precedent and creates an atmosphere where people will automatically assume Ricciardo is somehow setup to fail by Red Bull. I have been around, I know how fanboys work.

And your assumption is an example of that. You are completely sure about something you simply cannot know. All these what if's are irrelevant as it didn't happen.


So I guess it's obvious it was favouritism by Ferrari towards kimi for giving him the winning strategy!


Well, some remarks.
Verstappen was quicker on the two stop strategy then Ric. Nevertheless VES decide to spare his tyres and kept his distance tot RIC.
RIC had the change to gain control whem he got the soft tire but did not succeeded in getting past VET.
The struggle between RIC and VET resulted in a loss of pressure tot the leader. They were faster and a realistic change to pass the leader existed. But the struggle for place 3 cost them the race. VET kept defending and RIC did not succeed in passing. Looking at hte pace Kvyatt had is prove of this theory.
So, the three stop strategy, when done right could succeed!


There are probably even a few out there who think that Red Bull deliberately moved Ricciardo onto a three stop strategy, knowing it was the wrong way to go, to open up the chance for the golden boy to shine.
There’s nothing you can do about these things.

Well, feeding them with this "analysis" seems to work.
Lots of analogies with webber and the sacrifice aussie surface here..


Red Bull sacrificed Dan to suck Ferrari into a bad move which they have done in the past and not just Japan. They have also done it in the past with an Alonso driven Ferrari.
It says a lot about what they think about Kimi, no threat.
Ferrari have for a long time had this attitude they have one top driver and one solid driver. Worked well when they had the best car and the best driver. Those days are long gone and as Mercedes and Red Bull have shown you need two top drivers to play the game.
Ferrari will need a bigger threat in the No 2 seat next year to prevent it from occurring again.


I think the comment ref Kimi making life easy for Max is a little unfair.

Max drove a solid race - the track does not promote over taking. DRS was just right.
Kimi drove a mature race applying pressure while looking after his tyres in Verstappens wake.

He now stands 2nd in the WDC behind Rosberg and ahead of Vettel. Last year who'd a thunk that would be the case after 5 rounds.

Knowing he won his only Championship from the last race of that season having to make up ground and being almost out of contention in the last 3 races his approach is measured and mature.

We got the headlines but Kimi is doing the him!


James, could Raikonnen have won by running a longer 2nd stint? He was gaining on Verstappen and the tyres were fine. If he had stayed out a few more laps he would have had a tyre offset to work with at the end of the race.


Or with an undercut at the final stop?

Stephen Taylor

James you seem to be doing some disservice to Kimi's performance to say he didn't push Max hard enough . I think he did everything he could to pressure Max but couldn't get the right traction in the last sector especially in dirty air . Arrivabene admitted Ferrari's traction compared to RBR in sector 3 was a problem during the weekend and this was what cost Kimi what would've been a certain win.


I mean with an undercut attempt as much as anything


Point is... at what lap do you execute the undercut? Too soon and he will destroy his tyres in the final laps... I am pretty sure they had a lap planned for the undercut but Max just went in before that lap...
32 laps was right on the edge of the medium lifespan.
Max just did a fantastic job and i feel you are biased in favour of Ricciardo with this 'analysis'.


Max did a fantastic job, we said that on Subdsy and in a special post on it

This is a factual analysis

He had a bit of luck - nothing wrong with that


Ah, so you are seriously suggesting Kimi should have pitted for his third set even earlier than Max? And you think that would have been a sensible strategy? I give up.


Hi all,
A fascinating analysis James and some very insightful comments in the posts. If I was a betting man I'd put a LOT of money on Ricciardo grabbing pole AND winning Monaco in 10 days time. Probably with daylight to second.

Daniel has every right to be mighty upset by his team's dopey decision on Sunday and I think we're about to see '