Insight: Did Mercedes strategy decisions lead to Hamilton & Rosberg collision and how did Verstappen beat Raikkonen?
Lewis Hamilton
Strategy Report
Posted By: James Allen  |  05 Jul 2016   |  3:45 pm GMT  |  254 comments

“Forget everything you’ve known before,” was the advice of one leading F1 team strategist on the morning of the Austrian Grand Prix.

The combination of much cooler temperatures on race day, combined with a lack of knowledge about how the soft tyres in particular would perform in the race, due to lack of dry running in Free Practice on Friday, meant that many teams were going into the dark on Sunday.

In those circumstances, Race Strategy was always going to be critical to the outcome of the race, but the winners were those who had hedged their bets and were most adaptable during the race.

And it was varying strategies that led to the race’s main talking point, the last lap collision between the Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. Was it avoidable?

Jenson Button
Pre race expectations

Based on the practice running on Friday everyone was in trouble on tyres.

Pirelli had brought the Ultra Soft, Supersoft and Soft and all teams experienced high temperatures, graining, blistering and loss of performance. Straight away in Practice one, the cars were over two seconds quicker than last year thanks to a new surface. It then rained in Practice two.

There was mild panic in the midfield when it became clear that the Manor had been very fast in the dry; ironically the car’s lack of downforce relative to the opposition meant that it put less load through the tyre and didn’t overheat it. The Manor, in Pascal Wehrlein’s hands at least, was a real threat for points, especially when he qualified up in 12th place.

This prompted McLaren and Toro Rosso to save two sets of soft tyres per car for race day, as it looked like the only way to do the race would be two stops, with a short first stint on ultra softs followed by two stints on Soft. But the great unknown was how hot the conditions would be.

McLaren benefitted hugely on Jenson Button’s car from this decision and the cooler temperatures on Sunday also helped the car operate better. Because he’d grabbed the opportunity of mixed conditions in qualifying to line up third on the grid, Button was able to execute a strong race and score a solid 6th place.

Red Bull was one of the worst for rear tyre graining in practice and that makes Max Verstappen’s 56 lap stint on soft tyres in the race all the more remarkable. His team mate Daniel Ricciardo was not able to get the tyres to last like Verstappen did and was forced onto a two stop strategy.

He’s one of the best in the business at maintaining tyre life at a good pace, so we have to view Verstappen’s performance here and in Spain with completely fresh eyes.

Lewis Hamilton Nico Rosberg
Mercedes drivers collide – why did Hamilton not stick to a one stop plan?

Were Hamilton and Rosberg always destined to come together at some point in this race? Their second collision in five races meant that the team dropped another 6 points to add to the 43 lost in Spain, which is causing the team now to consider some kind of team orders.

Analysis of the strategy decisions shows that trouble was almost inevitable; if it had not been Hamilton trying to pass Rosberg at the end it would have been Rosberg trying to pass Hamilton in the final stint if the Englishman had stayed on a one stop plan and there was a high chance of it getting messy.

This was a case, for Mercedes ‘ strategy decision makers, of being damned if they do and damned if they don’t, trying to make a fair competition. But they had no reason to expect that the pair would collide so soon after Barcelona.

As Rosberg started in sixth place on the grid, due to a gearbox change following a suspension breakage, he was always going to run a flat out two-stop strategy, with an early first stop on Lap 10. He was the faster Mercedes driver all weekend, but was having to make up ground after the suspension failure.

Hamilton, in contrast, was on pole and on a flexible strategy, which quickly evolved into a one stop once it became clear that he was going to get around 20 laps out of the first stint on Ultra Soft tyres.

Pirelli felt that in the cooler conditions of Sunday the soft tyre should be okay for 46-50 laps, Hamilton was on that plan. He had done the hard work by getting to Lap 21 before stopping. Raikkonen pitted a lap later from a set of Supersofts, while Verstappen had stopped on Lap 15, so of the three drivers he was facing the toughest challenge to reach Lap 71 on a set of Soft tyres.

However several things happened. First Hamilton’s pit stop was two seconds slower than normal and he came out of the pits behind Rosberg. This wasn’t in the plan. He had tyres that were 11 laps fresher than Rosberg’s, but the German pulled a five second gap on him.

The Safety Car then came out for Vettel’s accident and that allowed Hamilton to close up on Rosberg. Although Hamilton said after the race that the Safety Car had hurt him, it was the opposite. It had helped him close the five seconds to Rosberg.

Paddy Lowe

However from this point, things started to unravel for Mercedes. First they began to doubt Hamilton’s soft tyres would make it to the finish. For once they had a clear lack of knowledge on which to base the strategy. Mercedes also calculated that if Rosberg continued on his two stop plan and Hamilton on his one stop, Rosberg would pit a second time and would lose 19 seconds of race time in the process but his lap times would then be over a second faster than Hamilton’s to the finish so he would catch him and easily pass him.

To try to keep things fair between them, Mercedes decided to switch Hamilton onto a similar plan to Rosberg, but to give him the chance of an undercut. However, the undercut would be tough to pull off as he would be moving onto the Soft tyre and the warm up on the out lap would be slower than on the SuperSofts, which Rosberg was compelled to take as he had no more soft tyres left.

On Lap 54 he pitted, but Hamilton made a small mistake on his out lap at Turn 2 and with the slow warm up of the tyres, his out lap was 1.4 seconds slower than Rosberg’s so Rosberg retained the track position. Hamilton had probably been brought in a lap too late.

Hamilton questioned why Rosberg had been put on the ‘faster’ tyre, but was told that the Soft was the better tyre for the last 17 laps. And that proved correct, as Rosberg’s SuperSofts were fading badly at the end.

Together with his brake issue, this meant that Rosberg was losing ground quickly at the end to Hamilton. And as Hamilton went to pass, they collided, with Rosberg taking the blame from the FIA Stewards for the collision as well as coming off worse in car damage, which meant he finished fourth.

Could Mercedes have played it differently? Leaving both cars out on one stop plans would have been very risky for Rosberg to reach the flag. And Hamilton would have been making a pass at the end of the race, when both cars would be on the limit of tyre life, so that sounded too messy.

In hindsight the one stop Hamilton was on would have turned out more favourably than they imagined, as the low degradation on the soft meant that Raikkonen easily made it to the finish on similar age tyres.

It was an uncomfortable case of risk and guesswork for Mercedes, highly unusual for them to have so little knowledge of the soft tyre and a bad situation was compounded by the fact that their drivers were not able to cope with converging strategies, which should have led to a good sporting battle, not the pair colliding and costing the team points. This must be especially painful for the whole team, given the effort Hamilton’s side of the garage went to in order to help repair Rosberg’s car after the accident on Saturday morning.

It was noticeable that Mercedes boss Toto Wolff sent Mercedes chief strategist James Vowles up onto the podium to collect the winner’s trophy – the team’s 40th Grand Prix victory of the hybrid turbo era – after such a difficult afternoon.

Max Verstappen
Verstappen performs a miracle – again

The most impressive drive of the day was undoubtedly Max Verstappen for Red Bull. The teenager again showed amazing control to drive at a good pace, keeping a faster Ferrari behind him to the flag on fresher tyres, to score his second podium finish.

Verstappen qualified behind his team mate Daniel Ricciardo again, but beat him at the start and once he got onto a set of soft tyres in the second stint and Sebastian Vettel had retired, he was in a position where he had nothing to lose once Raikkonen made his late first stop and came out behind him.

The thinking was – if the tyres started to fade, Raikkonen would pass him, but equally he could pit and finish behind the Finn anyway. So once the Safety Car intervened and gave them a couple of slow laps to cool the tyres down, Red Bull opted to roll the dice, even though nothing they had seen on Friday suggested that it was remotely possible to do 56 laps on a set of soft tyres.

Some have questioned Ferrari’s strategy here. Raikkonen, like Vettel, had started on supersofts after a cunning decision in qualifying, which gave them more options.

He took the tyres to Lap 22, but had Ferrari suspected that the race would end as it did, they would have pitted Raikkonen four or five laps earlier when he had a gap over Verstappen and could have pitted and retained track position over the Dutchman. But they clearly didn’t want to attempt such a long stint, which is why they executed the way they did and lost to the Red Bull.

Raikkonen’s other problem was that he didn’t have a new set of soft tyres, only a set that had done three laps. Still he should have been able to pass Verstappen. He came close on the final lap, but yellow flags meant he could not try a move. But he’d left it too late by then anyway.

Pascal Wehrlein

A day of opportunities
The top ten featured several names that have not had much opportunity to score points in recent races. As well as Jenson Button, who made the most of McLaren’s strategy planning on Friday and the cool temperatures on race day, one notable drive came from Pascal Wehrlein, who maximised the opportunity that presented itself for Manor and scored his first point in F1 with a 48 lap second stint on soft tyres.

Romain Grosjean was another notable performer in seventh place. He managed to stretch a set of supersoft tyres until the Lap 26 when we saw the Safety Car, which was triggered ironically by Vettel trying to extend his super softs! This gave Grosjean a chance to pit and save 10 seconds compared to a pit stop at racing speeds (reminiscent of the gamble the team made in Australia that also paid off). He then went to the finish on a set of softs in a one-stop strategy that put him ahead of Sainz, Bottas and Gutierrez.

The UBS Race Strategy Report is written by James Allen with input and data from several of the leading F1 teams’ strategists and from Pirelli.

Report Sm Rect bann

RACE HISTORY GRAPH, Kindly Supplied by Williams Martini Racing -Click to Enlarge

Illustrating the performance gaps between the cars during the race. A line which moves steeply upwards shows strong pace. Sharp drops indicate pit stops.

Look at the pace of the Mercedes compared to the rest – clearly faster and putting more load through the tyres as a result. Compare the Ferrari pace with Red Bull’s – this was quite a result for Verstappen. McLaren’s pace is better compared to Toro Rosso, for example, if you look at previous Strategy Reports and see the relative pace earlier in the season. McLaren’s improvement is clear to see.

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That race pace graphic is very insightful. Quite amazing to see Verstappen's consistency over such a mammoth stint.


Agree. MAX was driver of the day. His race craft in Austria was very solid.
Perhaps RIC needs to focus on the race rather than Quali setup. Being 1.3sec quicker in Quali counts for nothing on race day if your team mate out guns you.


James, in the first few races Max was relying on Dans setup. Do you know if this is still the case?


I missed the races in CAN and AZER while in France, but apparently Daniel Ricciardo suffered from severe graining problems with his tyres in both events, and it was the same in Austria. So that's 3 consecutive races the wooly haired Australian has had tyre degrading issues, and yet Max didn't.

Curious. Why is this? Are they running different downforce or differential levels? Seems odd one driver's set up is so much gentler on tyre consumption..........


A word/investigation on this from JA would be MUCH appreciated ...
... "for sure" 😉


I'm thinking along the same line as well. Until Ves arrived Ricciardo had been one of a kind driver in terms of tyre management over the past few years. I'm curious to find out what changed in set ups that causing more than his usual tyre deg.


CAN: Max passed Daniel at the start, Daniel said he was faster but once the team urged Max on he pulled a gap and Daniel didn't come close. After the pitstop Daniel locked up badly at the end of the straight and destroyed his tyres. Nothing to do with tyre wear.
AZER: Max and Daniel both had graining and had the same pit stop strategy. Daniel said he had issues with his brakes in the last few laps.

In this race I'm not sure if Daniel suffered from graining. James just says that Daniel couldn't make the tyres last, he doesn't mention graining. My feeling was that once Kimi passed Ricciardo he had nothing to lose, he could do a "free" pitstop, retain track position and at least be sure that he could make it to the end. In Daniel's defense, he pitted 1 lap earlier than Max so he would have to do one more stop but I think he suffered from more degradation anyway. Might not be a setup thing...


Yes, which makes it all the more strange Mercedes weren't apparently convinced Hamilton could do a shorter stint on the same tyre.
Red Bull didn't have any doubts.....


Thanks as always for the post race analysis. It is nice to see Mclaren making good progress. They have come a long way since their rekindled partnership with Honda.


James, or anyone, what is the driver line-up for the testing at Silverstone next week (12th and 13th)?
And is anyone going? Would love to meet the forum members!


I'm a bit surprised by so many drivers took risky stint lengths - but hey, sometimes taking a big risk can equal a big reward - like Max and even Kimi Raikkonen to a certain extent.

I thought there was a golden rule in racing: on any track where there has been rain, after it dries up all the rubber that had built up gets washed away making the track surface very raw and abrasive. Instead of rubber on rubber for better traction like there is throughout a completely dry weekend, after a rain shower there is just rubber on abrasive asphalt/tarmac causing severe degrading and graining. This is a "green" track.

The golden rule on a green track is with a heavy fuel load at the start don't abuse the tyres by either too much wheelspin, pushing too hard too soon on a heavy fuel tank or stay out on the circuit too long on tyres a driver started the race. If that is the case, why did Sebastian Vettel and even Lewis Hamilton push their luck on worn tyres on a heavy fuel load? Even accounting for cooler temps, the punishment the tyres took in the early stages with a heavy fuel load and an abrasive surface would still be considerable (as SV found out).

When young Max pitted for fresh tyres, he had the advantage that some of his fuel load had been consumed (less weight = less stress going through the tyres) and also by quarter distance the track would have "rubbered up" as 20 odd cars would lay down rubber on the racing line. Still, amazing achievement making the tyres durable and competitive for over 50 laps.


Didn't Mercedes have some idea of how long the Ultra-softs might last on a green cool track from Monaco this year?


Different data, doesn't correlate between the two tracks.


Completely different track, much more grippy surface, more fast corners


What puzzles me is why did Mercedes give Hamilton soft tire only 17 laps to go (almost all the fuel gone, car light etc), when they comfortably did 21 laps on used ultra soft at the beginning of the race.
I just don't buy into "Soft was the better tyre for the last 17 laps. And that proved correct...", it is only 17 laps on a short, well rubbered track, with light car.
I don't know if Hamilton had any new or used supersofts left, but this doesn't seem to be the fastest option for him at the end of the race (whatever the strategy report says).
It turned out to be okay for him, just on a luck and Rosberg's mistakes alone, not because it was faster option.


cause it was the only set of tyres he had, same for rosberg
this isn't like the Bridgestone days where used tyres were often better than fresh tyres


The compound choice would have been dictated by what tyres each driver had left. They would have put Rosberg on softs if he'd had some .
The puzzle to me was why HAM's first stint on softs was so much longer than the second. It seems like the change from one stop to two was made very late.


It was clear that in the last couple of laps the soft tyre was faster as it still offered decent grip, whereas Rosberg was getting loads of understeer with his supersofts that were past it.

So softs clearly had the advantage by the end.


I was lead to believe that Rosberg and Hamilton took the tyre they did at the last stop because they were the only one's they had left


Since the first pre season test the Mercs have been better on soft tyres compare to the other teams. Ferrari lost 3 races this year to the Mercs because of the extra stop so far this season. Based on the same trend, one might think that the Mercs aren't as confident on other compounds compare to the softs.


Not correct. If you cast your mind back to pre season testing, merc almost exclusively did their test running on Mediums and it was a HUGE amount of laps they did on them. It has been a surprise that they have dealt so well with the softer tyres but i think thats because we didnt see them run anything softer than softs until we got to monaco... Although i stand corrected if it was slightly earlier.


Not Sure Ham did risk it - he had a tyre offset to Raikkonen but didn't exactly sail on up the road. It was tyre preservation driving. Surprised Raikkonen didn't apply more pressure or go longer tbh. His tyre offset at the end would have been greater and he would likely have passed Verstappen.


Twice (Spain & Austria), Raikonnen has escorted Verstappen to the line. Would a more eager driver fare differently?


Yes, of course.
First of all Nico being up on front should be the first to stop to avoid a Lewis undercut.
As the leading Mercedes, it was Rosberg's right.

Secondly, when Mercedes decided to place different tires Options on Nico and Prime on Lewis, it was clear that either Lewis was gonna catch Nico or Nico would pull away even further.

That means the Mercedes tire strategy was made to cause a CHANGE.
Change means things [Nico 1st] were not at Mercedes liking.

And Toto has showed it punching the air on TV when Lewis got in front.


Looking back at the race and considering some comments fm the post.
Nico pit1 at lap 11
Lewis pit1 at lap 22
It is obvious that at lap 54 Nico had worse tires that Lewis and should be the 1st to make pit2.
As it happened it looked like Lewis was the one needing fresh tires.
The strange thing is Lewis didn't even selected the kind of tires and even complained about the different tires placed on his and Nico's car.
So I now I believe that the dinamics of pit2 [order and tire spec] was decided entirely by the Mercedes Box.

IMO the strategy guy - the same one that celebrated with Lewis on the podium - did it all to swap places and put Lewis on front of Nico.

Now how can Rosberg ever trust in the race strategist James Vowles?
English guy supporting an English driver?


Deweberis, I'm not sure why you think Lewis was in worse shape with the tyres at the end of the second stint, remember the "hammer time" radio message from the pit? Lewis had no trouble closing right up to Nico just prior to those stops. Remember it was a favourable strategy in the first stint that allowed Nico into the lead.


One can argue that Rosberg got the big undercut advantage at the first stop when he stopped first. Allowing Hamilton to stop first second time was only fair. Also, Rosberg was going onto the higher wearing supersofts so it wouldn't have been wise to pit earlier. As it was he ideally would have wanted to get a couple more laps done on the softs, given his pace at the end of the race.

And Toto fist slamming is obviously related to the crash.


Nico was 3rd - Kimi P2 - 7sec behind Lewis when he made his pit1 at lap11.
Lewis only make pit1 at lap22 and said after the race that his tires were still OK.

Lewis only didn't achieved his undercut on Nico after pit2 because he made a mistake in his out lap, going wide in one curve.
TV caught it.


Toto punching the desk had nothing to do with Lewis being in front. As a non Merc fan I'm 100% sure it was about the repeated collision between the two drivers. As much as I love seeing the squabble, I also understand that the team missing out on another 1-2 is hurtful, particularly to the hundreds of other employees involved apart from the two drivers.


I noticed Toto's reaction too!

I still think these tyres are all the same and that the only difference is the colour of the Pirelli logo on the side.
Ultrasoft are supposed to be super sticky but only last a handful of laps.. Pirelli say they will last 10 laps but Kimi goes 22 laps!
The softs should last 45 laps but Max goes 56.
We're half way through the season and the finest minds in the sport have no idea what to spect from the tyres. It's a joke and must be extremely frustrating for the teams.


Precisely Axel. This is a distinct theme of the season. Pirelli really need to maintain the distinction between the compounds or its just a farce.


Don't agree on both counts. Lewis is the leading car; Nico got the advantage in the first round to get ahead of other cars; you need to give it back to Lewis.. If anything, they should have given Lewis 2 laps to get ahead of Nico.

Toto punched because they touched not because Lewis took the lead.


Considering that Rosberg got an 11 lap undercut, if Mercedes really wanted to be fair, they would have given Lewis at least 5 laps on his last-stint softs to effect the undercut back on Rosberg. The softs are no good for a 1 lap undercut attempt, as they need to get up to temperature.

Too many things about their strategy calls simply do not add up.


Well we've seen the 2nd palced Merc driver get serviced first in pit-stops at other races. Besides isn't it first call, not first service? They can always decline the pit-stop. After all if it was a case of the 2nd placed driver can not be serviced before the lead driver (baring punctures/front wing etc..) Rosberg would have had to stay out until lap 22.


What is the point of Nikki Lauda? He just seems to stir things up now and Toto Wolf needs to take a leaf out of Brawns book.
Dominance won't last, so best not to unsettle one of the best drivers on the grid just when you're going to need his skills more than ever...
Lewis, Vettel, Alonso, Ricciardo... The best 4 drivers on the grid in my opinion. Followed by Perez, Hulkenberg and Verstappen.


What's the point of Nikki Lauda?
Well for starters, he is a shareholder in the F1 team (together with Toto Wolf). Need any other reason?


I like the fact that you said your opinion. Because there's no right or wrong answer to which driver a fan thinks is better than the other.

About Niki, it's good fun for me to hear about his honest answers regardless of you agree with him or not.

And finally about the tension between the two Mercedes drivers, this is the only thing keeping the championship interesting. Even though the races have been quite entertaining this year, the points table suggest utter Mercedes dominance. As a Lewis fan you might want to see him run away with the championship like last year, but as a F1 fan and for championship's sakes it's unhealthy.


@formula zero....yes, niki lauda can be quite fun and he has no reason to be anything else but truthful according to him. he certainly is not beholden to anyone. that is patently clear. his revelation re the childish antics of hamilton 'trashing' his hospitality suite made me laugh. he also opened up the truth about the rosberg/hamilton relationship simply by saying 'lewis lied'. all good fun at the end of the day.


@ KRB...the funniest thing is that mercedes are being shown up as complete fools when it comes down to the latest PR squeak! i mean it's simple really. just check the translation. mercedes should've kept their mouths shut and just state 'no comment' and ride it out. i have no reason to disbelieve that lauda actually said those things. what it does though is highlight that someone has been telling porkies and they've been exposed. obviously hamilton is not a happy fellow and mercedes are pandering to him in an attempt top rescue his impaired public persona, hahaha. what a joke eh?


Not sure how you can make the leap to say what it all suggests. To me it just shows that Hamilton was mad at himself for his bad qualifying session. No more than that.

Thought you were a fan of Occam's Razor, yet you create a whole back story?


... and is now backtracking on those comments. I have to wonder what the purpose of the comments were. You don't air your dirty laundry in public.

Mercedes' statement was silly.


Wrong. Rosberg was not the lead car, Lewis was, as he was on a one stop strategy. Meaning when Nico pitted, Lewis would retake the lead...

They pitted Lewis first for this reason.

On the face of it, it looks like Mercedes shafted Lewis, but let's be honest, if Vettel's tyre hadn't of exploded, they'd of stuck to the one stop.


no,nico was on tyres which had done 44 laps ,lewis was on tyres which had done 33 laps with only 17 laps to go,which means merc knew lewis tyres were good for atleast 11 more laps.after that he only had 6 more laps to do,so lewis could have easily made the one stop work.


I read somewhere that unusual tire were reported in Lewis car in practice sessions, that was not solved with setup change also. Merc were very cautious with that I think.


They could be, as James writes, they believed they would have lost the race to Rosberg on faster tyres. Whether that would have happened we'll never know but would have been interesting to watch.


Supersoft was the fastest new set available to Ros, as well as Soft for Ham - otherwise they've put soft on both I'm sure.


I thought rather than punching the air in celebration that Toto slammed his fist on the desk in frustration at what had happened, is that not the case?


I don't agree with your analysis at all. I tend to believe what Toto said.
Also, you had no problem with Nico getting an advantageous strategy vis-a-vis Lewis when Lewis was in front.
My read on Toto's reaction to the collision was fury, not delight.
You're welcome to your opinion tho', I just don't share it


Agreed. The thing is, there are a lot fans that follow a specific driver no matter who they drive for. Therefore, the opinions can be based on emotion, which I think is totally acceptable. But there fans that follow a team and when that team isn't in the running for championship, the fans shared the most unemotional observation. So, I think the journalists should ask Ferrari bosses about what they think went on with Mercedes. But reading this article, I'm with James Allen on this one.

More Danger Please

Punching the air for joy?!

I think its fairly clear he was raging and punched the desk in rage. I think he did well not to go Lewis in Baku post quali style and total the garage. There's always Silverstone I suppose!

Also they each only had those compounds left so Merc were, relatively, tied into the differing last stints before the weekend.

What a cracker!


You see what you want to see I guess.


As the leading Mercedes, it was Rosberg's right....

What about Hamilton's 'rights' when Rosberg was pitted early and first (even though he wasn't the lead Merc) and effectively allowed to perform an undercut over 12 laps?


Off the topic C63, have you ever posted any comment that's not obvious which driver you are a fan of? Don't worry, I like reading your comments, means you are passionate about a specific driver. I'm curious to know though. Also curious to know if you are a driver fan only or a team fan as well.

Maybe James can do an article about F1 fans. Particularly about driver fans vs team fans. I'd like to see how influential it is to the sport.


@Formual Zero
have you ever posted any comment that's not obvious which driver you are a fan of....

Hundreds 🙂 On this thread (at the time of writing) I have posted 6 comments and 3 would perhaps give you a clue as to which driver I am a fan of. How about you?

As for whether I'm a team or driver fan. I have always tended to follow the driver first and the team (they drive for) second. Having said that I have a bit of a soft spot for Williams and it cheers me up to see them doing well. I went on a tour of the Williams collection last year and it's quite incredible to see all those cars from all those championships under one roof. If you get a chance I would recommend anyone to go - there were people from Canada and Australia there when I went - they take great care of you and allow you up right beside the cars.


I would take issue with the idea that Rosberg was the quicker Mercedes driver all weekend, the fact is he wasn't quicker in qualifying and certainly wasn't in the race. I also think it is a big assumption to make that Rosberg would catch and pass Lewis easily if Hamilton had stayed on a two stopper. Nico's tyres would still have gone off at the end, and Lewis was showing no signs of tyre problems.
Here's what happened between the pair of them.
Lap 10, Lewis is 7.5 seconds clear of Rosberg when Nico pits for a 2.7 second stop.
Lap 21, Lewis pits for a 4.2 second stop and rejoins precisely 2 seconds behind Rosberg, so despite Nico having 11 laps on fresh rubber and Lewis being in maximum tyre conservation mode, Nico has gained 2 seconds on Lewis, 1.5 of that in the pits!
After the safety car Lewis seems to be tracking Nico, staying out of the dirty air and making no attempt to pass, why would he? Nico is only 2 seconds ahead and has to make one more stop, at this point of the race Lewis is effectively leading by 20 plus seconds.
Lap 53, Lewis pits and is stationary for 3.5 seconds. On his out lap he misses the apex at turn two and runs slightly wide, he does not leave the track (as Nico did earlier in the race), Lewis is 1 second clear of Ricciardo before turn two, later in the lap he is 1.6 seconds clear, so clearly the mistake didn't cost much time.
Lap 54, Nico pits and is stationary for a remarkable 2.3 seconds, with this 1.2 second gift he exits the pits 2 seconds ahead of Lewis.
Lewis sets fastest lap after fastest lap and catches Nico easily as the German's tyres grain badly in the closing stages. So Nico's total gain from pit stops was 2.7 seconds, without this gift he would not have rejoined ahead of Lewis after his second stop, and looking at the state of his right front tyre, there is no way he would have passed Lewis. Equally if Mercedes had done the right thing and pitted Nico on lap 56 or 57, not only would he have had some tyres left at the end, but there would have been no on track passing required between the two of them. This was an aggressive strategic move on Nico's car, a risky move designed purely for him to gain track position on Lewis, exactly the kind of risk Hamilton was not allowed to take in Mexico last year. Why do it? And why did Toto deny doing it after the race?
Lewis was only behind Nico because of poor pit stops and a late switch to a two stop strategy, if they had gone with a two stop from the beginning then Lewis would have won easily, and rightly so.


Would it not be more accurate to compare in lap a outlap times rather than purely the time it takes to change the tyre. There are critical issues with the timing of pitstops I believe. Are these times done manually or by a machine?
Not taking anything away from your post mind you. I just think in and out laps would be the only true indicators as to who had the better pit stop and what time was won or lost,


pitstop times are measured by the computer that handles all timing matters at races, this has been the case for a very long time as far as i know.

there's sensors that get drilled into the pit boxes that detect when a car enters and leaves it, so it's very accurate.
though I'm unsure if that methodology has changed over the years i do know that it used to be impossible to get pit timings in Monaco cause the drilling wasn't allowed as recently as 1997.

if there's any flaw in the system it's a lack of a thermal lense so we can see what the temp difference is between old and new tyres ?


The Grinch. Always happy to oblige, remember the outlap contains the stationary time as the Mercedes pit is past the start finish line in Austria.
1st stop, Nico in lap = 1m15.197s. Lewis in lap = 1m14.992s
Nico out lap = 1m29.742s, Lewis out lap =1m30.007s

2nd stop Nico in lap = 1m13.459s. Lewis in lap = 1m12.496s
Nico out lap= 1m26.506s. Lewis out lap= 1m27.968s


One of these days in going to trawl through all the practice data to show that there's virtually no correlation between who's faster between Hamilton/Rosberg in practice and who takes pole/wins the race. Using practice to determine who was "faster" is flawed at best, it's called "practice" for a reason!

Also, it's noteworthy that Mercedes abandoned their equal strategy treatment of the cars in this race, even though the cars were running 1st and 3rd. It's not like the situations where they've run counter strategies to get a car from the back of the grid up to the front, they were both racing for the win. Both Mercedes drivers and only the Mercedes drivers are fighting for the title, if Mercedes want to be fair they have to effectively keep them on the same strategy throughout, like they've done on the past. I'm not sure why their strategist got to go up on the podium afterwards, he cost the team a clear 1-2 as much as the drivers did!


Agree 100%. I remember back in Hungary 2014 they had the same problem with the 1 stop vs 2 stop, but you could forgive them for this as it was only the safety cars that brought Hamilton into play. whereas in Austria they really cocked up worrying far too much about the pace of the ferraris, 1 of which retired and the other clearly just racing for the final podium position! I watched in disbelief as they pitted Lewis a 2nd time. No way in 17 laps would Nico have caught up 20 seconds and actually passed Lewis on track. Worst merc decision since Monaco 2015


Andy Hart, Nico's lap times in the final stint really don't back up the idea that he would have been a second a lap faster than Lewis and would have passed him easily. It actually would have been 15 laps to make up an entire pit stop on Lewis, and then he would have to get by him of course, I really don't buy it.


Especially seeing as "they knew" the super soft tyre that Nico was going to change to was not going to be a good race tyre. That makes it even more unlikely he'd catch and pass Lewis! Nico also nearly took his brakes too failure pushing too hard whereas lewis managed his tyres + car the whole race. Like someone posted above; asking a driver to drive to a delta for half the race then switching the strategy is always gonna be a massive hinderence.

Can't believe what Mercedes did, they really do make some strange calls! I hope Lewis asked questions about this behind closed doors, I was surprised how chilled he was about it all after the race. I know it worked out better that he could have hoped for but they really stitched him up and made it difficult!

Not for the first time, I Remember last year at Abu dabhi they left Lewis out on worn tyres when he was initially 1.5 seconds behind Nico challenging. By the time they brought him in he was 15 or so seconds behind with 10 laps to go. I think they do it just to try keep them apart on track!

Ricki Sanguinetti



You conveniently forget that Nico post stopping on Lap 10 had to overtake a lot of slow cars - hence his pace wasn't there. In fact once he cleared them, he took close to 4 seconds in 2 laps prior to Lewis' pitstop.
Maybe Lewis tracking Nico was a problem - he potentially spoiled his 1 stop strategy?
Comparing Lewis's time to Ricci is meaning less - he is a slower car at that point. In fact you could have compared to a slower car and said he lost nothing.
The question is why did he lose more time in the pits? Was t crews mistake or his - I don't know - but that 4 seconds in 2 stops and that did make a difference.


Gravity, Actually after lap 13 Nico didn't have to overtake anyone, the graph above clearly shows only the two Red Bulls ahead of him and they both pitted before Nico had to pass them.
The lap time gain Nico had over Lewis between lap 13 and lap 20 are as follows. lap13 0.525s. Lap14 1.347s. Lap15 1.709. Lap16 1.001. Lap17 0.579s. Lap18 1.159s. Lap19 1.216s. Lap20 1.49s. Yes Nico is quicker as you would expect, but not that much quicker considering the huge tyre off set, Nico was only lapping a couple of tenths faster than Verstappen at this stage of the race, and Max was going to the end on his set!
The comparison with Ricciardo was used because he was directly behind Lewis and the gap back to Dan was broadcast on the TV feed. Yes The RB is a slower car, but the fact that Lewis pulled out 6 tenths in less than a lap inculding his error makes me think that the miatake couldn't have cost him that much. Lewis' out lap took him 1m30.077s, Nico's was 1m29.742s, so only 4 tenths between them, and Lewis' stop was much slower. The answer to who made the error in the pits is easy to answer, the mechanics couldn't get the left rear off, Lewis was bang on his marks.


Nico did have to clear traffic hence why he was definitely on a two stop (increased wear) I believe Mercedes split their strategy to cover Ferrari off. Problem is when they split strategy they will have to overtake each other at some point on track. Remember Hungary 2014? As for the pit stops Lewis hit his marks (both stops) perfectly. The slow time was down to the pit crew 100%


Andy, I think this was another case of Mercedes over estimating the threat from Ferrari, the Mercs had a clear advantage at this track, the only guy Lewis was racing was Nico, and they certainly helped Rosberg out a lot more than they helped Lewis!


I'm assuming there will be corrections before this just awaiting moderation, but Nico gained 8 seconds on Lewis over those 11 laps (excluding pit gains).


Shalan, my apologies I didn't make it clear in my original post, Nico made up the deficit plus a two second lead. I still believe Nico's pace wasn't that great on the soft tyre, with clear air, brand new tyres and 11 laps to play with, he should have been much quicker than Lewis, but without the pit stop blunder on Hamilton's car they would have been right on top of each other when Lh exited the pits.


Agreed. 8 seconds was my calculation also. At what point, while ROS was eating 8 seconds over 11 laps did Mercedes think - "maybe we should put Lewis on the same strategy, rather than have him lose track position"? They were either fast asleep, or intended it that way.


@TimW; thanks for your post, couldn't agree more with you. And I have to add that I'm really disappointed with James' claim that Rosberg has been quicker all weekend; huh, where did that come from? because he was faster in free practice??? Q2, Lewis was quicker. Q3, Lewis demolished Rosberg by 0.5s!
Lewis set the fastest lap of the race!

And the most serious of all, Rosberg should never have been in front of Lewis; Lewis was really stitched up strategy-wise. without this stitch-up, Rosberg would have been no-where near Lewis and the last lap collision would never have happened!!!


Don, yes I agree, they started Nico on the best strategy and Lewis on the second best. Even with this disadvantage Lewis would still have won without having to pass Rosberg on track, but they switched him to the third best strategy option, and the rest is history, a bit like Nico's front wing.....


Excellent....Yes, much is being made of Hamilton's outlap mistake. It cost him nothing. As for the risky strategy for Nico.......quite


Very, very well said. Bravo.
Mercedes have a hand on the scales here.
Has *anyone* put forth *any* reasonable explanation for the engine troubles Lewis has, out of ALL other Mercedes engines in the pitlane?. What are the odds of consecutive *varied* engine issues on Lewis's car? This is why he cannot afford the kind of own goal he had in Baku. If this goes close the wire Lewis loses this championship, not because Nico is smarter or because of a newfound "champion's aggressiveness", but it will be as a result of Toto/Lauda hands on scales.


Great mini analysis.


Agreed. Changing from a 1 stopper to a 2 stopper mid race is always a slower.


Agree completely!


well observed timw. the truth is bolder.


You have echoed my thoughts - well said.


Regarding Ferrari, what you didn't cover was the fact that Kimi was originally on 2 stopper it was obviously converted onto 1 stop. When was that decision made??
Vettel was on 1 stopper from the start, & he went longer than I'm bit worried whether they switched Kimi to 1 stopper after/during the SC?
It really made no sense to pit when Kimi did, if he was on 2 stopper at that point. If they made the switch before his first pits then its fine.
Would like some insight on that.


How is the Ferrari strategist still in a job?!

Ricki Sanguinetti

They have always sacrificed Kimi and when things don't go right for their lead driver, all eyes are turned on him as a deficient guy.
And he has sounded out coded message this week saying,he loves Silverstone!
Meaning? Do not sacrifice me to cover Vettel.


Kimi went to L22, what makes that an obvious 2 stopper?


What is the Pirelli response to Vettel's tyre failure? Debris I suppose


It's an "inbetweener" lap (and strategy) - not really the optimum time to pit for a 2 stopper, and a bit marginal for a 1 stopper. Too late to cover the early stoppers in the mid teens laps, and a bit too early so stretch out to a one stopper.

Having said that, history has proved staying out too long on a set of red/ultra soft tyres on the first fuel heavy stint was a mistake. Ask Sebastian Vettel........


Vettel went longer & he was on a 1 stopper & it made little sense for he was losing time to everyone (top 6) every lap he stayed out. What was he gaining by staying out?


Also, Why did Ferrari not try to cover RBR?? You say its longevity of the stint on soft tyres..but don't you think that they should have challenged Mercedes?? Kimi came out behind the Red bulls on a track that is difficult to pass, also his onboard camera clearly suggested that those RBRs had great traction out of the corners, which has always been their (RBRs) strength??
From being about 4 seconds behind Hamilton how did they manage to get him behind RBRs? how is that not a strategic blunder, they threw away the race completely.....& in your analysis you don' seem to suggests that.
Ferrari might not have won the race, but atleast shouldn't have thrown it away like that....They simply handed that on a justs doesn't make any sense that pit stop timings of Kimi.


Clearly the best chess players are NOT in the red team lately ... and it is hurting them more and more. Vettel managed to correct them in Baku ... but took it too far in Austria. Big shame, but still ... it does point out something 'bout the red team as I said. Hope it becomes clear to them now what to change ........


Yes Mercedes strategy seems all along to favour Rosberg.
They are trying so hard to give Rosberg every opportunity to win.
For some reason they are doing everything to hamper Lewis. From...
Bad and Slow Pit stops.
Dodgy Engines.
Resetting of engine modes without letting the driver know they'd changed them.
Swapping Mechanics over.
Team bosses playing the blame game siding with the German.
Showing support for Rosberg on Sunday only when Brundle showed Toto that Rosberg made no attempt to turn ! Toto sheepishly half heartedly saying Rosberg was at fault.
Lewis was way out ahead they drew in Rosberg so they could get a one two but then messed up the Pitstop (mmm!) for Lewis and Bobs your Uncle Rosberg is ahead of Lewis.
So we will see at Silverstone what amazing strategy they'll have for Rosberg and what
pick n mix one they'll have for Lewis.
Who knows maybe they'll another engine setting problem for Lewis.

Ricki Sanguinetti

Or a sudden BBW as in Baku,or change a part the will require a 5-10 grid penalty.I don't trust these guys any longer!
But l am hoping it rains in both qualy and race to see the chicken and the duckling do battle;unlike Monaco where there is no passing.


Hey Hugo, you're only allowed ONE MOVE to defend.

no Weaving (just a joke re your name, nothing to do with the race)
and no, I don't think they favour Lewis OR Nico


why are they paying hamilton twice as much?

Tornillo Amarillo

IMO Merc pays HAM twice as much:

1. To control HAM's car -Merc couldn't do it if HAM drives in other team-
2. To control his crew of mechanics
3. To control HAM's strategy in each race
4. To intend to get him happy anyway the results
5. (Auto-Mod).


My thoughts exactly.


This is one of the finest F1-sites on the web and I try to visit it on a daily basis. There are many good topics and comments from both an expertise (technical, regulations, history etc.) and good sense of humor point of view to keep things amusing and enjoyable to read.
Unfortunately, there’s more and more a tendency to “vulgarize” some topics like “Brits vs Germans”, team “conspiracy” not to say “sabotage” theories, real gutter press regarding (some) drivers and selling personal opinions as “facts”. We are all entitled to have an opinion but a few of these comments will do, not tons of them, because if I want to, I can read these “brainless” emotions on many other websites. I just hope we can keep the gold standard on JamesAllenonF1. Another site I can recommend is Michael Schmidt (Formula Schmidt) on Auto-Motor-und Sport but you need to master the German language. It’s neutral, unbiased with a lot of expertise available.
Austria was a great race and excellent advertising for F1. The right driver ultimately won despite a backfiring initial one-stop strategy (to cover Ferrari) and an uncooperative teammate…. Initially I put 75% of the “blame” to Rosberg but after seeing an amateur video footage from a different angle increased it to 95%. But I won’t crucify Rosberg. He paid a high enough price bearing in mind his free practice performance on Friday and his first 70 laps of the race. If he hadn’t defended (although clumsily) and gone for a second place, the F1-community would have crushed him even more.
I just hope Mercedes will let their drivers continue to race. Their advantage is still big enough to win both championships this year. They should not forget that they are also in the sport for brand enhancement purposes and based on the feedback I receive most people think it’s great that they let their drivers race each other. They are actually building a reputation as a “true racing brand”. If they are smart about this from a long term perspective they should continue on this path and avoid by imposing team orders to become potentially the most hated brand (also as a result of winning so many races).
There are apparently discussions going on to reactivate the old Österreichring i.e. a 1.9 km extension (old Westschleife) to the current Red Bull Ring.
Kudos to Button, Verstappen and Wehrlein.


Spot on!


I agree its a great site from the point of view of articles.
There are also some great contributors who seem to have extensive knowledge of the history and engineering aspects.

However the comments are sadly overwhelmed by the different fans of drivers, some of whom seem to think that if they post their view continually everyone else will convert to their celebrity worship.

I'm hoping James will introduce some sort of filter/ignore feature at a later date as I seem to struggle to skim over some of the crazier contributions.


Not exactly what you mean but ... that's one of the best things 'bout F1 I think ... you can enjoy it, like I do, even tho you're not realy fan of anything or anyone. I'm just always cheering for "the first time" for everyone or everything. I wanna see Werhlein win a GP in 2016 😀


I agree with this.

Great site with wonderful articles and some insighful comments, but having to wade through 100's of [Mod] posts (which seem to be ever increasing) is tiresome.


@ james...i wish you every success. i am not posting as much lately as it appears to all intents and purposes to be a 'quasi' hamilton fan club and anyone who ventures a differing opinion gets instant flaming. sorry but that's the way it is.


You sure it's not more because Rosberg was so clearly in the wrong in their incident, and that Ricciardo had a fairly anonymous race, plainly beaten by Max this round?

Or are you saying if Hamilton was the guilty party in the collision, that you wouldn't jump in gleefully?

Whereas TG went for the [Mod] approach, telling everyone that their eyes were deceiving them, it seems you went for the back-into-the-woodwork route. That was definitely the better option for those of a certain bent, so you've got some sense.


Please don't go kenneth, your reasoned, intelligent, logically bulletproof posts about all things Hamilton will be sorely missed ?


+1 kenneth
I reckon that a decent percentage of these fans are not F1 fans at all. It's gotten so bad that some want a coronial inquest into any race he either doesn't make pole or doesn't win. Do you see the outcry if his pitstop is 1 second longer than his team mate? Human error be damned, it's a conspiracy 🙂 In all honesty, the minority of Ham fans, the zealots, give the guy a bad name. I actually feel sorry for Lewis in a way.
As kenneth says James, good luck with it mate.


Glennb, to be fair there was quite a hoo har when Ricciardo didn't win the Monaco GP due to human error.


Kenneth, I don't think that's a fair assessment at all Kenneth. Lewis gets much more stick on here than any other driver, of course his supporterts will defend him from unfair criticism, just look at the comments trying to blame him for Sundays crash! I feel sure that if Ricciardo received such attacks you would have something to say about it, like it or not Lewis is one of the best guys out there, he is the reigning world champion and is bound to receive praise from time to time.


Totally agree TimW.
Lewis gets far more derogatory sideways comments.

Kenneth you are one the better posters (at times ?)... but you also like to light the litmus paper on the Brits and Lewis supporters.
When there is a long trail of negative comments about the Champion you are in there joining the negative comments. There is a difference in constructive criticism to the absolute drivel some postsers leave on JAF1 regarding Lewis.
So to use a saying from a classic Aussie 80s alternative comedy series "Let The Blood Run Free" 🙂 providing it's not full of spite or venom ?. Be a shame not to read some of your posts regarding The Pirelli Tyre dramas throughout the season.

Your statements as a subjective viewpoint regarding the quality of posts ..that's like saying most posters can do a handstand while playing the last post on a bugle!
No evidence to promote your pontificating . I assume you used a crystal ball to pull that generalisation.


@ BK Flamer
I have read your response maybe 6 times and can not grasp what you are going on about. Its like you are responding to someone elses post yet you label it for my attention. To be clear, I was directing my comments toward the minority zealot group of Ham worshippers, whom I don't believe are fans of the sport but instead live to defend the honour of their hero. I also started the post with "I reckon", which is to imply that the following is my opinion, not necessarily yours. The bugle reference was lost on me unfortunately. The crystal ball thing still has me scratching my head but I'm sure it means something to you. A crystal ball reference would indicate that I predicted something that will happen in the future. No, I just don't get it but thanks for your well thought out reply sir.

Yes it did cause quite a hoo har. I thought at the time, and still do, that it was a blunder of epic proportions but never thought the team screwed him intentionally. As an Australian I was actually a little embarrassed in the way Dan conducted himself after the race.


Why should you be embarrassed, I thought DC was right to be annoyed, he's an Aussie, and spoke from the heart.


GlennB, it was a real human emotion, a bit like Lewis the year before! I think the point is Dan has had two races where he was in contention for the win, Spain where a few silly conspiracy theories did pop up about the team favouring Max, and Monaco where human error cost him victory and his fans were not happy at all, compare that to Lewis who is always in contention for the win, and you have similar comments and reactions. It just happens more often for Lewis.


Well Said Kurt. I know exactly what you mean about all the Trolls on here.Its startingj to remind me of of the old BBC 606 Site.

In the interview I saw with Lauda, after the Race he Said Roseberg was clearly to blame.

Mr Allan, why is your Site such a nightmare to read on a mobile?


It's not

It is mobile responsive and works fine as far as we can see

What are experiencing?


When I turn the device, the comments don't fit on the screen. Also it's not possible expand the text by swiping withe two fingers.

It would be nice if the comments appeared directly under the article.

Many thanks.


You also can't zoom into the pictures.


You sometimes have to cut then hit to clip board. Then open and you can expand the photo.
In the old days if you set the website to Desktop settings you could expand the photos & the typing parameters.
The strategy reports it's easy you just press the image and it open up :-).


Personally I find the site too restricted from a mobile or tablet. The text is too small on a phone and can't be adjusted and we lose screen real estate thanks to the 'share' banner that won't go away. Maybe that is a Chrome browser feature?


It's very difficult to follow a thread on a mobile. i.e. to know which comment is in answer to which comment. It's just a layout thing.


Great for us spectators to 'let them race' but Mercedes want to ensure as many one two finishes as possible, as the greater number of constructors points means more of Bernies money!


greater number of constructors points means more of Bernies money!...

I stand to be corrected , but I don't believe that is right. Constructors winnings are paid on position in the championship not points, e.g. win by 1 point or 100 still get the same prize money. However, the entrance fee (if that is the correct term) charged by the FIA is $/point - so the greater the number of points in the previous season the more the next season entry costs.


Mercedes messed up.
They brought Rosberg into play and then messed up Lewis in the Pitstop. So Rosberg went in front. Dubious all the way. German team now favouring a German who spent 99% as a Mongolian. Dubious and one sided.


What!! Please, not now?
What Mongolian drivers are there in the grid by the way??


maybe Monégasque? (native or resident of Monaco)


Yes that's what I had keyed in. Think auto correct decide to depose the right spelling for Mongolian.
Monėgasque . Thank you for the correction. Have 'saved' the correct spelling. Cheers ?


Yes, 99%! Rosberg doesn't even live in Germany. He grew up and lives in Monaco! and he considers Monaco his home race! It's all very strange!


Just to add to the confusion he raced under the Finnish flag until he began his career in F1! Something of an identity/nationality crisis 🙂


C63, just to add even more to the confusion in Karting when the drivers would stand next to their countries flag, apparently Nico would always stand under the Monegasque one!


Now Germany are out of the Euros do you think Rosberg will start supporting France? If he gets a wriggle on I'm sure he could get a team shirt in time for Sundays final 🙂


Mercedes should have pitted Lewis before they pitted Rosberg. Lewis was way ahead all of a sudden Rosberg is in the play? Weird or What? Conclusion they wanted Rosberg ahead of Lewis? Shocker !!


It's a, no, don't go there.

It is baffling why Merc F1 left LH out (or he chose to stay out) on worn out ultra softs when he was losing 1 to 2 seconds a lap relative to the opposition who had pitted for fresh rubber. The combination of raw "green" track and a heavy fuel load would have put severe stress on the molten lava [ultra softs]. The opposition could take advantage of fresh tyres with the benefit of the circuit rubbering in, giving huge traction benefits.

"Ah but Lewis pitted at Monaco and made the ultrasofts last over 40 laps on a green track with the rubber washed away" - but that is a false equivalence, as when Hammy pitted at Monaco his fuel load would have been much lighter than the start in Austria, putting less weight [and stress] into the rubber.

IF he had pitted around the same time as everyone else, LH would have retained his position ahead of Rosberg, and the collision therefore wouldn't have happened, so Mercedes in a way have only got themselves to blame to a certain extent!


Gazboy, don't use the C word!!! It says at the top of the article that the pre race expectation was that everyone was in trouble with tyres, makes the decision to go with a one stop even more baffling doesn't it? I would have thought a two stop makes much more sense from pole than anywhere else.


lewis was looking after his tyres because he was supposed to be on a one was on a 2 stopper from the start,so was pushing hard.


They did one thing Mercedes.
They caused this trying to get Rosberg into a podium position. But what a rubbish pit stop for Lewis and a super fast one for Rosberg !!
X Files Mulder and Scully will be needed to untangle this one.


very hard for all those mechanics to coordinate themselves to achieve 2 seconds difference in pit stops don't you think?


Not being pro or contra any theory ... but just a thought ...

It takes a whole team to do a super fast stop ...
It only takes 1 guy to mess it up .................. or at least slow it down.

That said ... not thinking there were intentional things going on.


With HAM comfortably maintaining over 4 sec lead over his closest rials, there was no compelling reason for Mercedes to keep HAM out to 21 laps - worse, allowing ROS to erode his lead at more than 1 sec per lap, and to gain track position on HAM. Had they pitted HAM earlier and resorted to a 2 stop strategy while ROS was still 5 seconds behind, he would not have come out behind ROS at all, and there would be no chance of collision. Just another case of poor pit strategy, which invariably ruins HAM's race when he has the obvious advantage. When will Mercedes stop making these costly mistakes (pit/tire strategy, engine modes, and reliability)?


Yes, but Mercedes were first racing Ferrari and Red Bull, not themselves. It's perfectly normal to cover off both strategies to near enough guarantee the win.

If they would have pitted Lewis earlier just to cover off their own team, they could have gifted Kimi a decent chance at victory if the one stopper turned out to be better.

I'm a Hamilton fan and agree they played out unfortunately. But I can't in anyway fault them for maximising their chance of winning.


Ferrari and Red Bull we both struggling for pace as well - if you check the lap times, HAM was easily outpacing them, even with his well worn ultras - so he would have regained track position easily at their first stop. More importantly, it was clear the ROS was fastest on the softs, and therefore less risk for HAM if he went on to them. Track position is key in these situations, and for me, having the pole sitter blow a considerable lead on a strategy that was not necessary, is plain dumb. I agree that it worked out in the end, but that was pure luck - Perez' yellow would have thwarted HAM's last lap bid, had ROS not been so foolish!




Worked out well in the end. If the everything went in favour of HAM, ROS would have finished second and the points difference would have been less than what it is now and I am sure HAM will surely use this to his advantage like he did in 2014


Interesting read, thanks.
In hindsight a one-stop was better for Ham but during the race, this always seems obvious to me given the life he got out of the Ultras.
It was also said that it was highly unusual to have so little knowledge of the soft tyre but they had Ham’s feel and data during the race from other cars. I'm sure Ham would have felt he could do it.
I really do think there was more to the strategy conversion that just tyre uncertainty......


I thought so too; only explanation I had was why take a chance, it's a 1-2 with less risk by pitting again.


James, there are so many instances in Hamilton's race that make you question what Mercedes were thinking.

1. After the first stops he emerged 2.295s behind Rosberg. His pit stop wasn't 2.295s slower than usual, so he would have been behind Nico anyway. Mercedes left it too late to pit him, yet could see for 11 laps that Rosberg was closing him down.

2. They didn't need to switch Hamilton onto a two-stop. I can say this both at the time and with hindsight. As Hamilton came in for his second stop, Rosberg had completed 44/45 laps on identical set of Soft tyres, and his times were fine. For Hamilton to get to the end, he would need to have completed 49 laps. How Mercedes can say they were worried about tyre wear on Hamilton is a ridiculous statement, when the other car had managed almost the same distance.

3. Also, Mercedes have said that "Rosberg would have beaten Lewis on a two stop." But this just isn't true. Using Verstappen as reference. When Rosberg came to pit the second time, he was 16.5s ahead of Max. When he crossed the line to start the final lap (before the accident), it was 8.5s. If Hamilton had carried on his one stop he would have finished over 10s ahead of Rosberg, so why did Mercedes switch him?

4. The undercut for Hamilton was never going to work in only one lap. You can disregard his tiny mistake and slower stop, he still came out 1.8s behind Rosberg after his stop, which would not have been made up with a faster stop and clean outlap. Maybe he would have been close. But not ahead. For Mercedes to say they gave Hamilton an opportunity to undercut is ludicrous and deflects the blame they should receive thanks to their pathetic strategy.

Tornillo Amarillo

@Thomas, agree. I'd liked to read this comment before in first place because you have set a great tone of debate here, thank you.


Interesting points - all. One thing that was coming through on the US broadcast was that there was some concern for rain. If you want to throw them a bone, I think they may have left Lewis out too long while playing the rain game to potentially put him on inters if necessary. Then the rain subsides and they've screwed his track position on the two stop. This implies that they were already 2 stop committed at that point.


On 1 - Nico took 4 sec in just 2 laps - they possibly didn't anticipate that. On 2 - Nico had safety car to cool his tyres In between so that may impact to an extent. On 3 I didn't think so either, if anything, Lewis could have been little conservative instead of trackin Nico's pace. On 4, agree if the intention was to give him the advantage, should have given him 2 laps.


I was going to write my comment, but you just pointed out what I wanted to say, and in contrast to what james said that " rosberg on 2 stops would've caught and passed hamilton on 1 stop in the end" , I don't think that was the case, because in worse case scenario if hamilton's gap to max ramained the same after rosberg's 2nd stop ( which I think would've increased) still rosberg didn't have enough pace to catch him based on the graph above.


Seems Mercedes didn't cover their story properly as far too many smart people out there can see through it.
2) Yes - it was obvious Ham could have one-stopped. The story of caution is laughable given his recent excellent tyre management. As I said earlier, Red Bull had trust in Max so Merc should have trusted Ham.
4) Yes - hardly gave him a chance.
The other thing I find odd is that none of the pundits or press are going anywhere near this theory, despite many fans seeing straight through it


The way I see it is -

Lewis was leading the race comfortably. Nico pits early and starts to gain time with his tyre compound.

If you were running a fair operation, you would make sure that Lewis pits as late as possible whilst still being able to retain the lead from Nico. However, the team let Nico have track position, which he did not deserve.


Great post!

Also, doesn't it seem like a lot of the teams are making terrible strategy calls at the moment? I'm merely a long term viewer of F1, not a strategist, but every race I'm shouting at the TV 'What are you doing!'


Disagree regarding the slow pit stop and mistake on his out lap. He lost more than 1.8 seconds.




Further to point 2 Hamilton was 30Kgs lighter on fuel too.


Thomas, some good points there, basically if Mercedes had done anything different to what they did then Lewis wins easily. As you say Lewis was simply tracking Nico in the middle stint, not taking life out of his tyres and just waiting for Nico to pit, the decision to change his strategy nearly cost him the race. The one lap undercut really bothers me, in the article it says that Mercedes did this to be fair to Lewis, really?! It didn't seem very fair to me, remember Lewis was on the harder rubber and so wouldn't have the immediate performance available. Two or three laps would have been fair, Lewis regains the position the team's blunders cost him, and Nico doesn't have a completely shot right front tyre at the end of the race. Plus no collision and an easy one two of course....


Thank you, Thomas.
I felt compelled to comment for the first time ever, after being a lurker and admirer of JA on F1 for ages now. These Strategy Reports are awesome and massively insightful. But for the first time some of the items in here just don't stack up.

Your item 2 is correct - Merc at NO point 'needed' to switch HAM onto a 2-stop, it was clear before, during and after the race. They had Nico pushing 45 hard laps on the Soft (remember he was always going to 2-stop) and HAM would have needed only a total of 50 on the same tyre. HAM having driven 33 laps on it assuming for most of that stint he'd be doing a 1-stopper (ie. conserving).

That was Plan A and there was no reason to abandon it because ROS after his 2nd stop was likely to pass VES for 2nd anyway. Your point 3 mentions the timing involved -- HAM on a 1-stop should not have had much issue keeping ahead of ROS -- you can look at ROS pace on the 40+ laps old Soft to illustrate it quite easily. How is that lost on Mercedes and the commentators?

Truly the most bizarre strategy decisions I've seen and the result was dramatic and sort of expected. HAM never should have had to make that overtake on the track -- ROS could play 'catch me if you can' which you'd have expected from their grid positions in the first place!

Ashish Sharma

On a day with a lot of variables, I have to agree that the Mercedes strategists got everything right, and the team must be gutted to lose a 1-2...
With the amount of talk about Mercedes favoring the "German" Rosberg (and others sayin they are favoring the Multi-WDC Hamilton), I wonder if FIA should put in an observer (Like in 2007 with the Alonso/Mclaren issue) to ensure that all is fair and end this talk.


It's nothing to do with the FIA. If anything they must love this "war" as it generates interest in F1.
I'm on a conference at the moment and 40 guys all have an opinion on Lewis vs Nico even though it's clear that most of them just have a casual interest in F1.


I agree there needs to be a observer.


"On Lap 54 he pitted, but Hamilton made a small mistake on his out lap at Turn 2 and with the slow warm up of the tyres, his out lap was 1.4 seconds slower than Rosberg’s so Rosberg retained the track position. Hamilton had probably been brought in a lap too late."

1.2 seconds of that was due to a slower pitstop though, his mistake didn't cost him that much time. Even without the mistake and the slow pitstop they would have been neck and neck coming out of the pits.


You're right, so let's think why they opted for this route.

If they gave Lewis 2+ laps to try to undercut Nico, you'd imagine Nico would be pushing like hell to negate the undercut as soon as he sees Lewis pit. If we think back to Brazil 2014, Lewis tried the overcut on used tyres for two laps and consequently spun on the second lap. This would involve the same risk as that, albeit being a slightly different situation.

Do you think it would be worth risking what is clearly a valuable 1-2 to them, just to settle the order of it? They've not had a double podium (let alone a 1-2) since the 4th race of this season.

Even if my speculation is wrong, I'm sure they had reason for their actions.


Comparing both the out laps doesn't help. Lewis was 1 sec behind when he pitted. By undercutting you expect to gain on that 1 lap; but given Lewis was on softer tyre and the warmup time and add to that the mistake and slower stop, he couldn't pull it off. On a different track, we have seen undercutting help up to 3 sec deficit in just 1 lap.


I would like to congratulate Max on his second podium.. Again, a part has been mentioned above, but the only posts here are about Mercedes.. This kid did a great job, again.. And I have noticed that all the RIC fans are a bit quiet now, that always mentioned RIC to be a better qualifier.. He is, still is.. But what about racing, and what it's all about?


@ swiss...yes, you have a few points there. as one of ricciardo's most ardent supporters the arrival of verstappen has changed the whole atmosphere and red bull are now much more in focus. daniel has suffered a few problems and that has magnified the outcomes. we all know what they were so it's pointless to go over them again. as i have always said, verstappen is fast, tenacious and will be a hard pusher. daniel is no pushover either and he will be driving to his very best to try and stay ahead. to date i don't think that RB would be doing anything to exacerbate this but they want to see results and they will be maximising [no pun intended] individual potential at each and every race. a normal approach. each team has internal competition and verstappen will be every inch a tough competitor. that is how it should be and so long as they,RB, don't do anything underhand it will be great to watch. DR has a real fight on his hands.


Let us not forget Spain and Monaco where Ricciardo could have very well won.
One bad race and everybody started thrashing him, just like they did to Vettel in 2014.
Ricciardo is a quality driver and will bounce back.

Carlos Marques

"And it was varying strategies that led to the race’s main talking point, the last lap collision between the Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. Was it avoidable?"

Two points:

1- I don't think it is up to Mercedes to come-up with two wildly different strategies to ensure these two are never in vicinity of each other. The goal is to ensure both cars beat everyone else. It is up to Hamilton and Rosberg to not crash into each other; after all, they're the ones holding the steering wheel (do they still call it a steering wheel?)

2. How come this generation can't race side-by-side anymore? Senna/Prost, Nikki/Hunt, Schumacher/Hakkinen always managed to bring their cars home after some pretty intense this lawyer-generation decides that they have the right to be on a piece of track and proceed to ram the car next to them "because it is up to the other guy to hit the brakes".

Torchwood Mobile

Yeah, Senna/Prost should not be part of your Intact Cars Masterclass.


I think you'll find that Senna and Prost had some pretty notable collisions!


It all rings of Mercedes doing their strategy on the hoof. Plainly when they stopped HAM for the first time they were thinking of a 1 stop. With 50 odd laps to go you'd expect them to split over two sets of tyres not quite 1/2 and 1/2 but 33:17 is too long on the first set - maybe 5 or 6 laps too long. It would have made sense to pit him a few laps before ROS, ensure the undercut played out and then give ROS a shorter stint on the Super Soft .
It sounds like they had a fixed point where they wanted ROS to make his 2nd stop and only as that got close did they figure out he would probably catch HAM at the end (though the article casts doubt on whether it would have happened). Even if they had got HAM in front at the second stop, ROS would have been just behind on the faster tyre, so there was always going to be a point where the two were competing.
Really they should have spotted how the gap was closing between laps 10 and 20, and switched HAM to two stops then, or kept him on a 1 stop.
Easy to say after the event.


I think Mercedes should have race strategy for each driver as though they were in different teams. Too much talk of keeping it fair to determine if one/other/both should pit or not.


Fascinating insight as always James, so much rich information, my favourite tidbit

"This must be especially painful for the whole team, given the effort Hamilton’s side of the garage went to in order to help repair Rosberg’s car after the accident on Saturday morning."

Information like this, as well as what feels like. a behind the scenes view of the normally hidden world of the tacticians is fantastic reading


James - does Keke Rosberg give many interviews? I find it interesting that Nico has now been involved in a number of questionable moves (two in particular, this one and Monaco 'reversegate') not dissimilar to those Michael did in the past (though typically with more at stake), and if I recall Keke was an extremely harsh critic at the time.

I would be interested to hear if anyone has popped a microphone in front of him for his take on Nico's moves.


Yeah his dad called Schumacher a "cheap cheat" after Rascasse-gate. It's also not like Hakkinen was still in the game and Keke was trying to help his driver out. Can't remember how it affected young Rosberg in that session.


What about Spain when Hamilton successfully managed to take out both the drivers in the first lap? Not questionable enough?


Uh, let's not get revisionist now. The stewards called it a racing incident, and said that Hamilton’s attempted overtake was "reasonable" in the circumstances.

The thing is that if Rosberg doesn’t want Hamilton to get by, he won't be getting by. Anyone can ensure a car doesn’t get by if they don't want it to. Rosberg up 'til now relied on the stewards going easier on Merc-on-Merc contact.


He [Rosberg] was the faster Mercedes driver all weekend

I don't mean to nit pick - but that just isn't so. Rosberg was quicker on Friday but Hamilton was quicker on both Saturday and Sunday. How does that equate to Rosberg being the faster Mercedes driver all weekend?


Read the disclaimer at the bottom of the post - "with input and data from several teams' strategists and from Pirelli"

I don't make this stuff up you know!


JA, as with any journalist you are in a tough spot in that you want guaranteed access to those that you will need to be critical of from time to time.

I think it was clear that Lewis was faster. In the last stint Nico couldn't build a buffer, despite being on better tires and having some fortune passing traffic and Verstappen. What I heard was a 0.05/lap degradation difference between the soft and supersoft, with the supersoft starting 1 sec/lap faster. That certainly wasn't the case between Lewis and Nico in their last stints.

In any straight fight between them, Lewis is quicker.


I hope the Ferrari strategist doesn't give any input!


but lewis was looking after his tyres,nico wasnt,so comparing times is pointless.


was he looking after the tyres even after he lost the lead?


Yes he was, in that 2nd stint. Rosberg was scheduled to stop again, so Lewis just sat 2 secs behind.


If my comment offended you James, please accept my apologies - that was not my intention. I was merely questioning the conclusion that Rosberg was the faster Mercedes driver all weekend - as have numerous other posters.


Verstappen didn't pass him at the start but he overtook Daniel at the end of the first or second lap without DRS with a superb manouvre. You can find it on youtube taken from vettels camera.

(Somehow the director likes to show the start 5 times instead of ontrack action)


James, you mention Mercedes gave Lewis a undercut. This was 1 lap, rather pointless don't you think.

Also you mention brake issues for Rosberg, how come when ever this happens Rosberg never makes mention of it, don't you think they are making things up.


Sorry to double dip on this, but there are a few things bothering me about this article. Surely the big story of the strategic element of the race is how comprehensively screwed Lewis was by Mercedes? The guy did nothing wrong at all and ended up losing track position to his team mate, and nearly the race win. Nico did nothing to deserve the lead, he failed to make use of the fresh rubber between laps 10 and 21, he failed to pull away from Hamilton in the middle stint, he failed to manage the brand new super soft tyres over a 17 lap stint at the end with a low fuel load, when Lewis managed 21 laps on a used set of ultra softs with a full tank of gas! Then of course he has a total meltdown when it becomes clear he is about to lose the lead he didn't deserve, and deliberately collides with his team mate. I don't think we need to dress the incident up as a "collision between the two Mercedes drivers" Nico tried and failed to take Lewis out of the race.
The strategic options for Mercedes were stay on a one stop, Lewis wins easily. The soft tyres would easily cover that distance, Lewis was clearly tracking Nico in the middle stint and no way Nico would have made up a pit stop on him in the 18 laps remaining, even at the one second a lap quoted, (where does this figure come from by the way?) and ignoring Nico's poor tyre management in the final stint, there is no way he has enough laps to catch and pass Lewis.
If Mercedes had gone with the two stop strategy that was predicted to be quicker per race, then Lewis pits on lap 10 with a seven second lead (likely more as he wouldn't have been conserving those ultras) and even with Bozo and Cocoa doing the left rear comes out comfortably ahead of Nico. He would then have been at least as quick as Nico in the middle stint (I'm being generous to Rosberg) and would have had strategic priority at the final stops, so no chance of an undercut from Nico. The final stint would have played out as it did but with Lewis in front, Lewis quicker on the harder tyres and Nico destroying his left front.


But if Nico was so much slower and Hamilton so much faster how come Nico got into the lead and led most of the race when Lewis had started from pole and Nico from 6th?
Nico tried and failed to push Hamilton off the track. That is clear. But I would forgive him the move if I were a team principle.
Hamilton has, on too many occasions, been far too aggressive in his overtake manoeuvres on Rosberg and others. He has often forced his way past and relied on the other driver to yield. A bit like Senna and Schumacher used to do. I for one don't like that kind of racing.
Rosberg will have been told by someone close to him that he cannot be bullied any more and must do the same. He has, in his mind, been made a fool of once too often by Hamilton and has decided enough is enough. Hamilton realises this and is playing it since Rosberg appears to lack the skills to pull the defence moves off.


The Grinch, Nico got ahead of Lewis after the first stop because Mercedes pitted him on lap 10 for new tyres and left Lewis out for another 11 laps on very worn tyres. This increased performance on Nico's car in addition to the much slower pit stop for Lewis brought Nico out in the lead. If Mercedes had pitted both drivers on lap 10 or 11 then there is no way Nico would have been ahead.
I'm afraid I have to disagree on how I would react if I was Nico's team principle, I would be apoplectic with rage to be honest, as for the Lewis being aggresive, this is considered a good thing in F1. The incidents I guess you are referring to that took place in Austin and Spa last year and Canada this year were all within the rules of the sport, this is why the stewards didn't even investigate, let alone apply a penalty. There is a clear difference between being aggressive and deliberately causing a collision.


Any advantage Hamilton had due to slow pit stops is nullified by the safety car which wiped out Rosberg's lead. Also Hamilton made a mistake in his outlap costing him a chance to undercut Rosberg after 2nd pit stop.

If anybody should complain, its Rosberg. He had to take grid penalty because of the suspension failure in practice session and a break by wire failure during the race. Rosberg was the faster driver in Austria. Hamilton is really lucky that he won this race.


Would that be the suspension failure which occurred as he drove over the rumble strips that were installed to try and ensure the drivers respected track limits?


Rohind, surely disadvantage? Without the slow first stop Lewis would have been much closer to Nico when he exited the pits, maybe even in striking distance, who knows? Obviously the second stops happened after the safety car and so were not affected by it, Lewis lost 1.2 seconds to Nico when he needed it the most. probably not enough to bring him out ahead of Nico after the stop, but it is still 1.2 seconds that Lewis had to make up on his team mate in the limited number of laps remaining. The main point is of course that it shouldn't have come down to messy stops by the Mercedes pit crew, Nico was only ever in the lead because of strategic errors by the Mercedes pit wall.


Don't apologise - it needs to be said.
I too am disappointed the media are dressing it up as "a collision between the two drivers".
It's a blatant ram!
Mercedes have screwed up big time. No one believes them and everyone can see through it.
They now need to repeat the process of issuing statements that the drivers are being given equal treatment, except this time ever fewer people will believe them.
Nico will win the WDC this year alright, but no one in their right mind will recognise it.


Martin, I still don't believe Mercedes are deliberately hampering Lewis, I think it is a mixture of bad luck and perhaps an over eagerness to help Nico. I also don't agree that Rosberg will win the championship this year, the best man will win, I have no doubt.


"he failed to manage the brand new super soft tyres over a 17 lap stint at the end with a low fuel load"

I don't think it's that simple, Tim. These tyres are totally unpredictable, with temperature/track temperature largely dictating whether they work or not. The whole tyre range seems to have microscopic operating windows and clearly on Sunday the best tyre by far was the yellow marked Soft tyre.

In fact the Soft tyre seems to be the most usable of the whole range and the least sensitive to temperatures based on the evidence of the season so far.


NickH, a fair point, the soft was the preferred tyre, and Nico didn't know this when he made his selection, and no doubt looking after the supersofts was difficult, but Nico is supposed to be one of the best drivers in the world and surely if Lewis can do 21 laps on used ultras with a full tank, then Nico should be able to manage 16 on fumes?
Racier tyres promised for next year, hopefully no more microscopic operating windows.


'then Nico should be able to manage 16 on fumes?'

I agree, I couldn't believe how bad his tyres looked given the lack of fuel in the car and rubbered in track. I think this just highlights the thermal sensitivity of the tyres.

'Racier tyres promised for next year, hopefully no more microscopic operating windows.'

We all live in hope.


NickH, "We all live in hope." Spoken with the jaded manner of someone who has been promised much and had little delivered from Pirelli.....


I agree. I feel the same about how Ferrari screwed Vettel and Kimi... again!


Agree @Red Rob
this was forcefully put by Martin Brundle in his race commentary and later assessment.
By contrast, we find no hint of that in James's own assessment here. What we find is: Kimi failed AGAIN ....


I then the article covers Hamilton's situation more than adequately


Ok James, fair enough, but I do think the answer to the wuestion in the header, "Did Mercedes strategy decisions lead to Hamilton Rosberg collision?" Is a resounding yes. They had three strategic options on Lewis' car - one stop, two stop, or start on a one and change to a two, the first two doesn't give Nico the lead at any point in the race, only the third gives him any chance of winning, and that's what they went for.


James, what are your thoughts on the collision? I thought the penalty was very leaniant. Do you expect Mercedez to change there free to race approach?

Stephen Taylor

James in hindsight might it have been to bring one extra set of soft tyres considering Kimi had no new sets on race day . James do you also think Kimi can be too conservative when it comes too wheel to wheel / close combat?. According to Kimi he struggled with traction and turbulence in slow corners just like in Spain.


Erm, you state Rosberg was faster all weekend. Who was on pole?


Did they contest for pole in dry conditions? Honestly


They was on track at the same time, were they not??
Nico come in just after Lewis I think. Correct me if I'm wrong.


What does it matter if conditions were dry or wet? F1 isn't a dry-weather-only sport, the drivers have to cope with all sorts of conditions over the course of a season.

Anyway, on a drying track like there was in Q3, the last man over the finish line will have the advantage because he gets to do a lap on the driest track. ROS crossed the line after HAM (so he had the advantage of a drier track) yet he was half a second slower. It's inconceivable that anyone could make an argument that ROS was faster than HAM in qualifying.


What cost Raikkonen was not only the strategy, but also how slow Ricciardo was compared to Verstappen. Why was Ricciardo so much slower than Verstappen, James?
Verstappen had pulled about 7 seconds on Ricciardo by the time Kimi got by. The Ferrari was clearly pretty quick though, illustrated by the times he was doing on old tyres compared to the Mercs.


Ricciardo has pretty much admitted that his setup was wrong for optimal tire management. DRic is one of the best at it, so I believe him. He said the window is very small to get the best speed & tire life combo. Again current F1 is too much about the tires.

Verstappen won't beat him at Silverstone.


@KRB, according to a recent article on, Ricciardo says he doesn't really know why he couldn't keep up and that the setups were pretty much the same. Given how little experience Verstappen has with the car, the more remarkable it is that he can manage the tyres so well, already showing that in his first race with RBR.


Well Ricciardo definitely needs to beat Max at Silverstone, otherwise his season isn't looking so rosy.


@NickH, this was rather surprising indeed. Seems like Verstappen (up to now) does better work on the tyres, which also appeared to be the case in Baku, Montreal, and Barcelona. Difference in pace was still surprising - but remember Kvyat vs Ricciardo on the last stint of the Chinese grand prix. Ricciardo was much faster. Could be that the Red Bull is rather sensitive when it comes to tyre management. Nevertheless, I think the Austrian GP showed that Max's win in Spain was not merely something gifted to him, and it is not at all certain that Ricciardo could have managed the same given the same strategy. Probably this is what James hinted at in this strategy report, interesting as always!


'Seems like Verstappen (up to now) does better work on the tyres'

MV has certainly been very impressive in that regard, so far. DR will be desperate to regain some momentum at Silverstone. If Max beats him again Ricciardo's season will have taken a serious U-turn after such a good start.


This information certainly makes the Lewis Nico situation seem much clearer.
However the Max factor is super impressive,I read a great article on his driving style in a F1 magazine a couple of months ago and it really helps understand why Max can make the types last as he does.
I kinda suspect that maybe Vettels tyre issue was more than just type wear?
Anyone know anything more on this?


If you have drivers who are in a position to fight for the ultimate prize, it is only natural that these drivers would want to race hard either defending or attacking to finish the race in the highest position possible. In the case of the Mercedes drivers it's immaterial who is to blame because ultimately it produced an exciting race. What I find depressing are the bosses at Mercedes coming out so soon after the race has ended to offer their angry comments and threats calling their drivers 'brainless' and apportion blame without waiting to fully analyse and understand the circumstances that led to their coming together. With people in such high position, surely they should know that you do not share your comments so publicly whilst angry. You wait until you've calmed down and then discuss it in private before you make your decision public. This is not the first time that they have done this either. Ross Brawn would never have handled it this way


Though a long time follower of F1, I don't have the knowledge to comment directly on team strategy. That said, something really weird seems to be going on with Mercedes this season! Reader comments across a wide range of sites give the impression of a Macbeth-type situation in that. Conspiracy theories, favouritism, et cetera: isn't that bad for the brand?


"As Rosberg ...... He was the faster Mercedes driver all weekend, but was having to make up ground after the suspension failure"

Did you not watch quali James?


Yes but take it from me it's true


was lewis the fastest man all weekend in baku then?


Now you already know deep down what the answer to that question would be.


Kimi was also screwed by yellow flags during his in lap too, hence coming out behind the Red Bull. A tad unlucky.


There has been a worrying trend in recent years of certain drivers on the grid deliberately running deep when passing or defending from the inside line in the hope it prevents the outside car from performing a successful undercut.
Whilst this move maybe within the rules it certainly isn't very sportsman like and near borders on cheating . It's become more prevelent and is a move being copied by the youngsters in the lesser Formulas.
You see it every year at turn 1 in Bahrain as well as at Belgium, Montreal and Austria to name a few.
Ultimately, that need by Nico to run Lewis deep instead of just defending through the normal racing line is what cost him a guranteed podium. I think Hamilton realized what was happening and eventually turned in out of anger and frustration himself, almost like he was saying to Rosberg " Hey f#£W&t , you seriously can't run me any deeper."
This article also says it's the second time in five races they have collided when it's the third. Montreal was an avoidable collision no different to Spain and Austria .
I highly suspect one of them won't be at Mercedes next year.


Sarsippious, I don't see how they can continue with the current line up either, my (fantasy) prediction. Rosberg to McLaren and Fernando to Mercedes. Perez to Ferrari and Wehrlein to replace him at Force India. Button to Williams replaced by Stoffel at McLaren. Adios to Kimi and Felipe.


TimW, could the fact Rosberg hasn't ( as far as I'm aware ) signed his contract extension at Mercedes be an indication that he maybe trying to keep his options open considering the many still unfinalised line -ups for next season?
I can't see Alonso going back to the scuderia ( that bridge was well and truly burned ) and Perez just doesn't seemed to have that X factor they seem to crave.
With Ric locked in at Redbull now it wouldn't come as a massive surprise to me if Rosberg decides to leave the silver arrows for the prancing horse.
Maybe Lewis comes to an agreement with Merc and he himself lands there.
I think Fernando stays put and has Stoffel beside him as you mentioned.
See Perez remaining for another season with FI and agree Kimi and Massa retiring from F1 albeit somewhat forced.
Expect this will become more and more intriguing as the season unfolds.


Sarsippious, thinking about it again, if Fernando could get himself into Merc (Toto did bring it up remember) and Jenson goes to Williams, then because of the Champion clause in McLaren's Honda contract, then they would have to go for Kimi....


Sarsippious, I seem to remember that McLaren's deal with Honda involves a former world champion being one of the drivers so Rosberg/Vandoorne wouldn't work, I do think Nico would be a good fit for Ron's team though, he would fit in well with the McLaren culture and he has time to wait for Honda to come good. Fernando to Mercedes is unlikely, but I would love to see him go there. Nico could go to Ferrari, but that means two German drivers (unless Nico decides to be Finnish again) and maybe his antics in Austria have made him less attractive to potential employers? Ferrari might go for Perez, I guess it depends on what sort of partner they want for Seb, can you imagine the reaction at the Mexican GP if Checo turned up in a Ferarri? The fans went crazy last year anyway, if he had a chance of winning it would be amazing to see.


I feel that the type of "team orders" that Mercedes could apply will be things like making the drivers have the same amount of each type of tyre, not necessarily on track team orders.


Drivers are employees of the race team. Constructor points are the only thing that matter for the team. Ergo, you play by team rules or you go somewhere else.


But this isn't in line with what the consumer or sponsers want.

No entertainment = No F1


Thanks James for the analysis. Few questions though.
1. Why was Lewis's stop slower? Is it pit crews mistake or did he not stop accurately in the box? We have seen this quite regularly now.
2. Toto did mention that 1 stop became marginal for Lewis which is why they switched him to 2 stop. How much of it is because he pushed too hard to keep up with Nico post safety car? Should he have drove his race?
3. Also, given Lewis had 2 sets of soft, he could have stopped couple of laps earlier however, need to check if he would have come behind Kimi then.
4. I said that then will say it now - Ricci on one stop wouldn't have won Spain; He didn't lose it just on strategy. Max's race pace is strong. Analysis on the car setup will be nice! Why is Ricci significantly quicker in quali while slower in race trim?


Yes. There is a conspiracy hatching inside Mercedes to defeat and overthrow Hamilton which is why they are paying him 30 Million Euros every year.


"but the German pulled a five second gap on him." Yes, and as noted, Rosberg was supposed to drive as fast as possible on a 2-stop strategy, while Lewis was managing his tires to last to the finish, so presumably was driving to a lap time.

"it was the opposite. It had helped him close the five seconds to Rosberg." That time saving is obvious, but perhaps Lewis was referring to something else? Maybe the softs don't like to be heated, cooled and heated again?

"Hamilton made a small mistake on his out lap at Turn 2 and with the slow warm up of the tyres, his out lap was 1.4 seconds slower than Rosberg’s" Wasn't Lewis' stop 1.2 secs slower, so the outlap error only added a couple tenths. And, as you note, the Softs aren't going to be as fast as the SuperSofts on their outlap.

"Rosberg’s SuperSofts were fading badly at the end." Was it the tires or was it the brakes that were fading badly at the end?

"Leaving both cars out on one stop plans would have been very risky for Rosberg to reach the flag" Not a really viable option, since as you note, Rosberg was committed to a 2-stop from the beginning. Hard to change to a 1-stop.

"In hindsight the one stop Hamilton was on would have turned out more favourably than they imagined, as the low degradation on the soft meant that Raikkonen easily made it to the finish on similar age tyres." Seems like quite a few teams made the correct call when Merc did not. Perhaps you're being too kind to Merc's strategists?

"compounded by the fact that their drivers were not able to cope with converging strategies, which should have led to a good sporting battle, not the pair colliding and costing the team points. This must be especially painful for the whole team, given the effort Hamilton’s side of the garage went to in order to help repair Rosberg’s car after the accident on Saturday morning." Everyone seemed to play fair, except for Nico who seemed to want to force Lewis into contact, to prove some legal point in his mind. Probably something Toto said back in Montreal about the inside driver dictating the line. Nico did seem to refer to that in his post-race interview.

The most interesting thing I got out of the race was that the notable drives were all by drivers, Button, Verstappen, Grosjean, and Wehrlein who stretched their Soft tires for over 45 laps to finish the race.


The recurring line from everyone this year seems to be "the tyres lasted a lot longer than anyone thought they would". At what point in the season is everyone just going to settle into a 1 stop strategy, no matter how unworkable it initially seems...


True - but Ricciardo for example couldn't do it and he's good on the tyres


" He's good on the tyres"- This is no something of a permanent trait. Is it? Especially since the cars and tyres change every year. We saw how good Vettel was in 2013 with tyre management, but struggled with tyres in 2014 compared to Ricciardo.


That's the highlight for me in this race.
Does Max have something the others don't, an extra feel for the tyre wear and a greater ability to constantly adjust his driving?


Lets hope if Mercedes are favouring Nico that it continues for the rest of the season. If the last 2 years have taught us anything its Hamilton has the edge on Nico in most areas. As a neither a fan of Lewis or Nico I wanna see a close battle up front and until the other teams catch up giving Nico a little head start seems like a good idea to me.


Unless Ferrari fires their strategist I dont think they have a hope in hell of winning a race this year. Pitting Kimi on L22 put him in no man's land. They should have either kept him out, or tried to pit him earlier to possibly undercut Hamilton. But instead they get flustered and pit him as soon as Hamilton pits, thereby losing track positions to both the redbulls. Neither did they cover RBR, nor did they gain anything on Hamilton.
Their strategy recently has been very reactionary. Its unfortunate, cause I just dont think their results show how good their car actually is. And it's robbing us of a proper fight between the top 2 teams. While VES is a very good driver, if Ferrari didnt screw their strategy up, in both instances Kimi would have been ahead, and both Kimi n Seb could've won a couple of races.


Yes pretty spot on Ash re Ferrari strategist this year.


Hi James,

Somewhere I read that during the overtaking maneuver vs his team mate on the first laps, Max V. used the entire electrical charge of the battery.

I thought the power accumulated by the battery is harvested and managed intelligently by the PU's software system. Perhaps is to be re-programmed in respect to any particular track's layout. e.g. using of more charge at the acceleration point, especially at the starting stage of a long straight, during uphill etc.

But it was interesting to hear regarding the usage of electrical charge. Do the pilots have the access for the usage of battery power? (as it was in the era of KERS)


good point, is it also anything to do with Tyre management.


Wasn't telling Lewis on the radio that soft would be better at the end compared to Rosberg a forbidden coded strategy help to attack at the last rounds?


Hi James, I'm getting replies to me comments emailed through, but when I click the link, it only brings me to the article and not directly to the comment.
It used to take you to the comment, as I'm sure you know, finding a specific comment in amongst 500 is difficult. Still love the new format.


@ dan...the same here. has been doing that for quite a while now. terribly frustrating and many times i simply can't be bothered to search hundreds of comments to respond to. i do feel rather guilty as those people who bother to respond to one of my posts certainly warrant either an acknowledgement or a decent reply. that is, that excludes those posters who i purposely don't bother responding to.


Mercedes have a chance to fix things. It is a perfect opportunity. I am sure they are considering it. What are the facts:

1. current pilots cannot co exist peacefully.
2. rosberg 'will stop at nothing' to get the title. ie he will continue driving dirty. (he deliberately did not turn the wheel to make the turn and caused the incident)
3. rosberg is the inferior pilot and makes a lot of mistakes when under pressure.
4. Werhlein is great talent and a lot cheaper than Rosberg.
5. Rosberg's contract expires end of 2016.
6. Rosberg driving tactics are not up to par with Mercedes philosophy

Isn't it obvious that Mercedes should not sign Ros and go for Pascal...


still there will be conspiracy theories. 🙂


I'm convinced that the only problem with what Nico did is that it was not well disguised . At that corner on that track it was just too obvious. The first lap issues are often in a melee with high fuel so it's easier to blame other factors. I have no agenda against either driver or Mercedes . I just think there was little camouflage for nico to pull off a bit of karmic justice to Lewis.


I really hope next time they collide (LH & NR) they take each other out so someone else can win the race. And by the way, check this, quite interesting insight from NL:


In my personal view the battle between Lewis and Nico is fascinating. Lewis is the racer and dares to trust his skills and experience during the race. Nico, I have always found more calculated. and he clearly struggled to improvise and act on conditions during the race. Let's face Lewis has trumped Nico several times during the races in the past. I think that is a quality of Lewis. Nico is now trying to do the same with Lewis and is clearly less good at that. By the refusal of Lewis to avoid a collision at all costs with his teammate Lewis gives a signal for the coming season .He is not afraid to take on the fight and will not accept to be driven off the track. It was a matter of waiting until one of the drivers of Mercedes would show this , it does not surprise me that Lewis is the one.Compare this with the situation at RBR . Ricciardo is a complete and fast driver. He let Vettel sweat in the past. He now faces a 18 -year-old teammate . Who wins his first race in the RBR . You can discuss about the strategy of the team, but it is difficult to sustain denying that Max seems to be a genius in the field with tire management combined with his race pace. Max already has the nickname "tyre-whisperer". Max took Daniel in Austria with a brilliant overtaking maneuver on the limit , but without damage and without contact. Once the drivers do battle at RBR also through "do or die actions" it will also appear at RBR who has the most talent to deal with this pressure during the race and who is wisest to enforce the number 1 position in the team.

At Mercedes I put my cards on Lewis


Great report and analysis!

Tornillo Amarillo

Rosberg was losing ground quickly at the end to Hamilton.

How was ROS losing ground, what were the lap times for both? Is it tyres or traffic?


I think saying Kimi's tires were much newer than Max's is a stretch. As James goes on to explain Kimi's were scrubbed and had 3 laps on them which means they were only 5 laps fresher than Max's over all since Max had a new set on his car. I would have liked to see Kimi get by Max, but it was not like he had a new set of super softs on his car. He was going much quicker than Max in the end on tires that were not that much newer.


Yeah, I think Merc. strategy definitely played a big part in it, primarily leaving Hamilton out too long on the ultra soft on his first stop, but then they couldn't have foreseen two slow pit stops for Hamilton and they cant control things like the bad out lap on his first stop.

Credit where credit is due though, Nico made some really impressive time on his very long stint on softs in the middle bit of the race. That was instrumental in him even being in with a chance of pulling off the undercut when they pitted Hamilton for his second stop.

My question for James is, why did Mercedes put Rosberg on the super softs at the end. Most of the commentators were pointing out how it would put him at huge pace disadvantage in the closing laps of the race and even from the start of the stint he was having trouble. So again, if they really wanted the undercut to work then why change things up when he clearly had dominant performance during his middle stint on the softs? Did he just not have a set left?


Great report (as usual, thanks James).
1. Mercedes is managing this championship.
2. The suggestion that Nico was faster all weekend (except of course... on track, in the race), can easily be managed by the team; of course, in the race, under the spotlight, it is much more difficult to do discretely).
3. I'd like to write, once again, that I do NOT decry Rosberg's actions, he's got to do everything he can get away with, to try to win the championship (while one might say, he didn't get away with crashing into Hamilton on the last lap, look again, since it had no impact on his points won).
4. If you are Mercedes management, and the one (better on-track) driver, runs away with the championship, the fans, and PAYING ADVERTISERs would be fleeing faster than the bankers out of London, wouldn't they? Why wouldn't you do everything in your power to preserve the only competition in the category? (Of course you would!) The only problem is... the kind of people who pay very close attention to what is going on, like fellow posters and readers on this site.
But totally understandable.

I believe, that even if Ferrari were to get a massive performance improvement from the car, Mercedes would just pull a few more of their saved up gadgets, out of the bag, and STILL WIN!
Jock Clear is looking more and more like a Mercedes mole.
The story behind Vettel's tire explosion is weak.
Verstappen is the real thing! (I still stand by my opinion that at 17 years of age, one, everyone, doesn't have the adequate maturity to decide to drive in F1, by on driving merit, it is a pleasure to see a meteoric rising star and to know what it is as it is happening); way to go MAX! (I still would have liked to see Kimi higher on the podium, especially since it was only strategy that kept him behind the Red Bull.)

Hoping for a first lap Mercedes incident this weekend, so it can REALLY be competitive.


There are more collisions between Merc team mates then any other in the past. This number is only going to increase. But one person could stop this is Nico, i am not saying he must stop driving but he could try to be himself.
The advantage with Lewis is that whatever he is (good or bad, lying or truth, angry, happy, grit whatever) he is being himself and Nico is trying to be Lewis.
This will not go well with Nico, If Nico want to win and the same time fans, he must try to he himself. Prost never tried to be Senna (I am not saying Nico is Prost).

If Nico won the AustrinGP, there would have been whole cry here, Merc would have issued a statment to Fans.
If Nico came second, then he is only second best.
What i dont understand is who ever be Lewis teammate this will continue except for another Brit. Now there are lot of comments Pascal would be nice pair with Lewis, but the things would continue.
I also see very nice comments about Seb in recent times, 2 years back in this same forum he was thrashed and now is nice guy in paddock and he will make a good pair with Lewis (?)
Lewis won the GP in style, including the botched pitstop, outlap issues, even he had break heating issues, he had high tire were in FP,s, setup issues, but when it mattered he came out best in worst tangle (I am here to win, I will win).
At the same time nothing to take away from Nico, good FP,s, checkout the opening stints they are good, still crashed in FP, usual average quali, had kevlar stuck underfloor, Aero part dangling on the sidepod, break by wire problem.
Untill the tangle he did good, came out worst out the tangle (yes he created that)
Lewis is best but I will also look at what other drivers are doing best. This is the only thing keeping me glued to F1 weekend. After few years whole paddock might be new, I will be still there watching F1 in TV, and timming in laptop and still enjoy the battle. If you ask whom U support, that is complex, b,coz i dont support drivers, but enjoy their driving, Hakinnen 1999, Shumi, 2000, 2001, Kimi 2003, Alonso in 2012, 13, always JPM . Big fan of Williams BMW and Mclaren Benz (black and white).

@James: why Nico was allowed to race when an aero part was creating safety issues? I was waiting for Charlie to ask Marshals to wave flag to retire him. Am i wrong here?


There are too many tyre choices and too little insight into making them work for each team. We would be better off with just one wet and one dry compound and let teams do the best they can with it. I don't want to hear this or that team lost ther race because they picked the wrong tyre etc etc. Tyres should not be the determinant factor in winning a race. The driver's skill should be the thing gets him over the line. With all the problems F1 teams are having with their tyres, would you buy Pirellis for your car? I sure as hell won't.

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