Analysis: When you know that even the top F1 teams are left guessing
Ricciardo, Hamilton
Strategy Report
Posted By: James Allen  |  02 Aug 2016   |  11:26 pm GMT  |  162 comments

The first half of the 2016 F1 season ended with a really strategic race and one where the pre-race planning had to be completely revised once the race started.

This is something we have seen plenty of times in the Pirelli era, but this race caught even the best-prepared teams by surprise.

When the front running teams split strategies, you know that they are looking for clues and answers and this led to the race’s central strategic theme between Mercedes and Red Bull.

Whereas in Spain back in May, Max Verstappen was given the strategy with the harder tyre at the first stop, in Germany it was Daniel Ricciardo and it brought him the better result this time; although second place here is hardly compensation for the win he lost at Barcelona.

Pre-Race Considerations

Friday practice running was very interesting with Mercedes looking fast on the single lap, but Red Bull and Ricciardo in particular, looking very fast on long runs. Ricciardo did a particularly strong soft tyre run, which hinted at what was to come in the race.

Although Pirelli were saying before the start that three stops was marginally faster than two, most team strategists were briefing that this would be a straight forward two-stopper with superoft-supersoft-soft being the fastest way. How wrong that turned out to be!

Top teams split strategies

The win was never in doubt for Lewis Hamilton, after he once again sprang into the lead on the opening lap. Both Red Bulls also got ahead of pole sitter Nico Rosberg, but the bold move was Verstappen’s around the outside of Ricciardo into second place.

This put the strategic ball into his court, as it had been with Ricciardo in Spain. And from here, as in Spain, the Red Bull car behind on the road ended up with the better strategy and the better result. Ricciardo was put onto the soft tyre at the first stop and Verstappen the supersoft.

This tyre turned out to be less good at that early stage of the race, when the cars were still heavy on fuel. After an overcast morning, the temperature came up quickly in the hour before the race and the cars all experienced higher energy in the corners, so the tyres suffered from thermal degradation, unlike Friday, making three stops inevitable.

The smart thing to do in that situation is to split strategies and get a read early in the race on the soft tyres. This opens up the rest of the race for you; depending on what new tyres you have left for the race. Red Bull and Mercedes had judged it perfectly with a new set of softs and a new set of supersofts available to use for each driver.

Ricciardo’s second stint, using the soft tyres, is what set him up for this result as he was able to run a fast 21 lap stint, which meant that he came through in the third stint on supersofts behind Verstappen – when he was on his soft tyres – and the teenager had to let him through.

Verstappen has understandably painted this as ‘taking one for the team’, as he had the less competitive strategy, but in fact Ricciardo had generally more pace in Germany, as the race history chart below clearly shows and this was his day.

After a demoralising May, being denied the wins in Spain and especially Monaco, the last two races showed the Australian back to his very best and keeping Verstappen behind him. The second half of the season between these two will be fascinating as Verstappen’s learning curve has been almost vertical and he has been outstanding given the circumstances, since his move to Red Bull in May.


Verstappen then had to contend with Rosberg trying to come back through from fourth on the same tyre strategy as the Dutchman. Nothing worked; Mercedes tried an undercut, but the pit stop was slow.

Later, when Rosberg served a penalty for pushing Verstappen off the road in an overtaking move, the timing of the pit stop was intended to pull Verstappen into a longer final stint on supersofts than he would ideally have liked, with 22 laps to the finish.

That didn’t work either; Mercedes stopwatch malfunctioned and Rosberg lost another four seconds, then Verstappen was able to maintain a strong pace throughout the final stint and Rosberg on softs couldn’t challenge.

Ferrari meanwhile had two new sets of softs saved for both drivers, but no new supersofts. Ferrari did not split the strategies of its two cars; they were running in fifth and sixth places with a big gap back to the next battle, between Hulkenberg and Bottas.

They put both Vettel and Raikkonen onto softs at the first stop, but their pace was not close to Ricciardo or Hamilton who was also on the soft in that stint and that will make demoralising viewing for Ferrari as they go into their winter break.

Force India trumps Williams

Behind the six top team cars at the front, there was another terrific battle for ‘best of the rest’.

If Ferrari feels blue having been overhauled by Red Bull, then Williams must be feeling similar after losing out to Force India in Germany. They still have a 15 point lead over the Anglo Indian squad, but in the last three races Williams have been outscored by them 22 points to 4.

Both Force India’s Hulkenberg and Williams’ Valtteri Bottas had saved two new sets of soft tyres for their race.

But Williams tried to do a two-stop strategy, after both Bottas and Hulkenberg had stopped on Lap 12 for the first time. The second stint was comparable on both cars, but early in the third it was clear that the two-stop plan wasn’t going to work.

Hulkenberg pitted on Lap 32 onto supersofts, while Bottas pitted a lap later onto another set of softs to go to the finish. But by lap 41 it was clear that the degradation was such that this was not going to work out well.

At this point there is only one outcome likely if nothing changed.

If you look at the race history chart below you can see that Williams could have pulled out of the plan around Lap 46 and given Bottas a final blast on supersofts.

There was no risk from behind as the gap was good to Button. But they stuck with it and Bottas’ performance fell off a cliff at the end, to such an extent that Button finished ahead and Perez almost caught him out too.

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

Indicating the relative pace of the cars, the gaps between them. An upward curve shows good pace, sudden drops indicate pit stops.

Look at the pace comparison of Ricciardo with Hamilton and Ricciardo with Verstappen. This was a strong race for the Australian.

Ferrari clearly doesn’t have the pace in comparison with the two leading teams in this race.

Also look at the end of the race as Bottas tries to hold on with a two stop strategy that is not working. He loses the additional place to Button.

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winter break?


I appreciate I’m being a dinosaur here, and I understand the sport in its current guise is fascinating in new and different ways, but the controlled nature of F1 is so dominant I find it off-putting. A silly comparison perhaps, but to me it’s not unlike the difference between a long car journey 20 yrs ago and the same trip in 2016. A trip to the South of France 20 yrs ago was and adventure. You didn’t know how long exactly it was going to take, what with all kinds of delays and hurdles along the way. Nowadays, with navigation, the minute you start your journey you know it’s going to take 8 hours and 56 mins. And every time you have to wait a minute longer than usual, you can see the exact damage compared to the original plan. The same is true for F1. The combination of laptop-warriors analyzing the race at the teams headquarters, the tires that need nursing and the fuel, means that an hour and a half race nowadays can be decided on the first corner. A delay of 3 seconds during the race can look an insurmountable obstacle. Perhaps it has always been thus, but when I started watching F1 I had this feeling a race was so long, a 20sec gap could be bridged by a driver on a mission. I don’t know. It may have been an illusion, but it added mystery/suspense to the races. Relevance to this article: I enjoy reading these race reports, but they leave me puzzled and bemused also.


Hi James just wanted to know what option are merc likely to take regarding Lewis engine penalties? If he takes one PU he takes a grid penalty? But if he takes two he starts at the back or pit lane? Is that right? So it would make sense to just take the two considering the points advantage he has at the moment?


Not only that but it would hopefully mean no further penalties would have to be taken (assuming no other failures). Lewis is on his 5th MGU-H and turbochargers. He still had 2 of some parts of the PU left to take as i think he is still on his 3rd ICE. But could Mercedes in essence try and use a 6th of everything. i.e swap his engine so he takes a 6th ICE at spa.


Hi James et al; why does the TV coverage (great btw!) show 2 symbols for each tyre compound, one being the inverse of the other? Eg yellow soft has a yellow ‘s’ on black or a black ‘s’ on yellow?


It tells you if it’s a new set or a used set. So for example a solid yellow circle with a black S indicates a new set of tyres. whilst a yellow circle with a yellow letter S indicates a used set of tyres.


Hi Chris,

Solid one is fresh, outlined one is used.


James, what is your view on the penalty given to Nico? I’m surprised that so many disagreed. It was a clear breech of sporting regulations.


Looking at Ricciardo’s pace, a better comparison would be with Rosberg and not Hamilton.
Hamilton was not really pushing at all.
Agree with other comments. An analysis into why Nico had no pace would be welcome. Despite the poor start and slow stop, he should have been able to recover to 2nd.
Hamilton was matching Ricciardo’s pace (as James points out) but with his engine turned down. By the same token, if Nico had his turned up, passing the Red Bulls should have been a formality


Imo, Nico must of been so deflated. After qauli, he was biging it up on his high horse, hovering from one interview to the other as if he had just been crowned WDC.
Then to get swallowed up at the start, aswell as showing his lack of race craft once again with his move on max . Maybe it was cologne he wanted to drive to as Horner said, but Max simply got in his way.


Martin: Whilst acknowledging his poor start and not feeling comfortable in the car both he and Toto Wolf said post-race that the overriding factor that cost him a podium, or second place, was the 5 second stop go penalty which turned out to be 8.2 seconds. Nothing was really said about a lack of race for the last stint but it seemed that he never recovered from the penalty. Perhaps the real story might be Rosberg’s inability to get the most out of the machinery available to him.


I smiled seeing Verstappen correctly described as “the Dutchman”, thinking that only a few months ago he could have been referred to as the Dutch boy.

Devils Advocate

Interesting to read through the comments on here, mainly the ones related to the conspiracy theories at AMG MB. The best are the ones explaining (or trying to at least) why the Silver Arrows don’t perform that good when they are not the lead car. Food for thought, why is it only Nicos’ Silver Arrow that doesn’t do well, yet when the same car is in Hamiltons’ hands, it doesn’t make a difference where he is at the start of the race or how many placed he loses at the start, he always fights back and finds ways to put that car up front.

I guess the main discussion should be around the race craft of both drivers, but I am sure you all would agree that in that category Lewis outshines Nico so maybe there is nothing to compare really


And have you also noticed how Lewis can get his car past others without running others cars of the track at corner entry😄✌🏻️


@ james K….COTA ?


He was past the apex my friend. See how tight turn 1 is, it nearly turns back on itself. Nico tried to push Lewis tight to the inside. They both braked extremely late. But it was still corner exit.

Devils Advocate

@James, Sure he runs them off the track, however he does it by taking the corner and shutting them out as he exists rather than go straight by there side as was the case twice now with Nico. Again, race craft which Lewis posses versus the lack of it in Nicos’.


Precisely 👍🏻


Devils Advocate: Couldn’t agree more. They both have access to the same machinery but that’s where the comparison ends. If Hamilton had had that disastrous start he would have found a way to get back into the race without running people off the road and that’s the difference between the two. Race craft as you say.

Devils Advocate

@Adrian: Glad that you agree. It would be unfair to blame the machine if the operator doesn’t have sufficient skills to operate it.

The two drivers here have different driving styles and Lewis seems to enjoy a more over steer setup on his car compared to the neutral setup on Nicos’. As I read somewhere and this is a direct quote: “Lewis brakes late into the corner, carrying more apex speed. Often, he trail-brakes into the corners more. This is one reason he is consistently using less fuel compared to Nico”. Would love to hear your views @James as well as all those that would see it different.


Devils Advocate: IMO Rosberg is not equal to the machinery he has been given (underachieves!) and I really do wonder if he is just a good/above average driver in one of the two best cars on the circuit. Given that Hamilton has won the last two championships and the 62 point turn around this year he clearly has Rosberg’s measure and even if we assume that they are equal in speed and race craft (etc..) its mentally where he can’t compete with Hamilton. Even the Sky commentators were saying post-race that one of the Red Bull drivers may beat Rosberg into second place in the drivers’ championship this year. How would Alonso, Verstappen or Ricciardo go against Hamilton if either of these were his teammates? Interesting to ponder! In relation to the penalty it appeared to me that in a desperate effort to get past Verstappen he carried too much speed into the corner and under braking went too deep causing Verstappen to fully drive off the road to avoid a collision. If he had held his ground Rosberg would have broadsided him. Visually it clearly looked to me that intentionally or unintentionally Verstappen was forced off the road and the stewards saw it that way. However, the FAI have a consistency problem with these sorts of incidents. For example, Alan Jones who was one of the stewards at the Hungarian GP said on Australian TV that Rosberg’s move was perfectly legitimate whereas Emerson Fittipaldi who I think (stand to be corrected) was the steward in Germany thought it wasn’t. Two former F1 racers with two different opinions. These sort of inconsistencies only cause confusion to the drivers and may affect potential race wins or championships.


That such small changes in air and track temperature can have such huge effects on the performance of the cars (along with other factors) demonstrates just how finely balanced the cars set up must be,it makes you wonder just how important a accurate weather forecast must be worth.
That aside,Seb Vet would make a great TV presenter,he’s funny,witty,engaging and has a great sense of humour……… which he needs more than ever considering what a joke Ferrari are.


My only quibble with the German GP was that the best overtake of the race Verstappen on Ricciardo should have been illegal. Max overtook with ALL four wheels WELL past the white track limit line BUT in today’s F1 that means nothing. The failure to respect the track is the worst non-decision from the FIA. I would like to see a rule that says all cars must have at least two wheels on the black parts they rent for the race or bring back the less safe higher curbs to keep the drivers honest.


At last to read that someone else thinks as I do! At least to me Ver’s pass on Ric was Red Bull dust, and at best a [Mod] move, and for the commentators to say a brilliant move is ridiculous, it’s circuit racing for god sake! racing in the confines of a track, not using a run off area to complete an overtake which is not part of the racing surface, how could any driver defend there position if the other driver doesn’t stay in the confines of the racing circuit! Just another example of F1 brain washing [Mod], to excuse a [Mod] move and call it brilliant! what a joke!! Haha…..feel sorry for all the other drivers for none of them could ever be better than the………Wunderkind!


Unfortunately, the mid-field battles in Germany do not overcome the fact that there was no chance for 2016 (outside of some kind of a team disqualification, or something like that), that a non-factory Mercedes team driver would NOT win the championship.
If not Lewis at the team, adding his top-tier driving capability, then another second-tier driver would have made it slightly closer at the front, but would not have affected the inevitable outcome for the season.
While it is sad to see the Ferrari deflation, the (predicted) return of Red Bull to shooting distance from race wins (and the one win where the two Mercedes drivers had taken one another out), offers a glimmer of hope for the 2017 competition opening up to a (at least) a two team competition.
Nonetheless, the suspect objectivity of the enforcement of the rules, and more, what is clarifying as an identifiable trend to favour some racers and discount others, threatens to undermine the legitimacy alomost as much as having one utterly dominant team ‘managing’ the ‘championship’!
Kudos to Hamilton, based on driving prowess, what many hoped from his F1 debut, (almost unbelievably) challenging Fernando Alonso from the start of the race, passing in the first lap (fact checker please), is on the brink of joining the uber-elite of F1 legend, MS, JMF, AP, and SV.
He seems a worthy addition to me, but the spectacle of seeing him a. in machinery so far ahead of the competition, and b. (come on, it must be so difficult to continue denying) clearly better than his team mate, dulls the shine of the accomplishment.

I thought the competition between SV and MW was quite a bit better.

Besides that, I’m hoping to see ‘an outlier’ in Spa, with lucky number 7 victory in red! (though I’ll not be holding my breath nor betting the farm on it).


When looking at the splits graph above, I’m curious, given the clear split between the two tiers (Fer, Merc, RB vs everyone else), how interesting it would be to have two broadcasts. One for the “first tier” and one for the second. Seems like there would always be something interesting worth watching. Not to mention that the second tier teams would get he much needed exposure, which now they only get when they are being lapped or stopped on the track for one reason or another.

Especially considering that there is that bonus for the top X teams. That is a championship in and of itself between the more cash strapped teams.

Alas, the reality of the situation is probably that the first tier teams wouldn’t allow a second broadcast lest they receive less exposure.


Wasn’t it great to hear the radio conversations again?
“Lewis, we are switching to plan B”
“it’s hammertime”

“who do you want to undercut?” was hilarious as the radio was played and we could see Sebastian inboard, with a clear straight in front of him.

Really happy to have the radios back as we can also better understand ongoing strategy considerations!


Seb was totally right to ask that though! It was completely unrealistic they could undercut anyone and you run the risk of tyres going off the cliff at the end.


Vettel: “Who is this bleeping bleep bleep? Why is he bleeping bleep with my bleep?”



Why not produce ONE tyre that lasts way beyond 1 Grand Prix for dry conditions and one for wet and stop all this boring strategy stuff. Then drivers could race each other and drive flat out which would be nice!
It can’t help the sale of Pirelli tyres that their tyres struggle to perform for just a few miles can it?


You mean like back in the good old days of Schmacher? Now those were largely prosessional races. I don’t think having a trye which could last a race would change anything, same goes for having more fuel. Fuel saving has been part of F1 for a long time even in the re-fuelling era.


Great insight as always James! I am trying to understand your conclusions on Ricciardo vs Verstappen. In the first stint, the pace was equal. In the second Verstappen was (only) slightly faster on the super soft compared to Ricciardo on the soft. In the third, Ricciardo was clearly faster. In the fourth, the pace was more or less equal, with Verstappen taking a bit of space at the beginning, and dropping a bit more off at the end. So the real difference was in the third stint? Do you attribute that to the driver, or could the temperature and car load at that time make the difference between super soft and soft bigger than in the second stint?


Lewis had everything covered.
Turned the wick up when required.
Turned the wick down to save engine.
Brilliant Start by Lewis Daniel and Max.


I don’t know how you do it james but you made what felt like a 5/10 race go up to a 7! I’ll watch it again. All teams hopefully Learned from the first half of the season is don’t bother developing your 2016 car as Mercedes are well gone. Do Mercedes have extra advantage on recently laid tarmac? It seems to make their gap bigger. Well done Button and Ricciardo as drivers of the day.


Once again Williams lost out because of an overly cautious strategy. Bottas could never have held his position to the end of the race with old tyres. Williams are kings of the fast pit stop and with a more aggressive strategy they could start getting decent results again. Of course it doesn’t help that they have only one competitive driver at the moment – Massa’s heart doesn’t seem to be in it these days.


Great race for me. Loads of highlights and a champion’s performance from Lewis.

Have Mercedes swapped the garages back again? Earlier in the year there was some disgraceful pit stops for Lewis. The ones in Austria especially. The crew were just sat there taking their time.

Now Nico is having the same issues. It’s just inexcusable that a team of their stature makes such basic operational errors.

I found Max playing the team game so willingly rather interesting. I’m guessing next season might be a bit different!

Daniel drove really well. Jenson drove really well. Williams and Ferrari shocking. Especially Seb, he seems to have completely lost the wind in his sails recently.

Anyway, roll on Spa. Best race of the season and it could be a very interesting one depending on where Lewis starts!


I might be wrong but in terms of pit-stop crew it’s the same crew for both drivers.



Well, thank you for that. I never knew that but now you’ve said it, it seems obvious.

At least that part explains why Nico has finally experienced some shoddy work of his own!



So that’s a couple of races in a row that Max has taken too much out of his tyres at the start… Is this a chink in his armour or is he just adjusting to time at the front?
Ricciardo does seem to have his confidence back after the disappointments earlier in the season. It will be very interesting between these two for the rest of the season with the pendulum swinging backwards and forwards many times I think.
Hamilton was in a world of his own this weekend (and for the rest of the month as well). While there were more question marks over Rosbergs wheel to wheel racing credentials. He’s a quick driver no doubt but does struggle in traffic and when over taking. It is hard to see how he bounces back from here, especially since even though Hamilton has some penalties coming up he now has a decent sized points cushion.
Woeful mistake from Williams, watching both Bottas and Masa going backwards at a fast pace must have been painful. McLaren on the other hand do seem to be moving forwards, they have always been good at developing the car and I think they could be there and there abouts next season especially if Honda finally pull their finger out.


Why Merc denies Ham will need an extra engine, this will be a case for sure. But I think in SPA, they will “suddenly decide” to equip him with extra #6 PU, perhaps the best place for this kind of operation (I think even better than in Monza).
One can reckon that after 10 place penalty he will start at P11 or P12 and by lap 5-6 he will jump over the most of front runners.
Will be fascinating to see his assaulting break through on this fascinating track.


I think he has two engines (ICE) units left.
It’s the other bits he has used up through failures.


Taking an extra PU will mean that Hamilton will have to start from the Pit Lane. Taking a new Turbo-charger or a new MGU-H will cost 10 places, and 15 for both of them at the same time.
I suspect, that they will take 2 new PUs instead, as they can “only” be punished once for it (i.e. starting from the Pit Lane). They changed the rules last year, when McLaren were getting 150+ penalty places.


So there is one Merc that can’t turn right and another Merc cruising around 6 seconds clear of P2 on effectively 3 cylinders. Lewis most likely to take his penalty in Spa, which should hand an easy victory to Rosberg and make a decent race at the same time. IF it rains RBR could be into the fold there. Funny how Christian Horner was interviewed by SkyF1 after the race and said they are catching Mercedes Benz… The Renault engine is clearly still a long way off. Meanwhile I wouldn’t be surprised if MB have found another 15BHP to introduce next season with the aero changes!


Oliver, when Lewis says he turned down his engine it doesn’t mean by 50%!


Thanks TimW, I am aware that engines are not turned down by 50%… It was more an exaggeration to help convey my point. Lewis was in a class of his own cruising around relatively unchallenged, while his team mate and any other competitor for that matter, were nowhere near.


Oliver, Spa will be good. If its wet Lewis could win from the back….


I agree TimW, Pretty sure thats where he will take the penalty. With Monza being so low on downforce, cars will be more competitive in a straight line. Merc have the Chassis & Engine to get the balance just right in Spa. I think they are the only team which run a dedicated rear wing for Spa, if i am not mistaken. They ran something similar at Baku, too, so would be surprised if that re-surfaced. Add some rain into the mix and we have the basis for a brilliant race!


Just as a follow up – I think RB missed an opportunity to force Hamilton to push his engine harder for longer. Once it became obvious that Max on the Supersofts wasn’t able to gap Daniel on the Softs after their first stops I think they should have swapped the cars and let Daniel try to press on. Up until we heard the radio message to Daniel about how close he was to Max, he was running about a 1.2 – 1.4s behind Max for quite a number of laps. You don’t run that close behind a car in modern F1 without having more pace than the car in front.

He then dropped back to a 2s gap and started lapping as quickly as Max again.

If they’d swapped the cars and let Daniel run in clean air, Hamilton may have been forced to run his engine at full power for more of the race, rather than just towards the end when Daniel was closing on him on his last set of SS’s.

Not enough longer term thinking about pushing Mercedes into having to take engine penalties or perhaps even creating a situation where they experienced an engine failure during the race. Instead they’ve missed an opportunity to put Mercedes on the back foot. Why let them decide when to take the engine penalty? RB need to use every trick they can.


The counter is that RIC would also be pushing his own car harder and threatening his own result. Without knowing their true pace / fuel / tyre situation, its hard to guess whether it would have significantly changed overall pace.

HAM likely has to take a PU penalty very soon anyway, and in his position, I’d take as many engine components as might be necessary in one go (plus a healthy margin). Reprimand too if I could figure a way to guarantee exactly that.

For the race itself though – this is essentially the approach HAM and merc used in Monaco: try to put some stress onto RB and see if they fumble it – and it worked for them.


Sour grapes


[Mod] Try using some critical reasoning instead of viewing everything through the filter of your obvious devotion to Lewis Hamilton.

I’m a realist. It’s obvious [Mod] that Mercedes are going to win this on the trot. All the more reason for a team that is thinking to try and take advantage of any issues they know that Mercedes have – such as Hamilton trying to nurse an engine.

It has nothing to do with “sour grapes” about whether RB won or not.


[Do not abuse other posters or your comments will be automatically deleted – Mod]


I’m a realist

With all respect Benm, you say your a realist, then you seem to be telling Redbull how they should have run their race🤔. Don’t you think the experts there know what there doing👍🍻
But I’ve heard Ferrari need a good strategist. Try them😊
Otherwise I enjoyed reading your post. Cheers.


James what is the y axis of this graph showing?

I’m presuming it’s a gap in seconds from something, but what is that something? ie what is the zero second line based on?


Its interesting to see that VET dropped his pace compared to ROS in the last sting and really hit the skids in the last few laps, Fuel again or tyres…

We don’t seem to hear much about fuel these days


Only with Honda engines it seems.. Button was saving fuel from the start and was afraid he could not finish


Suppose a car was going round at a completely constant speed equal to the winner’s overall average speed for the race. The y-axis shows how many seconds behind (or ahead) the actual cars are relative to that theoretical car.

As the cars speed up as the race goes on (lower fuel) the actual cars tend to “catch up” with the theoretical car (i.e. their slope is upwards). You can see it clearly in Hamilton’s graph – he is faster each time he changes tyres so the four sections have increasingly steep upward slopes.

It’s an ingenious way of presenting the data. Kudos to whoever invented it.

Another little point about the graph – very clearly shows how badly Alonso suffered from the need to save fuel, eventually three people finished between him and Button despite being close at the last round of stops.


…it also shows what a dissaster the 2 stop strategy was!!!


It shows how the drivers times compare to a car doing a theoretical average lap time based on the winners race time. You will notice that Hamilton as the winner finishes on 0, his average lap time for the race is equal to the total duration of the race divided by the number of laps, so this average lap time includes everything like pit stops and safety cars. The y axis numbers themselves don’t really tell you much its the shape and behaviour of the lines that are of interest.

The gradient of the lines show how they are doing relative to that average lap time, you see they catch up through the stint as the fuel burns off, it tapers off at the end as the tyres wear out then falls sharply down when they pit.

The steeper the line the more quickly they are going so by the steepness of the lines you can compare how people did over a stint. For example look at Hamilton’s line in the first stint compared to everyone elses, he absolutely smoked away from everyone, going faster than the average time where everyone else was equalling it or slower.


Happy to stand corrected but i believe Zero is average lap time of the winning race time, with the axis then seconds you are slower or faster than that average. Hence why Hamilton’s line ends at 0 at the end of the race.


Hi Ben M. This had me puzzeled for a while too, but I am pretty sure the zero line is the average pace that’s why it always drops off at the pits and the leader always finishes on zero.


The Y-axis line = (Number of Laps Completed X Winner’s Average Lap Time for the Whole Race) – (Time Taken to Complete All Laps to this point).

Or to put anther way, it is the differential time between each driver and a virtual car running at the average pace of the winner (without pit stops).

This is why the winner’s differential at the end of the race is zero… his average pace per lap eventually catches up with his final average pace per lap.


The 0 line is the trace that would be produced by an imaginary car lapping at exactly the average pace of the winning car.
Now that you know you can forget this as it has little meaning to us mortals.
The purpose of this imaginary car is to give us a graph that shows relative performance of each real car.
So what does the graph show us? You ask. Good question.
It gives us the race order throughout the race. If you drop vertically down the graph you will cross each car in their track position at any point in the race.
It gives us the gap (in seconds) between any two cars. Each devision is worth 5 seconds, count the devision to determine the time between any two cars any time during the race.
It gives us an indication of race pace. This can be judged from the slope, the more positive the slope the faster the race pace at that part of the race.


Stonking race from Ricciardo & Button…. there’s life in the old dog, yet!
I don’t know about Lewis… it looked like he basically put his feet up and pressed cruise control in the Winnebago.

Spa can’t come quick enough… if Lewis does take a double engine penalty
it should be a belter of a race for him with extra sets of fresh tyres (not used in qualifying) and see him monster through the field. I expect he will break Nico, psychologically here… probably permanently, especially if he (nico) tries the same stoopid trick on Max again and loses a front wing in the process…. could be on the cards.

Also interested to see what Max’s home town fans can come up with with respect to banners hanging from the grand stands (like Silverstone)…

Ooooh Yes… counting the days.
praying for rain.

Spa… my favourite race of the year.


Yep the Max fans will be out with their pitch forks if Rosberg tries another move like that.
Reckon Lewis will take the double engine penalty at Spa. He is superfast at Monza. Probably want to extend his lead in Spa.


The FIA have three weeks to think about this two for the price of one deal on engine penalties. The have some previous when it comes to changing rules mid season and they might decode on one race penalty per engine. Well see I guess.


FIA never do “”thinking in advance”” that’s the problem.


they’re travelling by caravan apparently!!




And what to think of Hamiltons setup for Spa: It can be focussed on racepace alone. He doesn’t have to think about one lap speed, only about stint speed.

I think he will be flying through the field and demoralise Rosberg big time. This could be one very special race to become a historic win. At the same time it could also quickly turn in to a downer when he crashes in the midfield 😉

I will be attending Spa, can’t wait for it.


If he gets round the first lap unscathed, then it should be a great race🍻

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