Analysis: Why being aggressive on F1 strategy proved the right move at Suzuka
Max Verstappen
Strategy Report
Posted By: James Allen  |  11 Oct 2016   |  5:05 pm GMT  |  81 comments

This year’s Japanese Grand Prix was one of only three at Suzuka in the last 25 years where all cars finished, making it a tough race in which to make progress, especially if you weren’t running towards the front.

It was also unusual for a Suzuka event in not featuring either a Safety Car or a Virtual Safety car, to mix up the race and offer some strategic dice rolling opportunities.

But there were some major talking points about the decisions that were taken with Ferrari again missing out on a podium due to a questionable strategy call and some very aggressive strategy calls from Red Bull which paid off with Max Verstappen splitting the Mercedes cars in second place.

Daniel Ricciardo
Pre Race Expectations

The same tyre choices as Malaysia of soft, medium and hard were available to teams with a compulsory stint on hards. But the temperatures were very different, particularly on race day, which was quite cool. The teams with more downforce, especially the top three teams, did not like the medium tyre for long runs, as it lacked stability. The teams at the back of the grid had the opposite view and it formed the basis of the one-stop strategies of Sauber, Williams and Renault particularly. These were also hoping for a well timed Safety car to give them a ‘snakes and ladders’ type opportunity to move up the order towards the points. It did not come.

Friday practice again showed that the Red Bulls had very strong race pace compared to Mercedes, while Ferrari had a better single lap pace than Red Bull, making it look like this would be one of their most competitive weekends.

In the end the weekend summed up their season; they had a better car than they were able to show in the results, for various reasons.

Sebastian Vettel
Ferrari contrive to miss the podium again

One has to feel for the Ferrari team; they brought a very quick car to Suzuka and qualified third and fourth, close behind Mercedes.

With Lewis Hamilton dropping the ball off the startline, on another day Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen could have both been on the podium.

But as with so many races for the Scuderia this season, the result they were capable got away from them.

Vettel had a rather cheap grid penalty from the previous race and Raikkonen got a gearbox penalty, moving both drivers behind their Red Bull rivals and Sergio Perez’ Force India.

In the race Vettel did a strong job and went to work early, making a couple of excellent overtaking moves before the DRS was available and set himself up for a podium shot.

He didn’t get it due to another curious strategy call, which he later admitted he was complicit in, but which was nevertheless hard to understand, particularly as pressure from the other Ferrari was what triggered Hamilton to make the stop which did for Vettel.

With just over 30 laps gone out of 53, Vettel was racing Hamilton, who was recovering from a poor start.

Both extended their middle stints of the race, Ferrari with the idea that they could fit the soft tyres for the final stint. But by staying out long, they offered Mercedes and Hamilton the chance to undercut them. If Vettel had pitted on Lap 33, with 20 laps to go to the end, he could have fitted hard tyres and held Hamilton behind him. Hamilton had to pit when he did as Raikkonen was coming up behind and Mercedes always planned to fit hards.

Lewis Hamilton

So Hamilton pitted on Lap 33, which he needed to do as Raikkonen was coming into his pit window; in other words was getting close to being inside the 22 seconds behind Hamilton that the Englishman would need to pit and rejoin ahead.

Mercedes gratefully took the gift and with Hamilton’s pace on the new hard tyres, he was able to undercut Vettel, who stopped on the next lap onto the soft tyres. This gave him a 19 lap stint to the end on softs, which was optimistic. But if he was to have any chance of beating Hamilton to the podium from this position he needed to attack him early on the soft tyres as Hamilton’s hards were coming up to temperature. He could not manage it and the podium chance was gone.

What is puzzling about Ferrari’s decision making here is that they had the track position but sacrificed it based on a soft tyre model that appeared not to have been re-tuned after the first stint, when the degradation was high.

The hard tyre was performing well, but Ferrari has always had a distrust of the harder tyres and in this case their bias against it cost them.

Ironically last year in Suzuka they lost second place to a recovering Rosberg in the final part of the race, because again they were waiting for the moment when it was safe to fit the medium tyres to be able to go to the end of the race and Rosberg undercut them.

Daniel Ricciardo
Why did Red Bull pit both cars on the same lap?

A number of fans have been puzzled by Red Bull’s decision to bring Daniel Ricciardo into the pits behind Max Verstappen for the first stop in Suzuka. Ricciardo had lost time at the start, swerving around the slow moving Lewis Hamilton off the line and dropped to fifth, with two cars between him and Verstappen in second. On Lap 10 Verstappen pitted, having complained about the tyres losing performance. Ricciardo was running 10 seconds behind him, so Red Bull tried an audacious double stop, with Ricciardo not losing any time waiting for service. Why did they do this?

The answer is because once the lead car has pitted, that puts rivals racing the tail car (Ricciardo) on notice that he will probably be stopping soon. And so it can trigger an undercut. In this particular case, there was a real risk of that; Ricciardo had Raikkonen on his tail and the Ferrari driver may well have been sharp and pitted on the same lap as Verstappen. To mitigate for that Red Bull did the Ricciardo stop on the same lap and got him back out. It worked and not only did Ricciardo retain position over Raikkonen, he also now had Perez and the one stopping Magnussen between him and the Finn.

The downside was that he had to clear the one stopping Massa, but that was always going to happen with a Williams one stopping. Hamilton also got ahead of him by extending his first stint, but again that was always on the cards anyway.

Suzuka is a track to be aggressive on, it often brings results and Red Bull has benefitted from that many times down the years.

Felipe Massa

One stoppers hope for some good fortune

Conversely teams like Williams, Renault and Sauber went for a one-stop strategy on the medium and hard tyres, which saw them progress from their grid slots and in the case of Williams bagged some points. But with no-one retiring and no Safety Car or Virtual Safety car, there was to be no lucky jackpot result.

The decision was based on the fact that the practice sessions showed that the degradation (drop off in performance) on the medium and hard tyres was quite low, so the limitation was only the wear.

Williams had some luck with the one stop strategy in Malaysia (helped by three VSCs) and decided to do it again to try to beat the Haas cars which had unexpectedly qualified ahead of them. Haas had a poor race after an excellent qualifying and Massa and Bottas were able to finish in the places where Grosjean and Gutierrez qualified.

Sauber got Ericsson ahead of the McLarens and a Toro Rosso and Renault finished 12th and 14th, having started 16th and 18th. On a day when no-one retires it’s hard to do much better than that.

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


RACE HISTORY AND TYRE USAGE CHARTS – Kindly Supplied by Williams Martini Racing – Click to Enlarge

Look at the large gap Vettel has over Hamilton after the first stops. With better stint management and an earlier second stop onto hards, he probably could have held him off to the flag. Whether he could have attacked Verstappen for second place is open to question, but the middle stint shows that he had better pace than the Red Bull driver.

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James, you didn’t mention force Indians strategy. Why did they not react to redbull stopping at the first stops. Danny Ric was stuck in traffic on his out lap but force India took an extra lap to react which allowed the undercut. Seemed like a poor decision?


On a sidebar: Ferrari – the views published on another blog seem to mirror the obvious and do not sound promising with the culture being promoted within the team these days. Here is the quote and the subject might be worth some further insight on JA, FWIW:

“Unfortunately neither . . .(the President nor team boss). . . have experience in racing, a culture that the Scuderia of today has lost,” Baldisserri told Corriere dello Sport in an interview. “They are no longer a team, but a group of scared people. There is a climate of fear. The boys don’t take risks for fear of being fired in disgrace.”

Strong words from an ex-member of that fold, but possibly worth some further review ?


James, concerning Ferrari… what is Arrivabene’s role on the pitwall? Is he taking strategic decisions?

He always seems rather busy as if being involved in the race progress.

Toto/Niki on the other hand…. seem more ‘active spectators’ with Paddy and the crew on the pitwall calling the shots.

Would be nice to have more insight in the differences on the pitwall between top teams.

At McLaren Ron looks now completely as a casual spectator 🙂 who would have thought.


Very interesting analysis. Just commenting here to say thank you.


Is there any resource for information on Tyre use over the weekend? We know the initial allocation selected before the weekend but not what they go into qualifying or the race with. Or at least sometimes commentators mention it for some drivers but there does not appear to be any formal record. e.g. Hamilton and Rosberg and with contrasting numbers of hard and medium but I suspect they were on a different programs during free practice and ended up going into quali with the same. I find this sort of data really informs my understanding and enjoyment of the whole weekend.


Tyre usage info is shown on’s Live Timing, if you subscribe to it.
Some say it is too expensive, but I don’t mind paying 10 cents a day to have this info. It also shown live performance ratings for the drivers (ie how hard they are driving their cars)


The problem for Ferrari is you’ve got on one side of the garage a spoilt [mod] who’s trying to emulate someone he’s never going to be, and on the otherside a veteran who believe it or not is actually improving as the season goes on.
The top dogs are demanding results.
You don’t demand results you earn them.
And strategic blunders don’t earn you results you demand.
Wrong people in the wrong jobs at Ferrari.
The quicker they realise it and react then maybe just maybe they can put together some sort of tactics to at least stop these blunders.
It’s embarrasing to the team and their loyal tifosi.



Is there any way that Hamilton could have changed strategy when he was in the lead from a two stop to a one stop by going longer to say 20 laps or so on the soft tyre and then the rest of the race on the hard tyre? He did something like this before didn’t he and won? Massa and Kyvat managed to do nearly 30 laps on the hard tyre.


No look at the traces on the race history graph. He had too much time to make up after the slow start and Rosberg had everything under control at all times


“Moving under braking” nonsense – let`s make braking zone for braking and DRS zone for overtaking. No overtaking in braking zone and no braking in DRS zone.
Now, very cleare and simple!


Good read, again. Thanks. Very insightful.

What struck me in this race was the pace difference between Ros and Ves, Ros slowly built a gap of around 5 seconds and kept it there throughout the race. Ves after his second stop looked (to me) as if he was heading towards an easy 2nd place but with VET going to softs both VET and HAM suddenly had a massive pace difference between them and the Red Bull. Vettel obviously benefitted from having tires being 2 compounds softer but I believe at some point HAM was lapping 2.5 seconds faster than the Red Bull (and Rosberg for that matter as they were doing a fairly similar pace). HAM’s tires were fresher but not by that much. It begs the question, how much pace did Mercedes still have in hand given the fact they ran their engines in a “de-tuned” mode?


That’s a good question. It seems MERC has something up on the sleeve.
But a second problem were the backmarkers that cost VET en VES very mucht time. HAM had the luck he passed most of them on the straights..


Very good catch.
MMC (Mercedes Managed Chapionship), is not baffling everybody; they still have plenty in the bag, incidentally enabling them to favour one driver or another.


There is no strategic error from Ferrari. They just can`t afford people to see that other cars pass them on the track – it`s bad for image, so they let them by in the pits and start banging on the chest how aggressive and bold they are with their strategy – pure hero staff only!


Is it a coincidence or is it a fact that Ferrari seem to go back in strategy calls since Jock Clear came on board !
Last year it was good and prior to that it was brilliant !
Ferrari seem be over aggressive at times with Raikkonen and super delayed with Vettel or vica versa and each time it seems to be costing them both.

There is definitely a negative influence or wrong direction going on there and of course its easier to see in hindsight and distance but none the less — its there. Great pace from the top 5 cars especially Lewis in that last stint. Kimis laps 26-33 are just mighty as were his 2 outlaps 16-17 it took the edge out of the tyres but he had to in order to undercut Dan & Lewis respectively- given this, its still remarkable the pace he maintained over that last stint.

I dont want to waste my breath on Ferrari but if that car/!next years car remains/increases in competitiveness it would be a travesty not allow both drivers to shine- we are seeing vintage Raikkonens staggering GP pace these last few races and his quali form is sensational too!.


agreed, great to see Kimi back on form after all the second guessing and bashing he has taken.


Thanks for the great insight James.
Couple of questions, please, even if not quite on topic:
1. The blue flag complaints from SV and KR; who were they complaining about and were they reasonable complaints? No report indicates which drivers didn’t obey the blue flags.
2. How does one find out who the stewards are on a weekend? I happen to see Dereick Warwick was one the other day, and know that Mansell and Fittipaldi do these duites, but yet to see who are the stewards on an actual race day.


It’s a corollary of the fact that no one recited, so there was more traffic and some of it going more slowly than optimum on the one stop strategy

Look on FIA website, under F1 tab, it’s on the stewards notifications


Thanks very much James. It was notable how voluble the two Ferrari drivers were so just curious.


Ferrari lost 2nd position with their timing of first pitstop.. their first pitstop was a lap or two late I feel they dropped two chances.

its high time that fans start publicly criticizing Ferrari pit strategies and not just drivers..its always drivers who take brunt of poor results



Thanks for another insightful strategy report. I wait for these reports after every week, and they never disappoint.

My question to you is this: At what point did Ferrari (and for what reason) decided that they were not racing Verstappen for P2, and were instead racing Hamilton for P3? I saw Vettel close up the gap to Verstappen (he got up to 1.7s behind VES just before the 2nd round of stops). Why did Ferrari not:
1) Try to undercut VES at the first round of stops? Maybe not pass him, but they could have got closer.
2) Why did they, after they saw Vettel’s pace, wherein he was making good time on VES (he was, as mentioned above, just 1.7s off VES), Ferrari not try to undercut VES at the 2nd round of pitstops? Seemed to me that P2 was a possibility – even if they had pitted a lap later than VES, and given they would have come out behing VES, I think Vettel had the pace to pass Ves (or at least try) – worst case they would get P3, best case, P2.

What do you think about these consistent strategy errors at Ferrari, whereby they invent new ways to lose podiums (and points?)



James, what are your views of Max Verstappens defending tactics against Hamilton?


I honestly believe Max knows exactly how dangerous his defending is. He simply doesn’t care – he’s driving on the edge of what both his car and the rules can handle. And he won’t change a thing as long as they don’t penalise him, since it is quite effective. Not only that – is a mind game as well. Because he’s there only driver who makes the others think twice about overtaking him.


In need of clarification, but HAMILTON was quite a way back when MV made his block


erik: you make some good points.
However, the real issue is consistency.
Nonetheless, if all the drivers defended like Verstappen (the move against Hamilton was quite a bit closer to ‘acceptable’ than some of the moves on Kimi); speaking of Kimi, what do you think would have happened if he had blocked Rosberg, in Malaysia, the way Verstappen had blocked Hamilton?
There would have been a crash, and Raikonnen would have been penalized.
There is a trend of favouring select drivers/teams, letting them get off more easily when they are more agrressive, at the same time penalizing those who drive, as they do, when they are interferred with.
This is the thing that is delegitimizing the sport for the traditional fans.


to deancassady
agree, agree, agree. If everyone started defending like Max it would be chaos but for whatever reason there is a blatant double standard. The problem is that he moves very late, sometimes under braking and some times twice. Given the closing speeds it is far too dangerous. It is certainly very effective when it works and there is evidently nothing in the rule book that says a last second block is illegal. As I understand it there is effectively an unwritten rule amongst the drivers that such tactics are too dangerous. That’s why Charlie Whiting took him aside privately after Spa and warned him in no uncertain terms that he should have been warned at a minimum and risked being black flagged.

In any case after his recent move on Hamilton; I hope everyone starts doing it and then we will see how acceptable it really is.

As I have written before they are clearly protecting Max because they see him as a valuable marketing tool to try and arrest the ever shrinking fan base and bring in younger viewers. The problem is that his driving and the blatant double standard applied to him is turning off a lot F1 aficionados who have watched the sport for years.

I am willing to acknowledge his talent but I do think some of his defensive moves are [Mod].


Almost all the drivers that react in interviews after Spa did not had any problems with the move.
Ham had no problem with the move. Ans btw his attack was very opportunistic to say the least.


Why all of a sudden do these moves become such a hot topic, it has been part of motorsport since forever, we can see these moves every race, Bottas (on Hamilton) and Sainz (on Gutierrez and Massa twice) pulled identical moves in Japan and one cares, Verstappen does it and we need clarification?

I could use some clarification on the double standards!


Firstly – saying something needs a clarification, reguires understanding what is the public opinion about F1. Is it a sport of compromises or is it a egocentric. It can`t be both. For those who seek compromises, “moving under braking” can justify giving penalty but for those, who still think F1 is very archaic sport and “not giving” and “taking away” are the only phrases some will accept when racing, it is the only way.

Before DRS and extreme tyre manipulation braking zones were the only places where passing occured. Moving under braking was the only way to make passing difficult for opponent. People glorified it as a greate racing. Actually in the same corner in 1989 Prost showed what is no-no under braking, Verstappen move was a baby compared to Prost. Even better, Prost-Senna incident can show how many different ways there is to clarify something. Senna was disqualified from the race because he used an escape road to get back to the track (for those who don`t remember, he lost championship because of that). So, same did Hamilton but no disqualification. People can concentrate to what ever they want to make agenda.
Point is – stop penalizing for something that didn`t happened. Most of the times racing is just racing and there is no such thing as god given right to passing.


That may be true but HAM was carrying way more speed into the breaking zone. A fraction of a second later and HAM would not have been able to avoid him, out goes Max and Lewis. I feel, when the fat lady has sung and there is nothing to loose one of the top drivers is going to show Max exactly why he can’t block like that.


But HAM had more than enough space to react. look at the onboard camera.
So stop using all kind of threaths when VES is involved. Just let them race. Do you want them to take a rulebook with them to be sure no one makes a mistake?


exactly Jakethesnake. It is the last second move that is the problem but since it is ok for Max I think all drivers should start doing it and we will see what happens! It is evidently within the rules as a technical matter but essentially against the unwritten rules that the drivers use out of mutual respect for each others safety.


Max did nothing wrong at Suzuka as far as I could tell. I think Hamilton took a chance at the only place he could without costing third. I really never understood a protest on that.


Even Lewis Hamilton, Toto Wolff, Brundel and Blundell, and the stewards agreed Max is within the rules. The should only get rid of all australian stewards because as now proved they are very biased. The protest came from Gary of Garry Connelly a former FIA steward. I think the FIA should have a “chat” with him.
It’s the skill of forcing your opponent to drive the line they don’t want. And to do so within the regulations. Max is a driver who can balance on the ultimate edge. Whether you like this style or not. It’s legit.

End of story.


Hindsight of course for us, but it must have seem very clear in live timing that seb and dan lost a lot of time before their last stop. Never understood why after losing 2 sec in a lap or two you’d let the drivers do another handful just to make sure they lose the place !


Who is this little cherub from 2009? What a difference a few years make……


Ferrari scored yet another strategy own goal . Not extended his middle stint and then pitting for soft tyres were utterly nonsensical as this surrendered track position to Lewis. James how much of a mess behind the scenes are Ferrari ? For me Arriavbene needs to be given his marching orders in the close season as he shows a complete lack of leadership this season. If I was Kimi and Seb I think they should threaten to walk out and ask to cancel their contracts unless there is major cultural and structural change at Maranello. I also read on Joe Saward’s site that Mr Marchionne may not survive very long -possibly suggesting some Ferrari board members want Marchionne out and there might be a political war upcoming within the whole Ferrari company itself.


I agree that those two should not be in charge. I’m sure M is a great corporate guy but that doesn’t make a race team guy. They almost need to completely separate the corporate structure from the automotive side. It seems like the Merc team is is much more like this.


Í am not in the habbit of hijacking a topic but the post i paste is very to the point:
======================Ramshoek • a day ago
Don’t know what to think of this situation, let alone articles like this one.

It’s always the same. When Ferrari is not winning or dominating, it’s doom and gloom. Things will never be as it used to be, Ferrari won’t ever recover, the Italians have to be kept away from key positions and [Mod] like that.

First of all, I do not believe in the concept of [Mod]

But also, why is Ferrari always met with these kind of reactions? And why are the British teams not treated equally?
The second oldest team on the grid and the best F1 team of the 90’s hasn’t been in any title battle since they said Nein to BMW’s buy-in / take over proposals. When things stay as they are today, Williams will never be what it used to be !
And how about Britain’s favourite team McLaren? How long has this team already been struggling? Even before Honda entered the fray, McLaren had slid back to the (higher) mid field. Something sponsors have recognised, it’s mainly Honda that is paying the bills nowadays. They say rebuilding a team takes at least 3 years. McLaren’s resurrection is long overdue. If McLaren’s progress is hampered by ‘cultural differences’, clearly the Japanese are to blame. There’s never anything wrong with McLaren. public and press keep saying they’re in a transitional fase, that the building needs time. Their patience and understanding seems to be limitless…

Vettel is in only his second year at Ferrari. Their PU is almost as good as Mercedes’s. Their Car (PU+Chassis) is proving to be as good as the RedBull-Renault combination lately, with whom they’re in a fierce battle for second in the championship. The pair of them have made ground on Mercedes. Ferrari is miles ahead of Williams and McLaren, despite the fact that things are horribly wrong at Ferrari. Possibly since their foundation (..)==================


These strategy reports always remind why this sport is struggling for fans. It’s just too bloody complicated to follow a race and understand what is going on. You need a computer monitor next to you at all times with tons of data streaming in if you want to know what is really going on, and that of course distracts from the pleasure of watching the race. As I have noted before the announcers here in the U.S. generally don’t have clue how the race is developing. All they see is track position.


I’m busy inventing an app that lets you sleep through a race but wakes you up when someone is setting purple sectors. Ideally it should also give you a blood pressure reading.


I think you’ll be hearing from the the MB patent lawyers…
They’ve already got it in the cockpit of their cars, but the wake up alert is for back-markers :).


cool, sign me up!


Ferrari strategy have given away wins and podiums all year…kimi clearly earned p3 in singapore and ferrari just gifted it back to hamilton and now when it looked like vettel would challenge p2 they end up with p4…which clearly indicates ferrari has some huge strategic issues going on. I don’t really think firing people is an answer but it kind of suggests a muddled thinking…either the team is trying too hard and obviously is under too much pressure not eff it up but they end doing it anyway…In singapore everyone heard it on radio that they wanted kimi to box and they fell for the bait…here vettel could have fitted for hards when the gap was 5 sec or something…I don’t understand it all…I had high hopes for them but seems like alonso was right after all about this Vettel is going to spend his last few years being frustrated in Ferrari.
James do you realistically believe Ferrari can challenge for championship next season?


I think James or someone should put together a nicely written article on Ferrari pit decisions made went wrong and let fans react to it..
That will stir up some sense in Ferrari, unless, it will put James into some trouble then ‘no’ 🙂


It’s possible, they have some great people and as you saw in Japan, the car is close on pace

It’s just putting all the pieces together that has been a struggle since Brawn left


According to Ferrari the backmarkers were to blame “””Maurizio Arrivabene: “Considering our starting position, being pushed back by a double penalty, we did the best we could today. It’s just a shame that the traffic from backmarkers did not allow Seb to take the best out of our strategy.” ”


I find it hard to believe that Ferrari of all teams can’t run a first rate strategy operation. Obviously something is wrong, there are just too many blunders to dismiss as bad luck, but it strikes me as inexcusable and strange. Brawn has been gone for over a decade now.


James, who makes the Ferrari strategy calls on the pit wall? I thought I remember the reason they brought Jock Clear in was to help with these situations and improve. Doesn’t seem much better than the mess ups Alonso faced.


After a dogs breakfast of a weekend in Japan, Jenson Button must be incredibly grateful he’s only got to endure another 4 races of underwhelming McHonda performance!

Move of the race, if not THE move of the year (thus far) was the Hulk’s “box clever” move around the outside of Bottas at the chicane. He well and truly snookered the Finn, and on the outside line too. Hulk had a grip advantage, but he made full use of it. That’s what racing and capitalism is all about: being able to capitalise on a small advantage whenever possible, whether it’s a gap in the market place or a gap on the track.


GazBoy, overtake of the day from Hulk, might get him a Renault drive next year…


Leave it to Ferarri to get it wrong almost every time


It looked like Ferrari was trying to get a tyre offset that would allow Vettel overtake Verstappen. Looking at the pace before that last stop I think he would catch him and with tyres 5 laps younger it would be much easier to overtake, but still a challenge… the kid just doesn’t like to give places up 🙂

However, the decision to use softs was terrible as drop off in Vettel pace clearly shows. At the time when Hamilton stopped the gap was big, about 3-4s as I recall, surely that caught them out, but they should have calculated better and not risk track position.


It didn’t really occur to me that Seb would come out behind Lewis at the second stop, he was nearly 5 seconds ahead just before the stops!


Back markers cost Vettel a lot of time. I was listening to post race sky analysis. Ted mentioned it was as much as 10 seconds overall since the first pit stop. But there are other options to choose from as well,

1: Maybe its Vettel’s fault for not being able to pass the back markers quick enough.

2: Maybe the communication from the pit wall was not clever enough to warn Vettel about the traffic ahead

3: Maybe Ferrari should’ve pitted Vettel earlier to give him clearer track position

Take your pick!


I thought Ferrari strategy was bizzare. I thought Vettel could challenge Verstappen for 2nd, instead, Ferrari decided that Hamilton was their race, and that too for 3rd. Makes no sense to me – in the 2nd stint VET was making up loads of time on VES – he was just 1.7s behind VES before VES made his 2nd stop, and Vettel was left out to lose 2-3s per lap, and allow Hamilton to snatch the podium. For anyone at Ferrari to think that they could pass Hamilton in the last stint, they should be fired immediately. Just makes no sense.


Right, but your comment ignores the underlying political and bureaucratic culture at Ferrari. If someone had suggested the strategy you propose they would have just as likely been fired on the spot for suggesting something other than what the team leadership had come up with.

It’s the same reason McLaren is in the spot they are in. Too much top down micromanagement and bureaucracy, no one wants to work there and everyone is afraid for their lives/jobs if they make a mistake or suggest something too risky. They just throw money at the problem without realizing it is their very culture that is killing them.


I agree with you, that was my feeling as well, looking live the timings. It was clear that they could undercut Verstappen as they already had enough data about how the hard compound was working, with Kimi having set even faster lap. It was also very visible that hard compound was much faster to the soft one in the duration of the stint. The only reason not to do this would be if they did not have a second set of hards, but they did.
Its also strange that James did not mention it in his analysis and he only focused on the battle for third that became important only because Ferrari had already taken the first wrong decision not to undercut Verstappen.
If people like us that are at best armchair specialists can spot this so easily, it is strange that they employ people with the purpose of race strategy and with much more data than us and still go so wrong.
Its a pity, Vettel drove well in this race


why is the impatient Mr Marchionne so tolerant of the Ferrari strategy team? why does he not replace the lot of them ?

There can be only one answer: He himself is directing strategy from a secret bunker at Fiat headquarters. Tell me I’m wrong….


The out and out strangeness and deficiency of the strategy calls this year lends creadance to this possible explanation.
I think the big difference between 2nd and 3rd place in the constructors championship, for Ferrari, has been down to defective strategy calls.


Phil Glass, you are wrong, it’s a hollowed out volcano….


Vinay. Yes it seemed a strange idea, you can see Seb’s pace dropping off at the end of the stints on the race chart above, they have been dropping the ball a lot lately.


If I had to guess I’d say it wouldn’t have occurred to Vettel either 😉


Random, I’m sure it didn’t! I was hoping to get a bit of team radio as Seb was a bit grumpy already, I doubt seeing the back of the Mercedes improved his mood…..


Lewis just blazed the lap before Vettel came out and went past. Great strategy from Mercedes.


Biffa, I looked at the lap times, and Lewis was much quicker on the in and out lap, but the difference wasn’t huge. It was just Seb’s poor pace on the worn tyres.


Not really, it was gift wrapped for them.


I don’t see why tire strategy is so complicated. He who stops least wins most. The hard tires have been pretty close to the softs all season and that pit stop delta is huge.

I think Ferrari have over thought this and should apply common sense.


It must be a record: the longest distance a driver was driving with a fist outside the cockpit.

The Mercedes powered road blocks robbed the needed seconds from Vettel. Without the multi-team alliance against Ferrari it would have been a more interesting race.
Or say it in other words: Hamilton was pitted before entering the traffic.


Seifenkister, that would take a lot of arranging….


The answer was given to the tire choice for the JApan GP weekend.
RedBull and FIndia chose 4 sets of Hard tires and started the race with 2 sets of fresh Hards.
I guess it is – also – about working on the tires and trying to dial your car and understand the theorical ideal set of tires.
Maybe Ferrari chose the [new set of] Yellows for Vettel’s final stint bcs he had used Hards instead. So New Soft or Used Hards, that’s the question.
HAM also had Used Hards against New Hards for MAX in the final stint.

And again Vettel chopped Kimi’s front in the first curve.
I’m a big fan of both drivers, but Seb is misbehaving badly.


Seb lunged wildly to the left and then to the right almost bashing into Kimi, who had to evade by riding the kerb.
Seb is in a pickle. Kimi is currently doing better than the so called No1 Ferrari pilot [I do wish this was acknowledged more widely and honestly] and as the car gets more suited to Kimi, this will only become more and more obvious.


If you watch it carefully, you will see Vettel was extremely lucky to avoid colliding with Lewis. Merc’s slow start caught him by surprise & I thought it was a superb drive to avoid chaos in the first corner. Of course this car suited Kimi’s compare to last year. Kimi’s said that in the pre season testing. However, Vettel has been in a position to win at 2/3 times this season. The strategy decisions are costing both drivers a lot of points. Both drivers seem to always come out of the pits behind some back markers in every race!! This is what happens when the team doesn’t win as regularly. Having said that, RBR seems to capitalise more than Ferrari every time the Mercs run into some trouble. Maybe next year they will learn from their mistakes and turn things around. We have been sayin that for a while too!!


What impending chaos?
You see Vettel coming round and you see Lewis bolt away. Vettel braked in a normal way. He had already overtaken another car on the straight his speed going into the corner was rapid. He braked hard and was on the rear of the Mercedes. But then Lewis drove a warm up lap to get the tyres into their optimal working temp and bolted.
It’ was never going to an overtaking opportunity as the Mercedes drivers just ramp up their engine modes. Lighter car just pulled away from the DRS zone. But Vettel did have a better race than Malaysia.


Seb has been doing this on his teammate quite often. I guess that’s what Arrivabene meant “he has to earn his place”.

James, you did not cover hwy Ric did not cover Kimi during stop. Did RB think that Kimi’s pace will be very slow during the last few laps that Ric could overtake him on newer tires? He caught up with Kimi, but the last few laps the gap was constant at about 5 seconds. So they did not plan it well.


No, the used hards had enough legs


I was waiting for that confirmation, the only logical reason to go soft and risk track position… Ferrari dropped the ball big time (one more time…)


James any chance of stopping the rolling gifs on some posts by users (maybe those who want them can click on them manually like your short videos) or give us a warning. Some of us have a set data allocation monthly so if we are reading articles (even with data off, it still runs for a minute or more before it disabled then that’s scrubs more data allowance ). I don’t mind photos etcetera or give an alert on top of the news article. So some of us can avoid clicking on it.
Or it might not be great to visit the site even though it’s the best F1 site going.


Yes of course


Much appreciated James.
Thank you.

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