Analysis: How do you make F1 decisions in the rain and did Red Bull mess up the strategy for Verstappen?
Red Bull F1
Posted By: James Allen  |  15 Nov 2016   |  10:20 am GMT  |  242 comments

Likely to go down as one of the great wet-weather races, due to standout performances from race winner Lewis Hamilton and especially third place driver Max Verstappen, the 2016 Brazilian Grand Prix hinged on great driver skill as well decision making from the pit wall.

Whilst it was not decisive at the top of the Drivers’ championship, it was a hugely significant race in the struggle for survival at the back of the grid. Sauber finally scored points, to lift them into 10th place, ahead of Manor in the Constructors’ championship, unlocking tens of millions in prize money.

So how tough was it to make the right calls on Sunday and did Red Bull, for all of Verstappen’s brilliance, mess it up on the strategy side?

Max Verstappen

The Art of Decision making in the rain

The weather in Sao Paulo was hot and sunny on Friday and it deteriorated through cooler conditions on Saturday to constant rain on Sunday. Most rain-affected F1 races tend to be changeable from wet to dry or the other way around. It’s quite unusual to have a constantly wet race.

Pirelli has two tyres available for these conditions; the extreme wet and the intermediate. The crucial thing about deciding which of these to use is the crossover point, when one of them is demonstrably faster than the other.

On Sunday we saw the intermediate tyre at one stage lapping 1.5s faster than the wet and that was enough to persuade several teams to take a chance. Often there will be a ramp up of pace, as the intermediate gets warmed up and then the delta grows to two seconds, then three then five and so on until the whole field is on intermediates. That did not happen on Sunday and many strategists say it was never going to because of the prevailing weather conditions.

But it’s not as simple as spotting a pace advantage on another car and putting your car onto the different tyre. Each car has different risk profiles, depending on track position and car pace. So the leaders, who do not have traffic and therefore as much spray to contend with, have a fast car and track position, do not need to take risks.

Brazil GP 2016

Cars outside the top ten points positions are in traffic, which means lots of spray, and they are not able to use any car pace advantage they may have and therefore the risk of rolling the dice with the other tyre is lower.

The major risk is that there is an accident, which is more likely on a wet track and that brings out a Safety Car and/or a red flag stoppage. Then all the strategies are neutralised as everyone gets a free choice of tyres for the restart and cars that pitted for the intermediate have lost all their track positions. That is exactly what happened on Sunday.

So taking all these risk factors into account, when the weather forecasts all say that there is no sign of significant improvement in the weather, as was the case throughout Sunday’s race, then it is a bit like a fast pit stop versus a steady pit stop.

The fast one gains some time but there is a danger of a mistake or unsafe release. A steady stop loses a fraction of time but there are no slip-ups. The intermediate vs wet weather choice at Interlagos was like that.

So the smart thing for a strategist outside the top six to do was hedge their bets and split the strategies, putting one car on the intermediate tyre and leaving the other one on the full wet.

Daniel Ricciardo

In that way you’ll get it right with one and wrong with the other. For a team simply looking to score points that makes sense.

For a team like Red Bull that has its tail car out of position and lower down the order than expected (Daniel Ricciardo) it is also worth the gamble. But when Verstappen passed Rosberg for second place, it was extremely risky to then pit him for intermediates, putting him into traffic and putting all the team’s eggs in one basket, as we shall see.

Red Bull has split strategies to great effect in Spain and Malaysia this year, but strangely they did not do it in this race.

In a split strategy situation you need to put your lead car onto the strategy you think is most likely to come off. So at Sauber, for example, they desperately needed a point and they left their lead car (Nasr) on wet tyres while their tail car (Ericsson) went onto intermediates – and he crashed on them.

But as other cars went to intermediates, Nasr rose up through the positions and at one point was running as high as sixth place. At that stage the championship points predictor showed Sauber moving up to ninth in the constructors’ table. Toro Rosso did the same as Sauber and its lead car, Sainz, finished sixth. Both Renaults and both Williams did the same as Red Bull and got no points at all.

In all, 12 of the 22 drivers went for an intermediate tyre at some stage and all but two of them, Bottas and Magnussen, were forced to pull out of it. Max Verstappen
Midfield Teams – If in doubt, copy what Mercedes do?

Mercedes stuck to its guns and did not flinch when Red Bull twice tried to provoke it into stopping for intermediates. The Mercedes strategist did not feel the crossover numbers were compelling enough for the switch, he didn’t see the maths in it and also he had the most to lose from a bad call as his cars were leading the race. On top of that both drivers felt the wet tyre was the best option throughout.

We have seen in the past that some midfield teams follow what the benchmark team or driver does in this situation. Several teams scored good results in the 2010-12 period in wet/dry races by following what Jenson Button did in his McLaren. Button seemed to have an uncanny knack of feeling the grip and pitting one lap ahead of the crossover point from wet to intermediates. That gave him an advantage and won him races and it certainly boosted the results of those who followed him into the pits.

At Interlagos, Force India copied Mercedes and it brought Sergio Perez a fourth place and seventh for Nico Hulkenberg.

Max Verstappen

In reality though, a constant rain situation, such as was the case on Sunday, it’s not as simple as that; as there was nothing in the forecasts that suggested an easing of the rain, the numbers from the intermediate tyre performance were not enough. Strategists had to look away from the pit wall at the environment around them. One senior strategist told me he had a puddle he would check every few minutes to study the intensity of the raindrops splashing onto the surface; that told him the rain was at a fairly constant rate.

Red Bull’s decision with Verstappen was more based on the numbers and less on the environment and made little sense.

It cost him second place for sure, even if they believed that the gamble might bring them a win.

But the upside for the fans was that Verstappen’s recovery drive from 14th place was one of the highlights of the season.

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


Courtesy of Williams Martini Racing – Click to Enlarge

A graphic representation of the Race History in terms of the lap times of each car. It shows the relative pace of the cars and the gaps between them in the race. Upward curve is good pace, downward curve demonstrates slower pace. Sudden drop is a pit stop.

Look at the consistency of Lewis Hamilton’s pace through the race. That also demonstrates how consistent the conditions were. The spikes of pace from Ricciardo when he went to intermediates soon ebb as the rain does not abate and safety cars neutralise the strategies.


Williams Martini Racing

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all antihamilton fans can now see in the data that how hamilton outperformed the entire field...the true rain master that he is.
verstappen was exciting to watch and looks prepped to deliver morebin the future after hamilton is out of the scene.


Ham: had nothing to do other then drive to the finish , if they put Max in Nico's car , Hamilton career will be over....


oh yeah! I forgot about that.


well, I don't think it says a lot actually, only that Hamilton was driving in front.... because it is the relative pace and lap times.... only put the pace per racer next to each other and it still doesn't say anything, because Max had to overtake a lot... Hamilton had nobody in front of him, so he could see the clearest, best and only had to remain his pace.... with the best car... so for me, no he isn't the best racer actually.... that was Max...


Hamiltons job was to control the race, respond to threats from behind and not make any unforced errors. He did that perfectly, nobody could possibly find fault with that performance. Max on the other hand failed to do his job. He only had to pass two cars to take the win, the fact that he was forced to pass a lot more was down to Red Bull and him. Max was the best driver because he finished where he started and 20 seconds behind, yes that makes sense. The difference between the Merc and the Red Bull in the wet is marginal. Hamilton was just on form and nobody, Max included, was ever going to challenge him.


You know Max started as 4th?


well obviously you don't like racing.. it was exciting to watch and definitely nicer for Max to do, he had a lot of fun, he said..... maybe you just look at the charts.... you don't have to look to the races anymore because you base your opinion on numbers....


Really I don't like racing? thanks for that, you just gave me a few hours more free time to pursue other activities. You should understand there are several kinds of racing, the risk all take no prisoners racing obviously floats your boat, and that's fine with me. But there are people that just might be interested in the more technical finer detail type racing. I never at any point said I did not enjoy Max overtaking at the end of the race however a bit of perspective needs to be applied. He was in arguably the best (at least second best), wet weather car on the track. He had new wet weather tyres. The people he passed were on old wets or intermediates. They did not have the grip level that Max enjoyed. So sorry if i don't think this is the second coming. He had his chance in the race to prove himself when he was behind Hamilton and he blew it by almost sticking it in the barrier, he recovered some of the lost ground, and good for him, but a very good drive would have been to keep the second place he won thru' merit.




agreed, that graph tells the whole story.
Particularly interesting to see Ves times certainly dont close on Ham after he passes Ros. (even when you extract the spin)

Future between Ves and Ham will be decided by their machinery I expect, really doubt we will see them as team mates and therefore get to truly match each other.


Agree.......I like looking at these graphs but Hamilton's line is crazy here when compared!


Using Top Gear maths, Lewis Hamilton 𝑤𝑜𝑢𝑙𝑑 have won by over 40 seconds with the Safety Car interruptions - over his own team-mate!

Also using Top Gear maths, young Max is going to earn over 25 Million Euros next year............


Looks like Ron Dennis has been told by the board/shareholders of TAG McLaren International to pack his bags and close the doors behind you son!

This must be the first time in his racing career that Ron has been sacked!


Starting up front is easy with the spray.. never considered..??


If that were the case you would expect whoever is in p2 to fall 5-10s back and then hold station. No evidence of that. Hamilton was simply faster, and as Rosberg would say, that's it.


why then did verstappen overtake all those cars ahead of him?
where was your beloved spray then?


One of the reasons ( you know that already becouse you mentioned it earlier;) why VES moved all over the track finding a place with less spray and more grip.
You seem to forget that driving on front makes it very easy to keep the tires on the right/best working temperature. It's quite easy keeping consistent times then.
Driving behind other cars slows you down and as a result the tires loose their grip. The more respect for VES who did al this and more.
In a few years we will see Brazil 2016 history is being written.


Swiss, makes you wonder why no-one else thought of that....


"starting up front is easy with the spray.. never considered..??"

Has it's downsides too. The leading car is the first to come upon standing water.


that's a myth.
if that was the case verstappen wouldn't have ivertaken all those cars..


Seems like Rosberg's pace improves when there is no car in front (within 5 s or so). He let it go at the end, I presume.


rosberg was taking no risks..


Garry, does it? Where are you looking?


TimW, it's a recurring theme throughout the race history chart. Whenever there is a car right in front of Rosberg (at safety car restarts and after Max's half spin), his graph goes downward quite steeply until there's a 3-5 s gap, after which it bends toward the horizontal, indicating a recovery in pace.


Garry. I'm looking at the lines and not seeing the same thing as you. After the first SC bot Lewis and Nico's pace drops initially before recovering, Lewis' line then levels off and Nico's continues to fall away. After the second Nico's line drops, and keeps on dropping, and after the final interruption his line drops for eight laps, then does level off for about three laps before heading downwards again.


TimW, I didn't say anything about Rosberg's pace relative to Hamilton's, only about his own pace. It's quite obvious that he loses ground quickly at those moments when there is a car close in front of him. That Nico's line mostly keeps dropping, agreed, but were talking about slopes here, about the derivative of Nico's graph. Not about if it's dropping, but how fast. That is exactly what defines pace.


Ummmmm...What was that race, I think in 2008 that Vettel overtook him with a Toro Rosso in the wet? Have u forgotten so soon?


was that the same race he got a much bigger trophy than vettel and was honoured as the world champion?


Yep and by a lot of luck .


Don't see in the data what you are seeing, but you have a completely different view on last race then most people incl. experts:"So the leaders, who do not have traffic and therefore as much spray to contend with, have a fast car and track position"


are you talking to me? This is really a fallacy... I never said what you are saying... so what's your point?


you can talk about the leader all day if you want. did he not lap cars?
did verstappen not drive better than numerous cars ahead of him?
where was the spray then?


well if you heard what Max was saying, the reason also why he had different lines was because of the spray, but the sight was definitely not as good as Hamilton had... I am not saying that Hamilton is not a good racer! I have a lot of respect for Hamilton and he is one of the best, but it is easier to keep your pace with nobody to overtake then when you have to overtake almost everyone and that is much more exciting.... sorry for my english...


no he didn't lap any cars... so therefore Hamilton had a good vision comparing to the other racers...


"no he didn't lap any cars"
Wonder why the commentators mention the lapped cars may now unlap themselves during the Massa safety car period? There is a chance he passed them while they were in the pits.


Wendy, he had good vision compared to some of the other racers. Nico had no spray in his face for nearly the whole race.....


what's for dinner?


oh yeah Wendy....


And of course if he did come upon lap cars they have to move out of the road. Not really in the same league as fighting through blinding spray.


Hamilton is excellent in the rain. However I think your cheer leading ignores that it is easier to lead then follow in the spray and of course the Mercedes, with more down force, will be easier to drive on a wet surface.


More downforce than the Red Bull, are you sure about that!!! True Red Bull have to sacrifice a bit of downforce on the power hungry tracks but in the wet that is not necessary.


shame on you brent..was that when he was on strategy to be crowned champion, on the same track vettel got mugged by a 19 year old with nearly 3 seasons experience of single seater car racing?
if only vettel was that good.


The real shame is that you can't comprehend what I wrote.


hahaha 1-0 for Brent! 😉 that's what I was thinking all the time... all the people who down plays Max performance, really don't understand anything about racing... they only show their non-knowledge....


whose fault is that then?


all those who think it's easier to drive at the front in the wet start at the front brent. rosberg vettel perez ocon all had it easier than verstappen yet he mugged them all!
i wonder where that logic of yours lie now..


sigh, you still don't get it he? and also the four people who liked your message.... it is difficult to reason... I understand.... Brent is talking about Hamilton... not about Rosberg Vettel, Perez etc... therefore it was incredible what Verstappen did, with no fear and in control whatsoever.... because he had little sight, but better sight then all the other racers who are taking the racers line... but hey it really doesn't matter what we try to explain to you if you reason like that....


try carrots for improved vision wendy...


none of them were driving at the front 😉


they couldn't even if they tried because hamilton didn't let them..


For what its worth, I agree with Aveli. Verstappen dispatched Rosberg pretty easily on tyres of similar age but was not able to close the gap to Hamilton.
Verstappen had advantage due to fresher tyres late in the race. But so did Ricciardo who was only able to finish 8th.
Vettel doesnt show the same intent to race Verstappen which he shows when he is racing Alonso.


"all those who think it's easier to drive at the front in the wet start at the front brent".



you can't reason with them Brent, if they don't understand what you are saying, just what you mentioned before.... luckily most of the people around the world, also all the experts, like the team bosses etc. appreciated a lot what Max did.... all the other ones, I really think they don't understand a lot about racing and the difficulties they have in the rain....


I think aveli is saying that if you were starting in the front, then all we'd hear from you is how hard it is to be the first to come across the puddles and standing water, making it easier for everyone behind you. Why? Well, some people just like to complain about whatever situation they're faced with.


Puddles and standing water areas don't change lap to lap, they remain in the same position as they were during the formation lap or laps in this case.


Brent. No the opposite is true, the rivers running across the track vary in intensity due to the amount of rain falling, the puddles get displaced due to the cars going over them and lifting all that water. A dry line appears when several cars are together, only to disappear when there is a gap in the traffic. Running at the front is seen as the best place to be in races like we saw on Sunday, but you have to earn that advantage, and other drivers had no spray for long periods in that race as well.


Tim the opposite is not true. Puddles and standing water do not change position. Water flowing across the track or down hills does so in the same place. Rain falling on a race track behaves no differently then it does on any paved road.


Brent, If a Formula one car on full wet tyres drives through a puddle at 180mph, it's position is changed from the surface of the track to being sent several metres into the air! Water flowing across the track will be in the same place, but it does vary in depth depending on the drainage conditions and rain intensity. This depth is crucial as above a certain level the tyre can no longer cope, the treads are overwhelmed and the contact patch is forced upwards away from the track surface and aquaplaning ensues. The difference between this happening or not can be a few milimetres.


That is correct. Rain falling on a race track behaves no differently then it does on any paved road.


Brent, yes I know it is correct, I said it. Why do you think I don't know that? The argument isn't about whether rain falling on a race track behaves differently to any other paved road, it is about the leading driver having a disadvantage when it comes to encountering that rain remember?! I haven't made that up, I have heard it said by F1 drivers on many occasions in the past, Brundle talks about it quite often. This disadvantage is not as bad as being stuck in the middle of the pack with zero visibility, but it is there.


First, if you had actually followed the thread you would realize the comment, "blinded by love" had nothing to do with you. Look at the date/time.

Second, my point IS based on the consistency of Hamilton's laps. It was and is that it is easier to run up front then it is to run in the pack. Water flow and pooling is consistent, it flows to the lowest point and pools in the pockets allowing the lead driver, with clearer vision, to avoid these areas and not need to use them to pass.
Third, show me one driver who would rather run in the spray as opposed to having to memorize water flow/pooling patterns over a couple laps (especially behind the safety car). I certainly have never heard such a comment from Brundle or any other driver.
Finally, I have been an avid follower of F1 since the late '60's and feel quite well equipped to offer an opinion. I could, as you have done, say you can't know anything because I don't agree with you...but I didn't.
Perhaps next time you could read the entire thread, it will give you context.


Brent, if the "blinded by love" comment was not directed at me, then I apologise. As for the rest, lets go back to the beginning, I joined this thread because I saw your comment regarding puddles and standing water not changing position and being a constant. This is not true, as I have said before puddles move when cars go through them, the crucial depth of standing water changes with rain density, these are clear facts that can't really be argued with.
I have never said that it is not easier to drive at the front than in the pack, just that it is not without it's own disadvantages, namely being the first to encounter the varying depths of standing water, and all the puddles having reformed by the time you get there. This disadvantage is real, and as I said has been spoken of in the past by many drivers, Brundle included. Not having to run through visibility reducing spray does however outweigh this disadvantage, but the other point I have been trying to make is that Lewis was not the only one to not have the spray problem, neither did Nico, and any other driver with a few seconds between him and the car in front.


luckily Hamilton is not one of them, I think he loves racing in the rain as well, because he can read the track... just like Max....


Brent, there's no point mate! My suggestion is to grab your drink and find another gal at the party... 🙂


LOL, Yep that one is blinded by love.


Brent, or simple facts. i suggest you educate yourself further before throwing the insults around.


We disagree on what "simple facts" encompass and the instigator of the insults. I am sure you believe your opinion is always correct.


Brent, you may not consider calling me being "blinded by love" an insult, but I do. I believe that the opinion I have formed from listening to many experts speak on this subject is correct, it is difficult to judge what your opinion actually is, or indeed where it might have come from.


Aveli, well said. Hamilton's imperious performance is the untold part of the story- at least on these pages. Thank god for data.


Verstappen was exciting to watch and looks prepped to deliver more in the future after hamilton is out of the scene.

Aveli I was talking about your last few lines where you seemed to imply no one will touch Hamilton in another wet race ever for the rest of his F1 career which was utterly bizarre . I wasn't referring solely to this race.


i have seen hamilton in the wet driving go karts, i have seen him driving f3 in the wet and he was not beaten. have we got any f1 evidence? button had to take him out in canada to give himself the chance of a wet victory. you can tell me about it when he gets beaten without issues out of his control.
i can tell the future so am waiting to see future results..


What about China 2010 , Europe 2007 ( where he should have been DSQ'), China 2007 Hungary 2011.?


Totally agree Aveli
Lewis was ballistic in the wet.
He had it covered. Even in the stop start conditions . You can always separate the average drivers from the Aces ♠ the cut above the rest .
Lewis 10/10
Max 9.9/10 (Red Bull tyre strategy robbed him of a second place)
The likes of Rosberg and Ricciardo looked tame in the wet.
In fact Rosberg was a 5/10 & Ricciardo was a 4.5/10. Which says alot.
Max tore Ricciardo a new one on Sunday. He will outshine Ricciardo in 2017 . Expect Ricciardo looking more sullen than ever , after Horner et al dosed all the platitudes to Max at Brazil. I can see him as driver no.2 as of now. Maybe in 2018 he'll be in WEC or at Williams for the short term. I expect the Aussie backlash but who cares Max schooled Ricciardo big time. Perez and at times, Hulks out performed Ricciardo . While Alonso just moaned at Vettel . Seems Alonso is the 'Hinge' and Vettel is the 'Bracket' (Hinge and Bracket was a drag comedy act on The Good Old Days on the BBC singing rather rude victorian songs v.funny).
All in all It was Lewis and Man's weekend.


You've done a good job slagging off almost everyone that had to race for their position in Brazil, but sorry- Ham's drive doesn't even go close to Max's drive. By his own admission he was just chillin out the front. He only had to keep a C+ wet driver behind him, he didn't have visibility issues, and he could see the standing water as he got to it (to put the ridiculus "first one to the puddles" argument to rest).


Lkfe. Lewis was "just chillin" because he had pace in hand, because of his mastery of driving in wet conditions. The puddle argument isn't ridiculous, it comes from professional racers who I have heard talk about this on many occasions in the past.
Nico may be a "C" when it comes to driving in the wet, but what about Max? What happened when he was the driver behind Lewis? That's right Lewis pulled away from him.
They both delivered great drives on Sunday, they had different jobs to do, but they both did them to a very high level. Anyone with any objectivity can see this is true, it requires a lot of prejudice against one or the other to see either drive as being un praise worthy.


ricciardo didn't do too badly in slippery monaco don't forget.


He didn't do that great in Brazil though .


Well... he did overtake some cars after the last switch to full wets. I think he went from 14th or 15th to 8 in 18 laps. Only thing is that Max made him look pretty average with his performance under the same conditions.

I really hope for him he really had trouble with his visor fogging up because otherwise he is having a major problem on his hand. In the radio transcripts however, nothing is mentioned about his visor so it is either in the non-public part, or an excuse.


Hamilton - best wet weather driver on the grid!


Nope... best qualified wet weather driver on the grid. I would say Max is at least on par with Hamilton


Seems from the chart Lewis was faster than the SC too....


Dan, the winers line is an average remember?


" the winers line is an average remember?"
No it isn't, the 0 line is the average.


jsk, good point, pretty much the same thing in this case though. Still not seeing where Lewis was faster than the safety car....


hamilton slowed to let the safety car go and accelerated to warm his brakes and tyres under braking...he had to go faster to catch up with it..


Not sure about that aveli As Max continues to grow in confidence and develop as a driver I'm sure he'll beat able to challenge Lewis whilst he is still around . Lewis is outstanding in the wet but I do not believe he is unbeatable those conditions. Also if RBR has a better overall in 2017 if will be difficult for even Lewis Hamilton to make up the difference. Marc have the best package but 2017 there are no guarantees it will remain that way He certainly won't go unbeaten in every wet race for the rest of his career if thats what you are trying to imply. Lewis's will start to decline eventually as well . It happens to all drivers in their careers even if only slightly. Had Max not pitted for Inters Lewis may have felt more of an urge to push the car with Max behind instead of Nico and spun off. Also another thing we learned from Brazil is that the Pirelli full wets ability to cope with standing water must be improved.


interesting post but the data do not lie. verstappen was behind hamilton after passing rosberg and for each of those 4 laps he fell backwards. verstappen himself said he couldn't have challenged hamilton when the question was put to him.
i admire verstappen and impressed mostly by the fact that he convinced his dad and the guys at redbull that he was ready for f1 at a tender age of 17. it takes exceptional performances to be able to secure such...
but i also enjoy f1 and could see from spain that verstappen could outrace ricciardo albeit the red bull team manipulated the victory for verstappen. he is exceptional but certainly not on the same level as hamilton.
just looking at their paths to f1, verstappen mum was also a racer so he has a great set of genes for that. secondly his dad was able to get him the best equipment to race with from the off.
hamilton, on the other hand, doesn't have racing drivers as parents nor did he have equipment good enough to compete with the average racer but he beat them all including those with the best professional equipment.
looking at their f1 performances, i can see that they are not on the same level.
hamilton toyed with rosberg to keep things interesting. am sure he regrets it now and won't repeat it. he will ensure he's not in such a situation ever again.
rosberg is not in the same league as will see more evidence of that in the seasons to come..


Couldn't agree more on the last comments there aveli relating to NR. If they were both driving an average car, HAM would outshine NR much more than he does so in the AMG Merc.

With regards to Max, I believe that at his age he has something to prove and clearly he went all out to gain that convincing 3rd podium spot. At best had he not been robbed by his team, he would have had held on to 2nd. For one, I am happy to read on here and other forums how great a drive he had rather than getting into debates on how he would mature into not doing such a mistake in the future had he taken himself out with a reckless move


Lewis the poor working class boy V Max and Nico -the privledged elite...I love it!
When your book comes out, i'll look for it in the fiction section...


LKFE, Fiction? In what way?


Hi Tim,
I've seen it argued before that Lewis has somehow defied disadvantage in his rise in F1 -in comparison to Nico in particular, but the same can be said for Max. The fact that his father wasn't an F1 driver is in my view immaterial. Aveli argues above that there is some advantage to be gained from that.
Whilst I would agree that there is a typical gene pool type that an F1 driver would need to possess (small, light, fast twitch reactions, risk appetite) -they are not unique to F1 at all. Drop a table tennis player into car and I reckon they'd develop nicely!
Talent aside, success in F1 comes from the amount of track time and backing that you get through all the junior categories-to suggest that Lewis' path to F1 has lacked any of that is pure fiction, and he has had (and deserved) every door knocked down for him along the way.
He may not be from the elite ruling class of former F1 drivers, but he is British in a British dominated sport, and i would argue that is more of an advantage than who your daddy drove for (particularly if you have any talent).
That compares very favourably with the pathway that other drivers have needed to take -I read Mark Webber's book last year, and was intrigued by the less-than-glamorous path that he and Ann Neal had to take firstly to even get into the jnr categories, and their fund raising efforts to pay for his F1 testing.


P.S, I read Mark's book, very good and his story of getting to F1 is equally impressive.


LKFE, Lewis' path through the junior categories was relatively straightforward with the backing from McLaren, but this only puts him equal with Nico and Max for that stage of his career. Before he earned that backing from Ron it was just him and his Dad sleeping in the car at races and scraping the money together from Tony working two jobs to continue in the sport. The comparison between this and Nico getting flown around the world in Keke's private jet is pretty stark, and worthy of mention I think.


Strange way of looking back. Lewis had very good support from McLaren later in his career. He tested a lot before entering the formula 1. Max may have karting parents. But it is not that Max had better support in karting then other top drivers. Also Max was in a mid field f3 team. While Ocon was in the best team. Even so. Max was promoted after winning everything in karting and a break trough season f3.


mjollnir. That's true, but he earned that backing because of the talent level he had shown them in the years when it was just him and Tony. Max and Nico 'earned' their backing because of simple biology.


For every race either Hamilton and Rsoberg are not P1 and 2 there's been something out of the ordinairy, it was either rain, mechnical issues or a crash. Hamilton in a Mercedes can only be beaten by Rosberg in a Mercedes... or a wet race on an extreme low speed track like Monaco.

The fact that Verstappen has been able to defeat Rosberg on track a couple of times was thanks to a wet track, Rosberg is not a great wet master like Hamilton. In the dry Verstappen has come close to Rosberg, but the Mercedes power is just mamin every comparishing impossible.

Once the time has arrived another car can battle with Mercedes again, that minute we can compare drivers...


What actually happened to Button in Brazil?
He was previously named 'the wet race master'.
Or was that also 'just' because he happened to be in one of the absolute best cars on the grid?


If you look at his other wet race performances throughout his career including pre-F1he has been consistently excellent in whichever car. Particularly so on drying tracks.
Brazil was clearly an anomaly.


You could say that with every top team who has dominated in F1 History.
Max is not a Champion yet.
OK he is talented but until he gets a Championship he is still an also ran.
But next year may not be any different as Mercedes engine has alot more pokey to vote next year.
Renault engine is still not up to scratch. Mercedes will still be ahead next year maybe a closer pack, but they'll still be tops.


in that case, so long as hamilton is available to advise his engineers on building that car, it'll be superior to the rest.


Oh, he is an engineer as well.. put Lewis in a RB or Ferrari and see what happens..


did you not know that engineers consult drivers for car design and performance?
did you not know that hamilton designed his steering wheel at mclaren and mercedes?
did you not know that hamilton shaves his seat himself to ensure it's the right fit?
did you not know that hamilton asked the mercedes engineers to move their brake bias control from the lever on the inside of the cockpit onto the steering wheel to improve the weight and centre of gravity of the car?


[q] ==did you not know that hamilton designed his steering wheel at mclaren and mercedes? [/q] == ai.. the more stupid was Baku then. If you do not even remember our own design.


why are you so upset about facts?
do you wish he wasn't able to?
i am so sorry he was involved in all those designs including the agusta bike suspension.


The things you mention are nothing more than driver preferences being honored because he is a championship winner. There are also
pop-start who demand purple champagne in every hotelroom they need to stay.

Hamilton is good, sure but the man is not an alien and can and will be beaten when time is due.


Yeah me too. my local mechanic consults me on how the car is going. I also adjust the seat and wheel position in my car to suit my preferred driving style and level of comfort. I also remove the golf clubs from the back to improve the weight distribution for better cornering, acceleration, braking and overall fuel efficiency. That must make me some sort of hero i suppose.


Aveli, you're such a Hamilton [Mod] and that's alright! =)) He is a good driver, but you just can't deny the Mercedes is still the best car by far so it'should kinda hard to claim he is the best out there. Max is also fantastic in the rain which he showed. He actually gained on Hamilton but couldn't get closer because of the power on the straight. I am not saying Max is better than Lewis in the rain, there is just no way of saying right now until they have comparable cars.
And about Lewis helping build his own car... Max basically grew up building motors, karts and working on setups. Daniel even said himself that Max is kind of a 'nerd' when it comes to cars. He knows every small thing about them...
That's why he started out 0-6 in quali against Ricciardo, he needed to get to know the car, it's specific handling and the setup. Since then Max is 6-4 in quali and 3-1 since using his own setups (instead of using Ric's)


Didn't Lewis throw his career away when he signed for Mercedes ?🤔


hamilton did say it was the easiest wet race he's had and herbert hill said he was just rubbing it in but the data support hamilton's words.
i hope the enjoy a look at the data.


yeah he was lucky that Max was entertaining the rest of the world, instead of chasing Hamilton because of the bad call the team made to change the tires to intermediates.... I think Hamilton was not really happy to see that the awe and admiration for Max overshadowed his achievement. Nobody saw Hamilton in the race, everybody was watching Max.... cheering for him, comparing him to Senna, Max got a lot of new fans now from Brazil, I think Hamilton would do anything to get that much appreciation... Next year it will be interesting to see, when the bulls have almost the same horsepower, who is the best racer.... Hamilton or Max!


I thought he was saying that this was the easiest race he had had at Brazil. Just before that statement he said the race at Brazil has always been difficult for him.
Or did I pick that up wrong?


yep, he also said silverstone 08 was way more difficult..


Now what is it? Did HAM outperform or was it an easy race for him?


I think it was an relatively easy race for Hamilton, but it was quite interesting to read a comment, that maybe Max couldn't get to him when he almost spin, it cost maybe Hamilton his championship. Hamilton had to play with Max, there would be not a different strategy. After the almost spin the Red Bull team decided to put Max on the intermediates, what costs Max his second place....


in his own words, it was an easier wet race victory, silverstone 2008 was way harder..


Looking at the inclination of the line over the last 15 laps, the data tells me that MV was faster then your beloved LH. Whilst overtaking some 13 cars vs. LH just 'battling' ih the ideal racing line. But then of course your counter argument will be that LH to the end slowed down & was only cruising to victory.
These comparisons are so nonsensicle & speculative.
Don't want to take anything away from a superb, yet fairly easy drive upfront by LH (his own words), but am pretty sure MV's performance was way ore impressive & will go down in history as one of the greater wet-race performances.

And on another note re. comparisons: didn't Senna had to do all that impressive performance in the wet partly with one hand (shifting gear with the other) yet at slower comparable speeds vs. today...? And am sure there are similar non-comparable comments possible for MS in Barca.

Point is: judge it within the time frame & against the field that is being raced. And then you will conclude with me that this was an epic MV-performance that justly outshone LH's win, if only as it allowed him to show more of his driving skills (not saying he has more than LH - future will tell).
Regardless MV's brand value has shot up a few notches last Sunday...!


Why would Lewis care what times Max was doing in the last 15 laps?

Max pitted on lap 54. At the end of lap 56 he was 16.273s behind. From lap 56 to lap 62, he was slower than Lewis each lap. Gap now stood at 24.921s. At the end it was 21.481 ... 3.5 secs gained from the biggest gap, but 5 secs down from the gap at the restart.

The real battle was when Verstappen was behind Lewis. Lewis was never under threat, and was faster. Horner has said that they knew they wouldn't be able to catch Lewis on the same strategy, so they gambled. How ironic that Lewis hurt his title chances by perhaps being too good at that time?


interesting view! 😉


You forgot to mention that Lewis did not have to overtake anyone ! during the last 15 laps,They all finished in the same lap.Once or twice Ves had no traffic in front of him,resulting in the fastest lap!


Please take a look at fastest lap times by driver.
Here it is clear that Max and Ricciardo were the two fastest drivers on the track in Brazil. Tyre and strategy-wise the Red Bull team simply did not get it right, so Hamilton and Rosberg still finished in 1-2, as by default is also the most expected outcome when starting ahead. I will argue it is always more challenging to be the hunter compared to being the leader in front.


hamilton and verstappen will race each other for many years to come and i don't know what the race results will patiently waiting to see the outcome..i hope you enjoy it.


I agree Aveli... interesting races to come ahead! Formula 1 has his excitement back.... due to a young boy....


Me too mate! It will be epic!


The data doesn't tell you that LH was going as fast as necessary to win, without taking unnecessary risks. He had a margin - how much though is subject to debate.

MV on the other hand was going as fast as possible, nudging the limits as his near miss shows. Whatever margin he may have had was likely < the LH margin.

This takes nothing away from MV's performance, which was superlative, given also that he was having to deal with the spray from the cars in front.


Why do we always get into these debates. Max did an exceptional job - give credit were credit is due. Hamilton did a good job keeping the field back in the wet with all those restarts till the end of the race. Good performance. From an entertainment standpoint MV was the man. Lets just agree they are both good drivers in the wet and be done with it.


f1 is not about good drivers.
f1 is about who's the best driver.


It happens when people type with one eye shut.


Well you would know LKFE!!


If someone starts throwing in data as argument, the data should be interpreted correctly - that was all I was trying to say in my -I at least thought- well balanced post.
Other than that: fully agree with you on all points, next to hopefully indeed enjoying what the future beholds - together with the OP, as per his reply 😉


yes, Verstappen's drive saved the race as a spectacle, and gave another boost to his growing reputation. Once again Hamilton didn't get the break he needed to get closer to Nico, who can now win the championship by just avoiding bad luck.
It would have been interesting to see Lewis and Max tussle for the win, I have no idea how that would have gone, Max's climb back up the positions provided far more spectacle.
It's still fascinating to watch this play out. If Nico wins you'd have to say he deserved it, if Lewis wins it's the greatest come-back since Lazarus.


Thanks for this article James.

I spent the whole race wondering why so many cars were so keen to change to inters.

If Red Bull had kept Max on wets (after the first time he overtook Nico), he would have definitely finished in P2.

James, the other thing I was wondering was: Did Lewis and Nico change to a newer set of wets during the red flag or did they complete the entire race on only one set of tyres?


they changed their tyres each time the race was stopped. they didn't pit for tyres after the final restart..


I was shocked too to see Max come in from P2. He would've easily kept it, and then we'd have a situation where Nico would have to finish 2nd if Lewis wins in Abu Dhabi, or where Lewis could finish 5th to win, etc.


red bull wanted victory but forgot that there was heavier rain on the way..


i was shocked when RB called verstappen in for intermediates. the other issue for me is the fia's reluctance to allow wet races to proceed without interference. i actually do remember the wet '68 german gp at nurburgring. it's one of the all time classics. if the curerent generation of drivers don't want to race they can always park the car like lauda did in japan in 1976. wet races all us to see who can really drive in spite of an uncompetitve car.


I don't usually agree with the length of time they keep out the safety car in wet races. Far too long - they usually only take it off when its time to swap to intermediates anyway, which is a joke. The drivers only need two or three laps to get an idea of where the water is not 7 laps.

But to be fair to race control this time there was a dangerous level of aquaplaning on the pit straight. There were some really close shaves, especially with Kimi.

Don't get me wrong I think there should always be a dangerous aspect to F1 and the tracks have been dumbed down way to much in recent years. But if a driver and smacked into another one on the pit straight then we were talking serious injury or even worse.

I actually think they handled it quite well - calling the safety car at first after the first batch of crashes - then letting it go again and then stopping the race after yet another crash. And we should the thankful they let the race go to the end due to what we witnessed with Max.


i don't think the red flags were necessary. after all they knew it would rain continuously. they should've cleared the crashes under the safety car and allowed the race to continue..


Shame about Max.

Is it just me but I was hoping that Rosberg would crash out or have someone else crash into him…!!

Yes this goes down to the wire, with Hamilton no chance of winning the championship unless something happens to his team mate.

I was hoping that something would have happened in Brazil, so it meant that they both had a chance to win in the next race, i.e. winner takes it all…….

Ah well not to be, lets hope for a smokey engine for Rosberg so the far better driver wins the championship.


I had very similar feelings - except I was hoping that Ham would spin out or that Max would crash into him


It certainly wasn't just you. Although its not over 'till the fat lady sings, as they say!


I don't think I've ever seen such shaky lines on a race history chart!

It is such a telling story of how things are now in F1 when despite millions of pounds of computer hardware, software and back office strategists, sometimes the best way to do strategy is to watch raindrops in a puddle.


For all the talk about Max Verstappen at Sao Paolo (fair enough) just have a look at that purple line at the top of the graph- that there friends is a masterclass in wet weather driving from the front


yep, no spray, no opposition, no fighting, juist cruising.


If he was just cruising why didnt he get beaten??. Did you notice he was pulling the same lap times as Verstappen alot of the time and he turned it up just a bit more at the end ? It takes incredible skill to pull the same laps fast,slow,or anywhere between the way he did- Ive never seen a graph like that in any conditions even dry... Incredible Also people here forget that the lead car of the race is the "tester" of conditions ahead and as conditions worsen they encounter the standing water first (as each car tends to clean it up a little) Of course he had his advantages starting from pole and staying ahead-- is that a problem for you???.. whats wrong people here.. 1 born every minute..


The graph does not show the laptimes but the gap between drivers.
Lapping consistent on tires that are in the exact working temperature is way easier than fighting for position losing grip by cooling the tires. You have to bring them back to there working temp every pass as VES did.
So driving in front is way easier than fighting for position.


well they show the relative pace, lap times and gap between them, so what James already mentioned, the gradient defines pace or lap times ... so the graphics tells a lot... but not who is the best racer, because there is more to that than only pace.... what you already mentioned it is easier to drive in front than fighting for position, I agree on that....


Yes Elie, I agree - Bernd Maylander was in a class of his own.............

Actually, to be serious, big respect to Big Bernd, because that Merc AMG GT is a total 𝑎𝑛𝑖𝑚𝑎𝑙, it's thrummy bi turbo V8 pumping out an astonishing 510 BHP and 480 lb ft of torque - enough to re-start a dead planet, so you can imagine that in those foul conditions on Sunday it was quite a handful, and it would have been very easy for Big Bernd to end up in the Interlagos swamp..........

Incidentally, that 480 lb ft of torque is more than a Formula 1 engine produces - I'm not a professor of higher mathematics, but I reckon doing all the sums a Formula 1 PU pumps out around 410 lb ft of torque at around 13,500 to 14,000 RPM. Sounds a surprisingly small amount, but remember, that torque is produced at nearly 14,000 RPM...................with a road car peak torque is around 5000 RPM!


@Gaz Boy- Thats not right. The ICE on an F1 car produces 480 lb ft on its own and the ERS on its own produces 300 lb ft

Combined ,an F1 PU produces over 750 lb ft of torque (1.355818&) or over 1000nm. Theres been a few articles on this here. I recall the current ICE with its turbo alone produce more power & torque than the old V8's. They really are phenominal pieces of tech- thats why the cars can wheel spin on some circuits even in dry conditions in 5gear at 200kph


Plus the torque from the electric motor is produced from zero rpm...


*Sorry yes I meant blue


You mean solid light blue line, right? Hamilton out front was no fuss, metronomic driving. Brilliant.


It at least proves there was little or no tire degradation, so that argument you can flush.


Yep Metronomic indeed KRB 👍.

"James" what about the extreme wet tyre. Pirelli have made another mistake. The tyre just didn't match up to the conditions. Surely they should take a lot of flack for their poorly constructed wet tyre. The drivers were complaining about it. It wasn't shifting that much water.
Should there be another manufacturer involved in F1 to keep them honest in development.
The new surface on the track meant that the water just pooled and didn't drain away rapidly. The tyre didn't do its job well enough.
Like drivers getting points on their super licence for bad driving.
It's about time Pirelli started getting some penalties.


I totally agree- for me Pirelli dont belong in F1. Im not joking they seriously arent up to standard.


Just curious; what makes you think any other tyre suppliers would do a better job given the requirements that are imposed on the incumbent?


Thats exactly the point other manufacturers would not bend so easily to this business of "engineered entertainment". They build products which perform brilliantly to a predetermined blueprint not intentionally try to degrade at a rate convenient for F1 management or are nearly nearly impossible to get into a performance window that works over a stint.

If it was Pirellis 1st or 2nd year I would wholeheartedly understand but after 7 years someones still got them on a string and their tyres either last 3laps or 50 laps and struggle to perform properly anywhere in between. Their extreme wets dont dissipate water or grip anything like tyres did 10 years ago. Tyregate of 2013 should never have happened either had they been forthright & on their game.


Looks like Hamilton and verstappen were lapping at the same pace at the end. Would have been interesting to see how Hamilton would have made it through the field if he had been in the same position


Slight correction needed as whilst McLaren, like Williams and Renault, did the same as Red Bull, they didn't end up pointless as Alonso came tenth.


I think RB deliberately made that strategy call to take their cars out of this championship fight. Things aren't always what they seem, there's much more going on behind the scenes. Letting Max and Danny race could have been detrimental to Nico's title hopes. It's absolutely essential that Nico wins to bring a positive atmosphere in the Daimler Benz factory's in germany. As an expat living around the Baden-württemburg area, it's not easy to ignore the general feeling of a lack of interest for F1, most are more attached to DTM, for the simple reason that it's more fan friendly, and fear that huge sums of euros are wasted in a sport that nobody really wants, especially when Hamilton is always winning.
Mercedes F1 activities costs around €460 million, they get a huge return from sponsors, prize funds and engine fees, making the entire season budget around €3.5 million. In F1 terms, that's a good price to pay for the technology and publicity that F1brings for Mercedes, but try explaining that to Joe Bloggs assembling road cars at stuttgart. Behind the scenes, strings are being pulled to ensure that Mercedes remains competitive within F1, even if it means Nico winning an easy title.
Now I guess most can understand the reasons behind Toto calling Jos.!


Agreed. To pit Max and put those inters on made no sense whatsoever. Perhaps Toto Wolff's phone call paid off....


"standout performances from race winner Lewis Hamilton ..." - There's no bias here honestly! It was a comfortable sunday drive for LH, he didn't have any spray or in fact anything to contend with, he never had to push the limits, never risked anything and you call that a 'standout performance'?
More seriously, given the amount of this race that was behind the safety car would it be sensible to change the 75% rule for full points so that it only applies to actual racing laps?


I read somewhere (either a bbc or sky column) that Lewis' engineer said he spun his rear wheels once, that was his only mistake during the race. To make no mistakes in these conditions, even if you're running out in front with no spray is simply stunning in my point of view.


How painfully true!!!


Wow, just wow! Sounds like someone's been having some sour grapes.

I would call it a stand out performance when the cumulative gap opened by Lewis over the entire race was 40 seconds.


40 seconds, thats about 2 pitstops and a spin....


2 pitstops cost approx 46 seconds.. the spin about 6 seconds.. So VES would have had a lead of 12 seconds 😉


Pulling away from your teammate at 1s/lap is a "comfortable Sunday drive" for you?

Would love to see you drive in that, at those speeds.


That's a seriously messy race history chart! It seemed ridiculous at the time for Red Bull to try intermediates, but Lewis was pulling away from Max after he got by Rosberg and they were both in the full wet, so I guess they had to roll the dice to try for the win. It cost them second in the end, but I like it when the teams take a punt, so good on you Red Bull!


Yep they had to try it. Also you could see a drying / less wet line forming when RBR switched to inters- it made perfect sense to me to try it. If you gained 3 sec a lap you recovered it in 7laps. But I think they were mad to do it with both cars! Having switched Dan first they should have left Max out!

Good anology by James on the Fast/ Steady pit stop-I was thinking exactly that when watching it.


After Max' spin, RB gambled on a different tyre choice. But they should have gambled on another safety car. He would have had the best chance to attack him right after the SC


Elie, I would have tried it with max, but left Dan on the full wet. Max was more comfortable with the conditions and more likely to be able to live with the inters, plus it gave a chance of the win while leaving him on the full wet seemed to be dooming him to p2 at best.


No problem with that either really. But given they had already committed one way with Dan and did exactly the same with Max- thats something they dont usually do as the article suggests. Perhaps seeing Dans progress they extrapolated the gains to Max side rather then hedge the risk of more rain and gone the other way.

Either way Im quite surprised by Max's great drive because he was not that great in Monaco in similar conditions. His strengths show greater in the higher speed/higher DF loads. Also hes obviously learning at a very rapid rate.


I think Monaco came too early for Max.

It was his second race in the RB12 and was having trouble adjusting to the very direct steering input the RB12 gave him compared to the TR.

Combine that withhim being a bit to eager to build upon the good result he had in Barcelona and you're up for a whipping.

In raw speed, Monaco wasn't too bad though... The laps before he crashed were a bit like Interlagos. Overtaking cars and the fastest car on track. He only overestimated his knowledge of the car and underestimated how unforgiving Monaco is.

Max has always been a great wet weather racer, he was lapping 1 to 2 seconds faster then anyone else in F3 (Norisring), including Ocon, who later won the championship. Max, in a midfield car, won 10 races that year, more then Ocon.


He messed up in Monaco. Somehow he has made most of his mistakes on that circuit with 3 crashes in 2 years. But don't forget he also impressed by taking P1 or P2 in free practice in a Toro Rosso and he had impressive races in both years. Until he crashed. Found his limit there. For insiders, it was no surprise that he excelled on a wet track. Dutch go-karters grow up driving in the rain on slicks. That's one of the reasons why he has a great feeling for where's the grip. It was also a race in mixed conditions at the Norisring that convinced Marko to offer him a contract at Toro Rosso. I wouldn't be surprised if he takes the victory there next year


Elie, it's always easy from our armchairs! I think going for inters was risky, and taking that risk on both cars was a mistake, in the end it cost them a position, but gave us a great last few laps as Max came back through the field!


I could understand that they pitted him for wets. He was driving in P5 at the time. And with the conditions and only 15 laps or so to go he was only bound to lost positions rather than not gain any. Though I have to admit that at the time I thought it would be hard to recover even P5. The worst mistake they made IMO is to pit him for inters on the first place in stead of hoping that there would be another safety car to bring Max back behind Lewis after his spin. Which eventually came true


Chris, yes the safety car could have brought Max into play if he had stayed on the full wet, but I guess they had seen Hamilton's pace and thought it unlikely he could get ahead and stay there without a tyre off set.


True. Lewis was quick. Even a bit quicker than Max in that first stint. Of course he did have a clear track ahead of him but still, I think Lewis had just a little more pace. But maybe not enough to overtake Max again if he would have lost his position to Max at the restart. He would also have a lot to lose of course if he'd had to make a risky move on Max. It's all if's and but's but considering on TV they said the weather reports showed there was probably going to be more rain coming, I would have probably gambled on another safety car and Max' skill to pull it off.


Chris, with hindsight it would have been better to keep Max on the full wet, but I can see why they tried inters.


James, great analysis as usual.
Let me add 2 personal observations with regard to so-called professionalism within all teams really, but RBR in particular.
1) Two kerbs in the long turn towards the pit entry lane, subsequently hit by Vettel, Magnusson, Verstappen and Massa.
All spun off, MAG and MAS crashed leading to SCs whereas VES and VET carried themselves away from it, more or less (Max more, Seb less).
Wasn't aquaplaning per se like was the case with Kimi, but with some standing water on the left of the track touching the kerb front left is likely to take the car away from underneath you.
So why did nobody alert anybody?? I was watching TV on my own without a bunch of guys and a couple of beers. Funny perhaps, but in that setting I tend to comment aloud and even take on the role of engineers or team leaders.
After the second event (Magnusson) a pattern was becoming evident. So, to no driver in particular I went "Be advised that hitting the left kerbs on the hill leading to pit lane will likely take you out. Very hazardous there. I repeat stay well clear of the kerbs over there".
No one heard me so in reality nothing happened and drivers kept spinning off hitting the same kerbs. This almost took Max out and Massa's crash incurred another SC, nearly putting an end to the entire race. Totally unnecessary. Looking at the paddock all I see is a bunch of guys watching digital data on screens and acting important. But I just wonder: do the teams even employ one man dedicated solely to watching the entire race and reacting to obvious patterns like this?
It's not the first time either. At Silverstone half a dozen drivers flew off in T1 at different times but all I seem to recall is one tepid remark about this. I am all for letting the drivers figure out how to negotiate corners but here and in Interlagos more urgent warnings were useful intra-team and maybe even warranted race-wide. Lewis - with Max not too far behind him - whizzed off at Silverstone so I remember putting on Horner's cap and immediately warning Max in no uncertain terms to take care there. However, all stayed quiet on the RB front and Lo and behold, off he went in the very same lap, chance to get Lewis out of his leisure mode gone.
So much for teams' level of professionalism discerning and acting on patterns in a race...
2) All Interlagos weather predictions announced more rain. Red Bull: how obtuse, how stupid can you get to blatantly ignore that and not once but twice go for intermediates? Oh and not for one driver but both. I know there was a lot of talk about the unpredictable microclimate but listen guys: precipitation radar for the next 15-60 mins works perfectly the all over the world. RBR have turned from being too cautious towards Merc to being over zealous. Lewis being asked post-race nailed it: this never was an intermediate track! Simple. For all to see. Period.
Instead this gave us a legendary race by Verstappen, but deprived:
- Max of a likely P2 and a possible poke at Hamilton
- RIC of a possible P3 or P4
- Lewis of the one realistic chance to retain his title.
To quote Seb: "I mean, honestly..."


Lemwil: To your point 2) I couldn't agree more. What was Horner and his crew thinking?


Well stated out Lemwil. Great analysis


According to the tyre history chart, Wehrlein, Button and Ricciardo used four sets of wet tyres. I thought teams only had three, so did they put a set back on that had used earlier in the race?


they can use used tyres too.


Seems to me that Mr. Vettel was promoted on the Strength of an upgrade, as has been the Flying Dutchman! So let's not underestimate the accumulated brilliance of Mr. Newey!


It's a pity Danny did not had the same upgrade then.


I think Rosberg got to keep his second place because it was chaos behind him. If RB had played it right, both their cars would have beaten him. He's just hopeless in the rain. In Monaco this year his was at sea. The guy's incredibly lucky. The VSC allowed him to keep second place in the States and the RB strategy blunder handed him second place in Brazil. Add to that Hamilton's engine failures and I just find it hard to swallow the fact the the better driver doesn't get to win the championship. But it's a mechanical sport right?


Great analysis as usual James.

Just a quick question, was there a reason that VET pass on ALO and VES pass on VET where each doing the overtaking pushed the other cars off the track not investigated or is it that when your car is in front you can legally push the other car off track?

Based on ALO comments we might see a big crash.


Alonso was silly trying to race Vettel on the outside ... he's always gonna get run out of room out there. 100% his own fault! Just silly pig-headed driving. Vettel did somewhat the same thing with Verstappen later ... he was beat, but didn't want to accept it.


ChrH made fun of the fact that TotW called JosV for his son not to interfere with the championship battle - but in a way complied by pitting MaxV


Alonso was just stupid. He got passed fair & square & came roaring back from the outside when Vettel was already in front. That's crazy!


"there was nothing in the forecasts that suggested an easing of the rain". I believe that sums it up. I was amazed at the number of drivers who switched to intermediates when they did. OK, one or two maybe had little to lose (apart from the car....) but I certainly couldn't understand a team switching both cars to intermediates. Even more unbelieveable was stacking them in the pits.


That graph shows who the current big hitters in f1 are .Hopefully Renault make the leap next year and help Red Bull get alongside Mercedes-Benz. There is nothing I want to see more than those 4 cars mixing it up. The radio will sound much more panicked when the Mercedes drivers realise they just dont have to worry about their team mate.


does anyone know if Vesstappen was set up with more downforce than some of the others. His passes on Raikonnen and Rosberg were amazing under the circumstances and suggest that he may have had a very different set up or else Rosberg and Raikonnen were being too cautious. We have seen that in the past where some team decides to take a gamble on set-up which can make a big difference sometimes.


To answer your question directly: no I don't have that data but given the performance against the Ferrari's but in particular against Ricciardo I wouldn't say he set his car up for rain. VES made a mistake in sector 2 in his second Q2 run, he was going 1 or 2 tenths faster than his previous run. In the end he beat Ricciardo but only just (less than a tenth?). So if he had a "rain setting", so did Ricciardo.


Without underestimating his talent, Kimi and Rosberg are far from the best in the rain. And at the end of the race, he had much fresher tyres than those in front of him. In Monaco, under less adverse conditions he crashed many times until he was out of the race. So I don't buy all the hype. He's brilliant though. Lewis on the other hand drove a faultless race, pulling comfortably away and finding lines only Max was able to find


Looking at the data on top you can see the chart and the consistent times Lewis set. Based on that you can rule out tire degradation, his laptimes were very stable and the tires did not drop.


just like Pirelli mentioned...


The race was great fun but Red Bull prevented it from being potentially the best wet race ever by fitting intermediates on their cars. Mind boggling decision.


Interesting race, looking forward to next year with Hamilton & Verstappen at the top! Race as they should be, wheel to wheel! Without knowing in advance who will win!


The graph 16R20BRA is wrong on the Kvyat analysis.
It is missing an horizontal line to show the change of tires among 8 and 43.


A question about strategy if I may. Obviously, Lewis wants anybody on the podium at Abu Dhabi except Nico. But what is acceptable to achieve that? If after turn 1 the order would be HAM, ROS, VES, RIC, can Lewis slow down just a bit to back up Nico into Max? It would be good for him, but bad for the team... Would this be a smart thing to do, or is it not done? Please enlighten me!


Red Bull think they will be more competitive in Abu Dhabi than they were in Brazil (in the dry)

So Nico can't take anything for granted. Verstappen's tail will be up, but it's the kind of track Ricciardo shines on so they will be pushing each like crazy and Rosberg will be mindful of that.

But the conditions are very stable, Mercedes have the fastest car so he should close it out.

Lewis will not do anything underhand and anyway he's the one at risk with a DNF, Rosberg has the points advantage


James, what was the cause of all of the 'helmet fogging' during the race? (And please don't say 'the rain' ;)) Lewis, Nico, Daniel and a few others at various times were complaining about very poor (and in some cases Nil..) visibility with visors. Was this a helmet/visor brand issue?


The Spray of the Safetycar in cause of Lewis and the others had the same problem with the car in front. The visors were not setup good enough or defective sealing was the cause.


Rosberg deserves some credit for not pulling a JapaneseBanzaiSennaBoomProst move, there were plenty of opportunities in Brazil but it seems he wants to win or lose in a fair way. The Red Bulls could really spoil his party. As you say, Daniel will want to make up for last weekend and Max will be on it no matter how often Toto calls his dad/grandpa etc. Going to be interesting.


James on the subject on the RBR drivers I think this last race could be very important about who has the upper hand in the psychologically stakes going to next season . Whoever comes out on top in Abu Dhabi between Max and Dan will probably have the upper hand going . I have a feeling that if RBR are in title winning position next year ( and I think they will be) and Max beats Dan then all of the confidence Dan got from beating Seb in 2014 will recede into oblivion . Max has time on his side at 19 where as Ricciardo is 27 and next year might be his only opportunity to be WDC before Max starts to peak as a driver especially if McLaren, Mercedes or Ferrari are snapping at RBR's heels .

However, I personally hope we get a real surprise in 2017 and Kimi wins a belated 2nd WDC.


Kimi only can win if it's a completely dry season. Looking at his performance in the wet in Monaco and Brazil ( and to a lesser extend Silverstone) he does not deliver in the Wet.,


What do you base all these feelings on ST?


"I reflected after the podium on Lewis's demeanour, and I can understand his view of the race. His engineer Bono told me at the airport that LH spun his rear wheels up once climbing the hill but otherwise it appeared a faultless and uneventful race, which is impressive to say the least in those conditions."

I really think the media at large is forgetting the performance (when one slip wipes out ANY. Hope of championship) Hamilton delivered. I know I'm a fan and I'm the first to say how impressed I was MV but it's one thing delivering this under pressure and another when you effectively have little to lose.

I know it's not popular to praise Ham on such forums but seriously recognise the composure he and Rosberg displayed when SO MUCH was at stake.


HAM did a great job. That's why he is on 1e place..
But his performance is lost in the sensational act VES put together.


This was one of the best mistakes ever!


Apart from this, I do believe Hamilton was the fastest out there as well. You could see when Max was running in second place before he spun he was going from 1.4 to 2.0 seconds. We will never know if he would have hold on to that 2 second gap for reasons of spray or whether Hamilton was just a bit faster, nevertheless from a RBR perspective and if you go for "all or nothing" it was understandable I guess. It was a bit strange that literally a minute or so before they pitted we heard a radio message to someone saying the rain was going to intensify but hey ho. you win some, you lose some I guess.

I guess it's just as strange as having a delayed start, messing around behind the safety car and as soon as they release the field the first guys come in to switch to inters. Sure, they may have had it wrong but it makes you wonder that if they can drive on these things then why couldn't we have a normal start.


I think when Max had more patience, he could have raced Hamilton. It seems that the Mercedes unit power has a lot more extra power and then they have to take it back. So Max shouldn't be afraid when Hamilton is driving away. When you look at the other races. You could hear the team saying to Rosberg, later you have more power. And also the blow up of Hamilton's engine is the prove, that Max could chase Hamilton... So I think it was a crazy thing to do to change to intermediates, because we heard on the Dutch tv that it would rain heavier instead of less....


Lewis engine would never had gone to pieces in the wet conditions so engine power was not relevant in Brasil. Driveability and downforce was.

Without the pitstop, Max would have scored a 2nd place but with the pistop, he had a (small) chance for a race win and RBR decided they would gamble, knowing their care ws the most likely to get heat enough into the inters to make them work.
It was the SC that made the track conditions so bad that they could not get the inters to work for them, ever...

So, in hindsight you can say they made the wrong decision but to be honest, i value this P3 more than i would have valued an anonymous P2, in Lewis spray.


well, we never actually know, it is always what if.... But I think Max could have challenged Lewis, if he didn't changed to intermediates... it is still guessing... and off course the near crash didn't help....


Hamilton was classy, always has been in full wet conditions. Being out front with no spray helps but it would only be a very small advantage. Verstappen was great but hus rookie mistakes hitting the white lines means he's not the greatest yet!

I see toto has come out and said "a mechanical issue will be a nightmare if it decided the title race".

He always seems to make comments like that and then low and behold..... hamilton will be champion in abu dhabi!


rookie mistakes, you must be joking... you saw a different race then I did.... it was a lesson to all the other drivers....


Let's not forget Max's tyres were 26 laps fresher than everyone else's at the end there .. All the same, very impressive performance, and a wet duel with Lewis would've been fascinating to watch. Max must've read Senna's book -- not only for wet driving but racecraft as well. The kid is on his way.


I think Max's fresher tires are a very key and overlooked point. Seems like most of the people he passed were on extreme wet tires that they had been on since what, lap 29 ? The others he passed were on intermediates, which looked like the wrong tire for the day. A brilliant drive, but I think the fresh tires were a massive advantage.


If you look at the laptimes HAM did you see the tire degradation does not had much influence.


You are forgetting tyre wear. As the tyre surface wears away the channels for clearing the water get smaller and can't move as much water. This reduces the tyres ability to clear the standing water and would therefore force the driver on the worn tyres to be more cautious.


Ricciardo had the same fresh wets.



he didn't fit new tyres.


A constantly changing race which ended at 2:15 in the morning where I live. Saying it was easy for Lewis with no spray is a misnomer.....Max lost it with no spray, as did Nico. Both lucky to still be in the race, especially Max. So why would Red Bull switch Max's tires after he nearly crashed on full wets.....illogical and a huge error in tactics. He may have been able to win the race, but I believe Lewis would have kept him at bay. Max's great drive at the end was with new wets and a lot of experience in the previous 50 odd laps figuring out the worst standing water areas. Great drive from him and exciting to watch.....and kudos to Lewis as he didn't put a tire wrong and accomplished exactly what he wanted from his drive. If he wins the final race he will have 10 wins to Noco's 9 and still lose the WC.....frustrating, especially when you consider it has been won before with only a few wins. But that is F1. Been watching since Moss, and still love it all.


Actually if you see the replays Max was in Lewis spray and Nico was also in the spray. Spray is on higher speeds more dense and keep "hanging" sometimes i was wondering how the hell they could see anything.


RedBull have done reasonably well over the last few races by splitting the strategy, so I'm not sure why for this race they decided not to. Having the two cars on different strategies makes Mercedes think and hopefully blink, but the conditions were never really there for the intermediates to work. Which prompts the question, why is there such a huge difference between the wets and the intermediates on a drying track? It's not like the wets are monsoon spec, otherwise they would work quite well through standing water, particularly with F1 levels of down force.

I've never engineered a car on the Pirelli F1 wets, but based on the performance of Michelins and Dunlops a brand new wet weather tyre (with its sharp edges) has a huge advantage over a 10 to 20 lap old version. Some (plainly not all) of Verstappen's overtaking was facilitated by the tyre advantage. Not to mention RedBull's prodigious down force helps.


According to Pirelli, the full wets ( of all drivers using them ) showed practically no degradation at all and Max performance was his, and not the tyres.

Besides that, Daniels tyres were 2 laps older so what's your view on that?


Information available to all the teams was that there would be rain, of various degrees of intensity, for the whole race hence a wet and difficult track to drive on and it really surprised me (as it did Martin Brundle) that a number of teams gambled by putting their drivers on intermediates. The most complete driver on the grid won the race and ensured that the championship would go to a decider in Abu Dhabi. But unfortunately or otherwise - depending on what side of the fence you stand – Hamilton wasn’t handed any favours by RB when Max was put on inters which cost him 2nd and Rosberg getting 18 championship points instead of 15. Hamilton was always going to be out of reach for Max but RB’s poor strategy denied him second place but his drive (recovery) to third was one for the ages. I think even Ricciardo’s first tyre change to inters was a mistake because it cost him considerable track position (down to 15th I think) and while he gained some places back any momentum he had was halted by the various race stoppages and increasing rain. Unfortunately for him he couldn’t repeat what Max did when they were both put on wets for the run to the finish but perhaps it would not have come to that if it were not for earlier decisions. I just think it wasn’t a day for intermediate tyres and RB gambled and lost for both their drivers, more so for Max.


I know one thing..if Max was on Wets instead of intermediates when he was on P2 behind the last safety car than Lewis would have to show what he was made of to keep Max behind at the restart..we are robbed of that by the weird intermediates call from RB. But we gained the great recovery some, loose some.


verstappen tried and spun. look at how he fell back over 4 laps.


Best comment of the weekend.. Wining Vettel being covered in comment by VES.. "well, if he has a problem, he should step on the pedal"..


James, why was Danny Ric so far off the pace of Mad Max? After Monaco I really expected Danny to challenge the Mercs....


He said he struggled a bit to see where he was going, which is an equipment failure within his control

Generally when someone is much faster in the wet than someone else it's because he has the tyres in the perfect temperature window

In Max's case he seemed also to have found grip in the outside areas off the racing line.


Hi James,

Could you elaborate on the difference in performance due to tyre age when it comes to full wets in conditions we saw on the Interlagos track?

There are mixed opinions about the advantage Max had because of his (fresher) tyres. Pirelli seems to have issued a statement that tyre degradation was almost non-existant with all full wet drivers?


Why and Why should RB deny a better podium finish for its driver? It looks deliberate especially after Nikki Lauda's interaction with RB... Are they indirectly helping a particular driver at the cost of their own? If yes, its unethical and unprofessional.


Just hold on to the baby phone Vettel, but even more.. why are are all these rookies judging his driving?? We don't have any bad moves from great drivers in the past? YOU WILL ALL BE SHOWN WRONG.. A bunch of wining sportsman.. that's what they did when Senna and Schumacher arrived..


Max totally tamed his Red Bull this race year. Looking forward to see him own the new beast next year. A million thanks Max for a jawdropping 2016. Enjoy your well deserved vacation.

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