Analysis: How Red Bull F1 dropped the ball on a day when Mercedes was vulnerable
Insight
Red Bull Racing
Strategy Report
Posted By: James Allen  |  29 Nov 2016   |  12:59 pm GMT  |  148 comments

The season finale was packed with drama and tension, especially at the end as Lewis Hamilton tried everything to change his situation and win the world championship.

His personal strategy was clear, meanwhile team race strategy decisions had a huge bearing on what happened behind him, with Red Bull trying to win the race using a different strategy gambit, but getting caught out by some excellent work by Ferrari.

The Scuderia beat Red Bull despite having a slower car, thanks to strategy.

Here’s the inside track from strategists involved in the race, on how it all happened.

XPB
Pre Race Expectations

With three tyres to choose from this year, many teams had prioritised the ultra soft for qualifying and the soft for the race. But having a new set of supersofts for the final stint of the race turned out to be a very beneficial strategy.

Red Bull decided to use theirs in the Q2 qualifying session, which meant that they would start the race on them. To do this and to forfeit the chance to have a new set of supersofts at the end meant that it was critical both drivers had a long and productive first stint.

Many teams’ strategy models showed that a one stop strategy was possible starting on the Soft and then using the Supersoft at the end, a luxury not allowed for the top ten, who had to start on their qualifying tyres.

To do one stop starting on supersofts was possible, but right on the limit. Max Verstappen pulled it off superbly after dropping to the back at the start. Daniel Ricciardo was left wishing he had tried one stop too after losing out to Vettel and Verstappen at the end.

Very stable conditions as always at Yas Marina led to ideal practice running for all teams and a clear picture of what the tyres would be capable of on race day.

Daniel Ricciardo
Mercedes vs. Red Bull vs. Ferrari

What made this race unique was that Red Bull and Ferrari could be certain of one thing about Mercedes’ strategy: it would have to be conservative and fair to both drivers as they were fighting for a world championship.

That meant a straight forward two stop strategy for both; ultrasoft – soft –soft.

Knowing this meant that their rivals could seek to exploit it and there was a certain vulnerability to Mercedes for this race, even if they still had a modest car pace advantage in race conditions.

Furthermore, it was clear that Lewis Hamilton would have to back his team mate Nico Rosberg into the pack at some point in the race, to try to get two cars between him and his rival and swing the points advantage his way. This was always likely to be towards the end of the race, when Rosberg would have no time or strategy options to recover.

Knowing that, Ferrari went into this race better prepared than Red Bull and this was a race and a podium that they took away from Red Bull, which is pretty unusual for this season. Normally it is the other way around.

Verstappen’s race was obviously compromised by the first lap spin he suffered and he had to negotiate quite a bit of traffic. He had considered a one-stop strategy anyway after qualifying a disappointing sixth on the grid, but the team went for it after losing so much ground.

After what happened on the opening lap, Ricciardo’s race should have been significantly further up the road than Verstappen’s but he finished behind him. Here is why.

Daniel Ricciardo

It started when he lost a position at the start to Raikkonen. The superior grip off the line of the ultrasoft will have contributed to that.

Red Bull then got caught out by the conflict between what they normally do well, which is to be aggressive in the first stint and undercut other cars and what they were set up to do in this race, which is run a long first stint on supersoft.

Ferrari spotted a gap to drop Vettel back into on Lap 8 when Kvyat and Button were fighting each other. Once that happened, Ricciardo needed to push for quite a few laps longer than the others he was racing against or he would have got nothing. Christian Horner said that a slightly flat spotted tyre compromised this plan, but Ricciardo played that down.

At this stage they had Verstappen one stopping and now in position ahead of Rosberg, Raikkonen and Vettel, which gave an ideal opportunity to have Verstappen hold back the Ferraris and Rosberg and make a gap for Ricciardo but instead of this, they pitted Ricciardo on Lap 9 and he lost all the advantage of qualifying on supersofts.

Verstappen’s performance showed that Ricciardo could have had much more flexibility in his strategy. He could have done a much longer first stint and then been prepared to attack at the end on fresher tyres, when Hamilton would be likely to hold up the field.

Sebastian Vettel

This is what Vettel did after a long second stint.

After that their only chance to boost Ricciardo was to undercut Raikkonen at the second stop, which they did manage to do. He finished fifth, whereas second or third could have been possible and this would have really put pressure on Rosberg at the end!

So you could argue that in both Brazil on Verstappen’s car and in Abu Dhabi on Ricciardo’s, Red Bull made strategy errors that took their cars out of the way and helped Rosberg’s cause, inadvertently simplifying his path to the championship. It’s another aspect that shows that his name was clearly meant to be on the trophy this season!

Looking at the whole strategy approach in a different way; knowing that the lowering track temperatures as night falls always play to the strengths of the supersoft tyres and knowing Hamilton was likely to slow everything down at the end; there was a good chance of an attacking end on supersofts paying dividends. Both ways up, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that Red Bull picked the wrong strategy.

The Vettel strategy, which was opposed to Ricciardo’s, was clearly the right gambit. That is especially clear when you consider that the underlying pace demonstrated in Verstappen’s final stint was the fastest of any car on the track.

So Ferrari beat Red Bull with a slower car; a positive way to end a very difficult season.

Fernando Alonso
Alonso and McLaren try to ‘do a Vettel’

There was an interesting little cameo in the midfield, where Fernando Alonso and McLaren had the same idea as Ferrari and Vettel.

It was another very strong drive by Alonso that didn’t get much attention. They were unlucky not to get past the Williams and Force India of Massa and Perez at the end as they also made the right moves with a long middle stint and an attacking supersoft stint at the end, like Vettel’s

This is another example of how it’s important to remember that every car in the Grand Prix has a different equation; depending on how fast it is, where it is in the field and what the risks are in making a certain strategy call.

Vettel was trailing the Red Bulls when he went for this tactic and Alonso was trailing the Williams and Force India. Both had nothing to lose by trying.

And that is an ideal way to end another season of F1 strategy analysis. We hope you have enjoyed it and look forward to next season’s action when the new cars designed to the more aggressive 2017 specification hit the track.

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

UBS

Race History Chart – Kindly Supplied by Williams Martini Racing Click to Enlarge

Look at the gulf in pace between the top three teams and the midfield (between the dotted red line of Raikkonen and the dotted orange of Hulkenberg)

Look at the parallel traces of Vettel coming back at the leaders on the supersofts which were in ideal conditions as the track cooled and Alonso doing the same strategy.

Williams Martini Racing

Williams Martini Racing

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1

This is one of the reasons I appreciate so much this site, the post race strategy report is always one of the things I look forward to, professional, excelent quality content.
For this I thank you, James and your parteners, and hope to get to read more fascinating race reports in 2017.

2

kudos to seb for keeping out of the championship battle.
he kept max at bay and rode shotgun for nico.
seb is not only a great champ, but also a great person.

3

What was exposed in Abu Dhabi was the ridiculous advantage Mercedes cars have over the other teams, Hamilton showed that he could run his car on cruise control and having sucessfully held up Rosberg so Ferrari and RB could catch up and even then Ferrari and RB still couldn’t beat them. Hamilton also showed just how easy it was for him to win the last two titles, in effect, he only had to beat one driver to take his titles showing us all how much a big fat joke F1 has be come. Alonso was correct with his GP2 radio message earlier this year, indicating the gap between his car and the winning Mercedes at the front.

4

I am not convinced that Red Bull made an error as Riccardio flat spotted his tires on lap one and even though he played it down, it is the only possible reason to pit him so early. There had to be a reason for RB to change strategy and the flat spot is the only reason that has been made available to the public. Above all, the strategy people are logical, there HAS to be a reason to change!

5

Very interesting read and an interesting debate in the comments.

I do think the Red Bull strategy has been very poor recently, particularly to the disappointment to Ricciardo. I also think that Hamilton was fair in his tactics of slowing down the pack. If he could slow down the front pack and still retain the lead without any real chance of an overtake from Rosberg, then fair play to his racecraft.

However, I completely understand where people are coming from about Hamilton disobeying clear orders to pick up the pace, and this does bring up a massive issue:

Should Hamilton be criticised for disobeying clear orders or should Mercedes?

Yes, I know I have turned a clear argument against Hamilton on its head but please bear with me. It is true that the team comes first and in the hierarchy of Formula 1 the driver is not the boss. Hamilton directly didn’t follow instructions clearly stated to him as such from Paddy Lowe. He clearly put himself ahead of the pitwall and in the process undermined them on a global stage with an open radio channel. Should they at least consider punishing him for this and potentially handing an easy Mercedes 1-2 away to a win for Ferrari by a resurgent Vettel? Probably.

However, is it Hamilton who deserves the punishment?

The problem is not Hamilton disobeying the orders, but the orders themselves. These orders to ‘Pick up the pace’ go against the Mercedes mantra we are all so used to hearing. What happened to ‘Let them race’? Most people tuned in or logged on to see the culmination of a year’s work; a tense battle to the end and conclusion to a close championship. A Constructors Championship won and WDC guaranteed in one of their cars, it was the time for racing. And, as soon as a threat of a battle to decide the title loomed, team orders reared its ugly head.

This is just pure contradiction to me. There was no risk in letting them race in the general perspective. It was the time when the mantra of letting the drivers race was at its critical point. To be honest, it should have been the easy part: let them go, make sure they race their own races, and whoever comes out on top in the grand scheme of things gets to be the winner.

The order to go faster SUGGESTS that the team put the race win above the championship. Given the circumstances, Hamilton needed to win, and a strategist would see that there would need to be a sufficient gap to any challengers for the lead, and the lack of speed was not necessary to win the race. But Hamilton did not just need a win to obtain the title. Lets be honest, both Merc drivers were racing for the title, not the win. It can also be summised that, although this is probably NOT the intention, a rise in pace would have given Rosberg a safe margin to secure a podium, and win the title.

The problem is that we were told that Rosberg and Hamilton would be allowed to race for the Championship since the very beginning of this season, yet when it reaches its final epic conclusion, they suddenly intervene. I believe that Mercedes must be held to account for this. However, this should be only a criticism that Mercedes should really reflect on, not something that should come with any punishment.

In summary, Mercedes baked us a delicious pie in letting Hamilton and Rosberg race for the title, but faltered on the last hurdle, trying to stick their fingers into the middle to stop a small corner from potentially burning. Thanks to Hamilton for not letting their fingers slip into the pie, it was delicious even if it wasn’t the flavour I wanted it to be (well done Rosberg).

6

What’s remarkable about the race history chart is how slow Kimi, Ricciardo and even Verstappen’s pace was in the final stint. Hamilton was deliberately slowing by seconds in the final stint and the pace was still too quick for them.

7

That is a sign all racers, excepting the lost dude in front, avoided to mess up with Nico’s championship.

8

Nonsense, are you saying Verstappen wouldn’t have tried to overtake Nico?

9

James,

Anything on what Mercedes will do next regarding Lewis not taking orders? I believe he an Nico received warnings from the Austria incident and I cant see how Mercedes will ignore this. You could tell Toto was quite annoyed after the race and during the interviews suggested that Lewis followed Christian Horner’s advice and should be driving for him.

I see Merc giving Lewis some form of fine/punishment as opposed to race ban. I don’t think the team can jeopardise he’s need for next season, especially if Red Bull are up there challenging.

Merc also cant risk going in hard at Hamilton, after all he is global superstar and has masses of sponsoring and marketing that plays into Mercs hand, whereas any other drive on the grid at the moment couldn’t do. I believe this is a significant event for the upcoming future, as Lewis wont take any form of punishment lightly. Perhaps a 2018 move the Ferrari could be something mentioned a lot from now to throughout next season?

10

My guess is that they, mercedes will put on their ‘heavy duty angry master face’ to show the ‘common people’ their concern but behind the scenes nothing will happen. What this really means is that hamilton will have successfully walked all over the mercedes management and showed then to be totally ineffectual and that they have no authority over their employees of which hamilton is just one. This is what happened to horner although he was legally bound not to prevent vettel from ignoring team instructions. Red Bull/Horner actually received a legal letter from vettel’s lawyer according to mark webber. An accusation that has never been reputed.

I have absolutely no idea what the conditions of hamilton’s contract are but hamilton would be, in a legal sense, a contracted employee of mercedes benz. Where he might be vulnerable is in carrying out activities to help/ assist a competitor in a manner deemed to be detrimental to mercedes best interests. Which, prima facie, he actually did. Who knows what will will or will not happen. Ultimately, my guess is what i said earlier, ZIP.

11

Just something I noticed from the race history chart, with regard to a previous article on this website: Alonso approaches Massa and Perez very quickly in the closing stages on supersoft tyres, as aptly pointed out in this article. One would wonder why Alonso was not able to overtake both of them, considering he was up to 3 s per lap faster than Perez. In that respect, on could also wonder if Vettel was really able to overtake Rosberg, or that he purposely stayed behind Rosberg, as argued in a previous article. I understand the reasons why Vettel would purposely hold station in the closing stages of the race, but I can’t help to feel that to place an attack on Rosberg was not as easy as it might appear.

12

That was one of Vettels best drives this year and I think he pushed for that middle stint to go longer as we heard him on the radio and sensibly like Ive said many times that harder compound is perfect in the middle of a race, it required careful management because of graining on the front right but once the fuel load lightened they cleaned up.

Im very disappointed that both Red Bull and Ferrari strategies were very reactionary in the case of Dan & Kimi. Like you said James when Dan stopped they killed the advantage they had on the SS and it was very clear they were catching Kimi as his ultras disappeared. But then Ferrari killed Kimis chances by stopping him early in that second stint- I know he was struggling but he just needed to tough it out with guidance from his team- he only had a used SS In the bank but it may have been enough for P4 at least. Red Bull definitely lost P3 for Dan he was very good on his long runs on friday.

Seems teams are continuing to “hedge their bets” in strategies where they really should use acquired long run knowledge from both cars collectively to find the best strategy for both. Ferraris mentality is whenever They change Vettels strategy they force an opposite strategy on Kimi which just kills his race everytime.

13

James,

I was waiting for this Strategy Report to get your views on whether Hamilton did the right thing by disobeying team orders on backing Rosberg when asked by the team to speed up as Vettel approached. [ The strategy and the driving was perfectly fine with me as i don’t think it was dirty, but the fact that Toto and Paddy had told that no backing up was going to happen in pre-race interviews seemed to imply that Hamilton had agreed on not doing that]
This year’s championship was effectively lost by then. (The Red Bulls on old tires did not have enough to get Rosberg even if Vetted did). If next year is going to be close with Red Bull, Hamilton might come to rue disobeying team orders as I doubt he can now count on Rosberg’s support…
Also let us not forget that, had Rosberg not let Hamilton through in Monaco which put pressure on Red Bull and got Hamilton the win, Rosberg would have needed a 7th place and not a podium in Abu Dhabi.

P.S. I have not seen such heavily divided opinion on Hamilton on this forum before this event. It almost seems like we have a German Champion with “British values” ( A plodder who works hard, follows team orders and gentleman’s agreements, never blames the team in public) and a British Champion with “German values”( Superiority Complex, Win at any cost, Little solidarity with the team pushing conspiracy theories and blame their way) and the fans don’t know whom to support.

14

Well I would classify it as Superiority Complex and Victim Complex mixed into one person. Equates to being a Two Faced individual.

15

Tucholsky said:
Everyone has at least three reasons to be proud of:
To be a german.
To be a french.
To be a british.
Not to be a german.
Not to be a french.
Not to be a british.

So what a typical national value is depends where you live.
Read Tacitus about the Chattii that they were hard working people. The state Hessen (70 years old now) is named after the Chattii and Rosberg was born at its capitol. Nice press conference at Wiesbaden live at TV currently.
If a movie in germany has dandies and nobles it plays in england.
It are not germans who sing: Rule Britannia…

Good and bad, hard workers or lazy parasites, egoists and altruists,… can be found in any country.

16

I don’t understand why it is thought that Mercedes was “vulnerable”. Please explain. LH could easily opened the tap and left them comfortably behind.

17

I agree it was the wrong strategy to pit riccardo early in this race. It hasnt just been this race that redbull have had strategy problem.s for one example barcelona. But that’s not it theres other races were i find the team putting there drivers less likely to win or get a podium position in to a winning or podium position when there drive most likely to get the better results is left loosing there advantage and i saw a lot of the same in Abu Dubai riccardo should of had the better position to attack at the end but redbull pitting early gave path to verstappen one stop strategy and great tyre saving into the better position. Hopefully redbull are more confident of sticking to there stratergy they probably work on all weekend and stop covering of ever threat from a different rival.

18

People can hate hamilton…..his speed this year has been better than previous years, he showed the grit of senna and schumacher on sunday, when prost won senna never burst out with joy….wake up people !!!!

Why is wolff so anti hamilton do they forget what ham brings and has achieved for the team, and this potential talk of sacking him…omg merc know if redbull are fast next year ham can win in a slower car……i have been reading the press this week and cant believe what im hearing

Please watch rosberg get demolished next year.

19

I agree with you.
I find the anti-Hammy spin as believable as the inevitable Hillary victory.
The media are very suspect these days.
Very!
I’m hoping that at least one team gets the measure of Merc, but I’m not holding my breath; the extent of their current advantage is very significant.
The most likely challenger will be RB, already with a comparable chassis, their engine overhaul (Mario Illien) will likely result in a very competitive PU.
While the MMC (Mercedes Managed Championship) worked so well with 1 second per lap at hand, it won’t work if another team is within 0.2 per lap, and I expect RB to be there or better for 2017.

20

LH has brought much of the criticism he has received upon himself. He nearly had 3 WDCs in a row, has the best car on the grid and yet he continually makes out he is a victim of misfortune or some conspiracy against him. That is why so many feel he is a spoilt brat.
It’s very notable when the drivers are driven around the track pre-race on the back of a truck, LH always separates himself from the rest of the drivers. That tells me a lot about his attitude toward others. Thus when the pit lane shows moral support for NR it is no surprise and possibly SV showed some measure of support on the night by refraining from overtaking NR..
The GPDA survey last year was very insightful when it indicated that Kimi, Fernando and Jenson were the most popular drivers.
We can’t take away Lewis’ very impressive winning statistics (thanks in no small measure to having the best car on the grid), but to me he wins and loses badly. Like with Schumie the way you win and lose determines your eventual greatness. Perhaps Lewis should take a greater responsibility for his behaviour rather than blame someone or something for his perceived misfortune.

21

Nick,
You’ve summed up my feelings toward Lewis as well. Historically the statistics will reflect his winning record, but there’s more to greatness than just being fast.

22

James, I am not convinced about Mercedes vulnerability in this last race. In the end, the 1-2 order was meant to be, nobody on the grid really wanted to change the order, and I may be wrong, but I kind of think everybody wanted Rosberg champion, including the Stars. And what a wonderful way to end this year with a new champion and Nico’s picture on your site for months till March 2017 (kind of justice for non-LH fans that endured his picture on your page for so long last year)

23

I was appalled by Mecedez request to order Hamilton to concede the title. Pure Greed or favouritism.

24

Wait, what did I miss – when did they say that and what did they say??
I saw them tell their drivers to go out and race as fast as they can – but I must have missed the bit where they asked Ham to pull over 😉

25

Probably they saw it coming that Hamilton would have no chance with his slowing tactic and that it would be better for his reputation AND the team if he would win by 15s, then Nico and then 15s again.

Mercedes is not a small racing team. it is a big company. So Toto and Nicki can be under pressure themself if the bigger bosses who are no racers but managers think they have no control over the team and especially a certain driver.

26

good comment…
… but, there was a chance that Rosberg would choke under pressure, but since the next (remotely) competitive teams strangely never seemed to challenge Merc, Rosberg (despite all of the spin that was made of it) was in good shape to defend second with little real challenge.

27

James, I’m not convinced it was ‘excellent’ work by Ferrari? More of a gamble as Vettel being at the rear of the pack and already lost any opportunity of an undercut. In hindsight I can not believe Red bulls didn’t foresee how the race was likely to unfold. Also did Hamilton not breach a sporting regulation driving unnecessary slowly?

28

No Ham was within the rules

Vettel did well to beat faster Red Bulls and strategy did it so I’d say excellent work!

29

excellent gamble! i’ll agree with that..

30

I understand your opinion james but why then did ferrari not use the same excellent strategy for Kimi.? im sure the data would have shown it was the slowest strategy for Vettel but a gamble worth risking with no threat of losing any positions.

31

I still think there were those on the pit wall that thought Hamilton might just go all out for the win. At least until the race actually started. Yes Kimi was hammered again by a bad strategy. So what do you suppose if Hamiltons backing up tactics would have worked? The furor would be immense! And for those supporting the backing-up concept, I think where it falls short is that you are setting the team up to have one of it’s cars behind a competitor team intentionally. How could Mercedes be happy with that?

32

Which mud F1 driver said something like you should always win a race as slowly as possible?

33

It was the old rat Niki Lauda that said:
“The secret is to win going as slowly as possible.”

34

As good as this article is, it follows the continuous assault and slight dig at Rosberg every mistake by other teams does not equate to helping Rosberg or meaning his name was written on the title.

35

Very pleased to see Nico Rosberg win the WDC this season. After the drubbing he received at the hands of Lewis at Austin last year (and having the salt rubbed into the wound with ‘Capgate’), he reportedly went off and partied in Austin. Came back and won the remaining races of the 2015 season, declaring at the end of that season that the 2016 season could start next week as far he was concerned. He wins the first 4 of 2016, plus Baku, and then another 4 after the summer break (possibly would have been 5 if not tagged by Seb V in Malaysia – great recovery drive there) to give himself advantage Rosberg. Drove a competent wet race at Interlagos. The season ending AbDab race was really exciting at the end. Don’t blame Lewis for his tactics of slowing the pace in the final laps to back Nico into his rivals, which at the end of the day, enhanced Nico’s reputation further as a tough cookie. Congratulations Nico! Job well done.

36

I like to believe Austin 2015 turn one was the moment of Nico’s wakening. There was another moment in 2014 when Mercedes used him as a doormat. I can imagine how hard it was for him to come back, but he brilliantly managed it in the end. Luck? Of course, 2-1 for LH.

37

With the benefit of hindsight of course, I find it curious that Rosberg didn’t choose to run a long second stint, as in that way he would have negated Hamilton’s very likely strategy of slowing down. It tends me to believe there was a gentlemens agreement for Hamilton not to slow down, which Hamilton somehow disregarded, which also gives reason for why Mercedes intervened. Kudos to Nico for resisting under clearly high pressure.

38

@Raz “It tends me to believe there was a gentlemens agreement for Hamilton not to slow down, which Hamilton somehow disregarded, which also gives reason for why Mercedes intervened”
This is just ridiculous, what next? Claims that someone Hamilton sabotaged his own car this season no doubt. Oh, wait… we’ve already from some idiots. Talk about post truth, let’s just put some wild speculative idea out there which suggests that you somehow have insight into a driver’s mind. Plus, don’t you think that Nico would have mentioned the “gentlemen’s agreement” to anyone who would listen by now. Christ!!!

This is just becoming ridiculous, what next? Hamilton sabotaged his own car this season no doubt.. oh wait… we’ve already had that claim from some idiots. Talk about post truth, lets just make put some wild speculative idea out there which suggests that that you somehow have insight into a drivers mind. Jesus, just ridiculous.

39

@ Revilo….From your comment you obviously didn’t see/hear the interview that brundle had with wolff, who confirmed that they were both told to that there was to be no ‘backing one another up’ otherwise the antagonist would be penalised by way of undercut! Hamilton knew what was expected and waited until there was no chance of an undercut before backing rosberg up.

40

The point I was trying to make is that there was another way for Rosberg to negate the risk of being slowed down by LH. And this option has been largely left out of the analyses I’ve read so far. Granted, it may have been riskier for ROS world have had to concede track position in case of, fire example, a long 2nd stint, and we have a championship lost because of this very fact (Alonso). In any way, the point I was trying to make is that there was another way to deal with it. Far from me to suggest I know more than what was published on this topic. You take it more aggressively than I think should be the case

41

Yes, hamilton has tried to drive slow before as well, ie. Hungary. And was told if he didnt pick up the pace nico would be called in for a pitsrop before him.

42

Thanks for the analysis James. I was stunned when Red Bull pitted Ricciardo with the rest of the ultra-soft runners. What a waste.

43

Thank you James and UBS for bringing us these reports after each race this season. They always add an extra dimension to the race weekend. I have even learned how to read and understand the graphs!

44

Great and intriguing race this one. I was pretty much locked into the Hamilton Rosberg battle so it’s nice to get this little reminder of what was going on behind. It had to be one of the more intense season finales I’ve witnessed and it’s basically all down to Hamilton and his sublime if not unwitting sense of drama. Intentionally backing up Nico, blatantly refusing team orders. I thought he showed a real sense of character to stand up to all that pressure brought to bare (because you know he knew how it would play out. So all this social/MS media condemnation was waiting in the wings when he told the team to get knotted.) he stood up to it and committed a hard nosed, unpopular but necessary manoeuvre to try and win the title.

“Knowing that, Ferrari went into this race better prepared than Red Bull and this was a race and a podium that they took away from Red Bull”

How? when Horner knew full well Hamiltonz strategy seeing as he suggested it.
Could it be that they DID plan for Hamiltonz actions but executed poorly? Or does Horner not believe his own advice?

“Ricciardo could have had much more flexibility in his strategy. He could have done a much longer first stint and then been prepared to attack at the end on fresher tyres,”

It’s notable that this strategy is exactly what DR used in 2014 for a lot of his success that year. This race however, Verstappen was locked into a one stop when he bounced off Hulk and spun out. So it was always an option to split strategies. DR pretty much went nowhere and a couple of moves didn’t stick.
It’s a bit like Spain where they covered off Ferrari and DR got the slower strategy. But this time he got ahead of The Ferrari he was racing. Verstappen, this time, lost out to his opponent. I think that lock up at the start was actually very significant for Ricciardo. A: he flatspotted his tyre and B: he didnt get the place.

“After that their only chance to boost Ricciardo was to undercut Raikkonen at the second stop, which they did manage to do. He finished fifth, whereas second or third could have been possible and this would have really put pressure on Rosberg at the end!”

As if Rosberg wasn’t under some kind of immense pressure already. We can all say it together now… The 2016 and reigning WDC, Nico Rosberg. Makes me happy.
And again its great thanks to Hamilton for putting the flame to the forge where Rosberg proved his mettle. The pass on Max was insanely top drawer. Let’s face it he’s had plenty of limit learning practice lunges this year but when it really really mattered… clean and decisive, had me on the edge of my seat. As did the last 15 laps. Good on you Ham for bringing the theatre and good on you Nico, 2016 WDC.
And good on ya RB for stuffing up your strategy and letting Ferrari get a little end of season joy.
Props to Alonso (apparently), JB for reliving the glory days in a special helmet for a few laps, palmer for making sure Sainz [Mod], Kimi for clinching the quali duel at Ferrari, Vettel for having no part in a dirty tricks campaign and Massa.

45

@ Sir Tease: In terms of your last paragraph it seems to me that Hamilton’s strategy fell victim to the law of unintended consequences. Having declared himself the ‘moral’ winner before the race thereby devaluing a Rosberg WDC in advance just in case, he set about making it his own which was fine and made a great spectacle. I doubt that he expected Rosberg to produce the drive of his life and resist almost intolerable pressure. The net result was a lot of added value to Nico’s title.

46

PetaJ, I think you’re absolutely correct when you say Hamiltons strategy (and Rosberg’s resistance) gave value to Rosberg’s title. People have been citing Rosberg’s lack of an overtake on Ham as reason for him to be undeserving. But I think the way he dealt with Hamilton’s actions nullify this qualm somewhat. And as I said, the required overtake on Verstappen was first class. Kudos to them both on that.
As for Hamilon’s thought process and motivations during this last round, I can only guess at. I’m sure winning the WDC was the major motivation, but I wouldn’t be surprised if somewhere in his thinking he knew it would benefit Rosberg if he prevailed under those circumstance. But then all this talk of moral victor and claiming un reliability lost him the championship (it may be so but it doesn’t need to be emphasised the moment he lost whilst Rosberg is freshly absorbing his win) confuses me as to his true feelings an nature.
Hamilton’s actions I applaud, his attitude I question.

47

@SirTease

Very well constructed post – I don’t necessarily agree with all of your points, but a pretty fine post nonetheless.
BTW – what did you spend your winnings on?

48

Well thanks C63. I can’t imagine what you’d disagree with…
Unfortunately my bookie was charged with running an illegal tote last week and had all his (quite considerable) assets frozen. So I’m actually in the hole about $800 on this championship. No winnings in sight. But I’m just glad for Nico’s achievement, a heartwarming triumph of graft over glam. I’m also glad not to be listed on the subpoena.

49

No winnings in sight…

Lol – there’s a lesson in there somewhere for someone 🙂

50
Tornillo Amarillo

Yeah James, new session!
Canada has confirmed the GP!!!
Would it be a RICCIARDO’s year?
Would it be possible a match between Rosberg-Hamilton-Ricciardo-Max- Vettel?
Will Ocon deliver thrilling races in the midfield?
Would it be Alonso el grande back in the game?
Would it be more difficult and longer the pitstop with those big tyres?

51

Next year Mclaren will definitely be much better than this. Hope its a 4 team battle at least between Mercedes, Redbull, Ferrari and Mclaren

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