Insight: How the Spanish GP swung between Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel until Ferrari left open goal
Vettel, Hamilton Spain 2017
Strategy Report
Posted By: James Allen  |  16 May 2017   |  3:40 pm GMT  |  239 comments

The Spanish Grand Prix was one of the best races from a race strategy point of view for many years.

It was a fascinating cat and mouse game of chess, with two drivers fighting it out on track to the limit of their ability.

Like last year’s Spanish Grand Prix, strategy decided the outcome, but the two main protagonists, Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel also surpassed themselves, with heroic drives, making it a truly memorable race

Here we will analyse the momentous decisions that dictated the outcome, at how the pendulum swung from one driver to another several times. And we will also look at how the lowly Sauber team managed to score its best result since 2015, with a very bold one-stop strategy, yielding four points for the team, which will prove very valuable.

Grid Spanish GP 2017
Pre-race considerations

Before the race Pirelli said that three stops was a marginally faster strategy, but the key factor was the calculation on the difference between the soft and medium tyres.

This is because on Friday the gap looked enormous; some teams were reporting two seconds per lap difference between the compounds.

But history shows that comes down on race day and Friday was also a tricky day with weather conditions, especially wind, so it exaggerated the appearance of a problem.

Another consideration in Spain is that Virtual Safety Cars and Safety Cars are a rare occurrence, so they do not figure highly in the list of probable scenarios.

Vettel, Hamilton
Vettel vs Hamilton: Phase one of the race – Advantage Vettel

This was a race where Vettel proved his value as a leader, as on two separate occasions he made important calls from the cockpit. Ferrari heeded one and didn’t heed the other, which is why they lost this race, as we shall see.

A few minutes after the start of Saturday’s qualifying session, Vettel was told to switch off his engine. A less experienced driver might have obeyed, but he questioned it, during which time the problem righted itself. So instead of starting on the back of the grid, he was able to fight for pole. He should have had the pole, but made a small error on his final lap.

But it didn’t matter as he took the lead at the start.

To do an optimum three-stop race you need to stop on Lap 13. Around Lap 12 Mercedes, who had Hamilton in second place, started to make moves that looked like they were going to pull the trigger on a stop. Hamilton was told to pick up the pace. At this point Vettel was secure and had a 2.2 second lead. That came down to 1.8s as he caught some traffic, putting him in range of being undercut, if Hamilton were to stop and use the performance of the new tyre to jump the Ferrari driver.

Up ahead was Vandoorne, so there was an element of risk for Vettel and Ferrari opted to pit him. The problem was that Ricciardo was inside the 22-second gap back to pit safely, which is why Mercedes didn’t go for the early undercut attempt. Memories were still fresh of Melbourne where Hamilton could not pass a Red Bull, but Vettel could and that swung the race.

Vettel duly stopped and then was able to pass Ricciardo easily.

So it was clearly advantage Ferrari at this point.

Bottas, Vettel F1
Mercedes play chess with Bottas and then Ferrari gives them an open goal

Mercedes reacted by deciding to extend the stint for both Hamilton and Bottas. In the case of Bottas this was to prove the race-winning move, as the Finn was able to hold Vettel up for two laps, costing four seconds of race time.

In Hamilton’s case it cost him valuable time, but a combination of Bottas playing the team game and then an extraordinary mistake from Ferrari, handed the race back to Mercedes.

On Lap 34 the Virtual Safety Car was deployed for Vandoorne’s car, highly unusual at this stage of a race in Spain. Past half distance, it meant that a driver could pit for medium tyres and make the finish.

Strategists look at the state of the damaged car, signs of any debris, whether cranes are involved, when assessing how long the VSC might be out for and whether it might turn into a Safety Car.

This one looked straightforward, so likely to be only a lap or two under VSC, was the judgement of most.

The saving in time difference between pitting under a VSC versus pitting at racing speeds in Barcelona is nine seconds.

Vettel had a nine second lead over Hamilton (it would have been 13 secs without Bottas’ intervention).

There were three possible scenarios: Both cars pit, which would favour Vettel; Vettel alone pits, which would also favour Vettel. The only scenario that favoured Hamilton was that he alone pits, which is what happened.

Ferrari,, Mercedes F1

Vettel radioed the team to say that he felt they should pit him, but they decided not to. One of the contributing factors here was memory of Canada 2016, a race that Ferrari lost in similar circumstances, because they pitted as the VSC ended.

Mercedes knew that if they could pit and catch some of the VSC period, they could close the gap. They had no way to know when it would end.

Fearful of a repeat of Canada 2016, the longer Ferrari left it, the less likely it was that they would stop. Mercedes pulled the trigger and gained some time but it wasn’t perfect as the VSC ended when Hamilton was still in the pits.

But it won them most of the time and then Hamilton had a very strong out lap. Ferrari had to react and pit Vettel a lap later and when he came out, he was side by side with Hamilton. They raced brilliantly but Vettel just held position.

Now the challenge for Vettel, on medium tyres, was to keep Hamilton behind him for long enough to take the edge out of the soft tyres Hamilton was using, much as Bottas had done to Vettel at the start of his second stint.

Vettel, Hamilton F1

With these 2017 cars, the following car is more easily able to exit the final corner flat out than in past years, where an overtake on the main straight was therefore really hard, (for example with Raikkonen and Verstappen last year). But Hamilton was able to get the job done, while the tyres were still fresh and took the lead.

Ferrari thought about a Plan C, which was a third stop, but Mercedes kept Hamilton at 2.8secs, which covers off that opportunity.

Vettel said afterwards that this race was like a bar of soap in the shower that you can’t keep hold of and it is true; this should have been his race and he had Hamilton where he wanted him before Ferrari presented him with an open goal.

It will be interesting to see how punchy they are next time there is a VSC when Ferrari has control.

Sauber F1

Narrow squeak for Sauber on VSC brings points bonanza

When you are a team like Sauber, that has the slowest car in the field on a track like Barcelona, you have to be bold. If you plan a safe two-stop strategy like the cars around you, the best that might happen is to beat one of them and finish 16th or 17th.

So Sauber took a gamble, one that had a potentially big upside, but the downside would be limited by general expectations.

Sauber approached the weekend with a single minded aim of doing one stop. This meant that the drivers approached the crucial Free Practice sessions with that in mind, when setting the cars up.

Wehrlein F1

The strategy relied on Wehrlein doing the first half of the race on a set of new soft tyres, which he did very well. The team was on target for a 10th place finish ahead of Daniil Kvyat, but then the VSC intervened and fate presented the team with a rare opportunity to shine.

The VSC was deployed when Wehrlein was exiting the final chicane, less than two seconds from the pit lane entry. He was called in immediately; so late that he had to cut a bollard on the pit entry, which brought him a five second penalty, so this was not his fault.

If he had missed that chance to pit, he risked being mugged by all the cars behind and coming out behind Grosjean in 11th place, who was seven seconds behind, which is less than the time gained by stopping under the VSC. So Sauber would have lost all chance of points.

It was extremely tight but it worked.

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

Race History Graph, courtesy Williams Martini Racing – Click to enlarge

The zero line is the lap time of an imaginary car doing the winner’s average lap speed every lap. It is intended to show the gaps between car performance.

Note the massive gaps back from the top two cars to the Red Bull, which will take some work to bridge. Also note the Force India cars, which capitalised on a great start to maintain track position.

Also look where Williams was racing relative to the Force India cars, which cost them 22 points to their rivals in the championship.

And note on Tyre Usage chart that not a single hard compound tyre was used; another weekend where the three tyre options were too hard, reducing the strategy variations possible.

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James, can you explain why Ferrari pitting Vettel with Hamilton not pitting would be a benefit for Ferrari? Wouldn't Hamilton then one-stop, and with the degradation of the medium so low, had to be passed on track by Vettel?


VET was about 7 seconds ahead at the time of the VSC.
A stop would normally cost ~22 seconds putting him 15 seconds or so behind HAM needing to catch and pass on the same compound of tyre but 13 laps or so newer. There might not be enough life in the tyres for that.

But with a VSC a stop only costs ~15 seconds he would have come out a catchable 7-8 seconds behind. With the new tyres he could make the catch over 4-5 laps, and have a reasonable chance of making a pass.

If they had pitted together, HAM for softs and VET for mediums and come out with the original 7 second gap I think the tyre advantage would have worked the other way, with tyre advantage HAM would have caught and passed VET, but the tyres having taken more punishment VET might have had a better chance at the end.

Calling it genius by Merc or an error by Ferrari requires the benefit of hindsight. Who saw the softs go the Mercedes and said "Sure they'll do 33 laps ?" I thought it was a gamble when I saw it, and radio transmissions from both teams suggested neither Hamilton nor the Ferrari pit wall were sure they'd last. If the VSC had ended a few seconds earlier and VET not HAM had been in the pits we'd be calling *that* a Ferrari error.


No, Mercedes had just seen Pascal complete 33 laps on soft tyres on a full fuel tank so they had a pretty good idea wether the sorts would last for Hamilton on a rubbered in track with much less fuel.


Hamilton was on the radio asking about looking after the tyres as soon has he got past, so he didn't have that info, and nor did I. It makes the call look less of a gamble, and more like being prepared when the VSC came. Ferrari were also telling Vettel that he'd catch at the end because the softs wouldn't last - perhaps they just didn't want him to give up ...


it appear to me that VET is pretty much matching HAM's pace on the final stint. Does this show Ferrari is a faster car at this stage?


Impossible to tell. We don't really know how much the offset was between the two compounds at that point or how much HAM was managing the pace to the end. (He banged in the fastest lap on lap 64 which suggests he'd done quite a good job preserving the tyres).

To me the cars look pretty even; Ferrari act defensively, as if they don't believe they are faster. Stopping early to avoid being undercut is an example - they didn't seem to be able to get out of undercut range...
I also think you should ALWAYS switch compounds at the first change, you don't know what the offset between them is until you run them, so you don't know if a 1 Stop is an option or if you want to get off them at first moment you can (even 3 stop) until you have run them.
Ferrari putting a second set of softs on was offering Mercedes a chance to try a one stop, but also conceding that if they two stopped then after the final stops it would be Ferrari on mediums (and running extra laps on them because they hadn't taken the first set of softs the full distance) relying on track position against Mercedes on softs.
Back to the undercut. The worry about being undercut is that either the other guy gets past and dashes off down the road so you can't undercut back or he makes his next pitstop early and you don't get the chance. In Ferrari's place I might have risked being undercut. If Mercedes pitted first for Mediums, there's the option to take softs and snatch the place back, if Mercedes pitted first for softs I'd put mediums on and change back to softs as early as I dared to try to get an undercut.


no,lewis was nursing his tyres....he set the fastest lap near the end of the race,to show he had plenty of pace in hand.


Vettel had to pit again at some point, as he'd only run one tyre compound. The fastest way to pit is under the virtual safety car. Given how slow the medium was compared to the soft (see Hamilton overtaking Vettel), Vettel would have more than likely caught and passed Hamilton if he'd stayed out.


Mate, I feel Vettel was doomed in this race with Kimi's exit. Bottas proves a better second driver than Kimi that fights for his team/team mate holding Vettel, a very dangerous trend I foresee for the future. If Ferrari wants Vettel to win, they have to openly discuss with Kimi for a feisty support, now not later. Kimi cannot hold Vettel nine laps and Bottas moving aside subdued by team orders. Vettel has proved a better driver than Kimi, if they don't fix the team rules now, Mercedes are gonna win both chamiponships.


Bottas is a damn good driver. I really wish he wouldn't have DNFd.

On another note hasn't Vettel use a couple engines already?


I was just to ask similar question.


Absolutely agree on this. Once the VSC came out, I think it wasn't any option really good for Ferrari, as Mercedes could do always the opposite in their own benefit. Vettel pits, Hamilton stays out and overtakes him without having to stop again. Vettel stays out, Hamilton pits and it happens what happened on Sunday.

If Ferrari made any mistake, it was when, 15 laps or so from the end, Vettel was 1.1 in sector 1 behind Hamilton, so there was room for the undercut. As they had nothing to lose, I think they should have taken then plan C. I'm not sure if at the end of that lap, maybe due to lapped cars, the undercut window wasn't there anymore.

Anyway, for me it was more the brilliant accuracy from Mercedes than a mistake from Ferrari. Two great drivers, two great cars and two great teams. As a tifosi, I was a little sad, but as an F1 fan, i was absolutely delighted.


Hamilton waiting till the last under VSC was poker not chess. I still don't understand why Ferrari didn't get that white tire on the first stop?


There was never a window for an undercut in plan C. Sebastian only had used soft tires on hand, and the 22+ seconds pit delta would have really eliminated any hope of success (Sebastian would be at best 20 seconds behind Lewis). Ferrari put that out there because they heard Lewis discussing the temps on his rears and they wanted to see if they could bait Lewis into overworking his tires by increasing his pace.

Lewis drove a great third stint in the race, but the real winner at Barcelona was James Vowles and his strategy team. They pulled a rabbit out of the hat and helped their driver recover from a bad start, and in a car that in my opinion is still suspect (compared to Ferrari).


So vettel made a call to pit under vsc and they decided to leave him out. Omg. The strategists are insane. Good on vettel that he did not point it out afterwards. That will have been trully embarassing that the driver himself in the cockpit knows better than the stratgists with monitors full of data lol


I don't see Vettel having any advantage even if he did pit under VSC. Mainly because he couldn't put in a faster outlap, which would've slowed him down in the pits and behind a lot of other slow cars. The race lost to Bottas in my view. I didn't get to watch the race live in Australia as I don't have cable. So the next day when I watched the 1 hour highlight and YouTube videos, I watched Vettel potentially losing 10 seconds behind Bottas & his tyres were shot in the process. Maybe a few more seconds with Massa too. However, Vettel's pass on Bottas is by far the best pass I have seen in recent memory. You win some and you lose some, this was perhaps winnable, but 3 out of 5 races Vettel was negatively impacted by some sort of Safety car intervention, which makes me think that the Ferrari strategy team need to be on high alert for the rest of the season. I just wish Kimi gets his head together so that not everything on SV only.


"However, Vettel's pass on Bottas is by far the best pass I have seen in recent memory."

Really? A pass in a DRS zone when you had a softer compound of tyres? If it wasn't for the lead of the race I'd barely think it was worth a mention.


Vettel's pass on Ricciardo in China was better than that pass, in my opinion.


sometimes, a driver with good situational awareness is better than a ton of data


Yeah that's right. That's one of the things that separate the drivers.

During the race, Lewis told his engineer to leave him alone when he was told how to use his battery back to overtake Vettel. I got a chuckle hearing that. You can't tell a driver how to overtake, not to a driver of Hamilton's calibre. That's what separate the drivers.


So in conclusion Vettel was pretty unlucky. If he'd kept his 9 sec lead it would have been a big stretch for Ham to catch up (taking the initial peak grip out of the tyres) and then pass when he got there.


I expect you've read it but in case not, Mark Hughes has done a very good analysis of the race - he reckons the safety car was the main undoing for Ferrari (although other factors were significant ) . I like his articles plus he's also wingman to Crofty and Brundle on Sky during comentary- very occasionally Sky wheel him out to answer some technical query . They should do it more often imo and use him instead of Crofty!


Hey C63, I'll assume you've heard Hughes on the Sky Sports F1 feeds before. Would you know what accent he has? I'm ok with placing English accents, but not entirely certain with his.


I would say he's from the Newcastle area but possibly hasn't lived there for a while. Some words definitely sound (to my ear) as if that is where he hails from but not all - like he's lost some of his accent.


Could be. If so it's definitely not strong. Reminds me of this skit from Alan Partridge:

Funny story ... one of my parents friends was a Geordie, and as a kid I really had no idea that he was English, for the longest time. I thought he was from Czechoslovakia or something!!


Does Viz make it to your neck of the woods? If you read Sid The Sexist out load then you too 'can speak Geordie' 🙂 You could use it to chat to your friends Dad! Of course if Viz doesn't get to you then you'll have no idea what I'm talking about.


I think that the part played by Bottas in this has been very much underplayed. Without him holding up Vettel and pulling to lose four secs out of his lead was a major determining factor in Hamilton's win.


Hmm, I'm not so sure. Hamilton spent 4-5 laps behind Vettel before passing. So if he had started 4 secs back, he would've got onto the back of Vettel within those 4-5 laps. He would've then had another 22 laps to get past.

I applaud Bottas for playing the team game, given that his 3rd was safe, and 3rd was the best he could've done at that point. Him holding Vettel up to let Lewis gain 4 secs certainly made the pass for the lead happen sooner, but I don't believe it was a major determining factor as you suggest.


Ferrari had two laps passing the pits where they could have pitted Vettel and instead pulled him in the lap racing resumed.
Whilst it wouldn't have guaranteed a victory for the German they did put him under pressure twenty laps sooner than would've been likely had they done so under the VSC.
I wouldn't go so far as to say Ferrari botched it or gifted the win to Hamilton but one could easily make the case that was in fact what they ended up doing.


i am yet to see any driver drive am f1 car as well as hamilton. i have watched all the so called greats on youtube and none of them come close to driving it as well as hamilton does it.


They didn't think Hamilton was coming in so they didn't. They got bluffed but that shouldn't have.

Those tires were much slower from everyone's practice anyhow.

The FIA should have have made supersoft available without the need for that hard compound.

I beginning to think I don't Ile pit stops. Can't tire with some grip be made to last the whole race?


If Ferrari pitted him first, then Mercedes would've stayed out, and Vettel would need to pass Hamilton on track, on the same tire compound, just 13-14 laps newer. Knowing how much quicker Hamilton had been through the last two corners compared to Vettel, it would've meant there would be little chance of him finding a way past. Would've been like Kimi and Max last year.


Possibly, maybe, guess we'll never know.
I do think though after some thought that Merc could've pitted Lewis on the first lap of the VSC (with much more confidence of it continuing for the entirety of that stop) which would have enabled to Vettel to stop the following lap still under the VSC. By risking it a lap later they stopped Ferrari from reacting immediately and thus gained those precious seconds. It was really a win win situation by doing so.


James Vowles has said that they watched to see if Vettel would take the opportunity to pit. When he didn't, they saw it as an opportunity for Lewis. It didn't fully work out for them, as the VSC ended just as Lewis hit the pit entry line. So he still had to do the rest of the pit lane at pit lane limited speed, while Vettel was at full speed. The only benefit he gained was the difference in speed between veering off into the pit lane, or going onto the pit straight, down to the control line.


Yeah Mercedes was both lucky and clever whereas Ferrari messed up twice. There is one factor that could have changed the race completely, what if Raikkonen had not been out of the race? If that had been the case the threat of an undercut by Hamilton and Mercedes would have been much less as Ferrari would have had the oportunity to use Raikkonen the same way Mercedes used Bottas. Then Vettel probably would have gone long on his first stint and Ferrari would possibly have gone for a one stopper. It is a team sport after all!

Mercedes has been lucky with safety-cars three times in 5 races this year, China, Bahrain and Barcelona. These things have a habit of evening out in the long run, perhaps Ferrari is now due for a bit of luck.


'. These things have a habit of evening out in the long run, perhaps Ferrari is now due for a bit of luck.'

Don't think so. See Mercedes 2016 engine failures. Only 1 driver got them out of 8.

Ahmed of Sydney

There was only one engine failure in 2016 during a race. Don't twist facts.


that's what you get for chilling with bats. too much blood into your brain.


defcon5 said nothing about in-race or otherwise. Hamilton had 3 failures in qualifying (CHN, RUS, MCO) which affected his starting position, had to start P21 in Belgium because of engine penalties, and then of course the Malaysian GP failure while leading comfortably.


Seb's lead was 7.7 seconds before the VSC, he got that lead by running the soft tyre in the second stint when Lewis was on the mediums. He was always going to lose it when the situation was reversed in the final stint. it would have been harder for Lewis to overtake later in the race when his tyres had would be older, but he would still have been on the faster tyre, so who knows?


I think the description of the graph has been incorrect this season, it appears the 0 of the Y axis is based around the average speed of the leading Williams car by the first pit stop


Poor Williams, they really are falling apart ;(


Is it not based on perez? Starts on zero finishes on zero? In Sochi I felt it was based on something else other than the winner's average lap time - or at least his lap time but not including abandoned start in the calculations. I tried to work it out and spent ages working figures out to make it make sense. Seems I was wrong though. There's an hour I won't get back!


Check out the sochi graph and Massa is exactly on the 0 at the point of his first pitstop, as its supplied by Williams it would make sense to relate to one of their drivers


yeah I know, but he doesn't finish on zero, which threw me. Perez is in the Force India too so this makes no sense to me for Williams to be monitoring them! I can imagine James chuckling as we scrabble around trying to figure it out!


Reference seems to be PER since he ends up on the "0" line?


Good summary of Sundays events.
Superb fly by wire strategy by Mercedes as the VSC ended. Ferrari went back to their old strategy of waiting till the cows came home.
Excellent driving by Bottas which Lewis thanked him for. Then the fight on track with Lewis overtaking Vettel on track.
Bragging rights go to Lewis on track.
Can remember a similar tussle in Austin USA GP when Lewis was at Mclaren . Pressure overtake even then Vettel tried to force him of the road. But alls fair in Mercedes vs Ferrari.
Brundle stated Vettel close up camera shows zero lock on steering ...similar to Rosberg in Austria.
(Wondering whether Mercedes might bring a stub nose front end at Monaco due to the long wheel base or will they bring something else to get the car more agile around the tight circuit).
Force India doing the business.
Mclaren still in shambles city. Alonso at Indi also had suspension probs.
Red Bull still way way back.
Well done to Werhlein.
Haas hot and cold.
Williams will they keep Stroll or let him stroll off?


Interesting analysis, more like opinion in my view, which is acceptable. Mercedes Strategy worked out this time, yes; VSC worked in their favor, yes; Bottas made Vettel lose more than 2 secs a lap, yes; Ferrari's strategy call was pretty neutral. In terms of Lewis' overtake on Vettel, I would've been able to do it in my Falcon. The straight line speed, tyres advantage and DRS gave Lewis extra 20kms/h. I'd give him credit for getting it done, that's a skill in itself too.


Fair points Formula Zero.
Still doubt the Falcon can overtake an F1 car.


Opinions based on observation.
Just like everybody else's on this forum. Wit the Exception for the out and out off the wall fake news by some posters.
How much does a Aussie Ford Falcon weigh? Assuming it's the Aussie brand and not an American hybrid.
It's your opinion you can do it in a Falcon ...I think not. That's like driving fast in a Brick verses a F1 aero speed machine.
Yes I've watched the Aussie V series.
Bathurst and Surfers Paradise are 2 amazing circuits as is "Poke a Newy or is it Pukokukue " 😀 you know the one I mean . Think it's in New Zealand?
Anyhow I assume you are a racing ace with a highly modified Falcon Rocket otherwise you won't have a chance whatever tyres are on.


Some old American Ford Falcons were very light made in the 60s. I think most had an inline 6. The one I remember had a 289 v8.
It might be as fast to turn 1 in drag race but........


Bragging rights on track go to Hamilton? His qualifying lap was mildly better than Vettels. He needed his handicapped and maimed team mate to help him. He benefited from a safety car again (twice this season) and his overtake on Vettel was purely car performance at the time. How does he have any bragging rights on track for this?


Nap time cheesy poof


2-race win
3-fastest lap

Was he supposed to breathe fire as well?

Nothing is taking tht away from Hamilton. In other words, bragging rights.


Hahaha, Lewis should be handicapped with fire-breathing as well.


Not sure anyone denying the 3 things you mentioned. This article is about post race analysis, like science.


It's an answer as to why Hamilton and Mercedes have bragging rights over this. My comment , unlike science, will allow the simplest of minds to understand.


They won. What else is important??


A result never tells the full story on its own.


A result is a result no matter how it comes about. Merc won over Ferrari, end of. We all know how and why nr44 won. Great driving from Seb and Ham. Long may it continue. All we need now is at least one of the Redbulls up there.

Ahmed of Sydney

If the result is the only thing that matters, why are you on this great forum??
If we take your approach, Let's just take the final results at the end of each race with no comments... 🤔🤔


I agree with Cheesypoof James in the sense that without context a result is just that, a result. Its only by analysing the 'content do we get the 'context' of said result. I'm surprised certain people here are disagreeing as last years WDC, taken in context, would have them suggest Hamilton was a more worthy recipient. What is good for the goose is also good for the gander, or so it should be anyway..


Sarsippious, so is that an admission that Nico may not have been the better Mercedes driver last year?


Both are true. There's more to a result than just the result. Context will always be necessary to fully explain a result. The example I used last year was the 2016 Chinese and Monaco Grands Prix ... in those races Hamilton and Rosberg both scored the same amount of points (a win and a P7 each), yet the context behind them was so different.

On the other hand, at some point a result is the result. It doesn't matter if Hamilton drove better than Rosberg last year, at the end of the day Rosberg won the WDC, because of the results.

Both scenarios have their time and place. The issue is when someone (cough, cough, not you Sars) uses context to explain one situation, and then pure results to explain another similar situation.


I think if your fair KRB you'll agree that many on this site are guilty of using one or the other depending on the agenda they are trying to push including the few that you yourself blindly defend at every turn.


Of course, and these race analysis are the reason we can delve into the why's and how's. But the result will still be the same. After this analysis, it will still say Spain 2017 , winner- Hamilton- Mercedes Benz. No "lucky". No"Ferrari cocked up".
That's my point really😊
And of course, doesn't matter about the how's and whys of last year, the history books will always show Rosberg as the 2016 WDC.
Now I'm looking forward to Monaco. Got a feeling it's gonna be a strange one.
Talking of strange, what's with the kangaroos and horse races over there. Saw a clip on sky news, looked hilarious😂


Its Australia James, many things that can defy belief occur on a daily basis.
Have a look at this one if you're in any doubt..


Must admit that I've seen that one too😄 You Aussies are not known as most sanest race of people in the world. The only people that could compete with you is most probably the kiwis😄
But thanks for the video👍🏻. Old Rooey looked a bit stunned. Only in Australia 🇦🇺


Bottas helped twice. The first time was taking Kimi out. The second was holding Vettel up. With Kimi out of the game Ferrari was limited in their strategy.


What's that got to do with it.
Vettel gets plenty of help from Kimi.
At Red Bull he had it all his way with Webber playing second fiddle. They clipped Webber wings. But a fellow Aussie showed up Vettel in his final year at Red Bull. He then bolted as he couldn't compete with Ricciardo.
Bragging rights to Ricciardo big time.
Bottas helped and Lewis thanked him. You still have to drive the car to the flag to win. Or do you expect a Giant hand to hot wheel it around the track?


I'm stating facts. Kimi did not help Vettel at this race and unlike Mercedes Ferrari have not done any team orders yet this season, so you cannot cast them in the same light. If we compare who drove better at this track to me Sebastian did the better job. He didn't benefit from any safety car, he was purposely blocked by an opponents team mate, and he didn't start from first. He put the car into first position and were it not for a safety car would likely have finished there. That's the drivers aspect. There's always a bunch of people claiming I'm biased but that's my opinion.


Cheesypoof, I wonder what would have to happen for you to say well done Lewis.....


I've just stated the facts Tim. For me to say Lewis did good he'd have to be the best driver on track for a race. When you've already got the fastest car, strongest team, and #1 status it takes more than just finishing first. That's my opinion at least. I'll always give credit when it's due.


Vettel has #1 status, let's get real here. In the first race Ferrari left Kimi out long to act as a block in case Hamilton pitted early.

Fastest car? To date through the first 5 races, the Ferrari has been the better race car.

You will always give credit where it's due? Pull the other one!


Get real here? If we're being real, as i said, Ferrari have yet to issue a team order this season on track, unlike Mercedes. Whatever your assumptions are are irrelevant since we already know which team has used them and which one has yet to.


But he hasn't necessarily got the fastest car ( Vettel should have got pole ) , the strongest team (debatable I agree ) or #1 status.
You will never give credit because you just plain don't like Lewis on a personnel level, at least be honest about it.


😂The mighty one has spoken😂
Let all tremble under his gaze !
For he is Cheesy poof


Quite strict criteria then Cheesypoof, just out of interest when was the last time you said Lewis did good?


@tim w
😄but I must admit, I like your Witt


Do you really think that that kind of post even warrants a reply. Smile and move on😊🍻


JamesK, I see the point you are making, but I was smiling when I wrote it.


I say...serve him up with chips and salad, and a bit of mustard...


TimW, impartial as ever... not everybody is the same to marry Lewis, that is the beauty of it. If we subtract double Bottas' help (Kimi damage and Vettel's delay), the two opposing strategies that hindered the four time champ, can one still brag about this win? As a team, yes.


Well really I think MV helped that more than Bottas. KR should have let Vettel by in another race tho.


And Vettel's drive had nothing to do with him being part of a team?


AlanF1, you can pick at the bones of any GP win if you really want to, it's a team sport and they played a big part on Sunday, but Lewis also drove very well and delivered the win.


You know what i find interesting? Wehrlein was actually faster than Magnussen in Haas. Sauber picked the right strategy, but Wehrlein had the speed and racecraft to make that work. He should be aplauded.

As for the top dogs...ultimately i think Hamilton was a bit faster than Vettel, especially in the opening stint. Had Vettel managed to open a 3s+ gap over HAM, there would be no hasty pitstop, no getting stuck behind Bottas. But as it happened, Hamilton had him covered for pace in stint 1, so when Vettel came behind first backmarkers (was it Massa?) he had to pit, to avoid undercut.

I think DannyRic was never in equation of either Merc or Ferrari. In 2008 (i think) Heidfeld said that to overtake in Barca, you need to be 2 seconds per lap quicker. With a new set of tyres Merc or Ferrari were probably in the range of around 3 seconds quicker than DannyRic, plus they had DRS. So thats why Ferrari pitted anyway, and thats why Vettel basically just coasted through Danny Ric.

As for the DRS, i think it improves the show greatly on this kind of tracks. I'm an avid F1 watcher since 1994, and Barcelona was always a bit of a snoozefest. This race was electric, Fight at the front, then sainz vs mag in pits, then sainz hounding wehrlein for 30 odd laps (and i really mean that, HOUNDING), Alonso finally passing someone on track, Kvyat fighting Magnussen, Massa having a comeback, and Stroll and Vandoorne looking a bit out of sorts.

I kinda expected something like that from mr. Stroll, but im seriously surprised by Vandoorne and his (lack of) speed. Do you have any more information on that James? I watched the boy in GP2, and oh boy, he looked like a real deal. I do think that there is something really suspicious with the pace Alonso's less decorated team mates are showing. Is it that Alonso hogs all the best mechanics for himself, or does he set the car up the way no one else likes it?

How do we explain the phenomenom where Massa gets utterly destroyed by Alonso, then holds his ground with Bottas, who holds his ground with Hamilton. It basically puts Massa back into league where he was in 2009, up there with the best of them but with just a little bit missing. And it didnt look like that when he was paired with Alonso. It was the same with Kimi... good before and after Alonso, very bad when paired with Alonso.

Are we seeing the same in Stoffel?


Is it that Alonso hogs all the best mechanics for himself, or does he set the car up the way no one else likes it?

I don't believe that's the case, unless you have something to back up your claim. Massa was completely beaten by Bottas in qualifying during there three seasons together,, 41-18 to be precise. He was only a match for him on race day and still Bottas was a tad better. And Bottas has not been a match for Hamilton on Sunday except in Sochi where nothing much happened after the first corner. His qualifying pace has been good less than 0.050s separating them on average. Which is not a surprise as both Bottas and Alonso had good margin over Massa in qualifying and Alonso was only a mere 0.014s off Hamilton in qualifying when they were paired together.

As for Kimi, he's not doing much better against Vettel either. On the contrary, Jenson was pretty much close to Alonso on Sunday and at times even better than him. Magnussen was beaten by Jenson in their season together and he is holding himself pretty well against Grosjean who did well when he was paired with Raikkonen 4 seasons ago.


Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes strategy was actually quite pragmatic and sensible. Barcelona is a front limited, understeer limited circuit where the front left takes all the abuse and can end up as grizzled as Fernando Alonso's beard.

So it's sensible on heavy fuel and with the track yet to fully rubber in to stick to the slower but more durable compound to prevent that front left chewing itself up. When the VSC appeared mid way through the race, the track would have rubbered in nicely, improving grip and durability, and with the fuel load much lighter - not to mention Hammy's preference of moving the brake balance to the rear to save the fronts in any case - the softer compound for the last stint was bang on the money for victory. As was proven................

It's a given that if it doesn't rain during the weekend, the track will rubber in and always get quicker, but also with that extra rubber down traction and grip will always improve, taking less out of the softer compounds, not to mention the benefit of reduced fuel loads towards the end of the race which also helps softer compounds. Why Sebastian Vettel and his strategists forgot this basic rule, god only knows..........


Vettel's presence of mind & sense of judgment while even in the cockpit is startling. I wonder what those Ferrari strategists were thinking.


when was the last we had such a Driver with presence of mind, was it the other German in the Red car?


Vettel is reminiscent of... Vettel.


You mean like when he was foul mouthing Charlie?


An interesting strategy race where strategy makes the difference. It actually gave Hamilton the win. He should probably share out his win bonus, the title race would look SO different if the team and Bottas hadn't performed so well. It's rare to see such an effective strategy fight back, it will be referred to often over the next years.
I still feel there's a story to be told about Lewis's breathless radio messages, was it just this weekend, is there a fitness issue or is it something else, stress maybe?


Nightclubs? Cigars?


LKFE, I wonder who the last Grand Prix winner was who smoked the odd stogie? Whatever Lewis is doing in those nightclubs, it's clearly working for him, maybe Seb should let his hair down a bit more...


In the defense of Ferrari not stopping Vettel, maybe they were thinking it was too early to stop and finish with the softer tires and that it would have left Vettel very vulnerable at the end against Ham Mediums ?


Vettel had to stop whatever happened, to go onto the Medium tyre due to the mandatory 2 tyre rule. It was merely a question of when.


Is it just me or does the 'analysis' above appear to be horrendously biased against Lewis?
Lewis is given very little credit for achieving the win and the 'analysis' draws the conclusion that Ferrari handed the win to Lewis.
Again the qualifying piece it states Vettel should have been on pole bar one small mistake. Lewis was on pole because he didn't make any mistakes.
Surely credit where credit is due, Lewis and Merc strategists won the race rather than them 'lucking' into a win due to Ferrari failings.


Indeed, it does appearwd biased. Vettel is presented as the leader who made the right decisions while Lewis looks like a dutiful follower helped across the line. or example, "Mercedes kept Hamilton at 2.8secs, which covers off that opportunity". Then the statement about the pole being vettel's exxcept for his mistake.
JA is only human afterall.


This is nonsense!

There is no aggrandising of Vettel and making Hamilton look like he's being led

It's merely a reflection of some great calls by the driver, as Lewis has done on other occasions.

No bias, just calling it as we see it - Please !


I feel your pain James. They can be a touchy mob!


@Lewis mate
I don't think you can call James biased. He stated at the start that both drivers drove above and beyond the call of duty.
But it is a question of how you look at the race as far as who you wanted to win. Ferrari fans will say that Merc lucked into the win. Merc fans will say Ferrari were out smarted. Either way, the result is the same, and thats what matters. I think this season will go back and forth between the reds and the silver. I think it will be a case of "who dares, wins".


For reference..Hamilton made 2 mistakes on his pole lap according to Fox Sports Asia analysts, while Vettel made a big mistake, Alonso they said actually drove a perfect lap in qualifying.


Jeez Fox Sport Asia analysis.
Yep that's as solid as plate of jelly 😀
I'll stick with the real experts
Brundle DC Hill Anthony Davidson et al .


You've not been following this site long have you.


Long enough to know that the site is infested with posters who love to relish in certain drivers failures rather than applauding and appreciating their achievements.
My username was indicates where my loyalties lie but I can appreciate the brilliance of other drivers even when they are to the detriment of Lewis.


'If's and 'buts'...

Actually, Hamilton said--when he talked through his pole lap--that there were several places he could have improved. So not only Vettel could have gone faster, but so could Hamilton. Consequently all that matters is that Hamilton got pole.


Its just you!


i found out that there isn't anyone at mercedes or on earth, for that matter, who has ever driven an f1 race like hamilton does.
please accept my apologies for the fact that you aren't able to understand my patient, you'll get better with time


A bit of green in the eyes? VET-ing the best driver will comfort the sight. Bottas should be given credit naming him in the last sentence, he proves a great guy.


Hamilton got Pole, Fastest Lap and Win, all from luck and a Ferrari open goal.
Perhaps this years WDC will be a walk-over.


hamilton would've won in spain, strategy or no strategy, bottas defending or not defending after all he had so many laps to spare. he simply drove like the best. even off tract he's the best. he will soon start expelling anti fan journalists like president trump. he's just too quick for them.


Hamilton would have won,.....even with someone else driving his car!


Even Donald Trump haha.


is that why all the other 19 cars won?


did he not win?
has he not done so 55 times?
are you still weeping?


You carry on with same amount of class when your hero wins as you do when he loses.


and you sing my praises whether he wins or not, we make such a great team don't we?


SARS, a classy response to the last race would have been saying "well done Lewis", but alas it seems certain posters just can't bring themselves to give credit where it's due....


Stroll clearly out of his depth. Sad to see a team like williams with such poor drivers. Massa well past it and stroll very slow. He will probably get through 2 or 3 chassis at monaco.
Maybe Paul di resta will take over after summer break


I would say Palmer is to. It annoys me that the Sky F1 crew are so pally with Palmer's dad that they won't criticise him for his appalling performances so far this season. Is it true his dad 'pays' Renault so he gets the drive?
I known the only reason Stroll is driving is the small factor of the $40m his dad gave Williams. It's really sad when there are so many talented young drivers who would do much much better given the opportunity in F1.


his dad 'pays' ....

I don't know whether it's his Dad but someone must - cos JP cannot possibly be there on merit !

Torchwood Mobile

In the case of Palmer, I think it is indicative of the damage that can be caused by benching the GP2 Champion for a year.

You triumph in the GP2 season, and you cannot compete there again.

Making on a reserve driver is unfair, though since Vandoorne going to Super Formula; hopefully teams will see that as an option, until they have a proper seat ready.


Yeah I agree. Brundle is chummy with dad Jonathon (which he freely admits). If was any other driver they would be all over him..

Tornillo Amarillo

Williams is a family business and Stroll too, so who knows how many shares of Williams Stroll could have in his pocket?
20% of Williams'shares are in the Stock Exchange, I guess anybody interested could buy...
I mean, Williams value is 265 millions euros, but Stroll US$2,6 BILLIONS.
I'm sure Lance is not going to fail, nor Williams, I think Williams could still get P5 in the WCC this year.
Paddy Lowe is a new valuable asset too also this year.

The question is more who will replace Massa for 2018? Bottas?


Nando? put him on the "payStroll".
Might be the only team without a smouldering bridge leading to it!


I doubt Jonathan Palmer has the megabucks to influence Renault


If Stroll can get through a weekend at Monaco without tagging the armco's I'll be very, very, VERY surprised and if he doesn't....ah lets not even entertain that thought because that's just not going to happen!


our future potential megastar, verstappen's, yet to mannage that so stroll's in good company..


So what is it your saying. That Stroll is the next Verstappen? Enlighten me please.


you can surely read each word i have posted, everyone who has driven an f1 car has express themselves to have had a great time, why not stroll?


I don't think Luca Badoer had a great time.


stroll enjoys himself every race while you're lost in bitterness..


'stroll enjoys himself every race'

And out of interest how do you know this??


he tell's after every race..and smiles while doing so.


Acting is clearly wasted on you.


he doesn't need to act, he is clearly enjoing it. all drivers are enjoying it so why would he not enjoy it?


Hmmm, some naivety going on here.

Was Kvyat enjoying it last year??


kvyat's loving f1 not too far from kelly piquet..


is he naive because he's 18?
he's been involved in racing for long enough for you not to think he's expressing naivety.


not only do i know how much fun it is to drive a race car, i see him grinning from ear to ear after each race..


I think Monaco could be make or brake for Stroll. I think he's way out of his depth.


A good showing at Monaco can go along way to rebuilding his reputation, or should I say lack of one. Another lacklustre performance like we have seen throughout the early part of the season and surely calls for his sacking will become headlines, not merely thoughts in peoples heads.


he's enjoying the f1 experience and is getting better with time.


If drowning under pressure and expectation is your idea of the kid enjoying himself well.......


why so much bitterness? everyone i have known to have driven f1 cars have expressed how much fun it is to drive them. all sports cars i have driven have been fun, so are go karts. so the ultimate fun to have in a car must be driving an f1 car and you are suggesting that stroll is not enjoying himself driving that williams car? come on, you are revealing a new dimension of bitterness.


With driving an F1 car, in the Formula One World Championship, at the pinnacle of motor-sport, comes expectations. Not only those on a personal level but also those of the team, sponsors and financial backers.
When you under perform to those expectations, to the degree Stroll has this season, stress and worry become a very real and at times debilitating factor in your performance. The ability to negate those effects comes from experience, something young Stroll just doesn't have.
Now that's the second time you've mentioned 'bitterness' and I have to admit I am truly lost as to how you can see, think or genuinely believe that is the case.
What I genuinely see, think and believe is that your talking absolute rubbish and it would be remiss of me not to make that clear to you.


what is not to enjoy about driving an f1 car? stroll has made it into f1 and is enjoying himself race after race and all you can do is criticise him. he is the only 18 year old on earth who takes part in f1 races. if williams are happy with his contributions this season they'll ask him to stay longer and if not, he'll go and finish school or do whatever takes his fancy. only bitterness can drive you to call for his sacking as williams has not published anything about conditions necessary to sack any of their drivers..


I agree , Stroll is , or at least appears to be, out if his depth. But I don't see them letting him go anytime soon - Williams need/want the money he brings. Look how long they put up with Mal !


PM won a race for Williams. Not sure if Claire has the patience, or his father the money, to wait for that to eventuate.


maldonado wasn't sacked, his sponsor could no longer pay to keep him racing...


So he was sacked then! 🤣🤣


he wasn't sacked, he drove for all the races he paid for.


PM won a race for Williams...

Absolutely correct, and I confess that I had overlooked that fact. But in fairness that was very much a one off and not typical of his performances in general. Sadly I think Williams simply need the money that these kind of pay drivers bring in order to balance their books. I've always had a soft spot for Williams and I've been on a tour of their car collection - which is beyond fantastic. The site which they operate from is also mightily impressive and it's hard to believe they are one of the poorer teams in F1. I bought a rear wheel nut from a 2013 race car when I was there (they said it had been raced, but who really knows) - does that make me an enthusiast or just sad ?


It would depend on what you paid for it 🙂


How can one put a price on a work of art such as this 😳


Hey, what's one mans trash is another mans treasure 🙂


Haha Priceless, C63.


I'll put a stack of casino chips on 18 white, thanks!!
Let it ride!!

The Grape Unwashed

Memories were still fresh of Melbourne where Hamilton could not pass a Red Bull, but Vettel could and that swung the race.

Not quite right James: Vettel didn't pass the Red Bull, he was ahead of it on both sides of his pit stop.


Vettel passed Danny Ric after he came out from his first stop.


are you suggesting those are antifan journalistic statements?


Vettel didn't pass the Red Bull, he was ahead of it on both sides of his pit stop.

@The Grape Unwashed - i dont understand what you mean? after his first pit stop, Vettel came out behind Ricii and over took him on the straight.


did hamilton fail to pass that same redbull?

The Grape Unwashed

You mean he lapped him? The two weren't racing one another, that's not comparable to HAM vs. VER.


@The grape Unwashed-

No he didnt lap him after his first Pitstop as early as lap 16.. he over took Ricci on track.

The Grape Unwashed

@ Nomad - my mistake, I'd misconstrued the sentence, which seems quite strangely written: the natural way to read the sentence is that its subject is the Melbourne GP a race where "Lewis failed to overtake a Red Bull, but Vettel could and it won him the race". That clearly didn't happen. I think it would have been clearer to have written -

"Memories were still fresh of Melbourne where Hamilton could not pass a Red Bull, but Vettel was quickly past Ricciardo in Barcelona and that swung the race."


I think the graph is actually showing Perez's (not Hamilton's) average lap times at the 0 of the Y axis...which would make sense if this is a Williams graph telling them how much faster their car needs to go.

Garrett Bruce

Does loosing the strategy game bring another firing to the fore where the red team is concerned? Seems that rolling of the heads has been held in abeyance there for some time now compared with the earlier "management decision" approach.

Or have things changed in the Fiat board room?


Just a small thing (that's obviously growing in my mind), there is only one "o" in losing.

The Grape Unwashed

This was one of Hamilton's best races in my opinion, never have I heard him breathing so raggedly - he drove his heart out for lap after lap to win the race in the (narrowly) second best car - an amazing achievement. For it to work he needed luck, the help of his teammate, a great pit crew and the perfect strategy - everything fell into place. This is a win he should treasure.


I totally agree that he drove his guts to get that win.

But second car? Ha! Here fixed that for you.

"he drove his heart out for lap after lap to win the race in the (narrowly) best car - an achievement"


You need good eyeglasses if you think that merc is second best. That car is still the car to beat because it powers in the straights where overtaking takes place.


I believe he did not have the water bottle (saving weight), and therefore was even more exhausted - probably dehydrated.

The Grape Unwashed

@Vinay - yeah, he's looking for anything to eat into Ferrari's slight advantage. He said after the race that he used his last ounce of energy to jump into the arms of the pit crew - at which point his heart rate went through the roof. I watched the clip of the drivers in the waiting room prior to the podium and Lewis was still breathing really hard. The effort he put into that race was immense.


tell it as it is.


A bit of show, he likes it. But second car? It is equal or better car than Ferrari. LH is a great driver, but in this case Merc and Bottas made the difference, without them, a red car would have won the race. Otherwise a collective win, we can say. But worst than all are Ferrari strategists that are sometimes monumental, ask Alonso. Why chicken about the past blunders when you can think in the moment. In hindsight with the VSC, the result was meant to happen.


I think the cars are equal in as much as Merc have a better engine, but Ferrari have a better chassis.
As for asking Alonso about Ferrari... not a good idea me thinks😄 I bet he's still kicking himself. And when he's finished with himself, he will kick those who ask silly questions 😂🍻

The Grape Unwashed

@AlanF1, so everything made the difference on the day, except Hamilton? Really???

The Mercedes looked second best in Spain, by the smallest of margins perhaps, but second best. Here's Mark Hughes writing in Motorsport -

[Ferrari had] the faster car on the day and a handy lead


"The zero line is the lap time of an imaginary car doing the winner’s average lap speed every lap. It is intended to show the gaps between car performance."

Not this week! It looks like Perez is the zero line. I guess someone did it that way because only three drivers were on the lead lap...


The imaginary car was Ocon P5.
Ferrari lost bcs their pace is rubish on medium tires.
Would lose anyway, no matter what race strategy.


"It was a fascinating cat and mouse game of chess" eh, really?


Mixing metaphors....yellow card!

Tornillo Amarillo

Why anybody else did a one stop?

Tornillo Amarillo

At this point, I would save an strategist, just copycat what Force India do...

Tornillo Amarillo

James, was Bottas in a 1-stop strategy for the win?
He didn't stop with the VSC.


According to Mark Hughes - Bot was switched to a one stop when the team realised he could hold Vet up. If his PU hadn't failed he would still have come third - which was the best he could have hoped for at that stage anyway . So it didn't affect his race and it helped Ham and the team secure the win .


With these 2017 cars, the following car is more easily able to exit the final corner flat out than in past years, where an overtake on the main straight was therefore really hard

I don't think this is universally true. Barcelona has a slow chicane in the lead up to the fast straight (and DRS zone), because the air is less dirty and the cars are more reliant on mechanical grip the penalty of following another car is a lot less than if you have fast corner. It was certainly true here, but exiting parabolica at Monza onto the straight there will likely be a different story.

Aliaksei Kandratsenka

Regardless of the win, it looks like Vettel/Ferrari package is slightly faster overall than Hamilton/Mercedes package. In race and quai it seems. Isn't it?


It's track dependend, in Spain the Mercedes were faster than the Ferraris.


Not qualy -Merc still has the qualy mode that no-one can match. I would say the Ferrari is faster in race trim though.


I'm not sure about no one being able to match the Mercedes quali mode - Ferrari locked out the front row at Russia. But I wouldn't argue that in general the Mercedes is quicker over one lap. One thing that appears to have changed though, is how well the Mercedes can follow another car in traffic - I reckon a lot of work has been done in that area.


I think the advantage went to the Mercs when Kimi got taken out at the first corner. It simply became a 2 V's 1 scenario giving Mercedes more strategy options.


Hamilton needs the credit he deserves...the same credit that alonso gave hamilton after the 2007 season , when he said the only person i will have my eye on in pre season testing is hamilton....i think its time to say get in there lewis 🙂

The hatters will always hate ....but i agree ham never got credit for barca win, even competing at that level with out a drinks bottle to save weight.....say no more


@P 82. I wholeheartedly concur. Wouldn't take it personally as it is the nature of the beast. Figuratively speaking of course. Most greats aren't appreciated during the reign but after they've left the sport. Many of Hamilton's critics share an underlining trait I will not mention. Regardless, he's great for the sport and the sole reason I got into formula 1.


James, I'm a little confused about the gap between Hamilton and Vettel when Hamilton enters the pit-lane under the VSC. Your report says the gap was 9 seconds, but the FOM world feed pictures indicate that it was 7.7s. Are the timings shown on the world feed pictures therefore wrong?


At the start of the VSC it was 9 sec, but during the VSC it fluctuated between 7.5 and 8.8 secs if memory serves, probably due to different fluctuating speeds of the two drivers.


Another great analysis James. You've answered most of my questions regarding Ferrari strategy; however, one that remains is why did Ferrari pit Vettel ahead of Hamilton (first pit stop) - I can see your point of an undercut, but it felt, during the race, that Vettel had enough pace to ward off HAM had HAM pitted/tried the undercut. I feel Ferrari made a mistake there as well - pitting the lead car ahead of the chasing car.


If VET had the pace he would have built a 4/5 second gap to protect from the undercut. The reason he did not do this is because the cars were quite evenly matched at that phase of the race.
This left them vulnerable to the undercut, that and a bit of Merc gamesmanship caused them to jump first.


You can say that again


Another great analysis James. You've answered most of my questions regarding Ferrari strategy; however, one that remains is why did Ferrari pit Vettel ahead of Hamilton (first pit stop) - I can see your point of an undercut, but it felt, during the race, that Vettel had enough pace to ward off HAM had HAM pitted/tried the undercut. I feel Ferrari made a mistake there as well - pitting the lead car ahead of the chasing car.


Seb and Ham in Spain reminded me a bit of some of the Mika v Schu battles, Seb being especially unlucky this time.

He lost time with the vsc and Bottas, but what did you make of the Vandoorne hit that caused the vsc?

Silly error, looked like he wasn't looking at first, but for me the problem is also the slooooow Honda PU.

It was amazing from Massa on board, just how far back he came from and how quickly he was closing even before the braking zone.

Poor Stoff could have glanced in his mirrors before braking and seen a dot that was the Williams.


Also it was amazing how quickly vettle got up to speed to come out even with hamilton from the pits. F1 cars have tremendous acceleration. That bump between hamilton and vettle could have spoiled the whole race if one of them had damage.


Great analysis James. You are absolutely right, the only scenario that worked against Ferrari during the VSC was Hamilton pitting on his own. All other scenarios gave them the advantage.

It would have been very interesting to see if Hamilton could have closed a 8 second gap & overtake on those soft tyres! That said, I think that the key strategic element was Bottas being available with Raikkonen out. That gave Mercedes more opportunities- and Bottas deserves credit for the strength of his "assist"..


James a question for you.
Have you heard if the fia are considering increasing the hybrid power. Ie the power that can be stored and used from the current 160bhp. The reason I ask is when these power units were first mentioned the idea was the engine would produce 600bhp and the hybrid 160bhp, similar total bhp to outgoing v8. If I understand it the engines are now producing 800+bhp and the hybrid part is limited to 160bhp. Could this not be doubled to increase performance?.



Just a quick question on HAM accomplishments, if he started in a Minardi rather than McLaren would his stats be vastly different? It seems he had a good start to his career and from his own words this year if he wins the title would be his best.

The last 3 years were really a gift in terms of results, anyone could have won with that car.

The Grape Unwashed

@ W Head He started in a McLaren because he was good enough - hence his beating a 2 x WDC in his rookie season.


You seem to have missed the fact that ALO and HAM were tied on 107 points whilst RAI won the WDC on 108 points, so even to me.

There are many drivers as good as HAM and could of done the same job in the same seat, ie ROS last year, anyone in that car could won the WDC and ROS achievement is so much better as he beat HAM (a superior driver in your eyes), fair and square. Mechanical retirements are all part of racing.

I was actually wondering where the conspiracy theorist are, will they jump on the reason why BOT engine blew, if they are going to do it for HAM you got to keep the consistency going, you know the team is working against BOT to make HAM look better after the embarrassment of last year. Fishing line cast...


Kimi had 110 pts in 2007, HAM & ALO on 109. FIA doesn’t consider them even, with HAM 2nd on countback. Them's the rules, have been for ages.


So were many others like ALO but started in the lower teams. Just means he was able to achieve more without the struggle of using a lower team car that is not competitive

The Grape Unwashed

Saying Alonso was good enough to start in a winning car is an assumption, not a fact; an assumption based on nothing other than wishful thinking - it's not one you can supply evidence for. I seem to remember Trulli doing very well against Alonso when they were paired together (so well that Briatore sided against him). Good as Alonso was, he might not have thrived if he'd been placed alongside the reigning champion as a rookie - Schumacher, in his case.

Most drivers would have cracked when paired against an experienced WDC, Hamilton proved his mettle. His career stats are remarkable and speak for themselves.


*James*, I find your report perplexing. So far this season ferrari has been very aggressive strategy wise, reason being, their superior race pace.

Stereotypically, Vettel opened up a 2.2-2.5 second gap on the first lap, which hearkens back to his RBR days - brilliant. With clean air I thought he'd disappear into the distance, frightening race pace if I'm honest. Fortunately he'd taken too much from his tires and lewis was able to inch ever closer. Mercedes instructed lewis to push for an undercut but ferrari countered. The key, and something I'd hoped you'd mention is the resolution of mercedes's overheating tires. Not only could lewis push, he could sustain the pace over consecutive laps. Which gave them strategic flexibility, something previously unavailable this year. Extending the first stint, going short the 2nd on mediums and mounting a final attack on soft was their only option for victory. Yes the VSC and bottas played a role but crucially the 'B-spec' update gave them a fighting chance.

Had Ferrari pitted under the VSC, it would have meant a long final stint on the medium which were significantly slower. Lewis would have stretched his middle stint as long as possible and mounted an almighty attack. Canada 2012 comes to mind.

While many thought mercedes was sandbagging in preseason, they genuinely could not match ferrari. The upgrades worked as intended judging by lewis sector 3 times.

As for the overtake - brilliant. Some say its all DRS and merc PU, but keep in mind vettel had the strongest first sector and straight line speed all weekend. Lewis had an excellent exit out of the final chicane and nail vettel down the straight.

Impressively, lewis was able to manage his almost 30lap old softs and still wring out a lap 1.1 seconds faster than vettel could. Incidentally it was the race's fastest lap.

Bring on monaco, this season is going to be sweet 🙂

The Grape Unwashed

Great post Oblah. Mark Hughes (Motorsport) reports that Mercedes also copied Ferrari for this race and chose downforce over top speed: this gave them better tyre wear over previous races. Just another reason why Mercedes seemed closer to Ferrari this race.


Thanks, James!

It looks like team players could become crucial in being King makers this season. I think we might even need a new category of excellence, like "team player of the day". We saw that last Sunday wotj Bottas : first he kicked out two of the potential Mercedes challengers / obstructers (Räikkönen & Verstappen) -- two birds with one stone -- and then, he hold Vettel up for two laps. Can we imagine Rosberg in Bottas' place? Never! So, the humble Bottas is team player of the day.


For all you maths and charting's a nice bit of trivia regarding the UBS Race Strategy Chart (that we all love).
The y-axis (vertical) this year spanned 215 seconds to fit the entire field in.

What was it for last years Spanish GP, i hear you ask?

....100 seconds


Part of that difference, not all, is that last year's race-winning Red Bull was not the dominant car. If the Mercs had kept their suspension components attached and their steering wheel dials in the correct settings, that 100 second spread would have been greater. But yes, I'm sure it wouldn't have been 215 seconds!


That's true, I forgot that there was a crash! But the spread is definitely still expanding.


It will always spread in the first year of new regulations. It will shrink in subsequent years.


James could you help explain why Hamilton found it difficult to near the Ferrari in the early parts of the race, but was able to close up and surpass it later?
Was it purely because of the fresh tires or Mercedes have cured their ailment of being unable to follow other cars?


Stroll is very happy because the Safety car wasn't deployed. It would have probably lapped him.


All the main phases of the race, including the nail-biting wheel-to-wheel action as Vettel exited the pitlane on his final stop, are all reminiscent of the many Schumacher/Ferrari vs Hakkinen/McLaren battles of the late 1990's and early 2000's.

Very nice to see that kind of action is back on TV.


A couple of things.
To compare this race with chess is too much praise. If one looks at last years race in Spain there were four cars and three tire types involved. That was really chess and judgment errors were made. This race only 2 cars and 2 tires, a much more simple starting point. I would compare this race strategy not with chess but rather with tic-tac-toe.
So why did Ferrari make an error even in this simple situation? Because for me that is the baffling point. I think prior to the VSC they had the race under control, even though Vettel needed a long time overtaking Bottas. It was up to Mercedes to switch from medium to soft (as you don't want to run too long on the medium) en they would simply follow. That way the 9 seconds gap would in all likelihood take them to the (winning) end. Even with a VSC there is ample opportunity, I think they calculated this as well. But what was killing Ferrari was the timing of the VSC. If the VSC was 5 laps earlier then no way Lewis would have switched to softs, because the remaining stint was too long for the softs to keep up. If the VSC was 5 laps later then (Ferrari would have known for certain that) Mercedes would use it to switch Lewis to softs and in anticipation also Ferrari would have switched Vettel. So, again, I think Ferrari had it all figured out except when the VSC came in just that spot. They had to mentally switch from “certain win scenarios” to “probable win scenarios” and that was just too much.
A more general point (nothing to do with strategy) is that I notice that the mid-field teams are getting screwed twice over. Once for the enormous gap between them and the top teams, and secondly because of the fact that at the top it is always exciting this year with the fight between Lewis and Vettel going on. That means that even though there is plenty of close racing in the middle field it is not on tv, because the Lewis/Vettel battle is broadcasted. And that is a shame. I remember 2 years ago a lot of Max tv, because at the front Lewis was having a boring time. No such luck for the current mid-field teams.


Why does Hamilton pushing to keep at 2.8 seconds cover off plan C? I would have thought going as slow as possible in front of Vettel (apart from the last couple of corners), conserving tyre life, was the way to cover off plan C. Are we saying that Vettel would clearly have closed a 23 second gap after a 3rd stop, but that a 24.8 second gap was too much? On which lap are we assuming Vettel would be stopping on? Surely just as important was the state of Hamilton's tyres when Vettel caught him?


I guess it means that if Vettel pitted, Hamilton would have the option to pit safely the following lap and still rejoin in the lead ... if they chose to match strategies. But yes, realistically they were more likely to stay out and enjoy the luxury of a 24-second gap instead of a 1-2 second gap!


Brilliant driving from Seb, deservedly won driver of the day. The 3rd time this year!


James could you explain your comment in more detail...
'With these 2017 cars, the following car is more easily able to exit the final corner flat out than in past years'
I thought following cars was much more difficult with the new car specs??


wider tyres, better grip out of slow corners..


I think that while getting held up behind Bottas and failing to utilise the VSC cost Vettel time, I think his goose was cooked anyway with the initial commitment to 3 stops. Hamilton would have caught him regardless of the gap, he would have had less chance of making the overtake and doing so may have left him more open to Vettel striking back at the end of the race but given the way Hamilton breezed past him I don't think it would have mattered.


Vettel is the real deal. Not only is he super rapid he is mentally a step ahead of the rest.

Ferrari need to listen to him otherwise they will keep on throwing away wins and championships; this was a golden opportunity to pile the pressure on Merc and create some clear air.

First rule of competition; never give anything away to your rivals.


Two F1 gladiators fighting it out on the track? Hardly. It was all done by pit lane strategy calls except for one, DRS pass. Still a lot more work to do if making "new F1" a spectacle is the aim.


"You are making an assumption that RIcciardo was extracting the maximum performance out of the RedBull for the whole race. Since he had a substantial gap over Perez (who was lapped) why stress the mechanicals any more than absolutely necessary. In these days of penalties for changing pretty much anything, once the podium place was secure, there was no reason to push the limits. Bring it home with the least amount of wear and tear. Plus stretching the useful life of the current spec engine leaves scope for pushing the new spec engine harder over less races."

As can be seen from the lap trace Ricciardo noted (more like was advised over the radio) that Perez was falling back from around lap 52. As a result his pace on an ever reducing fuel load does not increase as other competitors does. So it's either tyre degradation related, which is unlikely due to him running on the soft compound for only 14 laps at that time, or he turned the engine down to preserve its life, which is a far more likely and logical conclusion.

As a general comment this is a pretty bad scenario for F1 when the 3rd place runner tuns his engine down with a quarter of the race to go due to the ridiculous limitation on the number of engines available in a season. The evidence is that it has achieved nothing in regards to cost reduction which is the excuse often trotted whenever the logic of such a limitation is questioned.


Hi James

I'm a huge fan of your post-race analysis and I always read it. This one is one of your best, but I'm said to read it elsewhere also and they haven't put your name on it or the source.

Hope that it's only a simple mistake. Bellow you'll find the link with the copycat:

Kind regards,



That is plagiarism pure and simple

A direct lift without permission

Will pursue this



It was an absorbing race at the front. Ultimately, despite Mercedes ekeing every advantage out they could from making excellent strategy calls, one has to remember that Vettel still held the lead when he rejoined the circuit for his final stint and it was only through Hamilton's sheer will that the Ferrari was finally overhauled. I reckon that's 1-1 now in Vettel vs Hamilton "nick the other's win" tally. Ham could and probably should have taken Australia, and Vettel could and should have taken Spain.


I think everyone referring to this as game of chess. I would say poker is more like it. Ferrari did the same thing in Australia.

One other thing Mercedesa seems to have upgraded their car a lot. Monaco will be boring affter the first lap. I don't see someone being passed on track for the lead this time

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