Sochi F1 analysis: Did Ferrari miss an opportunity to win by not pitting Vettel sooner?
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Strategy Report
Posted By: James Allen  |  02 May 2017   |  3:51 pm GMT  |  112 comments

The Russian Grand Prix was always likely to be one of those races where, with the new 2017 combination of high drag cars and low degradation tyres, overtaking would be extremely difficult and strategy games equally so.

In fact it was only the fourth race in F1 history to feature no overtaking moves after the opening lap skirmishes.

The key question is whether Ferrari could have manoeuvred Sebastian Vettel into a position to win the race, after losing the lead at the start to Bottas, if they had been more aggressive by bringing Vettel in from second place when Bottas was dealing with lapped traffic?

Last year’s race was dictated by collisions on the opening lap, which effectively took three front running cars out of points scoring positions and this year’s race was dictated by the start and by a Safety Car after yet another first lap collision.

Pirelli F1 tyres
Pre-event considerations

There are some basic factors about the 5.8 kilometre Sochi circuit, which dictate race strategy; the track surface gives low tyre degradation, fuel consumption is high, so there is some management to be done and overtaking is extremely difficult.

Although Pirelli brought the softest tyres in its range, the forecasts were all saying that this would be a one-stop race.

The soft tyre was a complete waste of time so once again the most durable tyre option of the three available was barely used in the race, further narrowing the strategy options.

The supersoft and ultrasoft had almost identical levels of degradation, at 0.03secs per lap, which is very low. Yet the ultrasoft was 0.5s a lap faster, so there was a strong case for spending as much of the race as possible on that faster tyre, especially as there was no trade off on degradation.

Track position is king at Sochi, as at all tracks where overtaking is difficult.

Start Russian GP 2017

As the degradation is so low, there is not the performance step by taking a new tyre, so the undercut tactic was not useful here.

The strategy for front-runners was to run the ultrasoft tyres as far as they would go to build a good gap to the slower traffic and then pit for supersofts, taking care to come out into a nice gap and avoid losing time with slower cars.

At the back of the field there looked to be another option, which was to start on the supersoft tyres and then switch to ultrasofts later in the race. As most midfield cars would be in a high-speed train anyway, some drivers would not necessarily be able to exploit the extra half a second of performance from the ultrasoft.

Also the pace gap between the tyres gets larger as the car gets lighter on fuel – provided you have clear track – so being on ultrasoft in the final stint would give a good performance advantage.

And, contrary to popular belief, there is no penalty off the line starting on the supersoft rather than the ultrasoft tyre in terms of initial grip; they are both good.

Sauber F1 team 2017

Sauber saw this and tried it with both cars, as did McLaren with Vandoorne. Part of the thinking was that there is a strong chance of a Lap 1 Safety Car, due to start collisions, which allows you to pit for free and then run the entire race on Ultrasoft tyres.

This tactic bought Sauber 14 seconds of race time, compared to a normal strategy. Sadly their car isn’t fast enough for that to have meant much in terms of positions.

But if some other midfield teams had tried it, perhaps on their lower placed car in a split strategy, then it could have brought some nice gains. For example, Toro Rosso had Kvyat in 12th and Sainz 14th.

If Carlos Sainz had started on supersofts and then pitted under the Safety Car, he would have rejoined right behind Stroll. If he gained at least the 14 seconds Sauber managed over the two stints on ultrasofts, then that could have put him ahead of Massa in 9th place after the Brazilian was forced to make a late pit stop for a puncture.

Sebastian Vettel

Did Ferrari miss an opportunity to win by not pitting Vettel sooner?

Ferrari pole positions are rare these days and as for front row lock outs, you have to go back 10 years. So they are not to be squandered! With both cars on the front row in Sochi, the conditions were ideal for a Ferrari 1-2 result, provided that the start went well.

However Bottas took the lead into Turn 2 and then pulled away using impressive pace on the ultrasoft tyres, which he had shown in Friday practice.

A number of commentators and fans asked the question whether Vettel could still have won the race, if he had pitted on Lap 25 or 26, just as the leader Valtteri Bottas began to catch slower traffic.

The answer is no, it would not have materially changed the result in itself. Basic modeling with reasonable assumptions on getting through traffic show he would have been around 1.5s behind Bottas after the Finn stopped.

Valtteri Bottas

However it would have applied much more pressure to the Mercedes mechanics at their pit stop – a team that has had some pit stop problems this season – and in the final stint on Bottas, a driver who’s inexperienced in leading races. Mercedes haven’t been flawless under pressure, so it was possibly worth a try, especially as by staying out Vettel encountered two sets of slower traffic anyway and then a further two sets after his stop!

So he gained nothing by staying out.

The key consideration here, however, is where he would have dropped back out had he made that early stop. The answer is that he’d have come out behind Magnussen and Sainz, who had both pitted and were basically a lap down. Ferrari didn’t pit him because if this; they held off, looking for gaps and aware that by staying out there was no concern on the tyres performance going off.

Bottas did make a mistake later, locking up a front wheel, but it didn’t affect his race outcome and with no pressure Mercedes were flawless on their stop; it was the fastest stop of the day, in fact and 0.8s faster than Vettel’s.

Nico Hulkenberg
Hulkenberg loses out to Force India duo

There’s a good battle in the lower reaches of the Top Ten this year between the Renault of Nico Hulkenberg and the Force India drivers Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon.

The pressure is on for Hulkenberg as he’s the only Renault driver scoring points, with Jolyon Palmer having an uncompetitive start to the season.

In Sochi Hulkenberg did another superb job in qualifying, to put the Renault eighth, ahead of them. But he lost out to both on the opening lap and could not recover, despite a strategy gambit.

Once the positions were lost, Hulkenberg stayed out until Lap 40 on the ultrasoft tyres, taking advantage of that 0.03secs per lap degradation.

He came out on supersofts, which were 14 laps fresher than the Force India, but as they took advantage of the low degradation, there was no way to even try to pass them.

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

RACE HISTORY AND TYRE USAGE CHARTS -Courtesy of Williams Martini Racing – Click To Enlarge

Showing the gaps between the cars as the race progresses and also the relative pace of the cars. Time gaps on vertical axis, Lap number on horizontal axis.

This is what a race trace with no overtaking looks like, the first such race since Valencia 2009! And to a single soft tyre used from the range of three compounds brought to Sochi.

Look at the difference in pace between the Mercedes (light blue) and Ferrari (red) cars compared to everyone else. Then look at the gaps back from the Red Bull, which is in a race of its own.

The fear is that if the new lighter Mercedes also has aerodynamic and engine upgrades it could be a big step faster. Ferrari must match that upgrade in Spain, otherwise the gaps between the top three could look very large on the race trace from Barcelona!

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1

Hi James, your race strategy reports are fantastic, the insights you provide really add to my enjoyment of the races. Though I normally find my interpretation of the race strategy during the race is far off reality.
I see on the time traces that on the ultrasofts, the plot for the Massa Williams is nearly horizontal. Does that mean the tyre degradation was offset by the fuel mass reduction?
If so, why would Williams have pitted him after 19 laps, rather than keeping going until they saw a drop in pace?

2

Timing is usually about the gaps a car will drop back into

Or threat from behind or opportunity to undercut which wasn’t really there in the last race

3

Sochi should go the same way as Valencia. Can’t believe we are in Russia and not Germany or France. (this year anyway)

4

The race history do not shows the formation lap, but believe me that FA did his best ever job in Sector 1 and Sector 2

5
Clarks4WheelDrift

It sounds like a great idea for Stoff to start on Supers, not have any grip issues vs the ultras and then expect the early safety car, which happened, to shift to Ultras and race…

Only problem is, you need to be driving an F1 car to be able to race others in an F1 race… not an F1 bodywork shell with a Honda Jazz (or Honda Fit) engine in the back.

Honda’s only strategy now is to take the lap time in seconds and divide it by 4s so they can work out the best pitstops to avoid most blue flags.

Nah, scratch that, they’re not even close to making it that far in the race without problems.

Nah, scratch it all actually, they can’t even get their PU to the startline.

Goodnight Honda.

6

There was an oportunity at lap 25, when Bottas loses time with backmarks and Vettel was only 2,5 by the end of that lap (Bottas pitted nexte one), they could have tried the undercut, with a really good outlap, Bottas was on traffic, it might could have worked.
I think this was the only moment were something could have been done in terms of strategy.

7

James, an article above has highlighted a grip button on the ferari steering wheel and intimates that this could be how they are better able to manage the tyres. Have you any idea what changes these settings could make to the car to achieve this, I haven’t? Thanks

8

The TV timing graphics have gone from bad to worse over the last few races.
During the Russian race, I saw INCORRECT timing gaps shown on at least 4 occasions!!

Do you have any insights into whats going on there?
In a strategy heavy sport like F1, how can they hope to engage fans if they are presenting incorrect data??

9

James, can you explain the difference between Kimis fastest lap and Vettels? Vettel had much fresher tyres and was trying to catch Bottas, Kimi however was under no threat from behind and was not in a position to challenge ahead so I thought a difference of 0.5 seconds was very odd? thoughts please

10

“In fact it was only the fourth race in F1 history to feature no overtaking moves after the opening lap skirmishes.”

Hungary 2004 takes my award for dullest race ever, I doubt there were any overtakes in that one either,

11
The real Steve

It’s an absolute shame that this was one of the ones that C4 got to show live. It would have made a perfect, 10 minute highlights package even with the obligatory Lewis wooing. Not a single overtaking maneuver. Some people found the race good, I guess that they have their reasons and would love to know what they are. But if this is the product then, Liberty, I ain’t buyin’.

12

Although the smooth surface muddys the judgement. It seems Merc sacrificed some qualy pace for race pace and Ferrari sacrificed some race pace for qualy. Equaling each others race pace difference in the last few races.

I think Vettel tried what they did in Australia. (Pick up the pace to simulate he’s about to come in but then didn’t.) Given he had plenty of life left in the tires to go on for more laps, says he was pacing himself behind the Merc and still had a bit of race pace over the Merc. Maybe if he was to pit first it had to be way earlier like in Bahrain. Kimi’s pace when he changed to SS would have told him that was the move. (Although, I’m not sure what traffic he would have been up into).

All in all, I think the red car had too many options to pick from and lost the race when the set the car up to sacrifice race pace over qualy pace. That seems to be their advantage at the moment. They should probably exaggerated it for now.

People say it was a boring race but that’s just madness. There’s a battle of the minds go on here between the teams . A bit like Ross and Pat’s battle at Imola over two years.

Oh and make the tires at this race the hard/medium and softs for the rest of the year. Make new US and SS.

13

Unrelated.

Schumacher teaching the youngsters how its done. This is a chop and a half.

https://youtu.be/yPDN_ZKMniE?t=449

14

How good for the sport is Pirelli’s monopoly of tyre supply? When the overwhelming majority of race analysis focuses on whether this or that team most effectively managed the (v narrow) window of tyre usage, I have to wonder if a tyre war might be useful.

15
Micheal Evans

I thought this was a very intense race for one with no overtaking. Whilst I wouldn’t want it to become the norm, it shows that when there are 2 teams with even a chance of winning, it makes for better racing.

I think Turn 2 needs to be redesigned for better overtaking. Even just making it a simple 90 degree turn might work better.

After years of people thinking DRS is doing too much, is it not doing enough this year? Should DRS zones be extended slightly to try and get the car behind closer to the car infront? Not that it would’ve made much difference in Sochi as it was hard enough to be 1 second behind. Does that need to be looked at as well?

16

Bottas interjected on the podium that he felt his very strong restart behind the first safety car had helped secure his victory. Do we all agree with that remark? Curiously, no one seems to comment on this bit of alleged driving prowess?

17

Agree, everyone else seemed to be half asleep, especially Vettel

18

It seems everyone including commentators were asleep at the restart. I thought it was a key moment too. Curious as Vettel’s usually sharp on restarts.

19

I’d expect Bottas would want to draw attention to the restart, he’s hoping we’ll forget the mess he made when he spun off the track following the SC in China and dropped about 10 places.

20

Strong restart by Bottas, or just weak restart from Vettel?

Either way, agreed, it helped…although I suspect Massa helped more 😉

21

Sorry, James, but yet again the description given to the graph is lacking.

Whearas “Lap number on horizontal axis” is precisely correct, “Time gaps on vertical axis” is lacking, it’s not an accurate label for the vertical axis itself — while we can correctly infer that the vertical scale of the grid [heavy and light lines] shows us 25 and 5 second gaps between cars on the same lap, it does not explicitly tell us, for example, when Massa’s early pace approximately follows the zero line, what it actually is that he’s all-but-matching (although therein perhaps lies a clue, this week). If someone has access to Massa’s actual lap-by-lap times, then it might or might not be clear what is going on.

[Unless I’m embarrassing myself by over-thinking this and confusing myself silly…]
What is clear, is that, unlike last years graphs, that zero line is not representative of a constant actual lap time!

Witness, according to F1.com, the five drivers with the fastest lap times all set their fastest laps towards the end of the race, but Hamilton [sixth fastest fastest lap] set his in the middle of his first stint.
* The three with the fastest lap times happen to have been the top three place finishers, and we can clearly see that somehow, for all of three of them, their fastest laps [all on lap 49] are showing a shallower upward gradient than are the slower lap times they were setting in their respective first stints — their respective fastest laps are being measured as lesser than their respective early paces, for some reason.
* Now see the three drivers with the next three fastest lap times — Massa and Kvyat both set a faster fastest time than Hamilton, and yet: Massa’s fastest lap on lap 45 is gaining next to nothing on the zero line; Kvyat’s fastest lap time on lap 50 is actually losing ground; while Hamilton’s fastest lap, on lap 16, though slower than Massa’s and Kvyat’s best, is along an upwards gradient. In short, 1:38.4 early in the race [lap 16] is a being shown as a better achievement than a 1:38.2 late in the race [lap 45].

From that, I’d hazard a guess that your graph might be showing lap times relative to respective fuel-corrected lap times, and the zero line this week is correlated to Massa’s fuel-corrected first stint pace, either actual or predicted [not unreasonably this being a Williams-originating graph].

It would then follow why Hamilton’s 1:38.4 on lap 16 is, relatively-speaking, showing a couple of seconds better than Massa’s 1:38.2 about thirty laps later; and is also suggestive that the front three, though producing their best actual lap times, are all showing to be gaining less on fuel-corrected zero-line than in their first stint because they are now all on a marginally slower tire compound — which we know is indeed the case.

So the zero line [from lap 4, following the early Safety Car intervention] assumes a time for that first full racing lap [predicted or actual or whatever] and then follows a theoretical car racing at a fuel-corrected pace on each successive lap, and the vertical axis shows where every driver is, lap-by-lap, accumulatively ahead or behind that theoretical car. […a car that never pits, though is subject to an expected speed behind the Safety Car, evidently.]

And apologies if all this was explained already in an earlier post, today or for a previous race analysis, or if I’m barking up the wrong tree [or just barking].

22

The graph is based on Lewis’ performance [P4].
The diagram is confusing bcs you have too see the end of it, with Lewis finishing the race on Y Axis = 0.
Another deceiving ellement is that all drivers don’t start the race at Y Axis = 0.
That’s because the grid is spread along the start straight and the Pole sitter doesn’t start at the finish line – where the chronograph sits.
Actually, the Pole sitter starts ahead of the finish line, so lap 1 is shorter for several cars {fastest} ahead of the finish line {or Finnish line, this time} and longer for the slower ones – very unfair IMO. xD
Lewis started the race P4 with VET, RAI and BOT ahead, so they sit above in the graph X Axis = 0.
LEW finished the race 36 sec behind BOT. X Axis = 52 {lap}.
But since the graph is based on LEW’s performance, LEW sits on “0” {Y=0} at the end of the race {X=52} and BOT is shown 36 {sec} above.

Why does the graph is based on Lewis, not Bottas?
Either bcs LEW is P1 in the WDC or to facilitate the view.
Since the graph show all drivers, if it was based on the extremes – first or last – the lines would be too close at the start and too sparse at the end, making it
taller.
So in the sake of a better visualization, the graph is based on an intermediate POS drivers, to show some drivers above the X Axis and some below.
Or is made by a Lewis fan at WilliamsF1. xD

23

DeWeberis, any driver ending at 0 is not particularly relevant, as I’ve demonstrated that the zero line is not a constant pace [except possibly during safety car periods], so cannot be any driver’s average race pace.

In any case, in none of the graphs for the four races this year does any driver at end “{Y=0}” — Lewis finishes at not +1_and_a_bit in this one, not at 0. Neither was Lewis “P1 in the WDC” at race’s start nor end, nor could he have been considered to be during any point of it, as he was always behind Vettel.

Regarding the “deceiving ellement” of drivers not starting at Y=0, your explanation would be fine …but is unnecessary as they don’t start at X=0 either! The graph plots all start at X=1, i.e. as each respective driver ends Lap 1. 🙂

24

You might be onto something there. It does appear Williams are using Massa are their reference frame, given his flat line. This might make it easier for Williams to see relative pace against their car but the old plots were easier for us to see the general picture.

25

I find those graphs pretty good in fact for our quick information. Always ask myself how JA can work so much to please his readers, not many of us would do this relentless work, at least not me.

26

This graph is skewed by the aborted start (and slow extra parade lap that is actually a race lap) and safety car period also slowing everything up. In this instance Bottas’ average pace over 52 laps is the 0 line but he only completed 51 racing laps (including 4 behind the safety car). The aborted start added 3 or 4 minutes to the overall race time (that is then divided by 52 to get the zero line), but the traces do not include the extra parade lap. So the driver traces are relative to a mythical car that has done an extra extremely slow lap.

27

No, not at all, aezy_doc.

If the zero line was an average pace then any other given laptime T, whenever it was set, would have a constant effect relative to the zero line, but it doesn’t — as I’ve demonstrated above, it’s clear that a given laptime [example is 1:38.3 +/- .1] set at different stages in the race variously gains, is static, or loses against the zero line, so the zero line is not a constant pace.

Also, the pace of everybody behind safety car would be losing heavily to the overall average race pace during those safety car laps, yet they’re not — they’re initially gaining on what they lost to the zero line in the first lap.

Also, if Bottas’ average pace [that pace including, as you suggest, the time taken for the aborted start lap and the safety car laps] over 52 laps was the zero line, that would add several seconds to the average lap compared to actual racing speed laps [your “aborted start added 3 or 4 minutes”, lets take the middle, 210s, divided by 52 laps is 4s a lap, then there’s the extra time taken during the Safety Car laps to add to that], whereas in fact Bottas never gains more than 2.5s per lap [i.e. a 5s grid space over 2 laps] at race pace on the zero line.

Your description does not at all fit what we see on the graph.

28

Bottas’ average racing lap from lap 4 onwards (disregarding laps 1-3 because of the aborted start and then safety car and I couldn’t find the data for laps 1-3) comes to 99.040 seconds.
Sochi total race time was 1:28:08.743 = Average lap time of 101.69. But that total race time included the aborted lap start. So we remove 4 minutes (roughly) for that. This brings the average lap time down over the 52 laps to 99.863. (this is a guesstimate because I don’t know exactly how long the extra formation lap took) but this was technically a racing lap.
Meaning Bottas (over 51 RACING laps) should gain on average some 0.8s a lap to the average. Which he does and is represented by his driver trace. He obviously gains more than that at times and less at others because the in lap and pit stop add time. By the end of the race he should be some 35 or 40 seconds ahead of the average. Which is what we see in the graph.

The apparent discrepancy in gains of lap time over the average is because the graph represents a mythical cumulative time difference on track relative to a mythical car doing the average lap time rather than plotting individual lap times against that average.

It’s hard to explain, but it makes sense to me. I have sought to do my best to help you. You are free to disagree.

29

Thank you for your re-explanation, aezy_doc. I don’t have time to go over your figures and reasoning at this moment, let alone comment but, regards your last-but-one paragraph, I will point out again that I have demonstrated that there is NO horizontal line in the graph representing “a mythical car doing the average lap time”, a constant time M, as any given time T would have to show the same relative movement to it no matter who achieved it and no matter when.

If there were, a driver’s laptime 1 second better (or worse) than M would move a driver’s plot 1 second up (or down) the y-axis, no matter who or when it was achieved, no matter the driver’s plotline’s place relative to the average line at the time. The reaction of the 1:38.3 (give-or-take) fastest laps of Hamilton, Massa, and Kvyat each moving their respective plots differently shows this is not the case in this graph.

30

go here and see what you make of it with regard lap times. Then see if you can work out what the zero line is. I still think it is Bottas’ average racing lap time (i.e. a constant) – but if you find a definite other answer let me know! http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2017/04/30/2017-russian-grand-prix-interactive-lap-times-and-fastest-laps/

31

Yes Ferrari definitely missed an opportunity at the pitstops. They should have pitted Vettel when the gap was down to 2 secs. Even if there’s no tyre advantage due to minimal degrading, 2 secs isn’t much and there was a possibility of the undercut with outlaps and pit stop times. Even if the undercut failed, Vettel would have been right behind Bottas for the duration of the race and had more laps to try and get in the DRS window. I need a job as an F1 strategist!

32

I also need a job as F1 strategist too, because I frankly didn’t understand why they left Vettel out. Also in consideration is that the mercs have issues switching tyres on and if the undercut brings Vettel just behind Bottas, its advantage Ferrari

33

It never came down to 2 sec in first stint; the least it came down to was ~4 sec if I remember right

34

You probably don’t remember right. It came down to 2.4secs as Bottas was approaching the backmarkers at one point

35

James, any ideas why Hamilton was so far off the leading pace?

36

Thrashed by Ferrari and his team mate in qualifying, his head dropped.

37

Apparently he was running on 7 cylinders at times due to the overheating. He did the sensible thing and saved his engine for a race where it is possible to overtake – if necessary.

38

I thought he was mystified at his lack of pace?

39

If he was running on seven cylinders, that is really impressive, as the engine only has six!!

40

That’s let the cat out of the bag. Now the world knows why Mercedes have been unbeatable for the last 3 seasons.

41

The Mercedes is a big, heavy car! Mark Hughes (who writes for Sky and Autosport) has suggested the car could be as much as 6kg overweight. That limits how much you can setup the car to suit your style of driving. For Lewis who loves to ride the curbs and brake late, a heavy unwieldy car is a curse. If you watch any of the practice sessions you saw Lewis had to abort his fast timed laps several times because he kept losing the rear of the car in sector 2 and/or sector 3. When you look at the on-board views of the W08 compared to the W07 you can see the drivers are now more direction corrections compared to last year.

The good news is according to James, they are going to remove some of the weight which technically should give Mercedes a bigger performance window. The other good news is that, as we saw in Bahrain, on the soft tire Mercedes can push the car more, so Lewis can get a reprieve after his Sochi nightmare (TECHNICALLY).

42

Try reading the previous article and all will be revealed 🙂

43

Re: the race trace graph
It’s interesting James, the way, as the stint goes on, the Ferrari and Mercedes go faster, Red Bull is very consistent, and the rest of the cars have increasing degrees of degrading pace.
Is this because the a. tire pace degradation rate is b. fuel load pace increase rate?

It’s a pity the race was so boring; the venue is very nice-looking.

44

Sochi should be dropped from the schedule. It is proof that money was the ONLY reason Bernie was adding venues to the calendar. This race contributes absolutely nothing (except $$$) to F1.

45

From the fans perspective, the $$$ to F1 equation might be meaningless, but to the people who run the sport it is for practical purposes the only consideration. And that is the same for Liberty as it was for Bernie’s private equity chums.

The only hope is that Liberty can re-define the business model so that income lost from axing certain venues is compensated by other streams. Substituting venues will only work on a like-for-like basis; a “desirable” venue such as Jarama or Nurburgring will never replace a government funded vanity project in Russia because the economics do not stack up.

The only other possibility IMO is that governments are increasingly less inclined to waste taxpayer’s money (Turkey, Malaysia, India docet), and the cost of hosting a race retreats to some level that is commercially sustainable in countries with big fan-base and historically significant circuits.

46

Either that or throw in a few chicanes and a water slide.

47
Tornillo Amarillo

Why Hulk & Stroll were investigated for an incident in Lap 1? TV has shown nothing…

48

Stroll had a spin. Hulk was on his outside so presumably the stewards were checking for contact – and confirmed there wasn’t any.

49

We should not omit altogether a significant detail regarding Vettel: he was half asleep at the re-start, in contrast to wide awake Bottas…

50

Very true. He admitted that he was a little conservative.

51

It’s looking good for mercedes. Hopefully barcelona upgrade will include the weight reduction . Can’t see ferrari keeping up😁.

52

Spot on mate! No one outside Brackley and Brixworth can possibly understand laws of physics.

53

And why is it a good thing? Don’t care about the sport? Right now the teams are closer than it has been in 8 years. Just pure biase?

54

This track is horrible for F1.
The run off area is very short in the – possible – overtaking zones.
So anybody trying a dive bomb would go straight to the wall – which angles keep closing.
The asphalt is quite slippery so drivers came to Sochi very light footed on the brakes.
Furthermore overall car’s wheelbase is bigger this year, making the 90º curves slower.

About Bottas, the Finn mentioned that he found some usefull information in the latest test days.
So maybe Valterio found the secret combination to “unlock the performance” of his car. xD

It looks like Face-Palmer will compete with Stroll and Grosjean who will complete fewer laps/miles in the WDC, excluding the McRamen drivers xD

55

Hehee, you must have sat down to write this one and wondered what to put, no overtakes, no undercut, no degradation.
Valtteri did us all a favour with 2 great starts to at least mix it up a bit. I really thought it would be a Ferrari walkover.
Merc leading WCC by one point, and it’s largely thanks to Bottas’s performance relative to Kimi. It’s been funny to see the pre-race talk about team orders and then have VB faster than LH…
So this year, Merc. have the starts sorted, Ferrari have the wide operating window. Is the lighter Merc. expected in Spain? It could get very interesting. I doubt whether Red Bull will make much progress until their engine upgrade mid season.

56

Great analysis James, on an utterly boring race. If every other race this season featured so little overtaking I would truly fear for F1’s audience numbers.

57
Stephen Taylor

James you quite correctly mention Hulkenberg is under pressure to deliver points as Palmer isn’t doing so but how much pressure is Palmer under to improve? Is there a chance he could be out mid season should he not improve? Do you think Jolyon has been toot tense and overdriving this year in desperation to prove himself.

58

Out to be replaced by Whom? When Ocon was Renault reserve you could imagine that

Now he’s race driver at Force India, that’s harder.

59

Replaced by Gasly, Giovianazzi, Harianto or anyone else. Honestly, do you believe Palmet deserves his seat more than any other up and coming drivers? If so, please explain why, because I can’t figure it out. But I do believe that Palmer deserves the full season only because that’s what Renault promised him and I don’t have respect for people that break promises.

60

why is Palmer doing so badly? he was not this bad when he started. is it lack of team support or is he slow to adapt to these new regs?

61

You’ll well know both Sergey Sirotkin and Oliver Rowland are on Renault’s books, and each qualify for a race Superlicence already, so if Palmer really was going backwards they’d certainly have legitimate options.

Almost a shame Tom Dillmann doesn’t get a look-in — French! ; won the FV8 3.5 championship last year; also Superlicence-able; doesn’t seem to be up to much this season, just an FE drive at the Paris ePrix?

62

Even JEV would be a more worthy driver.

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