Analysis: How Force India threw away a podium in Canadian GP – and not the way you think
Force India F1
Strategy Report
Posted By: James Allen  |  13 Jun 2017   |  4:43 pm GMT  |  121 comments

For the winning team in Montreal this was as easy a race from a strategy point of view as you will ever see, with the main opposition falling away early.

However behind the winner, Lewis Hamilton, there was some fascinating decision making going on and a lot of attention has focussed on the battle between the Force India drivers, with Sergio Perez refusing team requests to let the Estaban Ocon try to pass Daniel Ricciardo for a podium.

However the hidden dynamic here is that, even without a team order, Force India had a clear pathway to a guaranteed podium with one of their drivers; they just didn’t see it. We will explain fully in this report.

Meanwhile Ferrari was on a recovery drive with Vettel after damage at the start, but how could they have effected things differently there and did Kimi Raikkonen have a pathway to a podium with better decision making?

All will be revealed.

Pirelli F1
Pre-race expectations

Friday’s practice running was somewhat inconclusive as the long runs were compromised by a red flag stoppage.

However some indicators were available; the ultra soft qualifying tyre looked fine for a decent length first stint and the supersoft would do the rest of the race. It was the old scenario where a two stop was fast, but required a car to overtake the one stopper on track. The pace differential needed for that was around one second per lap.

Valtteri Bottas did some effective running on the soft tyre on the Friday long runs and that planted a seed for him and a couple of others that the soft might be a good race tyre, especially as the forecast for Sunday was warmer than Friday, which should play to its strengths.

However both Bottas and Daniel Ricciardo took the soft tyre in the race and found it slow. It was a mistake that both were able to recover from; Ricciardo by some great defensive driving and also by Force India missing a golden opportunity; Bottas by having no threat from behind so only time was lost, not track positions.

Force India
So how could Force India have got a podium without issuing team orders to Perez?

The post race debrief at Force India will have been a bittersweet experience; on the one hand they bagged another 18 points – their second best result of the year – from a strong double finish in P5 and P6.

But they will have to initiate a new set of protocols after Sergio Perez declined to allow Esteban Ocon to try a pass on Daniel Ricciardo for third place. The team explained that Perez was instructed to increase his pace and push up to Ricciardo otherwise the team would consider asking him to move aside for Esteban to have an attempt at Ricciardo.

The topic was discussed five times in total.

But more painfully, they will also see that there was a podium there for the taking, without even needing to resort to a team order.

The background is that Force India were able to take advantage of a great start for both drivers, which put them ahead of Kimi Raikkonen. And with Sebastian Vettel sustaining front wing damage, which forced an early pit stop, they were ahead of him too.

Raikkonen went aggressive by pitting on Lap 17, which was an attempt to pull the cars ahead of him into stopping earlier than they would wish. Force India’s response was to pit the lead car, Perez, and then to stay out and built an offset with Ocon, who did a masterful job of maintaining strong pace while looking after the tyres for 13 more laps.

Esteban Ocon

This gave Ocon a substantial tyre offset; 13 laps to Perez and 14 to Ricciardo who was on the slower soft tyre.

Ten laps on these tyres was worth two to three tenths of a second every lap compared to the other car in Montreal this year. Having set up the offset strategy for Ocon however, Force India failed to enforce it as Perez was unwilling to allow Ocon to have a try.

Several F1 teams, including Ferrari, Mercedes, Red Bull and Sauber have a developed structure for moving their cars around in circumstaces such as these, to gain the best result, which the drivers are contractually obliged to obey. For a smaller team, like Sauber, this can be hugely important as every point can have consequences in the millions of dollars. At the front end of the field it can mean a win and an extra seven points when fighting for a championship.

Mercedes have asked one driver to move over on four occasions since 2014, including the famous occasion in Hungary 2014, where Hamilton declined but said he wouldn’t block Rosberg if he tried a move – and including this year with Bottas in Bahrain.

However, what Force India missed was the opportunity to pit Perez on Lap 42; a move that would almost certainly have led to one of their drivers getting a podium.

Force India

How? Because this would have created a pincer movement with two cars on different strategies against one – impossible for Ricciardo to cover both. Ironically it would have replicated on Ricciardo what Red Bull drivers did to Bottas in Monaco last week.

In the short term it meant giving up a track position to Vettel, but his tyres were already 37 laps old and he was always likely struggle or to stop again with 28 more laps left to run to the flag.

So once Vettel stopped a second time he’d have struggled to pass Perez on the same tyres and so the move would effectively have put Perez ahead of both Ferraris.

Now Ocon would have been clear to attack Ricciardo and he believed he had that pace offset necessary to pass the Red Bull driver, who had made the mistake of choosing the soft tyre for the second stint, which was proving too slow compared to the supersoft.

Even if Ocon had failed, Perez would then be coming up quickly on fresh tyres and Ocon would then have moved aside to let Perez try his luck in the final laps.

By doing nothing, they invited Vettel to attack them. He passed both and a potential podium became fifth and sixth.

What was the point of setting up Ocon’s offset strategy if you don’t use it? And why do a split strategy early in the race if you don’t do one later when there is clearly something to play for? In war gaming terms, this was a win-win.

Staying put and allowing the lead car on older, slower tyres to stay ahead was a lose-lose.

Vettel F1
Impressive recovery by Vettel as Ferrari slips back into operational errors

Last year in Montreal Mercedes had a faster car, but Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel had track position at the start and a bad strategy call to pit early lost them the chance to pull the levers, handing the win to Hamilton.

This year was different. There was nothing to choose between Ferrari and Mercedes on pace and on Saturday only an inspired qualifying lap by Hamilton was the difference.

At the start of the race, Vettel damaged his wing as Verstappen made an aggressive move into Turn 1. But due to a big accident further back in the field, the Safety Car was quickly deployed. At this stage Vettel had not had time to feel the damage to his wing, then the speed of the field was reduced behind the Safety Car, which masked it.

Now all F1 teams have a service called “Follow Me” provided by F1 Management’s broadcast service, which gives a forward facing on board camera shot of both team cars. Vettel’s showed wing damage and other teams were able to see it.

Somehow Ferrari’s on site aerodynamicist missed it and so it was not until the car went back up to racing speeds that Vettel realised he had a problem. If you click on the photo above it will enlarge and you can clearly see the damage to the left side as we look at it.

He therefore pitted two laps after the end of the Safety Car period, dropping to last place.

What did it cost him, pitting at racing speed rather than under the Safety Car? About 20 seconds of race time and four track positions.

When you consider that he missed a podium by a fraction at the end, needing just one more lap to pass Ricciardo, that was an expensive operational error.

But there was also the question of whether he could still have made it if he’d been pitted a lap earlier for the second stop. When he came out he was told that he would have eight laps to fight the Force India duo and Ricciardo. In fact he caught them with only six laps to go, so the modelling was slightly out.

Kimi Raikkonen

Meanwhile on Raikkonen’s car, there were even stranger decisions. The decision to pit Raikkonen first on Lap 17 to trigger a rush of stops for the cars ahead was brilliant, as Ferrari had two stops in mind and tactically he had nothing to lose.

He was also being used here by Ferrari to do a job for Vettel’s recovery as it pulled the other cars into sub optimal strategies, which ended up helping him to get the Force India pair.

But why they didn’t pit Raikkonen under the Virtual Safety Car on Lap 11/12/13? The pit window for a two stop is certainly open at that point.

If they had two stops in mind for a car that has lost two track positions to the Force Indias at the start (which is entirely reasonable) then why not save the seven seconds that a stop under a VSC gives you?

The answer hangs on whether the motive was to get the maximum result for Raikkonen.. or for Vettel.

We at JA on F1 remain firmly of the belief that in Monaco they didn’t deliberately switch the cars, it was a modelling mistake compounded by Vettel pulling unforeseen performance from his tyres in the five laps that followed Raikkonen’s stop.

Here it looks like Raikkonen may have been employed doing a job to disrupt the field and help minimise the damage to Vettel’s championship lead, rather than bag a podium for himself.

Ferrari F1

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

Race History and Tyre Usage Chart

Kindly supplied by Martini Williams Racing.

Illustrating the performance gaps between the cars during the race. A line, which moves steeply upwards shows strong pace. Sharp drops indicate pit stops.

Compare Ricciardo’s pace to the Force Indias – the Red Bull was very much on the defensive.

Canadian GP 2017

Canadian GP 2017

Strategy Insights
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Thanks James, interesting analysis. Feel sorry for Max especially after a great start that would also have generated some interesting racing and strategies. Kudos to Force India for another strong performance, regardless of a sub-optimal strategy.


I don't think anyone should feel sorry for Max. He spoiled someone else's race.


Wrong. Poor start and losing out on pole cost vettel. Only has himself to blame. That's the metric we hold for other drivers less than perfect starts.... right?


yea Max got what he deserved


Just because Vettel happened to be the one affected doesn't make Max guilty of "spoiling someone's race". It was just a racing incident - you know, the sort of stuff that happens all the time.


How? Even Vettel was fine with what Max did.


Ham spoiled the race for everyone. Without HAM this race would have been a lot more interesting. ( i just followed your logic here;)


Oh I don't know, for me he had every right to try what he was trying. He was so far ahead of Vettel when they collided that usually it would have been Vettel who had to get out of the way, but he had a car the other side. But then I'm a Max fan 😉


He had every right to try what he did, but he still failed, like he failed to overtake Grosjean in Monaco. He is a dangerous menace as far as I am concerned, and it does not surprise me that many people are obediently becoming fans.


I think Max would be very much on the safe side when considering the ratio of overtakes succeeded to overtakes failed.

All drivers will have had some form of collision with others during their career. Highly experienced world champions (Button as a recent example, hardly a "dangerous menace") as well as pay drivers. But please don't let facts or reason cloud your judgment.


The only point I was really making was that Verstappen failed to put a clean move on Vettel, and ruined his race. He also ruined the viewers' race because only Vettel, it appears, has a realistic chance of sticking it to Hamilton.

There are people on this thread who would rather blame Bottas for the collision between Vettel and Verstappen. I still think it is only a matter of time before Verstappen's actions injure or kill someone.


it looks like your are.


Damn that's a good report!


Agreed Welchy!
This is the Juiciest Race Report that I've seen in ages!! Well done JA and team!
Who'd have thought that a colostomy of errors would "make racing great again"!
Perez indeed has a lot to answer for, and i hope that prospective employers are taking note...It's also not the first time we've seen this belligerence from him -he rubbed them the wrong way at McLaren as well.
In terms of the errors, do we know that it was the Ferrari Aero guy that missed Vettels wing damage? Could he have called it out but the strategist over-ruled? Same at FI -it sounds like they had the strategy, but lacked the execution -whose call was it to not bring Perez in again? Fernley?
The other massive observation is just how much Ric was the cork in the bottle of that train of cars...his line is like a window and the others are flies trying to escape!!


Another great strategy report James - love it!

I feel Ferrari made more than a couple errors - this coming with the benefit of hindsight, but also really what I thought during the rate. Contrary to popular belief, Vettel actually made a better start than Hamilton, and if was only because he got sandwiched between BOT and VES that he actually lost the two places (and the more damaging front wing damage). My points are:
1) I, as a standard broadcast feed viewer, could see that his front wing was damaged (the end plate was shaking), and was wondering why they were not pitting him under safety car - so for Ferrari to miss it is unpardonable.
2) Since VET was on a two stopper, his second stop should have been at least 4-5 laps earlier - why they would leave it so late (given RIC running old softs, and PER on old ones as well). IMO Ocon was the one I thought VET would find hard to overtake, because his tyres were newer, and BOT found it very hard to pass PER due to the Mercedes PU grunt. Had Vettel pitted a few laps earlier, he could have a better shot at the podium.
3) On Kimi, I agree as well - they really screwed his race with bad calls - whether this was to favor VET's race, I don't know, but see the possibility.
4) Force India made a mess of their strategy - the HAD to issue a firm team order to PER to let Ocon go after RIC, and very early in that stint. A podium was very possible - given VET and RAI strategy errors.
5) Hamilton was peerless - it was an easy Sunday drive for him. Whether this means Mercedes have fixed their tire issues needs to be seen.

In all a very entertaining race even for this VET fanboy - keep 'em coming 🙂


Riiiiggghhhht! VET made a better start than HAM. Thanks for your insight. I really wasn't aware of this. I'd better pay more attention next time. 😂


Dean, I take it you are being sarcastic - but I'll keep my comment straight.

If you see the start again, you'll see VET was quick off the blocks, and gaining on HAM. He then got boxed in by BOT on one side, and of course the faster starting VES on his right, and had to brake so as not to hit HAM. If you take off your sarcastic goggles, and see the start again, you'll see what I am trying to point out.


It is clear that WHEN NECESSARY Mercedes and Ferrari pit walls will move their cars around to protect the driver leading the WCC. It is also clear that the Force India team lack the authority over Sergio Perez. As you stated clearly, why keep Esteban Ocon out for that long first stint if you are not going to use the pace advantage of his fresh tires to attack for the podium? In addition, when Ocon finally had a clean run at passing Sergio, he used a Verstappen like "hard block" on Ocon forcing him to lose a place to Sebastian. Finally, to cap it all off, he moved aside like a scared cat a lap later to give Sebastian his P4 place. McLaren fans will remember this Sergio, who had a reputation as an arrogant, self-centered driver. I guess that is the price Force India is willing to pay for that Mexican money.


he moved aside like a scared cat a lap later to give Sebastian his P4

Maybe the deal is done and Perez has already signed for Ferrari next year - he was helping out his new employer 🙃


Gosh that would be disappointing if it's true!


Of course, I have no idea whether the deal has or will be done - but It might be worth remembering that Perez is backed by Carlos Slim (son of the, or one of the, richest men in the world ). Who of us knows what financial considerations get into the mix when these things are decided.


Really? I thought he was there because of the 44 points and the 7th position in the WDC, just one point behind Ver. But maybe you know better and its in fact the "Mexican" money. I can understand the debate about his behavior in Canada, although I think he was right to hold his position. What I don't understand is all the people that has jumped into the train of making him, from one incident, a bad person, a bad teammate, a bad driver and a F1 Mercenary. FI has constantly through out the year highlighted Perez team player attitude and he is, without a doubt, the most profitable driver in FI history.


from one incident,

I'm guessing you must be new around here 😊.


One of the reasons McLaren did not keep Sergio Perez was his lack of maturity and arrogance. In Monaco this year, he told Will Buxton (the NBC Sports reporter who has had a good relationship with Sergio) he was racing for himself not the team. It is one thing to refuse to yield a position on track out of competitive desire, it is another hold your place then cost your team 2 race positions. For Force India it is even more crucial when you add the fact that the one of the team co-owners is facing legal and financial problems, so the team needs all WCC points it can score to protect its long term financial viability. Just remember Sergio's attitude not only cost him a McLaren seat, but by moving to McLaren from Sauber he also forfeited a chance at the Ferrari seat. Quite an accomplishment for a driver who has never finished higher than 7th in the WDC rankings and only scored more than 100 points once in 2016.


By no measure was he right in holding his position. The simple fact is a better team result could have been achieved had he let Ocon through without delay to attempt the overtake that he didn't manage until the end of the race.


I wonder... if the team made Perez (one of the best tyre keepers out there) do an early stop, then made the new guy do a long stint, who is wrong? I honestly wouldnt try to help the team when the same team puts you in trouble...


The simple fact is

The simple fact is no one knows whether Ocon could have got past Ric. Personally, I don't see how he would have necessarily faired any better against Ric than he did against Perez. Perez was no quicker than Ric - evidenced by the fact he couldn't get by, and Ocon couldn't get past Perez - why would he have magically got past Ric ?


C63 - surely you're more knowledgeable than this response would indicate. Of course, no one knows what would have happened, but that doesn't mean not even trying! Ric wasn't exactly getting away from Perez who was keeping Ocon behind which would a swap was worth a shot.


I didn't say it wouldn't have been worth letting Ocon have a go at Ric - I just don't see how it was for definite that Per cost the team a better result by his actions, which I believe was your assertion.


Have a go at reading my original comment again, and notice the use of the word "could", which I did on purpose.

jakethesnake has made the point I did not earlier, and it is very valid. And James has just reiterated my overall belief.

P.S. your thoughts are generally based on sound knowledge and rational thinking. This instance seems to be an exception, so all good 🙂


You have to take into consideration the DRS.
Perez was getting DRS from Dan making it difficult for Ocon to pass Perez, but Ocon with his tyre advantage and DRS against Dan with old tyres and no DRS, the pass might have been on and certainly worth a go with no risk to FI. It was a no brainer really.


That's a fair point regarding DRS and I don't disagree that it would have been worth rolling the dice. I just don't agree with what appears to be the general sentiment; that it was a slam dunk podium thrown away by FI.

Fernando 150% Alonso

Hi C63!
I rate you very high around here but i think this time you're wrong.
Perez was slightly faster than Ric but not enough to overtake. Ocon slightly faster than perez but again not enough to overtake especially your team mate. By letting Ocon trough, we could have enjoyed a slightly faster car then Perez trying to overtake Ricciardo. Don't forget that probably Ocon was probably be able to show us a more agressive approach towards Ric than Perez.
Just my two cents


i think this time you're wrong.

Not for the first time, nor I suspect, the last 🙂


Ocon had 14 lap fresher tyres than Ricciardo and the soft was poor so he would have had the pace to have a very good crack at passing and even forcing an error would have been a good tactic, getting a front lock up on the Red Bull, for example, that would have created a weakness


All that is what if James. But as far as a mistake for Dan goes, Perez could not make him do a mistake for 50 laps, so no one can say for sure he would of made one with Ocon behind him.


Nice report James. Ferrari's poor response this time robbed us of a more exciting end to the race, but I do think Mercedes had something in reserve. Plus they could have used one of their drivers to hold Seb up if need be...and I mean one because Hamilton would never move over or hold anyone up, he just expects that from his team mates. Kimi is just there to make up the numbers apparently. I was really thinking this would be the most exciting race this season but the minute Vettel got clipped I knew it was not gonna happen...

It's so strange.. just a couple of races ago everyone seemed to be praising Perez and Sainz (I wasn't). But now, they are both making serious mistakes, and incurring the wrath of others. I wonder if this is because they are trying too hard to sell themselves to prospective teams. I don't think they are doing themselves any favours. Lastly, this was the race where both Renault and Honda said at the start of year they'd introduce upgrades. I see Max has started to criticize Renault now. It looks like engines are going to be the biggest factor for two huge teams, Mclaren and Red Bull, this year. Hopefully we'll see some upgrades at the next race.


> Hamilton would never move over or hold anyone up, he just expects that from his team mates.

Are you sure? Hamilton himself has said "I know he [Bottas] is going to have many more wins to come and that when he has those wins I am able to back him up and get those points for the team."


I can't be sure, but I can only base it on what we've seen in the past. In the past, he is more than happy to accept a team-mate being told to move over by the team to benefit his race outcome. When the situation is reversed, he's never happy, and he never works it out. Judge that how you will. Ask Mark Webber or Nico if they'd trust a guy like that...



You are right, he will only hold up his own teammate like in Abu Dhabi last year.


" Somehow Ferrari’s on site aerodynamicist missed it ... "
He was tucking into beef ravioli with parmesan from Renata's restaurant. They really should ban all eating from the Ferrari garage for ever.

And what about the sudden brake problem Kimi suffered just at the moment Vettel caught up??
seems all the conspiracy theories are right....


Yep they really should stay of beef rav
& maybe put more effort on both cars rather than concentrating on Herr Vettels car and give Kimi a good set up.
Or has the head of Ferrari got a red button that he presses whenever Vettels behind Kimi. It's all done with abit of Ferrari magic.
So far we have not seen a dog fight between Kimi and Vettel. I assume they'd rather switch them by other means.
Driver of the Day was Ocon or Stroll. Even Lewis gave him a thumbs up when he passed him.


The first part of this comment is pretty ignorant - but that's a pretty common theme amongst some of the lowbrow followers of this site.


Redline, thank you for that compliment, much appreciated.
If you're saying it wasn't ravioli, what was it then?


Not sure what was he/she eating but I am sure that you are dragging down this otherwise respectable blog with your "comments".

Wish you and moderators a great day.


well, if you are

I'm actually one of the old regulars here, and everyone but you is able to take a lighthearted joke in good spirit. Maybe the BBC site might suit you better...




at JAF1 yes all and anything anti FERRARI is right.


Give me a break. Allen just reiterated his belief that Ferrari didn't conspire to switch the cars in Monaco.


Poor Kimi. Somehow the old poker saying "if you can't spot the sucker at the table, it's you" seems appropriate in his case.


Fascinating report, James. This one really held my attention.


Perez condemned Force India to a non podium.
It was Ocon dancing all over Perez.
Not Perez dancing all over Ricciardo.
He was just happy to take 4th.
Instead of letting Ocon through he let Vettel come into play then overtake both of them.
Ocon had the pass on Perez but he forced Ocon off track which nearly took both of them out the race.
Ocon is the star rising and Perez is the one falling.
Force India is also at fault for sacking up to Perez. They don't need him to be elbows out . He isn't going anywhere next year. Ferrari will resign Kimi after that as Vettel does not want anyone undermining his authority at Ferrari.
Ocon has the skills to duke it out with Ricciardo unlike Perez who looked pretty average at Mclaren.


What is it with Perez and Sainz lately? From the moment the two of them were being mentioned as possible Ferrari drivers they appear to have lost all composure. They're are all over the place. Sainz driving like a madman in Canada, Perez likewise in Monaco and now his utterly selfish conduct.


Personally, I think Lewis Hamilton would have won even if Sebastian Vettel hadn't sustained damage - Canada 2017 was all Hammy. Still, I was a bit surprised to see the finger wagger being claimed DOTD on the F1 official website - I thought local boy Stroll was very worthy of that award!

By the way, while I was flicking through my Le Mans booklet on the way to La Sarthe, I noticed this startling information in the entry sheet:

Graff Racing, contesting with the Orecca 7.
Drivers: Franck Matelli, Richard Bradley, 𝗝𝗮𝗺𝗲𝘀 𝗔𝗹𝗹𝗲𝗻

Is Jim Rosenthal doing a stint with Porsche? Steve Rider driving the first hour for Toyota? Ben Edwards campaigning with Dallara as well???????????


Yes, interesting to see Vettel voted as driver of the day. His pass on the FI at turn 1 was the only pass of note. Had Max not retired, and had Kimi not had a brain fade - not to mention FI screwing themselves over - Vettel would likely have finished in an unremarkable sixth or seventh. Considering how many cars retired, that wouldn't have been that impressive a result. Ultimately, he didn't finish above any truly rival car (e.g. Merc, RBR) that didn't suffer from a problem. In this day and age, and on a track that is quite good for overtaking, I didn't actually think it was that impressive a performance.


Certainly, team orders are never easy especially if applied to a number 1 driver in the team because the first goal of any driver is to beat their teammate hence why Perez said, let us race.

Also like Max said, his father would kick him in the stones if he accepted team orders because he would lose respect in the team.

Yes, in the heat of battle, the drivers forget they race for the team and so they need a authority figure in the team like a team principal to come on the radio and issue the team orders for the good of the team.

Regards Ferrari, Vettel certainly made a good recovery but it seems the team can't catch a break with safety cars because here, the safety car could have helped Vettel if the team had seen the damage.

As for Kimi, he will surely be used to help the lead driver because this is how the team operates hence why the team isn't in favour of having two roosters in the same hen house


So, Ferrari strategists have struck again. Started going into every racing weekend worried about another strategy error or an amazing rocket start of Max that could ruin Ferrari points (ok, that is racing, Max should try his moves with Mercedes).
James, I get your point with Kimi, but I am not fully convinced about it. I would have bet on Vettel to get a better position than Kimi at the end of the race, Raikonnen's race pace was slower than Seb's based on graphs. Not sure if Kimi would have passed those guys.


If you thought FI and Ocon had a lose-lose ...

The worst mistake was by Perez. Ferrari need a team player. Perez just proved he isn't one. So that's goodbye Ferrari..... Too bad, he's quite fast. Merc is full and RB won't take him...another waste of a talent


> FIndia
I understand the FIndia blunder.
The team had no culture about team orders.
Ocon was never a real menace to Perez, so far.
I guess that means FIndia is growing up, despite the Briton banks charging VJ Mallya over $1.4 Billions.
> Ferrari
I believe Vettel's photo was taken after the wing was disintegrated when the restart and the wing was exposed to higher loads.
The top scoop camera was showing it was bouncing and very damaged.
I think Vettel did a great job just to finish the race.
Seb was between a rock and a hard place when Bottas dive bomb locking wheels from inside and Verstappen went wide taking no prisioners from outside.


Re Ferrari... true, but you could clearly see that wing was damaged immediately after the start on the TV feed. It was very obviously flopping around way more than it should even if it didn't fully disintegrate until after the re-start. I remembered thinking "oh no this is terrible, he's got a broken wing!" as Seb fell down through the order, and then feeling a relief when the safety car was released knowing he could stop and get it changed with little time penalty followed by complete disbelief as he went round and round in the subsequent laps behind the SC without pitting to get a new nose.
Ferrari was asleep at the wheel on this one.


Ferrari was asleep at the wheel on this one.

I agree. To be honest I'm finding it hard to see how they could have missed it. The damage was clear for all to see - the team(s) have numerous screens (on the pitwall and in the garage) showing the world feed. Did no one out of all those people notice the damage?


"When he came out he was told that he would have eight laps to fight the Force India duo and Ricciardo. In fact he caught them with only six laps to go, so the modelling was slightly out." ???
Could it have been a bit of ego massaging? If he gets there earlier (as he did) then he feels top of the world and goes for the overtake(s). If he fights light mad and only just makes it (perhaps a lap later than they said) then he'd feel a bit pooped: "I drove so hard and only just got here on time". It doesn't hurt them to make the driver feel great once in a while.


C63/abhijith. I think you might be right, in which case i'm completely wrong and it was the bad case scenario.


If he gets there earlier (as he did)

Didn't he get there later?


i think it's the other way around. If he was to get there earlier than they said, then he should've caught up by 10 laps remaining. Fact that he got there with just 6 laps remaining means that he was slower than they predicted/hoped.


I am certain you are correct.


The broken wing was even visible on the world feed in the replays... the while ferrari team must have slept.

James, I don't understand why it helped vettel more if Kimi pitted on lap 17 compared to 13. Wouldnt that have created the same pressure on the others? (If not even more?) Regardless of that any strategy which would have brought kimi to 3 might habe helped vettel as he could have slowed the pack from that point. I think ferrari just became desperate once they realized that they have again made a stupid mistake by missing the stop...


Strange graph. Looks like the Mercs just went into cruise mode after their second stops.

Force India seem to have really dropped the ball. Between the strategy mistake and Perez not being a team player. I'm not a big fan of team orders, but at times they do seem appropriate. This was one of those times.


They did have a Renault powered Red-Bull behind them John so turning the engine mode down and switching the fuel flow to weak was par for the course.
Almost reminds you of the previous three seasons doesn't it.


Well wouldn't you? They had no opposition!!


To clarify, I wasn't criticizing Mercedes, I just really noticed how clear it was on the graph, which was quite different than a "normal" graph would look.


And with only 4 Power Units for the season, why put any more stress on them than you have to.


If their position is not being threatened why put undue stress on the mechanicals? Mercedes—especially Hamilton—had some reliability issues over the last two years, so it makes sense to take it easy when they can.


Fascinating report, thanks for the insight!


It didn't take a special camera view to see Vettel's wing damage. Saw it straight away and was shouting at Crofty to tell the world what seemed super obvious... The thing was going to fall apart


Question James slightly off topic where do you rate the Canadian grand prix in terms of best tracks in the world? Always seems to create a fun and entertaining race. It's a track that punishes drivers for making mistakes (got to love the wall of champions) and also allows for overtaking. Surely got to be in the top 5 of the calendar.


The article states that Kimi was passed at the start by both Force Indias but in fact he was only passed by one (Perez) until he pitted as shown on the race history graph.


Great report though Kimi lately always seems to have some sort of excuse for him basically being slow and rubbish in races.

Ferrari will never win the constructors with Kimi...

Monaco, too slow even on fresh tyres, and what was he doing here at the start, nearly hitting the wall and letting the Force India past on lap 1 while already behind Dan. Driver error or were his tyres not ready for the start?

Seb had a wing change and was last, Kimi shouldn't have even seen him in this race, especially as there was no safety car after Seb stopped.

As for the Perez bashing, why shouldn't he be given a shot at Dan Ric throughout the race, he couldn't get Dan when he had fresh tyres so perhaps Ocon wouldn't have been able to either, despite what he thinks. 2017 catching up is easy, overtaking is really tough.

If it was that easy for Ocon he should have tried a move on Perez.

What is it Perez v Ocon in qually anyway? Is it 7-0 to Perez.

Ocon needs to start beating him in qually first before he is hailed as the best thing ever.


Clark4WheelDrift what you forget though is that Perez is an established driver with years of experience . Considering Ocons lack of experience and how difficult other inexperienced drivers like Stroll and Vandoorne are finding these new faster cars he is doing exceptionally well to get close to Perez in performance. I think given struggles of others . Ocon and Perez I think are both potential future WDC's in the right team though Perez will throw his chance away if he joins Vettel at Ferrari.


> Kimi lately always seems to have some sort of excuse for him basically being slow and rubbish in races.... Seb had a wing change and was last, Kimi shouldn't have even seen him in this race, especially as there was no safety car after Seb stopped.

@ Clarks4WheelDrift - if you look at the chart, you will see that Seb had nice clear air after his nose job, and was able to get some good speed. Meanwhile, Kimi was bottled up behind Daniel and Checo. Oddly enough, with the same strategy in play, that meant that Seb was able to regain most of the ground he'd lost.


Kimi is Slower than seb = True
But not by much margins. compromises did by Ferrari make him looks a lot slower.


PER got himself in a "damned if I do, damned if I don't" situation

Checo fans will like his determination and fighting spirit (which is the same we have seen from HAM or VER while disobeying team orders)
Checo haters will accuse him of being arrogant, selfish and a bad team player (which to me is more or less the definition of a racing driver)

From the comfort of my armchair traveling at no speed at all, he should have let OCO by for several reasons:

1. From my point of view it was highly unlikely OCO would have made it past RIC, and then he would have his place back and could use the annoying "I told you so", and gain stature with the team and his mate

2. He could have let OCO past and try a double pass on RIC using him as a distraction, or wait for both to tangle and sail alone to the podium

3. If OCO did get past, he could use a "you owe me one" card for future use with mate and team, and have a better defense against VET

I think driving at 320 while fending of your mate and a charging VET, he did not stop to evaluate properly these options, and instead will be lectured by VJ and Fernley, and will have OCO looking for payback when possible

I also think from radio chat about OCO before the "orders" came, he was already upset with the team and feeling shortchanged by the different strategies
After all he qualified higher, started in a similar fashion, and jumped RAI when he blinked, so if he was ahead on merit, why should he move over on orders?

I also think we forget both FI drivers were fighting for a podium, which is the top place they usually aspire to because of their car's speed relative to the top 3 teams, so for both of them it was a now or never chance, and they attacked/defended accordingly

Anybody who thinks PER is a poor FI team player can ask who else has given them more podiums, WCC points and prize cash for the past 3 years


Kimi would have ended up 7th with good or bad call..FI were quicker than him..but yes this report is consistent with Ferraris poor ability to focus on two cars for best finish..they will be losing WCC for two reasons now


Ferrari showed the signs of Ferrari this weekend


Who needs to get up at 3.00am to watch the race when you can just click on James Race Report and get a thorough and balanced overview with five minutes of your time.
The only thing I'm left pondering over is how fans, and indeed James himself, compare this race to the rest of those this season in relation to the excitement factor. Was it an edge of your seat race or a boring, try not to fall asleep snooze-fest?


I wouldn't say it was an edge of your seat race as such, although obviously I was pleased with the result. But it was quite exciting (for me at least) to see how far Vet would recover and what the resultant gap in the WDC standings would be. It was also good fun watching the FI's squabble with each other and, in Perez case, the pit wall. Danny Ric did well too, to hang onto third - I thought he'd be toast with the FI's breathing down his neck with the Merc PU in the back. I thought it was a good race all in all.


I think its fair and safe to say without any doubt now that these cars handle the wake/dirty air of the car in front as poorly as their predecessors (many would say worse).
How can that be rectified? My opinion is without the reintroduction of ground effects it can't. Its a taboo word for many, especially with F1 these days being so safety focused, however it enables slip-streaming and gives the following cars that ability to follow closely.
DRS is nothing but a gimmick and even when it does stimulate an over taking move it still leaves you with the feeling of being short changed a nugget in your Happy Meal.
Should we ask James for an open thread so we, the fans, can offer up suggestions as to how this fundamental piece of Formula One's appeal, and indeed motor-racings in general, can be rectified because at the moment its costing the sport fans more so than any of the other issues the Formula is facing.
I know I've gone off on a tangent however thanks for your insight.


I enjoyed it but clearly there was zero excitement for the outright win


@ james...likewise. It wasn't gripping but the battle for third was enough to keep me interested. There has been very few accolades for Ricciardo, who put in a sterling effort for his hard earned 3rd place. All the attention was on Verstappen who once again showed his potential as a future driver but he ruined for all of us a great clash between Hamilton and Vettel, which was what i really wanted to witness. It seems like Ricciardo has matured successfully and he is reaping the benefits at the long game rather than the short one. I think that that race really showed just how much the Mercedes has left in the Bank when they can draw a sizeable lead. Anyway james, thanks for a great report. Makes sense to me. The only thing lacking was a definitive order to Perez....then we;d see what Ocon can really do. They last an opportunity there and they'll never get it back.


It's a shame Mercedes didn't hire Perez instead of Bottas!


😉 Merc would find a way, they'd just put the harder tyres on his car at his pitstop and pretend it was the optimal strategy at the time.


Get in there Sars!!


Nice said, best comment. You bet, this guy would not digest an order.


Thanks James for the article.
But there are some things that come to mind,concerning these Pirelli tires.Firstly,how could one do 40 laps on an ultra soft tire?Talking about Alonso's.Ultra softs should be ultra softs,and not hards or mediums under pretext.
Then,there comes to my mind,what transpired on Mercedes' and Ferrari's tire consumption.Mercedes are hard on their tires on this circuit.But this year,it did not seem so.
If what Toto said was to be taken serious that,they have found out their miscues,then Ferrari can say goodbye to both championships if Mercedes wins again in Baku.Because the advantage Ferrari has over Mercedes is tire oriented and not any superiority in the engine nor aerodynamics.
So in my opinion,Baku will be the litmus test for the rest of the seazso.


@John Unwise

"So in my opinion,Baku will be the litmus test for the rest of the seazso."

Yes, another track with long straight and heavy breaking zones is sure to be indicative of entire rest of the season.


said it in other post, will say it again...
sadly for Perez he is not #1 driver material, and on sunday he show that is not #2 material either, so he just ruin his chances to go to Ferrari next year. Too bad, because in a top car he could show that has the potential.

so, there it is, a battle between Alonso and Perez for williams/renault sit next year its on... lol.


What went wrong with the F1 Latinos en acá nada? (Iberian origin for the name Canada)

Perez was totally wrong not to let Ocon overtake. Carlos Sainz Jr. lost his mind the whole weekend.

Massa was hilarious: he said: “Unbelievable!” when he was overtaken by Hülkenberg, and a second later, “Mega unbelievable!” as he was taken out by Romain Grosjean and Sainz Jr.

Some lesson for Massa and Vettel: Don't drive slow in the left lane.


Do you remember, „Manolo el del bombo or "El bombo de España" (The drum of Spain) with his large beret, red number 12 jersey and his famous bass drum, who has become a national institution in Spain supporting Valencia CF and the Spain national football team?

I thought the same about Alonso when I saw joining F1 Fans In after, yet another engine blows. When did Fernando win something last time? In 2006. Perhaps it's time for Alonso to borrow Manolo's bass drum and beat it for Hamilton.


Fascinating reading with plenty of insights and food for thought.

Please James never stop doing these amazing reports, for me they are an absolute essential reading after every GP. Hope everyone who comes here really appreciate the quality and time you put on bringing the sport closer to the fans to understand its complexity. Thanks a lot!



Make sure you share with your friends


James, thank you for your excellent reports. I have a question, has a team ever given you credit for your reports and admitted that they got it wrong?
And can you see that a team had learn a lesson of your reports and made a gain in a race by using the knowledge from your reports?
Or is it just us hardcore-fans that love the reports?


Absolutely fascinating analysis. Race strategy can be a complicated thing, and it is very nice to have it explained by such an expert.

Tornillo Amarillo

I think Perez is in the middle generation, 27 years old, like Hulk, Bottas, in a crossroad, how can they get finally a top seat?
I think the best way is being in the right place at the right time, doing podiums and constantly beating your teammate... Bottas did it, but he was lucky Rosberg just chicken out.
Perez has under his belt... 0 wins... in 121 starts. 7 podiums are not enough to land in Ferrari ? And a bad experience in McLaren.
Suddenly, Ocon is a fast learner, nice guy, fairy tale racer growing in a caravan, and he is only 20.
Of course Perez CANNOT let his teammate Ocon pass, not now, not near the summer time.
Bit just put a short list of future new champions and Perez is hardly there...
My list:
Bottas 2018, 2019?
Sainz when he gets a car
Ocon sooner than later, in Renault 2021?
Max - but maybe never in Red Bull

Tornillo Amarillo

I don't buy Kimi with brakes problems just when Vettel needed to pass with a team order... I'm sick of this kind of coincidences, any thought James?


I have no way of knowing what state his brakes were in but not aware of many brake issues as there were a couple of 'breaks' for them with S Car and VSC for example


Very insightful report, James. Joy to read!
I got a few possibly controversial angles of my own though.
You write: "The soft tyre in the race (...) was a mistake": I suspected as much when when Red Bull decided to issue Ricciardo with soft tyres. He barely got away with it.
Way too cautious, should have gone for supersoft. Remarkable the softs were deployed at all (Bottas and Ricci) and seriously contemplated for Hamilton.
Have the strategists learned nothing from Monaco and pre-Monaco testing? Are they obtuse? When will it dawn upon them that this year's ultras and supers are quite adequate to cover most races? Furthermore, compared to Monaco Canada is brake-based rather than tyre-based.
I'll go even further. I maintain that the ultrasofts - in the hands of the top teams at least - should have been used for a greater number of laps.
Still convinced that for several drivers in Monaco they would have lasted an incredible 40-42 laps. Therefore, good US stints close to or in excess of 35 laps should have been possible in Canada. Remember, Canada is 70 laps = 2 times 35.
So, where there's talk of Vettel maybe beginning his last 21-lap US stint 1 or 2 laps earlier, I believe he could actually have done so 5 to 10 laps earlier.

Even bolder but still viable I think would have been the following race strategy:
- speculate on a pretty likely SC in lap 1/2
- qualify on supers in Q2
- start on supers
- under VSC change to ultras in lap 2
- depending on track position, team strategy and re-entry point traffic start another US stint in a round between about 36 and 42.
Now for one or two top teams, that would have been an interesting and exciting option to implement for one driver.
Instead we got a sullen, mostly history-based cliché choice for soft tyres.

Posters, if you laughingly dismiss or ignore my argument, I suggest you take a look at the following UBS race report data of Hamilton stints on ultrasofts:
Monaco: lap 1-42, especially free air part (lap 24-40 shows fine pace)
Canada: lap 1-31, no problem to sustain pace.

Tornillo Amarillo

Craziness is getting hard on some drivers you could say?
What Sainz, Max are doing lately, and Perez hitting cars in some races and now not letting Ocon pass, I don't know, I guess they have too much pressure.

Only Hulk keep his cool I think and keep control of himself among teams out of the big 3. Kmag, Kvyat... too many errors too.
I don't know what happens, but I don't like it.


Nice one, @Tornillo. Comparing Max's one time slight cutoff (jury still out to boot) with the repeated bad conduct of Sainz (diving into Stroll and Grosjean, a.o.) and Perez (ending Kvyat's race and endangering VET and OCO, a.o.). That's called double standard.


James, this is one of the best strategy reports I've read in a while. Thank you for your hard work and for sharing your insight.

Ricciardo Aficionado

Posted this a while ago. Time for an update.
(Now with each section also in rank order)

Post Chinese GP

Championship Material

Championship Potential

No2 / Place Holder / Semi retired

PayDriver / JoyRider

Current Standing

Championship Material

Championship Potential

No2 / Place Holder / Semi retired

PayDriver / JoyRider


I saw the race only from timing screen from android app while travelling. The Ferrari blunder were clearly visible, I was swearing to my phone. Ferrari made us to think grandma driving number 7 car.

FI's had free pitstop while Kimi pitted, but they were blind.
FI's will learn to become more bold with theie strategies other than -1 pitstop.

James I think Ferrari simulation model should be correct, he should have caught Fi with in 10 laps. But SV was doing only 1:15.451, I expected 1:14:900 two laps after last pitstop.
Lewis pulled 1:14.551 at 64th lap from nowhere. Was late safety car was covered form Merc point of view? I was expecting one due to Fi tangle.

Alexandre Simard

There are two factual errors in this report. Both make Ferrari look worse than they actually were.

1. As pointed in another comment, the picture of Vettel's front wing is from after the restart. At safety car speed, the wing looked fine from the on board camera. There were only a few seconds at racing speed during which you could see part of the wing flapping about. That isn't enough information to determine conclusively that the wing needs to be replaced. It was a gamble either way.

2. Vettel caught the Force Indias at the beginning of lap 63, leaving him _exactly_ 8 laps to overtake them, just as his engineer had told him. Brundle was unable to perform simple arithmetic in his commentary on this occasion.


That there was damage to Seb's front wing was definitely visible upfront. The extent of the damage though was not clear. Once the SC was deployed on Lap 1, Ferrari should have pitted to change the wing, even though they did not know the damage.

The early laps were eerily reminiscent of Malaysia 2013, when Ferrari failed to stop at the end of Lap 1 and Alonso crashed out. Thankfully for them, Ferrari avoided that.

Alexandre Simard

You're judging the decision based on the outcome instead of the process. If you know in advance the wing is going to break, of course you bring Vettel in under safety car.

Attached (if it works) is what Vettel's front wing looked like during safety car. You can see something is broken, but nothing is moving and there's no way to know for sure it's going to break apart as soon as the race restarts.

Consider the opposite scenario: you pit Vettel under SC, putting him last on track, and the inspection reveals that the wing only had minor damage and that Seb would have been able to drive around it enough to build a gap until his scheduled stop. This is an even worse combination than what actually happened.


Much is being made of Max "ruining Seb's race" at the first corner. But Vettel has been around a while and seeing Max on the outside of him, he should have known that there was nowhere else for Max to go other than to turn into the corner. Max made the corner so was clearly not going too fast. Vettel was plainly slower off the line and Bottas was already up the inside of Vettel, so it could be argued his own poor start and bad positioning led to his troubles. He could have slowed down a tiny bit more and then Max would have slotted in just in front of him with no damage caused. Fantastic race for him after that point though, a great recovery.


Hi James,
with regard to the Force India pincher, which I don't understand:

looking at the race history chart, if Perez would have pitted around lap 42 he would have rejoined right behind Raikkonen. That means a race order of Ocon, Raikkonen, Perez, Vettel. At that point of time one has to assume that Perez would never be able to catch Raikkonen, so Perez race would be ruined (from 4, possible 3 to 6 or 7 if Vettel would have overtaken Perez). All this for the uncertainty that Ocon would be able to overtake Ricciardo. Far the better option to rely on Perez giving a chance to Ocon.

Secondly, I notice that a pincher movement is always detrimental to the driver in the foremost position, ie the driver that has to execute the movement. So the team always has to weigh up some gain in the constructor's championship against the unfairness of cutting out their front runner.


This is very well worked out.
The one possible fly in the ointment is that when Kimi stopped on lap 40 he was 1.5 seconds behind Perez, and changed onto new Super-softs , a really good out lap and he could have undercut his way in front.
He came out 19 seconds behind Perez and maybe Force India thought he'd be able to catch but not pass, or Perez would be past Ricciardo and out of reach. The risk of being undercut vs the hope Kimi wouldn't able to close up and pass - you can understand why they didn't make a snap call to bring Perez in.

By lap 48 when Vettel stopped (he was then within 3 secs of Perez) Kimi had only closed by 4.5 seconds so wasn't going to catch by the end. RIC was holding up the two force Indias, and was on the Soft, Kimi had newer tyres, two grades software and clear air but was only closing at 0.5 sec per lap.
So Force India weren't going to stop at that point because they would have been behind Kimi and (depending on his out lap) possibly behind Seb - if Kimi's speed was representative Seb wasn't going to catch them. But he closed from 19 seconds behind Perez to behind Ocon in a dozen laps, and that was that.

If they'd pitted Perez - based on Seb's speed - he would have caught RIC and had a bigger tyre advantage to help him pass. If Ocon hadn't managed to pass RIC in the meantime he'd be slower than Perez so could be told to move over, and if he had, well, let them race. (and yes, I think they could have got 3rd and 4th by stopping as described )
But they needed to confident that the Seb wasn't going to do 65 laps on a set of Super-softs; because if he did, handing him track position might ensure he got third place.


I posted in another thread that i think Kimi could have attacked all 3 cars in front of him if not for the technical problems. And watching the graph Kimi would have overtaken the FI's 3 laps before Vettel. Defending would have cost time for the 3 and would have given more time to Vettel for an attack.
So Kimi 3 and Vettel 4 was the best possible result for team points and without the then not known problems at Kimi's car it was possible.
If it had worked all would say a brilliant move from Ferrari to do a 3/4 given the circumstances.


James, if I am not mistaken Ferrari twitted during the race that Vettel also had damage to his floor. If true that makes his comeback even more remarkable.


damage to his floor

I read on a different race report his floor was damaged when the damaged wing came away - they said it also damaged one of the barge boards.




There is no i in team but there is in sergio.

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