Insight: What is the secret to picking your way through F1 Safety Car chaos?
Insight
Strategy Report
Posted By: James Allen  |  27 Jun 2017   |  2:17 pm GMT  |  156 comments

This year’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix was highly eventful and although the three drivers who stood on the podium had been through a lot to get there, the strategy talking points were not the obvious ones.

Last year every one was surprised at how few incidents there were on the new Grand Prix street track in Baku.

A high-speed street track lined with walls and some very tight sections, the indications were that this would be a race punctuated by Safety Cars and maybe a red flag, which would have a significant bearing on race strategy. But in the end it was a relatively straightforward race.

This year we had three Safety Cars and a red flag; we also had three potential winners of the race missing the chance (Hamilton, Vettel and Perez) and arguably another missed the chance through engine failure (Verstappen).

The key to making the right moves in this race was having very good simulation software, which constantly assesses the risk. You are measuring the risk of a Safety Car once an incident happens, then the risk of a red flag, the risk of going off track on cold tyres and countless other detailed risks.

Baku is unique in that you spend more time calculating risks and making decisions on that basis, than you do looking at tyre degradation curves!

Here we will look behind the headlines to see why things unfolded as they did for the podium finishers in particular.

Baku 2017
Pre-Race expectations

This was another race where the tyres were not ideally suited to the track layout and surface.

Pirelli’s softest tyre available was the supersoft but that was capable of reaching the end of the race from whatever point in the race it was fitted, so that removed a key element of the race strategy side for the teams and put the emphasis on managing risk.

Practice had shown that a simple one-stop strategy with around 24 laps on super soft, picking the right moment to stop for softs and emerge in a gap in traffic, was the best way to go. Had the ultra soft been available then it would have been more marginal and the decision making trickier.

But it quickly became clear that this was an abnormal race for other reasons; the significant issue was the tyres going cold behind the Safety Cars and having no grip at the restarts. This was critical to race outcomes as there were opportunities to pass into Turn 1 at the restart if you set yourself up properly for it. Ricciardo did and it made his race.

Interestingly, further back in the field, Sauber used the ability to pit for new hot tyres under the Safety Car (with no threat from behind) to attack at the restart with tyres at over 100 degrees when the others had dropped to 50 degrees or below. They scored a point with Wehrlein for only the second time this season and had there not been a red flag it could have been more.

Although this was smart thinking, it was born out of necessity as much as tactics as, for some teams, the main risk that needed to be managed was sliding off the track on cold tyres.

It was like Monaco where low energy from the track means that under the long Safety Car periods the tyres come down to critical levels of temperature.

Daniel Ricciardo
Ricciardo picks his way through the chaos with two secret weapons

Daniel Ricciardo had two weapons up his sleeve – apart from his own sense of opportunism and ingenuity – that set him up for the win. He had new sets of supersofts available and the Red Bull was very effective at warming up the tyres.

He had the new tyres because he had crashed in qualifying, so he was able to use these in the race and it gained him some advantage when he was forced to stop early on Lap 5 to remove debris from the Ferrari from his brake ducts.

Red Bull put him onto the softs at this point and then they lucked out when the Safety Car came out not long after as they could then get him off the softs and onto the faster Supersofts (and a new set what’s more) for the rest of the race.

He lost that advantage when the race was red flagged and everyone was allowed to change onto the supersofts, but he had another new set to use, while Stroll and Massa had to fit used tyres.

Using the Red Bull’s ability to warm the tyres efficiently paid dividends at the restart after the Red Flag stoppage as he was able to draft the two Williams cars, who were battling each other rather than thinking about resisting Ricciardo and he passed both.

Bottas, Stroll
Bottas and Stroll – two different routes through the Safety Cars to the podium

The Safety Cars played a significant role in Valtteri Bottas finishing second, after going a lap down early on after contact with Kimi Raikkonen.

And Lance Stroll’s crew played it cool in terms of balancing the risk at the first Safety Car, pitting him on the second lap, rather than the first. Why was that?

Stroll was 4.8 seconds behind Massa and was coming through Turn 14 when the Safety Car was deployed, not quite enough to pit behind his teammate without losing time ‘stacking’. It was certainly not a major risk. But Williams didn’t want to pull him into that situation.

So Williams sent him around again. Luckily he had a large enough gap back to Magnussen and Ricciardo that he did not lose positions when this happened, as you can sometimes.

The way the Safety Car works is that for the first two laps you have to drive at a prescribed slower delta speed. So in that sense it is like a Virtual Safety Car. Once the Safety Car picks up the leader, from Lap 3 onwards, that’s when it can cost you significantly to stop, as the other cars are able to speed up to catch the back of the train behind the Safety Car.

The field closes up and you cannot afford to drop out of position then, as you will lose a lot of positions.

Stroll had looked strong and comfortable on this circuit layout all weekend, not hitting barriers or taking risks, but still turning the kind of lap times the Williams is capable of.

Once the cars ahead of him fell away and a podium beckoned, he drove without mistakes and lost the second position to Bottas because the Mercedes was much faster, rather than because of anything he did.

In fact if the race had been a few laps longer Bottas would probably have caught Ricciardo.

The Finn made a mistake early in the race running wide into Raikkonen, but his recovery drive was first class.

Being a lap down he needed a Safety Car to be able to unlap himself and once he got that he was always likely to get a good result. The advantage of lapped cars being able to unlap themselves in that situation creates the possibility for a race like Bottas and that’s certainly a good thing for the show.

Sergio Perez
Force India left to rue another missed opportunity

Last week we highlighted how Force India could have had a podium in Canada even without the ‘team orders’ row between Perez and Ocon, when they missed a strategy play during the race.

This week was far more costly as they would have been first and second had the two drivers not hit each other, damaging the race of both.

It’s exciting that they have two well matched drivers with the rookie pushing the more experienced driver, but this kind of incident cannot be allowed as it hurts the team badly. With Stroll on the podium for Williams, Force India needed a big score.

If the team needed to have a word with Perez after Canada, the balance of fault on this one lies with Ocon, who has been sensational so far this season, but he pushed just a bit too hard this time and he will no doubt have been reminded of his responsibilities to the team. It will not have played well with his bosses at Mercedes, who prioritise team results over all else.

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


Race History Chart

Kindly provided by Williams Martini Racing, click to enlarge

The number of laps is on the horizontal axis; the gap behind the leader is on the vertical axis.

A positive sign is an upward curve as the fuel load burns off. A negative sign is the slope declining as the tyre degradation kicks in.

A typically chaotic race history chart with three Safety Cars and a red flag stoppage. Worth noting is the pace of Bottas after the stoppage and also the comparison with Ricciardo.

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156 comments

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1

The key moments of the race for me came from the German superstar who first made contact in a moment of passion, and secondly manoeuvred around a trap set by his crafty English combatant. This is what makes sport exciting, I only wish we had more footage to judge it more accurately. I mean, honestly... when his fist made contact with that desk, we knew Toto Wolff meant business, and later when Ted Kravitz tried to snare him in a trap, his decisive gestures were pure gold. I can only imagine he must have been thinking as Ted spoke, my god another Englishman is going to give the team the third degree over a headrest, why don’t you ask Lewis if he prefers being in a McLaren or a Williams then? Classic. Bonus points go to Hamilton, who literally complained all day on the radio…about tyres being too cold, about the safety car being too slow, about Charlie not making the right decisions, and of course “Have Jeeves bring the car around to block Sebastian for me, guys”. I mean if the guy with the fastest car for four years in a row complained that much on the radio, we need to hear what the drivers with slower cars (aka everyone) complained about.

In all seriousness though, one thing that really bothered me was the start with Bottas. Mercedes locks out the front grid, and at the start Bottas brakes very early at the first corner, forcing Vettel to slam on his brakes and lock up. Because Bottas brakes early, Kimi had a chance on the outside after, takes the lead, and then Bottas just clips the inside curbs and torpedoes into him. All this happens while Lewis is comfortably running along, leaving his wrecking-ball of a teammate to cause havoc to the Ferrari’s behind him. And for that, Bottas gets no penalty. It’s ridiculous to me. They can just follow this tactic again since they have the fastest car and can lock out the front grid each time, and I agree with the Ferrari team boss who said they haven’t had decisions going their way by stewards. On to Austria, where I secretly felt Renault would provide Red Bull with the previously rumoured updated engine, and where Mclaren will be getting the spec3 version of the Honda engine. Supposedly it passed reliability tests, would have provided up to 0.3 seconds performance per lap in Baku, and Honda believe with reliability solved they can focus on performance gains. I shall follow my superstar of the weekend, Toto, and bang my fist in fury if the Honda engine fails in Austria.

2

The only think you left out CP was you're mic drop!!

3

Gold Medal Cheesy!

4

So basically what you took from the Grand Prix was the driver who deserves most criticism is....Lewis Hamilton! How surprising that you would feel that way...

5

let them be happy for a change. the best command such a following of antifans..

6

I spent far more time talking about Bottas but, you only bring up Lewis. How surprising that you would feel that way...

7

@cheesypoof
I thought you spent more time talking about Wolff v. Kravitz, but there you go. I enjoyed your post. It was mildly amusing. As for TimW, compare the number of up-votes you each have received for this wee exchange.

8

Hogan, getting lots of pivoted is easy, just say something unpleasant about Toto, Lewis and Mercedes and watch them pile up. Obviously this doesn't mean that what you said is correct, just that a few people share the same view.

9

up votes

Being the first comment also makes a difference and in this instance it was the only comment for quite a long while. All contributory factors.

10

Should say up votes, not pivoted!

11

Cheesypoof, 16 lines slating Bottas, and only 13 doing the same for Lewis, so yes you are correct. The main point is though that the guy who deliberately rammed another competitor gets no stick at all from you, how strange....

12

@Bottas: a trend does start to appear. We saw this in Spain (taking out Kimi and Max) and now again in Baku. I honestly can't believe there are people out there who blame Kimi for trying to overtake around the outside (he was in front as well). It's borderline avoidable accident since you know that if you're going to bounce over the kerb the car will do just that: bounce, thus it won't have 4 tires on the tarmac, thus it will have no grip. I give Bottas the benefit of the doubt since it's the start, it's tight etc but he needs to be careful.

13

Blows me away that people are so stupid to think Bottas would deliberately run into Kimi.

14

I apologize if I was not clear: I didn't mean to say Bottas took him out deliberately.

15

manoeuvred around a trap set by his crafty English combatant.

If indeed a trap was set by his crafty English combatant (and I'm not agreeing that it was) then your German superstar certainly did not manoeuvre around it. He fell into it, head first! He received a 10 second stop go and 3 points on his licence - leaving him on a knife edge at the next race and still needing to be cautious right through until October. A fact that will not go unnoticed by the rest of the grid when a 50/50 situation next arrives 🙂

16

@ C63 ...First lesson in F1, 'never give a sucker an even break'.

17

you could say his head isn't up to the level of pressure presented him and malfunctioned..

18

Aveli, it would certainly appear that this is the case. Doesn't chime with his public image, but how many times have we Sen him crack under the pressure and lose his temper?

19

I was actually speaking of Ted Kravitz vs Toto....slipped my mind that he was Austrian, and not German 🙂

20

I was actually speaking of Ted Kravitz vs Toto

If you say so Cheesy, if you say so... Mind you I am struggling to recall you speaking of Toto as a superstar before 🙂

21

I spoke of Toto as a robotic and programmed, but this weekend, after seeing him bump his fist for the 3rd time now, I'm convinced that it's a sign. The human trapped in the machine wants out. When I saw his response to Ted, I knew he was free.

22

The human trapped in the machine wants out. When I saw his response to Ted, I knew he was free.

Chapeau Cheesy, chapeau . What a great line 🙂

23

RAI was definitely a contender to win this race, had RamBOT not crashed into him at the start- more likely than VER or PER and had equal chance with HAM & VET.

24
Ricciardo Aficionado

Lots of contenders and lots of ifs in this race but RamBOT is gonna stick 🙂

25

the entire field were contenders...

26

@cheesy
I feel sorry for the desk he keeps on thumping. I think the makers of that table should jump on the thumping bandwagon and make an excellent advert for the quality of their product😄. It's a win/win!

27

I always compare Toto's desk abuse to the scene in the film 'l Robot' where the robot does the same, leaving fist prints in the desk!

28

@ James K....maybe i am seeing things but at the time i thought i noticed a 'surreptitious' sneak from Wolff to see if the camera was catching his ' desk moment'. Pure ham.

29

@kenneth
Yes, it seems to be a little put on now, but who knows😄 Gives us something to talk about I suppose😉

30

In addition to Baku saga... Similar positions by Stewart, Bernie, Ferrari, etc. Lewis the primadona troublemaker
http://gptoday.com/full_story/view/608867/Villeneuve_8216They8217re_going_10mph_who_cares8217/

31

@alan
Tims right, I wouldn't give a monkeys salad to what Stewart says. I think he's more worried about Lewis getting more title than himself. Then he'll be knocked of the top of the British pile. He always seems to be against Lewis. As for Bernie.. who's he😄 When he was in charge, he loved Lewis and what he gave to his product. If there is someone who knows Sebee better than anyone, it's Danny Ric. IMO, Lewis was inside what the rules allow...just..because Seb was a little worried about the car behind after the restart, he took his eye of the ball. And that was that. Vettel knows he messed up. I think deep down that is what really hacked him off aswell. This is high pressure racing and nothing more. I'm sure Lewis will come a cropper at a later race, we'll see. Lewis pushed the boundaries, Seb lost concentration. But I bet he won't do that again. The gauntlet has been thrown. Let's see how hard it gets thrown back😊

32

Seb was a little worried about the car behind after the restart, he took his eye of the ball

Exactly right - what I said right at the start. If you look at the VT on the F1 website showing a split screen of the two incidents the only apparent difference between the two is how close Vettel has chosen to position himself behind Hamilton on the 2nd one. I'll tell you what I do find funny though is the contention that Vettel has sent some kind of message that Ham should be worried about. Vettel has dug himself a big hole with his actions and it looks like that hole is about to get a good deal deeper with the FIA having a further investigation into the matter. Happy days 🙂

33

JK, I think Mark Webber might know Seb better than RIC. I'm no Seb fan, and i agree with the penalty he got, but the rest of this British media (and punter) indignation is just emasculating!

34

@AlanF1
Exactly! Great post. Everything Jacques said was spot on. Everything.

35

Alanf1, you can always rely on some indigenes fan generated content for a reasonable view of an incident! The'article' you link to quotes Jacques (voice of reason) Villeneuve who says that the incident happened at 10mph, which isn't true it was 35mph, and that Lewis brake tested Seb, which also isn't true. Jackie Stewart has never said anything positive about Lewis, Bernie has always talked about him in glowing terms and it's hardly surprising that Ferrari are trying to stick the boot into the guy is it? Maybe you should listen to the wise words of a contemporary driver on the incident, how about race winner Daniel Ricciardo who was unequivocal in blaming Seb for the incident.
http://m.bbc.co.uk/sport/formula1/40404462

36

Maybe you could listen to a wiser and better contemporary in Alonso who said the punishment is done is over there should be nothing more.

37

Cheesypoof, where do I call for further punishment? I have said all along that there shouldn't be further sanction and that the penalty he received in the race was sufficient. You keep listing all these people as if they are supporting Seb in some way, but all they are saying that that should be an end to it, none of them have said what he did was justified.
I'm fine with no further action, the damage to Seb's reputation is enough for me, we all got to see what kind of man he really is on Sunday didn't we?

38

Pretty tenuous Tim. He just says sometimes Seb goes a bit crazy. I think everyone is in agreeance that the double tyre bump was out of order and the penalty was in order.
RIC explicitly doesn't give an opinion on whether Lewis brake tested or not.
I think if the LHFC are being completely honest and the roles were reversed (ie Seb in front) they would look at the unequivocal footage of the second braking on the apex, and call it for what it is - a brake test, rather than looking for obtuse angles to justify Lewis as a victim.
The level of British media indignation -stirred up by Lewis' passive aggressive (lets sort it out like men, but i won't talk to you or take your calls, but i will talk all day to the media about you), is just embarrassing and frankly childish.

39

LKFE, and here we are again with this brake test that didn't involve braking! There was a gap of 0.8 seconds between Lewis coming off the brakes and Seb hitting him, during this period Lewis' speed rose by 4 kph, explain to me how this is any sort of brake test? When Lewis came off the brakes there was still a gap between the cars, this gap vanished because Seb was on the throttle!!
You say that Lewis will talk to the media about this? Apart from his comments in the post race interview, what has he said to the media?

40

Yes AlanF1....the 'little ballerina' wants to sort it out like a man...behind the toilet block.

41

steward and villeneuve are hanging hamilton's coat tails for exposure..

42

Interesting perspective by you. I've never imagined it this way. Quite appalling the dirty tricks used by these merc drivers

43
Stephen Taylor

0.3 of a second is nothing when you have a least 1 second to gain for Honda to be on par with everyone else . The other manufacturers if necessary can find that very easily-meaning Honda will all be back to square one.

44

"Bottas just torpedoes into him [Kimi] and gets no penalty"
@cheesypoof,
I think it's established by now that F1 raceday consists of 2 races:
1. the first lap, or the first couple of turns at least,
2. the rest of the race.
Different rules clearly apply for these two subraces. In the rest of the race, Bottas cannot afford behaviour like this, in the first lap he can. A driver probably can even get away with launching himself on the kerbs and landing pontifically on top of another car - provided it's the first lap.
For an idea of what "landing on top" means, see
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eto9Epfj6Sw

45

Toto is Austrian, not German. Calling an Austrian German, is like calling a Scotsman English. Not a good idea.

46
Ricciardo Aficionado

Or Pharlap Australian!

47

What were the headline options...
"Australian horse conquers the world" if he won,
...or "New Zealand horse fails in America" if he lost! 🙂

48
Ricciardo Aficionado

A bit like Russel Crowe. Hasn't died of a drug overdose yet though...

49

Good catch, I completely forgot. Hopefully he doesn't read the comment section or it'll be another fist to the desk.

50

"another fist to the desk": LOL!

51

@Cheesypoof a10 points for expressing a balance point of view, its refreshing. Like to add Bottas is laughing all the way to the Bank as they say, he got 18 points for " T-bone " Raiko'nnen and Raiko got a zero & is not the first time he has done it, what is fascinating not even reprimand for carelessness on behalf of Mr Bottas, perhaps good old Charlie should have a little chat with his stewards about the facts of life and the importance of even handed decision making .

52

hamilton got disqualified from the 2008 belgian grand prix because raikkonen span and crashed himself out of the race, all by himself.

53

Points need to be handed out for these "racing incidents" - say one point. Its the only way to get the adrenalin under control. Sure, stuff happens in racing but when it happens again and again and again with the same drivers its a sign of a problem. If you consistently can't make a pass cleanly without destroying someone's race it a sign you are being too aggressive and/or you can't drive and it should be penalized. Not the preferred approach would rather have consistent stewarding, but in the absence of that...

54

My goodness, this little wheel bump sure lit up the heck out of the comments section.

Let us lift our pints to the MODs - 1000+ comments on that post!

Did we settle it in the end? Was it Lewis' fault or Vettel's? I'm kidding! You never talk about politics, religion and this HAMVET incident. And how in the world with all this social media outrage didn't this turn into some type of a Gate? 🙂

55

Tailgate, surely!

56

Let's have a Tailgate party!

57

LKFE, that would be an apt description wouldn't it? Using a term that describes one driver choosing to be dangerously close to the car ahead....

58

it was james allen's fault sebee..

59

When I watched Bottas crawling around the field with a bust front tyre and emerge in last position, I thought to myself: "that doesn't look like a driver who got no penalty."

60

The tyre usage chart seems to imply HAM and VET changed their tyres on their last trip through the pits. However Vettel's was a stop/go so couldn't change tyres, and I recall Hamilton just changing the headrest but not the tyres.

61

I think Massa could also consider himself unlucky not to win the race... If he hadn't had issues, Ricciardo would have had to pass him on track, as Massa would have inherited the lead after Hamilton's issues and Vettel's penalty.

I still can't get my head around what Vettel did. Even if Hamilton had brake checked him, Hamilton would have had a penalty and Vettel would have cruised to the win.

I believe that Vettel realised that it was his mistake for running into the back of Hamilton, then, fearing a penalty, he became irate to try to deflect the blame and pass the punishment.

However, even so, I still can't believe that he would actually turn into Hamilton deliberately. There was just nothing to gain by doing so. If he genuinely believed Hamilton was to blame for the first contact, by hitting Hamilton he guaranteed he got a penalty, too. And if it was him to blame for the first contact (as I believe it was) then it just exacerbates the situation.

I think Vettel is too smart for that. Is there on-board footage available? In the clip I saw, Vettel's hands were not visible, so you couldn't see if he turned sharply or just drifted wide by accident. Or perhaps he was in "safety car mode" and so his instinct was to immediately zig-zag to get heat in the tires, accidentally hitting Hamilton in the process.

This isn't to defend Vettel, who was clearly to blame. But for such a smart and calculating character, who seems to care about the public's perception of him, to do something like this deliberately just doesn't add up!

62

"I believe that Vettel realised that it was his mistake for running into the back of Hamilton, then, fearing a penalty, he became irate to try to deflect the blame and pass the punishment."

Yeah, Vettel thought of all that in one second!

63

What, you've never seen anyone make a mistake and instantly tried to deflect the blame in a way that in hindsight seems petulant?

64

Why are cars allowed to uplap when there's a safety car? It makes no sense whatever.

65

safely, that's how.

66

Driver of the day = stroll.

Wally of the weekend - vettel for using his car as a weapon.

67

How dramatic Gaz!
Do you write for the Sun or the Mirror?

68

1st thing make sure vettal isn't behind you during the restart, there's been a few occasions hes nearly wiped out other drivers during safety car periods, not just the Lewis affair, it's not malice I just think he's so keen to get the jump on people ,

69

James

Bottas passed Stroll on the finish line due to the tow, DRS and probably had the engine tuned into fastest (qualifying) mode for the last half lap or so.

Hamilton finished about a car length or two behind Vettel at the finish line. Another 500m, he might have passed him.

Are you able to find out if Hamilton too had the engine tuned into qualifying mode? If not, would it have made a difference and just nick the fourth place from Vettel at the finish line?

70

There certainly was a bit of hypocrisy in Hamilton's request for Bottas to back up Vettel after his expressed desire to have competition.

71

Just released {after this thread came out}:
FiA collision analysis: HAM vs VET
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wOaUtcHPA0c
...
About HAM vs VET,
The vid shows that HAM was erratic in his behaviour, either comparing restart 1 to restart 2 and cornering VET when HAM reduced the speed after the corner apex.
So VET had nowhere to go and with cold tires/brakes.
HAM was slower in restart 2 misleading VET to crash into his back.
Lewis loss bcs at that time he was supposed to cut the WDC disadvantage from 12 to 5 pts +win.
But it was just reduced by 1 pt {+2pos-3pen}
...
Have to say RedBull screwed Verstappen again.
VER had gearshift problems at Q3 and it wasn't corrected in the Park Ferme.
No drivetrain change.
VER could have won this race.
...
About PER vs OCO,
In the race highlight vids, at ~3:00, the vid shows OCO side-by-side PER.
PER defends by swerving left until he crashes OCO.
There is a cut-scene, but taking Massa as a reference, PER squeezed OCO until they make contact.
Then in the next corner, OCO paid-back the rough treatment, but in excess.
FI missed several podiums in the last 2 races, not good.

72

Deweberis, your analysis is typically inaccurate. Lewis did not reduce speed after the apex, he comes off the brake at the apex and usctravelling st 51kph, 0.8 seconds later at the corner exit, the collision occurs, Lewis' speed at this point is 53kph, explain to me how this is a reduction.
A video comparing the two restarts is available on the F1 website and is narrated by James. This vid shows that Lewis drives in the same way on both occasions, the only difference is Seb is much closer to the back of him in the second. You say Seb had nowhere to go, but he could have left a bigger gap couldn't he? The reason the small gap that Seb had chosen to leave himself at the apex disapeared, is because he was on the throttle, Lewis was not on the brakes.

73

@JamesAllen - The tyre chart indicates that Wehrlein used red Supersofts the whole race! I assume this is incorrect, and the 1 lap stint was on yellow Softs?

74

Hamilton's headrest came undone after the red Flag... Red Flag provoked by Esteban Ocon crashing to his teammate... still, if Esteban keeps his composure, it was a very deserved double podium for the Pink team

75

Step 1 to avoid any drama is do not be behind Lewis Hamilton.

I remember a few seasons ago Rosberg scoffed at the suggestion that Hamilton might get inside his head. Well it turned out that Hamilton got all up in Rosberg's head. Same with Massa, Alonso, and all the rest who obligingly turned to jelly in the face of the decidedly feminine mind games that Hamilton employs.

It's the same every time. Hamilton feels threatened on track; Hamilton lures his opponent in and then collides with them or forces them off the track; Hamilton plays the spotless victim (which he plays to the hilt like the true HAM he is); Hamilton takes up residence inside his hapless opponent's head until they are a nervous wreck.

I thought Vettel handled Mark Webber quite well. Multi 21? Don't care about that. I just want to win. Against Hamilton and his guilt trips and mind games he is completely out of his league. It won't be long until he is driving down the shops to pick up some ice cream because Hamilton is feeling a bit weepy.

76
Ricciardo Aficionado

So long as Seb sticks to "it didn't happen" he should be alright. Might even screw with Ham's headspace a bit...
Did you tweet it? Didn't happen.
Is it on Instagram? Didn't happen.
Did you google yourself? Didn't happen.
I really really really hope Seb doesn't come out with the merest hint of contrition.
Are those two in the presser next Thursday?

77

Ricciardo Aficionado. Exactly. But I can't help but get the feeling that Vettel responded to Hamilton's shenanigans in exactly the way that he wanted him to. If Vettel had done absolutely nothing after making contact, carried on to the end of the race, and then said nothing about it after save for, "It was one of those things", then Hamilton could have made no capital from it whatsoever. As it is Vettel might well cop some more punishment, and Hamilton will know that Vettel can be got to.

Personally I believe that Vettel deliberately did not overtake Rosberg when Hamilton backed up the field in Abu Dhabi last year. Why not, eh? He had plausible deniability too. He blamed his tyres.

However now that Vettel got understandably angry at Hamilton he has revealed a chink in his armour. Hamilton needs only to continually exploit it. I agree that if Vettel toughs it out it might make Hamilton think twice before trying to sucker him in again, but if Vettel reacts with anger and unacceptable behaviour every time Hamilton provokes him then he might as well kiss this fifth title goodbye.

Before this race he had Hamilton in his pocket. Now it feels like the gloves are off, and I think Vettel should get ready to be put the through the emotional wringer. Certainly Vettel needs to say as little as possible, and remain as tough as possible on the track. That will be difficult for him considering his outburst in Mexico last year.

Anyway, bearing in mind the antics of the number two drivers at Ferrari and Mercedes it looks like things might be quite interesting, let alone fraught for the remainder of the season.

78
Ricciardo Aficionado

I thought Vettel was understandably angry with Charlie last year.all the condemnation centred around his use of words, which really, should have been irrelevant. He was rightly aggrieved by the situation... Words are just words. It was nothing compared to what I hear on site in general conversation.
I think it's the same here. Vettel was aggrieved and reacted. The FIA says Hamilton did nothing wrong but what that actually means is that the telemetry can't prove he did something wrong. Vettel was convinced he'd been brake tested and lashed out. (No use of brakes blah blah blah... It was an erratic deviance from the expected trajectory HOWEVER achieved)
Vettel can probably admit to himself he shouldn't have bumped wheels but as long as he remains convinced Hamilton acted deliberately then his metal state should remain stable.

79

Ra, the chances of those two not being selected for the Friday pressed in Austria are around the same as Kenneth saying "I don't think Lewis did anything wrong there".....

80
Ricciardo Aficionado

Maybe Hamilton doesn't want to talk to Vettel because when Vettel says, "you brake tested me didn't you?" Hamilton is going to have to BS to his face. And then they'll both know who the BSer is.
Have you noticed Tim, even JA is now casting doubt on the finding that Hamilton did nothing wrong. As I said just above, the FIA have only failed to prove wrongdoing. They haven't proven innocence. Big difference.

81

Ricciardo, if you are going to keep insisting that Lewis brake tested Seb, despite what the stewards and experts all say to the contrary, then it really is time for you to come up with some evidence to back up your claim. There are numerous screen shots and videos available that show the speed, throttle and brake positions of both cars, donkeys see what you've got. Time to put up or shut up.

82
Ricciardo Aficionado

Donkeys don't know jack about this Tim. Unfortunately I cannot provide evidence to his state of mind.
Nor can you.

83

Ra, and you can't provide any evidence to back up your claim either, can you? Like I said, time to put up or shut up....

84

No I'm not

I'm saying that they will also look at HAM's part again

But I don't think he did anything 'wrong' - he just didn't accelerate out of the corner

85
Ricciardo Aficionado

Do you think it was to catch Vettel out or to set-up for the restart?

86

JA, do you agree that Lewis is guilty of gamesmanship? Not against the rules indeed, but a brake test or a lack of acceleration designed to catch his opponent out -whilst part of racing, is in itself a risky move if it doesn't work and they rear-end you.
I think both Lewis and Seb know this -which is why Vettel won't admit of apologise and why Lewis doesn't want to face him.

87

LKFE/Ricciardo Afficionado. Do you guys realise how desperate you sound?!

88

@ Baz Brush - In the words of the great Kenneth: Very Well said, I fully Agree!
OF COURSE Lewis is to blame! Its Lewis' fault for the Financial Crash, His fault for Brexit, Sure he had a part play in the troubles in the middle east too... boy that guy needs locking up to protect the rest of us tortured souls! Comment of the day - Your prize? A season ticket to the Kenneth Club! Enjoy! Youll fit right in

89

Hamilton plays mind games on and off the track. What that has to do with your response I can't imagine. Do you think Hamilton does not play mind games? Obviously all the F1 drivers do it to a certain extent, but I would say that there is nobody better than winding up other drivers than Hamilton.

Would you agree, Dean?

90

Baz brush, Lewis is good, but Fernando is better.

91

the entire field lined up behind hamilton in most races..

92

Eventful race. Enjoyed the "double overtakes".

Interesting problem at Force India. Ocon is not playing the role of a No. 2 Driver and he is quick. He did make a mistake in this race and crashed into his team mate who brings in quite a bit of sponsorship for the team.

Will he be forced to accept a No. 2 driver role by Force India for the rest of the season? I hope not. But I fear he will be.

I would have liked to see Max and Daniel racing for a win in Baku. RBR are the other team who (I hope) will allow their drivers to race through the season.

In the other teams, one driver is either given a preference or is quicker than the other driver and hence no intra-team racing.

It seems that in this PU-dominant formula, it is very difficult to see racing between 2 teams without some kind of bending of the rules by the "non-Merc" teams.

I suspect, Ferrari challenge will fade. If i understand correctly, the performance of the Red cars was affected by the latest clarification from FIA.

One thing I missed. Did Merc change tyres when Lewis had to come in to the pits to secure the head rest? If not, why not?

93

if only force india had allowed ocon to race ricciardo in canada, they would've enjoy more points on sunday and rest of the season. now they stand to lose points at every remaining race..

94
OpenTrackRacer

Saying the Force India drivers would have been first and second is disingenuous. If they hadn't collided, the red flag wouldn't have happened and Hamilton wouldn't have had bolster issues. That would have put them second and third and Vettel's penalty.

95

Picking your way through safety car chaos? Easy:
1) Don't drive into the car in front
2) If you do, it's your mistake
3) If you're prone to a rush of blood don't be tempted to take the law into your own hands
4) If you do, and you intentionally drive alongside the lead car and swerve into it, make sure you're in a team that is looked upon sympathetically
5) If you act as in 4) also deny it happened
Everything will be ok as you should have been black flagged and been given a ban, but the rule enforcers have completely missed the point.
Feel free to act like a petulant child in the future as no-one can tell you what to do.

96

@ Fiona....Nice try hahaha. Point 5? Has Vettel actually said in public, i did not hit Hamiltons car' and denied that it happened? Would like to view your source if possible.

97

A lot of drivers were complaining about the slow speed of the safety car - is there a reason why the safety/pace car is based on road going Mercedes or could they use a spec race car (eg the Pirelli test car)

98

Only a road car can be deployed quickly (ie start and go), and in any conditions. They don't have the time to warm up an F1 engine, and or make sure it has suitable tyres on it for the conditions.

99

f1 cars cost too much to use one as a safety car and their brakes become useless at slow speeds. we don't want the safety car crashing and having to be retrieved on a mission. it's meant to be safe..

100

INSIGHT: WHAT IS THE SECRET TO PICKING YOUR WAY THROUGH F1 SAFETY CAR CHAOS?

Be in front.

101
Ricciardo Aficionado

Didn't help Hamilton.

102

Ra, true, you can always be accosted from behind, I guess the only guy truly in charge of his own destiny is the guy in last place.

103

not with vettel directly behind.

104

So why didn't Pirelli bring the ultra?

105

pirelli had a dream which indicated that tyre selection would result in the race we had..

106

Your tyre history graphic isn't correct for Ericsson or Wehrlein.

Ericsson changed his tyres under the red flag on lap 22 and did 29 laps for the final stint, making 3 stops (including the drive through the pit lane and the red flag).

Wehrlein ran a double-shuffle at his first stop. He stopped under the first safety car at the end of lap 12 and went to the softs (not the super-softs as the graphic indicates). He then did a lap and went back to the super-softs at the end of lap 13. The graphic suggests he was on super-softs for the whole race, which would be a breach of the regulations.

107

Thanks, james!

1. Ricciardo won it for his permanent smile. Good vibration
2. Bottas simply deserves to win up to 5 races this year
3. Stroll earned 3rd place because he was mocked and demoralized earlier by everybody.
4. Vettel didn't deserve to win because he was depressed and frustrated since his miserable q3 performance. Bad vibration
5. Hamilton was meant not to win because the cat, the pussycat was there in Baku over the weekend. Mega bad vibration.
6. Alonso, „we would have won today„will keep talking in conjunctive until the end of his career – next year.
7. Perez didn't deserve to win because of what he did to Ocon in Montreal. Karma!
8. Verstappen will never become a champion because of his mysteriously unpleasant nature. Sorry, but a very bad vibration.

108

The entire race was controlled by Karma!
Nice call Meth!

109

@Methusalem, "Verstappen's mysteriously unpleasant nature"
???
I fear that after 600 years (that's your age if I remember correctly) your character judgement leaves a lot to desire.
The only mysterious thing is why you perceive his character to be unpleasant.
He is quite friendly and cheerful in interviews, even now! He is very frustrated but name one driver who wouldn't be when confronted with such a string of setbacks. For several top drivers, one single disappointment when in P2/3/4 would suffice to start sulking and complaining. Max suffered multiple such setbacks and after a couple of hours to clear his head, has just carried on. (Needed some time away from the press this time but hey how much can you take when you're ambitious?) Quite mature and definitely NOT unpleasant.

110

Secrets are very simple for Baku or any other chaotic race,

- Do not crash
- Don't get penalties
- Hope that the car doesn't break
- Capitalize on opportunities

111

When are Pirelli going to revert the compounds to the same as last year? They moved them all at least one step harder for this year, so now we have the ridiculous situation where a tyre called "supersoft" can complete an entire race distance with ease! It's crazy that the (not soft at all) ultra soft wasn't available for this race. Pirelli are just making themselves look ridiculous, how much money have they spent on manufacturing the hard compound tyres for this season? All wasted as none of them will ever be used!

112

many complained about the tyres, drivers said they wanted to be able to push all the way to the end of races.. there it is!

113

Aveli, the drivers couldn't push the previous gen tyres because they had chemical bonds artificially added to the compounds that were designed to break apart at a certain temperature. Pirelli rightly removed these stupid bonds for this year, but ghen masked the effect.by making last years medium, this years super soft etc.

114

i have a clear understanding of materials and would be most grateful to you if you could tell me which elements this bind you state was between and what type of bond was it?

115

Seems like they need to change the safety car rules yet again (regarding how the leader acts when behind it). Also, I've never understood why a car gets to unlap itself during a safety car, that seems totally unfair to everyone else.

116

it is to give those not lapped a chance. Example here would be if there was a lapped car between 1st and 2nd in the safety car period and the restart happens then 2nd car has no chance to attack for lead if there is a lapped car in between.

117

if the safety car bunches the field up, only the lead car can control the pace..

118

James, do you think that behind closed doors, that the Force India team is having somewhat of an internal meltdown? I mean, their drivers threw away a one-two finish. That would have just been massive for them.

119

they told ocon to find his own way instead of asking for help from his teammate and now they have it..

120

"In fact if the race had been a few laps longer Bottas would probably have caught Ricciardo."

I'd dispute that, looking at the lap times it's pretty obvious that Ricciardo was simply driving at whatever pace was necessary to ensure a race victory. To quote Alain Prost, "winning at the lowest speed possible". After the last tyre change on lap 22 there is the usual increase in pace due to the lightening fuel load up to lap 30. Between the laps 31 and 38 and after assuming the race lead on lap 33, there is consistency in lap times together with an increasing gap over the next placed car (Stroll). This holding speed strategy continues to lap 45, where Ricciardo slows to match Stroll's slowing place, whilst maintaining an uncatchable lead of over 4 seconds to the fast finishing Bottas.

121

@ gary...yes, i was of the very same opinion. The corresponding downturn in the graph between the two cars supports thattheory. There was no way that Bottas would've passed Ricciardo even if there were a handful of laps extra.

122

Ken,

Marko has also stated that in view of what happened to Verstappen Dan's engine was turned down to a 'safer mode' once he was in the lead and in free air.

123

@Adrian,
FYI, the same had to be done with VER's engine during FP.
The 2015 STR at least was reasonably reliable, last year's RBR12 was pretty reliable.
But if the only recipe to let this year's Renault engine last the race is indeed;
- avoid stressing the engine in FP and Q1/2
- forget about trying to split MB and Ferrari in Q3
- refrain from all early overtakes
- afford yourself just one or maybe two decisive moves tops in the latter part of the race, fingers crossed
... than this RBR13 is one sorry excuse for a racing car.

124

It was pretty much a typical Indycar race with luck, good and bad, and just a lot of strange happenings, leading to a topsy-turvy result.

125

Great analysis James! Learned a lot. This was a race with so much going on, it was really hard to follow some of the more subtle plots that your strategy insight now neatly spotlights. Thanks

126
Ricciardo Aficionado

The secret is luck and a cool head. A chat between Marko and Ricciardo during the RedFlag was broadcast. They were talking about getting the jump at the restart. So that was the plan.
When a boss like Marko puts the pressure on to execute such a tenuous strategy for success, that's going to take one cool cucumber to pull it off.
"Utterly brilliant..." Martin Brundle called it. No understatement there.
It seemed a jinxed kind of race. The carnage predicted for last year seemed to pile up to this year. Lots of hot-headed shenanigans putting a lot of contenders out. I don't think it's any kind of coincidence that three of the more relaxed guys got onto the podium.
Now, where was that extra engine mode for Lance when Bottas came steaming home like he was standing still? No one can seriously suggest Merc customers have access to the full potential of that PU. Ron was right I reckon.

127

it's no longer a secret, now that you've told everyone..

128
Ricciardo Aficionado

Merc customers getting dudded was never a secret.

129

RA,

According to Mark Hughes of Motor Sport Magazine Danny Ricc actually told Marko what he was going to do during that discussion, specifically that he would overtake the two Williams drivers on the restart. Pretty brazen er confident stuff from the West Aussie. But then again he was dialed in for the whole race.

130

I remember hearing that conversation beneath the inane babble of the pundits and commentators, and I thought to myself that Ricciardo sounded calm, and did not doubt his ability to overtake both the Williams at the restart.

When he backed up his words with deeds it turned into the race winning overtakes. He is brilliant, but because he is not younger, a couple of tenths quicker, and doesn't drive like an aggressive, lary boy racer, he gets overlooked. Maybe if Ricciardo had clipped Massa's front wing and ruined his race people would have praised him all the more. Or maybe he could have run Stroll into the wall on the exit of turn one and then played the victim. Some people might have claimed that we have a future three time world champion on our hands.

131
Ricciardo Aficionado

I'll put my hand up and claim we have a future champion on our hands. On the other hand, Dan has got his hands full with that pretty handy teenager you mention. Hands down it's the handiest lineup on the grid.

132

Yes Baz, he clearly lacks the Peter Pan, Prima Donna gene!

133

It's amazing that Ricciardo is able to seemingly turn his misfortunes around to an advantage: in Monaco he was outqualified but that turned out to a race advantage and here in Baku he crashed out in quali but that set him up for a race win even as he (therefore) had new sets of tires available. Well done to him!

I doubt Force India would have been 1-2, remember that the red flag was caused by their getting together. I think that had this not happened Lewis would not have had his headrest problem, therefore he would have easily won the race. Still it would have been an (almost guaranteed) double podium for them.
Admittedly, I still think Ocon is to be blamed mostly for the incident but I think there's a lot going on we haven't actually seen or heard. If you check this video at around 6 seconds in, you can see Perez makes a move on him as he clearly doesn't want to be overtaken. Had Ocon not reacted they would have gotten together already.
I think that with 2018 looming there's a lot of friction starting to happen between a lot of team mates. FI, but also at Sauber for example and let's not forget Toro Rosso. To a lesser extent you can see something similar happening at Red Bull although it seems both drivers there seem to be taking it out more on the car/team than on each other.

134

There were some great moves from Ricciardo, but one that hasn't been mentioned was on the very first lap when a gap appeared down the inside of the two Williams'. I said to myself 'why didn't he go for it?' Verstappen would have, Vettel would have. The answer lies in staying out of trouble. Three cars wide wouldn't have made it around that corner, so he made a wise decision.
How many cars could have won 'if'?

135

Agreed Daryl -that there is the difference between Danny and Max.
As the young bull said to the old bull -"hey, let's run down and mod one of those cows", to which the old bull replied.."no, lets walk down and mod them all"!

136

How many cars could have won if? All of them, except for Ricciardo. He did win it.

Shoulda coulda woulda! 😁

137

all on the breaks! even i was impressed by that..

138

How come Wehrlein only used Supersofts according to the Tyre history, is it not mandatory to use two different compounds?

139

The tyre history graph is wrong. Wherein changed to soft tyres on his first stop - and then changed back to super-softs a lap later.

140

does it matter?

141

Great report as usual. Thx James.
On Force India, my take is Ocon could have left more room for Perez after that first corner as they were both on a straight line. Ocon intentionally squeezed Perez as a payback for him not allowing him to pass to challenge the front runners in Canada. Unfortunately both pay the price for their karma.

142

Kimi had a chance on the outside after, takes the lead, and then Bottas just clips the inside curbs and torpedoes into him.

Almost exactly the same as in Spain, where he bumped over the curb and then into Raikkonen, who clipped into Verstappen, taking bot drivers out of the race.
The stewards decided it was a racing incident. Which can happen, but twice the exact same scenario?

143

James has the FIA or Charlie Whiting explained why they preferred the safety car over the Virtual Safety Car in Baku? It seems to me that the first SC was OK, but all the subsequent SC were actually contributing to the mess that became the Baku GP. I thought VSC was created for the type of situations we saw in Baku, where cars must slow down to double yellow speed while marshals are on the race track.

In addition, I would like someone to give me a definitive answer to how it is possible that "the pinnacle of motorsports" the FIA has failed to implement a regulation on what kind of brooms the marshals must be issued with. In this day and age it is amusing to see how many marshals today do not have brooms to sweep away debris.

144

they wanted to make it more fun for us to watch. bunched up = more exciting..

145

If Valtteri is not racing could you ask him to buy me a burger?

146
Tornillo Amarillo

I understood Massa had to pit first, but why to pit Lance the next lap? I think was risky, however it unfolded well.

James, wouldn't be better to let Lance out until the "next Safety Car"? In such a gamble in theory...
1. which position he would have finished? and
2. which position if no SC after that ?

147
Tornillo Amarillo

Ocon, who has been sensational so far this season, but he pushed just a bit too hard this time and he will no doubt have been reminded of his responsibilities to the team...

I disagree, Ocon is for F.India what Max for Red Bull, Ocon is ahead of the team, ahead of Perez in his focus, he is just starting to show what is capable of.
Ocon asked for permission to overtake Perez in Canada, and it was denied. So after that, Ocon just have to overtake without permission to send a message: this is serious racing and I'm no here to begging to go to the top!
Don't forget that after his message, Ocon finished P6 in Baku...!, not bad at all.
The only worry for Mercedes is... should they keep Bottas or hire Ocon straightaway for 2018?
I should not let Ocon leave the Merc family if I was Wolff... it's easy to take drivers from Force India, even if I was Ferrari I would put him in Kimi's place next year!

148
Tornillo Amarillo

If I were... if I were... If I were... If I were...

149
Clarks4WheelDrift

Anyone know what happened to Massa's car after the restart?

Bouncing like crazy, visibly undrivable, suspension looking like it was locked in one position...

150

Clarkes, the rear damper failed apparently.

151

It seems HAM should take as much responsibility as VET, what did he think was going to happen when you do not do the normal acceleration process going around a corner, you accelerate. Other motorsport categories penalise the leader if they slow too much after safety car restart and are not maintaining a safe speed.

Simple race craft, brake before a corner, accelerate through or after and what HAM did was blatantly antagonistic and deserves to be punished as this set a dangerous precedent that the leader can cause an accident behind him and endanger the safety of fellow drivers.

Wow, some good excitement from the race and the publicity generated is what F1 wants. Improves the value.

152

The worst thing about this whole Hamilton Vettel collision is that it gives #TeamLH an excuse to savage Vettel at every turn of events now, and they will do.

153

James

In the first restart, Lewis almost caught and passed the safety car.

Imagine for a moment, that he did in fact catch the safety car, then realised it at the last second and then backed off by just lifting off momentarily (not braking) before the safety car line.

Suppose this action caused Vettel to overtake him before the safety car line which is not allowed.

What happens then?

154
Tornillo Amarillo

James, can I ask you what if DRS is disabledin the last 2 laps?

Like it is disabled in the first 2 laps. I don't remember if it is also disabled the first 2 laps AFTER a SC.
I think there is loophole here. Bottas overtaking Stroll on the finish line just because he had DRS is painful, I think even for Bottas.
If you rule DRS is disabled the 2 last laps, everybody should just adjust his strategy to that situation, it's fair. If you overtake because you have save tyres, that's perfect! Could we get boring 2 last lap because Vettel cannot overtake Hamilton..? Well, fix that with strategy Mr Ferrari, and vice-versa.
Of course to ditch DRS completely is a better solution, but a complex one too.

The other thing, Bottas unlapping himself... It's not fun to put a Merc just ready to attack behind the midfield, isn't it? Another loophole, HE SHOULD GET CAUGHT BY BLUE FLAGS as anybody else! Recovery drives are commun nowadays, isn't it? AND THEY ARE ALREADY BORING if helped by red flags!!
You can say that unlapping is good for the midfielders, yes, but Bottas robed position to midfielders.

Maybe an article of this could be elaborated to clarify. Racing should encourage "any" car to take advantage of any situation. I think most of the loopholes are around the red flag, SC and VSC regulations.

Thank you, you are always listening and I appreciate it!

155

I think at the restart there is an argument

Not last two laps

It's rare for what happened Sunday to happen!

156
Tornillo Amarillo

OK, thanks a lot. So we could agree that FIA should reevaluate at least the unlap thing for the restarts after SC.

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