Analysis: Decisions that decide F1 pole and race results and trigger a team mate feud
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Posted By: James Allen  |  29 Aug 2017   |  1:51 pm GMT  |  225 comments

On the face of it, for the second year in a row the Belgian Grand Prix was finely balanced when a Safety Car intervened and neutralized the strategies.

However this time it put Mercedes in a tricky position as they had deliberately chosen to prioritize qualifying on Saturday and so did not have a new set of ultra soft tyres saved for their drivers in the race. The tactic worked for Lewis Hamilton to take pole and win the race ahead of Sebastian Vettel, but it failed for Bottas in his challenge for a podium.

Ferrari missed the pole position, but were in a strong position when the late Safety Car allowed Vettel to put on a set of ultrasoft tyres that on paper were at least a second a lap faster than the softs Lewis Hamilton was forced to use.

We’ll examine the decisions that led to this situation and what would have happened without a Safety Car. We will look at how Red Bull Racing got away with a very risky tyre selection for the weekend, netting a podium for Daniel Ricciardo.

We will also examine the chaos at Force India, where the drivers hit each other twice, look at how Sergio Perez got ahead of Esteban Ocon in the pit stops despite a five second time penalty and look at what part the team strategy decision-making played in creating that tension.


Pre-race considerations

Pirelli’s Mario Isola persuaded the company to bring a softer selection of tyres to Spa than originally planned, to try to reintroduce some variables to the strategy. It paid off well, with some teams making risky selections, such as Williams and Red Bull that had only one set of soft tyres for the whole weekend. As it turned out the soft tyre was the best race tyre, but Red Bull was committed to a two-stop race leading with super soft tyres and got away with it, thanks to the late race Safety Car.

This played into their hands, allowing Ricciardo to attack Valtteri Bottas at the restart on ultrasoft tyres to the Finn’s softs and he could pass him for the final podium position.

His task was also helped by Kimi Raikkonen making a mistake early in the race and not slowing for yellow warning flags. He was given a ten second penalty that dropped him out of contention for a podium. It was Raikkonen’s second important mistake of the weekend; he also made one in qualifying, as we shall see.


More than one right answer: Balancing risk in qualifying and the race

This race was more interesting in some ways for what it might have become had the Safety Car not come out, than for what it was. Hamilton was able to hold off Vettel despite being on the slower tyre at the restart.

But we have to go back a couple of steps to examine the thinking that led to this position.

Mercedes view on Saturday was that pole position was the biggest priority; it was therefore more important for the drivers to have extra performance runs in qualifying to find the limit for the decisive final runs in Q3. So both Hamilton and Bottas were given a second run on new ultra soft tyres in Q2. This allowed Hamilton to find the limit especially in Turn 10 (Pouhon corner) for example, where he was almost flat in his final lap and that made the difference for pole.

Ferrari didn’t do this, wanting to save a set of ultra softs for possible use late in the race if there were to be a need to switch to two stops, or a late Safety Car. They balanced the risk of that against the risk of the drivers not quite having their eye in for the final qualifying runs.

In fact some oil on the track from Palmer’s Renault affected the first Q3 runs so there was only the final run to make it count. Raikkonen had a chance for pole but made a mistake. He made up for it somewhat by offering Vettel a tow in the final sector. But pole had been lost to Mercedes, which meant that Hamilton controlled the race.

Fast forward to around Lap 27 of the Grand Prix and Hamilton is leading but cannot shake off Vettel. The Ferrari was faster at the end of the opening stint on ultrasoft tyres and the new aerodynamic updates on the red car are working well. Mercedes are under real pressure on a track where they expected to dominate.

The debate on the pit wall of both teams is now whether to stop again. Mercedes’ are aware that Ferrari has that set of ultra soft tyres available, to try an undercut, which they do not have. However they do have Valtteri Bottas in play in Vettel’s pit window, meaning that if Ferrari moves first and tries to undercut them, it will be Bottas’ job to hold him up for two laps if possible, which would have been quite an ask, while Hamilton stops for softs.

Alternatively Mercedes could move first and pit Hamilton onto new soft tyres. There had been some blistering on the rear tyres and with memories fresh of what happened to Ferrari in Silverstone when they ignored that, there is a strong case for stopping Hamilton. The teams’ strategy models said that if they switch to a two stop at this stage, Ferrari would probably win the race. Then the Safety Car intervened.

The blistering problem eased temporarily in the laps immediately before the Safety Car, so no move was made. In fact inspection of the soft tyres after the race suggests that Hamilton would have been in trouble to reach the end without the Safety Car intervening.

So he was both unlucky and lucky, in a sense, that it did.


Force India – how did Perez get ahead of Ocon despite serving a five second time penalty?

The most interesting story of the Spa weekend was the further spat between Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon at Force India. This time it became toxic as twice Perez edged Ocon into the wall on the run down to Eau Rouge.

The first one at the start he took full responsibility for. The second, which triggered the fateful Safety Car late in the race, was highly speculative on Ocon’s part, but still required Perez to make a decision to risk contact and a loss of team points. The team has come down hard saying that they will no longer be allowed to race, but was the team partly responsible for creating the situation in the first place, with Ocon angry that he found himself behind Perez after the controversial second stops?

Ocon had track position advantage over Perez after their first lap contact. Both cars survived and made their first stops onto supersoft tyres, so both were committed to a two-stop race.

However Perez was given a five second time penalty for a matter unconnected to the start. As they approached the second round of stops, therefore, Ocon is clearly the lead car and Perez has no real threat from behind as Grosjean is 6 seconds behind, also on a two stopper.

Normally the leading car has the pit stop priority unless there is some kind of outside threat to the tail car.

With 20 laps to go Force India pitted Perez first. He served his five-second penalty and rejoined. His out lap on new tyres was very fast and at this point the team should have made the call to pit Ocon on the next lap. He went around again and in the course of those two laps lost five seconds to Perez.

When Ocon pitted he rejoined just ahead, but on warmer tyres Perez passed him into Turn 5 at the end of the Kemmel Straight.

Either Force India had their tyre model and undercut profiles wrong – which would be strange having seen after the first stops that Ocon pulled three seconds on Perez by stopping two laps earlier – or they must have known what would happen.

Either way there was now a situation where the driver who has been ‘wronged’ at the start by his team mate but got away with it and is on course to beat him to the flag, loses track position to his teammate. And there is a fair bit of history between them from Canada and Baku.

Clearly angry, Ocon tried for force the issue, when it might have been prudent to try the pass with DRS on the straight after Eau Rouge, but Perez made a decision to come across on him.

There comes a point in relationships between teammates that you can never come back from. It would appear that Perez and Ocon have now passed that point, which means that one of them is likely to move on at the end of the season. As Renault is keen to have a French driver, Force India is reliant on Perez’ sponsors and Mercedes is keen to place Pascal Wehrlein, it would seem that the circumstances are there for Ocon to be the one who leaves.

Those considerations were already in place before Sunday’s race, but now there is likely to be more movement.

Likewise a big decision needs to be taken at Mercedes. With Ferrari clearly on a rich run of form with technical updates on its car; two huge development packages were brought either side of the summer break – Mercedes doesn’t have any tracks where it can consider it has an advantage, while it is sure to have a disadvantage at some high downforce tracks like Singapore.

With Bottas dropping back to 31 points off the championship lead after Spa, the time is surely approaching for Mercedes to ask him to play a supporting role, which will include a ‘spoiler’ role on strategy during races.

The compensation is likely to be that he is given an extension to his Mercedes contract, probably for one more year.

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

Race History and Tyre Usage Charts – Courtesy of Williams Martini Racing – click to enlarge

Indicating the relative pace of the cars, the gaps between them. An upward curve shows good pace, sudden drops indicate pit stops.

The pace of Red Bull (purple line) is clearly not as strong relative to Ferrari and Mercedes as they had hoped, especially considering in the second stint Ricciardo is on supersofts, while the leaders are on the slower soft tyre.

Note how costly Raikkonen’s ten second penalty was to his race effort. Luckily the Safety Car brings him back to have a chance to pass Bottas. Also you can see at the end of Stint 1 that Vettel’s pace is still strong, Hamilton’s begins to dip before his stop.

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225 comments

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1

So James, on current form, Ferrari is in the ascendancy? Have you heard anything about any upgrades coming from Mercedes? I was surprised that they didn't bring a significant package to Spa, or at least if they did it wasn't reported on.

There are no restrictions on mechanical grip component testing, so I would have thought they'd be all over that.

I hope they haven't overly focused on the high-downforce tracks, to then let Ferrari steal a charge on them for the flowing tracks.

2
Clarks4WheelDrift

Ferrari "ascendancy", as in Mercedes may take only 80 percent of poles instead of 94 percent 😉 😉 😉

You're sounding like Toto with his fake downplaying of the situation these past few years...

3

If Hamilton wasn't driving the Mercedes, 6 of his 7 poles would have gone to Ferrari.

Why is it so difficult for people to understand this isn't 2014-16 anymore?

4

AndrewM, because they have got used to saying Lewis' wins are worthless, and don't want to give it up, hence the silly claims that the size of Merc's advantage in 14,15 and 16 is in some way relevant to this years title battle

5
Clarks4WheelDrift

...by that argument, if Vettel wasn't driving the Ferrari, Merc would have a load more front row lockouts 😉

6

Well that just underlines both my points:

1. You can't just say things like "Mercedes are better at qualifying than Ferrari" or vice versa without taking driver performance into account.

2. The Mercedes and Ferrari are much closer now than they were from 2014-16, so trying to compare to those years to look to future performance is pretty worthless.

7

𝘍𝘦𝘳𝘳𝘢𝘳𝘪 𝘪𝘴 𝘪𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘢𝘴𝘤𝘦𝘯𝘥𝘢𝘯𝘤𝘺?

Even if they are, Merc F1 still have a couple of aces in their pack - prodigious top speed.................and some driver called Hamilton.........

It's a bit like 2008 really, when Lewis driving a slightly slower silver car had to use all his talent, grit and determination to win against Kimi and Massa. Certain drivers - and Hammy is one of them - can still win consistently in a slower car against faster opposition. Shades of Ayrton Senna in the early 90s?

Apart from Singapore, I think Merc F1 and Lewis will be fine - all the upcoming circuits are fast and flowing, and there's always the possibility of rain in Malaysia, Japan and Brazil, and Hammy is peerless in wet conditions, so.............

8

2008 was more against the stewards than again raikkonen and massa....penalty after penalty!

9

Hmm..2008 and Singapore mentioned in the same comment.

Why is it that so few acknowledge that 2008 Championship includes in the points table the biggest fraud to happen in F1? Where a race result was completely fixed and produced an outcome that was never suppose to happen without said fraud?

Why is it that F1 fans object to this fixed grand prix result being excluded fully from the championship table, or object to the race being called at lap 12 and 1/2 points awarded, before the biggest fraud in Grand Prix racing history was perpetrated?

10

@Sebee - Because the perpetrators of the fix (Renault) weren't fighting for the championship. McLaren and Ferrari both had to react to the safety car with no knowledge that it was coming; therefore both of their responses were genuine. Dragging up an old result to punish the cheaters seems fine to me, dragging it up to punish others, when the championship was long ago decided, doesn't seem sensible to me.

11

Well said AndyT. It won't matter a jot with Sebee though ... he's been saying the exact same thing, adding nothing new, every two weeks on average. He knows all the sporting law that would apply, but since all of that doesn't agree with him, he carries on arguing for something that can never be. "The law's wrong, so there!" type of thing.

12

Fraud was perpetrated.
No driver is ranked in that result where they would have been without that fraud.

Now what?

13

We've gone over the sporting law Sebee. The teams and drivers would have reacted to the crash as they had done in previous races. All, aside for Renault, were thus faced with the same circumstances to react to.

I've told you to start a Kickstarter campaign, to try to re-open that event. It won't go anywhere, but perhaps it'll provide some clarification for you.

14

There is no mechanism whereby the Singapore GP would be excluded from the championship, or even less that it would be called at lap 12 or whatever. You know it yourself, as you've always offered NOTHING to suggest it is possible. You just repeatedly start at square one again. This is your Groundhog Day wake up song.

The facts are that Piquet's crash didn't lead to Massa having a bad race in Singapore. It was the Ferrari pit light system. If it works as it should've, then Massa still leads out of the pits, and likely goes on to win the race. Facts are that it didn't, and that is the ONLY reason why Massa did not score points in that race.

Any sanctions for Crashgate would only result in exclusion for Renault (i.e. Fernando) from that race. So Nico Rosberg would have been awarded a maiden win with Williams.

So ... another few days and you'll ask the exact same thing again??

15

Mechanism....so fraud should stand because you claim there is no mechanism? Sounds like something someone can decide...like FIA who certified this fraudulent result.

Are we talking about growing trees on Mars or undoing a fraud?

16

Sporting law dictates that all sports must adhere to their Rules & Regulations at all times in the course of their sporting events. There is no mechanism to retrospectively call a race at a certain lap. No rule, no regulation by which that could ever come about.

I'm all for the fraud being addressed, by excluding Alonso and Renault from the final result.

17

And even if Massa did by some chance win Singapore, there's no guarantee the remaining races after Singapore would have panned out the same. It's easy to forget that things like strategy choices, after Singapore, were made on the assumption that the Singapore result was valid. Hamilton has often said if, at the time, there was any question about the validity of the Singapore results, he would have approached the remaining races differently. For example, he would have needed to finish higher than 5th in Brazil and might have tried a different set-up or approach to achieve that. People need to realise Singapore didn't happen in a vacuum. One can't exclude Singapore and assume everything would have remained the same in the races thereafter,

18

Just out of interest Sebee, would you still be calling for the race to be annulled if Massa won and Alonso finished second?

19

I hear ya Gaz. Checked Monza weather yesterday, and it was showing rain for both quali and the race. Now it's clear on Sunday, and just a minor chance of rain on Saturday.

20

I checked the weather forecasts in the run up to Spa, and they ranged from about an 80% chance of rain on race day to about 10%, and ultimately there was no rain.

I know they're probabilistic forecasts and can be updated, but they were virtually random...

21

"Ferrari is in the ascendancy? Have you heard anything about any upgrades coming from Mercedes?"

I detect fear in your words.

22

Perhaps a little. Makes it exciting though, doesn't it? I didn't expect Ferrari to be as good at Spa as they were. It took a great race from Hamilton to stop Vettel from winning that one, especially at that restart. That was a 14 pt swing saved by great racecraft.

Seb has said that they found 1s/lap compared to Silverstone ... if so, that is incredible ... a little too incredible if you ask me. Teams don't usually find a second of laptime in the space of 2 races.

Now I see further down you believe Vettel is the stronger driver. Your opinion, all well and good. My opinion is that Hamilton will beat Vettel in equal cars, or even if Seb's is slightly faster. The Ferrari was quicker on Sunday, but Hamilton won through track position, and some good defense on the two occasions it was needed.

What concerns me is that Spa wasn't meant to be such a close fight. So now future races where I expected a close fight, could turn into races where Ferrari checks out, a la Hungary.

23

Makes it exciting though doesn't it

It certainly does KRB!
Perfect scenario would be if Redbull and McLaren were involved in the action aswell👍🏻

24

I wonder how you deduced Hamilton to be faster than seb? You must be a sorcerer. Come to think of it, the Ferrari with ultrasoft could not outdrag a Merc with softs on the Kemmel's straight, and you still debate which car is faster? Anyone with contrary view to this must be putting on blinders

25

This went to spam sorry for the delay in posting

26

They brought their 4th units up for Spa, beating the .9L/100km oil burn limits that Ferrari new PUs will be subject to. Nothing left to develop at this point.

Mercedes get to keep burning 1.2L/100km for rest of season. That's the main development. ...as if they really need this.

27

Exactly, the oil burning gap is unlikely to bridge.

28

They had some bits on the front wing I believe. Monza is a one off for bodywork anyway

29

James, RE Sebee's point about the oil burning, what is actually going on here? Could you do a story explaining it?

30

After Monza it seems that Ferrari will have an advantage in that department. This is why Hamilton was able to hack himself to the pole position? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ixfsyoGKlmE

31

Simple.

FIA introduced new oil burning allowance of .9L/100km as of Monza. Any PU used before Monza gets to run the previous 1.2L/100km oil burn allowance.

32

Sebee, clever thinking from Mercedes, Ferrari must be kicking themselves for not being smart enough to think of it.

33
Tornillo Amarillo

Saving or not saving tyres, why Merc and Ferrari did not opt to split strategies, especially with Kimi?

34

James,

Could you do a detailed technical piece on how these PU modes work? It seems there is a lot of fancy stuff going on with the cars doing a lot of autonomous stuff over each and every lap. The Alonso case in quali with him taking a corner without lifting having caused the PU to not know where it is on the track, and thus not apply the pre-set configurations and deployment of power store is eye opening.

I bet you most fans are under the impression that drivers are under complete control of the car. Honda's statements confirms that automated maps are loaded into the cars that take ever more control away from the driver down to engine input itself like acceleration!

I think we would appreciate to understand the technical detail of how these cars do what they do, and what exactly those roomful of engineers are doing to the cars. Seems to me like it's an attempt at circumvention of pit to car rules with all this stuff pre-programmed, the driver is fast becoming just a way to select which program runs on the PU. Somehow, I don't think we watch to see who programs best or switches modes best.

35

i'd have thought hill climbs would require more torque and less horsepower than a flat or downhill descend so different engine modes required for both internal combustion engine and electric motor (harvesting and/or deploying).

36

Oh, you can be 100% sure that they maps keep the PU in ideal power curve delivery window, fuel burn efficiency, fuel economy, etc.

And each and every weekend they tweak it on practice to be ideal for the weekend, then upload it to the car with various options, and then dictate to the drivers when to use which, at which point the car does a lot of stuff automatically, like deploy the 33 seconds of store at ideal placed, or tell driver the shift points, etc.

37

At least there are no programs yet to turn the steering wheel that I heard of. I understand what you mean though. The joy of technology. Marc

38

Ever heard of Pikes Peak...driverless cars have set some fantastic times up there.

39

Really?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eOYsI1cqUrw

You know, steering assist, or power steering, or whatever you call it is just a motor on the steering column really. You don't have to wait for human input to make it move. 🙂

40

But it appears that they've reduced F1 race craft to following a line with optimal/ideal input levels, preset by engineers and applied at each turn, each sector, each lap by the software.

Perfect repeatability and removing driver input errors mean lap time. Automating it is the only way. Just like you have economy/sport/track modes, you have more elaborate modes here "assisting". Already drivers are told when to shift by lights. I bet you those shift points are dictated by the software and driver is just executing commands issued by software. And clearly software is overwriting inputs, like throttle by deploying the 33s of power store ideally, as programed by engineers for a specific map. And that sure as heck ain't the driver excellence were watching F1 for.

41

so long as the rules are the same for everyone, it's the driver who makes the difference. if the cars were software driven then they'd cross the line in pairs...

42

@ Sebee,

You touched the very interesting point with regard of Power Management. But in some perspective you can find some basic answers yourself. i.e. you have roughly the 160Kw (about 215 hp) energy available for about 33 sec per lap (at least when the battery is fully charged). It is upto the engineers how to distribute this energy in the most efficient way, e.g. after exiting the turn and heading to the straight it would be more efficient to release the electrical energy at the beginning of acceleration to a certain point, then to save it and release it after exiting the next turn etc. (I believe Ham and Seb used all the available power on Kemmel straight at SPA after the SC).
I was bit surprised when heard that Honda managed that (and perhaps the others too) depending on the throttle position or so like that. I even thought that to this control, in order to achieve a better result, a GPS positioning could also be involved, i.e. track would be divided into the zones with better prospects for releasing the battery power (feeding the car's CPU with relevant data). In case of Honda, it seems that Alonso's driving style didn't match to the algorithm of the Honda's software, which is rather strange, but that caused this discussions too.

43

Nik, just one little thing I don't agree with in your post by the way.

"It is upto the engineers how to distribute this energy in the most efficient way"

I think we're here watching F1 not to see how well engineers can set deployment points for the electric motors at ideal points in the laps based on GPS or driver input data. But rather to see how well drivers can deploy it. Yes?

Of course the argument may come, "you don't have to do it in a road going hybrid". To which I answer:
1. These aren't road going hybrids, and none of this PU tech is applicable to road. We're here watching what human drivers can do, not what their driver's aids can do.
2. Even in road going hybrids you can choose to be unassisted and run electric only, so you do have a choice of how your power is delivered at all times.

You know, it's actually quite funny that in the most technological and complicated formula to ever be introduced into Formula 1, the subject of driver's aids is not discussed and has been kept on the down low.

Perhaps that's what happened to Alonso in that Spanish test. Some early version of driver's aids went bonkers, and to avoid bringing up the subject and thus the discussion to the forefront they decided to blame the wind and let Alonso travel back in time. We wouldn't want to undermine the great Alonso or others by admitting they use elaborate driver's aids likes of which have not been seen in F1 ever before.

45

@ Sebee,

Agree with you in many aspects, but what concerns to the battery power management I think without the aid of the engineers and software algorythm one can not cope. Completely upto the drivers it may be perhaps the use of the ICE energy (about 650-700hp?) but in rush and under the adreneline, an intelligent distribution of 160kw energy available for about 33 sec would be a difficult task. Certainly the driver will have a kind of "surge" button or something like that in order to override the programmed control IMO, just in extrem cases when the electrical power is roughly needed, as in SPA after the SC (Seb VS Ham). For sure there will be many many modes available including manual control etc.

Although would be interesting to hear some relevant insiders information in this regard.

46

Certainly the driver will have a kind of "surge" button or something like that

Apparently the Merc does have an override button. Here's an excerpt from Mark Hughes race report explaining how it was deployed:

Mercedes had worked away all weekend at a little tweak to the ers-K mapping. On a normal lap, the electrical energy boost cuts out some way short of the end of Kemmel straight. Keeping it deployed for the last 10 per cent or so of that straight yields hardly any lap time. As it is limited, it’s far better to save it for use where it will deliver greater lap time gain – like the exit of Pouhon, for example. That’s the conventional way of setting up such a system at Spa, and that’s why Vettel’s engine de-rated towards the end of the straight. But Mercedes had a setting that allowed its drivers to override that cut-out at the crucial moment such as this – and that’s why Hamilton’s extra grunt kept coming as Vettel’s ran out.
And it won Hamilton the race - who says drivers have no input and it's all the car 🙂

47

@C63

"But Mercedes had a setting that allowed its drivers to override that cut-out at the crucial moment such as this – and that’s why Hamilton’s extra grunt kept coming as Vettel’s ran out"

An interesting point, but I'm surprised Ferrari refused from the temptation to enter an "override" button if this is the case. Anyway, there is limited available power output of the battery- 160kw, right? no matter how long the battery can support the deployment of this power. But it seems like Merc unit is most efficient in this way, could be that Merc has found most efficient way to transform kinetic energy into a chemical (battery) and vice versa. Otherwise, I think ICE of all four involved manufacturers will be much closer to each other, especially after TJI was introduced by others apart of Merc.

48

Why not? Why not an attack button? Why not manual deployment?

I'll tell you why not. This micky mouse PU saving fuel message. It would also slow down the cars not having this elaborate driver's aid, and that would instantly make F1 look bad. Look how hard they are trying to top V10 fastest laps with all this automation and driver aids?

49

Honda confirmed that it triggers this based on throttle input. As in, he let's go, they software thinks therefore he's at a specific point and triggers the throttle of the power store.

Yes, it would make sense to use GPS in case input changes.

What I think is happening is this. Drivers do their practice, their input and repeatability is captured this is then put into software, which triggers the power store strategically, basically a preset throttle input for each lap and this automation "assists" the driver.

Painters used to paint. The more reap looking your painting, the more a painter wad looked upon as being very good. Then came the photograph and the question asked of painters is, what else can you do.
Driving used to be an art. But driver aids have eroded that art, with the "photograph" of driving being these engine maps, which is just a code word for automation and overwriting driver inputs to suit purpose. That purpose is predictability of input, duplication if input.

Automation of cars a threat to F1? F1 is doing it itself already. Driver 10% of F1 package? Don't make me laugh.

Go Go Mercedes Engineers! Go Honda software guys! Yeah Ferrari engine mapping team! You are awesome! You rule F1! They are nothing without you.

50

Sebee, my friend, prepare to have your other eye opened. There are four teams, in actual fact that know what the Merc silver bullet is. First there's the obvious one Mercedes, then there's Ferrari (J. Clear) next up are Williams since mid-2016 and lastly there's McLaren since Austria 2015. So! What might you make of that little conundrum?
Anyway what you are about to read and possibly digest is basically how Mr. Brawn learnt about what you seek. Imagine a race car moving along a straight section of track at 200 mph. There's a hairpin corner at the far end, so obviously the driver will need to slow the car down and so he puts his foot on the brake pedal to press it. Now beneath the engine cowling , in layman's terms let's say, there are two miniature hydraulic rams positioned so as to oppose each other. The ram on the right is fully ensconced within its cylinder, this being so means the ram on the left has to be fully extended. The cylinder for that ram is connected to the hydraulic pump but this system may possess a dedicated adjustable pump of its own. A further word about the rams. These conceivably could be classed as one component as they work in tandem to complete one task and that is to move a selector along a row of piano like keys. Each key represents a slightly different engine mode, those near the cylinder on the left are for acceleration away from hairpins and the like whilst those at the other end are for kinks and slight bends and so forth. The cylinder on the right is connected to the brake line. So! As the car nears the hairpin the driver presses the brake pedal with whatever force he feels happy with, corner's the car and then merely slams his foot down on power, the car does the rest. Simple.
It's a Newey thing and as such Red Bull have been using it since 2010-11. The Mercs since mid-late 2013, I know because ... well. You will no doubt recall the merc routine of setting this system up or fine tuning it. Out a car would go to attack sector 1, return to pit, a short while later the same car goes out again to attack sector 2 and forth for sector 3 and return to pit, job done. Of cause in reality it will all be potentiometer and electronics but that should help.
Anything else you might like to know?
Blimey! I've just read the above through. To save myself some tippy-tapping the uppermost paragraph pertains to the silver bullet and there is one no matter what anyone else says. The paragraph below merely describes a system that enhances cornering and acceleration. Phew!
Just a thought! The oil burning thing is for something other than power. Brackley dreamt it up either just before the illegal tyre test or just after.

51

Yes, I fully expect this, and I expect these modes in the PU to do the same.

What you don't touch on is the braking and how PU makes it "special". You see, if you know about generating power with magnets and coils as is the case with this regeneration energy capture on the PUs, you may know that rotating resistance of this capture device is different if you are actually capturing power and if you are not. It's minimal when you generate no power with it, and it increases as you increase the power you draw from the generation. Hence why hybrids like Tesla have such big debate about efficiency of regeneration vs. non-regenerative coasting.

What does this mean? Well, what it means is that there is little doubt in my mind that engineers also decide on when this is engaged on the track under braking. They likely set various values on the amount of energy capture, this in turn offers different resistance on the rear axle that captures this braking power. This is important why in Formula 1? Brake bias of course. This energy capture can provide an automated way to change brake bias form corner to corner as mapped by the engine mode selected.

After all, Honda just confirmed that the electric energy store is controlled by the system, not driver, and deployed by the system, not driver - actual acceleration input the driver has nothing to do with. So if you think they aren't doing the same with the energy store, and thus brake bias from corner to corner, you're fooling yourself.

Now what does all this mean Ray? What is the consequence of this?

Why simple. Driver means less and less. Less than ever! As illustrated in the Audi video above, the F1 driver is used as data capture assistant as you noted. The engineers and geeks program the maps and what the car should do where on the track based on driver inputs to identify track location, and perhaps GPS, and for the rest it is the lovely geeks in the room watching if the car is executing the program correctly and they are the ones who should really get all the credit.

Q: How good is Lewis? How good is Seb? How good is Alonso?
A: Only as good as their software programmers.

...and their driving skills are continually eroded by elaborate driver's aids that control everything from energy deployment-therfore acceleration, to braking force, brake bias, traction, etc. Would they even know what to do with a manual car?

I would LOVE to see F1 drivers demoted to GP2 to see if they can even dice with the rookies without all this electronic maps junk bailing them out.

52

By gum Sebee! Calm down my friend, calm down! You're conversing with someone here who dislikes these ridiculous poos as much as you do.
So anyway, you've obviously seen my comment above but judging by your reply I have to ask, did you read it carefully? It was written and posted purely for your edification. I had earlier read one of your comments aimed towards Mr. Allen asking for exactly that. I could have gone into far more detail than I did although Mr. Allen would not have been pleased. I really don't think he appreciates epics. Suffice it to say that autonomous racing is a long long way off in the future. At best, at present it is and will remain a curiosity. Now! My comment centred on the braking system of a racing car and not just any racing car but the merc one. Now I just happen to know that that car is kitted out with an Adrian Newey type advancement that not all race cars have, hopefully they will after having read it. It's an advancement that allows, at present, a driver to win races but it's a particular system that does nothing to generate electrical power, other than be associated with a separate entity that does. The system described in my previous comment is merely a circumvention of another, more dated system that was banned by the FIA some time ago. So, can we call it a step towards autonomy? Yes we can! So! Would it not be an excellent idea to coax the FIA to ban it also? Yes it would! You see, I want the same as we all do, a lot less interference from manufacturers mainly because they're wasteful of that they seek most. We all know what that is but use it to grow the sport, they couldn't grow grass in a meadow. Weedle out Adrian Newey the culprit of where we are today and sit him, along with anyone else of his ilk, down vis-a-vis with Bernie Ecclestone with instruction to end their collaboration with a no holds barred X1 somewhere out in some semi desert, rainless region, to organize an event held every four years and Champions need only apply. On achieving a place in F1 a driver should have only four years and you're out but should you achieve Championship level F1 you're out, to cut out this multichamp' crap but you are in X1 and first prize is massive, as everything in such a catagory ought to be. Speeds as high as drivers are willing to risk in order to win, as I've already stated everything needed exists. What better environment for any manufacturer to showcase their wares and everyone's a winner, even us. So! Sebee! My friend, what say you? A place for everything and everything in its place, kinda thing eh!

53

ray clowes...thanks for replying to my question...i have two further questions emerging from your response.
1. i have always been of the impression that adrien newey is an aerodynamisis, meaning is is an expert in how moving shapes interfere with fluids within which they move. so why do you refer to accelerator and brake pedal systems as adrien newey inventions?
2. you referred to hamilton's epic move to deny vettel the race lead after the safety car restart in spa, as an "old school" trick. if it was oldschool, why was it neigther commented on during the race, by any commentator or after the race and why were webber coulthard brundle all amaised when hamilton explained how he pulled that off?
3. why did vettel say that he had learnt not to be so close next time?
if it was "old school", vettel coulthard webber brundle would surely have heard of it..

54

Hello again Aveli. Please excuse me, I'm working through a smartphone to answer your queries.
2. This is a difficult one to put across accurately. Hamilton and Vettel would have left the hairpin behind, both of them aided by engine mode. That being the case Hamilton was in the driving seat through track position. Now we both know that racing at this level is a game of the mind. So during Hamilton's run down to River Red he has only seconds to put Vettel on the back foot, as it's refered to, or that's what most spectators might not stop to consider. They like to see the danger and so witness the bravery little do most realise they're watching true professionals.
I need to inject something here. Hamilton is often accused of having always been driving a race winning car. It's an undeniable fact. Other than McLaren and Mercedes what other formula one team has he raced for? Might it be his skin colour, no! There's a better reason, he's a thoroughly true 'Professional'. Now! I'm trusting you here Aveli that you haven't forgotten about those Piano keys. Seems to me that Hamilton may have imagined himself leading that race behind a safety car exactly as a professional might do. So is it inconceivable that he may have had his electronics guys alter the scale of those notes to harmonise with the climb to Radillon? It's a tune I'd have been playing.
Or was it simply that he eased his foot off the accelerator to bring Vettel in close by means of subtly and Vettel fell for it, got in too close too soon and found himself with a wet engine just as Hamilton was deftly drying his out for the run up Kemmel. This is superior racing ability and as for commentators, at high speed a manouver such as that is not really discernable.
Now! The term 'old school' as I have used it is a term encountered as Vettel encountered it at Spa. He will have known of its advantageous nature whilst he was likewise in the lower catagories, karts, ff1600's and the like. In a formula one thoroughbred environment though the engines are much sharper so it's far more difficult to pull off and he didn't expect it. This is also superior racing ability.
After the race when questioned on this any commentator worth his or her salt is going to be amazed, it's their living.
MF.

55

aged just 10, hamilton approached ron dennis, under his own steam, to negotiate his 2007 maclaren drive. surely that should be a celebrated success. he still manages himself while most of the field do not possess that skill. he trains himself to..writes songs and poems. leaves me wondering what he can't do..
so talk of him driving top cars don't hold water. his maclaren was only a top car in 2007&8. it was out of the top two until he left maclaren. and when he did, his fans slated him from here to timbuktu. now they complain about his mercedes yet don't complain about bottas' mercedes..

56

Hello again Aveli. Sorry for the delay.
1. Adrian Newey, as far as I'm concerned is an exceptionally intelligent individual, with emphasis on the word individual. He is noted as being an aerodynamicst, that is true but he is also a remarkable free thinker. By that statement let us consider his past work. Let us for instance consider the exhaust blown diffuser. This system can accurately be attributed to this man, with minimal input from Peter Prodrumou. It is a concept that intrigued me for some time, until the penny dropped. It's a blind. What was really going on was Newey at work. To hide the subtleness of this genial apparatus he positioned the very end of the exhaust tubes to blow hot expanding gases over the upper trailing lip of the diffuser simply to mislead other teams. Both of those ploys do work but what was actually going on was unseen under the skin of the car. Here two additional tubes were inserted within the main exhaust tubes, one from each bank, that were trained back to the leading front lower section of the diffuser. Start the engine and suction is produced, venturi style, to rarify atmospheric air exactly where it needed to be rarified, resulting in massive downforce. Thinking such as this is the work of an individual of high calibre and the team quite openly, unerringly attributed the EBD to him. With licence such as this, bearing in mind that the mercs have mudded the water somewhat since, what is a person on the outside looking in to think.
MF.

57

Ray, if my comment came across as if I didn't agree with you, forgive. I absolutely agree with you. The reason why I described what was possible with the regeneration on the rear axle is because it is surely part of the engine modes, and the fact that you can turn on the resistance or not and also work with some electronics on level of voltage being "pulled" from the generator, which all varies the resistance of the motor on that axle and thus braking bias is outrageous to me. With the recent revelation about Honda's 33s of stored power being deployed by automated software, not driver, not throttle pressed by driver, and the braking tricks yo describe, and this regeneration and thus braking bias, the driver is already an ever shrinking factor in Formula 1.

They are taking the product quality away from us fans.
They are taking the driving away from drivers.

You only need to look at that Audi RS7 driving Hockenheim (link in this post in another comment of mine) to see what is already possible with this mapping and repetition software.

Automation you say? Not only is it here in a big way, all thanks to these PUs, but Roborace already has the race car finished and are now working the software. Soon there will be a series based around it.

As for your whole X1 idea, I've outlined Formula X1 on here a long time ago. Standardized closed cockpit X1 based on the Red Bull X1 cars with ground effects and a fan-car version. Fans get to vote which one gets used 2 weeks ahead of race, or there is a year to year rotation of car choice so no 2 season see the same specification hardware. Aero generated by ground effects or fan mean cars can follow close and pass. All cars identical specification for fairness and to identify the real reason we watch - greatest braves driver on the planet. All cars capable of more than drivers can handle. All drivers wear G-suits like fighter jet pilots to handle G-forces of such a ground effects car. Formula X1 would have to be extreme in every respect. Free to air feed. Low cost race tickets - at least 1/2 the price of F1, if not less. Standardized car means teams can be capped easily and budgets are predictable. Teams can generate revenue from sponsorship and get equal cut of TV rights.

Litigious countries like USA? Perhaps you don't get to race there if liability can't be waved. But don't worry, such an extreme series that would be too dangerous to race in US would probably draw 10x the TV fans F1 draws in US. It is all doable and it would be amazing.

Formula X1 - even sounds cooler than Formula 1.

58

Remeber when Schumi would manually change his brake bias during the lap to his ideal preferences? Wasn't that a driver skill?

59

i find your post not only interesting but insightful ray clowes...hamilton may not have told us the whole truth when he said he used about 90% throttle on approach to eurouge and gave it full beans going into it. those adjustable hydraulic cylinders and rams may have calculated it all to release optimum engine power at each stage of deployment.

60

Aveli my friend, I'm not sure whether you received my return email or not, so here's a courtesy if not. One time only a very similar occurred with Kenneth,..... silence since.
Might Hamilton have not been truthful about his race restart tactics? Debatable Aveli, I have to say debatable. These cylinders and rams as you call them are adjustable to suit various sections of any track anywhere but then so too will this ability be available on Seb's car. Never forget, this system has a Newey origin so at the threshold of River Red Hamilton will have been enjoying the thrill rather more than all of us. He used old school tactics to keep Seb at bay and pulled it off, that's enough belief for me.

61

Did you see? More info about engines and safety settings on engines doing what drivers don't want, thanks to Max and Renault.

Apparently there is some safety feature on Max's engine that shut down his PU at Spa. He wants it removed.

This was then explained by Max further about why it is not possible for a driver to contribute to PU failures:

"I was upset because that's not possible. Even if I wanted to I couldn't break the engine," said the 19-year-old Dutchman.

"So if someone is saying that, he doesn't understand formula one at all."

Why wouldn't that be possible? Is it a long shot to say that it is not possible because pre-set engine modes for various inputs over lap - "a super driver's aid" makes it not possible? Is it not possible because driver inputs are overwritten with perfect engineered inputs for that track section, including braking, acceleration, deployment of electric energy store, or engagement of regeneration and therefore automated brake bias?

63

*adrenalin

64

I hear you sebee but you must admit that we have both seen engines go up in smoke.

65

Yes, mechanical failures, but the key here is, there is no possibility according to young Max for a driver to select inputs that would cause a failure. How do you feel about that? I understand that protecting the hardware is key. But these aren't children. These are Formula 1 drivers. Should the software be overwriting their inputs? Not allowing them to make errors?

66

@Ray
Wow... there are certainly some knowledgeable fellows on this site. Great post and thanks for the info😊

67

@ Sebee....I have, in the past, requested similar articles to be looked at, especially covering some of the concepts around the extreme 'quali' modes. Apparently it has fallen on deaf ears as nothing has ever been done. I don't like your chances here either. james?

68

I'm not sure you guys have already seen this but this:
https://www.grandprix247.com/2017/07/02/inside-line-why-is-the-honda-engine-so-bad/
shows the importance of engine mapping

69

Classic case of Hot Dogs. Cute name, cute appearance, cute marketing but don't ask how they're made.

These modes are nothing but an elaborate driver's aid that actually overwrites driver inputs and dictate shift points via LEDs on dash to driver to do what Audi with their autonomous car have already shown is fully doable. That is, execute a set of commands to engine each sector, each lap, and repeat it perfectly each sector, each lap, for a desired effect. Deploying the power store only when software says it should. Likely controlling brake bias reap time thanks to regeneration being engaged or not. This is all preset and fine tuned by that room full of "engineers" in the 3 practice sessions.

DYK that regeneration drum likely varies in resistance depending on if power is being harvested or not? If you are harvesting, then the resistance to incoming braking forces increase? Meaning braking bias can be mapped due to energy recovery being captured or not and acceleration is mapped as Honda confirmed due to energy store electric motors deployment being controlled by software, not driver.

Engine Modes and Quali Modes are the biggest driver aid/assist to come to F1 and belittle drivers further.

Funny.

70

i wonder whatever happened to maclaren's standard issue ecu?

71

Sad. Actually...

72

Indubitably.

73

"Somehow, I don't think we watch to see who programs best or switches modes best"

So on this basis we shouldn't have the driver switching between gears...

74

They are told when to shift by lights on the wheel. You don't think those shift indicators are engine mode software controlled as well to tell driver when to shift for the objective of the engine mode software? Be it quali or fuel preservation or whatever?

75
Tornillo Amarillo

As Renault is keen to have a French driver, Force India is reliant on Perez’ sponsors and Mercedes is keen to place Pascal Wehrlein, it would seem that the circumstances are there for Ocon to be the one who leaves.
Those considerations were already in place before Sunday’s race, but now there is likely to be more movement.

No, no, no, no.....! while before I said that Ocon could land in Renault, you James said clearly that he was going in the future only to Mercedes, clearly, and now this?
No, no, no, no..., I'm speechless!!

76

If I were Ocon, I would not be very happy about going to Renault. That seems like a demotion.

77

Ultimately to Mercedes, yes

78

James, how "locked in" are these young drivers, i.e. Ocon (my new hero)?
For example, could he go to Ferrari as a reserve driver, then slide into the driver seat in 2019?
How could a deal like that work?
Would Ferrari have to pay out Merc for the driver?
Much like we've heard that any team that wants Max would have to pay out Red Bull?

79

Hes a Merc driver but has been seconded already to Renault as reserve driver before

80
Tornillo Amarillo

You are trying to kill me!!

81

Who says there's tension at Fore India?

"Hey, remember that time I pushed you into the wall?" 🙂
"Yeah...hey, remember that time you used to drive for McLaren?" 🙂
"Yeah..." 😐

82

Or....
Let's just smile for the cameras Perez, but remember, I'm going to Merc some time... we're are you going?

84

Like it Random 79 😁

Same could be said about
Schumacher forcing Barrichello into a concrete wall at Hungary.
Instead it would be
"Remember when you use to drive for me...err Ferrari...oh who am I kidding you were my whipping boy".
Slight difference even after moving over for Schumacher. He expected the same even when they were in different teams. The arrogance of the German.

85

Driving for McLaren is a good thing?

86

Yes, but McHonda less so...

87

Hate to get all factual with you Random, but we have to remember that Perez came into McLaren right after Mercedes raided the barn there taking Lewis and much of the significant technical staff. I personally believe McLaren immediately (for 2013) started receiving an engine not quite as good as Mercedes kept for themselves, obviously.

So to further explain why this joke falls flat for me...
Perez scored more points the year before he joined McLaren, at Sauber. Perez also scored more points each and every year since his year at McLaren, with Force India. His McLaren season point score total is his second lowest, second only to his rookie year at Sauber.

So, you can be 100% certain, Perez does not look fondly on his time at McLaren. Especially after Ron told him to "tuck in his shirt!" Kevin who came in next year basically repeated Perez's performance points wise and WDC standing wise at 11th.

I guess what this all means is, I've seen your jokes run way hotter Random and know you can do better. I think you've become too dependant on the driver's aids, especially the Quali Engine Mode.

88

Cheers for the feedback Sebee.

I have no doubt that if you asked Perez where he'd rather be at McLaren or FI right now he'd say FI, but there's no doubt that being dropped from McLaren hurt his career, even if he did join them at (arguably) the start of their decline.

Regardless, as James points out in the next article McLaren would be doing a damn sight better if Honda had delivered and so I do still consider the team itself to be in the top tier of F1, although for all I know I may be a minority.

89
Tornillo Amarillo

Anyway, Wehrlein to Force India for what?
What's the point to keep Wherlein in F1, and I thought Wherlein was not loved by Force India because the relationship did not work before.
A Perez-Wherlein could benefit Force India since it's like a line up of number 1 and number 2 driver, but that's freaking boring and they are going to lose lot of points and their WCC position probably to Renault, Williams, and McLaren in 2018, so falling from P4 to P7 in just one season...
Solution?
Forget Wehrlein or Palmer or a young driver.
If Ocon or Perez leaves to Renault I prefer Di Resta or Kubica in the Force India.

90

Wehrlein was faster than Ocon when they were teammates. Wehrlein is the Mercedes reserve driver, not Ocon. Ocon is still beaten silly by Perez in qualifying and has less points. Kubica has a crippled hand and DiResta is the same old DiResta, he isnt going anywhere in F1 anymore.

91

@Tornillo....you say "why keep Werhlein in F1," yet you're the first to defend your countryman Stroll.....lmao.

If there is 1 single driver who has zero place in F1, it is Lance St Roll.

Werlein is a DTM champion (youngest ever), and has managed to score points 2 years in a row in what has hand and fist been the slowest car on the grid.

People complain there is.no young talent in F1, and that there are no entry seats for young drivers....yet when a young driver comes along and does an exceptional job in a complete dog of a car, "fans" can't wait to usher them out of F1.

It's going to be funny when Werhlein in a Sauber of FI is faster than the floundering Williams. Who knows, Stroll and Werhlein could end up as teammates at Williams, then we'd really get to see who deserves a seat in F1 and who should move on to something else.

92
Tornillo Amarillo

It seems Wehrlein had an incident testing with Force India, some character trait, that it was not acceptable for the team, but I do not know the details.
Stroll is younger, less experience on the car, and in a different personal project. Williams could get stronger in 2018.

93

My understanding when Force India signed Ocon over Wehrlein was that Wehrlein gave off an impression of being entitled and aloof, whereas Ocon was friendly and willing to work. But that's my recollection of an article where (more than likely) an anonymous source was heavily paraphrased... so it could be completely off base. It certainly agrees with my observation of them both on TV, but I'm still very happy for the very fast Wehrlein to be in F1.

94

Personal project? Daddy Stroll has forked over 10s of millions of dollars to turn what was once a proud championship winning team into his teenage boy's play thing. Williams has become one giant "personal project." No longer is the Williams moto "win at all costs," it's now, "keep the Stroll's happy at all costs."

The single biggest and best move that Williams could make for 2018 is to drop Stroll and insert Werhlein. No amount of engineering by Paddy Lowe will make up for the loss of performance that Stroll brings to the car. Werhlein for Stroll is the single easiest decision any engineer ever made lol.

95

@twitch
Agree with you there twitch👍

96

What REALLY worries me is the new clarification allowing Merc to burn more fuel than other manufacturers. 1.2 l vs 0,9. Clear and unfair advantage

97

Sorry I misunderstood the rule. The limit is per 100 kms not the whole race. Well done Mercedes for seeing the loophole. The WDC will be that much sweeter if it goes to Vettel. Marc

98

Any advantage is just that but .3 liter of oil over a full race might not give you that much more power, at least I hope. It might be more decisive in Q3 though. Marc

99

Please point out the rule that states only Merc can burn more oil. Oops can't find it cause it does not exist. The same rules apply equally to all engine manufacturers. The only difference is that Merc have introduced their 4th unit before the stricter restriction comes into force. Ferrari have chosen not to introduce their 4th ICE at this time and therefore have to comply with the new limit when they do bring it in.
Nothing in the rules stop Ferrari or anybody else running the old units at the previous limit for the rest of the season.

100

@ jakethesnake...... I think that you've got it wrong. Mercedes are running NEW engines but on the old oil usage regs. Ferrari et al will have to run their NEW engines on the new oil usage regs. That's the difference.

101

Wow! Talk about twisting facts! The 'clarification' is not 'new' for a start, and secondly every manufacturer had the opportunity to do so - it isn't something unique to Mercedes.
Any by the way, what you're referring to is burning of engine oil, not fuel. We haven't quite reached the point where these cars can complete a race distance on 1.2 litres of fuel!

102

What's this one all about AlexD? I've seen it mentioned here a few times and have no idea. Would love some more info on it please JA or direct me to an article that covers it. Cheeers

103

Motor Sport magazine have just put up a good article on it.

Covers the anomaly regarding limits and the different methodology used by Ferrari and Mercedes. At merc it really being burnt from the total oil capacity mostly via piston clearance, Ferrari were injecting it from other tanks and had to remove them. It also indicates that the potential benefits are less than a tenth - when unlimited amounts were in play hence the 0.9 - 1.2ltr amounts to very little.

The FIA seem to have screwed this up by discussing Mercs planned PU schedule with Ferrari (? In itself) and Merc had their new engine planned for Spa months back and have no idea why the FIA are sharing such details with a competitor. Further their new PU is running at the lower limit regardless (I get the feeling the Merc burns far less than the Ferrari and that much has been made of the technology by Ferrari and thus they stand to lose more by any restrictions)

Renault felt the £5m or so needed to invest in this development was too much and have largely worked to get it very regulated. In turn doing Ferrari more harm than Mercedes which was unexpected. In essence it's about developing oils that have greater volatility, increase knock resistance and other aspects that assist turbo engines.

Given all engines burn some oil it has some interesting road applications.

104

@ DRG...can you post a link to that article? I have been anxious to better understand this for some time now and there has been next to nothing available apart from supposition. I am intrigued as to how mercedes could
leak' combustible engine oils from a dry sump past the piston rings in any form of controlled volume? It would need to be controlled as to maintain the prime combustion efficiency and that surely would need some meterage. What was said about the crankcase sump breathers venting to intake as that was also a point registered by other sites. If Ferrari were using dedicated tanks for injection then the whole system would've been plain for any scrutineers to see. I would doubt the veracity of that claim.... look forward to your reply.

105

Just to be clear on high performance turbo engines crank case breathing is often metered and controlled anyway hence illegality is tough to remove.

Ferrari did indeed have an extra auxiliary tank - scrutineering is essentially conformity and safety with a great deal of trust involved.

The oil system in any race engine is a hugely complex arrangement and I can assure you scrutineers are not stripping down cars to check each and every component at every race. Bottom line probably 50% of the car is not understood anyway.

Given the FIA have live real time data from each cars ecu it's uneccessary anyway as they are constantly monitoring for unexpected torque or power outputs beyond the norm within the regs on fuel and flow. The reality is as it seems. There was a small but worthy power increase (or just plain reliability) by using oil that was burning anyway or using the vented fumes for those with the money and time to pursue it. Suzuki run very powerful engines in bikes on just oil cooling 30 years ago. Given the developments to date it's daft to think one would vent fumes that make an engine run worse in today's racing world as current cars do.

I can tell how much Emmissions stuff I have removed for instant performance over the years in many different engines (yes it's legal unless in the regs) however pumping losses delivering a very slightly volatile oil to add to the fuel would be much preferable!

106

"Let us run to our own rules, or we'll leave!"

107

Geez people, let's be reasonable here. The FIA put out the clampdown in July, and stated in it that it would only apply from Monza on. How is this something shady? It's not, it's just that Ferrari couldn't get their engine ready in time. I heard this next engine will be the one with the 3D printed steel pistons?

Mercedes was able to bring an updated engine to Spa, while the others couldn't. No loophole or anything illegal about it.

There was no "gentleman's agreement" or the like. That was all garbage talk.

I'm not sure what the benefit of an extra 900ml of oil would be, over the 105 kgs of fuel they burn, in a race.

108

“I'm not sure what the benefit of an extra 900ml of oil would be” I’m not quite sure about that statement. This is according to Mark Hughes: “This has significant implications upon performance. Using oil in the combustion process in these fuel flow-limited and highly knock-sensitive engines liberates extra horsepower. Oil is less combustible than petrol, but if used for combustion off-throttle, it allows a leaner, more combustible, petrol/air mixture to be used on-throttle when it matters. It effectively allows you more bang for your fuel flow-limited limit buck.”

But regarding FIA regulations and engine upgrade Ferrari got thoroughly outplayed by Merc.

There are reports of “gentlemen’s agreement” between Ferrari and Merc that no one will introduce an updated engine in Spa, whether you believe it or not is up to you. On other websites, I’ve also read that FIA told Ferrari that no one is bringing an engine update in Spa, so everyone will be on the same level playing field Monza onward, at least with regards to oil burning. Either way Ferrari were caught with their pants down. It’s naïve to think there can ever be a gentlemen’s agreement between competing teams in F1, and as for asking FIA about when Merc will be bringing updates, you might as well ask a random person on the street the same question.

There was a clarification yesterday from FIA stating Merc can continue burning oil @ 1.2L/100 Km, while all other manufacturers mainly Ferrari will be using 0.9L/100Km (still not sure what that means for customer teams, maybe they’ll the able to run at 1.2L as well since the same spec engine was introduced in Spa?)

Anyhow this is probably the best season since 2012, and little things like this can make a difference, and although tough luck for Ferrari, this is exactly what F1 should be. It is an engineer’s sport as much as driver’s sport. Btw, this is coming from a massive Ferrari fan.

109

@KRB,
My understanding is that the Ferrari lasted evolution was running in Spa with Haas. Meaning to say the engines were ready for introduction had Ferrari chosen to. Also read that Haas run into some problem of sort with them, so good on Ferrari to take another week to sort that out if that is true and if they bring them on in Monza that is.

110

@ KRB...pragmatism would tell you that there must be an advantage otherwise why would the new reg be introduced in the first instance? If it is possible to run a complete race with .9L less engine oil then that would be seen as an advantage surely? No smoke without fire.

111
Wilma the Great

No advantage, Charlie made it clear that every new engine is limited to the lower oil burn rate starting with Monza. So Merc PU customers, which get theirs in Monza, have to fulfil that regulation, too.
Since Merc has to deliver the same specification PU to their customers, they opted to burn less oil one race erlier with the works team.

112

This was my understanding too, from the wording Toto used to Sky Sports in Spa.

114
Wilma the Great

When Force India introduces their fourth PU in Monza, it has to be the same specification as the one introduced by the MB works outfit in Spa (different specifications between works team and customers are forbidden). And since Force India has to comply to the 0.9l rule, the MB works PU has to be limited accordingly.

115

can't recall you moaning earlier in the season when Ferrari were caught illegally burning oil! but that didn't involve the team Hamilton drives for, so that's ok

116

It was that they had a totally separate tank, just for burning oil. It was clearly illegal, yet they only got a hand slap for it. That was found in Canada, and the FIA sent out a clarification before Baku.

117

@ KRB....can you post some data to support that 'separate tank' claim?

118

Hi Ken - I have sent about five replies to you regarding that article that clarifies the detail. All vanished. The only ones that get through are ones written after so nothing makes sense. This for over two days.

Sorry my friend I simply cannot post a link to the well known green motor racing magazine but do try to find it.

Before I go insane.

119

I hadn't appreciated this. Is the new oil burn rule applying only to engines first used at Monza or thereafter? So Mercedes uses their 4th engine in Spa so they lock in the 1.2L/100km advantage for the balance of the year on all their engines (assuming no failures)? So the teams that catered slightly more to reliability at the start of the season to help ensure a 4th engine near the end, are effectively penalized? What a terrible way to implement a rule change like this....

120

The teams were all told of this in July, before the Hungarian GP. It was a phased-in restriction. It was 1.2L/100km before Italy, it will be 0.9L/100km for the rest of 2017, and then 0.6L/100km starting in 2018.

https://www.motorsport.com/f1/news/fia-imposes-fresh-oil-burn-limits-933985/

121

1.2 l vs 0,9

What I don't get is why they would want to burn oil rather than petrol. Unless I'm mistaken (quite possible) the teams under fuel at pretty much every track apart from maybe one or two. So, why would they put , for example, 100kg of fuel in and then top it up with an extra 1.2 litres of oil when they could just put 101.2kg of fuel in? There is surely more bang from 1kg of petrol than oil. What am I missing?

122

Because there are two limits on fuel: the limit on the total used, and the limit on the fuel-flow rate (100kg/hour, i.e. 0.028 litres of fuel per second). As you say, when they don't fully fuel anyway then burning oil is no help for the total. But it is useful for fuel-flow, instead of burning 0.028 litres of fuel per second in quali, they can burn say 0.03 litres of fuel-and-oil per second: power boost!

123

I hadn't considered the fuel flow restriction and how burning 'oil' would allow the teams to circumvent that - your answer definitely makes sense - thanks 🙂

124

Some believe that teams use some of that blown out oil from the engine to go back and add additives into the combustion which means you create more power.

125

It's not oil in strictest sense it's some kind or aromatic, I'm trying to get to the bottom of it before I post on it

126

Aromatic? To cover up a stink?

127

Sport-matic...Auto- Matic ...Aro-Matic...Charis-matic...etc etc etc.

128

Why this car is automatic
It's systamatic
It's hydromatic
Why It could be Greased Lightning(Greased Lightning!)

We'll get some overhead lifters and four barrel quads
oh yeah
(Keep talkin' wo keep talking)
Fuel injection cutoffs and chrome plated rods oh yeah
(We'll get it ready, Ill kill to get it ready)
With a four-speed on the floor They'll waiting at the door
You know that ain't no shit we'll be gettin'osta titIn Greased Lightning
Go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go

129

Wow, humour out of C63. Decent go at it too. Who would've thunk it?

130

Yeah, that's quite a nice little loophole there.

That is really the definition of what Formula 1 is: The constant search to circumvent the spirit of the rules with clear intent to gain an advantage at any cost.

131

@ Sebee...there is no 'spirit of the rules'. That is a myth, just ask Adrian Newey. What i do find odd [maybe] is that from a technical POV it certainly begs the question. If a modern F1 car was 'genuinely' using engine oil for the sole purpose of lubrication and they found that a 1.2L per 100K was the optimum usage then how can they realistically reduce that level by 25% without putting the engine lubrication efficiency into dangerous territory. On this assumption then it appears that the original usage was always a furphy and not necessary in the first instance. So why would teams carry extra weight if not a vital component of engine performance? Something tells me that by allowing Mercedes to continue running to the old levels whilst preventing other teams running the same engines is a gross corruption of the re written R & R favouring one team. If the new engines can successfully run with 25% less oil what's to stop Williams simply running without it? Some deeper analysis is needed here to put the spotlight on Mercedes and the FIA.

132

Oh and the Mercedes engines are running on 0.9 - even though the Ferrari engines are running on 1.2ltr

Why? Because their customers fourth engine will have to and they are nothing if not fair to their customers...

133

Now Kenneth your dislike of Mercedes is getting too much here.

The reason for this even being a limit is because Ferrari made most of the loophole that Mercedes developed and were accused by Renault of burning up to 5litres per race. According to reports I have seen, In the Sporting Meeting Toto said fine restrict it to 1 litre causing Ferrari to join the 'sorry can't do' and thus when finally the FIA got its act together it was settled this year at 1.2 litres. With 0.9 from Monza. Ferraris extra tank was largely seen to be an excessive application of the methodology and removed. They took a clear power hit on that and it was widely reported so it's hardly arguable.

The fact is Mercedes have found something. Developed it a bit, watched a competitor go all in on it, appointed a guy from Ferrari who no doubt knew about the extra tanks and played a blinder. In return for the linked suspension game last year.

The FIA as usual screwed it up.

The bottom line is Renault missed the trick, found it costly and time consuming and as usual started shouting about how it's not fair via Red Bull - without actually knowing what 'it' really was!

134

Ahh... Kenneth
We're at the same frequency on the oil limit differential that the FIA has opened up for the remainder of the year.
Truly pathetic and yet another indictment of the ridiculous system of governance in F1, which allows this blatant 'fixing' of the championship.

135

Any Mercedes customer team who didn't deploy 4th PU at SPA will have to run it with 0.9L/100km oil burn rate.

It's not much, but it is the kind of small improvement in all areas that adds up. In the end, if burned strategically it will add a lot. Even if burned over GP distance, it is nearly a 1% fuel allowance advantage. More than enough to make a difference alone.

136

Merc said they were under the 0.9L/100km limit in Belgium.

https://www.motorsport.com/f1/news/tech-analysis-mercedes-oil-burn-spa-946864/

Where were you Sebee when Ferrari got caught in Canada with a separate auxiliary oil tank, with a DIFFERENT GRADE of oil, used just for oil burning? That totally goes against Technical Directive TD/004-17 - that was issued before the season started - that expressly forbids two types of oil being used.

Mercedes still believes Ferrari is circumventing the rules by taking oil that has just been used for lubricating hot parts and feeding some of it to the combustion chamber before it gets to the oil radiators.

http://www.motorsportmagazine.com/opinion/f1/has-mercedes-beaten-fias-oil-burning-rule-tweak

137

Isn't that the point by the way KRB? Do you spend a season watching to see a driver win because he had extra oil to burn? Or by some other gimmick likes of which we could identify season by season?

What is the point of having a driver's competition, the main draw for fans by the way, when the deciding factor is some trickery an engineer came up with somewhere? Do we want the driver to be the difference maker or not? Because right now that's hardly the case.

138

Oh, don't think for a minute I'm under some illusion that desperation isn't present and accounted for here. Mercedes has just issued a 3 season long domination likes of which have never been seen in history of F1 over such a 59GP stint. With rules basically the same for this season, with exception of aero tweak and tires, what do you expect but desperation to try to catch Mercedes?

Also, since when do we believe what Mercedes says? Or what any team says? How many times have you seen what is said not match what is done?

Mercedes know full well that as of Monza .9L/100km rule is in effect, so they move introduction of their 4th PU up to Spa to ensure all their PUs are subject to the 1.2L/100km burn rule? And they did this because why?

Clear case of what they say not matching what they did. Convenient, ain't it?

139

I'm confused. hahaha [no comments agreeing with that comment needed!] A current [read new] spec Mercedes engine is introduced for all Mercedes customers and that new spec has to conform to the .9L/100kms rule as they didn't get it at Spa like Mercedes did. Now the rules are purported to ensure that customers get identical engines to that of the supplier/factory team. If that is so then how does the identical customer engine run identically with 25% less engine oil than that one being used by mercedes ? Where have i gone wrong?

140

Alonso to Force India and we may have 4 teams at the front next year.

141

Apart from the fact they will burn the budget they have for their entire year on Alonso's salary

142
Tornillo Amarillo

Ocon pushed and from Manor after 6 months he got a seat in Force India,
Ocon pushed and now he could get a seat in Renault,
Could Ocon pushed further and be a French Champion in Renault in 2020?
Could he beat the Hulk in Renault?
Or replace Bottas in Merc in 2019 or 2020 and be also the Champion?
Interesting how things unfold,
Go Ocon Go!!

143

As usual very informative analysis JA.

I'm not sure about Mercedes stopping again if it wasn't for the safety car due to their soft tyre performance. Also with all the talks about rain and high possibility of SC surely had played strategic decisions before the race by all the teams. I thought SC intervention would put Ric into a winning situation. As we have seen in the past, he maximizes the opportunity. Maybe 1 more SC would've made things more interesting. It was a decent race with lots of actions up and down the grid nevertheless.

As for Per/Oc situation, I always considered Perez a bit too aggressive driver. This is what arguably cost him his seat at McLaren and possibly a move to Ferrari. There's no doubt he is a very talented paid driver. In this instance, Oc wasn't given any room in both occasions. FC would be even more ahead of their nearest rival if they learn to manage their drivers. Will be interesting to see what happens in a few days time. There are plenty rooms in Monza for overtaking. Should be fascinating to watch.

144

James, any explanation from FIA about why there was penalty to Perez for causing a collision? Surely, it can't be because the incident involved drivers from the same team. It was clear as day light that Perez's action compromised safety. Why does it matter if they are from the same team?

145

I wondered the same, compare Max/Daniel in Hungary. I think the difference here is that the offender (Perez) had more damage and lost out massively. That said, if that were true I'm not sure if that really makes sense. You should always punish the crime.
Another explanation would be that there was no protest (incident between the 2 cars was "noted"). Then again, that would imply that in Hungary Christian Horner complained to Charlie Whiting about Max' behaviour. Although one can never be sure, this doesn't seem likely.

In my view the only difference here is that both cars could drive on whereas in Hungary one of them was forced to stop. Still strange.

146

@ Jeroen...Christian Horner complained to Whiting about Verstappen's behaviour...hahaha Really. The only thing that Horner would do is try to get Whiting to pretend it didn't happen.

147

that is the question i'd like an answer to, as well. i think the Stewards should have to be in the press conference at the end of the race, so the journalists can ask them some pointed questions. it might straighten them out a bit!

148

during the first friday practice, i noticed hamilton setting fastest laps on the soft tyre compared the rest of the field on the ultrasofts so i was surprised mercedes didn't use the softs for q3. the supersofts were no where near as fast as the softs but when they went onto the ultrasofts the lap times took a leap forward which I put down the their qualifying engine modes. so i was confident the soft tyres wouldnt compromise hamilton after the safety car restart. as much as I know hamilton is the best ever, I must say that there wasn't much difference in performance between the soft and ultrasofts on the mercedes, if there was, probably a tenth or half a tenth. no more than that. all the same hamilton used it to great effect.
ocon should by now understand thar peres has wealthy friends in great places in f1 and stop facing Peres head on. instead, as the team for permission to pass each time he comes up behind peres. whether he's given permission or not wouldn't matter because by asking, registers in fans minds that he is quicker and if he does that often enough, his reputation would enjoy a vertical take off....all heads of the string pullers would roll and he'd skip into better positions of success.

149

Hamilton doesn't need tyres to win races he can do without them and still beat the opposition.

150

On bottas should he get more than 50 points behind in the net two races he should play 2nd fiddle to Lewis. Also having looked at Sunday's race and the season I think Kimi should perhaps reconsider his decision to agree to new contract and effectively do a Rosberg at the end of the season and tell the team he's changed his mind and let someone else like Leclerc or Gio have the seat instead. Yes he has one or two good races but the old magic in terms of being WDC contender has not been there for some time now and as much as I will miss his media interviews and PR stuff I won't miss the driving of the Kimi we've seen since 2014. He's even making basic mistakes like ignoring double yellows He wouldn't have even made those mistakes Lotus. I'm just really sad as I remember how good he was and I don't like seeing the shadow he's become . Kimi is doing a disservice to his fans and himself with carrying on signing 1 year extensions . He should've in hindsight for my money retired after Lotus. James sometimes drivers aren't entirely truthful until after they retire and I'm now starting to believe Kimi went back to Ferrari because he felt he needed money and I find that sad. What do you think on Kimi's return to Ferrari? I think it's been mostly miserable with the odd 2-3 good performances per season. I have kept that thought bottled up for some months now but finally had to courage to express it. Kimi says he stayed on because he thinks he can WDC again -well I'm not sure I believe him .

151

I'm now starting to believe Kimi went back to Ferrari because he felt he needed money

Hi Stephen, he definitely didn't need the money. I read on a Forbes list around 2015 that he had well over £100m in the bank.

I do agree with a lot of what you've said though. Kimi seems to have a handful of properly good races a year, that's it.

Nowadays he is reasonably fast in qualifying but then fades in races. It used to always be the other way round. I would much prefer if that was still the case as he would always be going forwards in races. It's like he's never gotten to grips with these hybrid cars and this era of pirelli tyres. Remember at Lotus he was very handy on those tyres.

And if we're being totally honest, unfortunately for him I think he lost his really savage speed when Michelin pulled out, I read an article by Mark Hughes who said those tyres gave Kimi exactly the front end he needed to be blindingly fast.

I think he's still a good enough driver to be the no.2 Ferrari want as we saw at Spa (will we see the tow again for Vettel at Monza?) but he will never be WDC again.

152

NickH but No2 driver factor with Kimi is the big problem being a no 2 driver shouldn't really be considered an acceptable role for someone who has been a WDC. Also if he was being a good number 2 Ferrari would be leading the WCC as well.

153

Well it would be a lot closer had Bottas not tagged him in Spain and Baku. I still don't understand how no penalties were given out re those incidents between two championship rival teams. Then the stewards punish Max in Hungary for an intra team incident. Go figure.

154

Will we see the tow again for Vettel at Monza?

I will be shocked if we don't. Will we see Mercedes do it though? Bottas was in the news yesterday saying that it's too early for team orders. So I guess that's a no then, Valtteri?

155

I think he might have to if he wants a contract for next year.

156

@Stephen Taylor

" I'm now starting to believe Kimi went back to Ferrari because he felt he needed money"

Well, he kind of did. Lotus were not paying him all of that second year (they decided to pay the driver's last, and Kimi's team-mate was paid by his own sponsors), and Ferarri actually paid Kimi all that Lotus owed him for that season.

Kimi was using his own dime to get himself to the races, arrange hotels, etc.; did you miss him finally telling all to the press over several weeks, because it was the second year running that Lotus had not paid him in-season?

157

If it makes you feel better, Hamilton still has the title for most embarassing mistake in the history of F1, crashing into the back of Kimi in the pits

158

I always thought Rosberg asking the team to let him past in Abu Dhabi 2016 as the most embarrassing mistake

159

Appreciate the insight into the Force India "situation" and how it may play out for the future. Curious, too, how the team decision(s) played out in the short-run for the race itself. This is a feature, providing this sort of information, which is provided on JA that is not apparent on the TV playback and which keeps JA ahead of those who are simply reporting and speculating. Thanks for that perspective !

Bottom line, at least from this chair, seems to be that Perez remains a tad desperate to "stay ahead" and judgment is impaired as a result. However, his "backing" may keep him in a seat. At the same time Ocon has potential opportunity and could be destined for more promising situations. More to come.

160

Very interesting read, even better than the usual race report. Ocon in Renault next season would be a dream come true for this french man, specially with the added pleasure of seeing Le grand Prost in the pit garage. Force India is a good team and Renault is not anywhere near them at a competitive level, but I am quietly confident that they will be before 2018 is over, so it could prove a good move for Ocon.
I felt good after last Sunday's race even though Vettel did not win that race. I thought that Ferrari showed that they made great progress on the type of circuit where it is most needed for them. Your analysis comfort me in that observation James. I hope that you will be proven right and that Ferrari will fight with Mercedes till the last race.
A great season for me this year would be resume as follow: All time pole record for Hamilton (done), Mercedes WCC to become the first team to do so across major rule changes (almost surely done) and a 5th title for Vettel being what i hope for the most (far from done), that way everybody is happy and have something to be cheerful about. Lets see what Monza bring now. Marc

161

For some reason Marc I thought you were a Quebecois, instead of a Frenchman. Maybe a French national resident in Quebec? Not sure why I would have thought that otherwise.

162

In fact inspection of the soft tyres after the race suggests that Hamilton would have been in trouble to reach the end without the Safety Car intervening.

LEW luck.

163

James - You mentioned earlier in the season that in your opinion Mercedes would out develop Ferrari as the season progressed. However, Ferrari had the fastest car in Spa in which Merc were expected to dominate, which led Vettel to say there are no tracks left on calendar to fear. I have a feeling Ferrari will win @Monza for the first time since Alonso did for them in 2010.

Do you now believe Ferrari/Vettel are the strongest to win the drivers championship?

164

I believe Mercedes still has superior battery (storage and deployment) which would explain straight line speed advantage. Ferrari has better car overall and better driver in Vettel.

165

Well, Mercedes do get to burn about 1L of oil more per GP till end of the season than Ferrari, so there is that.

166

No Sebee - at worst it is 0.3ltr and Mercedes have made it clear that this recent engine is running at the same 0.9 even if it does not have to.

There is simply no way any of that directive mess is Mercedes fault.

167

It's 0.3L/100km. GP is 300km. So, it is about a 1L per GP we're talking about.

168

If that is the case, why would Mercedes rush to push the introduction of their last PU before Monza to ensure all their units were all subject to the 1.2L/100km rule?

169

They did not rush. This PU was down for Spa long before the oil issue hit the press.

Toto and Allinson confirmed that.

170

@ Sebee....exactement.

171

I think Mercedes have been surprised by how much Ferrari has developed either side of the Summer break and they have their work cut out. I'm impressed by what Ferrari have done on upgrades, and slightly surprised too, I suppose.

172

We all are, I suppose. Ferrari doesn't hold a good record when comes to upgrading the car throughout the entire season. Until Spa I used to be pretty sure Hamilton would grab the title, but now I seriously doubt it.

173

That notwithstanding...who was not minding the store on Mercedes putting a new version of the PU in for Spa...will Ferrari update the PU this year??

174

Hi James. How is the summer break shut down policed? What's to stop engineers/designers working from home etc? Or having a secret company produce parts?

175

I know Email servers are closed etc

Good point on external suppliers but as most key parts are made in house not sure what parts might be done externally - maybe some carbon composite parts? E.g. Wing endplates Not sure how they police that ?

176

As are much of the paddock, who 12 months back were slating Marchionne's changes to the teams structure, and of course the departure of J.Allison...

177

@Redline,
Thanks for the reminder. Without Allison all these Italian engineers were to be lost. Glad to see that it is far from the case. Marc

178

@Redline...How very true. Many bemoaned the fact that the loss of 'Brit' input was going to be a major hurdle for the Reds to overcome. hahaha How very wrong was that?

179

Binotto has done an outstanding job - you have to say

180

Noted that Perez had lewd intentions towards L'Ocon since the start.
PER clearly moved his car to the right to block OCO's lunge.

181

The Belgium GP was ultimately about track position over outright pace. Sebastian was always able to get close to Lewis but I never felt that he had the pace to actually overtake. He was putting pressure on Lewis to see if it would force an error and at the same time was aware Lewis was waiting for him to make an error.

I suspect Mercedes will not put too much stress on their engines for the rest of the season. I think they are going to be in a strategic game of trying to avoid an engine penalty (while retaining the exclusive right to use more oil). Mercedes have two engines available #3 which did two races and the new #4 which I suspect they will run at Monza. If they get pole at Monza (and based on Belgium they should), I do not expect them to run away from the pack but keep their race engine settings conservative for the rest of the year. The question will then be which one of the two contenders will blink first and take a penalty before Abu Dhabi.

182

Even though SEB had new Ultras {tires} - vs. LEW new Softs - they spent five laps behind the Safety Car shaving their tires to heat it up.
So the peak advantage to the tire gap was cancelled due to the SC.
Therefore, after a couple of the soft tire became the one to have, turning things up-side down.
...
About SEB's overtaking attempt.
The top speed SEB achieved was 332 Km/h @ 11,940 rpm - with tow, no DRS.
320 Km/h @ 11,500 rpm at the end of straight.
So I really doubt SEB could have overtaken LEW bcs his top gear {8th} wasn't long enough for a full car overtake.
If LEW and SEB were side-by-side, LEW would throw SEB out of the track.
So IMO SEB would only overtake LEW if there were no 2nd pit stop and LEW tires were shot in the final laps or LEW had to pit and SEB not.

183

He didn't have the tow he needed, because Lewis forced him into that drag race.

How you could possibly think that Lewis gained, tire wise, b/c of 5 laps of behind-the-SC running, is simply astounding. You are reaching for any explanation, other than the true one.

184

Do yourself a favor and read mark hughes race report, its much more informative. In it he discusses, lewis' tactics at eau rogue and ferrari's de-rates. Plus mercedes having an override (maximum power) button.

Also, you must be aware the time spent behind the sc was detrimental to lewis more so than seb. Yes everything is getting cooler, brakes, tires etc. But its much much easier to maintain temps on a softer compound. Seb was two compounds softer. More importantly, kimi and Daniel were able to overtake bottas on the same straight. It was never about power, it's racing IQ. What lewis did to stay ahead was masterclass!

185

Yep again Debs with your wishy washy tactical analysis.
"Thrown of track" how over egging the Pudding can you get? 😂
Get your facts right .
Well said Oblah

186

Looks like the ferrari is the better car . But mercedes the better engine.
If I were forced India boss I would ban perez for 1 race.
On another note. Can mclaren buy williams mercedes contract and let williams have the Honda engine . After all that williams is awful and is wasting the mercedes engine in the back.

187

Mistakes in quali. And race by Kimi meant that Ferrari could not play a team game and push Hamilton.

Time for Bottas to be declared #2.

If I were an employer like Renault I would take Ocon (rising talent and already pushing his teammate) ahead of Perez who clearly is uncomfortable with Ocon''s pressure in spite of being a veteran.

188

Considering kimi's 'mistake' in qually netted seb on the front row. I think the team game was worked very well. Heck ferrari, even left kimi out there hoping to hold up lewis...

189

@Oblah,
He pitted a lap after Vettel. You expect Ferrari to pit both their drivers on the same lap really? Raikkonen did not seem to have been much of an infrigment for Hamilton anyway. Marc

190

Great race to watch. Hard to tell which car I would rather be in at this point. Could Vettel have made it to the end on the softs if there was no safety car? He was pushing Hamilton really hard who had to cover making it to the end.

191

Both were in a stale mate. It would come down to tire management. Too close to call.

192

I don't know about Vettel's tires conditions but I believe Toto mentioned that Hamilton's were starting to blister prior to the SC. No matter now anyways. Marc

193

Perez was ahead and taking his line the second time and Ocon was a bit foolish . Maybe FI engineered perez ascendance due to his sponsors. I think he should take his cash to renault who are on a par with FI. Doubt perez is in the running for major drives elsewhere but was unfairly maligned at Mclaren but due to them being rubbish he doesnt have to feel hard done by now.

194

What about how Ric got an underpowered car into 3rd?Are the Renault engine not allowed to burn oil because they may get to close to Merc and the great Lew?

195

Great drives by Lewis and Seb, they sure are driving their cars at a very high level, proved by the pace of Kimi and Bottas. If there are only minor updates brought to both cars from here on till the end, it is going to be a close battle.

Ferrari can hang with the Mercs but wont be able to overtake them on track, neither can they out qualify them. The only way to win is by playing pit stop poker and using Kimi as a rear guard

196
The Grape Unwashed

Fast forward to around Lap 27... The debate on the pit wall of both teams is now whether to stop again.

Hi James, wouldn't Ferrari just stay out regardless of Hamilton's decision? If Hamilton came in he'd have to make up about 22 seconds in 17 laps and also pass Vettel - which sounds like a tall order. But if Hamilton stayed out, Vettel would wait for an opportunity nearer the end of the race when Hamilton's tyres were worn, as there was a blister developing on one of his rears.

It seems to me that Mercedes were very lucky to get the safety car as it gave Hamilton a free pit stop and removed the concern over blistering. As you imply in the article, the tyres were marginal. Vettel, on the other hand, looked to be able to keep his tyres in great shape, presumably thanks to the higher downforce setting on his car.

I suppose Ferrari's expectation was to undercut Hamilton at the pit stops, but that proved impossible because Ricciardo was blocking the window. Shouldn't they have gone aggressive with a slim rear wing to give them a better chance of attacking on the Kemmel straight, especially as Mercedes were favourites for pole position? Perhaps they went conservative in order prevent a recurrence of the tyre problems at Silverstone?

Mercedes doesn’t have any tracks where it can consider it has an advantage, while it is sure to have a disadvantage at some high downforce tracks like Singapore.

This is a bit of a worry for the remainder of the season. Had Hamilton lost Spa the championship would would have been unwinnable (barring terrible reliability on Ferrari's part). Now it's a little doubtful whether Mercedes can win in Italy, and even then that would only leave Hamilton tied with Vettel and looking forward to a drubbing in the very next race - Singapore. Mercedes need to make a step forward in order to give Hamilton a reasonable chance at finishing ahead come Abu Dhabi.

197

They don't stand still

Ferrari has had two great upgrades in succession, now we will see what Mercedes brings

198

James do you have any more info regarding the settings on Alonso's car not recognising Pouhan being taken flat out and therefore reducing his power output? How can this be automatically built into the cat at specific corners?

199

James.
Do you or rather do the engineers think the current engines will break 1100bhp before the switch in 2021.
Also is there any discussion about trying to reduce the weight of these cars so they are less like champ cars and more like f1.

200

Alonso, possibly the best F1 driver ever, is toast. By all means use uncorperate language and express your frustrations but there is no coming back from retiring a healthy car. The macanics and engineers are still trying and would be sacked if they were not. Should be asked whether he would like to leave straight away. Perhaps this is what Johnny Herbert was on about earlier in the season.

201

Kubica for maclaren? High enough profile, mature attitude, great team player, has he still got the speed?

202

I definitely think Mercedes will have to take action soon on their driver equality. Giving Bottas Monza to deliver is fair though, he has earned it with his consistency this year.

James, is there any truth to the rumors that Alonzo wants a new engine supplier? What a bind for McLaren, if so. Surely he must know, though, that that is the wrong move? Unless Alonso plans to race into his forties, his only chance for WDC glory is with McLaren-Honda.

203

Given JA's comment below, perhaps there is something to the report on another blog: "Honda's data was showing no signs of a problem when Fernando Alonso reported an engine issue and retired his McLaren. . ."

The article went on to point out that he was being re-passed on the straights following his move from 11th to 7th at the start and noted that Alonso had remarked that the race was 'only a test' or words to that effect.

McLaren appears to indeed be in a bit of a bind with this one unless Honda can deliver during what we have left of the season. So is Alonso, for that matter without a "competitive" seat anywhere else it seems. More to come, however, and this is, after all, the F-1 "Circus."

204

@Mathew,
I agree that Bottas has done well enough to be given the chance to keep fighting for the title, but if Mercedes keep at it too long it will only help Vettel if the race results seesaw between the 3 of them. Of course Hamilton did mentioned that he wanted to win it the right way afterall, so maybe he is the one pushing Mercedes to let his teammate have an equal chance. Just being a tease here. Marc

205

I believe he wants Renault engines

Problem is that's a massive financial hit to McLaren

And no guarantees that he would stay after 2018 if something better came along..

206

Mclaren needs to do what's good for McLaren (in the long term). The Honda deal is allegedly worth $1b over its course - with no title sponsor, can McLaren afford to turn their back on that? Plus you need to factor in the cost of an alternative engine supplier. So leaving Honda will "cost" McLaren $120m per year, and that's assuming no damages have to be paid for early termination of the contract.

They cannot be held to ransom by Alonso, no matter how good a driver he is...

207

@ Redline...If you in any way correct with that number allegedly being spent by Honda than what a massive waste of money. I mean that's gross mismanagement of shareholders funds. One Billion for zippedy doo dah and heaps of bad reviews. Hard to actually believe that it would take so much money to produce what is, to all intents and purposes, a Japanese Edsel, in a manner of speaking.

208

@Kenneth ... well of course I have no way of knowing the exact numbers, but if the rumoured $100m that Honda is paying McLaren annually is totalled over the 10 year contract duration... And then you have to factor in the cost of the engines, which McLaren would otherwise have purchase.

The $1b guess is just what the deal is worth to McLaren... the actual cost to Honda would be considerably greater if you include R&D, staffing, infrastructure and logistics. Mind-boggling figures - that's why Honda need a long-term deal, so that the expenditure is amortized over that period.

209

Forgot to ask earlier, what was KR's mistake in Quali ? Understand the failure to lift for a "waving" yellow -- even if MV was parked at the sidelines there were workers exposed and the Stewards had no alternative but to penalize.

210

Not being able to improve his time on the final qualy run. He said on the radio that he messed it up. When the TV pictures cut to him, he was pulling himself out of Vettel's way, having given Vettel a tow in the third sector. So one must presume, that the mistake was made in the first 2 sectors.

211

The Force India debacle is a failure of management, just as it was at McLaren in 2007.

Being philosophic by saying "we are racers and we let our drivers race" might sound nice but the reality is that the best teams tell their drivers where they stand and dictate terms to them.

It was entirely predictable that the problems faced by Force India would flare up at some point in the year. Dousing the flames will be much more difficult.

212

The problem I see, is ocon is completly disconected from reality, one is virtual reality, and another is real life... There is no reset buttom, game over, play again, type of sport... The one Who is behind is responsible in any accident... Just like hamilton closed the Door on ricciardo at Mónaco, if it was instead Young ocon both would be out...
This problem with reality and virtual reality is a consecuense of no moral value, New age education, etc. Very typical of the New generation... And the roll model of this is, of course, Young Max V. and the next one Will push it even further... Something needs to be done.

213

@JamesAllen - wonderful interview with Mick Schumacher post his lap. The noise of the Benetton brought back great memories.

Brilliant background on Perez/ Ocon saga. It would appear that the team also need to justify their actions and overcome any suspect favouritism.

I was thoroughly impressed with Perez and Ocon's post race interviews. Both laid out their very rational, eloquent views. You'd have thought both would have jumped out of their cars, all hot headed and only muttering "no comment" to the press.

214

Since when did "he was trying to kill me, twice" become rational 🙂
But the Perez-Ocon fight is a delectable sub plot in the 2017 season. Makes one look forward to the anticipated Ocon-Verstappen fight that F1 may witness few years down the line.

Ocon looks to be a really good deal and Perez's career progress could be hampered, because he has been unable to shake him off.

215

Fantastic analysis. I was wondering during the race about how Ocon lost so much time to Perez, that they found themselves battling each other.

Also, I feel Kimi did not really have a chance for Pole (not the Kimi of 2017 anyways). Plus, our commentators mentioned that the Ultra soft had a 0.7 sec per lap over the Softs, this is just enough to get past the Mercedes, except at the restart.

216

It was more than 0.7s, on the Merc it was 0.8 but on most cars over a second

217

where's the first wet race?

218

The season is over folks. Merc can now burn 1.2L oil (?) against 0.9L for every other team. More power, easy poles, magic button for undercut/overcut threats, doesn't matter. A dual engine formula from Monza, way to go MIA.
If Vettle wins this year's WDC it will be one of the best drives in the recent memory, where even the rules was create / being created to prevent anyone other than Merc from winning the Championship.

219

Y'mean like getting a 10s stop-go penalty when a black flag was clearly warranted? That was a penalty awarded not on the merits of the incident, but with a view to how it would impact the championship standings. Weak all 'round from the FIA.

I would like to think that the FIA would issue a clarification after the season as to what sort of incidents require a black flag, so that it's abundantly clear to everyone starting next season. Yet how could they issue such a clarification if Vettel were to win?

220

Some thoughts on the PER-OCO incident, where I think the opinion against PER has been too biased
Not saying PER was right, just do not see him the reckless, agressive pay driver some comments label him as

PER seems to have been a victim of the ALO-HAM (or VET-RIC, or...) syndrome, where the more experienced driver is caught by surprise with the new kid's speed and is sent off balance and starts making mistakes

In the past PER has been able to gradually outrun highly regarded team mates KOB and HUL and avoid major problems with them, BUT beat him badly on his worst season at Mac but got over it
He still is beating OCO 9-3 in qualy and 8-1 in races completed by both so it is not like he is been trounced

Two races PER did not finish was because of contact with OCO, and at Monaco he took care of himself (and poor Kvyat)
OCO do seems to be the real stuff and is improving quickly

IMHO as I posted after Canada, PER was wrong in not letting OCO past, because he created an enemy and he had not much to lose then (ask HAM and BOT)
Since then he has not kept a cool head when having OCO in his mirrors, which is only creating a tense situation, attracting bad press and compromising his possible move to a more successful team in the future

On racing terms however, why should he let OCO (or anyone else) past if they are fighting for position?
At Baku he closed the door (aggressively) at turn 1 and was ahead on his line (and at the wall) at turn 2, when OCO hit him

At SPA lap 1 he made a mistake and was sandwiched by HUL and OCO and apologized
At he last incident he was ahead and on his line and shut the door defending his position

I think OCO has been hot headed as well
At Canada (as HAM usually says on the radio), if he was faster he should have gone past PER, if he could not, then stick to your place and finish the race (how was he going to pass RIC if he could not pass PER?)

At Baku, avoid heavy traffic incidents and finish the race, if PER is ahead and against the wall why squeeze him?
At SPA, wait for DRS on Kemmel and do a clean pass
If I am smart and driving at 300km next to a wall I would avoid the guy who just pushed me into it a few laps back

His reasoning is that I'm faster so PER should have backed off at Baku and since he did not I squeezed him into the wall
At SPA I'm faster and PER should back off and not squeeze me into the wall
He can't be correct both times

If PER should have backed off at Baku, then OCO should have backed off at SPA
If OCO did not back off and give room at Baku, why did he expect PER to back off and give room at SPA?

Lastly, while I consider OCO to be an above average driver with much potential, has a treat 8from his interviews) that reminds me of the late MAL (and even PER himself), who was a fast driver, was involved in accidents but always blamed the other guy and never learned from his mistakes, (or the others errors or actions)
Maybe he should ask GRO for advice on this matter

They will keep clashing (hopefully not crashing), not because PER wants to or is too stubborn or agressive, but because if they meet a faster car, they will be passed, if they meet a slower car, they will pass them, the only other car with the same speed is the other Force India so they will be racing close for the rest of the season

221

Very interesting. James, I have two questions (sorry for the length). 1. There is a lot of talking / speculation about the limitation on burning oil on ICE from Monza, and the fact that Merc introduced spec 4 for SPA and will use it in Monza should be a clear advantage to them. Also I understand that the Italian GP should be Merc giving that the car has a longer wheelbase less draggy overall than Ferrari. But on the other hand, and if so, I was expecting more performance from Spec 4 Merc; instead red and silver were quite close (the real difference, watching them on TV if those data on screen are real, was how much faster Merc was able to regenerate electric power compared to Ferrari) . I read somewhere that spec 4 is 20/25 HP more than Ferrari spec... 3. So isn't that possible that Ferrari, if introduce spec 4 with a rumored ICE at higher compression, be at least as powerful as Merc despite less oil burning allowed? What feedback are you getting from people in the paddock? 2. This more than a question is a thought that is bugging me . Ferrari head of P.U. went from Ferrari to a side job into Fiat Chrysler Group... no fuss no noise... what about if it is just a separate unit that can develop without being under the eye of FIA all the time?

222

well I have something to say about Perez-Ocon situation:

"el que se enoja pierde"

which its an expression we use in latin america to describe exactly what it happen to Ocon, he get mad... I think even when this time Perez was clearly the one who hit his teammate, it was responsability of Ocon who shouldnt try to do what he has done before and get the same result, now FI will be "force" to decide a number 1 driver, and clearly Perez will put that in his contract for the rest of the season.

Now, that also rules against Perez, since he is just condemned to be in a middle team forever.

223

James,

would be interested on your thoughts on Lewis's comments in the pen after the race when asked "----could not have really gone much better"

"No, I, it was a really good weekend, a very strong weekend for the team, they did a fantastic job, the pit stops were amazing, we had a good stop, umm, I think Ferrari were ultimately quicker today, I was just able to keep them at bay, you know if the cars were reverted, I wouldn't have been able to, I don't think I would been able to have held as close as he did with me, so it was good, but what's comforting is 200 races and I'm as strong as ever, so they say you probably get worse with age, but I think it's the other way round, I feel pretty good today"

Given Seb finished 2.3 secs behind Lewis,Ferrari did well, and Ricciardo did well to hold off Raikkonen in the Ferrari given Ferrari's pace.

224

Just a question: how many points have Force India lost this season due to the collisions between PER and OCO, and the situation in Canada as well?

225

Belated thanks for this interesting strategy report. Watching the race I had no idea the leaders were so marginal on one stop. I'd probably assumed they wouldn't pit again. Maybe we were robbed of an even more dramatic race! It's also interesting how the soft tyre was much stronger in race trim than it was in free practice sessions, meaning that it could hold its own against the supersofts and ultrasofts late on (albeit partly due to Hamilton's brilliance).

With the Force Indias, I'm glad for the focus on the pitstops, something Channel 4 didn't do enough of for me. The key was: how did Ocon end up in the clutches of Perez? I originally thought he had gone too slow, even accounting for Perez's undercut because Sergio did have a 5-second penalty. But maybe the cost of old tyres is really big at Spa because it's such a long, fast, sweeping circuit.

The problem Force India have is that it's happened several times now. And it seems quite immature in all honesty. The team could have nipped it in the bud at Canada arguably. But the drivers have to take responsibility too. In fairness, both are at critical stages in their career; Ocon is establishing himself and Perez is desperately trying to keep himself in the shop window for the top teams. So the pressure is high. Ironically, however, Perez's response to it arguably makes him less likely to end up with a top team. But we're all human ultimately and can't get it perfect all the time.

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