Analysis: When F1 strategy turns into gamesmanship. Mercedes vs Ferrari needle in Italian Grand Prix
Strategy Report
Posted By: James Allen  |  05 Sep 2017   |  1:51 pm GMT  |  278 comments

The Italian Grand Prix is never the most interesting race of the season from a strategy point of view, being a certain one stop race. But in terms of strategic gamesmanship between Mercedes and Ferrari it was utterly fascinating.

It was clear from Friday practice that Mercedes had the faster package for Monza, which was not unexpected. But Ferrari didn’t get on top of the set up of the car on Friday and couldn’t fix it on Saturday because it rained.

After performing poorly in the wet qualifying, Ferrari found itself not only behind both Mercedes, but also two cars from Mercedes’ customer teams Williams and Force India.

Here we will analyse what went on from that point, which so unsettled Ferrari and how the tactic behind it may have as much to do with the next race in Singapore as with Monza.

We will also look at how Daniel Ricciardo and Red Bull picked a counter strategy right out of Sergio Perez’ Monza playbook to secure a magnificent fourth place, beating the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen.

But curiously Perez didn’t ‘do a Perez’ on this occasion.

Pre-race expectations
Monza has traditionally been a one-stop race, as the relative pace of the cars out on track at 350km/h compared to those travelling at 80km/h in the pit lane, makes it less attractive to do more stops.

This year once again Pirelli brought the supersoft tyre in addition to the soft and mediums. As so often this season with these harder tyres, the teams used only the two softer compounds in the race.

Both were good for 30 laps in the race and there wasn’t a significant pace deficit from the supersoft to the soft. The stop laps were fairly clear however the degradation was lower on race day than on Friday, as expected, so there was room to play with.

The race was unusual in several ways; as it rained in qualifying the teams had a free choice of starting tyre, rather than the usual constraints on the Top 10 runners of using their qualifying set. Most opted for supersoft, for better grip off the line. And it was also a race without a single yellow flag, which happens extremely rarely.

The grid had the two works Mercedes in the top four split by the customer Mercedes engined Williams of Stroll and Force India of Ocon. The Ferraris lined up fifth and sixth with Raikkonen ahead of Vettel.

Further back Verstappen and Ricciardo, with engine penalties, opted to start on the soft tyre; the early phase of the race, when they were being held up by slower cars, was the best time to use the slower tyre, then benefit from the faster tyre later in clear air. If you do this, the rule is don’t have a collision which requires an early stop as the supersoft won’t make the finish and you have to stop again (as the rules say two tyre compounds must be used in a dry race)

This is what happened to Verstappen after contact with Massa and it wrecked his race.

Alonso and Grosjean, starting at the back used the same counter strategy as Red Bull. This was unusual for Alonso, who likes to start on the same tyre as the front-runners, however lowly his grid slot.

Ricciardo does a Perez – from 16th to 4th and ahead of Kimi Raikkonen

One of the standout drives of the day was Daniel Ricciardo, who came within four seconds of a podium finish after starting the race in 16th place, due to an engine penalty. He used the same counter-strategy he had employed in 2015 to go from P15 to P8 and which Sergio Perez had used to great effect for Sauber in 2012, where he rose from P12 on the grid to P2.

The idea is to start on the harder tyre, run a longer first stint and then attack on the softer tyre at the end. It works very well at Monza because it is possible to overtake.

Ricciardo’s target was the Ferraris. The Red Bull had looked a match for Ferrari on race pace in Friday practice. But he had many cars to clear and time would be lost relative to the Ferraris, unless they were held up by Ocon and Stroll.

Vettel cleared them, but Raikkonen struggled and this sowed the seeds of his undoing.

Force India and Williams are in a battle of their own for fourth in the constructor’s championship and so were focussed on each other strategically in this race. When Ocon passed Stroll at the start, the teenager stayed with him and Raikkonen trailed the pair.

The thing to do in a situation like Ferrari were in is to let them undercut each other and stay out past that point, using the superior Ferrari pace, then clear them at your own stop.

That did not happen in this case because Raikkonen was calling for new tyres insistently, before Ferrari pitted him on Lap 15. The problem with that move is the undercut only works when the new tyres in your garage are significantly faster than the ones on your car. In this situation, at the end of Lap 14 with low degradation, this was not the case.

Raikkonen got Stroll, because the Canadian had a slow stop, but Ocon was easily able to cover off both and retain position.

All of this played into the hands of Ricciardo and Red Bull. He ran a long first stint, and then picked Raikkonen off when his new supersofts were superior to Raikkonen’s used softs.

He almost caught Vettel for third place at the end, but the Ferrari driver held him off.

What was going on here? Force India and Williams further ahead of midfield pace than normal

So let’s go one step back and consider the role of the two outliers in this race situation. The race history graph (below) is quite telling this week; the Force India and Williams cars enjoyed a larger performance margin over the other midfield runners than normal and more than they had in Canada, another low downforce circuit. So why was that?

Well one theory has to do with the way Mercedes may have chosen to run the engines in Ocon and Stroll’s cars on Sunday (as well as in the works cars)

Finding themselves in a position where they had Stroll and Ocon as a buffer between themselves and Ferrari, there was a further opportunity; not only to maximise the points gained over their rivals, but also to embarrass them on home soil, which would inevitably have consequences.

These hybrid F1 engines have various modes in which they can be run and it relates to the ‘damage’ that the supplier will allow the drivers to do to the engine by running at the maximum regime. You normally run the maximum for the start of the race and after a Safety Car but apart from that you turn it down to try to minimise the damage and hence increase the reliability and longevity of the engines.

Force India and Williams are usually strong cars in straight line speed anyway, it’s a speciality. However close analysis of the data on end of the straight speeds at Monza on Sunday indicates that Mercedes allowed Hamilton and Bottas as well as their two customers Ocon and Stroll, to have more damage on the engine for longer in this race than normal.

For example, through the speed trap into Turn 1 the Mercedes engined cars were doing between 328-330km/h without a tow (with a tow it was up to 350km/h). Interestingly there is not much distinction between the works cars using the series 4 engine and the customers using series 3 here. This went on for much of the race.

Meanwhile the Ferrari was doing 316-318km/h consistently, a deficit of around 10km/h every lap on the straight.

Vettel finished 36 seconds behind the winner Hamilton after 53 laps and the customers spoiled Raikkonen’s day. On the podium Hamilton even said, “Mercedes power is better than Ferrari power” just to rub it in.

Afterwards, Ferrari chairman Sergio Marchionne called it ‘embarrassing’.

There is an old insiders’ saying, “In F1 you are either giving pain or taking it.”

It is tempting to read this race as follows: Mercedes knew that they were going to win Monza anyway, but the race presented an opportunity to inflict some pain on Ferrari at their home Grand Prix, when the red team is always on edge anyway. And by maximising all their assets to try to unsettle Ferrari, it might have a knock on effect on their preparations for the next race, one that Ferrari is expected to win, in Singapore.

Back at Maranello, Ferrari has to be really strong now to quickly forget Monza and be sure to bring their A game to Singapore. Vettel was right after the race to focus on the positives, rather than to let rip on the negatives, as the chairman Sergio Marchionne did.

Vettel knew that Monza was not going to be Ferrari’s weekend before he arrived in the paddock on Thursday, but he doesn’t want to let the team lose focus before Singapore; a race they now quite simply must win.

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

RACE HISTORY GRAPH, Kindly Supplied by Williams Martini Racing – click to enlarge

Showing the gaps in seconds between cars and therefore the performance difference. An upward curve indicates good relative pace, downward curve the opposite. Sharp drop indicates a pit stop.

Look at the pace of Ocon and Stroll in the first stint compared to the rest of the midfield runners (eg Toro Rosso, Renault) with whom they are normally closely matched. It is greater than normal. This is partly due to the unusual situation of the Mercedes engine being run at a high regime.

Look at the difference in stop lap between Raikkonen (L15) and Vettel (L31) Raikkonen could have waited for Stroll to attempt an undercut on Ocon and then pitted later to overcut them both.

Also note the progress of Ricciardo once he managed to get some clear air. He didn’t panic when his tyres were getting hot in traffic but drove through it and got his rewards at the end of the race with fourth place.

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Tornillo Amarillo

Force India and Williams are in a battle of their own for fourth in the constructor’s championship

Not really IMO, Williams fight for keeping P5 from the other teams behind.


Yeah, but.................those two racers driving the Spam on wheels keep colliding into each other! Think of all the lost points.........

Having said that, Ocon had a stupendous qualifying and a fine race. When he was just behind Lewis Hamilton after the first corner on the first lap it must have been so tantalising for the youngster - "Look there's the lead of the race right in front of me! In a Force India!"


Since there were no issues between the two in Monza, I had a moment of "sadness". 🙂

I'm not sure we should be so critical about these two banging wheels and being so hard on each other. They are racing very hard, which is what we want, right? It's also commendable from FI to allow it, and I'm not sure it's good that they are being pressured by the fake outrage to not allow it going forward.

So, I've changed my mind on this one after giving it a second thought. It isn't my points, or my money that's paying for the carbon fibre. I'd like to see the hard, no inch given racing to continue between Ocon and Perez. And if the result is lost points, or DNFs...well, that's the price of hard racing sometimes.

Imagine if all the cars were closer together, how hard and tense the racing would be?

Oh sorry...that's wishful thinking. We're only allowed to talk about things are they are, and not as we wish the could improve and be. 🙂


Agree, things as they are... Mercedes power controls the sport minimising driver influence but they sandbag to pretend it isn't so, pretend they supply the same PU to customers and turn it up and down to suit their control over F1 to market their brand and roadcars.


Sounds awful Clarkes, makes you wonder why any of us bother watching really.....

Tornillo Amarillo

It's all about "needs", we need the fight, Force India needs points, drivers need new contracts from the team, F1 needs Force India, and so on.
Also Kvyiat crashed Sainz some time before, Massa touched Stroll in Monza, ...well Massa touched almost everyone in Monza!


We need honest a goodness no inch given hard racing on track.

I hope you agree, our needs come first.


Ross Brawn agrees also, he has just done nothing about it...


You are misusing "gamesmanship" here which is a form of behaviour close to cheating in the original context. You really mean competition strategy.

["Gamesmanship is the use of dubious (although not technically illegal) methods to win or gain a serious advantage in a game or sport. It has been described as "Pushing the rules to the limit without getting caught, using whatever dubious methods possible to achieve the desired end"."]


No, it's pretty accurate. It's pure gamesmanship from Mercedes, it always is.
(With rare exceptions of complete cheating like secret tyre tests or whole 2007 story).


The losers call the techniques "dubious methods".

Winners call it being clever.

Question: if one pushes to rules TO the limit, but not past, what have they done wrong?


So, say in Abu-Dhabi Ocon is in front of HAM, and Mercedes tells FI "you cannot run at this damage level, put the engine at 60% power", and this affects the championship - this is called being clever? Really?


Andrew, and if Grosjean is running ahead of Vettel and Ferrari do the same, what then? All highly unlikely scenarios of course....


Easy... Gro has to move over for blue flag lapping.


@Andrew, depends which side of the coin you're on, that's my point. Everything is relative, it's all about perspective.

If the current rules allow Merc to influence the performance of their customer teams, which, upon learning what they did at Monza it becomes abundantly clear that they have been using this practice since the 2014 season, then yes, Merc is just being clever and following rules to a T.

If it is an illegal practice according to the rules, then yes, they should be held accountable. However, the fact that they have been doing this for several years, none of the competition has complained, F1 insiders like James Allen says it happens all the me that sounds likes its either legal, or the governing body is doing a piss poor job of enforcing their rules.

My gut tells me it's not against the rules. It's just part of the smoke and mirrors that make up the "competition" that is F1. How else is Liberty to gaurentee that the title fight goes down to the wire each year. Abu Dahbi, "The race you do not want to miss!!!"


This is no "fair play" at all and has nothing to do with "sport" as well. Sad.


Twitch, if they are affecting their customers performance by giving them more of it, then where's the harm. Surely the only time it would be an issue would be if they were taking it away?


Wouldn't "taking away" be the same a sport "deliberately holding back".....allowing Williams and FI access to the extra power when it suits Mercs agenda.

If the priority is fair play, that doesn't strike me as being such.

Think back to Austria 2015, or was it 2014, when Williams qualified really well, taking pole. Do you think Merc gave the extra power mode then? Or Silverstone 2015? Was Lance given any extra power in Baku to fend of Bottas? Or just now to fight Ferrari?


If Merc did give their customer teams access to the extra power, and it helped those teams, and those teams were aware of the possible reliability concerns, then I still don't see the harm. It's not as if the Merc customers get a puny engine every other week is it?


A quick look back to the Redbull years and one can compare and contrast your thoughts on pushing the rules.

Tornillo Amarillo

the way Mercedes may have chosen to run the engines in Ocon and Stroll’s cars on Sunday

James why Mercedes don't use this tactic in Singapore instead of in a sure win in Monza, I mean, saving the PU for Singapore?
A PU doesn't last forever...


It won't necessarily help there - that race is all about decision making

Singapore can have a Safety Car right up to the last lap. So you don't need to push the engine there (especially as it's hot)


...those extreme engine modes wearing PUS you were talking about?

Do you think Mercedes would turn their PUs down from start of season to what is absolutely necessary and nothing else early on not only for competitive illusion but for reliability benefit?

Who's in a better position now engine wise? Ferrari or Mercedes? I know you don't want "negative" but isn't it time for a PU usage update? I know it won't paint Ferrari in good light, right? This WDC will come down to reliability. While Ferrari have been on the limit pushing, was Mercedes?


The title could very well be decided by grid penalties, which frankly would be disgusting as they've still done nothing about penalties.


Or failures, like last year


Clarkes. I thought the title would be decided by Mercedes, isn't all just a fix anyway?


@ James....By running longer in extreme modes what damage are they doing to the PU ? How do they achieve the 'extreme' power' ?


Lewis uses his left foot to remove the wedge under his loud pedal then depresses his right foot harder in a quite masterfull display of driver skill...


Clarkes, the funny thing is, some people actually believe that nonsense....


I would say that it works in many ways. Higher revs for each gear change (driver changes gear with a beep in his ear, so the beep simply comes 500 rpm later), more aggressive use of the battery (MGU-K and MGU -H spool up the turbo faster maybe?), different mapping and deployment of KERS across the lap, and, of course, 'leak' a little more additive into the chamber for a bigger explosion. There are probably many other ways to achieve it.
More use = more wear = more likelihood of going boom.

Tornillo Amarillo

OK, thank you very much.


"but also to embarrass them on home soil"

Oh, that Mercedes certainly did. And you say they did this just with the selection of engine modes James? Interesting.

You normally run the maximum for the start of the race and after a Safety Car but apart from that you turn it down to try to minimise the damage and hence increase the reliability and longevity of the engines.

Also interesting.
If engines were cheaper, like V8s were or V10 were, what could happen?
1. Drivers could have a fresh engine for each GP
2. Drivers could push the engine at maximum more often, perhaps full GP.
3. The costs to the teams would be reduced over these PUs, even with more units.
4. The fan experience would improve as the trademark sound of F1 could return.
5. THE BIG ONE! Penalties would be unnecessary as drivers could all start on a fresh unit each Grand Prix.
6. Fans later on in the season, like all the fans who went the Italian Grand Prix for example, wouldn't have to "pay a penalty" too by having a bunch of drivers they came to cheer on get penalties and demotions.

RIcciardo, who everyone is hailing for his performance - how much harder was he pushing his unit in these modes? And will he pay the price again for that in the next race or two? And will the fans as well? Red Bull know they are racing for 3rd all by themselves, so they can have fun like they did on Sunday. But is that a sustainable strategy overall?

These PUs have not provided savings to teams.
These PUs have not provided fuel savings.
These PUs have ruined the competitiveness of the sport and the fan experience.

Question then: Why have them, beside some misguided push by marketing departments?


Here is a request for JA S. He has access to more information than I do in regards to your question about efficiency of these engines. From memory I recall one article in this blog, a detailed report from Andy Cowell. I actually didn't buy into his theory at that time, around 2015. However, there on I read that many articles about these engines that converted me into believing that these engines are just extra ordinary technologically. However, the current status of these engines aren't th right solution for F1 due to vast inequality, cost and noise. I think we are still going through the trial period.


...trial period, proven it spoils racing, then continue with broken trial period for years...


Well you see, James won't allow my responses to be posted here lately, even on topic, even ones stimulating discussion. It's a sudden change. I don't think he wants me around anymore. I'm not sure I want to be here anymore either. If my contribution is unappreciated, why? Plus, he sold the place, how much does he care at this point? Check has cleared!

Usually a lot of good content is happening down here, and perhaps with owning the site and their rules governing the forum, it's more about the clicks vs. the comments and the work needed to admin them. That's just a liability now and an expense.

I would appreciate the link. I would honestly really really want to see a discussion on the subject of efficiency in these engines. Do they save fuel. Do they extract most from the engine or is it the tricks and aromatics that are making it so. Is it the amazing hard braking forces of Formula 1 that are making the whole thing possible - therefore little to no relevance to the road as such forces aren't found on the road.

We are in the 4th year of these PUs.

This website appears to have close links to Mercedes marketing.

Why won't Andy Cowell put forward arguments as to why this engine is more efficient than V8s, with hard data and info only he has backing it up?

Why aren't we then allowed to question those claims and from our comments a list of 10 questions challenging efficiency are put to Andy, to which he can respond? If it's so good, and such a good sell, sell us!

Where is the data supporting efficiency?

Why are efficiency claims only over GP distance, as if these engines live only during a Grand Prix 2 hour period, and not the remaining time.

I think those are all fair questions, and I don't believe answers to those have been given. What we've seen is claims about how amazing the fuel burn efficiency is in this PU. But it is only the fact that type of driving, tracks and type of braking making that possible. Due to the battery charge done before cars take to track, which is then recycled?

Then there really is the whole question of what it costs in fuel weight and CO2 emissions to move these much heavier cars and all the required support equipment to their destination by jets, trucks, etc.. Are we to ignore that inefficiency? Do you want to bet that this inefficiency offsets any efficiency gains during a 75 minute Italian Grand Prix tenfold? Are we to say that this back end inefficiency is OK and acceptable? Justifiable?

What is the reason why V8s are no longer acceptable and these PUs are?


I can't speak for James, but I have been a follower and a participant in motorsports for 60 years. There are many times I would like to contribute here but I do feel intimidated on this site particularly by a minority who seem to use a thread as a personal chat room and not always for community benefit, it seems to be a matter of wanting to shout louder than anyone else. This can be wearing, especially if it's the same message over and over and over. I learnt many years ago that people either give you energy or suck it out of you. Which of those two options do you think you achieve CB?


It's not about allowing comments

It's just you write a constant torrent of the same message and we have many complaints

You are welcome here - but I just ask for some self control that's all

It has nothing's by to do with new platform. I'd be having the same dialogue whatever we were doing next with JA on F1


James, we discuss and circle the key issues:
Competitiveness of the sport
Problems causing lack of competitiveness
Fairness of competition
We discuss and hash out solutions to the problems - what makes sense and what doesn't.

Sure, you have the regulars, like myself, But there are many new faces, users, readers here joining discussion, and we end up circling the race track a bit.

I mean, that's what happens - we circle. Day to day. Year to year. Lap to lap. Problem to problem.


Like the topics you raised mate. It's great not getting personally attacked every time you voice your opinions ay?

One I'd personally add to your list is refueling. We also have to just accept the fact that V8s and V10s are just in the past now. I disagree with the fact that these engines aren't efficient fuel wise, because they just are based on all the data I have come across. My three biggest issues are the sounds, cost and imbalance amongst the teams. FIA could certainly change that. The obstacle is always cost here. Major technical overhaul will just increase the cost too much in too short space of time for such a change. One of the things I'd also get rid of is DRS. That's too fake for my liking. F1 has always been difficult in overtaking. But some drivers are just naturally able to understand the car to pull amazing overtakings off. I'm sure we can live with that.


Formula zero, getting personally attacked every time you voice your opinion, only happens when you have voiced the same opinion several hundred times before....


That Lewis is your hero and can do no wrong?

He he.


Clarkes, and if someone came hereand said that every day, no matter what the subject of the article, you wouldn't tell him how bored you were?


@ Sebee...those are all very valid points and questions. I myself had the thought that Ricciardo may well be doing damage to his new PU given the fact that he pushed it really hard for quite some fact almost the entire race! It would be interesting to do the math regarding costs of alternate engines versus the current crop. Somewhere someone must have done the analysis.


7. The biggest one. The WDC is most likely going to be decided by those stupid grid penalties.

As for only 3 engines next year. How is that going to work? This has to push engine costs through the roof. About 6 would be better. The supply contracts for the smaller teams need to be for a year or they will need more than 3 next year. Heck even 5 last year may have been too few. Also the points for winning ought to be more than 10 over finishing 3rd.

At least get rid of gearbox penalties. Or maybe make all of them at most 5 places for changing everything.

And why not give the drivers the ability to adjust some suspension stuff on the fly? You know track conditions do change during a race.

Toooo much politics IMO.


Another point is the irony of being way out front like Merc means turning down the engine and having better reliability with less penalties. Also less dirty air so better for tyres and cooling.

Pushing to catch up, like Honda!!, means more penalties.

It's like MarioKart catchup in reverse.


Ok CB, we get it. You don't like the current era of F1, so why don't you just push off and infest another series? You have nothing to gain here. Just stop already.


God forbid he speaks on something he'd like to see fixed.


Twitch, again, again and again! I don't think anyone complains about Sebee's right to speak, just his right to say the same thing over and over again every day for years and years and years....


Tim I responded above. Sebee repeating his issues with F1 is no different than you repeatedly declaring your love for Lewis.


Twitch. Do I repeatedly state my love for Lewis? In what way? By saying he drove a good race now and again? It seems to me saying anything remotely positive about Lewis is enough to get you guys into spasm.
Even if your claim were true, (and it isn't) we are back to the positivity vs negativity argument aren't we?


It seems that Sebee saying anything about the state of F1 sends you guys into spasms.

A large enough spasm that you want the content removed....

Tim, it's soooo simple. Clearly you don't like what Sebee has to why read his stuff? Can't be bothered by it if you don't read it, no??


Twitch. I only reply to about 10% of Sebee's comments, I do ignore the vast majority and only bother replying if I see something clearly incorrect. Where do I suggest that his content should be removed? My only suggestion is that he should limit himself to saying the same thing ten times instead of a hundred times, and perhaps try and remain within the general subject mattter of the article. Sebee has not written one positive comment about F1 in all the years I have been coming here, that's several thousand comments, all unrelentingly negative, and many of them irritatingly repetitive. James has once again asked him to limit his commenting, and once again Sebee has completely ignored this request and carried on in the same way as before, do you think this is acceptable?


Tim has it right. I've largely stopped posting comments due to having to flick through the same argument written a dozen different ways to get to the discussion on the actual subject matter. It's not that people don't have valid or interesting points but repetition and negativity is ultimately too energy draining.


If the same problem persists....


I will take the bait...

Half the teams could barely afford F1 during the V8 and V10 era. So I doubt that they could afford to run 15 to 20 engines today.

F1 has never had a period when drivers pushed for the full race - this is an urban myth - like crocodiles in the sewers or Halloween is for kids.

If history is a guide F1 teams have always spent beyond their means.
Complaining about money while spending beyond your means is as much a part of F1 as the racing cars.

The Sound Myth. Most fans watch F1 at home or in bars and the sound is muted so we can hear TV broadcasters speak. The Sound issue was started by Bernie in an attempt to to blunt the rise of the corporations. Bernie associated the hybrid era with his loss of total control of F1 to the teams and he did much to try and blunt it to force back control. It failed and he lost control. In addition, fan attendance and viewers were falling even before the hybrid era. That is because FOM recognized that free TV could no longer "afford" F1 and still provide revenue growth. The result is some of the highest event ticket prices and Pay TV.

Finally, without changes there would be fewer than 10 cars running either a Ferrari or some generic V8 configuration and fans would be complaining how lame F1 has become since the manufacturers left the sport! At least now we can complain while watching 20 cars (sorry 18 and McLaren) drive around the track.


@Fred -15-20 V8 or V10 engines are WAY cheaper than 5 or 6 of these PU's -without even taking the R&D into account.
The only urban myth that's relevant is that F1 is any cheaper now than it used to be...


Lkfe, how much cheaper? I know you like asking for evidence (although not so keen on providing it) so at the bottom ate a couple of links about engine costs. The first one is an article from here about the cut price Cosworth V8 being introduced at the bargain basement price of £5 million per year. This unit was introduced at Bernie's request to stop the greedy manufacturers charging so much, it doesn't say how much a customer V8 supply was from Ferrari or Mercedes, but we can assume that it was significantly more than 5 million. The second link is about the engine cost reduction that has already been iintroduced, and brings the PU supply cost down to "between 7.9 and 9.5 million". If the manufacturers were charging significantly more than five million eight years ago for 20 V8s, I wonder how much they would charge now?


Come on TimW, we expect and demand better of you.

The deal was done. The details are out. Why are you quoting an article from BBC with nothing but speculation and no actual details of what was agreed?

"Details are still being finalised..."

"The FIA was aiming at a figure in the region of £7.9m to £9.5m..."

This is not facts. And FIA did not get what it asked for.

Why didn't you link this with actual deal detail. Numbers quoted are from a 22-24m per season cost at the time.


Sebee. Read the rest of the article I gave you, the current cost of a PU supply is between 13.8 and 17.7m, nowhere near the 22 to 24 million figure you have come up with. Even if they were that high initially, (and I assume we just have to take your word for that) they are not that high now as previous reductions have already taken place.



I recall reading that Renault PUs were $28 million in 2014 for a season contract. I hate to admit it where, but you can search it. I don't want to mention the name.

What you also have to be mindful of is what currency the contract is priced in. GBP has moved quite a bit over the last 3 years, and what converted to 17.7m GBP in 2014 converts to 22m GBP today. So reports from past are not same GBP today.

Finally, at 17.7 million, it is still 3x the V10 supply contracts and 2x the V8/KERS supply contracts. Clearly, as complexity of the engine increases, the cost goes along with it. Benefiting who? Certainly not fans.


Sebee, you recall reading something 3 years ago, but you don't want to admit where?! Not very convincing, and even if true, (and I doubt it) tells me nothing about how much a PU supply cost last year. While we are on the subject, where do you get your V10 supply figures from? Forgive me for not just automatically believing everything you say, but I have been here a while....


V10 were 6m per season. Fresh engine each GP.
V8 KERS were 8-10m per season. 8 engines per season.

PUs are 22-24m per season, going to 18-22m with fewer engines. Way fewer PUs given for this price, hence penalties.

That much cheaper!


Lkfe, always amusing how people believe any old stiff somebody says, just because it chimes with their belief. Sebee's numbers are wildly innacurate as usual, mine are correct and referenced, take your pick.


WOW! This is the type of statement that really pisses me off TimW.

You quote incomplete data about a deal, when clearly complete data was available about what reductions were agreed by the parties involved.

And as much as I don't like the guy, I know you do, so here:

Are we good now?

Do you need a chart of exchange rates to plot you from 2014 to now or can you handle that Google query?


Sebee, interesting numbers from way back in 2014, but you are no closer to some current numbers than you were three days ago...


What part of reduction of cost from the 2014 baseline is hard for you to understand? The reductions were in those 2014 base costs as allowed units reduced and age of tech meant il initial R&D got absorbed.


Sebee. Joe says that a Merc supply cost 26 million US dollars in 2014. That was around sixteen million pounds sterling then. Even if we think there was no reduction through 2015 and 16, and I think there was, then the 4 million pound reduction mentioned brings the cost down to equivalent to £12m. I believe the engine deals are done in Euros, so recent currency fluctuations by the UK pound will make no difference.


Sebee, read the article. PUs are going to 7.9 to 9.5 million.



When you know wildly inaccurate statements are being made on your site, why don't you call them out? I think factual accuracy is more important than the negativity you called me out on. And again, I'm not negative. I'm an optimist!

Please, point us to where a team get can a PU supply for 7.9 - 9.5 million per season if TimW is correct.


Complaining to the stewards Sebee? You could alwways come up with some current data that supports your claims instead....


Yeah, because for a while you knocked off these deceptions. Now you're back here with them. 7.9m for PUs...come on TimW.


Sebee. The number I quoted came from an expert written article on an extremely reputable site. If you wish to counter my numbers, then you really need to come up with contrasting numbers from an equally reputable source. Surely you don't think I will just accept your version of events?!


As per above line and finalized deal information, from the initial PU per season cost of 22-24M...

– In 2017 the power unit price for customer teams will be reduced by €1m per season compared to 2016.
– From 2018, the annual supply price will be reduced by a further €3m.

Is it when you post this type of misinformation that I wonder about your intentions TimW.


Your article TimW quotes that "it is believed." This is not fact it result of the final agreement. The actual deal did the following reductions for PUs from cost of 22-24m per season:

“In 2017 the power unit price for customer teams will be reduced by €1m per season compared to 2016. From 2018, the annual supply price will be reduced by a further €3m.

Cost reduction on power units will be driven by changes to the Sporting and Technical regulations in 2017 and 2018, with a progressive reduction of the number of power unit elements per driver per season.”

So...7.9 to the customer teams dreams. It is 18m+ range, if you won't need to take additional units.


The one point I am trying to make is that if Ferrari and Mercedes can run 4 or 5 engines and be competitive for the full season and Honda (or Renault) is on number 8, the problem is not the technology or Mercedes and Ferrari but Honda (and Renault) engineering. Is there anyone who doubts that if Ron Dennis was not emotional and arrogant when deciding to abandon Mercedes for Honda, Alonso at the very least would be a perennial podium presence and McLaren would be making massive sums of money with a major sponsor.

I am not saying hybrid is cheap, but trust me when we switch to biturbo V6s or whatever is next there will be four cars winning and 16 cars complaining about costs and competition. We did it when Williams, Ferrari, McLaren and/or Red Bull dominated. The difference is rather than one or two TV networks we now have an unlimited menu of media to exaggerate the doubts of the non winning teams.


At the very least get your facts right.

Ron Dennis did not sign the deal with Honda, Martin Whitmarsh did that before Ron's return.


January 2009 Ron Dennis hands over control of McLaren F1 Team to his protege Martin Whitmarsh. Ron Dennis however remains as CEO of the McLaren Group and along with Mansour Ojjeh the group's largest shareholder . The same year, McLaren Group ends the strategic relationship with Mercedes after Mercedes buys Brawn GP. one of the reasons Ron Dennis gives is McLaren wants to became an independent car manufacturer. However, as part of the divorce McLaren agrees to use Mercedes engines in their F1 team until until 2015. January 2011 McLaren announces it has completed its divestiture of Mercedes 40% holding in McLaren. January 2014 McLaren announce Ron Dennis is back as head of McLaren combining it with his role as CEO of the McLaren Group. 2015 season the Honda deal commences.

If you believe the F1 team principal made that important a decision and NOT the corporate group CEO (and one of its largest shareholders) you are pretty naive. At the end of the line the Honda deal was all McLaren corporate and that is Ron Dennis. He was angry Mercedes had decided to become a direct competitor and in Ron Dennis fashion he moved to remove Mercedes from McLaren.
Those bold and somewhat impulsive acts were as much a reason why Ron made McLaren great but also a big reason why in the end it cost him his place at McLaren.


your obsession with v10 / v8 is mind-bending; they are gone and NOT coming back anytime soon, if ever. Get over it, move on and enjoy the races as much as you can. Or maybe just stop watching (for now) and hope that the v10 / v8 will come back (then start watching again)!?


I myself was a huuuuge V10 fan. Alas, i agree, the glory days of F1 are over for those motors. However, for a small capital outlay, one can buy a good ol' BMW M5 with that screaming V10 - i see they are coming down in price nicely - R280k in South Africa now.

Kimi in the 2005 "proper" Mclaren was awesome....

as for my thoughts on new engines; 1600cc V6, twin turbo, with Kers. Keep it "relatively" simple so that possibly invites more manufacturers.

Maybe a choice between that engine, a full hybrid 1500 diesel 4-pot or a V8 n/a motor of say 3 litres (i'm just sucking numbers here as an example) could entice range of manufacturers...

all i knows is, something has to change...


Sebee reminds me of some people in Northern England and Scotland, who keep droning on about de-industrialisation in the 80s and Maggie, and how they want to go back to a world full of shipbuilding, coal mines, steelworks and general smoke stack industries that were dirty and dangerous, as if industrial Britain in the 70s was some magical era, despite the strikes, unions out of control, IMF bailouts and mass double digit inflation................and also the fact that those state owned industries were losing billions a year. Before Mrs T came to power British Leyland were making a loss, a LOSS, of over £1 billion a year, as were the likes of British Steel...........

[mod] just can't accept that Britain is no longer an industrial powerhouse (and let's face it, post war, never really was) and Sebee just can't accept that normally aspirated V10s and V8s are from another age that isn't coming back!!!!!


There is another Brit that wants V10 back, Christian Horner, he must be from Northern England or Scotland, I guess.


Sebee should remind you of a guy who wants Formula 1 to be a fair competition, where championships can't be bought, with maximum involvement of driver in the craft of racing that is close, tense, competitive, hard to predict and lets entire field challenge with cars that look and sound exciting.


Here we talk about the world as it is not as we wish it were.

OK you have had your say. Thanks.

Now please move on to other subjects


Ross Brawn talks a lot about the F1 world the way he wishes it was, as per most recently speaking to Brundle in the interview in back of his car.

So it's important to be discussed but agree not repeated too much, though on this site the main topic being repeated is the 'get in there Lewis chat'.


Clarkes, is get in there Lewis the main topic? Have a count of the comments, I really think that's wrong. Even if it were true, this is the strategy report about a race that he just won! We all know how hard you find it to deal with anything positive being said about Lewis, but surely you aren't surprised to see the odd congratulatory post about the race winner?!


Indeed.. SIGH....Why shouldn't a lewis fan, vettel fan, RIC fan etc etc etc not be able to congratulate their driver on a win and/or great drive without various posters putting their negative spin on things. But hey... you crack on Clarkes. ... you, like your brethren, are nothing if not predicable. Clock set to 14.00 BST Saturday 16th 😊


We have to get the balance between enthusiasm for a driver and something more monotonous..


James. You have no chance of pleasing everyone on that score. For some, any positive comment about their least favourite driver is enough to get them complaining about "slavish and sycophantic" comments infesting the site.


The real issue is not what kind of ICE but that batteries weigh a lot still at the present. The hybrid stuff is costly. I say either use an ICE only or battery only power unit.

If they go with just an internal combustion engine, it could still be modern by fuel flow regulation. That would help with cars most of us buy. Electric cars are OK too but hybrids are the worst of both because of extra weight.

While we want to be modern, what about the tires? They are too big around with too much unsprung weight.

There isn't that much in a 2017 F1 car that translates to real vehicles that people actually buy. I don't think I have even heard of a hybrid super car that uses a single turbo to recharge the batteries.

The v6 twin turbo with a fuel limit sounds pretty good because turbo reliability could use improving for the average car as you get the same power at better mileage.

Well something has to be done to control costs so at least the midfield could at least win a race ever now and then.


Thank you. Could conspiracy theories please be put to the same "the world as it is" test, and then put into the "move on" category?


James whilst what you say about Ferrari is true I still don't think amount of time Kimi spent behind Ocon and Stroll . He should been blitzing those guys in sector 2 but he didn't. Vettel got past Ocon and Stroll much quicker than Kim didi . I really thought Kimi's performance was beyond dismal in the race. Ocon and Stroll didn't wreck Kimi's afternoon Kimi did that himself with an embarrassing performance.


Same old Kimi, perform at best few races before contract renewal then drive leisurely the rest of the year...


Spot on. That's why I'm disappointed that Kimi is resigned again too.

Tornillo Amarillo

Before the first stop, Kimi said on the radio he had damage in the back.


Well the main problem was triggering the early stop

He was probably frustrated that he couldn't get past and wanted something to happen, but that was the wrong option


Agreed James, and i think he possibly wasn't decisive enough as well.

If we look at Ricciardo's brilliant overtake on Kimi, you get the idea that he (Kimi) was uncertain if he could pull a clean move on either of the young guns....on a few occasions he was right up the chuff into the 1st chicane and didn't make a move...

Ferrari didn't get the setup right so could it be he was also not too confident on the brakes to do something like that...maybe, but, fact is, Vettel in the sister car made him look slow on the day.

And that's sad...I'm a big Kimi fan, but reckon he's a shadow of his former self for the last few years...the new tyres/hybrid formula doesn't seem to play to his strengths...

The early stop was a wrong move.


The main problem... was actually that Raikkonen had damaged his car early in the race so it was no longer stable to drive. He radioed a couple of messages to that effect. Trying to overtake down the Parabolica etc w 350km/h is not that easy if the car is all over the place and not balanced when you need to step on the brakes for the next curve. Maybe he had hoped a set of new rims and tires, with a quick check on the suspension by the pit crew would solve the problem. Obviously it didn't.


The team found no evidence to suggest damage.


It's also possible he had a flat spot on a rear tire or maybe he's just getting too old.


The pit stop was also slow, not sure if that would have made the difference with Ocon?


@James Allen - Ferrari don't seem to get onto of strategy. We often hear drivers asking to change tyres and their engineer refuses to let them pit, unless/until it's very obvious the tyres have had it. Kimi's engineer was bullied and let the team down. Is it possible that with two non-mechanically trained people running the team, the engineers are not being listened to, leading to the kind of situation Ferrari found themselves in over the weekend?


At times a driver can make strategy work due to his performance.



Please stop peddling this message that Mercedes voluntarily is burning only 0.9L/100km of "oil", even after introducing all the 4 engines before Monza to ensure they were subject to the 1.2L/100km rule and give us some proof that indeed Mercedes used 0.9L/100km at Monza.

Oh, and if Toto came out and said officially that they used 0.9L/100km, but really used 1.2L/100km, as the circumvented rule permits, what FIA rule would he be braking by telling you one thing and doing another permitted by the loophole? And what punishment would FIA issue even if they could prove that the Mercedes didn't burn the 0.9L/100km, but the loophole permitted 1.2L/100km?


@sebeeeee - With their extra 150 hp, the Mercedes cars were all cruising from lap 1. So it's very obvious they were not using a lot of fuel, oil or much else really.


Yeah, cause they've already used that oil in Q3.


At no point were they cruising.


Rodger, onky 150? I think it's more like 300....


Wow I'm surprised that you admitted bullying. I disagree with your claim about voicing same opinion by the way. Would you like me to remind you what JA replied to your comment earlier?


It is possible that the trickery on the Mercedes PU is in exceeding the 160hp electric power limit.


Anything is possible Sebee, if you have a vivid enough imagination....


In F1, circumventing the rules is all about vivid imagination.

"Team, these are the rules for next season. I need all proposals on how to gain advantage. Everyone, read these front to back and find loopholes. Legal is analyzing and providing possible interpretations. Imagination people! Use your imagination. Be creative. No proposal is off the table."


Sebee. That is all true, and has been since 1950.


Rodger, I actually can totally buy that angle, that the Mercedes engine has so much of an advantage tucked away, this oil burning story is a distraction in an effort to misdirect competition and fans.

But the engine doesn't run on unicorns and rainbows. It needs fuel to make power, so something is going on in there. How about some type of a liquid in the oil that turns into a flammable gas at higher temperature of the composition engine? There are additives you can throw into oil that would do something like this, so maybe there is something to it after all?


Sebee, the whole point of 'burning oil' is that you are deliberately leaking and additive into the cylinder that aids combustion and provides a greater 'bang for your buck' as Ted Kravitz might say. All the teams are at it. I looked through the technical regs and couldn't find anything specific to ban it - although there are stipulations about what fuel can be put in the car and the provision of samples to the FIA, there is nothing to stipulate exactly what can go into each cylinder for combustion. Also, there is a 'sweet spot' when placing an additive into the mix, whereby too much will actually stifle combustion rather than act as a catalyst. A bit like adding too much yeast to bread - the dough ends up collapsing. So Toto might well be telling the truth that there is no performance advantage in the current iteration of the engine to burning more than 0.9l/100km of oil.


Ah! ... Toto telling truth!


Hard to believe, I know! There's no rule against lying to the public in F1 though. Lying to the stewards and FIA, yes, but Toto is under no obligation (other than moral) to tell the truth to you and me!


Isn't the fuel used in F1 cars something like 99% the same as found in road cars?

From this site a few years ago.

So that leaves 1% of additvies that the fuel supplier can add to the fuel. Perhaps one has simply got a better blend than another. It's the job of the others (same with PU's in general) to catch up and the one who is ahead to stay ahead.


Substances can share similar chemical properties but even the smallest variation in chemical structure can set them a world apart in terms of what they are and what properties they poses.

Clearly regular fuel is flammable and goes into an engine. And we have cars on the road, which sense the type of fuel put into them and thus adjust timing of combustion, etc. So this little stunt of putting regular gas into an F1 car could have been easily done by tweak to the engine combustion timing or other functions of the engine. And just because it ran, doesn't mean it wasn't running at 20% less power for example. So this is the type of advertorial is much more complicated and requires questions to be asked about compromises being made to run an F1 car on this particular brand and type of fuel they were trying to "promote".


...composition... should be
..components of...


Great analysis.
Seems once The Mercs were in control they switched to low impact engine mode and cruised to victory.
It's going to be needle all the way.
From now on its F1 wars between the two teams.
Mercedes have got some serious horse power with the new engine.
Reckon whatever Ferrari bring it will still be lacking the same grunt.
The Ferrari boss will be doing his nuts in !


Spa is the power circuit just as much as Monza and there Ferrari were able to follow or even be faster than Mercedes ..... so it's not horsepower but I guess the Monza package of Ferrari or its setup went wrong...


The difference isn't just down to sheer power though. Both circuits have lot of the lap spent at full throttle, but Spa also has a lot more fast corners where downforce is important. Aside from 3 corners, Monza is essentially a series of straights punctuated by slow speed chicanes.


I think it was brakes that that were the bigger issue (Kimi and Vettel were both complaining about getting the car stopped) though I have no doubt that Merc had the upper hand irrespective.


Looks like Merc have also figured out the tires and setup and can now unlock the race pace they were having issues with earlier in the season.


It's the opposite

They kept the engines turned up and went for it


Must say that's a silly strategy if true. There's nothing to be gained from a 30 sec win versus a 5 sec win. Would have been better for Bottas to allow Ocon to stay in his DRS, so he could have kept Vettel behind for longer.

Ricciardo Aficionado

Maybe it is already written that this is Ferrari's Championship so Merc took this opportunity for some marketing gain.


Ra, not you as well!? Didn't have you down as a tin foil hat wearer....


As much as I want to believe it, this doesn't make sense to me... I mean the fact that the title may depend on reliability and Mercedes are already on their 4th PU. Doesn't the risk seem too high for the chance that it might destabilize Ferrari a little? Compare this to the alternative possibility the Ferrari went the wrong way with setup on Friday, and then didn't get the chance to correct it, or for their drivers to get the necessary confidence on Saturday. This meant the entire field (Mercedes, Red Bull, FI and Williams) were faster relative to Ferarri than they usually would be. Couple this with the fact that Mercedes are ahead in power, and this is a power track, while Ferarri are generally ahead on aero, but for some reason favor a setup with slightly more downforce on low downforce tracks (just based on the last two races).

George P. Burdell

But around lap 30 or so didn't Hamilton report loss of power and Merc confirmed they turned the engines down? Even after they were stretching the gap right? The graph definitely shows Lewis slowing up a bit between laps 30 and 40 before pushing again to control Valtteri towards the end.


Maybe, however by that point Vettel will have turned his engine down too. Without a safety car he was never going to catch them as he'd lost too much time in traffic (and was slower anyway) so he was saving his engine too.


@George P. Burdell - Mercedes are unable to alter the power or make any other adjustments to a car when the car is on track. If the engine had been turned down, Lewis Hamilton dun it.


But who pre-programmed that engine mode Lewis selected? And who told him when to selected and how to select it?

That engine mode does a lot of stuff, like deploy KERS and engage regeneration and likely break bias too.


Sebee, you think the drivers should programme their own engine modes?!!


I think the only software running should be the one written with the right foot on the acceleration pedal. I'm willing to make an exception for deployment of KERS with steering wheel button of course. Nothing else.


Sebee. That's what happens now!


Sorry but I don't believe it. Toto talked about that t the end... that they were looking after the PU damage matrix during the race.
And after introducing their last PU (apparently) earlier than scheduled, I don't believe they were to push the engine just for the humiliation. It is not rational.


So how were they going 328kmh down the straights without tow? Wind power?


James, I find it strange you say that. I've read Mark Hughes report, and mercedes said they turned the engines down from Lap 12. Isnt that the case?


Well would you say that if you'd just spanked Ferrari by 30 seconds on home soil?

End of straight speeds are huge all through the race (without tow)

Draw your own conclusions


JA, thank you also for your official confirmation of their max speeds down the main straights:

...through the speed trap into Turn 1 the Mercedes engined cars were doing between 328-330km/h without a tow (with a tow it was up to 350km/h). This went on for much of the race.
Meanwhile the Ferrari was doing 316-318km/h consistently, a deficit of around 10km/h every lap on the straight.

Some posters on this forum are in denial about this fact.


While it will not sit well with the Sebee fans and those convinced Mercedes have found out how to generate 100+ hp out of .3 of a litre of oil...

The reality of the situation is much more likely given how quick Ferrari were in Spa to be Ferraris low downforce package for Monza is not as efficient and produces much more drag hence the car is slower. Much more likely than ever an extra few % at full throttle per lap is somehow making the Mercedes so much better than it was at Spa cos it has this amazing oil burning 100+ hp built in!

But let's not let reality get in the way of the facts as determined by fans with absolutely no idea of engineering reality. Or journalists for that matter.

It must be this secret engine stuff Mercedes have - it just must be cos Sebee wants v10s back cos at the end of their years long development cycle they were a bit cheaper than the current amazing engines that have just a few years of their costs of development amortised to date.

This place used to be better than this.


Cyber. 10kph is not of the order of superiority that some posters on this forum were claiming. Remember that 10kph advantage came with the latest version of the Merc engine and was gained by running it at the maximum level for the whole race. When Ferrari get their new engine ready the gap will reduce again.


Tim, you're starting to sound like a flat earther...


Lkfe, isn't a flat earther someone who believes any old conspiracy theory, no matter how unlikely? Doesn't sound like me at all....


Cool spotting Cyber.


really? LH said he turned down his engine and I think Toto also said that after the race. During the race, one of the sky guys (I think Ted) mentioned that they asked LH to move to strat 9. Now, is 'humiliating' Ferrari a good enough reason to run your engine in high mode when you are comfortably in the lead? especially knowing that getting to the end of the season, engine mileage will be crucial...


You humiliate them even more by saying 'engine was turned down' after you've taken 30 seconds out of them in 53 laps!

The speeds are the speeds - and they are 10km faster than Ferrari

If Merc was turned down - Ferrari was turned down more


The merc may have been turned up, but the onboard footage that i saw of Hamilton he was braking early and coasting through corners. He certainly wasn't pushing.


And I think this is closer to the truth. What did Vet have to gain? He was never going to catch the Mercs without a safety car anyway so why waste the engine trying to?


james, as the grape above shows, after the pit stop VET took it easy, as can be seen by the virtually flat curve for the rest of the race. The two front runners and RIC definitely show an upward trend, clearly showing they were pushing.
Personally, i think VET was being very smart, having been basically secured third, with no chance at the top, and causing, saving HIS engine to fight another day.. And, as you indicated the top speeds would confirm it.
With the two BIG Bosses there, Marchionne and Zetsche, it was like playing in a sand box of 4 year olds, and many lapped it up, forgetting the long game..


Very insightful and thought provoking observation. It worked with Marchionne taking the bait but I've got to admire Vettel's team management skills here on calming the team and saying they've done well and it will be ok in the future. He is very clever. Got to admit though the RB's pace wasn't half bad given the Mercs were giving it. I like your logic James. Seems to me you look at the data and draw sensible conclusions and don't believe interview talk without analysis. Very good read. Thanks


@ James...your point is well taken. There are those that continually buy the 'toto' spin as if he would never ever 'embellish' the truth in order to score a point or two over the enemy. The facts are quite plain to see.


How did you know this James? Hamilton was audibly cruising down to turn one when one instance of on-board camera was used during the race


The race data which is supplied to teams by time keepers

I've seen it and it shows the speeds every sector of every lap


Really interesting James and certainly brings the mindset of the manufacturers into play.

I'm not disagreeing with you but could a better/longer gear ratio and a more trimmmed car for the straight also explain the difference.

Were the Ferrari cars hitting the limiter for example?

Those would be the more normal suggestions for top speed difference so your thoughts/knowledge on why these are largely discounted for the difference would be brilliant.


It would be good to know whether the Ferrari or Merc can pull faster from 120Kph to 250kph. Maybe the Ferrari is quicker but the Merc overhauls them by the end of a long straght. For example, my motorbike can out accelerate most high performance cars, but tops out at 154mph, whereas a lot of cars can approach 180mph. So the 10kph advantage Merc have only last for 200m a lap and not be as advantageous as the top line suggests.


Probably if Perez had done a Perez, he would have caught Ocon and all hell would break loose again, so the team played it safe this time


All this while Ferrari were keen to celebrate their 70th Anniversary AND at their home race...


The analyzes make you feel like you are in the race, thanks!
Hope in future FIA allows to make setups, depending on the weather, it would have become even more interesting. As the rules now are, one can not change between qualification and race. Imagine driving a mess in rain with a torture setting! Instead of being optimized for track condition.
Anyway, the end of the season will be exciting!



When you wrote this, did you get slack for it?

When you write pieces about the halo, and take the stance against it, a stance shared by fans/readers as indicated by your poll, do you get slack for it?

Do you think going against the grain is a risk for F1 media? Risk to access? Just curious.


The funny thing about the link to the story from 2014, is if you read the article and look at the comments you will see nine from Sebee (10% of the total), all saying how terrible the sport is and that he doesn't like it anymore. Three long years later, and we still get multiple comments from the same guy, saying the same thing over and over again, and not one positive comment between that day and this.


Penis noses, the arrival of hybrids and the realization that the next 6 years will be dominated by Merc. 2014 was an abysmal year for F1 as a whole. You think it's surprising there's complaints? And the fact we're still complaining is because it's STILL JUST AS BAD!!!!!! The fact that pushovers have "got used to it," doesn't mean things have actually gotten better.

Check the same topic...any comments by you talking about how Lewis is the greatest?


You're kidding right? 2014 F1 lost sound, crazy amount of speed, and racing was to a delta, as it very much is now. And for this pleasure teams wete paying 3x the cost if V8s.

This was something to be happy about? 2014 was the year the sport took a bad turn.


Sebee, and according to you it has gardly improved since then, and is showing no signs of doing so in the future, so the obvious question is, How long are you going to bang your head against the wall before realising that this is not the sport for you?


Global F1 viewership dropped down to around 390M for the 2016 season. And it is the 6th consecutive year it has dropped. Since the start of this decade it has dropped 130M in total. You could blame the switch to pay tv, but that does not represent the majority of this viewer drop. Its more systemic to the sport itself and not just a question of viewer access/price consideration.

Btw, sport is defined by being a competition in where an individual or team competes against another. If all is predictable there is no competition, and so ultimately there is no sport. And who cares then to watch? Fanboys? Maybe. Not fans of motorsport.


Cyber. Do you have a link to thise numbers please? I have been trying to find accurate figures for a while, but they are difficult to find. James said the other day that viewing figures have risen in Grtmany and several other markets, and with track attendance figures continuing to rise, it seems that not everyone thinjs F1 is so bad. Predictable? Who will win this years championship? Who will win the next race?


@TimW, you find the numbers in the 2016 Global Media Report which is published annually by Formula 1’s commercial rights owners. Not sure if its in public domain in its entirety, but sure you find many snippets across the various news agencies and what they have written of articles about the F1 viewership decline over past decade. (using this as source)

You have always positives about these numbers if you cherry pick. I only referred to global numbers. With regards to on track dominance, then there is no doubt about the direct impact with the declining viewership as result. Already back in 2013 it was confirmed that Vettel’s domination of the 2013 Formula 1 was the major factor in the sport’s 10 per cent plunge in television audience that time. Going from 515M in 2012 to 450M in 2013. Through the years of the RedBull dominance the trend continued. And unfortunately the same has continued now with the Mercedes dominance.

You also find country specifics in the report. Aka the UK viewership dropped 5M viewers last year to a 12-year low of 21.8M, despite we all know the WDC fight was not really over until the very last race. The Mercedes dominance, with Rosberg's straight 4 wins at season start and Hamilton's less stellar results in same races, plus the move to pay tv are listed as prime factors, in that order. And you also had 1.000 spectators less showing up to the UK GP, despite Hamilton had caught up with Rosberg at that time.

Again TimW, its not about the driver, so don't shoot back just because of Hamilton's name is mentioned in my post. Its about the lack of competition in this sport.

Rest assured, Hamilton will win the WDC this year. ;o)


Cyber. Thanks, I will look for it. As ever there are numerous reasons for viewing figures to fall, and although the switch to pay per view seems to be the main driver of that fall, single team domination isn't good for any sport.


What changed 2015?

What changed 2016?

What changed 2017? Beside the fact that after 3 years Mercedes decided to give away 5 wins so far? Not a single pass on Mercedes for P1 on track on merit.


Didn't people give examples of Merc being passed for P1 before? Malaysia 2015? There were others, so why do you then ignore them, and just plow forward with your previous line? You do it repeatedly, to the point where it's a problem, a personal failing. What do you call people who ignore anything that goes against their narrow viewpoint?


Sebee, nothing changed despite your daily complants. Beginning to get the message?


Ya, Sebee, just roll over and give up. Come on man, join the heard. It's really nice inside the echo chamber this time of year.


Not sure what your point is here?


The point is big fat nothing. Question for you, what was the real issue with Vettel's car that he was reporting towards the end of the race?


Not at all

Not sure what your point is


his point is that V8/V10 are better than Hybrid turbo V6 🙂


My point is that you don't often write pieces that criticize Formula 1 state of affairs, when clearly there are serious structural issues.

Criticism is often just an objection or a method of identifying problems. Seems like it's frowned upon here lately.


Sure I do.

Constructive criticism is always welcome from readers


Operative word there is constructive. Some here don't like that their views get challenged, and believe their views are fully formed the first time they type it out.


Does "waaah, I don't like this comment because I disagree with it! Jaaaaames, can you and your team work harder to censor/ban/delete this comment that I don't like!?!?" count as 'constructive criticism"?

C'mon man


Twitch. Maybe you should start your own F1 blog.


Thanks for such an interesting article. As a life-long F1 fan, I find your perspective and insights fascinating. I really appreciate you including the the data to back up your analyses. Great work!


Its a pity that LEW shopped LAN at the start.
That move made LAN lose a spot to L'OCOn which held him for more than half race, two stints combined.
With free track ahead, we could have seen an even better performance fron Stroll.
My verdict on Lance Stroll.
{although you shall not judge}.
Lance showed to be a good driver when racing on high speed and plane tracks: Montreal, Baku and Monza.
That means LAN is not good on low speed curves and on tracks sitting on hills - w/ elevations. Drivers that excels in Interlagos always draw a lot of attention to me.
Therefore I don't think he's a supernatural.
Lance reminds me a lot of Nelsinho Piquet.
Rich kid promoted by Millionaire Dads living in a world of fantasy, where everybody is a servant treating them well.
Papa Stroll even hired a whole entourage to coach his son, but its a big waste bcs Lancinho doesn't have the learning spirit.
Lance simply doesn't care and give a $h!t.
But he's still so young... its kind of unfair to compare the performance of old rags with puppies.
Oh Canada!


Bit harsh on Lance there. The kid is an 18 yo rookie and I think he's shown enough good stuff to keep his seat. Yes he has shown some poor stuff too, but no less than Sainz, Kvyat, Ocon and Verstappen. Lance seems to be maturing and making (though unspectacular) good racing decisions. He is learning that to finish first, first you have to finish. Whereas Verstappen seems to be getting more desperate and unable/unwilling to stay out of trouble and you could at different points in the season have been equally critical of the other 3.


"If you do this, the rule is don’t have a collision"

I think "don't have a collision" is always a pretty sound policy...


Best part of the weekend....the two mercs doing the warm down lap in formation. Superb!


The part I find really disturbing is this: "...'damage' the supplier will allow the drivers to do to the engine."

Does that mean Mercedes can tell Williams "For this race you'll run the your engine at 85% capacity". Force India, "you run yours at 87%. We like to see your boys crash. Our boys will run at 95% capacity to look good on TV but don't tell anyone."

So...unless you build your own engines you'll never be *permitted* to win a Constructors Championship...


Customers are always at a disadvantage one way or another.


Right there is why McLaren should stick with Honda despite the pain.


Did you really ever think otherwise since the advent of the turbo-hybrid era?
No way is a manufacturer who pumped hundreds of millions into the technology and participates as a works team ever going to let a customer team win. Well maybe in a parallel universe Renault would, since they are still way too weak on the chassis compared to RBR, but Merc or Ferrari? Forget about it.


That's what's so annoying with the engine supply system. What other sport allows one team to dictate the performance of another team they are competing against? F1 needs independent engine suppliers quicksmart.


It would be interesting to see how Mercedes will use their engines here on in. With 7 races to go, they are already on their 4th and final ICE, TC , MGU-H. Having used this better spec engine at Spa and Monza and assuming they can use these same components for 3 more races only, they will probably go back to using older engine components at Singapore, Malaysia and Brazil. Then use this newer spec engine for Japan, USA and Mexico. What engine they use at ABD with all the engines coming to the end of their life on what could be the title clinching race would be very interesting.
Ferrari on the other hand can have a game changer by introducing an updated ICE from Japan onwards. But whatever additional grunt this will give them, they will be restricted to the 0.9L oil burning limit. Also having used 4 TCs already will they have to use a 5th one and take a 10-place grid penalty at some point. The whole engine usage and strategy adds to the chess game-like feel of this whole title battle with the team performances being so track dependent. Roll On Singapore. Can hardly wait for the next race.


The first components had to do all practice sessions, and then quali/race, for the first 5 races I believe. The next components would then just need to do quali's and races, and stick the 1st components in for all practice sessions. So you'll get double life out of the later components, even if you won't get double of the best modes.

I would expect either the 2nd or 3rd engine would be in for Singapore, and then #3 or #4 for Malaysia. You would want max power for Mexico's long straights, though there are big straights in Malaysia and Abu Dhabi too. There's also the long drag up the hill in Brazil.

It would be great if the FIA made it public as to where and when each team ran each of their engine components.


Thanks, James, for another quality article - no matter what the detractors have said in one of the previous articles. Keep up the good work for the good of the order. The focus on how strategies affected the outcome does help one understand the race in the aftermath, as does the outline of engine use. Appreciated.

Interesting observations: "But curiously Perez didn’t ‘do a Perez’ on this occasion." Had one impression on the initial reading, but later in the article it would seem that the comment is relating to use of a particular strategy and not relating to inciting an incident.

Even more interesting, however: "Vettel was right after the race to focus on the positives, rather than to let rip on the negatives, as the chairman Sergio Marchionne did." There are the racing strategies (relatively more mechanical in nature) and the longer game focus -- and as this comment emphasizes both are in play for ultimate success. Time will tell on these fronts as well.


Quite suprised to read that Merc engined cars were allowed to run a higher engine mode for a longer period during the race. Toto Wolff himself actually said (I believe the article is on that they turned the engines down during the race.

Is this simply a way to rub it in even more, saying they (Ferrari) were beaten without Mercedes actually giving all they had?


It's a shame you cannot see the end of straight speeds. They were hauling a*s


hauling a*s

Gotta love that US Navy slang, would love to hear that on team radio sometime.
Other than "hammer time" I don't think we have another phrase with connotations - any suggestions?


Hi James,
Is engine power the only factor in top speed ?
I've read a lot about the efficiency of Mercedess aero package, is it possible that Mercs could set up their cars with less drag than ferrari while having the same or even more downforce, and some of this top speed difference be the result of that?


I believe James' point isn't so much absolute speed (which, to your point is affected by drag, downforce, tires, etc. as well as power), but the fact that there wasn't a drop off in top speed at the end of the straight from the beginning of the race to the end of the race... thus, it would appear unlikely that the power was turned down


Are the 'end of straight speeds' not the speed trap figures shown on tv?

If not, why not? Surely that's more logical?


Why not James? Is there some embargo imposed by F1 over the data being shared with the general public? For sure many wouldn't even know what they were looking at, but some of us would be very interested. Surely they understand that the must cater to all of their audience not just dumb it down to suite the lowest common denominator (not anyone on here of course).


Also the Marcs looked to have more down force setup too. I might have to compare that with SPA.

I'm not sure what they are up to exactly. Maybe grid penalties could decide more than Red Bull which also has a chance at Singapore of spoiling parties.

Marc will probably put the #3 engine back in for that track.


I was late seeing the race but what I did notice was tht at about 2/3 distance the top speeds as shown on screen had Lewis way down the list - something like 14-15th overall. Presumably when you say they were going for it you mean the differential speeds from the first few laps and later in the race when they normally turn the engines down? Of course Lewis would not have the speed as increased by DRS.


He was virtually at the front for the whole race so he had no tow and DRS while almost all the other had at some point


James I'm not so sure that speedtrap numbers are enough to indicate that Mercedes were running their PUs at the highest settings. I'm pretty sure that none of the teams are running the same units they ran is Canada so that's not necessarily a good comparison. The Merc units may simply have evolved enough (hardware and software) since then that even in a lower setting they could be delivering more grunt. That's not to say you're wrong but I would need to see some other corroborating evidence.


If a driver does not have the right setup of the car, he is mediocre!
When the setting is as he wants, self-confidence will cause him to take action and make a good race. The difference is subtle, so do not judge a driver for one or two races!


Every body seems to think that Mercedes will not win in Singapore.
What if they shock us and win? Its not as if they have not won there before


If they do then this championship is all over.


Indeed; it would be a dagger to the heart of Ferrari. They had problems hooking the car up in 2015 and in 2016 Hamilton was not really on it, but I think that this talk that "Ferrari are favourites in Singapore" is double-bluff talk that is primarily aime at heaping the pressure and the expectation onto the Scuderia.


Monaco and Hungary tells a different story, and Singapore is same..


These hybrid F1 engines have various modes in which they can be run and it relates to the ‘damage’ that the supplier will allow the drivers to do to the engine by running at the maximum regime. You normally run the maximum for the start of the race and after a Safety Car but apart from that you turn it down to try to minimise the damage and hence increase the reliability and longevity of the engines.

This bring up an interesting point I've been trying to touch on over the weekend with these engine modes.

In the past, this type of adjustment outlined above was done by the driver in the cockpit with his right foot or shift points. How far was driver willing to push? To risk? How far did he need to push? There was drama in that. How much skill did the driver have to take care of the equipment?

Now it is all done by engineers and their pre-programmed software. Young Max said as much about the subject when suggestion was put to him that HE is the cause of the engine issues. To which he replied..."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."

Is this a good thing or bad?


Sebee. It hasn't been possible for a driver to damage the engine since the advent of rev limiters in the eighties.


I'm not sure that it really matters whether the driver has control over the engine via his right foot or by the switches on the steering wheel. Ultimately he can decide to overrule his race engineers instructions and switch to whatever mode he wants. Much the same as in the old days when the driver was told to short shift and/or lift and coast. He can still ignore it or follow it, as it has always been it's the drivers' choice. That's why telemetry from pit to car is not allowed, then the driver would not be in control.


Have you seen what happened when drivers couldn't get instructions from the pitwall? They couldn't select right engine mode worth jack! They were...dare I say it, almost useless. So useless that FIA reversed the rule in radio instructions to drivers. Nothing to that, right?


Sebee. Risking reliability for performance is as old as F1. In the early days this would be done by an engineer adjusting the mixture on the carbs, later a different rev limit might be set, after that different fuel maps, and now the driver will select a different engine mode. The risk is the same, the reward the same.


It's not the same Tim. Back on the day, a driver would feel the car's behaviour, and make adjustments to his driving style accordingly.

Today, the driver's simply drive to what the engineers in the bunker (not even at the track) tell them too.

Hell, apparently Force India and Williams drive to what the engineers from Merc tell them to.

This is barely a sport anymore, its a tech expo. I'm telling you guys, Liberty is priming things to make "match fixing" a breeze for them so they can milk the gambling aspect. "Exciting championship battles," down to he wire, every year $$$$$$


Twitch. You are making the mistake of buying into our resident conspiracy theorist's latest cause. Thr drivers are doing the same stuff they always did, the cars are at least as challenging as they always were, and no spouting off from people with no particular knowledge of the subject will be detracting from my enjoyment of the sport.
Years ago Twitch we didn't have the internet to tell us what people thought, instead we had the Autosport letters page. Guess what? It wasn't a steady stream of platitudes from happy fans saying how much they were enjoying everything, it was a never ending torrent of abuse from people saying how much better everything was in "the good old days". Common complaints revolved around wimpy cosseted drivers, cars being too easy to drive and that unchecked technology was destroying the sport. Check for yourself, it doesn't matter if it was ten, twenty or thirty years ago, the story is the same, everything was better before...


Who knowes perhaps in 10, 20 years time fans who grew up with this era as their first era of F1 will be saying the same thing some are saying now. I've been watching F1 for over 25 years and yes I cna look back fondly on the days of Senna, Mansell, Prost etc.. And less fondly on the Schmacher led era.


Al, I don't doubt that some will don their rose tinted specs in the future, its part of thr human condition to remember things in a positive way. I didn't mind the Schumacher era so much, he was doing a good job, and the team dynamic between them all was amazing to see, the onky thing that annoyed me about gjose days was the traction control.
I thoroughly enjoyed the Senna/ Prost days, but that doesn't stop me enjoying the races today.


Tim, the FIA and FOM have been failing to listen to fans for a very, very long time. Tell me something I don't know.


Twitch, why do you think this is? Could it be because we aren't even capable of agreeing on what day it is.....?


Amazing to think that Mercedes would willingly sacrifice the longevity of so many engines just to basically get into Ferrari's heads prior to Singapore. This is another indicator (should you need one) of just how close the championship is.
I still wouldn't bet against the Mercedes next race though,especially with the tyre test prior to then. I seem to remember the Mercedes having initial problems getting the tyres into the optimum operating window way back when and once they did Trey became unstoppable. It's not just the Mercedes PU that makes it the top car.


@ F1canmaker...I happen to think that Mercedes will win in Singapore. It may be close but they seem to be at a point where they have more flexibilty at more tracks than before.


They must be very confident in their PU reliability...

Seems an odd choice to risk a future failure for a fairly intangible benefit of a few more seconds advantage over Ferrari. But we shall see I suppose.


At the end of the day each engine has to do five race weekends. So Mercedes introduced their fourth engine into the pool earlier than Ferrari. But a counter argument would be that Ferrari are risking PU failure by using their existing PU's rather than introducing their fourth unit.

But as I said earlier it doesn't really matter on average each PU has to do five race weekends.


If the Mercs had won by a few seconds, nobody would be talking about this. It would have been put down to never having track position and that would be the end of it. By winning by such a margin this strikes a psychological blow against Ferrari. Similarly by running at full power for the entire race (when they didn't need to do so) it also demonstrates Mercedes confidence in their engines' reliability.

Before race-day at Monza, everyone was talking about Ferrari should be favourites in Singapore Now there is some significant doubt about that.


You factor it into your planning - it's not a sudden idea


@TimW......I don't normally respond to comments made in connection with my own,however are you seriously suggesting that Hamilton did more tyre test miles than anyone else......I seem to remember him doing almost zero.


Great analysis James - really enjoyed reading it, thanks .


Hi James.

I have to say it really surprises me to read that Mercedes have control over their customers engine modes. I've questioned this before on your blog - we never see the Q3 step change in performance in the customers, as we do in the works team. How do Mercedes inact this influence, issuing pre-race recommendations or something more hands on like a direct remote control? How is this legal?


I suspect that it's more a case of Mercedes will tell the teams they supply that they can only run the ICE and the higher levels for X number of laps. How the teams manage that is upto them.


It's the influence all manufactures have

They tell the teams how many laps they can run at higher damage levels


Do they allowed both FI and Williams cars or just ocon and stroll ?


James how do the supplied teams feel about this? Are they just waiting it out until the next economic crisis forces the manufacturers out again?


@ James...This has been one of my pet raves for a very long time. Back in '14 [i think it was] i recall Williams were asked by the media as to why they didn't get better results in one particular race. They responded by saying 'we don't control the go fast button'. That immediately suggested to me that Mercedes can exert a form of 'race control' whenever they choose. Now that doesn't seem to be quite right IMO. Obviously this is an issue that would have to be part and parcel of the supply contract arrangements. Does this then fall into the grey area of 'collusion'? I would love to see this point taken further as it is of great importance as to how the WC's are won and lost.


It's just a tongue-in-cheek dig at their PU supplier, that's all. The point everyone seems to miss is that the chassis is uber important in F1, witness RB competitiveness. Only those with very poor chassis point the finger of blame. Ok well yes maybe Honda is an exception. Haas has the latest Ferrari spec so what's his excuse?


Thorough and informed analysis as always! James- if you were is the Merc garage in Singapore what would your strategy for victory be?


I have another question James on the basis of Chassis and engine who do you think will win Singapore GP this year.


It's not that simple

It's the hardest race of the year for those guys, it can change at any time


Exactly, Singapore is a thinking on your feet race, be awake, aware of the options and take action swiftly. The situation where a race engineer gets to show how good he/she is.


What a race for Merc and LH??!! I honestly beleive this is the turning point of the season. One race does not make a championship winner but this was as emphatic as it gets. Merc won by over 30secs!!
The race craft demo,d by LH is a pleasure to behold.
Everyone is saying the Singapore race is Ferrari,s to lose?? I can,t see it?? Safety cars, blown turbo,s(ferrari) to name but a few.
Go LH!!!!!


@ Riciardo c What racecraft? Pole position in the fastest F1 car on the grid. Take the start then slip into 'cruise and control' mode without having to actually race anyone until the flag ?


Yeah to some that qualifies as race craft. Lewis and Nico must be the greatest look at their racecraft over the last 4 years..


What's up guys? Did someone say something mildly positive about Lewis? Obviously we can't have that can we?


I can. That Ferrari has a much shorter wheelbase. There is a lot of 90 degree corners in Singapore. It may not matter as the rest of the tracks are fairly fast except the last one.


Hi James. I'm not clear why the article concludes that the 4 front-running Merc engines were turned up beyond what the teams would have planned for Monza anyway.

I think the Merc engine upgrades this year allow higher modes to be used for more of the time. I'd expect them to make full use of that at Monza. And in the chart Stroll's & Ocon's pace doesn't seem significantly faster than their team-mates'.

If this was all about hurting Ferrari, would they really have turned up Massa's & Perez's engines too?


Curious that Pirelli chose to go Ultra Soft in Spa, with all the high speed cornering forces that brings, but played is Super Soft in Monza, where acceleration and braking are the forces acting on the tyre.

Any idea why they stuck their necks out in Spa but stayed conservative (and boring) in Monza?


Ah ha I forgot SPA had Ultra Softs. That could explain things too. We really need the same graphs at SPA to really know.

I remember Marcs put on Softs instead of Super Softs at the end there.


From the Ascari chicane to turn one is a long way virtually flat, with only the Curva Grande as (a couple of gears) respite and that's lateral load.
The tyres must be under huge load for a long period. A factor?


Im guessing ultras wouldn't work around the Parabolica



That is really cool, figuring out the power curve differentials to make that analysis, and then contextualize it to the tactical/strategic level (rocking the chairman is strategic).

I have to say, I don't believe this approach from Marchionne is going to make anything better.
It's more embarrassing that he says "it's embarrassing", if you get my drift.

I have to say Vettel took it like a man, and put the correct spin on it (IMO); very admirable.

So, by your analysis, it puts into perspective Kimi's difficulty getting by Stroll/Ocon(?)

Still impressed by Ocon's cool; I'd have to call him DoD over Ricciardo, who must mentioned, at least.
If I had the pick of the Max and Ocon, I'd go with Ocon; they are very, very close in my estimation; both going up and up from really, really good points right now.
I hope Max goes to McLaren* and Honda gets the engine right; he could be the youngest WC(!?) It always seems like RB is on the ups, a tough task to leave them.....
..... but I'd really like to see that move.

* - it just occurred to me that it looks like McLaren might actually divorce Honda (at the present moment (I'm in denial because I think it is so monumentally .... bad a move). In which case, I WOULD NOT want the MAX to go to McLaren, I'd want him to join a Williams/Paddy Lowe/Honda powered kind-a'works' team.
I'm hoping for a Williams resurgence in 2018 (if they get the Honda engine/semi-works team status).

I want to re-iterate the coolness of catching the output differentials (against pattern), cool!


James, if what you suggest is true doesn't it reek of collusion? Each team is supposed to be run as autonomously. If Merc is using customer teams to run interference for them by asking them to turn up their engines (at a potential risk) in in order to improve their chances this sounds suspiciously like interfering with the outcome of a race. Maybe the difference here is that you are not asking people to intentionally crash to influence the outcome, but the result is the same.

To what degree does this take place in F1. If you drive a car powered by a Ferrari engine is it understood that you should not make way for non-company traffic? Are special consideration made to cars of the similar engine manufacturers?


Each team is supposed to be run as autonomously. If Merc is using customer teams to run interference for them by asking them to turn up their engines (at a potential risk) in in order to improve their chances this sounds suspiciously like interfering with the outcome of a race.

Yeah that got me thinking too. How does that sit with the FIA sporting regs, if at all. The previous suspicions (=worst kept secret) that customer teams don't enjoy full control over their engines raises questions of neutrality; it doesn't always get highlighted, but I suppose it would still be lost in the legalities of engine supply and IP, ie, conditions of sale. I guess customer teams don't even own the engines they pay for; it's more like a rental agreement than a "purchase". Some insight from JAF1 into engine agreements and their (mis-)use would be great.


I am a fan of F1 slowly losing interest as the gap between the front runners and midfielders continues to increase - Red Bull being the exception.

The main cause undoubtedly is the engine manufacturer teams such as Merc and Ferrari, refuse to sell equal engines to their customers. In McLaren's case Merc and Red refused to sell them an engine at all.

Now to find out the rich ones have the right to "tweak" their customer's engines at their convenience as Merc did with Force india and Williams to gain advantage over Ferrari makes it a joke.

In essence, 75% of the field have no chance of winning a WCC and are no more than pawns. And to top it all off, the rich get richer, gaining the biggest share of the pot.

I think Red, Mercedes and Renault should be forced to provide equal engines to customers in some fashion or it's only going to get worse. Maybe fielding multiple teams is a better solution, I don't know.

The FIA should look closer at Indy and hopefully they will realize though it isn't the pinnacle of racing, there are 7 drivers going into the last race of the season who have a shot at the title.

Please level the playing field so we can enjoy real racing...


I might be mistaken but don't the sporting regulations forbid an engine manufacturer from supplying a different spec engine to their customer teams. Regulation 23.5 (appendix 4.5)

It is of course a little more complex than that they can supply a team with a previously homolgonised engine such as running a 2016 engine in a 2017 car.


F1 learn something from Indycar? Good luck selling that one.


Whoa boy can we all just calm down a minute?! I see the chamiponship is over, Merc are away with it etc etc.... Was it not just 7 days ago we were lauding Ferrari for being on par with Merc at Belgium, a supposed "Mercedes track" yes they gave Ferrari an almighty hiding in their back yard but what else has changed?

Ferrari had a poor weekend at a track that we expected them to get beaten at, why all the hysteria? They had a compromised practice and didn't get their setup right, they made the race harder than it should have been but they still got 3rd and 5th, the only bit they lost at was Raikkonen not getting 4th but I'm putting that down to an inspired Ricciardo driveas much as anything else.

Let's just wait a couple of races and see where we are actually at.


does anybody knows if Merc turned up engine to maximum setting or more is left? I have been hearing about this for 3 years now..better to know now so that ppl dont waste another year in any kind of hope..

Merc you are wasting everyones valuable time here!!!


Look how flat RIC's line is from lap 25 to 35!!


This article only further highlights the rampant power that one constructor has in being able to manipulate the competition. "Competition" may not be the right word anymore....


Ferrari not going for the reverse tyre strategy given their grid positions is baffling.


Started posting recently. Curious based on what are these stars shown next to poster's names given?

The Grape Unwashed

I'm not convinced by the analysis James, simply because the speed trap data shows that aero is the biggest factor, here's the speed trap rankings for Red Bull -

3rd D. RICCIARDO 355.2 14:12:31
4th M. VERSTAPPEN 353.0 14:42:07

Note that Ricciardo's fastest speed is only 12 minutes into the GP when he's heavy with fuel, whereas Verstappen managed about the same time halfway through the race. If it was all about the engine, the cars would get faster as the fuel burned off.

Raikkonen and Vettel also set their fastest times near the start of the race -

8th K. RAIKKONEN 349.5 14:12:24
16th S. VETTEL 343.8 14:13:49

Unlike Spa, where a high-ish downforce set-up can work (thanks to S2), Monza is all about top speed, so teams bring special low downforce low drag aero for the race. The fact that the under-powered Renault can appear so high in the timesheets suggests that low drag aero is the deciding factor. The fact that Red Bull and Ferrari set their fastest speed trap times while heavy on fuel tells me that efficient aero counted hugely at Monza.

Mercedes, Red Bull and Force India have run slippery low drag designs all season, but they brought special extra slippery configurations for Monza. Ferrari's weak point this season has been the amount of drag it produces, that explained much of the deficit at Silverstone, for instance. My guess is that Ferrari brought a low drag configuration for Monza, it just didn't work very well.

I really can't see Mercedes risking the championship by asking Hamilton to turn up his engine just for a bit of grandstanding on Ferrari's home turf.


Monza is not just about top speed, corner exit speed is just as important, if not more. Corner exit speed plays a massive role in determining the v-Max at the end of any given straight.

Massive amounts of time can be found around Monza by focusing on exit speed out of Lesmo 2, Ascari, and Parabollica.

The RBs used as little DF as possible to compensate for their lack of power. They used their strong chassis and mechanical grip, along with driver skill, to maximize corner apex and exit speeds.

Merc, with their extra power available, are able to run more DF, increasing cornering speeds while maintaining high v-max.

Setting up a car for Monza is not as simple as "make it fast in a straight line."

The Grape Unwashed

@Twitch_6, your first sentence begins "not just about top speed" and continues "a massive role in determining v-max", i.e. TOP SPEED!

Of course these cars are set-up to exit important corners well, because the teams are trying to get maximum speed at the end of the straights.

As I said, Monza is all about top speed.


Lol no it's not. When I say it's not about top speed, I mean that relatively.

Yes, top speed is important. However, corner exit speed plays a larger role in determining max speed that I think you're acknowledging. Furthermore, corner exit speed does more to determine speed on the first half of a straight, which is a more important factor than top speed on the second half of the straight.

As long as the v-Max is competative, corner exit speed is more important.

It's simple math really. At a Monza, cars spend more time accelerating TO vmax as opposed to sitting AT vmax. This means that the first half of any given straight is the important bit, which means corner exit speed is more important.

The Grape Unwashed

@Twitch_6, first you tell me it's not all about top speed because corner exit determines v-max; and when I tell you that's a synonym for top speed you LOL and tell me:

"When I say it's not about top speed, I mean that relatively."

Which is gibberish. And then you say:

"As long as the v-Max is competative, corner exit speed is more important."

"As long as" is just another way of saying that top speed is the most important factor and that you set the downforce levels to achieve it.

"It's simple math really. At a Monza, cars spend more time accelerating TO vmax as opposed to sitting AT vmax."

That's not simple maths, it's conjecture. And as cars continue accelerating up to the braking area, rather than "sitting AT vmax" it's rather ill-founded conjecture.

Cars quickly reach their rev limit on long straights, meaning engine torque is low and drag (rear wing primarily) determines top speed. Which is why Red Bull was so fast at Monza (arguably the second fastest team according to Horner, Chandok, etc.). Drag is so important that teams bring special low drag configurations and super-skinny rear wings to Monza, see here -

- they all brought low drag configurations to Monza, it's just that Ferrari's didn't work well.


All the teams brought low down force packages to Monza? No way!!!! Did they bring tires too???

Obviously this is going no where. If the only thing you can contribute is that you need to run low down force at Monza, and you can't understand what I mean when I say the top speed is relative (what I mean is that is simply needs to be within a certain % of the competition), then a discussion about finding lap time around Monza by focusing on your speed on the first half of the straight is a little too subtle and detailed for you I'm afraid.


Twitch, grape brings corroborated and referenced data, you bring insults and unsubstantiated assertions that appear to come from your own imagination. Tell me again how it's everyone else that lowers the tone of the site....


You're wrong. It's because Max and Ricciardo were overtaking cars right at the start of the grand prix so they had tow plus DRS while Vettel overtook Ocon and Lance before the end of the straight so his tow is less

The Grape Unwashed

@ManUtd, That doesn't explain Raikkonen who had the benefit of a tow from Lance Stroll between laps 9 and 14, around the time of his fastest time through the speed trap. Ferrari just didn't have a good aero package for this track.


I do not understand the purpose of this article. Everyone knows championship is over.I understand the need for media to hype and build up something out of thin air, but this one is etched in stone. We ain't winning Singapore or any other upcoming races.


Oh dear. Hands up I surrender. Come on mate you can at least try and believe..Trust me, it ain't over until it's over...


Hi, a question for the first graphic, the numbers on the left
what does it means?

thank you.


I’ve been following F1 for a while now but only got to go to a race this last weekend at Monza. The atmosphere was brilliant but the race was depressing for me, a Ferrari fan. Without TV images and pit radio it was hard to know what was really happening but Mercs pulling out that huge gap in the first few laps was so disheartening. Kimi unable to pass Ocon and Stroll more so.

Reading James' report it looks like Merc went all out and successfully humiliated Ferrari at home, Lewis' "Mercedes power better than Ferrari" validating it and Marchionne taking the bait too.

I believe there is a need to change the engine characteristics, the hybrids are too complex and are overly software driven, with engineers controlling modes etc. IMO, if the engine needs to be saved it has to be the driver controlling the throttle, making decisions in race about whether he can coast or needs to push. Aero, tires, brakes seem well handled but there is way too much going on with engine modes, of when and how they are deployed. If Merc can turn up and down not only their engines but those of FI and Williams, then all that remains is them putting all Merc cars between them and Ferrari and the title is a wrap. And this could be a real possibility with the new spec engines they brought to Monza. Malaysia and Japan will be key, if it rains and the Mercs take up 4-5 top spots on the grid, Ferrari could kiss the championship goodbye.

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