Analysis: When F1 strategy turns into gamesmanship. Mercedes vs Ferrari needle in Italian Grand Prix
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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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1

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.

2

Hi, a question for the first graphic, the numbers on the left
-35
-10
15
40…etc
what does it means?

thank you.

3

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.

4

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…

5
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.

6

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.”

7
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.

8

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.

9
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 –

https://www.formula1.com/en/latest/technical/2017/9/tech-review—monza-gives-you-wings.html

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

10

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.

11

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….

12

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

13
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.

14

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

15

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

16

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….

17

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

18

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!!!

19

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.

20

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…

21

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.

22

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

23

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?

24

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.

25

GREAT PICK, JAMES!

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!

26

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?

27

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.

28

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?

29

Im guessing ultras wouldn’t work around the Parabolica

30

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?

31

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!!!!!

32

@ 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 ?

33

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

34

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

35

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.

36

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

37

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

38

It’s not that simple

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

39

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.

40

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?

41

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.

42

It’s the influence all manufactures have

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

43

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

44

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?

45

@ 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.

46

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?

47

Great analysis James – really enjoyed reading it, thanks .

48

@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.

49

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.

50

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.

51

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.

52

You factor it into your planning – it’s not a sudden idea

53

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.

54

@ 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.

55

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?

56

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

57

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.

58

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?

59

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.

60

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 $$$$$$

61

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…

62

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.

63

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.

64

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.

65

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

66

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

67

If they do then this championship is all over.

68

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.

69

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

70

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!

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