Analysis: How Verstappen shook the tree, why Bottas faced more F1 misery in Austin
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Posted By: James Allen  |  24 Oct 2017   |  11:00 am GMT  |  143 comments

Red Bull have come on strongly late in the season after a slow start, as happened last year and they increasingly play a prominent role in race outcomes.

And as they are not involved in the championship fight they can try aggressive disruption strategies on the others to try to force them into doing things they don’t want to do on strategy.

We saw that vividly from Max Verstappen in Austin as he made a surprise second stop on Lap 37 to shake the tree.

Here we will analyse the strategy and why Ferrari and Mercedes reacted as they did.


Pre race considerations

Pirelli had brought the ultra soft tyres to Austin, a good step more aggressive than previous years, where the range had included the mediums. But with the strategies having been disappointingly binary this year, rather than spread across the three compounds available, the Italian marque was trying to stimulate more variety with its selection.

It worked in Austin and all three compounds were used in the race.

After the practice running, which was mostly held in dry conditions, it looked like a finely balanced decision between a one and two stop race.

Red Bull and Daniel Ricciardo had qualified strongly in fourth and had an aggressive armoury of tyres with two new sets of supersofts available for the race, hinting at a flat out two stopper. The Australian did pull that trigger on race day, but an engine failure meant we never got to see the outcome.

Mercedes had done their usual tactic and kept all options open with one new set of supersofts in addition to new softs, while Ferrari had no new sets of supersofts for the race; they had installed a set in FP3, which was next to new, however.

A violent storm on race morning dumped huge amounts of water onto the track and washed away all the rubber that had been laid over the weekend, raising the spectre of two stops being a sensible plan.

The key to the race, then, would be how hot the temperatures might get during the race as to how much degradation that would cause and whether that might tip it towards a two stop race. It was cooler on Sunday than on Saturday and that tipped the balance away from Ferrari, towards Mercedes and played a hand in deciding the race in Hamilton’s favour rather than Vettel’s.

Another factor in the strategy planning was the power of the Drag Reduction System (DRS) this weekend, which was worth 0.7s on the main straight. So if a car could get close enough into the turn before the straight, an overtake was certainly possible.

And we also saw it give the car behind the ability to get close and then attack in the sequence of corners that followed. This became the default for many drivers during the race and led to many overtakes in the final sector of the lap.


Objective 16th to the podium – Red Bull tries the disruption strategy

Max Verstappen had a stunning race, after taking a grid penalty for replacing his engine for the new specification higher-performing Renault. He was targeting the podium from 16th on the grid and it needed something special from the strategists as well as from the driver.

Verstappen played his part with some excellent overtakes, but the masterstroke from the strategist was to pull Verstappen in on Lap 37 for supersoft tyres. This disrupted the battle ahead with Vettel in second place, leading Bottas and Raikkonen at that time.

Red Bull could make the stop because there was no threat from behind, Ocon was 50 seconds away, so Verstappen could use fresh supersoft tyres on a clear track to hunt down the leading cars that at that stage were already struggling on the soft tyres, with 19 laps to the finish. Vettel and Bottas in particular both looked to be in trouble, Raikkonen’s tyres were in good shape.

Red Bull was agitating, hoping to get Ferrari or Mercedes to cover the stop. But the reality was that once he made it, both Bottas and Raikkonen woujd have lost a place if they stopped on the following lap.

Only Vettel had enough margin to cover the move. He had been talking on the radio about a Plan B anyway, which was a second stop. So it was logical for him to be the only one to cover Verstappen.

As Bottas and Raikkonen were already compromised by the move, the so-called number two drivers were left out to block Verstappen’s progress. For Bottas he was also going to be called on to block Vettel as he came back through.

It made for a hard afternoon for the German to fight his way back through to second place, but he managed it. Given that Verstappen only caught Raikkonen on the last lap you could argue that Vettel’s extra stop was unnecessary, but as he had been complaining about the soft tyres anyway it made sense.

Verstappen made up 18 seconds in 19 laps and caught Raikkonen because the Finn was fuel saving in the closing stages. We saw that with Vettel in Malaysia, towards the end of the race, so Ferrari has had some difficulties since the new version of the engine was introduced in getting the starting fuel level right.

Mercedes had a 9 second margin with Lewis Hamilton and with Bottas as a buffer, they did not feel the need to cover Verstappen and Vettel’s move.


Mercedes not perfect – Bottas misses out again

Valtteri Bottas celebrated Mercedes’ fourth consecutive constructors’ championship with the rest of the team, but his dream switch to the strongest team in F1 currently has not been going smoothly lately.

He has used the world ‘struggling’ frequently of late and in Austin he missed out on a podium on a day when his team mate managed to dominate the race.

Bottas qualified third and held that position through the round of pit stops which put the front runners onto soft tyres and ostensibly a one stop race.

By Lap 35 it was clear that Bottas and Vettel were struggling with the tyres and considering switching to a two-stop plan. At this point Verstappen had not stopped.

The consideration they had was that had Mercedes pulled the trigger it would have amounted to an undercut attempt on Vettel, who would have been able to cover it the next lap. So in terms of a chance to move forward it was limited in scope. But what about as a defensive play against cars behind? It was a question of whether they could hold up Raikkinen on the same tyres.

They believed they could, especially with Raikkonen in fuel saving mode, but they were wrong. Raikkonen passed Bottas on Lap 42 and after Vettel came through on fresh tyres and with Verstappen set to pass him as well, Bottas made a late stop.

With a huge gap back to Ocon there was nothing to lose by doing this. But by not following the initial instinct to stop, what would have been a podium ended up a fifth place and more dejection for Bottas.


Sainz and Ocon shine.
Carlos Sainz finished sixth in Austin in 2015, although he was later demoted to seventh for a pit lane speeding penalty. Last year he got his sixth place and this year, on his debut with Renault, so driving an unfamiliar car, he bagged seventh, behind Estaban Ocon; a fantastic result.

In this he was helped by the latest instalment of the Force India driver feud, whereby Sergio Perez was again requesting to be allowed through past his team mate. He was told that Ocon was “managing his pace” to the end of the race on the soft tyres, so it was not the case that Perez was faster. The team was unwilling to swap the cars because they felt it would not change the finishing result and points haul, as in Japan. But unlike the last race, they were wrong, because Sainz cruised up behind Perez and passed him, dropping the Mexican to 8th, where he finished.

Felipe Massa started the race in 10th place, due to other drivers’ grid penalties and was able to start on supersoft tyres and run a long first stint. He pitted on Lap 29 onto ultrasoft tyres, leaving 26 laps to the finish. It was an unusual strategy and it netted him a ninth place after he passed Kvyat at the end of the race. But he was never on the pace of Sainz and the Force India cars ahead.

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

Race History Chart

Kindly provided by Williams Martini Racing – Click to enlarge

Showing the gaps between the cars and the relative pace. An upward line is good pace, a descending line is poor pace.

Look at Bottas’s pace (blue dotted line) in comparison with Hamilton. Had he stopped on Lap 35 or 36 he would not have been passed by Verstappen and would probably have been able to pass Raikkonen for third place in the closing stages to secure a podium.

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1

I just did a quick analysis of what may have been had Ferrari/Vettel not had problems. I summised that had Vettel not crashed off the line, he would have won the race, gaining 25 and pushing Lewis into second thus losing 7 (highly debatable I know as it was wet and Lewis drove supremely, but this is just for fun. I also assumed that the engine problems that put Vettel on back of grid where he finished 4th, he could have come second had he started where he qualified, thus an additional 6 points and pushing Lewis into third thus losing him a further 3, and the other race where he retired on lap 4, lets again say he could have finished second gaining 18. I still show that Hamilton would be ahead, but only by 7 points. it would be much closer…

2

Be careful on Singapore. In the dry VET would have won easily, in the wet HAM was certainly stronger. I think HAM would still have won Singapore with VET P2.

3

I’ve got a solution for Max. Off track = introducing yourself to a wall….. End of story.

4

That race history chart makes for interesting reading. It makes it clear we’re looking at a two-tier championship at this point: there are Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull, and there are the rest.

In terms of individuals, the three who really stand out are Ocon and Sainz, who lost markedly less ground to the leaders than the rest, and…Felipe Massa. Massa’s pace was strong, but the Williams was perhaps not quite kind enough to its tyres for the one-stop strategy to work well.

If I were Williams looking at that, I’d be moving towards keeping Felipe and putting the riskier options, like Kubica and di Resta, on the back burner.

5

James, since races that are on the knife edge between a decision to one or two stop are some of the best, I had a thought about how to make this happen more often. Remove the requirement to use 2 different type compounds and instead, require a pit stop before a set lap number. Further, allow Pirelli to determine this lap number and only announce it 1 hour before the race. In effect this gives a more fine grain control over the tyre life, and doesn’t rely on the fixed durability of the tyres, where there are only 4 real options.
Races are more boring when the one stoppers can get to over half distance on their first set. Requiring a stop before one third distance, as an example, would liven it up.

6

Lewis is in God mode right now. He would make any driver on the grid look amateurish if they were his team mate. Bottas is a good driver with low confidence, he will be back.

7
Clarks4WheelDrift

Wondering about Seb Vettel at the end of the race. Why he stayed just ahead of Kimi after going past and didn’t push away from him.

Was it:

a) Seb having to fuel save after pushing the car more to try to keep his car up with the fast Merc and because he pushed more as he had more stops and more fresh rubber?

or

b) He was past Kimi and knew he couldn’t catch Lewis so deliberately stayed there to give Kimi DRS to protect against 2 stopping Max? (sounds dangerous and could also be disrupting Kimi with dirty air?)

8

Ok this analysis is in too deep and I’m confused. How good / bad is Bottas without the rear gunner strategy calls?.

9

I’d guess he’d be fighting with Vettel for 2nd.

10

question on Max vs kimi : I am surprised KIMI actually “saw nothing wrong” with the move….really ? or was he just trying to end the conversation with journalist ?

11

Kimi knew he pushed Max of the track ( not willingly, but understood why max cut the corner to avoid a crash)
So from his point of view Max action was normal and legal and should have been unpunished. Nothing wrong with that..

12

Bottas looks ordinary again – at this rate he will be back to Williams in 2019.

I would call pitting Max on lap 37 as trying something different – not a master stroke.

Ocon is now getting better and better.
Sainz has a strong race 1 with Renault of hopefully many more to come.

13

Does anyone think that Ferrari fuel saving since the new version of engine is due to not being allowed to use the oil as fuel?
I guess it would affect all the engine suppliers but possibly it has affected Ferrari more?
Is there a record of how much oil they were using compared to the others?

Apparently the Merc engine did not use more that the max amount allowable, before the new regs came in to play.

14

“But unlike the last race, they were wrong, because Sainz cruised up behind Perez and passed him, dropping the Mexican to 8th, where he finished.”

I don’t think this was the same as in the past, in that Ocon proved that he was the faster driver in the long run and was managing either tyres or fuel, while Perez wasn’t; the team said so. Perez dropped off of Sainz and was nowhere near the battle by the end of the race, if he was genuinely faster he would have been all over the pair of them at the flag.

15

“LEEEEETTTTS GETTTTTT READDDYYY TOOOO RUUUUUMMMMMBBBBBLLLLEEEE” Actually old chap let’s not. Let’s just race and have a nice cup of tea after .

16

I wonder how that ‘old chap’ would sound if he was to say, “Alonso, box, box, box!”at McLaren

17

Lewis was in a different league. The rest required more than just about engine ..driver, tyre, strategy. F1 is deliciously appetizing lately.

18

Well I must say that RB is proving to be the best run team on the grid. Excellent driver management, race strategy, and always thinking on their toes. I see no weaknesses in that team. If not for that Renault engine, the year would have been much different.

19

We have also seen Newey back now in the game at RedBull, so expect them to make a real WDC winning car next year! If just getting a decent engine…

20

If it wasn’t for the original chassis / aero package being awful… they admitted to overhauling the package around Spain

21
Tornillo Amarillo

This race has shown that the best drivers in the top teams are Hamilton and Vettel right?

My theory for the near future (let’s say March 2018!), you have the younger stars Verstappen, Ocon and Sainz.

Sainz is fine at Renault, but Ocon is the only one who is not in a big team, and he is ready, he is already a record racer, and he is just 1 year older than Verstappen.

Ric is very good but not young anymore, like Hulk or Perez or Hartley. Sorry Aussies don’t get mad at me.

Wolff and we the fans were right to name Bottas to Merc for 2017, they got the crown in the WCC!!, but things happen, and Ocon matches Perez now and he needs a better car at just 21 years old.

Ric is better than Bottas however, but Ocon is ready, he gets the consistency of the points to go to Merc!

So Ric should go to Ferrari and see, he will have the chance to be World Champion there.

22

Ocon still needs some race pace. Perez still has the advantage there.
Sainz needs some grooming. His starts are a point and the strange choices he sometimes makes. Several crashes this year he played a weary part in

23

Bottas chances for the title was close to impossible hence Mercedes used him as a buffer. His optimal race strategy in Austin would have been to pit him as soon as he started struggling with tires. I mean putting him on a two stop strategy much earlier than they did.

Lewis is on another level. This is the second time this season Lewis has overtaken Vettel for the race win. That must be telling.

24

What went wrong with Hülkenberg? I think he’s beginning to have Carlosphobia — and his car catching cold. Well, King Alonso is dead, long live el Rey Carlos!

25

technical issues

26

his car

27

Renault… need to say more?

28

Hi JA,
Did you join the investor meeting on Sunday?
Would enjoy your take on Liberty Medias announcements during that meeting about potentially sacrificing the Friday free practice sessions to enable the teams to go to more races every year. (to cover for the logistics and total costs impacts).
For young drivers and new talent trying to break though to F1 this would be a disaster, as they already as it is have very limited chance to practice and get to know F1 cars vs the lower classes they come from. And personally I always enjoy the Friday by buying a cheaper but full access ticket that day, as that is the day where most have at least some time to chat. Think quali and race is best watched when having a data screen at hand to understand the bigger picture of what is really going on and the many people and the intensity makes roaming all but impossible during those. And Liberty Media thoughts on financing and they consider adding many more races in the US to the calendar? So far Liberty Media is spending more this year to build up the company they own resulting in running with a loss, so all the teams will get less price money to share by end of the year. So far it looks like the teams are going to pay for this extra costs, despite they own zero of the company and that they are doing all the racing. Without them there wouldn’t be a show for Liberty to sell and profit from. Think we have a ticking time bomb ahead of us.

29

I’m not convinced dropping Friday practice would be a good idea, however you could in theory do two practice sessions on a Saturday and have qualifying and the race on a Sunday. But that might not work as well when F1 has support races such as F2 and F3.

30

Wouldn’t be great for promoters in terms of recouping the spend either

Unless Friday was given over to them to exploit

Ross and Liberty have spoken about this before – it’s not new

31

Poor end to the season. It’s just got away from the boys in red of taking it to the wire.have to say well done to Austrian mafia they have done a more professional job over the season and had a slight edge on raw pace.lets hope for the full package next year with 3 or 4 teams racing for wins

32

We’ll have to wait to see if Merc is purposefully making Bottas look bad, to support a driver change after the last race, or will they give him a couple of wins at the end.
Prediction:
If they don’t give him a couple of wins after Lewy wraps it up in Mexico, then they’ll likely ditch him for 2018.
The question would then be, who will they go with?

Great drive by Verstappen.

As predicted during winter testing, RB are strong in the stretch, and starting in the top group, one could well-imagine that Max would have been second, challenging for the top step!

Ferrari look weak (also predicted), and flailing.

Oh well.

33

Didn’t they already announce that he was staying, a few months ago?

34

yeah, and Rosberg had a new contract last season too.

fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.

35

Whilst I agree with your example and with “nothing is set in stone” in F1, the chance Mercedes will drop Bottas next year is minimal – keep in mind that Wolff has a direct interest in keeping Bottas.
My feeling is they will keep Bottas even for 2019 – but only if he steps up to a level similar to Rosberg’s (unlikely but possible with some proper coaching – as an example take a look at Grosjean, many things can be said about his whinging but few other drivers managed to turn their careers around, after a disastrous start, as he did).
Let’s cross our fingers for Bottas managing a great 2018, more competition at the front of the grid would be our gain.

36

It surprises me that Bottas’ pace doesn’t really pick up after his final stop. A well-rubbered track and ultra-soft tyres yet he doesn’t really close on anyone ahead over those few laps. I get that there wasn’t much to go after from the position he was in by then, but just the grip should surely have given him a good two to three seconds more pace and the graph line should at least go a little bit up.

37

Raikonen track times show no fuel saving mode untill the last lap, the rest were fine, he was just not quick enough, same thing with Bottas his tyres where fine till lap 50, again just not quick enough, no way he could protect his podium place with another strategy..With Verstappens pace, if he didn’t pit again he could’ve had a go at Lewis he was the quickest man on the track..0.5 on Kimi, 0.8 on Vettel and Bottas in average on softs per lap and he also gained 0.4 on Hamilton, keep in mind that he was only 11.9 behind on lap 25 when he pitted. Looking at Magnussen who did 48 laps on soft with no degredation and his tyres 5 laps fresher then Hamiltons, so his second pitsstop was a wrong call to me..

38

“Verstappen played his part with some excellent overtakes, but the masterstroke from the strategist was to pull Verstappen in on Lap 37 for supersoft tyres.”

I rather disagree with the above. I think it was more in line with; too smart for their own good.

It was an interesting move, but in the end rather ineffective. If you look at the histogram a few things are clear:

1 Verstappen was by far the fastest guy on track
2 He was even on a trajectoy to threaten Hamilton for the lead towards the end.
3 He had by far the newest soft tyres on the car.
4 The 2nd stop never gave Verstappen much of a speed advantage, in stead he got stock behind Vettel.

I think the Red Bull strategists made two mistakes:

1 First, the pitted him one to two laps early at 24. He was still doing very good laptimes. Extending the stint would’ve accomplishes two things:
A) he could’ve but Vettel in dirty air and lure him into flat spotting his tyre in a duel
B) his tyres would’ve been even one to two laps fresher still, making a move on the others easier.

2 Second, they should not have called him in for the second stop or if they did, do it one lap later to have a chance on a undercut on Vettel (there was still some room to close up to Raikkonen). Now he did loose the time of the second stop, but almost got no speed in return.

Till lap 36 Verstappen was gaining on Hamilton about 0.8s per lap with a gap of 11.5s. Theoretically, without having to overtake the others, he would’ve reached the back of Lewis around lap 51/52 with six to seven lap fresher softs.

Everyone else had been driving in dirty air for considerable time unlike Verstappen who’s alternative strategy allowed him to drive in clean air the whole race. Bottas was toast as we saw, Vettel was highly unlikely to finish that stint from lap 16 and wouldn’t have had time to catch Verstappen after a 2nd stop and Raikkonen would’ve been passed around lap 40. So that means 2nd place already in the back. If I estimated the finish chances for Verstappen on lap 36 without a 2nd stop I would say:

1st place finish: 15%
2nd place finish: 60%
3rd place finish: 20%
4th place or lower finish: 5%

With the 2nd stop, 2nd place would’ve been very difficult. As said, I think it was clearly a case of being too smart for your own good. Too bad it would’ve been cool to see Max threaten Hamilton for the lead towards the end having started from 16th. That would’ve really been some story. Unfortunately Red Bull decided otherwise.

One other thing. With the top 3 teams being so much in a league of their own and the race being an iffy one stopper, alternative strategies as we saw with Max starting on the supersoft make a lot of sense. The gain Verstappen had over the race distance was much bigger that the time he lost by starting further back on the supersofts. Especially on a track where overtaking is acceptable like at COTA. You have no threat from behind, you can extend your first stint so you can keep out of traffic after your first stop and you avoid racing in dirty air from on of the other top three cars. To me it makes a whole lot of sense and we clearly so it’s effectivness with the pace of Max.

39

Interesting analysis Taxi645. Hadn’t looked at it this way, but also got confused when looking at the graphs further up. Good to read more of these insights! I like this JA site more and more..

Would the Mexico track with its 2 long straits qualify for a similar approach? It would make the the whole race much more fun to watch.

40

Would the Mexico track with its 2 long straits qualify for a similar approach? It would make the the whole race much more fun to watch.

Hard to say. Depends on the friday sessions and conditions/temperatures sunday.

41

You think Verstappen had a roughly 1-in-6/1-in-7 chance of beating Hamilton and winning the race? That’s far too high.

42

Perhaps not, perhaps not. We will never know cause RB called him in.

43

Maybe, but you’re still saying he had a 3 times higher chance of winning the race than he had if finishing 4th, which is where he finished. That’s just…yeah, I’m not buying that.

44

Any arguments to support that?
Looking at the analyse Taxi made it fits.

45

1. Verstappen was on a very short stint (13 laps), it’s very unlikely he’d have been able to keep that pace up until the end without serious drop off in performance. (By far the most important)

2. Hamilton was clearly managing his tyres and therefore lap time, he didn’t significantly increase his gap over Kimi during the same period, for example.

3. Verstappen would have had to pass 3 cars on the same strategy to even get to Hamilton’s gearbox, some of which would have had DRS from the cars in front.

The only chance Verstappen had of winning the race was if Hamilton retired.

46

1. Verstappen was on a very short stint (13 laps), it’s very unlikely he’d have been able to keep that pace up until the end without serious drop off in performance. (By far the most important)

People still don’t seem able to get their heads around the fact that the Red Bull in race trim has made considerable gains the last few races. With Verstappen at the wheel they have been at least a match for the front running Mercedes. People assume his pace came from pushing his tyres harder, but underestimate the recent competitiveness of the Red Bull/Verstappen package. From lap 6 to 18 the gap to Hamilton stayed almost equal while racing a harder compound and still having to overtake three guys. That alone should give you enough idea how competitive they were.

So no, I don’t think his pace on the soft was mainly due to it being a short stint, rather a result of the general pace of the car. If they had planned a two stop, then they should’ve pulled him in before Hamilton so he would not have lost 2s being overtaking (the pace delta with Hamilton was much bigger than with Vettel).

2. Hamilton was clearly managing his tyres and therefore lap time, he didn’t significantly increase his gap over Kimi during the same period, for example.

He was managing his tyres because he had to manage his tyres. Verstappen’s tyres were 5 laps newer (6 if they had pulled him a lap later as suggested). He could’ve pushed to the end if needed.

3. Verstappen would have had to pass 3 cars on the same strategy to even get to Hamilton’s gearbox, some of which would have had DRS from the cars in front.

You did read the part where I explained their tyres were much older and had driven in dirty air for considerable time? You did have a look at the race history graph did you not? You did see what happened to the pace of Bottas and Raikkonen at lap 41 and 44, who themselves were gaining on Vettel? If you still believe Verstappen would not have a very good chance to have passed them in the next 15 laps than further discussing it is not really useful.

The only chance Verstappen had of winning the race was if Hamilton retired.

So saying 15% is unrealistic (I don’t care about a few percent more or less in an estimate) but saying his chance was zero is well founded? A Safety car the last 10 laps would’ve made life interesting indeed for Hamilton, like Jimmyclark suggested in his reply. But the chance of a safety car would’ve been zero as well I suppose?

47

VER would have killed his tyres behind RAI, just like RIC had done behind Bottas. At that time the difference in tyre age and compound was not very large and DRS was of no use to VER because RAI had it as well, staying close to Bottas for multiple laps. DRS trains tend to kill overtaking possibilities.

48

VER would have killed his tyres behind RAI, just like RIC had done behind Bottas. At that time the difference in tyre age and compound was not very large and DRS was of no use to VER because RAI had it as well, staying close to Bottas for multiple laps. DRS trains tend to kill overtaking possibilities.

Again killing your tyres and/or driving in dirty air or not often is also a strategic choice. What you have to understand is that from around lap 30 this race was coming Max’s way very quickly. Vettel, Bottas and Raikkonen positions were strongly converging, with Vettel’s tyres being the oldest and having been overdriven at the start of the stint in an effort to undercut Hamilton. Unlike Max, both Bottas and Raikkonen had already done considerable laps in dirty air on older tyres. To state that Max would’ve killed his tyres when he, at that point, had done much less laps on them and on top of that no laps in dirty air is not a very strong argument to say the least.

At around lap 36 ( with still 20 laps to go!) the only thing Verstappen had needed to do was maintain a 2.5s gap to Raikkonen to save further fuel and his tyres. From that positions pick up the crumbs as Vettel, Bottas and Raikkonen were inevitably going to destroy their tyres get increasingly caught up in dirty air and battles with their converging path’s. A DRS train wasn’t going to safe them with the increasingly lower speed Vettel was going.

At around lap 45 (or at the point either one of them would’ve made an extra stop) he could’ve pushed and easily passed them on their worn tyres, especially they had postponed his 1st stop one or two laps to make the tyre age delta even bigger.

49

I think that analysis makes some interesting points but ignores the problem with Verstappen is that he wasn’t managing his tyres so there was a cliff looming at some point.

Bottas was sacrificed, he didn’t get to do an optimal strategy – or even a throw of the dice strategy given the need to support Lewis. I think we can see also that Vettel would have fallen off the cliff if he had stayed out for a one stop. Hamilton had a relatively easy drive and was doing massive tyre management to make a one stop work at that pace – and to give him the pace.

50

A safety car in last 10 laps would’ve made life interesting for Hamilton with Vet and Ver pace advantage on new tyres. From a strategy perspective, I think Mercedes were lacking and should have covered off that threat by pitting Hamilton when Vet and Ver two-stopped. He may have lost track position to Rai and Bot but would’ve got passed easily with new tyres.

51

Good point

That was another reason to do it

52

I think that analysis makes some interesting points but ignores the problem with Verstappen is that he wasn’t managing his tyres so there was a cliff looming at some point.

Managing your tyres or not is part of the strategy. The pace and tyre age advantage of Verstappen had was such that he would’ve had plenty laps to manage his tyres and still easily put the one’s in front of him in trouble.

53

“but the masterstroke from the strategist was to pull Verstappen in on Lap 37 for supersoft tyres.”

I was very much in doubt if that was the correct strategy. He had fresher softs than the 3 drivers he was catching and was much faster too. Vettel was talking about plan ‘B’, presumably a 2nd pitstop. Bottas was already struggling at that stage.
The question is if Verstappen could have gone past Bottas and Raikonen if he would have stayed out on his newer softs. I believe on this track he would. Then it would have been a matter of keeping Vettel, on plan ‘B’, behind him. In other words, it could have been a 2nd place for VER if he had not done the 2 stop.

54

God do you people even watch f1? The reason max was much faster is because he was burning through his tires. He had to stop again.

55

In other words, it could have been a 2nd place for VER if he had not done the 2 stop.

Completely agree.

56

I’ve been rather underwhelmed by Bottas as the other Mercedes driver. Lewis is on another level entirely. With Rosberg, at least he was good enough to always bug Lewis, or sometimes even beat him. Other than two races this year, Lewis has mightily had the upper hand.

This year it’s played out well for them. But had Ferrari had fewer reliability problems this year, would it have been better to sign a stronger driver for 2018? I’m suspecting that’s the reason Bottas only got one additional year, as options do open up after next year. I could see Ferrari winning the constructor’s this year if reliability hadn’t gone down the sheeter and if Raikkonen was replaced with someone a bit stronger in the races. Conversely, is Vettel that good that he makes Raikkonen look worse than he actually is?

57

“With Rosberg, at least he was good enough to always bug Lewis, or sometimes even beat him”
LoL. Nico is the reigning World Champion.

58

Certainly makes for a re-assessment of Rosberg’s real ability (even if the challenge of maintaining it almost broke him!).

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