Analysis: How Verstappen shook the tree, why Bottas faced more F1 misery in Austin
Strategy Report
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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They seem to be making weird tactical moves with Bottas at the moment. If LH wraps up the title next race maybe they will give VB an optimal race weekend for the last two races.


But not a sufficiently weird strategy to stop Lewis winning the race. Face it, Bottas has just been disappointing this half of the season.


I was screaming at the TV "pit Bottas" when Max came in.
It was a smart thing for Red Bull to do .. waiting to pit meant you'd get under-cut so Ferrari were bound to pit Vettel, which was BOT's chance to pass RAI ...
However ...
Max made 3.4 seconds on Vettel by pitting that lap earlier. If RAI or BOT had taken new tyres on the next lap they would have come out behind (see the body above which says "Only VET had enough margin" ... ) .
So they were committed to staying out and hoping to hold off those one new tyres ...
It was a gamble for VET. He had to overtake BOT, and not get passed by VER - but if HAM's tyres gave up he might have a chance of a win - on the other hand if Max passed him and he couldn't clear Valteri he could have ended up 5th instead of 2nd.
Bottas had only one job from this point. Keep the red car behind.
You can see from the chart that as soon as Kimi got past Bottas his pace dropped off - he basically pushed Bottas back towards the chasers (knowing that as soon as Seb was past Bottas, he'd let him through). Pitting Kimi would have put him behind Seb and Max and made life easier for Bottas.
Pitting Valteri from 2nd, would have given 2nd back to Vettel (Kimi would let him through) , put him behind Max, with the task of catching and passing Kimi to get 4th.
So as it turns out there were only two options for Bottas. Pit first, hope both Ferraris and Verstappen follow suit (possibly undercutting Vettel for 2nd) Or stay out and hope the one stop works. If you're not the one with track position, you try the creative strategy. Merc did the normal thing and Bottas got beaten by the creative strategy


It would have been too late for Bottas. His only chance was to pit first of that lot

Would he have come back through? His confidence is low..


They are using bottas as a spoiler. He always seems to be left out for to long to hold up the Ferraris when they pit


Used as a spoiler when a spoiler wasn't even required.

Sounds like a double boot in the kling-klangs, poor Bottas, no wonder he is on a downer.

But, maybe they were using him as a blocker incase of a safety car that could put Seb right on Lewis and with fresher rubber after his 2 stops?


Verstappen's "disruption strategy" was quite reminiscent of Hamilton's in Singapore 2016 when he triggered a chain reaction of extra stops which nearly cost his team the victory, all in the hope of trying to jump Kimi for final sport on the podium.

It's a shame we never got the chance to see how far up the order the honey badger would have clawed his way up to. I don't think P2 would be unreasonable.

This race did highlight all of the strategic elements that we've missed out on this year with Pirelli going conservative on their tyres, which mostly restricted the races to processional one-stoppers.

With the tyres going a step softer next year, and a hopefully faster Red Bull, and a certainly faster Mclaren, next season has the all the ingredients to be even more spectacular.


Yeah, the tyres selected worked well and RIC was definitely on track for second.


Completely agree with this! These alternate strategies is what F1 needs. This was such an exciting race because of it (and Max charging through the field). I do hope Pirelli can make it so we have at least 2 viable strategies every race and that a set of ultra softs is indeed used up after a lap of 10-15 max.


Was the yellow soft tire mandatory to use? If not then 2-stopper SS-US-SS would really be interesting to spicy things even more...


I also wonder why VER did that short sint on softs instead of ultra's. Late change of tactics? On ultra's hé probably gained more time in that stint giving more opportunity for overtaking RAI or even VET..


I guess it would have taken the surprise out of the move to go for a second stop so Merc and Ferrari would have found it easier to cover? On the softs he could have been one-stopping just like everyone else (but could also do the 2nd stop he did at pretty much any moment) - had he gone to ultras they'd have known he was stopping again and could therefore pre-empt the undercut with Bottas & Raikonnen? - were Merc & Ferrari as surprised as we the viewers and commentators were when he pitted?


Good comment and I can imagine flexibilty (for the surprise) was preferred instead of putting all cards on the table. Yet with VER 2nd stop after the stops from Merc en Ferrari he could have had more time for overtaking (less time loss with US)
Guess we’ll never know 😬


I wondered exactly the same but maybe the last stint was still a pittle bit too long for the Ultra's?


In opting for the soft for the second stint they kept flexibility on their side and were able to choose between a one or two stopper depending on the circumstances.


OK, I've been wondering for months; please tell me just what the heck the Y axis on that Race History chart is supposed to represent? What are the units? What does it actually tell us? "Good pace" / "poor pace"; relative to what?? By what measure? Someone must think it provides good information but I just can't see it myself.


The graph simply shows the distance between the cars at any given point in the race. X shows the lap numbers and Y is the distance between cars measured in seconds. Putting zero roughly at the 3/4 mark just makes it easier to see and allows a visual for speed changes of the leader.


Haha I’m glad I’m not the only one! As the others say the zero line used to be based on the winners total race time divided by the no of laps so the winner always finished at zero. I don’t know what it is now, if it’s based on everyone’s average lap or what it is. I think it might. be as you see a spread of the fastest guys being above zero and the slower guys being below.


The year axis represents relative lap time and shows us relative pace. '0' used to represent the winning driver's lap time. So the winning driver would start and finish at zero. But it represents something else now (perhaps average lap time of all finishers? ) though for the life of me I can't work out what. Either way you can see who is fast and who is slow relative to the pace of others.


I used to understand it, just about, but now the zero line doesn't appear to correlate to anything at all. One of life's fascinating mysteries...


It is a zero line representing the winners average lap time on each lap

The idea is to show relative pace and also the gaps that exist between cars

It's the visual representation of the Race History time sheet you can get on the FIA website


But how can Hamilton be lapping faster than his own average for the entire race?


Looks more like the zero line is a number about half way between the winner and the last person to finish on the lead lap.


The graph clearly shows the field is split into two. The leaders and the trailers and a huge gap between them


That's no longer true James. The graphs used to have the winner finish at a y-axis of zero - in recent plots the winner has been above zero.


James, the Zero line can't be the winners average time - it used to be that, but that means the winners delta at the end of the race must be zero. Here the winners delta is 36 seconds quicker than ... what ?


James, I have another you know why didn't RBR put Verstappen on ulstrasoft tires for the last stint?
Massa and vandorne in particular had them lasted for 26 and 30 laps respectively.
Most of the drivers had them last for 17-20 laps at the beginning of the race, when the cars are heavier, and track far less rubbered. So I'm sure Verstapen could have challenged for the second had he fitted them 19 laps to go.


They will have done the maths and took supersoft. The Red Bull has gone very well on them all year

More stiffness in high speed turns of Sectir 1 also a factor


It is a zero line representing the winners average lap time on each lap

That cannot be the case. HAM would be faster than his average on every single lap, which is not possible


As presented, the chart spreads the lines so that they can be easily read and differences between adjacent drivers can be seen. If all the lines, apart from the winner, sloped down, it wouldn't look as nice or be as easy to read.
It looks like the zero line is Hamilton's average lap + 1 second. As I've said before, if you want to understand the graph better, pull the times off the FIA web site and build it yourself in a spreadsheet


Can you put some light into amount of fuel teams are using these days. Before we used to have that info on TV.
It has been couple of years without it.
Since, apparently, they are balancing the amount of the fuel needed and not topping it up with all 105 kilos available.
How much of fuel do they use these days (I know it is track specific, but on average, say compared to last year, or 2014...I'm sure some of your contacts know)?
How is the amount / consumption compared between manufacturers? Which team is the least thirsty? Etc...
If nothing else, I'm sue this could be a nice topic for one of your insight articles. 🙂


100kg or below

Ferrari has had issues with this latest engine theee Times now so I wonder how much they underfuelled the cars


Also it seems they are behind / they use more battery compared to Merc and Renault engines. TV clearly shows that they are always lower than their adversaries in energy stored and that they take more time to re-store it per lap, and that was true from season start. Engine wise Vet has 2 fresher engines than Ham so he should have an advantage, but so far not so much.


How can the zero line be Hamilton's average lap time over the race when Hamilton's line is less than zero throughout? Any chance of a simple 5 lap race example with numbers?


I can't see how it represents the winner's average lap time else the winner would start and end on 0 as it used to do. But now it doesn't.


No DOD James?

It would be hard to split between the old STR teammates of course (Sainz and Verstapen).

In regards RB’s risk taking strategy, you mentioned that they can take higher difficulty of risks because they are in the championship hunt. Well they progressed through the year last year and this year. As the rules are almost identical next year, what are the chances for them to start where they left off? Particularly when Renault is going to put more resources into their own factory team and McLaren! Of course it’s hard to predict anything until the pre season. However, they are likely to start 3rd again at Melbourne in 2018 based on Renault’s commitments next year. That brings me to doubt Verstappen’s decision to extend his contract with RB. For the strategy report’s sakes, it was a brilliant move by RB to put Ves on super soft.

What can I say about Bottas that I haven’t said already in the previous articles. He is one of the two major catastrophic disappointment for me this year. It’s Bottas and Stroll, make your own order. Looking at 2018 line up, I can’t believe three big teams like Mercedes (Bottas), Ferrari (Kimi) and Williams (Stroll) chose three drivers that are equally unworthy of driving those specific cars. I have never been a RB fan. But they are at least trying to retain Ricciardo knowing that sooner or later it could cause a lot friction within the team. Stroll shouldn’t even be in F1 as he can’t even beat Massa, Bottas and Kimi should be in Williams; Mercedes and Ferrari should at least try to get someone like Ricciardo in the team or even Perez. Very disappointed.


Mercedes won the constructors title by the proverbial country mile with three races to go, Can you imagine the yawn of a gap to their nearest rival if Bottas was not the undeserved "disappointment" you mark him as being?


Things have turned round pretty fast or Bottas - he did pretty well in the first half of the year, and was spoken about mid-season as a potential championship contender and a worthy replacement for Rosberg.

Hamilton is on a roll at the moment, so I wonder whether it's simply that he's moved into a higher gear in the second half of the year - or that Bottas has got into a destructive spiral, in which disappointing results are shaking his confidence, and leading to even more disappointing results?

At the end of the day, Rosberg was probably not quite as fast as Hamilton overall - but what made their battle fascinating was the way in which he seemed to be able to get out of these Bottas-like slump periods after a few races (e.g., late 2014/mid-2015, or the middle of last season) and come back stronger.

Can Bottas do the same? It would certainly make things more interesting.


I don’t agree that he was a championship contender at the first half of the season. Mathematically a few people were championships contenders even 2 races back. That doesn’t mean anything. He did ok for a new to the Mercedes factory team. If he did really good in the first half of the season, he would be ahead of Vettel now, particularly after 3 miserable races by Ferrari in a row. Because he was new to the team and Toto gang talked him up, plus fed media that he was doing great, a lot of people considered him as worthy replacement of Rosberg. I didn’t judge Bottas until a couple of races back when he said he was having the most difficult time in his career. Now after almost a full season I am 100% certain that he not worthy of driving a championship winning car in any team, let alone the most dominant car in F1 history.

I do wish him luck for next year. I wish Kimi and in fact all the drivers next year. But someone like Bottas will need a miracle to change their image. Here’s the question for you, based on his performance, do you think RB will take him? Even though he gets paid half of what Ricciardo does? My answer will be “no”, based on his history he can’t be in a third best car.


Most everyone thought that Rosberg was broken after the "cap toss" episode in 2015. Then he had his best year in 2016, and won.

Talk of this being the most dominant car in F1 history is just extreme silliness. This isn't 2014-16.

Facts are that Bottas won two races this year, on weekends where the Merc wasn't the quickest car.

Lastly, I believe Bottas earns twice that of Ricciardo. Figures I saw were 8m for Bottas and 4m for Ricciardo.


Don’tcome to debate about something when your mind is premeditated all the time mate. I don’t see W08 in my comment. Believe what you like, that’s your choice. Just don’t keep assuming things, playing games. You do it with pretty much every comment. That’s child’s play.


F0, here you go. What's your link?

Bottas $8.5m, Ricciardo $6.5m (both in USD)


“Most everyone thought...”- interesting comment, don’t you think? EG: factuality incorrect.

“Talk about most dominant...” - another fact that the numbers prove. Percentage of fastest lap time, wins, poles over a season, virtually everything proves that. You are right it’s not 14-16, Hamilton had some competition back back then; such as Rosberg having the most poles in 2014, 6 or more wins very season and 16 championship. This year no other driver is even close to those stats.

Lastly, Bottas winning two races means nothing. Ricciardo won 3 races in 14, Vettel won 3 in 15, RB won 2 races this year. Does it look like any of those wins from a championship worthy car? Also I suggest check the salary again. It’s actually public (little clue for you). And if Bottas was getting $8m, he is the luckiest guy on earth.


Saw your comment. I believe you should take your own advice F0. You're talking about this year, using stats from this year ... the only car Merc have entered this year is the W08. Not very hard to understand, I would've thought.

As C63 showed in another thread, you are a weathervane. In the early summer, you were singing Bottas' praises, and now he's a terrible driver. Not sure about you, but if I know anyone that changes their opinion as drastically as that, in the space of a couple of months, I don't really put much weight into either of their differing opinions. There's no underlying mooring to have some confidence in.

I do, however, put significant weight on opinions by journo's who've been around the block, and know what they're talking about. Here's one such article, on Ferrari's 2017 season to date:


Sorry, how do the numbers prove that the W08 is the "most dominant car in F1 history"? That's what you wrote, and that's total nonsense.

Have a look around, see what you find.

Here's just one ... percentage laps led by a constructor in a year: (click on Pct to sort on that column)

On that score, the W08 is 20th on the list. In which universe does 20th equate to "most dominant in history"?!?!! I thought you were the facts guy?? 😃

As for Bottas, his two wins were well-earned. He didn't win them through other cars retiring, etc. (though Lewis had the gearbox penalty in Austria). In 2014 Ricciardo's wins relied on crashes or mechanical issues with others to happen. In 2015 Ferrari made a good car, but it was clearly second best through the year. The 2017 Ferrari is something different though ... it is a lot better than their 2015 car, yet to date they've only won one race more with it. That car deserved a lot more than they got out of it. They've underdelivered, badly.


Regarding Renault, if Honda are poor again next year RB will sell them Sainz in return for some engines for 2019, heard it here first!


Only three cars used the 3 available tyre compounds (and that includes Mad Mag only doing one lap on the reds)
What the hell is the point of bringing three compound to each race... particularly when “surprise surprise, the degradation wasn’t as bad as predicted”?


Ferrari should have focussed on a solid 2 stop strategy from lap 7 in any case. Pat Symonds once said years ago if you do the same as the leaders, you will finish in the same order. I feel Ferrari missed an opportunity in the middle stint by focussing on a 1 stop strategy. Vettel was unchallenged in P2 and had the pace to do something slightly different to make Mercedes think. On a second note, watching the race thought it was insanity for Mercedes not to pit Hamilton after Vettel did his second stop, they had the margin/'free stop', and could have been in bother if a safety car had been deployed.


We can always argue about what would’ve been the better strategy for Ferrari. I don’t believe it would’ve changed the outcome. However, I would’ve liked to have seen Ferrari take higher difficulty of risks. Both championships were long lost anyway. At least they could’ve done something aggressive.

As for Mercedes not pitting Hamilton shows how confident they are in that package. They played safe enough to win and that’s all it was required. Kudos to them for becoming the most dominant car in F1 history. That means they have more to lose in the future, which should motivate teams like RB and Ferrari going forward.


I was wondering why they didn't pit Hamilton to cover Max and Vettel, but he'd have come out behind Kimi and Bottas and had to have passed them on track which I guess was a risk Merc didn't want to take. There's not much risk of a full track safety car at COTA, more likely to be a VSC instead.


Yes. At this stage in the season Ferrari has to take risks and they were a bit conservative. I was also looking for them to run a counter strategy to Merc by running Q2 on the harder tyres. could be wrong, but it looks like they could have made it into Q3 and been able to start on the harder tyre and go deeper into first stint. They are not going to beat Merc on pure pace - that car is untouchable.


The car is untouchable. ...not at every track though. In Malaysia and Singapore for example Ferrari failed to capitalise when their car was strongest.


To my mind, Sainz's 7th , or P6 on track, was the second most significant result of the weekend.

The new engine from Renault is looking pretty good, helping Max to fourth. Carlos steps in and bags a good result with his first drive. The Hulk looked beaten and people are saying 'I told you so' about Jolyon.

Now, I hate to say this, but I can't see Danny RIC landing at either Mercedes or Ferrari anytime soon.

Toto wants VB and has Ocon in reserve. Why would Danny RIC be higher than 3rd pick? Over at Ferrari, Seb has only been beaten by one teammate in 10 years, so that door seems shut until 2020.

If new the Renault engine is fast and reliable, and the whole package can bag 6th across the line by a first up driver, then the it would start to look like an option for a Red Bull driver at a career crossroads. Renault would have continuity of driver feedback and the two most marketable drivers on the grid.



"The Hulk looked beaten"

Pardon ?

In the weekend I watched, he did one run in Q1, which was something like 0.6 faster than Sainz's first run - enough in any case to comfortably get thru to Q2. He then parked it, having squillions of penalties for the race. In the race itself, he retired on lap 3 with low oil pressure.
How you compute that into "looking beaten", only you know.


I've always thought of Bottas as a quick driver, so it's interesting to see the current run of form. It could be, of course, that Hamilton is phenomenally good!! 🙂


Which would indicate that Rosberg was in fact also phenomenally good as he ran Hamilton really close in most quali and races.


In F1 if your teammate is phenomenally 8/10ths faster than you, that’s not the sport for you. Maybe try fishing instead.


Have to see what Bottas is like in the 2018 car, some drivers seem to struggle more with cars that aren't exactly to their liking, whilst others are better able to drive around those issues.


Bottas is just so slow on full tanks, he always generally is , even at williams,


I reckon it'll be Ricciardo sat next to Hamilton in 2019..


As an out and out racer Max is a joy to watch. Everything looks exciting when he's driving. The car looks electric, tingling with him behind the wheel.

I'd love to see the front of the grid filled by Hamilton, Max, Ricciardo, Alonso, Sainz and Ocon. Surely they are the top racers on the grid right now. That would be one hell of a ding dong!

Compare that to Bottas. A latter day Massa who shows glimpses of a potential near contract renewal then disappears for months. He's costing the team points, he switches off during races and all to often gives up a place with little fight. His defence of Ricciardo's attacking was superb but the more exciting because you so rarely see him do it. You expected him to roll over and let Ricciardo through.

He was supposed to be a solid number two but he's looking anything but solid.

He'll be out of Mercedes in 2019.


I would love to see a grid of 20 Verstappens, not sure how many cars would finish but it would be some crazy racing


And Seb Vettel mate .


I deliberately left Vettel off that list.

When he has everything under control he's masterful at delivering stunning times lap after lap. Equal to Hamilton in that regard.

Put him under pressure with some one hunting him down though and he cracks - time after time after time.

That group of 6 above would crush him.


Bottas has completely collapsed in the second half of the season. Is he overthinking everything because he lacks the assurance that he has time to settle in and understand the Mercedes way. When I see him he has the look of a person who has completely lost confidence.


Not much different to his stint at Williams. There was a segment in Sky last year with a topic “is Bottas driving himself out of a top drive”. Crofty raised that question last year. He couldn’t put Massa away. Now next to Hamilton (where the same car finished 1-2 in WDC 3 years in a row and won 4 WCC) he looks worse. The gap is embarrassing to say the least. So, it was always coming sooner or later based on his Williams history.


So here is an interesting question for Toto Wolff and Mercedes. They know that Lewis is good enough to lead the team. They also know that they have the underlying platform to keep the competition at bay and win the WCC (remember even without the DNFs, Kimi's poor performance had hurt Ferrari's points in the constructors race). Do they keep Lewis "happy" with Bottas which means they keep winning and he keeps setting F1 records without much internal competition, or do they take the risk and bring on Daniel Ricciardo who is now openly campaigning for the seat, knowing they could destabilize the relationship between drivers and recreate that Nico Rosberg like toxic environment.


James, what are your thoughts on Grosjean complaining on the radio about the front left tyre being unsafe, and someone (didn't sound like his engineer) telling him to shut up? (Video on the F1 youtube channel). Is it just Grosjean whinging or did he have a genuine reason to be concerned? The tyre looks fine in the video.


The tyre's fine, it's Grosjean who is the problem here. The team need to switch off all radio contact till at least Bahrain next year.


James, don't you think that Verstappen could have ended up higher if he had not made his 2nd pit stop. Apart from trying to create an undercut it seemed they were hoping for a safety car near the end of the race.


What I want to know is what would have happened if Verstappen was on the podium? He's not old enough to drink in the US


He would be allowed to spray it just not drink it.


Why do you think they gave him the 5 second penalty?


When penalized after drinking, he would have complained that, its Ferrari's plan 😉

Tornillo Amarillo

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.

It's to blame the team for this strategy (blocking, defensive against Verstappen) or the driver (Bottas not managing degradation well for a podium) ?


Amazing drives by the youngsters.
Sainz just delivered straight from the get go.
Ocon just controlled his race and tyres even when Perez was asking to pass (a Lewis and Bottas switcharoo).
Lewis messed with Vettel then went passed and left him going backwards.
Driver of Day still has to be Max. Sainz maybe up there too.
Donkey of the Day Ericsson for his pit manoeuvre on Kevin M.
Entertaining race for the hardened F1 fans.
Shame about the stewardship that needs to be standardised for all races. A full time unit like in football without the guest steward.
Mercedes deserved the Constructors Trophy and hopefully the Drivers in Mexico.
Perhaps we will get a Tele Mundo Soap star as a steward next time...that leaves us all on a cliff hanger. Eric Estrada in a velvet red suit with a disco shirt and a tin nescafe lid medallion or the guy from Machete (what he says goes). Tele Mundo F1 😄

Tornillo Amarillo

Sainz and Ocon shine.

Exactly, so good. In the future, they will take the fight to Verstappen.


I agree about Ocon, not so much about Carlos. Yes, he has (very) good races but he also still makes many silly mistakes. When he was besides Max at TR, Sainz could match Max on Saturday's, but on Sundays, there was always a massive difference in spacecraft and speed. But on the other hand, Carlos could have improved, so let's hope he will get right up there with the other youngsters. Last race was a promising start and I'm curious if Hulkenberg will counter Carlos.


Why was this second stop of Verstappen a "masterstroke"? He was gaining of everyone including Lewis and the stint on softs would not have been that long to the end.

Plus, why not choose a set of Ultra's for the second stint?

I would say Red Bull missed out on a major opportunity to finish second.

Antonia Papadakis

Perhaps COTA the best circuit In the calendar with so many overtakes and different strategies.
Looks like Renault engines are the ones for next year. Perhaps Mcalonso will get his last call for a third title.


great analysis as always but ...what about the risk of a safety car ? I thought of that when Mag spun...if the safety car was out when vettel had rejoined , it would surely have ruined HAM's race non ?


Did Vettel have a higher starting fuel level that RAI? Or was he fuel-saving as well? Or is there something about RAI's driving that uses more fuel?


Just before midpoint, it looked like Verstappen would stick it out a 1 stop to Ultras, as his pace on the supers at that point was dropping off....

He would have got to the line quicker if he dumped the softs maybe 3-5 laps earlier, but it looks like he stayed out to see how much he could disrupt Hamilton.

Im surprised he didn't take Ultras at his second stop, as surely he had (or could have) spared a set in Qualifying as he knew he was taking a penalty.

Regarding Bottas having "nothing to lose" by second stopping when it did, I dont agree. With a hard charging Verstappen closing on a fuel saving Raikkonen, it would be best to be closer to pick up the pieces rather than 20+ seconds back.
Given that he didnt have a go at fastest lap, should we assume there was a real fear of a tyre failure there??


On the topic of great recover drives, i must say they are not what the used to be, given the quality and lack of fight from the midfield. Generally, with the exception of 1 driver struggling to control his temper, the midfield drivers just wave the contenders through.

Henceforth, we should consider a "start at the back" penalty for a top 5 driver as "start 6th, with an 8 second penalty".


Given the huge performance gap between the top 3 teams and everybody else, storming drives from the back of the grid are not such a big deal anymore, unless a podium is achieved.
But then you have to stick to track limits, and as we have seen, that can be a challenge eh Max?


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?


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


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


"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.


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.


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

Completely agree.


“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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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


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.


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?


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.


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.


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.


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.


Good point

That was another reason to do it


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.


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..


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.


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.
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.


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


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

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


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.


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


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.


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.


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


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!


technical issues


his car


Renault... need to say more?


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.

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.


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


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.


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...


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


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


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


I wonder how that 'old chap' would sound if he was to say, "Alonso, box, box, box!"at McLaren


"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.


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.


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.


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 ?


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..


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


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


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?


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?)


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.


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.


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.


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


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...


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.

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