Analysis: How Lewis Hamilton and Daniel Ricciardo lit up Brazilian F1 Grand Prix
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Strategy Report
Posted By: James Allen  |  14 Nov 2017   |  3:03 pm GMT  |  224 comments

With the championship already decided there was a certain sense of ‘nothing to lose’ about the decision-making running through the penultimate race of the season in Brazil.

The combination of the tyre choices and the conditions at Interlagos meant that this looked like it could be a race with few strategic variations and limited scope for an undercut tactic at the pit stops.

However with two fast cars out of position after Lewis Hamilton crashed in qualifying and Daniel Ricciardo suffered a ten place grid penalty, the race took on a different complexion.

A Safety Car at the right moment, around Lap 18-20 might have given Hamilton the chance to win the race, but as it turned out the Safety Car was deployed far earlier than that and fourth was the best he could manage.


Pre-race considerations
The two main tyres Pirelli had brought for Interlagos were the supersoft and the soft and Friday’s practice running showed that it would be possible to do the race with just one stop as the degradation was very low, like in the Bridgestone tyre days in the 2000s.

However it also became clear from Friday that the best order for the tyres was soft first, when the cars were heavy on fuel and then supersoft at the end, as the track ramped up in grip. The other way around – the standard format for the Top ten qualifiers – was tricky for the supersofts, which needed management against overheating.

Knowing this and also mindful that he had a ten place penalty to serve, which would mean him starting around P14/15, Ricciardo opted to qualify on the softs and do the mirror strategy to the Top 10, who would all be starting on supersofts. Sadly he wasn’t able to fully capitalise as he had to be careful with running the engine too hard.

Hamilton, had no such concerns in the race. He had crashed on his first flying lap in qualifying and the decision was made to fit a new engine, on which he could run at maximum mode for much of the race and to start from the pit lane.

Clearly starting on the softs was the best strategy for him and he would be able to use the superior power of the engine to overtake cars.

On race day the weather was hotter than in practice; the track was 60 degrees and this meant that the tyres overheated and suffered wear, but still not any meaningful degradation (drop off in lap time performance).

What this meant was that the undercut would be difficult to achieve (pitting before your rival ahead and then using the new tyre pace to jump him when he stops a lap later). To make that really work, you need the degradation to be meaningful between a old tyre and a new, so you can make the move when you are within two seconds of the car in front.

In Interlagos the undercut margin was only around 0.8 to 1 second, which means that you have to be right behind to have any chance.
This in turn put the emphasis on the start and the opening lap as the place to make up positions. And when you have that situation, you have a strong likelihood of a collision and an early Safety Car, which is what we got.

Ferrari wins, Bottas loses
Valtteri Bottas had the pole position, but failed to convert it into a win because he lost the start. But it wasn’t the whole story.

He still had two more chances to get the lead back from Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel. One was at the restart after the Safety Car, the other was at the pit stops, if he could get close enough for the undercut.

He wasn’t able to challenge at the restart, as Vettel played a cat and mouse game with him before accelerating, like Hamilton had done with him in Baku. So it was all about getting close enough from Lap 26 onwards to have a go at the stops. From this point onwards the softs would be able to make it to the end of the race without too much difficulty.

Mercedes moved Bottas into position and pulled the trigger on Lap 27, but Bottas came into his pit box a fraction too hot and the team lost 3/10ths of a second adjusting position to remove the wheels.

When the leader Vettel came in a lap later to cover the move, his stop was normal and he came out approximately 3/10ths of a second in front.

Bottas would not have been ahead with a normal stop, but Vettel would certainly have been coming out into a drag race with him down to Turn 4. In the end it was more comfortable than that for Vettel.

Hamilton and Ricciardo light up Interlagos.
Ricciardo did a fine job to race from 14th on the grid to 6th at the flag on his mirror strategy. Although clocked at 338km/h with DRS and a tow on one lap, he did not enjoy the consistently enormous straight line speed advantage that Hamilton had with a new spec engine – sometimes as much as 25km/h faster on the straight than the cars he was passing – so it took longer to make progress. He wasn’t helped by contact on the opening lap, which dropped him down to 17th and last place behind the Safety Car.

The accidents at the start helped Hamilton’s cause, boosting him to 14th place from 20th, but the Safety Car didn’t help him particularly.

That’s because when he was racing he was able to pick off one car every lap – and two per lap in the early stages.
So the five laps behind the Safety Car meant five fewer opportunities to overtake in the early stages and gain ground.

Once he got to the front – after the leaders had pitted – his pace was strong, but once he pitted and came out on new tyres in clear air on Lap 44, as the graph below shows, Hamilton’s thicker trace is clearly dipping down consistently into lap times that are a second faster than the lead cars. (Verstappen’s outlier of a fastest lap was at the end of the race on supersoft tyres)

With low tyre degradation and a clear track ahead as he was leading after the front runners pitted, Mercedes extended Hamilton’s stint by seven laps over the original plan to Lap 44. He mounted an attack on Raikkonen at the end, but had lost 1.5 seconds passing Stroll (see Lap 48 on table above) and with tyres that were worn, he didn’t quite have enough impetus to make a pass for a podium.

Could Perez and Force India have done anything to get Massa and Alonso?

Force India had a disappointing afternoon by their own high standards. Esteban Ocon’s long finishing streak came to an end due to a collision at the start with Romain Grosjean. That gave him his first retirement in F1 after a season and a half!

Sergio Perez started fifth on the grid, but finished ninth after losing out at the start to Massa and Alonso. This tight midfield battle was a case study for the problem with the undercut. As the pit stop window opened on Lap 26, Alonso was one second behind Massa and Perez was one second behind Alonso.

That was close enough to try an undercut but neither McLaren nor Force India tried it. Perez would have benefitted most from it as he was struggling to pass two cars, with Alonso able to get DRS from following Massa ahead.

Massa had the luxury of pitting first on Lap 27 with no undercut attempt, then Alonso pitted and inevitably came out behind him. Perez and Force India, having missed the opportunity, decided to extend the stint and then try to make it up later on fresher tyres. He extended by seven laps, but lost too much time during that period and wasn’t able to get the benefit at the end. They crossed the line together in the same order in which they had raced.

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

Race history and Tyre Usage charts, kindly supplied by Williams Martini Racing – click to enlarge

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224 comments

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1

Both drivers at the top of their game.
If they left LH out for a few more laps on the 1st stint maybe he would have had more rubber left on the 2nd tyres to challenge Kimi for a podium.
Ricciardo amazing late lunges at the first corner. Got the job done. Will he stay with Red Bull ? Or head Mercedes way or has Ocon already been pencilled in after Toto gave him a glowing report?
Bottas needs to be on top form as one expects Mercedes to be Racer at Abu Dhabi.

2

RIC would want a 2-3 year deal. Ocon might not wait for that long, at a second tier team. Ocon is cheaper, but thats hardly a parameter for Merc.

3

Lewis Hamilton has never won at a dry and sunny Interlagos, strangely enough. Perhaps he should do a rain dance next year in Brazil? A very unusual stat, but netherless quite a stark one.

Hammy was a worthy DOTD, but I still felt - and feel - that Fernando Alonso was equally worthy of the award, for driving his kahuna's off for 71 laps in a down on power McHonda was a great effort. For the record - the Bearded Matador qualified 7th, his team-mate 14th - and over sixths tenths quicker. In the same machinery. Says it all really (the gap between good and great).

4

Hamilton has also only won once at a wet Interlagos, despite there being at least 3 he's raced at. Clearly it's not his circuit!

5

He wold have won in 2012. He was leading when Hulkenberg punted him off.

6

Wasn't Button leading by a country mile until a safety car? (Correct me if I'm wrong)

He won anyway, if I remember.

7

Is VAN really an accurate yardstick on which to bestow greatness on ALO.

ALO is driving to stay relevant in F1 amidst the reign of HAM, his challenger VET and the rise of RIC, VER, SAI & OCON as the men who would be king.

8

The Reign of Merc.

9

Merc and HAM are synonymous right now since BOT is clearly the pawn in this game of chess.

10
Clarks4WheelDrift

very regal ... you mean since the reign of Rosberg ended 😉

11

It is still Rosberg's crown for a little longer.

12

Hamilton and Ricciardo light up Interlagos.

That double edge sword of Formula 1. Penalties and grid shuffles are artificial, but spice up action.

Brazilian GP entertainment was produced by the penalty taker and pit lane starters.
Without them, the verdict would be "boring". With them, it's like putting salt on a bland meal.

I wonder how the fans feel about that? Knowing that penalties provide entertainment, are we happy to reap that entertainment even though it's induced this way? You like the salt on your plain rice fans? Or would you rather curb your sodium intake?

13

Penalties do make things interesting but they could be applied better. Hamilton taking a new engine at no effective cost for example. Perhaps car parts could come with a points cost. It would be artificial but it would certainly be interesting if Hamilton had had to spend 25 points to get the new engine.

14

Or a handicapping system? 30 seconds for an ICE? 15 seconds for a gearbox? Served at the first pitstop.

15

That is what I don't understand about the penalty system. If the car needs a new ICE, why punish the driver? Why not take away constructer's points?

16

Definitely not. Points that potentially feed the garages are much more important than feeding the ego of drivers.

17

Bobw, would be a bit harsh on a team like Sauber, if they have a great race and score a couple of points, only to lose them at the next race because their engine supplier screwed up.

18

Well, then, apply the point loss to the manufacturer. It's idiotic to punish the driver for the team's failures or that of a power unit supplier.

19

Does the driver benefit from the new PU?

Subtraction of points is hugely flawed idea. Think it through see how it effects smaller teams.

20

I’m with you 100% on the points issue. But it must be applied in such a way that prevents teams sacrificing one driver or one of the championships to support the other. For example if the points loss is only on the team then why not go for-the drivers title at the expence of a couple of places in the constructors. Expensive but not unthinkable. Alternatively if late in the season you need to stop an opposition driver getting wins and max points then why not sacrifice your number two driver with a series of new engines turned up to quali mode.

21

The new engine in the merc on Sunday just showed us that it is worth points in both directions.

22

Exactly. There should be some punishment and not just "you were going to start last anyway because of your owne error so why not take all new components". Not to mention this is a tactic available only to the factory teams and perhaps RB.

23

Yeah, you stuffed up, but this new drivetrain should get you an extra five points or so.

24

I love it when Hamilton or Ricc or Ves start 'out of position'. I like my GP races salty!

25

In fact best out of position start was Abu Dhabi 2012 with Vettel getting 3rd on podium, after was sent back again after touching a car when he was on 13th place. Practically he advanced 7+17=24 places. And Malaysia too, an honoroble 4th, without getting help from safety car and drivers gone for tyres change.

26

In fact best out of position start

Obviously this is only your opinion and is subjective by definition and therefore not a fact - but if we are offering opinions on the best out of position starts then I would like to put forward Hamilton at Hungary 2014. Overtaking is very difficult there and yet Hamilton starting from dead last in the pit lane not only made the podium but beat his pole sitting team mate. Whether you like Hamilton or not, that was a mighty impressive drive by anyones standards.

27

The best was last year on Interlagos. Epic drive and something generations to come will look at.

28

Seriously C63, the domination and advantage held by Mercedes means you need to put forward a pre PU era race for Hamilton. We will not accept any back to front Hamilton PU era stories of greatness. 🙂

29

You missed the part about him starting from the pit lane, but finishing ahead of his pole-sitting teammate, who was driving the SAME CAR. This was in Hungary, on a wet track to start.

He did this to Button as well at Spain 2012 ... he started P24 and ended up P8, while Button went P10 to P9. That was at Barcelona, notoriously hard to pass on, and with no safety car in that race.

30

Sebee, is it impossible for the guy in the best car to drive well?

31

@AlanF1 'The Great Fluke of Abu Dhabi' still makes me mad even now. Seb lucked on to a better strategy after getting his (now) trademark red mist and almost driving into the back of Ricciardo behind the safety car, hitting a track side sign instead. As it transpired the subsequent pit stop sorted him for the rest of the race whilst the two STRs, Webber and Schumacher obliged in pulling (or getting pulled) out of the way. Given how poorly Vettel drove through 2012 on the way to the title (thanks, RBR in-season development) it was absolutely shocking to watch as that was the moment it was clear that the racing gods were on his side regardless.

If you want a genuinely good out of position start, try Schumacher, Belgium 1995. That was genuine class.

32

Go ahead, try to say no to a bag of chips. It's hard. And we're weak. 🙂

33

Sebee, chips chips, or crisps?

34

Crispy chips.

35

I would wish that the ingredients in the dish were tastier just on their own!
So no need to be salty. ;o)

36

I've said it before.....I'll say it again. Start the races in reverse WDC order. They could maybe trial this for a Saturday sprint to replace qualifying

37

Entertainment value wise, that's like sea salt. Apparently good for you!

38

Also the ones with fresh PUs.

Penalty getters have often been able to provide the entrtaimment though. I still remember Schumi in 06 overtaking most of the field in Monaco, which has produced more boring races than not. And Vettel and Verstappen have done the same this year in couple of occasions. But you raised a good point Sebee, if the penalty takers are the ones provide the entertainment in F1 too often, there’s something wrong.

39

one of the best gps japan 05 was also due to grid penalties featured one of the best overtakes and all were done without any artificial drs moves....still a thriller to watch!

40

James, what do you think of Grosjean's penalty?

41

I think his track record may have had an influence. Yet even with the penalty he seems to not learn. He was banned because of his Spa 2012 incident and still didn't learn seems the learning curve maybe too high. I really don't get how he is still in F1. Toto even said as much "Wolff said Grosjean should be thankful to have an F1 career at all given his history" and shows how highly he is viewed by the team principles. I think he can have a career highlight video that will be all crashes and moaning.

James how much influence does a driver history have if any on how they are penalized? Does a driver who appears to not learn from his previous penalty get punished more to drive the point home?

42

Good question. I thought it very harsh from the live action and nothing since has shown otherwise.

You (Ocon and RIC earlier) put yourself outside others and particularly early race, then you have placed yourself at risk of a mishap inside.

43

kenneth you got your Danny Ric mention after all (: One thing that wasn't covered in the report is why Mclaren didn't try and undercut Massa as he was within a second of him on several occasions, and stuck behind him forever.

44

Sky mentioned in commentary that Macca thought it was the quicker way to the end of the race - sitting in Massa's slipstream with DRS keeping him in touch. Had Alonso passed Massa he would simply have been defending hard and probably been passed and lost time overall - risking being passed by Perez too. That said, this is the Samurai we are talking about and he might have been able to defend, but Macca thought not.

45

I said that in the previous article in reply Mr Hamilton, aka TimW that it’s no brained than Ricciardo is the dod as he didn’t benefit from the SC, had a spin by getting hit on lap one (not his fault) and didn’t have the horsepower like the Mercs. Massa was close second to me because of his battle with Alonso.

46

Why didn’t RIC benefit from the SC?He spun because he git hit from the side and was facing the wrong way.

Then the SC came out which gave him time to do the pitstop and rejoin the pack. He did not benefit from the spin but he did benefit from the SC.

47

he did benefit from the SC

I agree Andre 🙂 Without the SC Ric would have lost around 20 seconds to the pack by the time he'd got back underway, and then if he pitted he'd have lost a further 20 odd seconds - I doubt there'd have been a great deal of 'scything' through the pack if he started with a 40 second deficit.

48

So did Hamilton. He made up six places!!!!

49

Simple Andre. Ricciardo already had fresh tyre and fresh engine. He lost position because he was hit. You could bet on him making up 5-6 spots without the SC in the first lap. Instead he lost positions due to SC. And lost mega time for the spin and extra pit stop. So, no in a million years he benefited from the SC.

50

bet on him making up 5-6 spots without the SC in the first lap

You reckon Ric would have been upon to 8th at the end of the first lap without the SC - I think that might be more than a little optimistic.

51

He lost positions due to the SC??? How on earth does someone do that??

Let’s go it step by step:
1. he got hit so he spun.
2. While he was in the grass he lost the positions and time relatively to those still on track.
3. While he was returning to the racetrack the SC came out.
4. Under SC he pits and rejoins the pack before the restart.

So the collision caused him places, but the SC certainly did not. It only helped him come back to the field. In L7 after the restart he was only 5s behind P6.

52

F zero, also if you had bothered reading the article you are commenting on, you would know that Lewis didn't benefit from the safety car.

53

TimW here we go again. You are making things up again as usual. I didn’t say Ham benefited from SC, I said Ricciardo didn’t. But now that you mentioned, you twisted this article 360 deg. There is not anywhere in the article it said it didn’t help him. Also I didn’t object to you voting whoever. You can vote for who you want, I objected to the term “have to be joint dod” where you didn’t use the term “IN MY VIEW”, which sounds like you are putting words in other people’s mouth as usual.

54

F zero, you said that that Dan was a more deserving candidate for dotd than Lewis, because he didn't benefit from the sc, surely this means you thought Lewis did, or why else would you have mentioned it? Thr article clearly does say that the "safety car didn't help him particularly ", look again. You say you didn't mind me voting for Lewis, but felt the need to tell me that Massa and Ricciardo were more worthy recipients, something you might notice I don't bother doing. I didn't need to add lots of "in my views" or "in my opinions" as that was an original comment, not a reply to someone elses, therefore the whole thing was clearly just my opinion.

55

That's not what the article said. It said it didn't particularly help him. Obviously the safety car closed the gap on everyone and helps anyone starting from the pit lane. Absurd. "If you had bothered reading the article you commented on"... indeed.

56

Cheesypoof, doesn't benefit and help mean the same thing?! He was right behind those cars anyway.

57

Context Tim. James did not state that.

Did Lewis benefit, not "particularly", but if not for the accidents that caused that same safety car, he would not been in fourteenth as mentioned. Effectively, he gained six positions without pushing his tyres, contributing to extending his planned first stint, which in turn played a part in his shorter second stint pace that was lost by the time he got to Kimi.

58

Bryce, the original comment from Fzero stated that Ricciardo was a stronger contender for dotd than Lewis because ge (Ricciardo) didn't benefit from the safety car, I'm just pointing out that neither did Lewis, ok with you? It's true that if those accidents hadn't happened that Lewis would have had to pass those cars, but a McLaren, a Haas and a Force India were all overtaken by Lewis with no apparent issue or life taken out of his tyres later in the race, so no reason to believe he couldn't have done it again.

59

Doesn't have to be okay with me, but the only thing you were pointing out was inaccurate and surely you can see that. It is not a problem to be wrong, as nobody is infallible, but not okay to attack someone else as being wrong an the basis of a falsehood and then trying to justify it.

60

Bryce, what am I wrong about? The safety car didn't benefit Hanilton particularly, that is what it says in the article. Yes the slow running did mean he saved some tyre wear, but so did everyone else, including Kimi. The crash meant he had fewer cars to overtake, but the safety car meant he had fewer laps to overtake them, they also would have been easy prey anyway. The original point of this conversation was did Lewis benefit more from the sc than Ricciardo, and the answer is no.

61

It all goes back to your original reply and the article. From recollection only, the use and position of the word particularly is the key.

62

You are splitting hairs Bryce.....

63

F zero, and I said in response that people should be allowed to vite for whoever they want asdoyd without being told that they got it wrong. I voted for Hamilton and Ricciardo jointly, but even this half vote for Lewis was too much for you to bear!

64

Thanks, James -- always appreciated. Do you suppose there is anything to the comparison of the #1 and #2 cars in a team back in the day outlined in this clip from YouTube which would apply to teams these days? : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3QuoZ-vgDYI

65
Tornillo Amarillo

For me clearly Hamilton had to show muscles to Verstappen and Bottas and he did it to keep the spotlight.

66

So, did Stroll cost Hamilton the chance to catch the leaders? That 1.6 seconds looked crucial. I suspect he would have been on Vettel's gearbox as he would have been quicker to reach KR and possibly (probably?) waved past Bottas.

I'm no fan of blue flags but Stroll costing LH 1.6/1.7 seconds was another reason why he is lucky to have a drive in F1.

67

Agreed. When I was flag marshaling lapped cars had no rights at all. If they did not immediately get off the racing line before the leaders came through, they were reported to the sector marshal, who would report them to the CofC. I'm not sure where this "we are driving our own race" rubbish came from. Drive faster or get out of it!

68

While I am no fan of penalties I do think that cars being lapped should get out of the way of leaders - and quickly!
How about a penalty point on the super licence for each second of hold up. Both LH and DR were held up in a chase to the finish line - back markers should not be able to affect race results.
Also this would be in line with the concept if there is to be penalties then the penalty should affect the transgressors- driver penalties for driver transgressions and manufacturers penalties for everything else. Seems only fair.

69

@Dan, i'd like to think they wouldn't have waved him past Bottas. WDC is over, there's no need for team orders....although you never know?

70

It would have been beneficial for Bottas' possible second place in the WDC if Hamilton had got ahead of Vettel so letting him past to have a crack at the lead would have been in Bottas' interests. Mercedes could always tell Hamilton to give the place back if he hadn't managed to get the lead on the penultimate lap.

71

Mercedes said they wouldn't have waved lewis through. Methinks another hungary with LH given the place back if he couldn't overtake.

72

Nonsense. Stroll was ahead so it was a fight for position, no blue flags were shown.

73

Incorrect. Stroll was being lapped......they are referring to the end of the race

74

Fascinating analysis, as always!

It mentions the 1.5s that HAM lost to STR at lap 48. But isnt there a similar loss in the previous pass, at (about) lap 41 (42?). The first chart shows a spike there, and the "17R19BRA" chart shows only two dips in HAM's progress, one at lap 42, the other at lap 48.

Putting those together, that's more like 3s lost ... and HAM was only 0.8s behind RAI at the finish. Wee shame.

75

Would have caught Kimi two/three laps earlier and maybe would have had a chance....maybe

76

Just goes to show how fun the races could be if the drivers could push from start to finish. Shame next year there will only be 3 engines for the whole season!!! Are they trying to make it LESS interesting?

77

On contrary, they are saying that more engine penalties and engine failure would make things more interesting, which was the case in Brazil.

I’m in favour of cars pushing from the beginning too. However, that will require a lot more technical equality regardless of the budget. Otherwise, in some gps, the winner would be close to lapping the top 5 finishers due to too much advantage, which will be devastating for F1.

78
Tornillo Amarillo

Grid penalty is a fake rule to do the race more "interesting", I'm not interested in these fabricated comebacks from the end of the grid.
Three engines sucks indeed, it is even worst than DRS.
James are you going to analyses this?

79

It is already, as all drivers have to switch to Prius mode to save fuel to drive to the end.

80

Exactly this, it's a shame no one else seems to be talking about how fast the cars were with all the fuel, engine and engine components saving being thrown out of the window. 3 engines next year sucks, more saving less racing

81

I dunno if Hamilton did that on purpose or not but if he did it was smart. He gets to do some testing and Bottas gets a chance at 2nd instead of third. They should give them both another motor and test some more.

2018 started at Brazil and even before that for Renault engines. Ferrari needs to do that too. Lets see everyone take grid penalties and see what happens next.

82

VB could have used LH's help to have a chance for 2nd in the WDC, he could have backed up Vettel, and given Mercedes an extra shot at the win, nothing to lose, WDC and WCC already sorted.
Seems Ham gets the better strategy even when he starts from last, no wonder VB has lost confidence

83

I noticed that. Hamilton should have been left out longer. It might have helped them both.

84

If everyone took grid penalties.... all things being equal the grid would look pretty normal! It's been said before that if the engine manufacturers colluded they could all have an extra two (or more) engines for the season by agreeing to take brand new engines at the same GP, suffering the penalties but nobody actually gets moved back relative to anyone else! Imagine that - the person on pole gets a 30 place grid penalty but still starts on pole!

85

Trouble is they would all have had to have exhausted their allocations of each element to allow that and I cannot see any manufacturer with an advantage giving that up.

86

Well, I know I'd say I would, but then wouldn't!

87

"Lets see everyone take grid penalties and see what happens next."

Same top 6, i would wager....

Such is the state of the formula...

Get in there Ross!

88

Lkfe, if everyone took a penalty, then yes the grid would look very similar, isn't that kind of obvious...

89

TimW, I dunno. I was quoting @jdr, however without putting words in his/her mouth, i assumed they meant "reverse the grid" (rather than everyone take grid penalties).
My point was that if they did that , the race result would still have the top 6 cars finishing as the top 6 places.

90

Lkfe, at some tracks it would, at others it wouldn't.

91

If all teams decide to do it in a particular race, Spa for example, it would be beneficial for all. Everyone would like to have an additional engine. If everyone takes penalty simultaneously, it calculates equal to no penalty for all. Teams would be willing to accept their deserving grid position in this scenario rather than taking out of place penalty and suffering grid drop. It defeats the whole purpose of FIA coming out with engine limitations but FIA is not doing good job with penalties either...

92

Cannot occur until all elements from all teams have been used, nor unless merc want to surrender their advantage.

93

Yeah that's true. It would be cool if we could have one race after the season ends reversing the starting positions of the of where you finish in the WDC with anything new you want to use.

Heck it would still be one of six. I hope things will be closer next year but I think Mercedes probably will retain the reliability due to 3 engines and 2 batteries.

Grid penalties may decide things next year. If they do plenty of fans won't like that.

94

25 km/h faster says it all.

95

"consistently enormous straight line speed advantage that Hamilton had"

Apparently some don't think my comment of 25 km/h faster simply said enough, so in case they missed them, I hope James' further words above and "as much as" from the same sentence helps them understand.

96

It’s the fact that - uniquely - he could leave the engine turned up for much of the race

As it only needs to last two races..

97

Yes James, and car set up purely for race pace made it ridiculously quick.

The additional response was simply to emphasize there is no need to add a heap of unrelated crap to get ones point across, including bringing other races into a specific thread.

The irony is that a good few are taking aim and deriding another driver's effort with an old worn out power unit bereft of high modes because his team did not fit a hot new one for him.

98

Bryce. With DRS.

99

Bryce, so the 25kph isn't the total advantage from the new engine, some of it was, some of it was from the drs.

100

Come on Tim, you know that I was always aware of that.

101

One would assume so.

102

It says Mercedes gave Hamilton a brand new engine, and combined with the set up and DRS Ham was faster than all of the other cars on the grid until his tyres could take no more. What it doesn't say is that Merc had that advantage all year or that they had the best car at every track all season long, because that is patently untrue.

103

hamilton's known how to do this, all his life. that's the reason for the race outcome. nothing else.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BfCZqdsNKAA

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lseNan1ODY8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xDgpS4kx88s&t=2s

104

All of us are aware of the new engine etc, but if you don't think simplifying it to a number is sufficient, maybe I was remiss in not including "the consistent enormous straight line speed advantage that Hamilton had with a new spec engine". Is that a bit better?

As for your second sentence, I also note that the article doesn't state what the weather outside was as it was being written, most likely because, like your sentence, the rest of the year is irrelevant to this race report.

105

Not really buddy. Simplifying it to a number still doesn't say it all and neither does "the consistent enormous straight line speed advantage that Hamilton had with a new spec engine" (which I am not denying). Otherwise we could just see who is fastest in a straight line and declare them the winner. Your comment said nothing that the article didn't and thus if we are all aware of the new engine upgrade were we not all aware of the 25km/h too?
And surely when discussing an engine advantage it needs to be seen in the context of the whole season does it not? And finally, who got the fastest lap of the race? What does that say?
So, in summary, 25km/h says practically nothing at all.

106

It said enough for you to bring up lines of stuff that was totally irrelevant, yet still said a lot less, buddy.

107

If it makes you feel better, I concede. Your comment did say it all. Absolutely everything. I wonder why James didn't just write that in the first place. My bad.

108

"Patently untrue"? I'll grant you, there has been the odd race this year where Merc just couldn't hook it up. This years Merc is also NOT as dominant as any of the 14,15 or 16 Mercs....
But none of that means that this years merc is not still the best car in the field. Ferrari has drawn closer, and RB has drawn closer to Ferrari...but the Merc is still the best car in this years grid, without question.

109

Thank you for agreeing with me.

110

They have the best package, yes, but that's mostly because of their engine. I'm not so sure they'd be top dog if they'd put that monster in the back of the Red Bull.

111

"... the Merc is still the best car in this years grid, without question."

... yet many ARE asking that very question.

https://www.autosport.com/f1/feature/7833/why-there-hope-in-ferrari-latest-failure

"Those who work at Ferrari will look back on the 2017 Formula 1 championship with enormous frustration. Sebastian Vettel could, and arguably should, have won the drivers' title. Ferrari could and should have pushed Mercedes closer for the constructors' championship. But they didn't. They fell short. Again."

http://www.gazzetta.it/Formula-1/11-11-2017/lauda-vettel-sei-fantastico-mondiale-perso-ferrari-230551290158.shtml

Some meaning lost in the internet translation, but you get the gist:

"Lauda, ​​you often repeat that this year is the best Hamilton ever: from where did this conviction come from?

"Because this year he did not drive the best car. In the previous 3 years I had a means to win the title myself. It was a bit like in '76, with Ferrari without the accident (at Nurburgring), I would have won easily. This year with a Ferrari so strong it was Lewis giving us the title, not the other way around."

https://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2017/11/14/vettels-singapore-crash-title-hopes-are-over/

"... by taking an uncompromising line on a wet track with Max Verstappen and Kimi Raikkonen alongside him, Vettel skittled all three into retirement and handed Hamilton a race he shouldn’t have been able to win."

http://www.bbc.com/sport/formula1/41963486

"As such, it was a reflection of the year as a whole - little to choose between the silver car and red on absolute pace, races decided on small details or twists of fate.

"It underlined that the way the championship was settled, in Hamilton's favour, with three races to go belied the truth of the season, which was of an intense fight between two evenly matched teams and their leading drivers.

"All year, it had looked as if Hamilton and Vettel would contest the championship right up to the final race in Abu Dhabi. They did not because Ferrari and their driver imploded, especially over the three Asian races in Singapore, Japan and Malaysia. And Vettel's moment of madness in driving deliberately into Hamilton in Baku back in June hardly helped.

"Baku turned an easy win into a fourth place - that was 13 points thrown away. Singapore was a race that appeared to be Vettel's on a plate, only for him to provoke a pile-up at the first corner. That was 25 points gone.

"Then an engine failure in qualifying in Malaysia, another race Ferrari had the pace to dominate, put Vettel at the back of the grid, and he finished fourth. Another 13 points gone. And then Japan, a spark plug failure, and a second place lost. Another 18 points.

"That's 69 points mislaid, plus the extra points the three Asian issues handed Hamilton on a plate. After Brazil, Vettel is 43 points adrift of Hamilton, who without those Ferrari problems would never have built the lead he needed to clinch the title so early."

There have been races this year where the Merc has been the best car, where it's been the 2nd best car, and races where it's been the 3rd best car. I don't believe there's been a single race where the Ferrari was the 3rd best car or worse ... it's always been either the best car, or second best car. There have been a few races this year that were total toss-up's ... Spain & Belgium spring to mind, and both of those were decided in Hamilton's favour. Other crucial races were Russia and Austria, where Hamilton was off the pace or had grid penalties. Both were races that Vettel & Ferrari should have won. He was beaten off the start in Russia, and then Bottas was able to gap Vettel on the ultrasofts, before Vettel came back at him on the supersofts. If he had kept him behind, Vettel would have won. In Austria, Vettel was up on Bottas in qualifying until he lost it in the last two corners. With pole, Vettel likely would have converted it.

Mark Hughes has the Ferrari as the best car on pace at 10 of the 19 races to date:

http://www.motorsportmagazine.com/reports/f1/2017-brazilian-grand-prix-report#comment-3617576559

He has previously said that if Mercedes were running the SF70H with Hamilton in it, that they would've won the title even earlier.

So yeah, there's been more than a few questioning whether the Merc was the best car this year. I get why many want to install the Merc as the "clearly best car" ... because the alternative means that Hamilton outdrove Vettel by a healthy margin. I've always maintained that Vettel will need a definite car advantage to beat Hamilton. For me this season just reinforces that opinion.

112

Or you could just say that he won in a car capable of doing so.

113

Yes, a world championship Gp since 1950. Massive clue - maple syrup, saints be praised in the New World.

TimW - there's a photo in the AUTOCOURSE 1978 of Arrows launching their car in about three foot of snow......

114

Yes, totally agree.

OK KRB, since you threw down the gauntlet to me, here's a firing shot to you (no pun intended); as it's winter and in the Northern Hemisphere the summer is a fading memory.............what is the COLDEST grand prix ever staged?

Clue: Surprisingly, it's not on this side of the Atlantic in the Old World.....................

115

Ok Gaz, challenge accepted. Though when you say grand prix, that can mean grand prix racing from before the advent of the F1 championship. So was this grand prix one that counted towards the F1 world championship?

At first I was thinking Kyalami when they started on New Year's Day, but that'd be their summer, so can't be that.

So you've basically said it was in the America's ... I'll await your clarification on my first question before answering.

116

Gazboy, remember that Silverstone test when it started snowing?

117

KRB

Did you see where Rosberg has come out and said that Vettel has missed his best chance of beating Lewis for the WDC because Merc will come back with an even stronger car next year. Perhaps he means that they will 'iron out' some of the 'diva' problems associated with the car. Whether Merc was the best car on the grid is a rather mute point. It was stronger in some circuits whereas Ferrari and RB may have been stronger in others. But overall it was strong enough, coupled with favorable reliability and Lewis' ability as a driver to win the prize. Yes, agree Vettel will need a car advantage to beat Lewis because he doesn't seem to be able to compete on the same mental level, as exampled by Baku, Singapore and Mexico last year.

118

Yeah, no need for paragraphs of waffling. Hamilton drove really well in a car capable of taking a title. Simple

119

I did see that, but not sure how much stock I put in it. Rosberg also thought that Mercedes had made a definite development leap over Ferrari at Silverstone, when instead it was that Ferrari were ordered to change their floor at Austria, and weren't able to recoup the downforce loss from that in time for Silverstone.

If Mercedes move to a high-rake concept, there could be definite teething problems with that. That's been Red Bull's bread 'n' butter for well on 7 years, and they had problems with it for the first quarter of the year. Mercedes are a great team though, and they've shown that they can work through problem areas better than most. We'll have to wait and see.

120

Merc is still the best car in this years grid, without question.

Clearly it has been more reliable (thus far) but if Vettel hadn't lost his head at Bacu and Singapore he'd have around 38 points more and only trail by 5 points in the standings - and that's without making a deduction to Ham for less points at Singapore.
It's not nearly as clear cut as you claim....

121

The article is headlined of two drivers lighting up this race, nothing more, nothing less. My comment clearly relates to it only.

122

My comment is clearly that your comment clearly doesn't say it all. Clearly.

123

Yep but didn't Max take fastest lap. As for Hamilton a later safety car might have helped more.

Sure he had his engine turned up. Passing 9 cars still ain't bad. He caught a couple without drs.

I wonder why Hamilton ran off in Q1? I figured he would have let off the brakes and tried to power out of it. He didn't even try. Well it was a free test day and he has a fresh engine for Abu Dhabi.

124

I think you could safely say that their test day was a success!

125

Good call, Bryce. That puts it in a nutshell.
Fact is, any of the Merc, Ferrari, RBR drivers can scythe through from the back of the grid to at least p6 with little trouble, such is their pace advantage over everyone else. The real prize is to pass another top six car and so get on the podium.
So: "Ricciardo did a fine job to race from 14th on the grid to 6th". Good yes. Superlative No.

Also Merc set for HAM p4 as a target, so the challenge was to pass one top six driver only [RIC was behind so that's one less to pass]. People are saying HAM's tyres were worn when he got to RAI, they forget that RAI's tyres were also worn. I suggest that HAM would not have passed anyway on this track unless the Ferrari was limping or carrying some damage.

126

RAI's tyres were also worn.

Oh c'mon Phil - bumbling along in a safe 3rd place without any pressure from behind and making no attempt to get 2nd is not remotely comparable in terms of wear to a driver who was making his way through the pack and closing a gap of 17 odd seconds.

127

What hope did Kimi have to overtake the faster Merc?
Kimi took the safe option like LH in Malaysia.
If LH's tyres were so much worse, maybe he should learn to manage his tyres better.

128

maybe he should learn to manage his tyres better.

Why do you keep repeating the same thing? You know very well that you aren't comparing eggs with eggs.

129

Obviously if he managed his tyres better he could have had a shot at Kimi, also do you realize that on lap 68 Lewis got an engine boost too?
Even with the extra power he couldnt do it.

130

Clearly the harder compound Kimi was on was giving enough of a margin under traction out of the last corner to keep him ahead. I think Ham would have at least had a go into T1 or T4 if the tyres were up to it but he didn't even have a sniff.

131

Maybe not. There probably wasn't enough laps but he made quick work of Max tho.

132

I'm sorry, I can't stomach this anymore: why is everyone using bloody kilometres per hour! Some of us in this world don't use it! Every young English boy (and some adults - Jezza the Big Ape, Hamster and Captain Slow) knows that any car that can do the holy grail of 200 Miles Per Hour + is worthy of sycophantic worship.

I had experience of this at Le Mans this year, when a load of English spectators were desperately trying to work out the conversion of KPH to MPH so we knew what exactly the straightline speed of the Toyota's and Porsche's actually were........

133

... because the metric system makes perfect sense. It's only those oddballs on the other side of the sea that don't use it. I mean, inches, feet, yard, miles...

Just like you persistently drive on the wrong side of the road. Obviously, since we all drive on the right side of the road.

134

I use kph, kms, kgs, Celsius, etc., but for the life of me I don't have immediate knowledge of how tall 188 cms is, even though that's what's on my driver's license. Still go by 6'2" instead.

135

"I get 40 rodds to the hog's head and that's how I likes it!"

1.60934 is the magic number for conversion 🙂

136

I actually used to be able to do that conversion in my head but too old now.

137

Whilst I am reasonably conversant in both systems, one is the international norm and the other still embraced unsurprisingly by a couple of countries that have recently voted for Brexit and Trump 🙂

138

Didn't you practised as you drove over? 50=30, 80=50, 90=56, 100=62, 110=68, 130=80, 300=185, 320=200
sorry officer? the time on my toll booth ticket?

139

Our rented Merc V-Class had it's dials in both MPH and KPH, but still............

If is anyone is going to Paul Ricard next year, if you're planning to rent a car and drive to the circuit from a hotel or camp site, you'll need (I'm not making this up):

• Full and valid driver’s licence
• V5C
• Proof of Insurance
• Passport/national ID
• Two NF certified breathalysers
• Reflective jackets for all passengers
• Warning triangles
• Headlamp beam deflectors
• GB sticker (non GB-euro symbol plates only)
• No speed camera detectors or sat-navs with camera locations

140

The world doesn't revolve around your little island you know! For the mentally adroit it isn't too hard you know......

141

Time to catch up to the 20th century Gaz.

142

Well people from all over the world think the US never converted to metric but we did but we also left English units on the packaging too.

Units of measure really don't matter. There is plenty of difference in the way they are used from country to country. Australia uses millimeters in construction while other countries use centimeters and meters. I like the Australian way because it leaves off decimal places.

Some things like temperature I like in English. Unit conversion there without decimal places can cause a possible bill increase.

Feet and inches is based on 12. There are still systems not based on 10 like time. Conversion is no big deal. Still not everything is based on ten. Degrees Minutes Second Lon. Lat. Binary Octal Hexadecimal etc. etc.

In the US metric is on goods that you buy but we never changed the tooling for most things. A one Liter bottle has the ounce equivalence. Then there is the issue between mass and weight. An ounce usually says 30 grams even though it's not exactly 30 grams.

Even though most people even in the US don't think we have that but both units are there.

I think 300kph is slightly less than 200mph. I prefer mph since if KPH is on cars in the US it's hard to read.

The speed traps need to display both and that blue flag light showing the driver number is a great idea.

143

Next season Sean Bratches wants to supply local TV feeds with their appropriate measures, eg USA will be MPH

144

Plus 1 🙂 Excellent idea.

145

That's the US for you. In my young backpacker days i watched a version of the Australian movie Mad Max (Mel Gibson), which had been dubbed with American accents for their local consumption.

146

Actually, I would prefer speed measured in Furlongs per Fortnight shown on the world feed. 😉

147

Helping him to prepare for the current century.

148

Exactly

149

Yep I over explained it but Exactly!

150

even with the championship won, there was a lot to lose that's why hamilton was so upset about crashing out of qualifying. if there was really noyhing bto lose, he would've said so soon after the crash.

151

Aveli let it go he won the championship already

152

do you feel that you have the right to discuss whatever you choose to?

153

He gained a lot maybe for the next race tho. It really doesn't matter now that Bottas finished behind Vettel. Getting some extra testing for 2018 does matter for 3 teams more than who wins. They should all take penalties to try a new engine out. That would be fun to watch.

154

if hamilton says it matters then it does.

155

you tell him Aveli.

156

why don’t you?

157

Hi James,
I thought Sunday was a particularly weak performance by Lance Stroll, way off Massa in qualifying, holding Hamilton up when being lapped, and destroying his tyres. Am I being overly harsh? Regardless of his gold, Surely it's of concern to a team fighting a very strong Force India and Renault pairing in 2018?

158

I’m unclear which part of Stroll’s performance you are referring to. Are you criticising him for holding up Ham or him being another undeserved paid driver of modern F1?

160

Its obviously no concern to them, Strolls' payment means more than their racing heritage. Shame on them. If your not there to race then why bother showing up at all?

Don't you love all the media bull about how he's developing and learning..... ? Go back to karting and learn.

161

There is something to be said for earning your stripes in lower formulae, but I think with the lack of testing allowed in F1 it will take any newbie a season to get to grips with the 2017 iteration of car. They are much harder to drive than last year, with greater torque and they are way more physically demanding. I say judge him by race 9 next season - then we will know for sure if he is up to the challenge or if he needs to move away from F1. He has shown glimmers (mostly in the wet) of decency, so it's a bit early to throw him out yet.

162

I would like to know how many simulator sessions Lance does in a week relative to Lewis. No doubt you get back what you put in but you need the genes to begin with - the raw talent and I am sorry but you can wait till the 9th race - we will have no better situation than what we have today.

Palmer was the same. Renault waited and waited - to cash the cheque.

Perhaps my point is that if F1 is in such a state that a premier team like Williams are struggling for cash to the point they need to hire paying drivers - well then Ross has work to do.

What I can't take is all the misdirection from Williams - pretending all is well and this Stroll is their next star driver......

The one thing Williams F1 must have next season is a star driver - to offset the rest of it and they can't seem to do that - that's poor management.
What am I missing here ?

163

I agree - Wiliams need a driver of proven calibre and Stroll is not there yet (and may never get there). But I think rookies need more than 1 season. It's kind of how it used to be - nobody could (excuse the pun) stroll into F1 and be quick. It took time.

164

As Martin Brundle put it - in order to make or keep F1 on the right path, before we lose what we knew as F1, teams need to place the best racers ( not drivers ) on the grid, not the best paying drivers .

Williams are not doing this. Its a vicious circle - no money, no driver, no wins, less money, ..... no team.

anyway we have beat this dog pretty well - your point is valid- we might as well wait it out and see.

165

Couple of things to add. Lewis did not have 2018 spec motor. He used a new spa spec which is 15hp more than bottas' 2.0.
Sigh I like bottas, I really do. Unlike rosberg..he seems like a genuinely nice human being. That said, he doesn't have that killer instinct. Should have been more aggressive into the Senna esses, something echoed by many in williams. At this rate, i fear he's consigning himself to a secondary role.

166

No question about the amazing talent of Verstappen, but I was nerved by his arrogance in Mexico -- the same type of arrogance we saw with Hülkenberg when he took pole position at Interlagos, ten years ago. Good to see Verstappen humbled by Hamilton on Sunday. Hülkenberg never won a race, and It is possible that Verstappen might never become a champion. Talent alone ain't enough!

167

Also not only did Hamilton get a new PU, but he also had the benefit of setting his car up for a hot race. Would he have done as well with a cooler qualifying set up?

168

He'd have finished 4th but further back I think. The impressive nature of this drive is that he was just 5 seconds behind the leader at the chequered flag having started in the pit lane (yes the SC helped but a lot less than Button was helped in Canada and Vettel in Abu Dhabi who were lauded for brilliant drives).

169

Ricciardo is one of my favourite drivers today. His overtakes are borne out of guile and cunning. He is like a boxer who sets up his punches and then goes for the kill. He mixes things up quite well and you're not even sure if he is going to make the pass stick until you are left in awe of what he just did and you shuffle through your memory bank so you could recall who amongst the oldtimers did he just imitate. Was that a Mansell or a Gilles? He reminds me alot of Alonso too, one of the best drivers on the grid today, but just abit cheerier.

With Max, Lewis and Vettel, you know that they will overtake and will just go through you like butter. Done deal, not much excitement. Lewis and Vettel have the fastest cars and oftentimes, they muscle their way through because of the machinery underneath them. They are great overtakers, don't get me wrong, but has gotten used to their cars's prowess and just waits for the DRS zones or the straights to make the pass. Max just barges in, part bull part racehorse. He will get through no matter what.

With Ricciardo, it's like watching a pack of African wild dogs hunt with an 85% kill rate. Will he make it or will he not? He often does but then you don't know how he is going to execute the next one. Will it be a Mansell or a Gilles?

It will be great seeing him cope with a maturing and improving Max. Will he be the matador or just be part of the china cabinet?

170

I agree DR is one of the best if not the best overtaker out there. Its sublime how he brakes so late into the turns. Of course Hamilton braked much sooner at Brazil. He also had a very fast car so it's hard to compare. Dan did his with a much slower car.

Maybe he should have got driver of the day. I'm glad Max came in and got new tires to break JPMs record.

I wonder what would have happened if there wasn't a safety car. Hamilton might have got a podium. If there was one at the end of his first run I bet he would have won. What Hamilton did might not have been amazing but what Mercedes did to his car was. It was running a higher rake something like Red Bull does.

I really want to see the last race to see if Mercedes has got the diva out of that car? If so that will be a strong warning for next year. They say they are sticking with the long wheelbase. I just don't see how a car like that can win in Monaco. I also don't see why the Ferrari design shouldn't be good at high speed tracks too because the length to width seems perfectly balanced. From the top view the Mercedes looks very slippery but also looks too long for the suspension to handle tight curves and overtake. Now the Red Bull seems somewhere in between and should be able to run a higher rake without the front hitting the ground. Mercedes did that in Brazil and Hamilton had a lot of sparks flying.

I do predict all of the cars will look more similar next year but I guess what I'm trying to say is Dan looks really good at overtakes but I wonder if he could brake that late in that Mercedes? If so he would have won.

171

After taking the lead at no time was Vettel really challenged and all he had to do was bring the car home safely. Fairly straightforward and untroubled day at the office. Kudos to him for the win because after all a win is a win and 28 points to his personal tally. But really, too little too late, and as JA stated in an earlier thread the bosses at Maranello (particularly Marchionne) will be watching how he personally approaches 2018.

To Valtteri Bottas another underwhelming performance. Suffers wheel spin at the start and game over. For the remaining laps and time available to him he couldn't mount a serious challenge, characteristic of his subpar performances since the midyear break. Put Lewis, Max or Daniel in that Merc - and even assuming they would have lost the start - it’s reasonable to argue that any one of them would have mounted a serious challenge and possibly got the lead back either through an undercut or pass on track. Next year will define Bottas' future. Toto has said as much with his 'future is in his hands comment'. More of the same and Toto may well look at Occon or Ricciardo as possible replacements IMO.

Highlight of the race for me was Lewis and Dan's eye catching drives from their respective 'dead last' positions through traffic to P4 and P6 respectively. JA made the point that Lewis had the faster car and got through traffic quicker but this doesn't necessarily make Dan's effort more meritorious. All things considered they got the maximum result expected of them on the day and therefore were both deserving of equal praise.

Was Horner's comment that either Max or Dan’s engine had a 50% chance of failing a veiled shot at Renault? With RB’s 10 DNF's due to mechanical failure and given the spat between Abiteboul, Marko and Tost regarding the atrocious engine situation at Toro Rosso most likely. But I think Horner is also looking ahead to 2018 (and the undertakings made to Max and his old man) in the hope that Renault solve the duel issues of reliability and power deficiency. No Christmas break for you Cyril.

173

Good post Adrian - I agree with pretty much all of it apart from the bit about Vet having it easy. Managing and winning a race like he did isn't easy, it doesn't look spectacular which is why they rarely give DotD for it, but it's never easy.

174

Vettel did not have it easy. That fast pit stop really helped. Bottas over cooked his. 3 tenths might have changed things there. Bottas was always close and one mistake would have lost him the race. Vettel made zero mistakes. I'm not his biggest fan but I think it was one of his best drives even though on TV it looked boring. His sense of humor I thought was pretty good too even though others thought he was being rude.

I'm a fan of Hamilton. He has done some amazing things driving but not so much in other areas.

But I also try to be objective. Vettel is a great driver too. So are many more but those two have set the bar for their generation as they both came in the same year. That got me to watching F1 again after the tire fiasco at Indy. Before a guy at work kept talking F1 in 2007 I wasn't interested. He didn't like Hamilton because he said he was too cockey. He was but I could see he had talent and have always been a fan of McLaren. You know Ferrari seemed to always win and I like underdogs.

Hamilton is no underdog anymore. I think Daniel Ricciardo deserves a WDC some day and if Mercedes are still the best in 2019 he may get his chance. I don't think he will get that at Red Bull. I always liked Bottas at Williams. Is Hamilton really that much better? Maybe he just needs time. HAAS also has good drivers but they really need to do something about paying more money for a better car.

175

C63

Thanks mate. I don't think I was saying it was easy but for a 4 x WDC it would have have been "fairly straightforward and untroubled" particularly once he had separated himself from the 3 guys immediately behind him.

Did you see where Rosberg has come out and said Vettel has missed his best chance to beat Lewis for the world title because Lewis will come back with an even stronger car next year.

176

I've not seen the Rosberg interview - I'm not sure how much insider knowledge he has no. I guess we'll have to wait and see 🙂

177

Rossberg might be right but Ferrari has plenty of money to improve their car too. I would never count Vettel out.

Speaking of Rossberg, if he was at Red Bull when they were dominate I wonder how many he would have won?

Hamilton and Rossberg pushed each other so much that both got real good. In fact it seems Rossberg and Vettel have made Hamilton raise his game a lot.

178

Well said mate.

RB does have the right to be upset as paid customer. Maybe they need to look for engines outside the current suppliers and become a works team.

And what’s new about Bottas? Remember his own words, “difficult, disappointed, no confidence, toughest time of (my) career” etc. All I can add is Sir Patrick Head’s analysis in Sky Sports F1 FB Live. I said it befor, he is lucky that Toto likes him. Otherwise, he wouldn’t be good enough to drive for Force India, let alone 4 times championship winning team.

179

I think he is being to hard on himself. 3rd still ain't bad and he really help Mercedes lock up the WCC and Hamilton too. He got his first wins ever. KR had zero and he ain't bad. He held Hamilton off with ease in Brazil.

I think Bottas really wanted to out do Vettel but hey he is part of a WCC. Few get to do that. Lets quit bringing up negative stuff about Bottas and remember the positives.

Hamilton and Vettel are really really good but I've seen Bottas do some amazing wheel to wheel stuff and even get fantastic starts.

180

Did Sir Patrick really say that? I've seen him interviewed many times and have found him slightly disappointing in that he is far from candid and usually says something fairly neutral.

181

@ Adrian...good post. Likewise i am wondering what will happen next year. It's now 5 years on [yes, that long] and Renault are still producing dud engines. Dear oh Dear.... I'm surprised that they still maintain a presence. Who would put up with this ludicrous set of events if they didn't have to? F1 needs alternatives.

182

The thing about Renault is that They have a works team now. Renault will get better. Max has shown that They now have speed. Reliability is the next thing they need and the Red Bull contract runs out soon so I know this is a stretch but maybe just maybe Honda will come good. McLaren hindered them with that size zero crap. So when Dennis got gone they did a total redesign. The last of the size zero crap did have more reliability but making the engine slower for the same of aero is insane. So they had to start all over. If they stay around they will get better if the next rule change gets rid of the MGU-H. That seems to be the Honda engine problem. Honda might never get there tho.

With Red Bulls deal with Exxon they could help Honda but yeah Red Bull is helping Renault that way now. Personas helped Mercedes quite a bit but Exxon probably has a lot of resources being the largest petrol company in the world.

Red Bull is playing both sides.

183

5 years?! This is the 4th season of hybrid PU's.

In terms of engine manufacturers, of all those that have contested over 100 GP's, Renault is 3rd in terms of win percentage (after Merc and Ford Cosworth), 2nd in pole percentage (to Merc), and 2nd all time in terms of world titles won with their engines (to Ferrari). Their overall record is very sound.

Renault obviously got off on the wrong foot with the new power units, but they are getting closer now. 25 bhp is the current gap, and that will be reduced next year. Renault is splashing the cash now, on the team side and the engine side, so I expect them to be in the game next year.

184

KRB

25 BHP maybe the deficit now and let's assume that this is made up by Melbourne in March '18. Only problem with this is that Merc and Ferrari won't be standing still with their development. If Renault can match what RB have done on the aero and chassis side they may be in with a chance. But it seems to me that they have largely been treading water over the last 4 years. Having said that I'm particularly looking forward to see what Alonso can do with a Renault powered McLaren which evidently has a good chassis.

Mate, did you see any of the Lakers Philly game yesterday where Aussie Ben Simmons upstaged fellow 1st round pick Lonzo Ball with 18 points, 10 assists and 9 boards whereas Ball had just 2 points, 2 assists and 5 boards. It was billed somewhat as the battle of the point guards but clearly only one impressed. Ball is copping it in the US press for his lack of aggression and the need to change that terrible looking shot. This is not looking good for Magic who pretty much hand picked him to be the next "him". Perhaps the Lakers should do something about Alonzo's manic father who makes a fool of himself every time he opens his mouth. The 76 ers are looking good under Brett Brown who I'm pretty sure at one time coached the Australian team.

185

Thanks Ken. Although I stand corrected. It's 25 points for a win not 28.

Boy oh boy doesn't Alonso seem overly optimistic about a Renault engine in that McLaren? Oh well can't be worse than the Honda, or could it?

186

"Oh well can't be worse than the Honda, or could it?"

3000 Alonso fans just slapped their foreheads 😉

187

The way in which Hamilton and Ricciardo were able to come from the back of the field so easily speaks more to the massive gap between the top 3 teams and the rest of the grid, than them being fantastic drivers (which they are).

Particularly in Mercedes case. Hamilton had such a power advantage that he was passing cars not much past the entry to the pits in some cases. Ricciardo had to work a bit harder as he doesn't have the same power behind him, but even so he didn't really struggle to pass anyone in the midfield.

In the end both Hamilton and Ricciardo delivered what was possible with the machinery they had.

As an aside, I'm surprised Redbull don't try splitting their tyre strategy more often. Given how easy it is for them to pass midfield cars, they should try sticking one runner on whatever the harder tyre is for the weekend, even if it means sacrificing a few spots on the grid, as it seem like everytime somone tries the harder compound first, the extra benefit of having a lighter car and the grippier tyres at the end makes a massive difference.

188

An interesting assessment by the human (f1) headline, Jacques Villeneuve on Bottas. Describing his drive as embarrassing. My personal opinion is that the last few years of Villeneuve's career was embarrassing. James can you do an analysis on how Jacques performed in his last 3 seasons to make Valtteri feel better?

189

I always remember Jaccques Villeneuve, Gerhard Berger and Pastor Maldonado as Crash Test Dummies. They're missed, but we still have Vettel for next week's final. LOL!

190

I do recall Villeneuve being pretty useless and accident prone in some races. While watching the replay of one particular incident, I remember Martin Brundle saying, "He should just give up." Not long after that, he did. And it was no loss to F1 in any way.

191

Yes I was sitting at turn 6/7 in Montreal when Villeneuve drove straight into the wall on exit of turn 7. It was his final Canadian GP and guess what, he didn't even finish the year! He was replaced by this hack named Robert Kubica!! The car went faster when Robert drove it.....

192

James, I just re read this article on the Motorsport site, the comments section is......interesting! Will you be taking your mods with you when you move?

193

James won't be moving from here for a while . The link with motorsport.com is only for some content

194
The Grape Unwashed

He wasn’t able to challenge at the restart, as Vettel played a cat and mouse game with him before accelerating, like Hamilton had done with him in Baku.

I had the same thought: "Hey, wasn't he strongly objecting to that kind of behaviour pretty recently!?" 😉

195

Don't you know it's different when he is doing it. 😉

But I also couldn't help but notice how Vettel slowed down the pack before the resart just as Lewis had done several times in Baku.

196

Yes he was, but i guess if Hamilton got away with causing a crash, he can too.
One difference though, he didnt do it after a blind corner.

197

One other factor to considerr is that the Lewis/Vettel incident at Baku ahppened at the 2nd SC period if memory serves, and we heard Lewis' team say he was close to overtaking the SC on the previous resart so perhaps this time he backed the pack up a little more than last time to ensure there was enough time for the SC to reach the pits before he would reach the SC1 line.

198

Oh boy ... I guess you're new here, so you missed all the discussion here around the Baku incident. Telemetry showed that Hamilton did not cause that crash; there was no brake test. It's also not a blind corner either (see at 1:27 of the video).

This is the video that James did for FOM, for the incident:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=79D0axLDw30

It was Vettel's fault that he clumsily ran into the back of Hamilton there, breaking his front wing. There was no need for Vettel to accelerate when he did ... there was no chance that Hamilton was going to bolt at that point in time, as the SC had only just turned its lights off. Then, having broken his front wing, Vettel instantly went into deflection mode, claiming he was brake tested. Total garbage. Then he decided to take matters into his own hands, and mete out some punishment to Hamilton. He should've been black flagged for that bit of "driving". I would like the FIA to clarify how future similar occurrences are dealt with. Any driver that acts as judge, jury, and executioner should be dealt with sternly by the officials. That's the only way you will stamp out such behaviour.

199

You blame Vettel for moving over unnecessarily in Singapore and spooking max into crashing into Kimi but not Hamilton going unnecessarily slow behind the safety car?
LH didnt do anything against the rules and neither did VET.
Changing speed randomly is less predictable than Vettel moving over in a straight line.
Hamilton could have avoided the collision if he just got out of the way like you expected from VET in Singapore right?

200

Jimothy

Baku and Singapore were entirely different incidents. Entirely different.

In Baku the lead car for the restart after the Safety Car (in any race in fact) sets the pace and as such Lewis could slow down as much as he wanted. Facts are (1) The official telemetry showed that Lewis did not brake test Vettel and (2) that Vettel was too close to Lewis resulting in him making contacting with the rear of Lewis' car. But what followed was disgraceful. As KRB said Vettel should have been disqualified from the race for intentionally driving into Lewis.

In Singapore Vettel started on pole and needed maximum points to reduce the deficit to Lewis. Thing is Vettel wasn't racing Max or Kimi for the title and it was therefore paramount that he not undertake any unnecessary risks. To stay out of trouble even if it meant losing a place or two at the start because Lewis started from P6. So what happens? He panics and moves over too aggressively to cover off Max because he thinks that Max is going to take the lead into the first corner. Even Vettel admitted later in front of the Stewards that he could have done things differently.

In Baku Vettel was clearly in error and in Singapore he massively contributed to the melee and his own DNF.

The above are the facts. Anything else are just opinions.

201

I never said LH brake tested anyone, he was just driving in an unpredictable manner, unlike VET in Singapore.
How did HAM not take an unnecessary risk in Baku? if he drove in a predictable manner VET would not have hit him.
I am not saying it was HAM's fault but with the WDC at stake, why risk it?
In Singapore VET was P1 and was entitled to choose his line, and did the same thing many drivers do.
Should VET have been intimidated by MV and Horners comments before the race where they warned him a crash was going to happen if he didnt move out of the way?
Probably but then you could say the same for LH in Baku

202

The F1 restart procedure is inane. Why not regrid and do a rolling restart like every other racing series? The green flag only drops if the field grids properly as they pass the start/finish line.

203

Don't many FIA sanctioned series such as F1, F2, F3 etc.. use the same restart procdure after a SC? Besides I suspect it's easy to get cars to form up grid like on an oval rather than the type of circuits F1 uses.

204

James with the success of Hamilton and Daniel driving from the back is this a potential strategy for next year. Ramp the motor to the Max and change it every race. Start from the back if the grid but have a car which fies

205

It would be track dependent. I mean, you wouldn't want to do that at Monaco. At tracks where overtaking is 'easier' (e.g. Spa), then maybe. It would be interesting wouldn't it?

206

Great breakdown James.

This race made me think... (uh oh... armchair F1 critic alert)

Firstly, reverse grids in a DRS world (and free tyre choice) would not make too much difference to the overall finishing order, so let's not worry about more gimmicks.

Secondly, watching Hamilton blaze the field in a full powered, well rubbered rocket ship reminded me of the good ole' days of free tyre choice and fuel strategy. I love watching an F1 car being pushed hard. Ok, it is well established that fuel stops will result primarily in pitstop overtakes (MSC/Brawn era - though some of those first corner duals as MSC exited the pits alongside Mika were pretty cool) but the reason I enjoyed it was, the teams could calculate the race was best served by say, a one stop (McLaren playbook), but if Brawn and Schumacher did something crazy on a three stop, you could still react and try to cover it with a two stopper. The strategies evolved a bit more during the race compared to now (a rival tyre company also helped in this respect)
Adding a third compound this year (it was this year, right?) worked in a similar way initially, until the differences in compound led to a clear winning strategy and noone opted for the third option. Every time a front runner has been penalised for engines, they take the obvious option to run the reverse strategy to the top 10 and often they can do better than if they had started in the top ten on the quali tyre. I've seen RIC try to mix up his races in quali a few times by opting for the less favourable rubber in Q2 - but then it has either rained or he has been bumped out before that strategy idea could evolve in a race. Basically, no team has really been able to do something very different or clever with strategy this year (other than reverse tyre choice with engine penalties)
I wonder if instead of forcing everyone to start the race on the quali tyre, you had free choice when to run it, or not run the bloody thing at all and let teams hide the strategy until the blankets come off on the grid. Evolving strategies during the race, for me, make the racing much more interesting. THAT and obviously they need to fix the dirty air syndrome (like everyone has been saying since the 90s)
And I really hope Pirelli doesn't number the compounds next year. Just go back to calling them Soft, Medium and Hard. As a fan I don't care if it's an ultrasoft or a supersoft or a soft - the hardness is all relative. SOFT, MEDIUM, HARD. The teams can have numbers for them for performance reasons, but as a long time fan I don't care for trying to figure out what the crap the graphic says, is it S, M or H? Is it a Wet or a Monsoon?? (he laughs at the thought of an F1 car running in such conditions)
Even better, offer five different compounds and don't tell anyone what you have fitted, no colours etc (team knows what it is of course) Let's get some strategy back.
Strategy group, please provide some strategy. Rant over.

207

The colours are there for the benefit of the viewers as well, so we can see which drivers may be go long orshort on stinits before they have to pit. Besides even with the choice of 3 trye componds for each race usually the teams/drivers are fairly close in terms of choices they make.

208

Like most of the tyre bit, though I think many of us like that the colours readily show which compound is in use

209

James, I am surprised by lack of tactical move from RedBull side for Max. Looking at lap delta and race predictions, they must have seen Lewis catching and overtaking Max in the later part of the race. They had an opportunity to take a gamble at the safety car start to change his SS to new softs and run long like Lewis and Daniel. Everyone new Soft-SS strategy was faster by 3-5 seconds and luckily they were passing through pitlane. So the time lost would have been minimal and he could have regained the position back in no time. It would have made Lewis pass him twice to claim 4 th spot. He was running alone almost all the race (he had no chance passing front runners on detuned motor) and when Lewis came, he was helpless in defending. In fact, Kimi was in similar situation and Ferrari could have done same as he also was in no position to better his track position. Just a thought...
Congratulations to Seb and Ferrari for a much awaited win!

210

just for the fun of it: DR is out Q by Verstappen and taking a risk by overtaking at the out side, like Max did in Barcelona. About Max the remarks were; you can't win a race at the start et etc. About DR we say a good recovery after he finished six!!! Max challenging for a podium starting 16th on the grid (Austin) And here is mine final remark; the RB enigine was tuned down and therefore 2-3 tenth per round slower. Max was able to stay in 2 to 4 sec until the first stop of KR and even to make a extra pitstop and staying ahead of DR. I have doubts or DR performance was that great

211

hito

In Brazil DR drove into a clear opening on track to effect a pass/es because of his starting position. In Spain Max drove into a rapidly closing corner when it wasn't necessary because in all probability he would have got by Bottas and Riakkonen further on in the race with his pace.

It's hard to quantify risk but but the thing is DR survived whereas Max didn't. BTW no one said DR's drive from 17th after the Safety Car was "great" just probably very good as was Hamilton's.

212

Go and check the other race thread on this site, in which some of us said exactly that in relation to the risk DR took. Furthermore, in case you missed them, RIC himself stated in post race Bull interviews, that even though he left all the room he could without exceeding track limits, he placed himself there in an attempt to gain the advantage knowing that you have to expect to be taken out at times.

You will have to get used to it not always being about Max, who rightly received plaudits from all and sundry for his drive in Austin, which you should be aware is very much a different circuit to Interlagos.

213

Just for the fun of it: you sound like you're harbouring a grudge...

214

When the leader Vettel came in a lap later to cover the move, his stop was normal and he came out approximately 3/10ths of a second in front.

Was the Ferrari pitstop so "normal"? On TV, they didn't show the second decimal place and I recall seeing a 0.6 difference. Turns out the difference wasn't that big:
https://www.formula1.com/en/championship/awards/dhl-fastest-pit-stop-2017.html
Ferrari/Vettel 2.19 vs. Merc/Bottas 2.69
But still, you'd have to say that the difference in stops was key in securing the win for Vettel. Had they both done 2.5s, we'd have had a very tight run down to the next corner. We saw that Hamilton - despite being significantly faster - couldn't get past Kimi. You'd think Vettel was similarly faster than Bottas, but could he have made it past?

215
Tornillo Amarillo

James, is Honda giving Alonso the best they can to be in the points so Renault finds it more difficult to score, then Toro Rosso can poach 6.5 million for P6 in the WCC?
Long question...

216

I'd be interested in exactly how Hamilton could have been in a position to win if the SC came around laps 18-20.
Were the front-runners in the SC window - would they have pitted and Hamilton stayed out?
I enjoy the post-race strategy dissection but I was hoping James would elucidate on this one.

217

No comment on RB instruction for Dan to let Max pass? After a whole previous story dedicated to team harmony ?

218

No need for comment on RB instruction for pass. Max was on fresh rubber, different strategy.

219

I think it was pretty clear that RIC was on a completely different strategy at that point in the race and by the sounds of his voice in reply to this radio message, he demonstrated a full awareness of "picking your battles". I don't think the team making a reasonable request is cause for concern with respect to team harmony. But I've no doubt there will be plenty of discussion surrounding team harmony at RB next season.

220

The race rather showed up some of the problems that exist in F1 at the moment.
The fastest race scenario was going to be to start on the harder of the two rubbers and change later in the race when the car was lighter. Hamilton could do this because of his mistake in Q1. Mercedes then worked out that an engine and MGU change could also be made as there wouldn't be any additional penalty. Net result of more power and running the engine to the limit whilst everyone else was conserving theirs.

An additional benefit also occurs for the final race of the season where again Hamilton will have a considerable power advantage. Everyone else will have their engines turned down.

It all hardly adds to the spectacle and I no longer feel the interest in F1 that I once did. The spectacle of one car with a new engine using DRS to slipstream past everyone was hardly riveting. Sorry F1, but you've made this mess yourselves and not given enough thought to the fans, thr smaller teams and the other formulae that offer more interest.

One issue that is not being addressed is grid penalties. We saw in Brazil how Hamilton could fit a new engine and carry the advantage to the final race of the season. Penalising drivers does nothing gor the spectacle. But taking away all manufacturer points that you score when you exceed the allowed number of engines allowed per season would certainly get teams' attention.

221

F1 teams are experts at finding loop holes in regulations and the current situation with grid penalties is prime. I'd fit 3 new engines for the first 4 races, then over the course of the Barcelona race weekend I'd fit another 3 new engines. One for Friday, one fir Saturday and one for Sunday. Choosing Barcelona because it's not too bad for overtaking and it's close to the Teams' home base so I can have a good sized crew on hand, rotating them, because they are going to be working hard for the weekend with 2 long nights.

The above strategy will then give me 6 engines for the season, 1 will have done 2 races, 2 will have done 1 race each and 3 will have had only 1 day of use. Giving me 6 engines for the season, instead of 3, for the cost of only a few (maybe none if I'm lucky) finishing places at one GP.

With 6 engines available that means every 3rd GP I can turn the power up to maximum for the race. Which if the Mercedes and RedBull examples at Brazil are any indication means 30 to 40 BHP "advantage" over any teams who are trying to make 3 engines last the season.

The fact is 3 engines for the season is stupid, anyone following that reg is going to suffer enormously in comparison to their competition. Whereas someone who legally walks around the reg gains a substantial advantage. For next to no loss of anything.

The gearbox reg is also stupid from the point of view accidents, it completely avoids me why anyone should get a penalty when their opposition punts them off and damages the gearbox. If I did get a gearbox penalty I'd stick a new engine in then too, why not take advantage of another stupid reg.

Actually what I would do for Barcelona is have 3 complete engine and gearbox assemblies ready to bolt into the car and change both at once. Save lots of time, make the swap easier and quicker, give me 3 new gearboxes for no cost. Can't get more penalties for it, last on the grid is still last on the grid.

222

I think they closed that loophole in the regulations for 2017, following Mercedes taking multiple units at the 2016 Belgian Grand Prix for Lewis.

223

I'm not aware of any changes to the regs that would prevent multiple changes at one GP. It's technically not possible, for example if someone has an accident in practise and destroys an engine, MGUK, MGUH and gearbox as result. How do they stop the team replacing all of the damaged stuff and taking a grid place penalty all at once? Tell them they can't race? Send them home? Or do they go back to the 2014 system where grid penalties were carried forward into subsequent GP's? AS Ross Brawn pointed out the grid penalty system's "implementation is definitely difficult for fans to swallow".

224

The big problem is now that sometimes we really don't know exactly who has had a great weekend.

Take for example Massa - he hasn't exactly been on fire up until the Brazil GP. The cynic in me thinks that Williams probably saved a PU, or ran one at maximum deployment just so he had a great home GP.

Look at the difference a new PU made to Hamilton! He was passing cars halfway down the straight! Almost looked like he was racing in a different formula...

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