Analysis: Lots of pointers for 2018 from on track decisions in Abu Dhabi 2017
Strategy Report
Posted By: James Allen  |  28 Nov 2017   |  12:18 pm GMT  |  99 comments

The 2017 season finale was not as high on drama and tension as last year’s edition, with the drivers and constructors’ championships both decided.

But there were some interesting cameos and decisions taken during the race in the duels at the front of the field, in the middle and at the back.

And it gave a counterpoint to what kind of racing we can expect next season with the new range of tyres unveiled by Pirelli.

Pre Race Expectations

As has become the custom in 2017 – and which Pirelli has taken steps to avoid next year – the hardest of the three tyre compounds (Soft) did not get used in Abu Dhabi.

Instead it was possible to do the race on a single stop strategy from ultra soft to supersoft; or the other way around on a mirror strategy with the supersoft in the opening stint. Last year, in contrast, it was a two-stop strategy. For 2017 two stops was up to 8 seconds slower than a one-stop.

Overtaking is difficult at Yas Marina and although there was little passing at the front of the field, there was plenty of close racing in midfield and at the rear, using the two consecutive DRS zones on the lap.

Strategy-wise the alternative to overtaking was to try the undercut, which means pitting a lap before the car ahead and using the new tyre advantage to take the place when he stops. This weekend the gap required to achieve it was around 1.5 seconds, although in practice there were very few successful attempts as some teams that tried it suffered with a slow pit stop.

The overcut, whereby you stay out longer and build an offset, so you can attack at the end on fresher tyres, is a tactic we have seen many times this season and which has been effective in some places, was not effective here.

Esteban Ocon, for example, was locked in a battle with Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg and built a huge offset of 15 laps, but lost too much time before the stop and was only able to close down the gap in the second stint from 11 seconds down to 6 seconds at the flag.

The tyres were very consistent and had low degradation, it was possible to stop anywhere from Lap 10 to Lap 30. Next year’s range of tyres will prevent this happening, as the tyres move a step softer and the steps between compounds and the range of compounds is improved.

Ferrari wasn’t able to compete with Mercedes in Yas Marina, which left a few people scratching their heads after their competitiveness in Brazil, but a disappointing performance on the ultrasoft tyres and then the need to manage the fuel in the second stint, despite Vettel feeling more competitive on the supersoft, led to a gap to Mercedes at the finish of 19 seconds.

On ultra soft he dropped five seconds in 22 laps, on the supersoft he dropped a further 15 seconds.

Max Verstappen tried the undercut on Kimi Raikkonen, but despite the fastest pit stop of the race, it didn’t come off.

Massa and Alonso – midfield thrills and spills

In the midfield there was more going on.

Alonso and Massa had another great battle over ninth place where Alonso attempted the undercut on Lap 21 after following Massa for the opening stint. He would have pulled it off most likely, had the McLaren team not had a slow stop, over one second slower than Massa’s a lap later.

Alonso came out behind Massa but was able to use the warm up slope advantage on the supersoft tyres to attack and pass on Massa’s out lap from the pits.

It was Massa’s final Grand Prix and appropriate that he should spend it sparring with his former Ferrari team mate Alonso. The pair have battled often in 2017 and the point of note is how much better the McLaren Honda package seemed to be in the closing stages of the season, which Toro Rosso can take encouragement from in terms of engine supply next season and McLaren can take encouragement from in chassis terms.

Hulkenberg survives a penalty to still beat Force India

There was also a fascinating battle between the Renault of Nico Hulkenberg and the two Force India drivers Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon.

Hulkenberg started ahead on the grid in 7th place, but after light contact at the start, he only retained the position a few turns later by cutting the corner. Perez was furious and felt Hulkenberg should have given the place back but he didn’t and the FIA Stewards gave him a five second time penalty at his pit stop.

He should really have been behind Perez and with the added complication of having to use strategy to get the place back.

Instead he was able to finish ahead in 6th place, which gave the Renault team the points to move ahead of Toro Ross into 6th place in the Constructors’ Championship.

It was also a tactical signal from Renault to Force India, a team it aims to be beating next season with greater resources.

Apart from a certain ruthlessness about the way they played the aftermath of the corner cutting, Renault’s result here also revealed a willingness to take risks. Hulkenberg had been given only six laps in the race on which he could maximise the engine modes, causing damage to the engine. Instead, to enforce their advantage and make it stick despite the five-second penalty, they allowed Hulkenberg double that number of “maximum attack” laps.

Force India were aggressive too; they pulled the trigger on the early stop on Lap 16, looking to undercut Hulkenberg, knowing that he would have to pit to cover the move and then serve his penalty.

He did so, but having hammered his engine in the run-up to this period in anticipation of the stop and on his in-lap, he had sufficient margin, despite the extra five seconds lost at the stop, to retain track position.

Force India tried the pincer mover, with one driver under cutting and the other one overcutting, but Ocon’s huge tyre offset didn’t bring any kind of competitive advantage, unlike other races we have seen this year where that tactic most certainly worked.

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

Race History & Tyre Usage Charts – Courtesy Williams Martini Racing – Click to enlarge

Look at the gulf in pace between the top three teams and the midfield as 2017 comes to an end. That gap will be closely monitored at the start of 2017 to see if the midfield teams like Renault, Force India and McLaren in particular have been able to close the gap.

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When you say “the steps between compounds and the range of compounds is improved“ do you mean the steps are closer or further apart?


Isn’t it also of interest that Hulkenberg was faster than the Force Indias, despite their assumed power advantage, and also that Alonso was faster than Massa, despite the Williams also having the vaunted Mercedes engine and the Honda supposedly having a huge power deficit?
Doesn’t this suggest that the differences in power output can’t be as great as all the hyped-up comments have made out?


Could it be that they are customer engines so are always going to be a bit behind development?


James…. what is your opinion on Ferrari P.U. department? They seemed very close early in the season not there later on; on long straights Mercs are much faster. Was that just aerodynamic efficiency? Is Ferrari draggy? Or are they missing something? The impression is that they were good in tracks requiring torque, but full revs ones like Baku Monza Abu Dhabi you saw them struggling in speed, they had to save fuel… and I noticed on tv that they lag behind both Merc and Renault in battery charging…. what’s your opinion and/or the general consensus on this?
P.S. also how is possible that a Sauber with one year old engine is almost as fast as the new Ferrari engines on straight? They were on par with Haas and close to Ferrari… or am I mistaking?


I really want Formula 1 to re-thinkin the tyre-allocation situation. I’d prefer to see a system whereby teams can take any two compounds of tyres to an event – but they get only three allocations of each tyre type per season.

The result might mean that you get Sauber deciding “yeah, we’ve got no chance at Monaco, so we’ll just take Hard tyres there – and save our Hyper-Softs for Interlagos where we want to be up the pointy end”. A system like that would mean you get may more variety throughout the season – small teams can actually go for broke at races every now and then.


There is a lot of blame for the boring race aimed at the circuit design and also at the cars, but as bluntly pointed out by Raikkonen, in the post race interviews, there is another issue, perhaps a more important one. Fuel economy, the inability of drivers to drive flat out for the whole race because of the limit on maximum fuel that they are allowed to burn during a race. Looking at the lap times and the failure for many to go faster as the fuel load lessens it’s obvious that most cars in the field were conserving fuel from very early on in the race. This makes for very boring racing and is quite debilitating for drivers who want to race but can’t.

If Liberty makes only one change it should be to get rid of the limit on the maximum fuel used immediately. It would also help the racing to remove the fuel flow limit, but that’s a more longer term objective as it would hugely change the engine configuration.


As Baron says, fuel saving has always been a thing its just the media focus on it now. If you are angling to get refuelling back then how about this. If you start with e.g. 30kg and plan to stop on lap 15 what’s to say they wont start with 28kg, drive a bit slower and get to the same lap? They will, they will do whatever is quickest overall. I do agree that the max flowrate needs to go though, let them turn it up to 11! Then you open the other number of engines can of worms, 3 engines for a grand prix season is ridiculous, the penalising of the drivers is ruining the racing and I doubt it is saving the teams any money over having a limit of say 10, they still make / buy loads more than they need and ship them round the world so they have plenty of spares. These things should be running on the ragged edge of supreme power and blowing up.


@ Gary…a couple of points there. Mercedes/Wolff said that their drivers were allowed to race full chat and there was no curb on the use of the ‘extreme’ mode. Obviously they didn’t have such stringent controls on their fuel usage. That leads to the next question…were Ferrari underfueling to get better lap times and if so then the deficit to Mercedes is even greater than at first thought. As to your final point, surely, to even things things up wouldn’t it make sense to say that all teams must start the race with 105 KG of fuel? This would then eliminate the fuel saving. Why was the limit set at 105 anyway as most teams are reputed to start with less? I recall only recently that Mercedes started a race with 89KG, or so it was said. The fact is that we are never privy to the fuel strategies so it’s hard to know the details but as i said, start them all off with full tanks and then let’s see what happens.


Ultimately it only matters to those engines/teams/drivers who can’t make it through a grand prix on 105 kgs of fuel whilst using “full throttle”. If an engine/team/driver can make it on less fuel but still use full throttle then good for them. They have the advantage of running with less weight. But having teams forced into reduced power and/or the dreaded “lift and coast” race strategy just makes for boring racing.

What if Ferrari/Renault/Honda could make the same power as Mercedes but need to run a few more KGS of fuel, wouldn’t that be better than what we have now? Mercedes might start off the race with an advantage from the lower weight but that would diminish to zero by race end. Currently the power turned down and/or the driver lifting and coasting can last the whole race.


I agree the circuit doesn’t make for great racing with the current car set ups. But i have to say it’s probably my favourite circuit on the Playstation…i never seem to hit any walls, and i can freelance with the odd donut on one of the many run off areas!


Fuel saving has always been part of F1 since 1950. You just didn’t know about it. It was even more of an issue during the first turbo era. I could never work out why drivers dropped back steadily and then suddenly spurted in the later stages. I thought it was about tyres, In-race refueling kind of neutralised that but teams would always underfuel to save weight and then induce the dreaded fuel saving. Racing drivers hate it, but until they invent weightless fuel it will always be an issue. Bearing in mind they have a strict fuel flow allowance, the teams still try to eke a weight advantage by underfuelling and here we are screaming for bigger fuel allowances and they don’t even use what they are allowed! Could a ‘law’ be passed that they use the maximum permitted? That would be bonkers, but it might help.


I’ve to be honest, this was the first time that I was not looking forward for James’s Race Strategy Report. I wish the Abu Dhabi GP is scrapped or held sometime alongside Bahrain and Baku. How about three GP in three weeks? We would have the Orient Express, and we could be able to get rid of Champagne-free podiums at once. I still don’t understand why FIA agreed not to use real champagne on the podium celebrations there.

Has anybody else noticed Niki Lauda and Alain Prost and the wound on the same spot of their respective noses? Where did it go wrong? Were they racing against each other, again?
By the way, Niki Lauda quits as German TV pundit. This, after 22 wonderful years. He will be greatly missed — an honest and politically incorrect individual.


I find it totally ironic that they don’t use champers on the podium, but the telecast coverage is full of cuts away from the track to revellers on balconies with a champers in each hand? There was one shot on the balcony of the hotel where they were leaning over the edge of the balcony, glass in hand, and directly above the track!


@ LKFE…I once had the misfortune to have a senior CEO who was an ex Pres of Intercontinental Hotels. He used to regale some of us with stories about the various things that never ever became public knowledge. He did say that some of the very highest liquor accounts seen across hotels globally were when Gulf Arabs were staying at their hotels especially in London and Europe.


Ha Ha Ken…
It’s the only way to get the Harem party started!!


@ LKFE…you mean the ‘haram’ party?


Question for James.
When we get to Australia how much faster will the cars be compared to last year.
If we think during 17 development they found 1 sec. They find another. 05 over winter and the new tyres are worth another 1 sec. We could be looking at 2.5sec improvements


Also how much does the Halo weigh? Would that be a noticeable impact in lap time? A couple of 10ths increase or a bit more?


James, nice summary. I want to know how Pirelli is going to solve tyre issues next year. Being one step softer may not solve issues for lot of circuits still. Where will the Superhards be used? Maybe installation laps in FP1. Both of the newer compounds should have been at the softer levels. OR this years Hard is going to be called Superhard next year, Soft is Hard and so on…
The racing was borefest not only due to circuit layout, aero issues but tyres as well. Low abrasion surface means there was hardly any lap delta in race conditions between the two compounds. Neither undercut nor overcut worked. This has to be sorted out or on circuits like this qualifying will decide the race results.


The superhard tires aren’t planned to be used, its a fall back in case Pirelli has gone too soft with the tires. Also bear in mind they have gone one step softer across the range and added the hyper, which will mean a 2 step difference to the tyres of this year.


I think hardest compound is just for insurance. If development is very high over the next 12 months it gives Pirelli somewhere to go if the cars overwhelm the other compounds at fast tracks. If they have got their sums right we may never see it used.


Simply thinking out loud here — one wonders, with all of the choices available next year, whether dropping the two-tire requirement and bringing four compounds to each GP might provide another option for the strategists. Thoughts ?


This is going to become my pet hate now.

How long did we spend on Daniel Riccadio waiting for a lift after his DNF while there was some tasty midfield action happening on track? It felt like an eternity!


We may have to get used to such things as Liberty apparently pursue the cult of celebrity in F1.


I think that track limits will become a major issue next season..if you can gain a tenth by repeatedly cutting a corner that is not on the stewards banned list. Then that is 4 or 5 second in a race and a free overtake. Look for some smart race lines from Max.


Think we were checking that he put his crash hat back first and all that


They need a halo for the scooters taking stranded drivers back to the paddock.


aezy I give you the safest & sexiest thing on two wheels…


What is that monstrosity? Is it yours? It looks like that one person car on Top Gear from years ago!


The Carver was an interesting machine….

External Link:


That’s at least half decent.
But I was thinking of this:


Oh Ok. That was a terrible machine. I hope that the Halo F1 cars look is closer to the Carver than the P45.


Nah aezy, if it was mine it would be parked upside down…not that I’m terrible driver, but I figure if you have a roll cage you might as well use it 🙂


The strange trend of absurdly disproportionate media support for DR, is well known to me.
One wonders what the real reason behind it is, but as you could tell, it was well in evidence in the last race; perhaps a minimum number of minutes guaranteed coverage was at stake during the last race, and they had to dwell on him?!?
Graft and corruption runs completely through our society, but this kind is very particular.


Dan’s media coverage only just compares favourably to the amount of time the whole Verstappen clan seem to get each race. Why do we need to see Jos, his girlfriend, and Max’s sister every race. Dean. many of your posts seem heavily biased to “The Max” or quick to discredit Dan in order to justify your stance that “The Max” is great.


I was most adamant in my criticisms of The Max during his swerving in the braking zones repeated episodes (quite justifiably), however, one can see that he is as much ‘the real thing’ as there is.

DR on the other hand… while a decent driver, fully deserving of being in Formula One, above-average passing, (always appreciated), but still way, WAY disproportionately over-represented in the media, and by F1 governance, STANDS OUT LIKE A SORE THUMB!

Only rivaled by the ‘complete samurai’ himself.

Contrasted by bling-boy himself, Lewy Hammy, who while so hammy (The Cliche General), and ridiculously revered by his fandom, has, one must admit, fully justified this status (in a society obsessed with ‘star’ worship); a four-time (should have been five) WC has only three incredible peers (not including Villeneuve Sr. and Senna, who many would agree with me, stand apart).


@ deancassady…Graft and corruption? Specifically heavy duty allegations there. In fact one could possibly say that it is, legally, worth a second look? I expect that prior to making this statement that you had some evidence to support the ‘G & C’ levelled…..


You must be correct Kenneth, there couldn’t be any graft and corruption in the mainstream media, could there?!

What’s your point?


@ Dean Cassady…What’s my point? You are a joke my friend.You are fully aware of what i was saying. You level serious accusations and then offer no proof to substantiate them. That’s the point. The onus is on you …..


Deano, i find the same thing with Lewis, but i suppose the media is British dominated, so the “nationalism” is understandable i guess…
So tell us your conspiracy theory with regard to Ric?
Is he;
– really Rupert Murdochs love child?
– really Bernie’s love child?
– The favourite son at RB who has so much clout that they mandate his media minutes?
– a really affable personality that is easy to like both in the car or out?


I’m not getting this. You equate the camera clearly gravitating towards Daniel’s beaming & handsome countenance (which makes a refreshing change from the dead pan media scared also-rans) with graft & corruption? Shame on you! I glare in your general direction. Ha!


Well, I for one am very much looking forward to the next hundred plus days WITHOUT DR’s beaming smile. I will even confess I dreaded him overtaking Vettel on sunday and getting on the podium, with the broad smiles that would have entailed. I cheered when it was not to be. 🙂


Four races and three DNF’s yet he still managed a smile even if it was rather subdued!!!


How many of the three were his fault kenneth? I’m surprised Gary hasn’t weighed in to tell us.


@ KRB…ask the “Shadow’ as he knows all.


Kenneth, if we use the same criteria used for analysis of Lewis’ car failures, then it is clear that Ricciardo caused all of his breakdowns by being too hard on the equipment in a desperate attempt to keep up with his super fast young team mate. Using the rather less interesting real world criteria however, tells us that the drivers can’t really influence the reliability of their cars anymore.


But the team can, in 2015 the works Merc engine was .8 seconds faster than the customer ones according to GRO and the Lotus team boss at the time.
So the more boost you use the less reliability you have.
According to Horner, Red bull have the same engine for qualy and race.


Jimothy, Grosjean has never said that, the story you refer to comes from a guy who was involved in F1 for two years.


Did you check the lap times for the race? did you read the radio transcript? did you notice the best GRO could do that year was seventh but in that race he gets a podium?
Are you saying being a team boss for 2 years is not credible enough?
Has GRO denied it?
There is a lot of evidence supporting it.
Do you have any evidence its not true?
I am not claiming it as fact but you cannot just dismiss it.


Jimothy, please feel free to post a link to those lap times, and radio transcripts. Has Gro confirmed it, or even mentioned it in the last two years? Did you notice that Grosjean was already running fourth before the ‘magic mode’ was apparently engaged, and would have stayed fourth if Seb hadn’t had a puncture two laps from the end. What evidence is there? You say there’s a lot, but all I have seen is one interview from one guy who was one of the myriad Lotus/Gemini bosses with no racing background and only two years in the sport. Evidence it isn’t true?! That really isn’t how it works!


Why would you need racing experience to accept a higher engine mode? Mercedes told them they could use it and he said yes.
Read the article again, all the links are there showing he was .8 seconds faster for those laps, radio transcripts too.
Maybe not a lot of evidence but there is some, but what would he have to gain by making it up 2 years later?
I wish someone would ask GRO, it would explain why he seems dirty on Lewis in the briefings, he knows that no customer team will ever have a chance of matching the works team.


Jimothy. You would need racing experience to understand that a ‘secret engine mode’ isn’t the only reason why one car is quicker than another at certain points of a race, you would also need racing experience to know that strat seven is a routine instruction and nothing to do with any ‘magic mode’, how do I know this? Because I took your advice and looked at the radio transcripts for that race, I suggest you do the same, It is true that Romain was told on lap 39 “Ok Romain, strat seven have a go at Vettel”, but unfortunately for you and your theory he also recieved the following instruction on lap 10, “nice job, strat seven and keep pushing”, and then on lap 18 “Ok Romain strat seven, we have to pass Riciardo”, and then just two laps later “Ok Romain, strat seven have a go at Perez”. So we can see clearly that ‘strat seven’ is a routine instruction, and that the instruction given was not, as Carter claims the first time they had ever been allowed to use it, it wasn’t even the first time in that race! Romain also got this message on lap 27 “just under four seconds to Vettel in front, and you are atill faster than him, five tenths”, so Grosjean was only four seconds behind Seb, and was catching him at half a second a lap a full twelve laps before the super duper engine mode was apparently triggered on lap 39. What’s the gain? Someone who after many years working in the not very interesting world of finance, suddenly finds himself on the telly every week in the exciting world of F1! I think he either misses it, and is now milking it for all its worth, or he simply misunderstood a routine instruction and embellished the rest. Like I said originally, it all seems a bit unlikely to me……


I am flattered you think so highly of me but this isnt my theory, that article was written by F1 fanatic, should i listen to you instead of a lotus team boss and Keith Collantine?
You say you listen to experts but now you claim to have higher credentials than those guys?
According to the article,Grosjean told him the car was better than ever, there is your racing experiece, unless you think they are all lying.
Why dont you ask Grosjean?


Jimothy. I don’t care if you listen to me or not, just read the radio transcript that you told me to read, and explain to me how this secret engine mode was activated. In the original article it was claimed that the strat seven instruction was the smoking gun, but clearly this is untrue. How much of the rest of the article is untrue? Where do I claim to have higher credentials than anyone? I simply suggest that you shouldn’t immediately believe everything you read on the internet. So Grosjean apparently said the car was better than ever? What do you think this proves? You are struggling badly, the theory you were so anxious to believe has been shot to pieces, and yet you still cling on to it!


So you expect them to say on team radio, which is broadcast to the public “OK Romain, Mercedes have given us a secret engine mode so you can attack Vettel, please dont tell anybody, oops i just let it slip”?
I cant tell you how the engine mode was activated, that is the secret, ask the Lotus team boss not me.
You have not disproven anything.
I am not claiming it as fact, but i cant prove the opposite either.
Unless you can show me you are more credible than a Lotus F1 team boss and the writer of the article, your opinions on the subject are invalid.


Jimothy. My opinions on the subject are as valid as yours, the favt remains the strat seven instruction was quoted in the article as the instruction that activated the sectet mode, I have clearly proven that this is incorrect, and you have provided zeroevidence that would go anywhere near proving anything. Find me the lap times, find me a direct quote from Romain, or anyone else from Lotus, and I will re evaluate my opinion, but at the moment you have a story with nothing to backnit up that came from one guy. You believe it if you like, but I do not.


You havent proven anything, i already linked an article written by an F1 expert, you havent given anything except your biased opinion, i never said i believed it, but it would explain alot if true.
Has GRO denied it? if he denies it, ok i will accept it isnt true. Maybe you can go on twitter and ask him yourself, i dont have a twitter account


Jimothy. I have proven that the strat seven instruction given to Romain was not, as the article infers an instruction to switch to a higher engine mode, I have also proven that Romain was catching Vettel at half a second a lap before the secret mode was apparently activated. There is no evidence anywhere to suggest that Carter’s claims are true. You have the word of one man.


But that one man is more credible than you are, as i said before, do you really think they would advertise a secret on team radio?
You dont think they can change engine modes from pit the pits?
He was .8 sec faster during those laps.
Sorry but you have not proven anything, you like to say you listen to experts but this proves you only say that when it suits you


Tim, who mentioned anything about Lewis? I thought it was Verstappen that was over driving his car to keep up with Ric? Interesting that most of Ric’s mechanical woes came directly after Max signed his extension….
Maybe “somebody doesn’t want him to win…”!!


@ LKFE……Verstappen’s taking out Ricciardo in Hungary was the fore runner to DR’s loss of opportunity to take third in the WDC. On that day, IMO, he was on for a possible second but most likely a third place. If we also take into account his three DNF’s then he had no chance to even contemplate that position. What his run of 3 out 4 DNF’s has done is made Verstappen’s final tally look far better! Given the past treatment we all know was meted out to Webber then your supposition has some credibility……


Lkfe, it depends who was driving doesn’t it? If your hero breaks down, then it is a terrible slice of bad luck, but if it is your least fave, then it was all his own fault!

Tornillo Amarillo

It looks like next year Haas, Toro Rosso could not fight with the improved Renault and McLaren.
It seems Renault, McLaren, Force India and Williams will fight a separated Championship to be crowned P4, and that is good news because this year FI had it easy and because 8 drivers would be making closer racing to get in the lower and limited part of the top 10 positions.
Hopefully, Renault and McLaren could fight for an occasional podium too.
Williams will be a mystery with the new car under Lowe’s supervision, with the new driver (Kubica?) and with Stroll unconventional learning curve and mixed results.



Thanks for the continuous efforts to bring us these detailed and insightful race strategy reports every GP. I think I can speak for many here if I say they are top quality and an absolute must to read for every F1 fan. Even after such an uneventful race in Abu Dhabi track this was a joy to read 😉

BTW, I am not so sure that the overcut wasn’t effective here, sure it wasn’t for Ocon but Sainz was using the same strategy and was lapping incredibly fast with the used ultrasofts (around 1second faster than Ocon with the same tyres and faster than Alonso-Massa with new supersofts) so in his case it would have been effective to recover track positions.


Well said, Albert. Absolutely agree on the quality of material provided. Very much appreciated !

Perhaps your comment regarding Sainz provides an insight into the question asked above regarding why he is highly rated. . .


In Sainz’s case, his car had much superior pace with respect to both Alonso and Massa’s cars, as explained by James in the report. Massa was doing laps in 1.45s . Once both Alonso and Massa pitted, Sainz was released and was doing laps in mid 1.43s (1.5s faster). After the pits, neither Alonso nor Massa could manage those lap times even with newer supersofts. So it was basically speed difference between the cars. If all 3 cars had similar pace, neither undercut nor overcut would have worked.


I’m sure it’s been mentioned elsewhere, and I believe Crofty might have mentioned it during the Brazilian GP broadcast, but the last two races are the first time ever that two 4x-plus world champions have raced in the same GP.


I’m not sure Abu Dhabi qualifies as a grand prix in the classical sense………………a dirge in the desert under the headlamps maybe………..

When a driver of Lewis Hamilton’s pedigree struggles to pass, you know the circuit has overtaking issues. As Fernando Alonso will verify from his 2010 experience………….

Lewis Hamilton has won 4 WDCs, but if things had turned out differently in terms of pure reliability issues, he may by now be on 7 (2010, 2012 and 2016 mechanical failures ultimately cost him any chance), Schumi lost the 1998 title to a puncture and 2006 to an engine failure so he could have been a NINE times champion, and even Alain Prost could argue but for a suspension failure in Austria 1981 when he was leading Nelson Piquet’s title would have been his – and exactly the same in 1982 when leading at the O-ring an engine failure ultimately deprived him of the 1982 WDC; Prost lost the championship at the last round in Kyalami to Piquet by just 2 points and a turbo failure; while in 1984 he won the last race at Estoril and yet was beaten by Lauda by just half a point – even though he was leading at Brands Hatch when a gearbox failure stopped him. So Prost could have been an 8 times champion but for just a single mechanical failure in each season! Just shows how good Hamilton, Prost and Schumi were, the fact that even if they didn’t ultimately win the title they were always in the hunt for it.


Yeah but where do you draw the line mate? Massa was a slow Toyota away from winning in 08, Hamilton was a foolish trip to the gravel trap away in 07, Mansell was a puncture away in 86. But granted, Hamilton has been in the chase virtually every season he has competed in, 09, 11 and 13 aside. He is the only guy to have won at least once every year. Only Schumacher comes that close in consistency winning a race every year (discounting the comeback years) other than his first (partial) season and being in the hunt every year other than 92, 93 and 05 (99 doesn’t count because he was injured, he would have been otherwise).

But on Abu Dhabi you are spot on, its just rubbish, it has no redeeming features despite how many gimmicks such as sunset, concerts and theme parks they throw at it. Bahrain is up there but it has redeemed itself somewhat by having a few good races recently. Singapore is there too but manages to be a bit more “special”. Only Sochi runs it close in terms of rubbishness. Thankfully Korea, India, Valencia and other forgettable bore-o-dromes that I have forgotten about have made way.


“Schumi lost the 1998 title to a puncture”

What are you thinking of there exactly?


*IF* the Sauber was 3 seconds faster than the Mercedes and Wehrlein had some mechanical issues in a large part of the races Ericsson would be WDC now.


Blimey… someones been reading his annuals!


Interesting post gaz boy. However as for Schumi I wonder why you didn’t mention 1997 where he retired from lead in Silverstone due to wheel failure in the 38th lap. Another example would be 1999 where he retired oil Silverstone with a broken leg to to brake sabotage while leading the Championship.


Schumacher wasn’t leading the 1999 championship when he broke his leg; he was behind Hakkinen and after Silverstone was only level on points with Irvine. 1999 was a mediocre season by Schumacher’s high standards up until he broke his leg.


Brake sabotage? What? Why? How?


Brake sabotage ? ? ? James, is that a fact ?


it’s on JAonF1 – so it must be true


Hulk’s penalty was one of the worst stewarding decisions I can remember, and sets an absolutely awful precedent; I said earlier half jokingly that Hamilton should have just done the same on Bottas and tried to build a 5 second offset to win the race. It didn’t make muuuch difference, in that Hulk would have most likely finished 7th (and Renault 6th overall) even if he had to finish behind Perez, but would have been much less straightforward.

End of season finishing placings don’t show many real changes in the midfield – Perez is comfortably ahead of Ocon in the end (I don’t know why people think he’s at Verstappen’s level to be honest…). Hulk has shown he’s not going to be a pushover at Renault, I think after a full season together people will start to doubt Sainz a bit more (and that Hulk will look pretty decent). Massa, Grosjean and Alonso won their intra-team battles.

A non-sequitur to finish on: Wehrlein is a mystery to me – he seems just as good as Ocon in my view (and matched him if not marginally outperformed him last year), but just doesn’t seem rated up and down the paddock. Williams is surely where Mercedes would place him to develop his career, but he doesn’t seem in with a look-in there.


Pascal is a real talent. I can’t understand if Toto abandons him. If anything replace Bottas with him. A German in a German car ? Surely he could give some excitement to the sport.

Somehow I do not see him going to Williams. Too much Strolling going on there, however I could be wrong. I think this Kubica thing is just red herring.


I was thinking this too! I actually think Wehrlein’s had a very good season – probably in the Top 10 drivers (or very close to). But it’s been difficult to say because Sauber have been so poor (despite their best efforts in a difficult situation). I’d be interested in James’ perspective. There is a perception he’s a difficult personality. But in terms of performance, I feel he’s been underrated this year. If it was Alonso in the Sauber at some of the races, what would people have said?


As I recall, the knock on Wehrlein was that his attitude towards the other team members was pretty abrasive and Ocon seemed to be much more of a team player when Force India looked at both of them.


I respectfully TOTALLY disagree with assessment of Hulkenberg penalty, “… one of the worst stewarding decisions …”, and/or perhaps (respectfully) your memory ain’t that great.
The reason:
The governance in this ‘sport’ is so wide open, and inconsistent; so the reliability is so poor, with such variation, that making this one incident as to be ‘one of the worst’ is not valid.
There were many as bad, or even worse?

In consideration of this drastic inconsistency, in the context of what was at stake in terms of $$$s, Renault/Hulkenberg would have been idiots to not to try to get a favourable penalty.

I personally think that a five second penalty is more or less consistent with the average over the course of 2017.


Think about it.

This is one area that has a huge upside for the new F1 management for any meaningful investment in completely re-engineering the entire governance structure.
There is HUGE room to show improvement to the fans/customers!

Disagree about Ocon; I’d really like to see him in identical equipment to The Max. Don’t get me wrong, The Max is the future, as sure as you could ever be. Love him or hate him (I was definitely more the latter during the series of ‘swerving in the braking zone’ episodes, especially on Kimi), he’s ascending the pyramid of the best drivers in F1 with a bullet. But I think we could see similar from Ocon; with less races done, he doesn’t have the same data points, but the progress is similar.

I like Hulkenberg, and I like Sainz (most of the time), and I think the inter-team will be intense at Renault in 2018; don’t forget, Sainz more or less matched The Max at Toro Rosso, and I mean especially at the in-team politiquing; both had sizeable, capable dedicated support within the team. As we can see, The Max against another highly politically enabled DR, has come out on top! Across a full season, I see the Hulk as less politically enabled, but I hope he does really well.

I doubt that we’ll see Wehrlein in F1 in 2018; he had a very, very decent shot at it.


Is there any way I can avoid having to type in my name and email before I post any comments more than 30 seconds apart ? It really is very boring.


@ Grabyrdy…I would second that request. Why don’t we have an autofill facility?


If the Hulk was only 5 cm shorter, he’d be beating Max. What a shame it is that there’s no possibility for some body outside the teams to make the decisions about things like this (weight) when total agreement will never be reached.


I might have been a little over-dramatic with my words (especially as I have a good memory…), but the broad thrust of what I’m saying stands in my view. If there were ones that are as bad/worse, care to name one from this season?

Ocon has been up against a reliable benchmark in Perez, and has shown well, but has ultimately been outqualified, outraced and outpointed. Perez isn’t Ricciardo; putting Ocon and Verstappen in the same bracket just doesn’t make sense to me.

Unlike a lot of people, I’m not as willing to give Sainz the “he all but matched Verstappen” treatment; I think he was clearly a step below. It’s a lot harder to rank comparative performance of the Red Bull/Toro Rosso drivers in 2015 due to the very high levels of unreliability both teams suffered, I think that Ricciardo was clearly a step ahead of Kvyat and Verstappen was a clear step ahead of Sainz.


Really great points you bring up: I too wonder about the enigma of Pascal… there seems to be a reticence to take him on… Agree also that the buzz around Ocon seems more than I would expect and, finally, you nailed it on Hulk… the arrival of Sainz has not tripped him up. Last year many (including myself) were wondering if Sainz was just a smidgen away from Verstappen, but this season has seen Max step to another level and Sainz (in my view) stagnate a bit. He more-or-less forced his way out of Torro Rosso and he may find the Hulk at a level that results in a stalled career progression for Carlos. Interesting that everyone is wondering if Renault will use engine supply as leverage to keep Sainz at the end of next season… but with the driver market opening up, Renault may have multiple choices, particularly if they make a big step.

Finally, I wonder if Honda might actually come good next year!


Sainz has not stagnated. The Hulk is just better than you thought.


That’s what I’ve always thought! He looks like he’s got some genuine speed and mixes it up wheel to wheel! I know his character/personality has gone against him previously. He’s supposedly quite arrogant. I would love to see him matched against someone like Hulk, Perez or even Alonso at Mclaren to see where hes at.


My comment is about Wehrlein.

Tornillo Amarillo

I think Hulk is better than Perez, Perez beat Ocon, and Ocon is better than Hulk…
(?) Somebody to help me.


Sometimes driver performance has conflicting and flat out contradictory information contained within it e.g. Hill beat Villeneuve who beat Frentzen who beat Hill.


Ocon will be better than both of them combined.


Is that what the tea leaves indicate?


Simple really Tornillo:

Perez, Ocon, Hulk = Paper, scissors, rock 🙂


IMO for such offences the penalty should be handing back the gained place immediately or lose 1 place at the end of the race regardless of time advantage. This will surely deter teams to misuse the loopholes in the rules. Time penalty is useless on circuits where position is the king.


I’d go further than that. Penalty for not giving back a place is automatic dropping back to behind the car you illegally overtook. So if they get a puncture and finish last ..guess what.


Think back to Spa 2008. Lewis gave back the place to Kimi but still got with a 25 second penalty for still gaining an advantage and you can overtake at Spa. We just need consistency in the sport.


now that, was a bad decision… and i couldn’t stand Lewis at that time

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