Sebastian Vettel defends Ferrari’s pit decision in Spanish F1 GP, criticises VSC system
Scuderia Ferrari
Posted By: Luke Murphy  |  14 May 2018   |  4:24 pm GMT  |  99 comments

After his deficit to Lewis Hamilton in the F1 drivers championship swelled to 17 points, Sebastian Vettel has played the team card again and defended Ferrari’s decision to bring him into the pits during the Spanish GP whilst the race was under a virtual safety car.

With the VSC deployed to allow marshals to recover the stricken Force India of Esteban Ocon, the championship contender was called into the pits to serve a second pit stop, whilst all other front-runners continued with a one-stop.

Vettel had managed to pass Valtteri Bottas at the start of the race and hold second place, but the decision to change tyres dropped him down to fourth.

He was held for longer than usual in the pit box whilst Force India’s Sergio Perez drove past in the pit lane. This delay was enough for Vettel to fall behind Max Verstappen.

Despite Verstappen damaging his front wing whilst following backmarker Lance Stroll, Vettel was unable to get close enough to challenge the Red Bull driver in over twenty laps of racing.

His fourth place result – coupled with Hamilton’s win – means that Vettel now trails the Mercedes driver by seventeen points in the drivers’ championship.

Speaking after the race, Vettel believed that Ferrari had made the right call in pitting when they did.

“We couldn’t make the tyres last so for us,” said Vettel. “It was clear we had to come in again. I think it was the right thing to do.

“We were going through the tyres quicker than the others, though obviously it looks different and looks wrong.

“If you look from outside it’s easier, but inside the car, we were going through the tyres too quick. Therefore we were not able to stay out for another 23 laps. Even in the end, with a fresher set, I wasn’t able to attack until the end.”

He added that whilst he felt he had the pace over Verstappen, he didn’t have enough pace advantage to effectively challenge for the podium.

“Overall we were a little quicker, our tyres were fresher as well, but as the laps went on we didn’t have enough pace,” Vettel admitted.

“We were just not quick enough. Even at the end I was not in healthy shape with the tyres despite the fact mine were the newest.

“It’s been a decent weekend, we just need to understand what to do with the tyres. We need to have a look.”

The Spanish Grand Prix is the latest example of how fortunes have varied for Vettel under the safety car and virtual safety car periods.

After being able to profit from a Mercedes error under the VSC in the first race in Australia, he was caught out by the timing of the safety car in China, where Ferrari missed the opportunity to make a potentially race-winning call to pit for fresh tyres.

In Baku, after Vettel had lead the race, Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas profited from staying out to make a ‘free’ pit stop under the safety car, effectively demoting Vettel from first to second.

The four-time champion criticised the timing of the safety car in Shanghai and, speaking after the race in Barcelona, he added that he thought the virtual safety car system was flawed.

“It’s the same for everyone but the FIA is supplying us with a system that makes us follow a delta time, and everybody has to slow down by, I think, 40%, but I think everybody’s aware you can have a faster way to go under VSC than just follow the delta – by saving distance,” Vettel said.

“So, I think we should have a system that hasn’t got this loophole, because it forces us to drive ridiculous lines around the track and everybody’s doing it so I don’t think it’s a secret.

“Our sport should be in a better shape than supplying software that’s just poor and allows us to find some extra performance that way.”

All images: Motorsport Images

Do you believe Ferrari made the right decision to pit? What do you make of the safety cars we’ve seen so far this year? Leave your comments below.

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1

The safety car has made F1 look so much better than it perhaps is at the moment, except for Barcelona where not much could spice things up. My view is that we should have standing starts, after a safety car. For many reasons, one is that they usually are one of the more exiting parts of a race. If you like the mind games and tactics of current safety car regs, then you could keep the cars driving and allow for pit stops, and then when whatever caused the safety car to come out is fixed, you stop the cars and restart the race.

2

James we really need an explanation. F1 and F 2 have different VSC Regs.

For F2. “ 40.5 An 80km/h speed limit will be imposed on the entire track.“. So easy use a shorter line and you make time on other cars

For F1. “ 40.5 All competing cars must reduce speed and stay above the minimum time set by the FIA ECU at least once in each marshalling sector (a marshalling sector is defined as the section of track between each of the FIA light panels). In addition, any driver entering the pit lane whilst the VSC procedure is in use must be above the minimum time set by the FIA ECU at the first safety car line as he enters the pit lane.” So how does taking a shorter line which would break the time regulation be a benefit?

3
John Marshall

Isn’t this just luck evening out for Vettel? As often happens in racing good luck and bad luck end up balancing. Of course it’s Vettel and Ferrari, so they feel entitled to good luck and cry when they have bad luck.

4
seifenkistler

Probably Vettel is right mathematically.

if you have a time given for the long straight and a driver on the track drives faster than the average time allowed at the pit exit to stay in front of the one leaving. He has to drive slower than average time allowed after the pit exit to fit the delta time and the one who left the pits can not overtake and is forced to drive slower than he is allowed to do. Which results in an even bigger disadvantage.

Probably similiar tricks with changing the speed can give a time loss to a following car who is getting closer to the car in front and has to slow down because of no overtaking.

5

Vettel’s comment reeks of entitlement and most of all, hypocrisy

6
Tornillo Amarillo

What we need to know are the Ferrari’s “cheating allegations.”

Could Ferrari win without cheating?

Is Haas cheating too?

7
seifenkistler

If anyone was cheating at all, then it was Pirelli by designing an extra yellow tyre set custom-made for Mercedes for use on fresh asphalt.

Silverstone will use the same pro Mercedes tyres to make all the Lewis fans happy.

8

Seifenkister, you realise that particular conspiracy theory was blown out of the water by Vettel himself?

9
PapatangoCharlie

I don’t understand why a SC/VSC is still considered to be necessary in the modern world.

It should be as simple as applying a strict speed limit over the length of track that has been affected by the incident and allow for free racing over the rest of the track.

This can easily by policed through GPS data and causes the least disruption of all current solutions.

10
John Marshall

It’s not that hard to figure out why…because sometimes the marshals need time to clear the track. If the cars are blasting around most of the track and only slowing at the spot of the incident, that doesn’t leave much time for marshals to work.

11

This is far to straightforward for F1… The pit lane has a speed limit the car put on the limiter and everyone abides by it. It could be the same for VSC.

12

Sometimes you got to roll the dice……

13

If you need tyres, you need tyres, so pitting was the thing to do.

Not hitting the pit lane line properly, missing your box, & having a slow stop was not the thing to do.

If Ferrari had got the stop spot on, they would have been in front of Verstappen, & maybe put some pressure on Bottas.

You win some, you lose some, & Ferrari lost this one despite it being the right thing to do.

The Safety Car interventions must be treated as a necessary evil, & I only hate them when they do 20 laps because it’s raining.

As a person with Track Marshalling experience, it is very unnerving having to be near vehicles at speed because you have a job to do & you cannot watch what is approaching, like a normal spectator.

Personally, I think Ocon’s car wasn’t too dangerous & could have been handled by a local yellow, but I wasn’t there & informed of all the facts.

However, if there are Marshals attending to any issue, all possible safety protocols must be engaged, whether that be waved yellows, SC, VSC, or red flag.

If you think I’m wrong, think Jules Bianchi.

(Sincere apologies to anyone upset by my use of JB’s name in making my point)

14

Did you see the marshals trying to get Ocons car behind the walk?

It was like an Austin Powers 99 point turn!

https://youtu.be/iLKR9tCiwvA

.

15

Seems to me the biggest mistake was doing the first stop too early. Was he really out of tyres then ? If they’d done it later, they could at least have put him on softs for the final stint, which might have given him a better chance of catching someone.

16

All the drivers will eventually catch on and take lines that cut their lap times under the VSC, so who cares?

I do think, however, that the VSC should not facilitate free pit stops. Perhaps the pits should be closed during a VSC with a stop and hold penalty for any drivers that choose to pit anyways.

17

41.5 All competing cars must reduce speed and stay above the minimum time set by the FIA ECU at least once in each marshalling sector (a marshalling sector is defined as the section of track between each of the FIA light panels).

According to FIA, you have to stay above the minimum time in each sector. shortening the distance as per vettel will require driving even slower to stay above minimum time and not gain any advantage, unless..

1) the loophole is “at least once in each marshalling sector” where drivers go positive on delta at the start of of sector and then accelerate to go faster.

or

2) Delta measuring method is flawed, and is interpolated from car speed and not actual track time, in which case taking a shorter path in corners at lower speed will result in less distance yet positive delta.

18

I thought i got it than i dont?

If VSC makes you arrive at a minimum time. Eg you must take say 40secs to complete lasr sector how can saving distance help? If you cut the racing line you save distance and will therefor arrive earlier???

Hmmm what am i missing here?

19

The Mercs would always have been fast in Barcelona, with or without a tyregate, although it would have helped them is there is a “gate”. But it’s very peculiar that one theam can ask for help from the tyre supplier, to get the right temp. Dont all teams have their own preferences then to be stisfied. Just that they can talk about these issues during a championchip is altogher at odds with what I though was the code of conduct in a championchip, but I guess it’s more of a show, or showcase in the sense of a ballyhoo, Toto just made one of the circusacts required. Hoopla!

20

Why dont they just pull a strategy from jar or a hat, that would eliminate the human error from the procedure. And Kimi get’s a special jar of course, with special strategys. Why dont they let that octopus (or whatever it was from Brazil world cup), draw them, could give them a boost.

21

Cue many posts stating Pirelli now make tyres as ordered by Mercedes:)

As I said before Monaco will show us if Ferrari have a problem. I for one think they don’t and Seb will be on the front row.

Finally on ‘tyregate’, Mercedes were very quick in pre season testing on the ‘old’ tyres so it’s obvious that you could put tracks on the Mercedes and it would still be quick around Barcelona.

22

Would love to see more insight into tyre degradation and race stats. Perhaps James could give more insight into what really happened?

23

“It’s the same for everyone but the FIA is supplying us with a system that makes us follow a delta time, and everybody has to slow down by, I think, 40%, but I think everybody’s aware you can have a faster way to go under VSC than just follow the delta – by saving distance,”

Can someone please explain the above for me?

24

Yes, Seb has lost the plot.

This is from the F1 website.

“Under the VSC, drivers must reduce their speed and stay above a minimum time set by the FIA at least once in each marshalling sector. Stewards can impose penalties for any transgressions”

The limit is time, not speed or distance.

25

Amen !!!

26

Joe, happy to help.

When a Virtual Safety Car period is active, drivers must slow down enough to increase their lap time by 40%.

At Barcelona, an average lap time of 1:20, or 80 seconds, must be increased by 32 seconds, to 112 seconds per lap.

Timing & GPS data is sent to the drivers dash to assist them in maintaining the required 140% lap time. This is their Delta.

To make this a faster way to go, instead of following the racing line, because of the slower speed, the drivers follow the inside of every corner.

Think of the 2.5 mile Indianapolis oval.

If 2 cars are doing exactly the same speed, but one follows the outside line & one follows the inside line, the car on the inside will complete the lap first because it has travelled less distance.

As Seb says, this is ridiculous because of the dust & marbles off the racing line, & if everybody is doing it there is no advantage.

There you go, clear as mud.

27

While your speed is limited, you don’t need to take a racing line. Race lines are not the shortest distance around the track. Sometimes drivers drives at the outside “lane” of the corner rather than on the inside “lane” in order to lose as little momentum/speed as possible. During VSC, the speed is restricted therefore racelines are not important. you can take the shortest distance possible.

As to whether something has to be done about it, I disagree. The aim of VSC is to get cars to go as slow as possible in order to be able to stop or slow down the car as soon as possible. VSC achieves that. Whether a driver completes a lap faster or slower is not a concern. All drivers are subjected to VSC and Vettel says it’s not a secret that other drivers find ways….

28

It’s complicated, but imagine these two scenarios:

-Under VSC, a driver is limited to 40% speed but must stay on the racing line.

-Under VSC, a driver is limited to 40% but is free to drive where they want

Under the first scenario, the gaps between all drivers should stay exactly the same because they are limiting their speed on the racing line.

Under the current system, a driver is free to take any racing line they wish, so whilst their speed is reduced, they can take unconventional racing lines through the corner to save distance. It’s because of this that, in the F2 race, the leader gained well over 5s on the car behind him.

29

#anil in f2 an 80km per hr max speed is applied so taking a shorter route gains time. F1 rules are done on time so ..Seb must know what he is talking about but I am finding it very difficult to get my head round.

30

Thanks for the explanation Anil. But what I still don’t understand is the drivier is limited by time, not speed. So if the driver has to reduce their average speed by x kmph then I can see how travelling a shorter distance can make up time. But if the driver has to complete a sector or lap at a minimum time, then I don’t see how they can make up time.

31

My understanding is that the driver is given a time to reach the start of the next sector. He can’t reach it before the time otherwise he is penalized. The drivers often arrive slightly early and can be seen reducing speed drastically to avoid penalty. This does not compute with Sebs statement so perhaps I’m wrong. However any time someone is penalized speed is never mentioned, only time. Something along the lines of failing to keep above the minimum time.

32

But the delta is taken at fixed points around the track, not how far you’ve driven, so what does it matter if you take a supposedly shorter route off the racing line, you would have to drive even slower to maintain the delta?

33

That makes no sense to me. The regulations don’t mention speed at all. They say that “all competing cars must reduce speed and stay above the minimum time set by the FIA ECU at least once in each marshalling sector (a marshalling sector is defined as the section of track between each of the FIA light panels).”

34

Thanks for explaining that Anil but surely if all drivers use the second scenario the gaps will stay the same?

35

Vettel feeling the pressure of falling further behind in the championship. The problems he’s talking about are faced by all the teams so him and his team just have to deal with it. But didn’t he benefit by the VSC in Oz? So don’t complain about it now Seb when it doesn’t suite you!

36

Precisely !!!

37

But didn’t he benefit by the VSC in Oz? So don’t complain about it now Seb when it doesn’t suite you!

Only an idiot would complain about getting lucky with a safety car.

38

‘Did he benefit by the VSC in Oz’ – He pitted under the VSC in Australia; that has nothing to do with what he’s on about.

He’s talking about how easy it is to exploit the VSC software. Did you watch the F2 race? The leader gained 7s because of it – it’s a flawed system because the drivers don’t have to commit to the racing line so they can make up significant time.

39

But then all drivers can the shortest route. That’s what I’d do

40

They are really not exploiting it. The aim of VSC is to limit the speed not lap time.

41

“… we should have a system that hasn’t got this loophole, because it forces us to drive ridiculous lines around the track and everybody’s doing it so I don’t think it’s a secret.”

I’m not sure everybody does know about this. What is Vettel talking about here? Is he saying if you drive a greater distance between timing sectors that you can effectively make up time on others under the VSC?

42

Since your speed is greatly reduced, you can drive tighter lines in corners, reducing the overall lap distance.

43

I think he is saying the 40% speed limit is calculted on the racing line which can be longer because it is faster at full speed. A shorter route is possible at a slower speed that can equate to a quicker lap time.

44

Safety Car helped the winners of the first four races, in Barcelona it gave Bottas 2nd, Vettel 4th places. The Safety Car might decide who’s going to win the championship. Charlie Kingmaker!

45

On gaming the VSC system Vettel is a bit right and a bit whiny. It’s that whiny or whinging stuff from the Schumacher Ferrari years that made me favor McLaren. And look where that’s got me!

46

Now now. Behave.

I’m a life long Williams supporter, so aren’t i having a great time at the moment.

47

You will always have winners or losers during a safety car. Whether that’s virtual or real

48

I’m confused by Vettel’s comments about the VSC. What is the 40% VSC delta time measured against? Each driver’s green flag racing lap? An average of their racing lap times? Wouldn’t that allow faster cars to still creep away as their lap times are faster to being with? And what different racing lines is he referring to that makes the distance of the lap shorter? What driving line would be shorter than the racing line (assuming you stay on the track)? How does that even matter if the lap time, regardless of distance traveled, has to be 40% slower? So many questions….

49

Basically you can shorten a corner by taking an unconventional racing line through it under VSC. The Formula 2 race saw a driver gained around 5s on the cars behind him because of it.

50

So, when a team, (with luck or skill), get’s a driver ahead of another, the VSC rules need to be changed. If though that same driver get’s the advantage, he compliments the team for it.

51

Erm, no. He’s not talking about pitting under the VSC, he’s referring to the speed delta being exploited because whilst drivers reduce their speed, they are not limited to the racing line.

Haven’t you ever wondered why the gaps between drivers is always different before and after a safety car? Watch the F2 race to see how it can ruin a race.

52

The VSC system is flawed and can be compromised in various ways. vettel demonstrated the problem with the pit stop delta in Melbourner, where a car in 3rd place can use the pit stop delta under VSC to gain the lead in a race which it had no business winning. the Other F1 teams have followed Ferrari’s example after Melbourne and are apparently playing around with the distance delta required under the VSC to gain an unfair advantage.

The point is that Vettel is the last person who should be complaining about using loopholes in the VSC system to gain advantage in a race. Melbourne comes to mind. If Vettel had complained after his win in Melbourne about the limitations of the VSC system, then Charlie and others would have taken his comments more seriously and treated them with derision, as the comments deserved, given the source.

53

How many speedometers have you seen in these race cars?

Hint, they fit them next to the 8 track player.

The drivers have no clue about the actual speed the car is traveling. (they can make a reasonable guess from the selected gear and engine RPM). Therefore the VSC can’t be based on speed.

54

There should not be changes to the tire profile during the season. Unless there is a structural error that deems it unsafe. Blistering has been in the sport since I started watching in 1990.

55

I’m counting 21 guys out there around the car in this photo. This is so pointless.

How about they third that down to 7? 2 on each wheel, and they swap sides for the wheels, 2 on the jacks, one doing the release. Any wing adjustments or other extras cost drivers extra time in the box. What are we talking about here? Extra 15 seconds to the total race time? And basically a plane of crew members can stay home? Talk about easy way to green up F1, and all that it would cost is 15 seconds of total race time and give more entertainment value to the people who are on the front straight or above the pits. So damn obvious.

56

Sebee, those guys don’t just do the pit stops, they all have other jobs throughout the weekend. Your plan would save zero euros, and zero kg of CO2. Good job.

57

That would be good if those mechanics only job was to change the tyres. It isn’t though is it.

58

You know what else would happen if there were only 7 guys around the car? People who paid good money to be in the grand stand could actually see the car and driver during the pit-stop. Right now, it’s just a human barricade. They see the driver drive into it, and drive out of it, and not much else.

Take a moment right now and rub your eyes. Did you count as you were doing it? It took longer than an F1 pitstop.

59

Bernie was “greening up” F1 for years.

He planted enough trees each year in Mexico to keep F1 carbon neutral.

I bet nobody is doing that now.

60

CARBON CREDITS used to be a way of separating guilty liberals from their $. Lots of people got rich. Don’t know if mother earth is any better off.

61

I said this before when I did some match about how much CO2 is emitted from 300kg of fuel and how much carbon a tree can absorb annually

If the condition of hosting a grand prix was planting 2000-3000 trees, it absolutely offsets the CO2 emissions 24 x V10 cars would burn over the weekend. And it would be glorious! Fans could watch V10 cars in the cool shade of trees while sipping a cold one. Perhaps you didn’t know, but that’s actually what heaven is like.

62

Show your working Sebee!

63

Sebee. You raised the point, and it is up to you to prove it, insulting me won’t hide your complete lack of sourced hard data. Some simple questions for you, and remember I’m not interested in your guesses.

1, In the V10 era, how many miles on average would the cars do per race weekend?

2, How does the above number compare with the average today?

3, What is your source for the amount of carbon dioxide that a tree will absorb in one year.

For someone as energetic as you Sebee, these should be very easy questions to answer, and once again please no guessing or estimates or things you have decided for yourself, just verifiable facts please.

64

Can you quit trolling already TimW? It does nothing for your intellectual image and proves you don’t have critical thinking capabilities along with lack of Google skills – and we all know Google requires wicked ninja skills, right?

First they did not run this much at circuits in V10 era.

Second, quali wasn’t what it is today. You think more fuel is used in quali today in the Hybrid era or back in the times when drivers sometimes did one or two laps in addition to warm up and cool down? Don’t forget more races today either when you think about how green this Hybrid dog and pony show really is.

Third, I used 24 cars, there aren’t and weren’t 24. There are 20, and were mostly 20 or 22 in V10 era. That is 600 to 1200kg of fuel to spread around to others.

Fourth, there are always mechanical issues and in Grand Prix issues, which result in less fuel used on average.

Finally, and most obviously, I suggested 2000-3000 trees. As you can clearly see in math above, really only a 1000 are needed to cover CO2 for 24 V10 cars at 300kg per weekend. So there is plenty of spare capacity. 2000 trees allows 600kg, 3000 trees 900kg of fuel per car per weekend.

Can you leave me alone now?

65

Sebee, not being lazy Sebee, I have just learned over the years that you aren’t above making up figures. 300kg for an entire race weekend sounds a bit low doesn’t it? At least 140 for the race, plus three and a half hours of practice and qualifying as well? I bet they used a lot more than that, where did you get that number from? Any chance of a source for the rest as well please.

66

You are so lazy TimW. With Google at your finger tips, it is inexcusable.

300kg average per V10 car each weekend.

24 cars

300 x 24 = 7200kg of fuel, or at 1.25 multiplier 9000L

2.3kg of CO2 per L, 20,700 of CO2 emitted.

Each tree absorbs about 20kg of CO2 per year. 2000-3000 trees make F1 oh so green. It’s enough to offset the cars and good part of trucking the hardware to and from circuit.

Are we good Mr. LazyW?

67

I know where you’re coming from Seebee but not all those guys are there just to change the wheels during pitstops. eg the poor bloke that Kimi ran over in China was the auto electrician of the team. The rear jack-man (Hugh?) is also the tea-lady (I made that one up).

So if they’re there, they might as well use them.

Cheers

68

Axel, no doubt there is some people doing “double duty”.

But you can’t tell me that the amount of people at a Grand Prix from each team has not been growing significantly over the past decade, and that this number is not prime for culling. Talk about fat that can be trimmed.

Perhaps James could shed a light on this for us. How big was each team roster arriving at a Grand Prix in:

1990

2000

2010

2018

69

Like I have said before, without ‘Tire Drama’ these races might revert to being boring.

However, I still say, get rid of Tire Drama and lets see. There is all kinds of other items that might force a car to pit. I refer to the fiddly fragile aero devices that fall off, the complex forced hybrid crap, the youthful inexperienced drivers, etc..

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