Analysis: The human side of F1 race strategy that led Ferrari to lose in Monza
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Strategy Report
Posted By: James Allen  |  04 Sep 2018   |  7:17 am GMT  |  485 comments

This was one of the best Grand Prix races for years, with the right mix of super high speeds, close racing, emotion and strategy intrigue which kept the outcome in doubt until the final laps.

That Mercedes won the race, against the odds, on Ferrari’s home soil is a major blow for the Scuderia that had the best car at Monza and locked out the front row.

To turn that position into a second and a fourth is a major disappointment. Pundits have pointed to their lack of soft tyres in the Pirelli selection for Monza and homework on them, as well as the timing of pit stops as the main reasons, but neither were particularly an issue.

So how did it happen and what part did their strategy play in the defeat?


Ferrari – team orders or not?

There is a very human dimension to the drama at Monza, with Kimi Raikkonen towards the end of his career and potentially to be replaced by Charles Leclerc next season, understandably wanting one last race victory.

Under normal circumstances that would not be a consideration in a tight championship battle between Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton.

All season long – in fact for several seasons – Raikkonen has been put to work on sub optimal strategies, pulling Mercedes cars into the pits early or challenging them to compromise their race strategies, to help Vettel’s chances.

The last time he was on pole position, in Monaco last year, Ferrari managed to elegantly move Vettel ahead in the race and Raikkonen had his contract renewed.

Here the circumstances were different; he knew that the wishes of the late chairman Sergio Marchionne were for Leclerc to replace him and that it is only a matter of time before that is communicated.

Raikkonen took an unexpected pole on Saturday as Vettel was fed out late onto the track for the decisive run in Q3 and effectively lost the chance to pick up a slipstream from Hamilton, but gave one to Raikkonen. So the Finn saw his chance for a final win in front of the tifosi and his young family.

If you are serious about trying to win a championship against an adversary like Hamilton, who is in the form of his career, then this shouldn’t be a consideration. There are always ways and means to achieve desired outcomes, but only when controlling the race from a position of strength.

Vettel however didn’t feel that support and was in a difficult spot; he didn’t just have Hamilton behind him to consider at the start, but Raikkonen too and the lead he should have had after qualifying.

The danger from Hamilton was clear; he would be very aggressive at the start as it was his best shot given that the Mercedes had been a couple of tenths slower all weekend.

The mistake Vettel made – or felt forced to make by the circumstances – was in trying to get the lead on the opening lap from Raikkonen, rather than focussing on keeping Hamilton behind and crossing the line 1-2 at the end of the lap to control the race.

Vettel tried to pass his team mate on a suboptimal line into the second chicane and Hamilton saw his chance, forcing his car into the gap and the pair touched, sending Vettel spinning down to 18th place.

This is big picture strategy, the canvas on which the detailed race strategy decisions about tyre degradation and timing of pit stops is later painted. If Raikkonen has a clause in his contract saying that there will be no team orders in the event of a pole position, as suggested, then that is something that could be dealt with later once control of the race had been established. Many a tough negotiation has gone on via team radio down the years.

By risking everything at the start, the whole battle plan fell apart.

So now Ferrari had to focus on making sure Raikkonen won the race. In Vettel’s hands the Ferrari would have eased away from the Mercedes, as in Spa and Silverstone and taken the win.

Raikkonen couldn’t shake Hamilton off and this led to the strategy mistake that cost him the race.

It was not the fact that Ferrari had brought only one additional set of soft tyres – apart from the set each driver had for the race. There was no issue there; they did the right thing working on the supersoft, the more tricky tyre to understand and master in limited Friday practice running due to rain. It was more important to optimise performance on that tyre for qualifying and the optimum first stint of the race.

Nor was the mistake in bringing Raikkonen in first, on Lap 21, to cover off an undercut attempt by Hamilton who was well within range. This was exactly the right move as to do the reverse would have led to an undercut, given how close Hamilton was.

The mistake was the degree and length of time to which Raikkonen was asked to push on the new set of soft tyres after his pit stop. By going hard for five or six laps, he damaged the tyres and that opened up the chance for Hamilton to exploit that weakness later in the race to overtake for the win.

Mercedes told Hamilton to stay out when Raikkonen stopped and to push hard. His lap time was strong, but rather than pit him, they extended his stint a lap at a time as the tyres were holding up. He kept this up to the end of Lap 28. And all the time Hamilton was pushing to the limit on tyres that would soon be obsolete, Raikkonen was being told to push on new tyres he would need to the end of the race.

This was the strategic mistake; Raikkonen build a larger net lead than he would need – especially as Mercedes had Bottas in play up ahead who would inevitably stay out and hold Raikkonen up – and in doing so he caused a rear blister that would ultimately cost performance and the race win.


Bottas comes into play

In the Belgian GP strategy report we alluded to the fact that from this point onwards the second drivers would have a decisive role to play in the outcome of the championship and hinted that Bottas would now be used to help Hamilton. (His contract had just been renewed, so he knew exactly where he stood).

This is what happened in Monza, as Bottas was left out on track a long time on the supersoft tyres. He was fighting with Verstappen for a podium, but he also could play a part in holding Raikkonen as the older Finn caught the younger one after the stop.

Bottas wasn’t exaggerating; he set a personal best lap time during this phase, with a 1m 23.8s on Lap 31, but Raikkonen could have gone much faster. Hamilton was doing 1m 22.1s and Raikkonen could have been on that pace too.

On Lap 33 Bottas began to make some moves in corners that compromised Raikkonen and the lap time dropped to 1m 24.7s as Mercedes caught the Ferrari in a pincer.

Hamilton duly took the lead with just nine laps to go and Ferrari who started the day first and second, ended it second and fourth all as result of strategy, both big picture and detailed.

All photos: Motorsport Images

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

Race History Chart

Kindly provided by Williams Martini Racing, click to enlarge

The number of laps is on the horizontal axis; the gap behind the leader is on the vertical axis.

A positive sign is an upward curve as the fuel load burns off. A negative sign is the slope declining as the tyre degradation kicks in.

Look at Raikkonen’s push laps around Lap 21-27, this is when the damage was done. Also compare his pace behind Bottas around laps 31-34 to Hamilton’s pace as he catches them.

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1

2021 would be the logical year to put in LeClerc in Ferrari. Let him race the likes of Magnussen first

2

In case anyone is still discussing the race: Toto has declared that Merc were faster in the race than they were in quali. He doesn’t explain why exactly. But it was obvious to all that [as I posted earlier] the Merc at Monza was not the Merc at Spa where the Ferrari could pull away with ease.

So in Monza Lew had the faster car, but just a small dose of smart strategy could still have potted a win for Kimi!

Ferrari don’t change I luv ya !!

3

I believe it was the italian press who wrote about this a few days ago.

Arrivo and Camilleri tried to have Haas to take on LeClerc for a year or so, but Haas didn’t want to.

So if Haas don’t fancy him right now, why the rush for Ferrari to have him? They still have a contract with him, so he’s not going anywhere else

4

Very surprised to see on the chart that whereas the lead cars improved their lap times virtually throughout all the others were at best flatlining and in many cases getting slower all the way through the first stint, and flatlining in the second. Perhaps getting in each other’s way explains some of the first stint ? And the second ?

5

I’m figuring out its not Ferraris drivers that have an issue but their team.

The only mistake I remember Vettel making running for Red Bull was at Austin during his champion’s.

I think the team lost that race for Kimi in Monza. If they would have left him out longer then things might have ended different.

If they don’t fix that Hamilton and Mercedes will win despite having a faster car.

Now they are getting rid of Kimi who is 33rd in the companionship. It doesn’t make sense to replacer him for now.

LeClerc is pretty good but is he that good?

6

The only mistake !!

What about his side swipe in Mexico plus his temper loss and hit on LH car.

Anyhow

Ferrari have just been told not to use the cooling bags to hide the cameras on their steering and around the cars so the came4as get iced for a few laps at start of the race. FIA say it’s no on. Assume they are hiding so dodgy tricks. They started using the giant umbrella at Monza too. Like the Schumacher days. Tut tut. Is that why swapped Kimi & Vettel steering wheels ?

7

KRB. Think he said for Red Bull but understand the confusion as he made many errors during his RB years. Valencia.. China .Brazil.. canada?? And those are just off the top of my head.

8

@jdr

Anyone remember Pascal wehrlein? I believe he was a lot quicker than Ericksson also. Even Nasr I think if my memory serves me correctly.

Leclerc has had a mixed season as I see it, not altogether impressive.

9

Right from the time, Ferrari blundered to get the wrong driver on pole , it was a race they contrived to lose !

No taking away any credit from Lewis though, it was an exceptional drive.

Despite being a Kimi fan, Monza was not the place to be humane … Having not won for 8 years, it was a place to lock the 1-2.

Vettel’s petulance over the first few corners also cost him this race !

10

Hi James,

It’s me again. I wrote a comment a while back about Ferrari Strategy calls and their benefits to Vettel while leaving Kimi hung out to dry. You have noted this well in your article and made some great points and observations. (Also, as a side note, your tire lap bar chart is incorrect for Vettel…but more on that in a moment).

However, there are a couple areas where I differ in opinion based on data that I have analyzed from the race. The first one is short and easy and was mentioned by another fan here. There was really no difference in the Mercs and Ferrari’s in race trim (and quali for that matter). If you look at the lap time of Lewis and Kimi in the first stint, they were neck and neck swapping better lap times up to Kimi pitting.

Which leads into the other area of debate, the timing of Kimi’s pit stop. I know you talked about guarding against the undercut, but I believe from lap times shown, the supersoft tires still have plenty of life in them as demonstrated by Lewis. Someone from another site commented that kimi had to pit as his lap times were increasing…what?! Not sure what race he was watching or if he did not do his homework, but Kimi’s lap times, as were Lewis’, were consistent and actually falling, which shows there was not quite the need for a pit yet. If you notice, Kimi was the FIRST car to pit of all the other cars. This should tell you something, as there are plenty of good race strategists out there that saw that the SS tires were lasting. If Lewis happen to pit on lap 21, as Merc said they were “planning to”, then so be it, then Lewis would have suffered Kimi’s fate. Personally I believe Merc pulled a “phantom pit’ to throw off Ferrari….as Merc is very astute, and they know, like most of us, that Ferrari is very susceptible to these ‘poker’ plays and can fake Ferrari into mistakes. Which is what we saw again on Sunday.

And race strategy is where Merc excel beyond belief and a key as to how they have been so successful. Their race strategists are constantly analyzing every aspect of the race, from weather, temp, speed, lap times, tire degradation. They take that lap by lap information and they apply in and are able to adjust their races on the fly. Something that Ferrari seem incapable of, or unwilling to do. As I have mentioned, on my previous comment months back regarding Kimi and Ferrari, until they get smart with the TEAM race strategies which give both drivers proper strategies and not just for a single driver, in todays competition, they will not win the WCC or the WDC until this is corrected. Merc have shown how to do it.

Two last notes on the pit strategies. First, If you noticed Lewis’s yellow soft tires at the end of the race, they looked pretty used up. Not as bad as 7 lap older Kimi tires, but pretty rough…and he was in open air and the other talk of being behind other cars was just excuses. So that showed me that Merc made the right call on when to pit.

Secondly, if you notice, Vettel, was only able to put some 26 laps on the soft tires before he was forced to pit. So that should also show that asking the other Ferrari to put 33-34 laps on the same tire was not the right call.

Side Note: Did anyone read the lame BS press release from Pirelli on why Kimi lost the race?! What another attempt by sub-par Perelli to cya for their poor rubber.

James, other race fans, I look forward to your thoughts and comments.

Thanks for reading,

Michael C in FL

11

Hamilton was in open air only 8 laps at the end of the race and approx 5 at the end of his first stint. He had a bit of a gap after he pitted but he was going Hammer and tongs catching up with Kimi and BOTTAS. All in all he had a max 13-15 laps in clear air. Kimi had MUCH more. It was surprising how closely Lewis could follow Kimi. He was never more than 2 secs behind him except for the above mentioned 13 laps. If you consider the soft tire to be the defining tire of the race then Lewis first took life out of them by catching Kimi, he then struggled to pass kimi for 15 laps or so. So he spent the a good 23 laps Hammering those soft tyres. For me it’s a factor of great racing by lewis combined with on point strategy by Merc. I’m glad Lewis is finally getting the plaudits he deserves after this fantastic race. Only a driver at the very top echelons of this sport could put that merc in a position for Merc to be able to pull off such a strategy. Lets not forget who set up this car. Bottas could not gwt that merc anywhere near he needed it to be but lewis did. Perfectly happy to accept that Merc more than played here but credit where credt is due… Special mention for BOTTAS.

12

incredible how close hamilton got to vettel when he chanced now and destroyed both dominant redbull cars in succession.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=dWRxXP2tf9s

13

There’s massive confusion going on at the moment about Leclerc.

The late Mr Marchionne’s last word was not “Leclerc”, as reported.

He was known to be an incurable workaholic. When he saw family and friends sitting round the bedside he said something in the doctor’s ear. Unfortunately the doc was hard of hearing:

– “Tell them to go do some work”

– “What?”

– “Work! Tell them to get back to work!”

– “What? Leclerc?!

He says ‘I back Leclerc’ ” the doctor told them.

On hearing this somebody was told go pick up that phone right away and tell Arrivo.

14

the moment raikkonen finished ahead of vettel, i posted on here that raikkonen would not race for ferrari next season and the usual suspects followed with their usual nonsense.

15

Leclerc is fast but too green to sit in 2019 in a Ferrari with all the pressure involved (ask Vettel or Alonso)… No rookie survives that pressure. He should stay another year at Alfa Romeo/ Sauber, and Alfa should add a true match to him (there are plenty of drivers that can do it there from Giovinazzi to Ocon). I am worried about Ferrari and FCA direction. Hard to replace Marchionne. I truly hope that Chrysler Fiat keeps working developing Alfa project and most of all I hope Ferrari keeps Kimi if they do not it will be a mess (and they seem very capable strategically wise to do so). If I were them I would keep Kimi in 2019 with an option for 2020. Have Vettel show that he can do it but if he cannot deliver frankly they need a new cycle (he cannot keep messing up and pointing fingers around). Meantime be very nice to Ricc and Ver particularly to Ric…

16

many teams are in search of their own hamilton or verstappen, forgetting that there is only one hamilton and verstappen.

17

@Phil Glas

And if he did utter gimme gimme gimme as well?

What could that have meant, ABBA song maybe?

18

Phil Glass

Hasn’t Leclerc got a contract already with Marchionne ? So it’s like a Leclerc and Kimi stand off with Arrivabene probably preferring Kimi.

Were would Kimi go ? If Leclerc got the Ferrari seat… Williams ?

20

@ BKF….Just guessing here but i would doubt whether he would opt for a Williams seat. Firstly they are not flush with readies and secondly…what a step down that would be? If he doesn’t get an extension then he will, once again IMO, either retire or go to WEC where i think he would excel.

21

At the risk of going off topic from JA’s column above, I want to convey my observations regarding why I believe Merc have openly gone down the wingman path with Bottas.

I’ve just finished reading a great deal of the posts below which state (angrily at times) that team orders are the reason Merc / HAM keep pulling Ferrari’s pants down and embarrassing them when it comes to strategy.

Most are fair comments but I believe there’s a very serious, long term motive behind Merc’s team orders. If they can possibly bring it to fruition, it will put them in glorious, rarified air in F1 history.

When Lewis was holding back for most of last year on signing his latest contract, there were some cryptic yet, when taken the right way, glaringly obvious comments which Toto trotted out as off-the-cuff and flippant. It seemed to me to be a very clever bid to throw us off the scent, but at the same time, I reckon he was hinting at what is on the table!

When you take his words in the context I did, they meant … “We’d love to help Lewis achieve his goal of going down in history beside Shuey as the greatest ever and at the same time, we will take the mantle of winning the most consecutive WCCs in history from Ferrari”.

(Before anyone has a crack at me, that is purely my comment – which is derived from reading between the lines and interpreting his many and varied comments my own way, it’s not a quote from Toto.)

Let me explain …

The massive media hype and marketing opportunity surrounding the very real possibility of such a monumental dual feat is far too much for them to deny throwing everything they have at it over this and the next 2 years.

The internet has opened up the world to instant information which moves faster and broader than ever before. Much faster than when Schuey and Ferrari won their 6, so it will have an unprecedented impact all over the world which nobody can put a cost on. It’s MASSIVE!!!

If things had gone perfectly in the past and do go perfectly for them until the end of 2020, they “could” have helped Lewis win 8 WDCs in his time with Merc and made him the greatest ever.

Rosberg threw a spanner into the works by “stealing” one from under Lewis’ nose during his prior contract – so if they are to get it done it has to be now, because Lewis has hinted that he has plenty of other things he wants to do and 2020 could well be his final season.

The only way to get it done now is to ensure they favour Lewis at every possible opportunity.

As for Bottas not liking the wingman comment, he had to know exactly what he was getting into by going to Merc beside Lewis. If he somehow thought different, he was seriously misguided in that notion. (delusional is more like it!)

Proof? I, like plenty of people, firmly believe Toto’s “wingman” comment was a Freudian Slip born out of truth … not just a mistimed and misunderstood comment during a euphoric, triumphant moment.

If you flip the coin and look at Ferrari’s lack of team orders, it seems to me they have taken the view that they would rather be seen to be fair to both drivers and appease the the throngs of naysayers than cop the same landslide of flack they’ve copped during the Schuey and Alonso years. Not to mention the few times in recent seasons when they’ve been seen to be favouring Seb over Kimi!

The crazy thing is, ever since the FIA changed the rules to allow team orders again, a lot of people have changed their attitudes. As evidenced since Sunday when it bit them like a rabid dog, many fans are now screaming at Ferrari for not totally backing Vettel.

We are extremely fickle fans at times us F1 people, especially when things go against a team and / or driver we love or align ourselves with. 😉

22

The difference is actually that Hamilton can only win if he has a wingman

23

of course and there is only one Alonso and Ricciardo and Vandoorne and Vettel and Hulkenberg and and and… do you see where I am going with this?

24

There is plenty of evidence at hand now that you are, unfortunately, correct about Lewis arrangement with Mercedes.

Lewis lengthy contract negotiations were obviously about securing complete priority within the team. It shows from tongue slips and particular actions from him and Toto/Lauda.

Ricciardo became no interest, since he indicated last year he’ll only accept equal status, and Lewis was only happy to state (I can not see Ric driving for MB) earlier this year. MB were in panic when Bottas tried to overtake Lewis for a race win. Strategy calls, instructions for Bottas to block. Too many to list here.

And obviously too is that Bottas does not have an ‘equality’ section in his contract. Only Ric or Max would insist on that if they’re to sign up to MB, meaning there is no space for them while Lewis is there.

Will Bottas win a race?, sure, but only if Lewis ‘authorise’, and it won’t risk his status or championship.

For the people that criticise Ferrari for not doing the same, I’d say Ferrari is the one with better attitude (read: racing integrity between their drivers), and in my very own opinion, if they lose so be it, at least they’d kept their head high.

25

Jack do you think The Lizard People Exist ?

It seems from reading a lot of the different stories on various formats . The conclusion is

I find myself agreeing with that classic Steve Martin film The Jerk ! The scene Where his Dad tells him, that there is one important thing of life and he shows it to Steve Martin’s character. “That is Sh#t (points to a steaming pile cow pat)” and then points to tin of shoe polish”&This is Shinola!”.

It’s easy to polish a cow pat and make it look like a piece of gold… I mean it got Trump into office.

26

I think you are spot on about peoples attitudes on team orders having swung around, though I can see that it would easily turn the other way if Lewis was to start dominating every race through the implementation of them (as I think is the fatigue we saw when Schumi was dominating, and at times didn’t even really need the extra points)

So I don’t quite agree with your take on why they are implementing team orders and here is why (bear with me)

While Bottas (and the many other drivers before him in the same postion – Irvine, Massa, Barichello to name the most renowned wingmen – to the most successful driver of all time) may be slightly delusional from our more objective seats as fans, he has clearly been sold some sort of parity agreement because that reaction to the wingman comment was pretty raw. My take on it was he genuinely believes he is allowed to race for wins. So I don’t think he did see that he was getting into something different because the past position of Merc has been an open fight, free to challenge for the title, with no better proof than that of Rosberg achieving just that.

What I think is going on is that Lewis has finally taken a leaf out of Schumacher’s book (or at least read JA’s great book on the man) and realised that part of the key to winning the title is fighting for a clear number one slot in the team, but by having it appear that everyone is on equal terms. I’m sure the sticking point in Hamilton’s long contract negotiations was that he required number one status. And he is definitely qualified to throw some weight around in this respect. Would Merc really have failed to compromise in this part of negotiations and lose Lewis from the stable? He is probably the only guy on the grid that could literally take his pick of teams, irrespective of current contracts. So, I think Lewis got smart and demanded this status. He knows first hand just how difficult it is to fight for a championship in the same machinery as your rival. The trick is for the team to be able to say exactly that, that the parts on the car are identical. What they don’t tell you openly is that they will handicap one car for the benefit of the other in ways that may not even be obvious to the rest of us (the obvious being things like pit strategies, tyre choice etc and the other stuff being engine modes, not providing full picture of unfolding race etc)

Bottas was therefore convinced in a way probably not dissimilar to how Eddie Irvine describes his deal. Which was, from memory, that there WAS equal status in the team among drivers but this was trumped by Schumacher’s clause, which stated Schumacher had number one status or something like that (It was a Sky interview with Irvine that they used to play about a million times a day, nearly as much as the Johnny Herbert story and do you think I can remember exactly what he said?)

I would agree with your comment that it was a Freudian Slip though. Toto was totally thinking of the real deal he has struck. But this is Lewis finally piecing together all the necessary workings of what is required to hit that next level and aim for the Schumacher type of glory.

My worry for Lewis trying to aim for those records was a comment he made in the interview he did with Button at Silverstone. He remarked how long Button had raced for and when Button replied, Lewis said that he never thought he could last that long. Maybe he will remain focused, especially if he wins this season. But it does appear that he feels there is a lot more for him outside the sport and I think the lure of the sparkly stuff on the sidelines may just be too appealing to him to keep grinding away at multiple titles. Schumacher definitely had his dark moments, win at all costs moments. And while I don’t agree with some of those, his overall drive to compete was what set him apart from almost anyone that has sat in an F1 car. Consider that when he signed back on with Mercedes he could have just signed a lucrative one year deal to promote his old sportscar team, but he signed for three. Three years is a campaign for the title, not a retirement drive. He had no more records to break. No more need for money. So why would you comeback? I think he came back because he loved racing. He loved competing and he thought he could do better. I admire that he had that passion. Such a shame his comeback didn’t live up to his own expectations, but then in some ways, he contributed to building the environment that Lewis has benefited from these past seasons. But I digress. My point is that I’m not sure if Lewis has that same level of motivation. But good luck to him if he does. I think the only thing Lewis has left to prove is being ahead of Vettel in as many records as he can when they both retire. The Schumacher goal is not really a point that he will have to prove, as Vettel is his peer and biggest rival.

All the points you make about the marketing though are definitely valid, but I think they are a consequence of always wanting to be successful and would be goals anyway.

I enjoyed reading your thoughts though, thank you, it got me thinking (or rambling… either way).

I always thought the F in F1 was Fickle, or was it F1 spelt backwards is Fickle? I can’t recall, where is Murray Walker when you need him?

27

team orders have always been a norm in f1. hamilton tried to change that by insisting, first and mclaren and then mercedes, that he wanted equal treatment between drivers. as a result team orders were banned for a few seasons only for the ban to be lifted because teams cheat message became ridiculous like “alonso is faster than you, do you understand that message?”

28

I don’t think many people are screaming at Ferrari for not backing Vettel but a lot of people have commented on the irony that it is Mercedes using team orders to the best effect and Ferrari seem to be dropping the ball in this area.

As for your theory re Bottas being the number 2 driver, I do think you are reading to much into it. He has become the wingman purely because Lewis is quicker and he just can’t match his speed.

29

f1 has always used team orders, hamilton is the first driver i know of who rejected team orders. drivers have always been referred to as lead drivers and second drivers, or number one and two until hamilton burst into the scene.

30

@Ben (& C63) Time will tell whether my theory stacks up or not.

No team would be stupid enough to implement team orders before the summer break or before one of them gets to 100 points in front of his team mate, as C63 has “dramatically” stated.

My Bottas theory is fairly obvious though because if Merc wanted a guy who could take it up to Lewis in every race, they would have put a top class driver in the team who can beat him on any given day.

Valtteri is not that driver, not even close! He’s the perfect, passive wingman who is more than happy to be driving in a team where he can be on the podium at every race rather than wallowing in the mid to rear end of the field at a team like Williams until he retires.

I totally stand by my thoughts that Merc will leave F1. Everything is pointing towards it, even Jean Todt is starting to bleat about how important it is to make every effort to keep them and Ferrari in the game.

If they were a shoo-in to stay, those comments would not even be thought of, let alone spoken in the media to drum up support and fan fury!

Add to that the fact that they are digging in their heels on negotiating with Liberty and it’s more than just a theory!

31

@Jack

You don’t think the reason they are backing Lewis might be the slightly less dramatic fact that he is near on 100points ahead of Bottas, and is now their only realistic prospect for holding on to the WDC this year?

Look back at races earlier in the season when everything was still all to play for – did they use Bottas as a wingman then? For instance Bottas could and should have won at Bacu – the reason he didn;t was nothing to do with team orders.

32

put it another way, would mercedes beat ferrari if they backed bottas instead of hamilton?

33

@ Jack…interesting post. IMO Mercedes have one goal and that is total supremacy…using the old adage, ‘whatever it takes’. The marketing message is huge and the average consumer is not all that fussed about how they get there. It’s the simple message, ‘we are the greatest’. No one really cares who the driver/s are apart from F1 fans. It’s all Mercedes, Mercedes, Mercedes. It needs nothing more to sell the concept. If in any doubt just examine the best case there is. Ferrari. The name is synonymous with success, speed , glamour and maybe racing. No need to mention drivers. The brand is simply everything and now Mercedes have global platform like never before.

34

every f1 team wants to win, dominate, it’s not just mercedes aim. i think they call it competition.

35

@kenneth … now that Ferrari have a competitive car, Merc need a “master” like Lewis to beat them when they shouldn’t be beaten.

Their name is powerful, I agree. But without a master like Lewis, Ferrari might well be making them look very second rate.

It stands to reason that without him, they might have two equal drivers of Bottas’ ilk.

In that case, Vettel wouldn’t be stuck deep in his own mind and making daft mistakes because he’s under immense pressure. He’d most likely be back in a free and easy mindset like he was at RBR and leading the championship by 100 points over his closest rival.

Lewis is the one who is most adept at getting under Seb’s thin skin because Vettel knows he can’t beat him on skills alone. He needs a dominant car to get it done!

That’s as easy to see as the huge nuts swinging under a bull’s butt!

36

I believe that not backing both Kimi and Vettel as championship contenders from the get go, is going to bite them in the rear. In fact it already has for some time now it seems

Luca di Montezemolo sain it was

37

as soon as raikkonen finished ahead of vettel, i knew raikkonen’s time was up.

38

The Luca thing is cut off mid sentence. Maybe better that way though

39

Wolff may have a point in having a third car for young drivers. I’m for a third car in general though

40

no need for a third car, they should amend their contracts and acquire a second team, like red bull.

41

I’d rather see two more teams on the grid. Porsche/Audi and Aston Martin/Andretti. That would give the current crop some competition and another four driver slots. The vice like grip being exerted by Ferrari and Mercedes will, if not diluted, simply mean more of the same old same old. Given the few hints being dropped from time to time it seems as though Liberty are wilting under the pressure. Something not entirely unexpected…but hey, we’ve got a new logo, new sound theme, grid kids and delayed broadcast times. What more could one ask for?

42

haas has turned up and were only competitive at midfield with all their ferrari mechanical aid, let alone a new team building their own engines. even they are scared of their prospects. have you not heard of honda, “the world’s largest internal combustion engine manufacturer”?

43

@Kenneth

I would as well, but that could happen at the earliest 2021. Others may well drop out though, and they merge all the time. What would a Alfa mean in reality?

Thers are only so many manufacturers and how many would engage long term, to get to the top.

Agree though that 3 cars would not change much. If you can’t find some brilliant way of getting rid of this 1,2,3 driver bs, that is the root of the problem anyway. And we’re stuck with the charades

I dont have much hope in that regards quite the opposite. And if people are happy watching it then that’s what we will get.

44

you will not see any of them in f1 in any time soon. forget it!

45

If you can’t find some brilliant way of getting rid of this 1,2,3 driver bs

If you really want to see competition between all drivers then we need 1 car teams. Either that, or get rid of one of the championships and have a single team goal – it won’t ever happen of course, but as long as there are two targets for the team and driver to aim at so team orders will remain.

46

I agree that it (probably) won’t happen. Unless fans turn away. And the future could be shaky or uncertain if you will. It’s not Bernie days, things change rapidly

There could be way’s though. I haven’t given it any thought, but off the top of my head.. since it’s always money driven you could adjust money you get for WCC, control the money flow.

The main reason it exists is probably marketing concerns. They want it to be a two horse race. It’s easy enough for the average cosumer/fan to take in, understand and it’s easy to promote.

47

@ Chris D Thanks for the response. I fundamentally have a problem with the structure of F1 insofar as it fields two WC’s which don’t always compliment each other. In fact it can work against the ideals of the end game for each. What i would like to see are one car teams. Yes, 24 one car teams. that would result in many massive alternate outcomes. One main benefit would be that both WC’s would be decided without the need for internal ‘wingmen’. It would be easier to attract new entrants as the cost of competition [ per team ] would be massively reduced. If you give it some very deep analysis there are many more gains to be made and very little downside. Would it ever happen? Likely not.

48

one car teams would’t suit hamilton. The only way he can win is to have his team mate slow the other drivers down by backing them up

49

Agree @keneth that it would take some radical rethink of the whole concept to achieve.

But at the core of it I believe it would benefit the teams as well, certainly F1, if you could find a solution. They talk about the future, to me it looks like they have no coherent plan

As long as the money flow keeps coming, they all pat each other’s back and hope for the best

I can’t see that knowing that one of two drivers will win almost every race before the season begins will benefit anyone. Or that it is the future fans would endure for long. Not from a media entertainment’s, nor a sport’s poin of view. If we can talk of any sport as being a part of it, by then

50

280 comments on this page. I’m surprised. There should be at least 960 comments. Are 3/4 of the fans that come to this site Ferrari fans? I’m a fan of Ric, LeClerc, Ham and Kimi – in that order. So I like to talk about them if I can. This race must have hit a nerve.

51

JAM, don’t worry, there’s another 1500 comments in the queue… should be up by October!

52

Great analysis as always. Small correction in the tyre history chart, Verstappen, Bottas and Vettel are labelled in their final positions after Verstappen’s penalty but their tyre history is shown in their finishing order, so Bottas is shown with Verstappen’s tyres, Vettel with Bottas’s and Verstappen with Vettel’s

54

1. I didn’t read this properly, I didn’t need to. Whenever you see that it’s written by JA himself you know it’s going to be bloody good.
2. I’ve just finished reading a good piece on MSN by Sky Sports on about why Vettel makes so many mistakes. In case the reader misses it the thrust of the argument is that he is pressured since at Ferrari he is compensating for the lack of support he enjoyed at Red Bull or that Schmacher enjoyed at Ferrari.
3. Ferrari should keep Kimi next year in much the same way that Williams should have retained Massa.

55

Chris

Sadly, Seb has always been a bot weak in car-to-car combat, where Lewis is so strong. Think Turkey 2010, or that silly crash with L Stroll (on the slowing down lap) where he blamed Lance! He always blames the other, just as he did with Lewis on Sunday.

It’s only a small difference, but it is enough to lose the championship.

I think he is getting the support at Ferrari – witness keeping Kimi and not taking Danny Ricc! DR beat him in their year at Red Bull together. Think Ferrari should have take him….

Also, I think Fernando might have won for Ferrari last year, definitely this one. Bad move that, from Ferrari to McLaren.

56

I really do not understand the new hype around Kimi. He was on pole, had the fastest car and came in second. I fail to recognize the big achievement in that.: he was not able to pull away from LH and was not able to pass Bottas (and did not even try). Look at the final difference with Vettel, despite his spin, damaged car and extra pitstop….. I have read that Ferrari is considering Leclerc and I can understand why. If you are not able to win once with a Ferrari in the last 4 seasons perhaps it is time to retire.

Yes, I know the guy was great a decade ago, and possibly 5 years ago, but it seems to me there is little of that fighting spirit left. I know the older readers on this forum will disagree, but it is really time for a next generation of drivers. There will be mistakes, penalties, agitation but this is F1, not the local club of Boy Scouts. If only the stewards would also recognize that…

57

No hype around Kimi, we would just like to see him win.

The Ferrari ate it’s tyres, that is the end of it. Kimi showed the ability in getting the car home second.

Also, think Ferrari’s strategy was faulty. They brought him in far too early. If he had not, Mercedes were ready to do so. Maybe they pressurised Ferrari into trying to avoid the undercut. But, then, Kimi had to get the hammer down.

Think Kimi is not quite dedicated enough, so he does keep making mistakes in Q3. Monza showed what he can do, as did that phenomenal lap at Monaco last year.

58

I onderstand the Legend aspect of it and also wanted him to win. However I think he failed to deliver. Agree Lewis was in the zone, but the Ferrari ate the tyres also because Kimi could not pass Bottasm

59

At the heart of it, you are right. But Kimi is last one of cool ones, modern james hunt you could say. He doesnt need to try hard.

He has made numerous mistakes in last two years, mostly in qualy where he can be fast but usually makes a mistake in q3 (good example is baku 2018). Those mistakes then reflect in races, because if you dont start at front you make it hard for yourself.

But i dont agree with your assesment of car speed in monza. Hamilton was on pace with ferraris whole week, and as we all know (although some dont want to accept it), you cant drive faster than the car is capable of. So that means Bottas underperformed, and merc is as fast as ferrari at monza. As you could see in race, there was not much between the two cars, it came down to strategy, tyre prep and a bit of team play from merc, but cars – they were equally fast.

60

Understand the legend, appreciate the coolness, agree on Lewis’ speed. However Kimi on track was once perhaps a James Hunt, but Hunt would have tried to pass Bottas. So would VET , HAM, VER or RIC. Might have been risky, might have ended in tears, but at least they would have tried. Had he tried and succeeded he would have been able to manage his tyres and perhaps stay in front of Hamilton.

61

What have the stewards got to do with it? Please elaborate.

62

Too much interventions, no consistency in when they intervene and how they intervene, fear of making decisions that really effect the WDC (so no penalties that really effect race wins or championship wins).
On top of that too many drivers with interests to protect. GAS and HAR will never have a fight with a RedBull, Ocon very happy to get out of the way at Spa, because he is managed by Toto and looking for a seat for next year etc, all Ferrari powered drivers.. Currently only a handful of drivers provide the action. With the exception of HAM (who is in a league of his own nowadays) those are the ones that get most of the penalties (some justified). Perhaps F1, like in judo, should introduce penalties for ‘failing to engage’.

63

People are so easy to lambast a driver when he does not deliver – mistakes, failing under pressure etc.

Vettel delivered some of the most exciting driving this season – his overtakes on Bottas in Silverstone and Hungaroring were in the dying moments of the race for crucial podiums points. His overtake on Lewis in Austria was one of the moves of the season but easily forgotten as this was not for the win and Lewis retired later. Not to mention Spa, where he drove around Mercedes like a charm to La Source. Ahhh yes and that was on the 1st lap – that guy Seb always trying to win on the first lap, what was he thinking!

I think Monza was unfortunate with spin, great move by Lewis and even better outcome for him. I will always prefer guys like Seb / Max who risk it and go for the gap. Unless you prefer watching guys like Bottas – he does not make any mistakes, but is he exciting? Hell no.

64

Schuey

Good points!

65

You forgot to mention Germany, another mistake. And the fact that it took him most of the race to get past Bottas in Hungary, after he failed to deliver the pole on a wet session. That’s the reason people are saying hes not all hes cracked up to be

66

So you like guys like Seb and MAX who “risk it” yet lewis’ over take on the outside of Seb wasn’t “risky” enough for you? Lewis was fortunate Sebs lack of spacial awareness, and/or lack or regard for his own race, didn’t ruin his. That’s the definition of “risky” isn’t it?

Just because Seb and MAX don’t have enough composure to think of the bigger picture, doesn’t mean Lewis is “risk” averse. Lewis went through that stage of his career but he now sees when to go and when to not. Seb and MAX get there too…Maybe 😉

67

Of course they would have to reorganize their young driver academy. You would have the wingman academy etc.

68

I have an idea for Helmut Marko to consider. Why not hire Maldonado or anyone of his liking and use him as a supplement to the wingman/butler tricks going on.

Make sure you are out there, in front of the Merc and Ferrari front-runners in every race, right after their pitstops then boom, carbon everywhere. Out comes MV to take some glorious wins

They could call it the torpedo

69

I would not be surprised to see Vettel dropped by Ferrari. His performances are good but not top end. Trouble is who will replace him. He mind sence is simply wrong. That is subjective not opinion. His mistakes in what is clearly the fastest car will or could cost them the WDC.. so it’s adios Seb hello 5 times WDC Lewis Hamilton

70

A bit of counting chickens there before they hatch me thinks. We have a number of races to go and Seb is still in a good position to win this championship. It just takes a bit of bad luck and poor strategy on mercs part to turn this thing around. The fat lady hasn’t sung yet as far as I am concerned and Seb is still a great driver – mistakes or not. Don’t get me wrong…I am still cheering for Ham…but I would be remiss to say he has the 5th title sewed up.

71

Subjective IS opinion

72

Vettel does not have a wingman, so it’s not a fair comparison.

73

Kimi was asked to move over for Vettel in Germany.

Kimi was used as wingman in China

http://www.f1i.com/news/301163-italian-media-takes-issue-ferraris-treatment-raikkonen.html

Stop kidding yourself

74

Vettel has a wingman it’s Kimi.

Ferrari has used the pit stop phase to switch Vettel round. Only a few races ago on radio they asked Kimi to move aside and let Vettel through. Kimi asked for clarification on the radio asking “tell me clearly so you want me to let him through?!” As Kimi got upset because he has been left in the wilderness in 0it stop phases just for Vettel to get past him.

So it’s all balderdash regarding Vettel not having a wingman.

75

Hamilton has two wingmen, Kimi is not a great wingman, he makes Vettel fight for it.

76

Vettel does have a wingman, for the most part Kimi has been quite an effective one. But he can’t expect his wingman to be much help if he bins it at the fourth corner of the race.

.

Of course if Ferrari have told Kimi he is leaving and Kimi has decided to wingman no more, that is their and Seb’s cross to bear.

77

Totally fair comparison.

How many times have Ferrari moved Raikkonen over for Vettel? Are you suggesting never?

78

Ferrari has gotten Kimi out the way, yes but how many times has Kimi actually moved over?

Bottas and Ocon dont even need told, they are quite happy to be lap dogs, at least Kimi puts up a fight

79

If this ? if that? when it’s? and buts ?

Pontificate all you want Jimothy …Vettel messes up by truck loads . He cannot fight wheel to wheel without getting upset and then trying to take out his competitors. It’s the reason the Italian Press want him gone. They are still not 100% behind him. Nor is the Tifosi they love Kimi more than there lead driver.

80

I have an idea for a community project here … to determine who’s been the best driver in The Rest category of cars (all those not in a Ferrari, Merc or Red Bull). I think the Hulk would have been a slam dunk before the lights went out in Belgium, even with his driver error in Baku, but these past two races haven’t been very good for him. Of course he was hobbled in Belgium because of engine penalties, but he still made a very bad error there.

I’m not sure if it’s better to remove all of the top 6 cars from calculations, to see which cars would win, and to use the bigger points totals from the top places. Or to not, and just take them as they finished in the normal context of the races to date.

I haven’t poured in too much thought towards this, I just thought it might be fun to see what parameters people use when judging drivers who might not elicit the same emotions as those up front.

81
Ricciardo Aficionado

No one cares who comes seventh.

82

Ok, so I won’t expect any contributions from you RA. No problem.

83

Ricciardo Aficionado

O yes they do. Is the phoenix Force India story not a fairy tale?

Is the mid-field battle not fascinating? Much more interesting than watching the Red Bulls drone around in no-mans land!

84

You will next year, mr aficionado…

85
Ricciardo Aficionado

🙂

Touché CTP

But I won’t.

86

Ctp. Ouch!!!

87

The guy in eighth does.

88

Maybe the mix-ups recently with Monza/Spa in the texts, are just freudian cut’n’pastes? Like when Kimi was on pole in Monza, the text refers to Spa:)

89

The tyre history picture has VER, BOT and VET mixed up.

90

Superbly written thanks James.

I’m gunning for Ham for the championship but really would have loved to see Kimi on that top step for the win at Monza; any true grit F1 fan would be chuffed for him & he deserves it.

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