Mercedes Spanish GP domination: An outlier or the start of a trend?
Strategy Report
Posted By: James Allen  |  15 May 2018   |  2:58 pm GMT  |  117 comments

We said at the start of this 2018 F1 season that with the car that they have, Ferrari could win the championship only if they execute perfectly.

Some strategy calls have gone well, others like Bahrain they have got away with because of the driver, others have gone wrong and so has the driver, like Baku.

But in Spain they were on the defensive; on race pace, strategy, tyre usage and engine reliability, they were fighting a rearguard action and Mercedes enjoyed the most dominant winning margin of the season.

Was this the start of a trend, after a shaky Mercedes start to the season, or an outlier of a race due to Pirelli changing the tyres for this race (and two later ones in France and UK)?

Pre-race considerations

It is never desirable to change something fundamental, like tyres, during a racing season. For one thing it always gives rise to conspiracy theories that the change was motivated by the team who subsequently wins the race to the detriment of the team that loses.

F1 fans have fresh memories of Mercedes struggling to master the tyres in 2013 until they did a controversial test and from that point onwards started winning races.

Spain 2013: After a front-row lock-out, Mercedes struggle with tyres during the race.

The idea of Pirelli bringing a tyre with thinner gauge arose after teams experienced blistering at the winter tests in February and early March. All the leading teams were part of that request to Pirelli. Knowing that they had time from a logistical point of view, the company obliged with tyres for Spain, France and Silverstone, where the problem was mostly expected to arise.

Up to that point in 2018, the supersoft had been a tyre that Ferrari had worked better than Mercedes in the opening rounds of the championship. But now it wasn’t to anyone’s liking and we had the highly unusual spectacle in the Q2 session, which decides the starting race tyre, of all but one car going for it on the soft compound instead.

Only Fernando Alonso went through Q2 on supersoft and therefore started the race on it. When only one car in the whole field, as it subsequently turned out, starts on the ‘qualifying’ tyre, then something is wrong.

Interestingly Sauber was the only team to ignore the supersoft completely in Friday practice and to focus on optimising a soft-medium strategy. It worked for Charles Leclerc, who got another solid points finish in a race with Alonso.

Leclerc was ahead and knew Alonso couldn’t overcut as he couldn’t extend on his supersoft tyres, but knowing they could never pit Leclerc before the safe moment for one stop to be able to reach the end on mediums.

For the midfield, the battle was in doing a better job of calculating how early your car could get to the end on Medium tyres.

Doing the opposite
Track position is king, goes the saying and at some tracks you give it up only if you absolutely have to. On fast open tracks with good overtaking possibilities, it’s all about doing your fastest race, not worrying too much about being held up by slower cars after a pit stop.

In Spain it’s different, especially with the 2018 generation cars. It’s very hard to overtake. Even a big tyre offset doesn’t compensate; track position is king. This was demonstrated vividly after Hamilton’s pit stop, where on fresh tyres he couldn’t get past Verstappen, whose tyres had done over 30 laps.

And so when Ferrari – fearing an undercut attempt by Valtteri Bottas – pulled Sebastian Vettel in to the pits on Lap 17 from a second place he had taken off Bottas at the start, committing him to a two stop race, it did several things at once.

First it brought him out behind Kevin Magnussen, as he didn’t have enough of a gap back to clear the Dane. He lost some vital time there. Second it determined Lewis Hamilton’s strategy for the afternoon as the Englishman was running in clear air, which causes less damage to the tyres, and was able to extend his first stint to the point where he could move directly onto mediums to the finish of the race.

It also determined Bottas’ strategy, as Mercedes pushed Bottas to do two more hard laps while Vettel was losing time behind Magnussen, the target being to then overcut him at the stop. A problem with one of the rear wheels meant that Bottas stop was 3.9s, almost twice the normal length and he rejoined behind Vettel. That was two set-backs in the first part of the race for Bottas, who’d lost the start to Vettel and after his blowout in Baku he must be wondering when his luck would change.

It told everyone that Vettel was on a two stop and Bottas almost certainly as well as they had almost 50 laps to go to the finish. Both teams went into the race with two stops in mind. Ferrari were getting through the tyres more voraciously than Mercedes and far more so than Red Bull, who had seen in Friday practice that they could hold onto them longer that their rivals and that opened up the possibility of a one stop race, from soft to medium.

But Ferrari had another problem that was undermining their performance; the engine. As at the end of last season, when Vettel’s title hopes went away with reliability concerns on the engine, so in Spain Raikkonen lost an engine in practice and then another in the race causing alarm bells.

One of the problems has been traced to an electrical fault and that engine may be used again for practice later in the season. But Vettel’s race was doubly compromised by instructions to take care of the engine after Raikkonen retired before half distance.

Added to Ferrari’s strategy move to bring Vettel in on Lap 17 for the first stop, to prevent Bottas from undercutting him, it added up to a defensive race for Ferrari, rather than an offensive one.

This is the real story of Ferrari’s strategy in Spain, not the focus on the second stop under the Virtual Safety Car, that dropped Vettel down to fourth place where he eventually finished.

By that point he was already well and truly on the defensive and the move under the VSC was the right thing to do as it meant that the stop cost half as much time relative to the field as stopping at racing speeds. Ferrari had been hoping for a VSC or a Safety Car, knowing Vettel had to stop again. Every race this season has had one, it’s becoming a clear pattern.

Vettel dropped to fourth and stayed there because his positioning was slightly out on the pit box entry and also he was held momentarily for another car passing so as not to be released unsafely.

This allowed the one-stopping Verstappen to get past him for a podium finish.

Mercedes, meanwhile ‘did the opposite’, when Vettel stopped. Ferrari had been relying on the Finn also needing to stop a second time after an early first stop, but when Vettel pitted the instruction was to stay out and try to make the finish.

There was only a very small probability that the VSC for Ocon’s broken down car could become a Safety Car, which might have made the decision to stop more pressing. The Strategists on the pit wall are racing mathematicians, who calculate probability and risk/reward in real time throughout the race.

Bottas was able to make the tyres last to the finish for a one-two for Mercedes. He was helped by Verstappen breaking off part of his front wing in a collision. Although he maintained remarkably strong lap times, it inevitably imbalanced the car and despite having tyres that were 15 laps fresher, he could not get close to Bottas.

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

Race History & Tyre Usage Charts

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. The thing to look at is the gaps between the cars and also the relative pace of the cars.

A positive sign is an upward curve indicating strong pace as lap time falls.

A collectors item: The highly unusual sight on the tyre usage chart of only one car, Alonso, starting on the ‘qualifying’ tyre.

On the race history chart, it is immediately apparent that Hamilton won the race in the opening stint as he had pace that Vettel could not live with. The Ferrari is managing rather than dropping off in tyre performance at the end of the first stint, but the trend is certainly downwards before the VSC intervenes for the second stop. Relative to Hamilton and Verstappen, who continue to rise, it’s clear that Ferrari didn’t have the race pace in Spain for various reasons.

Haas was clearly the fourth fastest car in Spain – look at Magnussen’s lonely race, but also at how well clear of the Renault of Sainz he is.

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Some comments about driver misstakes. Drivers always makes misstakes, otherwise one could suspect them for not pushing hard enough. But only two-three drivers really stands out this year, when it becomes too much, in some cases alarming. Grosjean and Verstappen. Then we have Magnussen who does what he always does overcompensates, ridiculous moves in an act to be a hard racer and all of it can be counted as misstakes of course. All of this could possibly apply to Max and Gro as well.


Um that crap that RG did was baffling and if rumors are true it may mean his ride. Alonso could certainly get more points out of that HAAS. Who knows? HAAS voted against those aero rules for next year but they have a fast one now. They just seem to have some crazy drivers.

Now the Mercedes thing might be an anomaly at least as far as the next race Monaco goes but about the big picture of reliability I dunno? KR will have an issue there but we will see in Canada I think.


Anyone heard from C63 on here lately? Seems to me to be awhile since he’s popped up with a comment.



I was wondering the same.


It was Ferrari’s halo mirror chandeliers that did them in…


Why is it so hard for all the experts to realise the rear right wheel gun came off from Vettel’s car exactly after 5.6s, and he dashed out immediately once he was allowed to go.

That had nothing to do with Perez. Seems like Ferrari has instructed these media folks to write their articles in a certain way.


Yeah especially Sky.


I think it’s just a case of Barcelona suiting the Merc. If winter testing had told us everything, we would have seen a Mercedes in pole for every race. Instead I think it just told us that the team is fast at Catalunya. It would be better to see winter testing at more circuits next year.


I think the form will continue to swing from track to track, like many have said on here already Merc were very fast in Barcelona testing anyway. Temperature extremes, cold and hot will also have a huge impact given the awfulness of the tyres, which is a shame.

Ferrari will be back in Monaco along with Red Bull and it wouldn’t be surprising to see Merc struggling again.


No wind and decent track temps favor Mercedes. It does depend on the tracks doesn’t it?

Then there is the overall reliability too? KR has an issue already but will Mercedes?


Also worth mentioning Ferrari were told to remove their battery store ‘enhancement’ that allowed them to store an extra 4MJ before Spain race.

How much performance delta did that affect, if any?


Was that in effect from Spain or is it going to still be investigated further?


@ Rafa99….ant evidence to support that claim?


Very little.

I’ve read 2 issues;

first was mentioned just once in a publication, about an extra 4MJ, and that FIA stopped SF using that before Spain.

Second one relates to a ‘distribution’ irregularity, which teams have queried FIA, who will investigate before Monaco. Was in Auto Motor und Sport.


Lots of news about it across many f1 sites. Too much oil bring used in Qualy, suspect electric power evading the FIA flow meters (potentially creating and extra 20bhp), dodgy mirrors… just another day in life at maranello. Filthy team


Weird you take it so personally, Dean.


Yeh, youre probably right… its a bit of a dumb fixation. I just really, really cannot stand that team in red. Nothing about them sits well with me. Grrrrrrr 🙂


After 4 rounds Mercedes was equal to Ferrari and Lewis was leading the Championship – after all that was bad for Lewis and after Mercedes had worst start to year in 5 years.

Result are manipulated in so many ways and Safety Car deployment is in 1st place right now – 5 races and SC in all of them. Soon you can count SC in in your strategy.

What is the purpose of F1? Maybe it was the need to find out the quickest guy, but right now? – it’s all business and owners have allready failed to hide the real purpose.

Who is the fan of F1? – Blindfolded poor guy with hope that someone will fill the void in his life.


If the only purpose of F1 was to fin out who the quickest guy was….I’d say it’s a whole lot of money wasted on car developement. Why isn’t everybody just driving the same car?


There are definitely some dubious uses of the SC/VSC, but if you genuinely think the lap 1 incident at Spain wasn’t worthy of a SC I don’t know what to tell you…



With that sort of attitude, might I suggest,

“Out the door, line on the left, one cross each”.


Interesting comment.

I feel similarly.

I have predicted the pattern of ‘the competition’ for two years running, and mostly right for three.

It is a very strong pattern!

Merc manages the competition, allowing the first few races to be divided between it’s main rivals to promote the illusion of competition.

But the typical nature of the corporate board room bean counters is also incredibly predictable.

You have the bean-counting faction which understands that the out right domination by Merc will result in the entire market taking a beating, thus losing on the Return of Investment (ROI) of the F1 team project, and you have the really uppity types who can’t get the clenching of one particular muscle under control, and are afraid of losing.

The main challenge for Tonto, keeping all these factions reasonably mollified by taking the ‘appropriate amount’ of ready-to-got upgrades out of the bag, to make it look close, but to win when they want.

Shortly RB will take over as the prime pretender behind Merc.

It must be noted the sharp change in fortunes for Merc with the change of the type construction, and anybody with any free thought, who also follows this circus ought to be just a little bit curious about the correlation.

What, specifically, was the offered evidence from FIA and Pirelli, for the change in construction?



Dean, your predictions have come true, but only because they are incredibly vague! I assume you will take credit for this years “Mercedes will win some races, but lose some as well” beauty coming true? Spooky!


you are mistaken


I don’t think so Dean, maybe you should run those oh so specific predictions of yours by me one more time….


I don’t necessarily see this as a trend. Merc focussed most of their pre-season testing in Barca on the medium tyre. Both Lewis and Valteri drove well during this race, but i see it as an extension of the knowledge and performance they gained during testing.

It seems that the Merc is on the way up, but i wouldn’t say they are back to their domineering best just yet….at least i hope so for the sake of the sport!


I think Bottas did extremely well to first get on the front row and then second place after getting past.


Great report as always JAF1 👏👍


Where there’s a Romain, there will always be a safety car.


HaHa RGs job is at threat if he doesn’t stop.


All roads lead to Romain, even if he’s not on them initially.


They started winning races in after 2013 because they signed Hamilton


Plainly not true! in 2013 he won 1 race while his teammate won 2. Mercedes mastery of the new engine regs took care of the rest post 2013.


Umm, Rosberg plainly inherited Lewis’s win at Silverstone in 2013. Before Lewis’s tire blowout and then Seb’s gearbox failing, he was making no impression in that race. Rosberg won in Monaco, where pole is 90% of the win. He had nothing like Lewis’s form at Silverstone or in Hungary. Wolff has chalked up his Hungary ’13 win to a bit of “Hamilton magic”.

Let’s just say he was a huge upgrade over Schumacher at the time.


Shumi never had an equal teammate but still the best except for poles.

Vettel is close to Hamilton in wins and poles. I would like to see both those guys in that red Ferrari. I know they would win the WCC but who knows which is really best without a straight fight in the same car. Will it ever happen? There is nothing between those guys but Alonso does seem the fastest I have seen discarding Damn lies and stats.


Hamilton already proved faster than Alonso in 2007


So when an F1 team gets a new designer or technical guy it usually takes a couple of years to see improvement but Hamilton can do it instantly?

Those Neweys and Allison guys must be overpaid muppets.

The only thing weird there is that Rosberg had twice as many wins as Hamilton that year, how do you explain that?


Your right those guys are over paid. I would do it much cheaper.


Jimothy, go back and actually watch those races, and it wxplains itself.


TimW, do you actually believe that Ham was responsible for turning Merc into a race winning car in his first year?

If so then LOL


nope not at all, never said that, never implied it, never said anything that could possibly lead you to believe that I thought that was true. Try again Jimothy…….


Explained by the fact that Hamilton was driving a car that had essentially been built around Rosberg & Schumacher ( and not Hamilton’s style). All this, while adjusting to a new team and environment.

Hamilton still beat Rosberg on 2013, despite all this


Hamilton can drive anything as long as it’s fast.


Rosberg inherited the second of his 2 race wins at silverstone… a race which Hamilton was dominating until his tyre exploded. Lewis also beat Rosberg that year in qualifying head to head and scored more points than him.


Richie, Silverstone was a double inheritance for Nico, first Lewis had the puncture bumping him up to second, then Seb’s alternator failed giving him the lead.


Rossberg said it took everything to beat Hamilton in 2016 and he was one good driver IMO and a smart guy too.

Smarter than Hamilton too. Who really wants to travel that much? I like travel but not that much.


Richie..the point remains -Merc didn’t start winning “because they signed Hamilton”…


It has helped no?


Come now Richie! Facts have no place in this argument! 😁

Jonathan Powell

Its just a formula which is too much about ‘conserving’…whether its tyres or engines.

Raikkonen has a problem with his engine so Vettel has to go easy on his,nevermind the fact theyve only got 3 races for the entire season anyway!

And theres been 2 races this season when the driver in 2nd has been closing down the driver in 1st place but hasnt been able to maintain and capitalise on his advantage as he has had to save his tyres and engine…

Its just ruining the racing and show as a whole!


Yeah I get that. Lift and coast and so on I don’t like but Its the same in all series right now. NASCAR Indy and F1 have these issues.

I hate lift and coast but I don’t know a way to make it go away.


F1 has always been about conserving the car in one way or another! What has changed is that now we can measure and know how much to conserve. The biggest gain in reliability is down to the auto shift gearboxes. Before these a missed gear meant wrecking the engine. The out and out racers you claim to love simply broke their cars more than those that took more care. It was a bit like the mechanical equivalent of vettels stupid attempt at overtaking Bottas in Baku – looked good but doomed to fail.


2004 driver had a fresh V10 for every Grand Prix, as much fuel as he wanted and as many tires as he wanted.

What were they conserving then?


Oh an 2004 was a belting season. Thank god we don’t have them like that anymore.

And they were still conserving. It’s just all relative.


Richy, ha ha yes who can forget ‘2004 the peak of F1’?! Michael won 12 out of the first thirteen races!


I dunno? Either way would it make any real difference?


Viewing figures, would be my guess.


make your mind up Sebee, on another thread you are complaining about current F1 profligacy, and here you are saying it was great that the teams spent so much in the good old days!


Your love for the sport?


Still tyres and fuel! – more fuel = still more weight, you still want to use the minimum possible over the race distance, plus not burning through tyres still = less time in pits and/or an advantage against your rival. Its not like they were doing 8 stop races because that would be too slow, they still had to manage everything!

Also … 2004 one of the most single driver dominant and dull seasons in the sport … not a great example.


What you’re saying is that in 2004 saving engine, tires and fuel was an option not a mandated necessity as it is now.

You don’t think it takes away from the spectacle?

“Hey team playing go out there and remember, giving it your all to the absolute limit is not an option!”

You want to watch that?


Anyone know just why Ferrari pushed hard for the 3 engines per season rule??

We were told at the time that they were confident of their reliability. What was that confidence based on exactly if we are now looking at almost certain penalties in the latter races of this year??


@Phil Glass.

What was that confidence based on? You ask.

Well I have an idea that tends to make sense of it and it goes like this. At some point last season Vettel, or perhaps Riakonnen, will have noticed having to wait for their automated acceleration system to come to the end of its duty cycle. During which time and I’ll bet Kimi, realised an advantage. Hence new paddle!

This year, in Australia at least, poling the car was always going to be advantageous but not entirely necessary armed as such. Vettel as we saw, only needed to be a distant threat, enough to coax Merc into pitting, in order to capitalise or perhaps more accurately ‘hoodwink’ Mercedes, which is precisely what happened.

The paddle in Vettel’s car is a kill switch to shorten the duration of the acceleration system to enable full engine power output sooner. Now that’s an advantage and rather a sneaky one, sneaky enough to wall the wonder kid and pinch a few top slots on the grid.

Most importantly it’s an advantage that doesn’t place any excess strain on the engine, which I’ll bet Ferrari were hoping Mercedes would do in order to catch them.



The paddle in Vettel’s car is a kill switch to shorten the duration of the acceleration system to enable full engine power output sooner. Now that’s an advantage and rather a sneaky one, sneaky enough to wall the wonder kid and pinch a few top slots on the grid.

What you’ve just wrote , does not make technical sense. Vettel wants more acceleration to the PU. if he does not get it he runs the risk of being “slipstreamed” and overtaken. the only way you could do that is when your opponent does not have a chance to overtake you because of the track characteristics that makes it difficult to overtake.



I don’t mean to be rude Kay-Gee but you need to get your head around this automated acceleration system. I’ll explain.

The power output from these engines, or power units, is such that in pulling away from most corners the drivers would be hard pressed not to spin up the rear tyres on acceleration. In fact they’d be damn near impossible to drive. To combat the situation Adrian Newey developed a way to to give his drivers, Vettel at the time, an advantage over other drivers, who had to struggle as best they could. This was back in 2009 – 2013. Anyway, Mercedes were tipped off to it early to mid 2013 and it’s still in use.

Let’s say a racing car is howling towards a hairpin at 200 mph. At a given point decided by the driver he takes his foot off the throttle for a little bit of regeneration and then closer to the corner he hits the brakes. For a hairpin he’s going to press very hard on that pedal and that brake actuation dictates the acceleration mode away from that corner. On a less severe corner he isn’t going to press the brakes as hard, so a different acceleration mode is automatically selected for him, through and because of his precise braking.

When the car is moving slowly the driver simply floors the throttle and the system does the rest. However now, the Red Bulls, Ferraris and only very recently Mercedes also have seen that when a higher speed has been reached the tyres are less likely to spin up and wreck rubber, so all of them have adopted this kill switch. It appears that what was once an aide has become a hindrance or a 2x advantage.

Think back to Bahrain and Verstappen’s qualifying antics. He rounded the corner at the end of pit straight and after the heaving braking his acceleration system would have been holding his rear wheels just off spinning up until that is he hit his kill switch, full engine power straight to the rear wheels. That is the bit you need to get your head around. Anyway his rears spun up when he was technically still cornering and away to the barriers he went. Bottas on the other hand could see that passing Vettel was pointless because it was obvious to him that at that time that the Ferrari was faster than his car away from corners. He could slowly catch him along a straight but by the time both cars would have been nearing corner four Vettel would have simply repassed him due to having and using his kill switch, for a more prolonged use of full engine power.

A lot of people don’t give Bottas the credit he deserves, he’s a level headed good solid racer.

I hope that helps Kay-Gee.


Its becoming an endurance formula not a racing formula. Conserve engines, fuel, tires, gearbox, etc- all good for the environment (except for the poor folks where they mine lithium for batteries). Save some money and race Priusi if F1 wants to do road relevance, if you can drift a Prius around Eau Rouge you are a true driver (better yet, my big red Dodge Grand Caravan). LOL


That opening stint from Hamilton was GOD mode


GOD Mercedes engine mode you mean?



Extremely Pleased you’re still around…

God, as you infer had nothing to do with it!

Now this may seem a little outrageous but actually it’s Party mode. Yes! It’s made a reappearance. Mercedes have beefed it up and it is now winning races and what’s more, it’ll keep winning races until Ferrari come up with the same.

The sham with the tyres was a blind for its reintroduction nothing more. What feasible difference would not having 4mm’s worth of wear make to a racing tyre? Quite Right! None at all. Anyway, far be it for me to upset the equilibrium, more about this whoopee mode.

I trust you remember the banned McLaren Brake Steer, well this whoopee mode is the exact opposite of that. What they’ve done is redesign the IVT, or torque multiplier they’re using between the turbine and compressor, and placed one to each side the differential at the rear, to force the outside wheel to rotate faster than the inside wheel, in corners. Rear wheel steer. The cockpit steering wheel controls the lock of the front axel whereas the steering column controls the amount of torque applied to the outside rear wheel. When the steering is set to dead straight ahead the system becomes inoperable, so that it cannot in any way be interpreted as a ninth gear.

I hope that clears things for you Sebee.



Are you sure they are driving the rear wheels in this fashion?

I thought the rule states that electrical power is applied at the crank. This would surely be a breach of that rule and not exactly something you could hide from the scrutineers.



You’ve written quite a poser of a comment with that one Jake; for short!

To answer it adequately we need to remind ourselves occasionally that this year is all about reliability. Now it’s a fact that this sport is largely being led by Adrian Newey. Everything he comes up with is quickly emulated on all other cars, including the cars of Mercedes and I know to a little what’s in that car.

Mercedes will have battened down the hatches on anything to do with the engine, that has to be a given. So they will naturally enough have turned their attention to road holding. They already have Newey’s magic front axel, whereas the caster angle self-adjusts as stress builds up to initiate the adjustment on corner entry, so what better way to enhance that facility?

Now! I have never been anywhere near a scrutineering bay but I would imagine these people do not completely strip these cars down and I’ll bet Mercedes have everything nicely tucked away from Prying eyes anyway. As for paperwork, tech drawings, schematics and so forth I know even less. Nonetheless the gearbox and differential are housed within a stressed carbon fibre carrier and two IVT’s, plate-like by design could easily be ensconced within it. Furthermore these devices are a mechanical item and can be direct electric or shaft driven, so the permutations concerning rule workaround are endless.

Let’s face it Jake, anyone winning these days is cheating. Now when did I first hear that phrase?


Wow, interesting. That’s like this SH (Super Handling) thing Honda puts on their cars. I think they are the only ones with a product out there that does this torque vectoring to the outside wheel.

Thanks for the info. This is what I’m talking about! People here appreciate it because it makes you think about what they are doing possibly.

These damn engine modes are a free for all Driver Aid Buffet!


No, I get it RayClowes. It’s a mechanical system, not a software one as is the case for the rest of it. But you have to understand that all the lovely torque of the electric system is now controlled by software and deployed by software. Many also don’t understand that the recovery components is also automated and depending on the amount of power drawn by the system the resistance of that motor increases, and thus the braking increases. This could easily be used as an automated braking bias control, preset to engine modes and perfectly executed by the software each and every lap.

Bottom line, software or mechanical, they are putting all this additional driver aid stuff in driver’s hands. When we as fans don’t understand most of i. They don’t like to talk about it much either. We imagine it’s an engine connected to gear box, steering and that’s it. That’s really how it should be. The software should be minimal and fixed for the entire season, locked in a ROM. The driver should be the software. That is what we want, human driver excellence, not software mode excellence.



The final line of your reply tends to imply a misunderstanding may exist.

The IVT or torque multiplier device is a separately driven item. In the case of f1 the motive impetus is electricity but obviously it could easily be hydraulic or even electronically assisted, regenerative pedal power!

In short it is not an engine mode.

Best of Luck for the future, My Friend.



He’s the greatest of all time.

Ashish Sharma

That was two set-backs in the first part of the race for Bottas,……, he must be wondering when his luck would change.

The one thing Ferrari need to learn from Mercedes is how to “big-up” their Number 2 driver. Bottas has driven worse than Kimi and has had less bad luck than him*, just matched a struggling Hamilton and yet Mercedes/media keep saying how he is driving well and will be retained, while there are murmurs of replacing Kimi with LeClerc.

If this race is not an outlier, it is going to be very bad not just for 2018, but even 2019-2020, and I must say that I am saddened to see Mercedes move away from the two best-and-equal drivers approach.

* By my reckoning, Bottas messed up three races (Australia crash, couldn’t overtake in Bahrain and lost the start and limped home in the fastest car in Spain, and was unlucky twice in China [SC] and Baku[debris]).

Kimi has made two major mistakes – poor qualifying in Baku [6th], and lost the start in China, has been unlucky 4 times Aus [SC], Bahrain[Pits], Baku[Perez and Ocon], Spain[Engine], not counting Ferrari’s poor strategy choice( Le Pelton Domestique) in Bahrain.


Yep but people will just look at the points table and conclude he isn’t delivering.



why did Ferrari not fit a softer tyre for the third stint? Would Vettel not have done better on Softs?



Something interesting to note about the tire change. Vettel was able to run the new and old tires today in testing. He said if they would have used the older tires, they would have been worse off this past Sunday. He said Pirelli made the right decision.


“I think it’s pretty straightforward. Normally you don’t get the chance to revisit these kind of decisions that are made, but I think we did now with the day that we had today. I think the result is that if we had the normal tyres on Sunday, we would have probably been even worse off. I think it was the correct call, and it was our fault not to have the same tyre wear or life as other people.”

Ashish Sharma

@James : It is rare in F1 to see support for your chief competitor. Is this Vettel lining himself for Hamilton’s seat after he retires, or is this the new era of Ferrari-Mercedes collaboration.


Ashish, or is Seb simply telling the truth?

Ashish Sharma

I completely believe he is telling the truth.

My question is why is he telling it. If Vettel/Ferrari just said nothing, given the history of the barely-legal 2013 test, Dr. Marko hinting at a conspiracy, there was going to be nothing but bad press for Mercedes over this.

The standard F1 competitive response has been to use every possible trick, so the comment in the midst of a tight championship battle is rather surprising.

James had said that we would some interesting events as the Ferrari+Merc versus Liberty media battle heats up and I was wondering if this was part of that.


Ashish, I doubt that Seb cares too much about all that political stuff, a driver of his stature doesn’t get told what to say, or what not to say. The blistering on the Ferrari’s tyres in the test was clear to see, so no point trying to deny it.


>> Mercedes Spanish GP domination: An outlier or the start of a trend?

Neither. Just a forgone conclusion


So, if all the teams knew the tire was coming… isn’t it possible that only one team thought to build their car around the expected change?


Ctp, if Mercedes did build their car around the new tyres, then they have made a huge error as they are only going to be used for three races.



Appreciate all the graph and charts and hindsight. Have been wondering how you watch the race. Assume you have a press box with lots of computer screens and live feeds from multiple cameras? Sometimes situated overlooking pit lane?

I usually get stuck in a nice seat with the wife, who does not like to mill around. At a race, for spectators there is usually not the information available as at home on the tv, even with the big stadium screens and replays of certain actions. I’m not big on fiddling with an iPhone when cars are streaming past. I just love to hear and feel the action, even if I don’t know every car’s position! I would have to put it all together later!


Mate to understand what’s going on during the race, you need your TV to watch the race and a device (computer or smart phone) to see the live timing from or through their app. There is a free version without sector times and there’s paid version (£26 or so for one year subscription) with sector times and many more info. You can understand races much more that way.


No just the same TV monitor as you plus timing screens from F1App. We don’t get all the fancy stuff teams get


My read was that Hamilton finally locked into reading the car and had most of the race to experiment with tuning and understanding the car. He said something to the effect that although it looked an easy race, he was working hard trying things, in other words, he had a very easy race. Now that is really ominous for Ferrari, as they gave Mercedes a free test day, while they were focused on gremlins and survival which showed in their strategy. It sounds like the build quality issues of the Ferrari of second half of 2017 have carried across onto 2018 – I can’t really understand why the teams pushed ahead with the 3 engine rule (actually I can from the Mercedes perspective – the team that knows to the mile how long its components should last and have a pretty good idea that they are going to be least engine penalty points at the end of the year).


That Hamilton agreed to do a test day on Tuesday and ran more than two race distances suggests that he still has plenty of work to do to get a firm grip on reading that car (or the tyres). The stars may have aligned for him on Sunday, but his interviews made it sound like he was uncertain that they would every weekend – which is where they need to be,


I’m sure that their latest diva will still remain a struggle to optimise, but I guess the point is that in learning about something, when something doesn’t work, you can practise as much as you like and you learn nothing. Once you get something working, then the practise leads to improvements.

I think that in the first races, Mercedes were fighting the car, and therefore whatever they learnt about set up was of little use in the long run. Once Lewis was settled with the car, then they can make a step change in set up progress because they can understand what the changes are doing. Sure Monaco may be an unlikely win, it is always a lottery.

The other ominous thing for the other teams is Lewis in the cool down room essentially apologising for not giving Bottas a tow to get him into second – those two are intent on working together.


Perhaps Mercedes is finally getting a handle on their intricate suspension set up. They’ve been battling this since the beginning of last year.


All the mombojambo about the tyres should stop imo. All the teams had to cope with it and some did better then others. As usual. Regarding Merc being dominant henceforth, no way! I think that Monaco will prove that. So, in my opinion, some tracks will suit Fer, some Merc and some RB. But pit strategy will probably be decisive again as it has been so many times.


Mercedes will be lucky to get p4 in Monaco. They won’t even be in contention for the race win or pole


Thanks for the sanity in the analysis James as other sites/pundits keep talking about Merc putting pressure on Pirelli to change tyres so it suited them when it was something all the teams wanted and agreed to from before for the specified tracks. Also good to see what was happening behind the scenes with Ferrari re: Vettel told to take it easy with the engine. Explains alot. Refreshing as usual. Keep it up.


Well said. As ever great analysis and insight by James.

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