Insight: The decisions behind the key talking points of the F1 French Grand Prix
Strategy Report
Posted By: James Allen  |  26 Jun 2018   |  2:37 pm GMT  |  101 comments

Going to a new circuit, or one that hasn’t been used during the F1 racing life of most of the competitors, presents multiple challenges and the return of F1 to Paul Ricard was a good example, with strategists and engineers on the limit working out the tiny details that can add up to a lot of race time and positions won or lost.

For example, the fuel consumption. If you carry one lap more of fuel than you need for the whole race on this track, that adds up three seconds of race time lost.

In a tight battle that can be a place lost. With no data from previous races to fall back on, the top teams rely on their sophisticated simulators, but even these calculations can be thrown by an enigmatic Mistral wind and there are dozens more considerations that can add up to a lot of time. Tyre life was another, with estimates of 20 laps for the ultrasoft, 30 for the super and over 40 for the soft.

Strategy was central to the key moment of the race; Sebastian Vettel, starting on ultrasoft tyres against the supersofts on the front row Mercedes, was desperate to capitalise on the extra grip to jump the Silver Arrows at the start, his best chance of getting control of the race.

He tried to insist on a move on Valtteri Bottas for second place into Turn 1. He hit the Finn, both dropped to the back and gifted Lewis Hamilton one of the easiest of his 65 Grands Prix wins.

In the melee behind, as cars dived left and right to avoid the two spinning title contenders, Max Verstappen was able to run wide and come out clearly in second place while Carlos Sainz in third set himself up for a strong result, as did Magnussen and Leclerc in fifth and sixth respectively.

Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari’s sole remaining front runner, dropped to seventh and was on a recovery drive from there. Team strategy brought him a podium.

Impressive, but Leclerc doesn’t take the max on a day of chances in the midfield

Charles Leclerc scored points for Sauber for the fourth race out of five, something the team did not manage in 2016 and 2017 combined. The impressive rookie, who seems destined for a Ferrari drive sooner rather than later, had qualified eighth, ahead of Nico Hulkenberg’s Renault and both Force Indias, which would normally be fighting for top ten slots.

But he wasn’t able to take out as much as he would have liked from race day, after a mistake cost him the chance to deploy his Plan A strategy.

The Haas cars, also starting behind him, were half a second a lap faster than the Sauber in raw pace, so the outlook for the race was that he would do well to finish 11th, as he also had to contend with two team cars from Force India being able to work a pincer on strategy. You can keep one quick car behind you on a track like Paul Ricard, but not two.

After profiting from the startline chaos, which also eliminated Ocon’s Force India, Leclerc’s strategy path was made clearer. He was able to look forwards rather than backwards and the tactic was to try to undercut Magnussen at the pit stop.

But as he approached the decisive moment, he made a mistake and ran off track, which allowed Hulkenberg to pass him. Hulkenberg was playing the long game on a reverse strategy, having started on the hardest of the three compounds, so now the Sauber strategy had to change to extending the stint as much as possible.

This was because Leclerc no longer had a safe gap behind to Alonso and the Williams cars, which were particularly hard to overtake. So Leclerc went to Lap 31 and then pitted for supersofts, to maximise the pace and go for it.

He cleared Hartley when Ericsson pitted and forced Toro Rosso to cover the stop and from then it was a run to the finish to stay ahead of Grosjean, whose wretched run continued with more incidents and penalties.

Leclerc’s tenth place was hard fought and, against the pace of the cars around him, again very impressive.

But he would have been even higher up without the mistake before the pit stops.

Red Bull choose to cover rather than attack

We have grown used to seeing Red Bull being one of the most aggressive teams when it comes to race strategy. But in France they played a more passive game, with Max Verstappen’s strategy being more focussed on closing out second place and covering off Ferrari, rather than trying to find a way to attack the leader Hamilton.

This is fair enough; the Mercedes was the fastest car on this track and Ferrari had lost its chance of victory with mistakes from Raikkonen in qualifying and Vettel at the start of the race.

As we have said many times, only perfect execution will bring the title to Ferrari this season and they’ve left something on the table on several occasions, such as this one. Vettel slipped from a one-point championship lead over Hamilton to a 14 point deficit in their duel to be only the sport’s second five-time world champion.

As for Red Bull, Verstappen’s strategy was dictated by Vettel’s progress. He was brought in early on Lap 25 to go onto a set of softs to reach the finish, emerging just ahead of Vettel.

This allowed Raikkonen to extend his stint on ultrasoft tyres and with Daniel Ricciardo unable to extract the maximum from his car’s performance due to some debris in the front wing, Raikkonen’s extended stint in clear air set him up for a chance to beat the second Red Bull to the podium.

Red Bull avoided the ultra soft tyre in the race, but having managed a long opening stint on it remarkably to Lap 34, Raikkonen was able to attack on supersofts for the second part of the race.

Vettel, on worn tyres, was instructed to let Raikkonen through and he caught and passed Ricciardo in the final laps of the race for a podium finish.

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.

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 Leclerc’s race, see how Hulkenberg gets passed and obliges him to extend the stint.

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I would have liked to have seen one of the RedBulls have a go on the ultrasofts. The decision not to seemed unusually conservative for a team that commonly is more aggressive than the others 2 top teams. I am also intrigued as to why RedBull didn’t pit Ricciardo for a new front wing and a set of ultrasofts or, if they didn’t have them available, a set of supersofts. Especially when Vettel pitted on lap 39, which locked in now worse than 4th, and there was still a gap to Raikkonen. Sure, not enough to get out ahead, but enough to be close and mount a challenge on new and faster tyres.

As it was RedBull simply played it safe all weekend, conservative, which is just not what they are all about.


I’m just not seeing LeClerc having enough experience for a Ferrari drive in 2019, I think he needs another year learning the trade. If Vettel doesn’t win the title this year or next I see him retiring at the end of 2019. For 2020, LeClerc as team leader with one year’s Ferrari experience, I also find that unlikely. I’m leaning more and more to Ricciardo as a strong possibility at Ferrari for 2019, 2020 and 2021.

If Vettel wins this year and next I see him sticking around for 2020 in an attempt to emulate his idol Schumacher on 7 titles. Without that attraction, 4 might have to be enough for him.


As much as I’d like to see it, I don’t think Ricciardo has a hope of going to Ferrari. As for Vettel, he will keep going at Ferrari until they turf him. If he wins perhaps he would retire then, but I wouldn’t bet on it. It goes against their history, but I think Leclerc will go to Ferrari, and he will work for Vettel for the first year, but for 2020 on it would be equal footing. A bit like Stewart & Cevert was in 1973, with Stewart acknowledging that Francois had the pace on him sometimes, but had dutifully played the deputy. Leclerc has the big-moment temperament, that he could handle a title bout. Much like Hamilton on his debut. Ferrari know that he’s their gem. It’s not often that a driver wins in their first title fight, so better to get him in, experience that title fight, and then pave the road to future success that much faster.


Let teams use any mixture of benzene, alcohol, aviation fuel or Nitromethane to spice it up, no fuel saving allowed, in fact, penalize those who do not use a certain amount of fuel. Put a pin on this note, use in case the earlier notes did not have the required effect.


Make everyone at Liberty look at the movie “Speed”. Then arrange the cars accordingly, a minimum speed, or the machine blows to smithereens. Take notes Liberty!


A street race in Hong Kong. So that everybody will get dirty air, even the leader. Take notes Liberty.

Tornillo Amarillo

We talk a lot about Leclerc and Vettel was chosen “Driver of the day”, but to be honest, Hamilton approached the weekend in a new circuit with clarity, he did pole and won as a Champion, now leading the standings in the process.

His challenge was also to win in every circuit and he did it. Hats off!!

The same thing we can say about the “new Max”, he drove clean and P2 is an excellent result for him and for Red Bull. Well done!!


There are special rules around acknowledging Hamilton’s achievements. You should know that. If he hasn’t managed to at least lap himself, then you can forget any accolade coming his way. 😉


From the diagram, it is clear to see how much easier Vettel overtakes than Bottas. The latter spends many laps behind cars before overtaking while Vettels seems to pass them as if they were getting blue flags.


A damaged floor would do tht


Its odd that the experienced F1 cameramen did not pick up the damage to Danny Ric’s front wing. They are normally all over that sort of thing.

Its very clear from the chart that RIC was faster than Max and gaining on him until that damage was sustained just before the pit stop.

Did anyone notice the pit crew looking at the front wing during the pit stop?

It all seems rather odd to me


Agreed Squiggs,

I saw a photo sequence showing the inside top vane missing on each side of Dans front wing. You also see one of the mechanics pointing at it during his stop. Given that the RB pit strategy put Max out infront of Vettel and Dan out behind Vettel, and that there was plenty of room behind Vettel…i have no idea why they wouldn’t have changed his wing, given the place was lost.

I hope Dan is taking all this into consideration at the moment, as once he resigns it will be par for the course!


such a chronically boring race and season. ive had some of the races on the tv but barely paid attention to any of it. probably watched a handful of laps intently the whole season. it really is getting to the point where you can watch the start then just switch it off. its a shame to be so negative about the sport but its where its gotten to.


TimW reckons it’s as good as it has ever been.


LukeC. TimW doesn’t view the past with rose tinted spectacles. I watched all the Grand Prix in the eras people like you get misty eyed over, and I remember how incredibly dull some of them were. If you asked me what the races are like now, I would say “some are good, some are boring”, if you had asked me the same question 10 years ago, or 20 or 30, I would have given you the same answer. So you’re right, it is as good (and bad) as it has ever been.


I disagree. The eras we are misty-eyed about were better even if they were bad because the cars looked better, sounded better, the competition was closer, we had real circuits, real corners and real drivers, and they even raced when it rained — without a thong.


Luke, sometimes the competition was close, sometimes it wasn’t, some of the drivers were great, some of them were not, some of the circuits were different to now, some the same, getting the picture? You’re wasting your time trying to convince me that things I saw with my own eyes never happened.


@ kenneth

Oh no, I didn’t watch the race live but rather from the telly.

As for Kimi, it sure is possible to keep faster cars behind at certain tracks



Pursuant to our discussion on the other thread about the benefits of starting on pole and therefore being in the best position to avoid possible first corner carnage (because you have more options to steer a clear pathway), you came back with this:

“I meant to say that Vet being out front [on pole] didn’t help him avoid trouble at Singapore. I agree being out front is obviously the best place to be, but it’s no guarantee that some one won’t get overly optimistic and take you out.”

Of course starting on pole is no guarantee of anything but to draw an analogy with Vettel and Singapore last year? Mate, he destroyed his own race starting from pole. Not a good analogy me thinks.


James – is there any possible truth to arrivebenes claims about Ferrari having the pace to win? Admittedly Lewis probably wasn’t pushing as hard as he could but would be interesting if someone was able to analyze the lap times allowing for fuel/ tyre/deg correction and come up with a theory on what might have been.


How about for some races they announce after qualifying a reverse grid.This would create some excitement and passing cause otherwise these stories are just pointless as the cars just trundle around in their starting place a couple of seconds apart in dirty air


If they did reverse grids then you would need to award points for qualifying, for say the top 3-5 spots … otherwise why qualify high?


It was a good race at a very good track. Unfortunately most of the chatter from those that went will be about the traffic jams, muddy car parks , poor catering and worse toilets. Paul Ricard has just reinforced Liberty’s drive to have races in destination cities which is a crying shame as very few street circuits will ever provide the race quality that this track has the potential to deliver.


Perhaps that was the point? ‘Traditional circuits are rubbish for fans therefore let’s go to cities instead’. It’s a tactic often used by governments to get their way – run a down a public service, declare it unfit for purpose and then sell it into private ownership.


Oh snap, a conspiracy theory I can get behind…I knew there was a deeper reason I couldn’t buy a jambon et fromage…


I’m not one for conspiracy theories by and large, but it can’t be that hard to get fans in and out of a circuit and feed them – and 65k is fewer than they get at football stadia pretty much every week!



Do you know, why Ricciardo, Sainz, or Magnusen didn’t go for softer off the two available compounds at their pit stops? If the ultrasofts easily lasted half distance, or more, on heavy fuel load, why go with soft, instead of supersoft (SAI and MAG), or ultrasoft in Ricciardos case? That doesn’t make any sense (at least not to me).



Did they have new supers available?


Fun aside – there were three Alonso fans in front of us in the grandstands; during the VSC, Hamilton slowed massively in front of us, and they got out of their seats and cheered because they thought he was retiring 😂

The spirit of 2007 lives on…


Andrew, did any Lewis fans cheer when Alonso retired from p12? I doubt they even noticed…..


Hamilton acted unpleasant and unfair not only in 2007, you know.

TBH, I cannot remember a single season that can be described as conscientious for him.


Lol, because you were looking so hard to award him a “conscientious season” laurel, weren’t you?!

Save the bile. I’m pretty sure most here know what you’re about by now.


I know, he acted disgracefully in 2007, imagine not letting Alonso win races when he was ahead of him on merit. Shameful behaviour.

Unless I’m mistaken, Hamilton has never tried to block a teammate in the pits to stop him getting pole, blackmail his boss or have a teammate deliberately crash for him to win a race, so I really hope we’re not trying to call him and Alonso equals in the sportsmanship stakes.


As we’re talking about Fernando, check out this great article on him from earlier in the week:

There’s a saying in politics that if they’re laughing at you, you’re toast. I’m glad that Alonso’s “LeMans’ greatest victory” quote was met with laughter when he said it. It was a silly thing to say.

I’m constantly in two minds with Alonso. I do feel bad for him, but then he says stupid stuff and it doesn’t help his image at all, so then if he’s taken down a notch it’s fine by me. He should have more than two titles, he should have more wins. Yet I can also see why he does not.


Hamilton did sort of start that Hungary bust up as it was Alonso’s turn to lead qualifying and Hamilton didn’t let him through.

Still Alonso’s reaction was unacceptable and sadly for him he probably would have been champion at the end the year if he hadn’t done that.


True, although the team let Hamilton go out first, and according to Hamilton he would have let him through if he was closer and didn’t have Kimi right behind him. That’s a bit thin admittedly, but like you say not nearly as bad as Alonso did.

It is funny looking back on it that the fuel burning phase caused the whole thing – McLaren were basically forced to give a better strategy to one driver for qualifying at each race.


I don’t think too many non-Hamilton fans are too sad to see him retire from a race – particularly when he had it his own way out front.


I know, I’m so sick and tired of Hamilton winning one races in a row.


KRB… you made a great point and then ruined it by posting a link to that rag. Got to agree with you but the Daily Mail is a shockingly bad source of anything.


Sorry, don’t know the standing of UK papers, or only loosely. Guardian as left wing, Telegraph as right, etc.

Really I just posted that one for the pictures.


Krb, they are all as bad as each other.


They haven’t got much else to cheer.


Just the facts… From 8 Grand Prix‘s thus far this year Kimi’s had to retire from 2 through no fault of his own Of the 6 he completed he has 4 podiums Retirement what?!


… and he’s now podiumed (is that a word? Is now 😃) at more circuits than anyone, with 30.

The only circuit/GP contested without a podium is India (“I like Indian food”). He’s contested 27 separate Grands Prix, and 31 different circuits.

The 5 GP’s with multiple circuit podiums (but 1 circuit shared between GP’s) are:

JPN – Suzuka & Fuji

USA – Indianapolis & Austin

EUR – Nurburgring & Valencia

GER – Hockenheim & Nurburgring

FRA – Magny-Cours & Le Castellet


Well said Joel!


Any driver with a Formula 1 Superlicence could drive that Ferrari (their best car in many years) in the front pack and finish on the podium more often than not.

The difference is that he is there for one reason, to help Seb win a Driver’s championship. It’s blatantly obvious that Ferrari don’t give a stuff about the Constructor’s title or they’d have a driver in there doing what the car is quite easily capable of in EVERY race!

With Rosberg gone last year, they should have won the Constructor’s title at a canter!

Kimi is living on charity alone at Ferrari and it’s growing more and more lame and demeaning to watch every week.

It took two top tier cars crashing and one to lose chunks of it’s front wing to HELP him scrape into 3rd. That’s no feat of brilliance and skill, it’s dumb luck and good fortune. Nothing more, nothing less.

The fact that, for the first time since Adam was chasing Eve around the Garden of Eden, Ferrari may be thinking of employing a newbie kid who has the experience of less than half of a season to drive one of their cars says it all.

Anyone with a strong neck and big balls could drive these cars! Everything is done for them now, just steer it and push a pedal. Even the clutch is on the steering wheel.

It’s time for a Constructor’s title at Maranello.

If Kimi is there next year, Ferrari should be sued by the despairing tifosi for gross negligence and contrived mismanagement. 😆


Ferrari lack of ambition is becoming quite strange considering they had & still have the car capable of winning the 2 championships.

It is becoming obvious they are about to lose both this year, again.

I know Marchionne is not a laid back, uber patient person, to let both his drivers stuff up like that for 1.5 seasons and do nothing, so it is baffling really.


They still might get it this year anything can happen this is F1 . Everyone knows the best choice out of the available drivers is Daniel but I fear they just want yes sir three bags full sir driver and I don’t want to see that . Kimi and Leclerc would do that . That said I hope for a miracle announcement before that 30th June Ricciardo deadline at the Austrian.GP . Daniel can deal better with Seb than Charles simply because he has greater experience. If Leclerc sign a race driver contract with Ferrari so soon he will put his career into the abyss.


I think you’re right ST!


I think the premise of what you are saying is correct…i haven’t changed my tune…i just don’t think what has been played out in public is directly correlated with the outcome. The supposed june 30 deadline is just a deadline of an option. Even if the parties have come to contract stage, there will be no announcement. Theoretically if they had agreed, Ferarri would presumably insist the timing was beneficial to Kimi’s desires on either a new team or his retirement. Again, presumably, RB are under no timing constraint in pulling Sainz back from Renault, so i doubt they would be in a hurry.

With regard to Leclerc…if that plays out…i think you could not be more right! He will be fodder on toast and seen in an even lesser light than Bottas -he seems to be a better driver at the same stage of his career.


You’ve changed your tune . What’s brought this on?


Given that Kimi’s Ultrasofts lasted for more than the first half of the race, why didn’t those who started on Softs/Supersofts put on Ultras for the second half of the race? Seems like they would have been faster and would have lasted?


According to the tyre chart, those who started on yellows (or switched to then on the first lap, did between 37 to 51 laps on them

The reds lasted 25 to 40! laps (most in the high 30’s)

And the “Qualifying” (the charts words not mine) tyres lasted 26 to 38 laps.

What is going on here?

I used to joke that the only difference was the colour of the logo on the side but now I think I might actually be right.


different perform differently on different cars..


Those in the top 10 probably didn’t have fresh ultras left; people outside the top 10 (Hulk, Vandoorne) did exactly that.


“…in their duel to be only the sport’s second five-time world champion…”. Fangio and Schumacher have both already won five (seven in Schumacher’s case) so Hamilton or Vettel would be the third to reach that total.


But Schumacher isn’t a five-time world champion… so technically James is correct!


Yeah, I understood what was being said but it was slightly odd phrasing…it would be saying something like “At Austria Bottas is bidding to become the only one-time race winner this year”


Max Verstappen’s strategy being more focussed on closing out second place and covering off Ferrari, rather than trying to find a way to attack the leader Hamilton.

Would have liked to see Max staying out on supers till lap 30-32 and then change to ultras. Vettel would have passed him but presumably only temporarily. Vettel was still to pit and pay his 5s penalty. Some attack on Ham might have been possible.


Lemwil (Daniel)

Even when Max closed to within 4 or 5 seconds of Lewis Horner was asked by the Sky commentary team over the radio if Max could mount some sort of challenge and the response was that Lewis was toying with RB. Baring mechanical issues the eventual outcome of the race was never really in doubt.


@Adrian, you’re right it’s evident by now that Lewis held back and had more than a margin. I still feel though that on ultras, Max could have reduced his deficit significantly – especially with reduced weight late in the race.


they pit at the optimum times.


👍Boss report as usual JAF1.

Charlie Whiting stated “5 sec Penalty was consistent to the incident at turn one!”

How on earth is that consistent. No steward enquires have had any consistency other than the fact , there has been a bit of limpness regarding incidents with Ferrari. The Italian Press are calling Vettels incident Amatuer Hour and are lambasting him. While Charlie considers this to be a light infringement.

If it was Max Grosjean or KMag or anyone else they’d get alot more.

Bottas must be ice cool if it was a James Hunt, Mansell,Piquet or Senna type driver they would’ve lamped Vettel flat out.


you’re right if you consider hamilton’s 25s penalty to cutting the chicane and returning the position to raikkonen, spa 2008.


That one is still the most painful memory since I started watching formula one. A brilliant, audacious drive that was cancelled out by a rule that was only brought in the following race. That was Max Mosley punishing Ron Denis. Nothing else.


…we should discuss this incident again in detail sometime soon…


yeah, that could be a lengthy one.

Ahmed of Sydney

Stop with th armchair criticism. Vettel had a good start, slipstreamed I’m behind Hamilton and was ahead of Bottas, Hamilton braked early and Bottas closed the gap to box Vettel in. Clever by Mercedez, and Vettel tried to push in behind Hamilton hoping that Bottas would concede. With no downforce he locked up and made contact, a racing incident 9/10.

I like the fact that he is being more aggressive rather than just accepting 3rd place on a dull track with a massive Mercedez advantage!


@ BK … forget the bunch of blind freddy’s and A.D.D sufferers in the stewards room. As long as the FIA are in charge, contrived decisions and results will be the norm.

I would have preferred another scenario to deal with Seb’s repeated brain farts.

Bottas should have thrown a mega Seb-styled tantrum and rushed over to Arrivabene after the race to demand something be done about his reapeated, rookie level, red mist fuelled first corner crashes.

Demotion to Sauber for being a dik … that would have been sweet revenge for Daniil too.

Seb went ballistic at Kvyat and RBR for EXACTLY the same thing … which he has now made his signature move!


Vettel was braking, the tires didnt bite, and Bottas came across (as he should), I think its fair, had Vettel steamed in hot from positions back its a different story but he and Bottas were side by side into the corner. Sure the press lambasted Vettel but the media is partisan and about making money; misfortune is the biggest payoff especially when you attack a star– so I trust my eyes not opinion. In my opinion; I may well be wrong, feel free to drop a cheque in the mail.


Kimi Raikkonen drove a good race,

team strategy or not.

So racing now is more a credit to team bosses than driver? This is the problem nowadays.


It’s a shame Charlie didn’t score more points after his mistake but at least the 2018 Sauber is much better than previous versions therefore he will have more opportunities to bring home a bag full of points for the team

As for Red Bull, they had no choice but to go for the conservative strategy because their monitors had indicated there won’t be rain so decided to cover Vettel

Regards Kimi’s strategy, the fans were surprised to see him make the ultras last so long because we were under the impression the team had made a wrong call during qualy

Also, the fans were surprised when Kimi pulled a move on Ricciardo because Kimi tends to be cautions which in turn means he usually ends up not making the overtake happen


@ Goferet…Were you at the race? I think the fans would’ve been surprised if he hadn’t made the pass considering the immense speed differential between his and Ricciardo’s car.


I was at the race and had no idea Ricciardo had any issues…


@ Andrew M…It was picked up by the Sky commentators and then no doubt they referenced it back to the pit wall who confirmed it. Interesting to see the images posted of first one side then both sides!

Stephen Taylor

Leclerc’s tenth place was hard fought and, against the pace of the cars around him, again very impressive.

But he would have been even higher up without the mistake before the pit stops.

In contrast Kimi drove a clean and error free race after a poor qualy and actually showed good tyre management and speed. When you fighting for a contract with a team like Ferrari small mistakes can cost you big time . Any Ferrari contract for Leclerc isn’t signed and sealed yet so he needs to keep mistakes to a minimum Was this the first little sign of Leclerc feeling the pressure of expectation in the light of the Ferrari rumours despite what was overall a good race? Kimi will oit give up his seat without a fight. I’ve just come up with another theory too that the Leclerc rumours were initiated as an idea by Ferrari and Kimi’s to throw the media off the scent of what is really happening in negotiations remains private -which might be KR being retained. Kimi’s manager is a master negotiator so I wouldn’t rule it out James. They did it with VB a few years ago when everyone was certain that Bottas was joining Ferrari initially only for KR to be retained.


I don’t think Leclerc is under any pressure as a rookie. He can just go for it and afford the odd minor error here or there. As long as he keeps his nose clean and beats his team mate, he’s a shoe in for a drive next season. The Ferrari drive is out of his hands.


raikkonen is not fighting for his position. he has been loyal enough to ferrari so they’ll return the favour unless his performance is obviously poor. we all saw how loyal they were to massa after his big crash.

raikkonen stepped aside for alonso and ferrari will not forget that.


… nor do they forget that Alonso brought them nothing, zilch.


I don’t think fuel economy is an issue anymore, what with 5 odd years of engine development. I doubt with a 3 engines a year rule anyone is running at maximum revs anyway – to try and eke out their motors. The early introduction of Bernd Maylander and his Merc SC keeping the field bunched and slowed to a crawl would also have helped to stretch out the first stint to a sensible length without abusing that front left Pirelli, which takes a huge amount of strain through the ultra fast Signes and Beausset, particularly on full tanks.

I thought the Merc F1 would be the best on a front limited, understeer limited circuit, and so it proved. Add on the fact that Lewis Hamilton always runs brake balance to the rear, which of course means the front brakes transmit less thermal discharge into that all important front left, stopping it from overheating, and the result was………………a clear victory.

It’s become clear: the Merc F1 isn’t so good on stop-start “point and squirt” tracks such as Monaco and Canada, but on high speed “momentum” circuits where high speed apex turn in is more important than low speed turn in and traction, it’s got the edge.


Would you say that Hungary, Singapore, Russia, and Abu Dhabi are more suited to Ferrari and Austria, UK, Germany, Belgium, Japan, US, Mexico and Brazil more suited to Merc? Monza is a bit different due to the stop start nature of the chicanes, but it also has some quick right handers – I guess it all depends on how much juice Merc 2.1 has in reserve!


A lot of people forget that Monza, while have tight silly chicanes, does have some mega fast right hand corners, not least the Lesmo’s and Parabolica. Even the Ascari chicane is quite fast and flowing – and the Ascari determines speed onto the long back straight. So it’s more of a “momentum” circuit – the average lap speed is 150 MPH +.

It’s a no brainer than tight twiddly high downforce Hungary, Singapore and Mexico City are ill suited to the Mercs! The ultra fast high energy sweepers of Silverstone, Spa, Suzuka and Texas are perfect for Hamilton and Bottas. I fully expect Lewis to be on pole at Silverstone, reliability permitting.


RedBull seem to go OK at Hungary, Belgium, Singapore and Suzuka, so I wouldn’t leave them out.


Austria’s pretty stop-start, I’d expect Ferrari to be closer there than France.

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