Analysis: A champion’s performance by F1 team and driver. Can they keep it going?
Strategy Report
Posted By: James Allen  |  10 Jul 2018   |  7:55 pm GMT  |  166 comments

F1 is relentless.

A week after Mercedes made a very public mistake in not pitting Lewis Hamilton under a Virtual Safety Car, there was a big decision to be made in the closing stages of the British Grand Prix; whether to stop under a Safety Car or stay out on worn tyres and defend the track positions gained.

For Ferrari and Red Bull there was no discussion, they must stop. Mercedes decided to stay out. The race leader Sebastian Vettel fell behind Valtteri Bottas as a consequence, but passed him anyway on fresh tyres to win the race. Is it a similar scenario to Austria or something else?

Battle royal between Mercedes and Ferrari at Silverstone

This was one of the most memorable British Grands Prix for years, particularly because of the late race Safety Car that bunched the field up and put some of the players onto fresh tyres for an attacking finish.

Mercedes and Ferrari were closely matched on pace in both qualifying and race conditions. Ferrari had an aerodynamic upgrade on the floor and diffuser which really worked for them, especially on a track where last year they struggled.

This year, with Britain enjoying a heatwave, the temperatures were much higher than anyone could have expected when Pirelli selected the tyre compounds. Track temperatures on race day were up above 50 degrees, which is more like Bahrain than Northampton.

This made the race strategy planning quite a challenge. On paper after Friday’s practice sessions, the fastest way was to do a one stop strategy, pitting around Lap 20 from soft to mediums. Without a Safety Car, that is what the majority would have done.

The outlier was Daniel Ricciardo in the Red Bull, who had been racing Kimi Raikkonen because the Finn lost track position at the start after colliding with Lewis Hamilton. Red Bull switched Ricciardo onto a two stop strategy, when Raikkonen was behind him, believing that the Finn, who had stopped early on Lap 13, would have to stop again, which he probably would have had to do. They avoided the undercut by Ferrari.

Raikkonen’s early stop, combined with the added ten seconds time penalty for causing the collision, meant that he had dropped into traffic and taken some time to clear the Force India, Renault and Sauber midfield cars to close up to Ricciardo.

Unfortunately for Ricciardo a Safety Car was deployed soon after his stop, when Marcus Ericsson crashed heavily. So whereas he had taken his stop at full racing speeds, the others were able to get a cheap pit stop under the Safety Car (10 seconds of race time instead of 22).

It was clear immediately from pictures of Ericsson’s high speed accident that a Safety Car would be deployed. But it took a few seconds for the order to go out.

At the point when the SC was finally deployed. Ferrari had Vettel in the lead and Raikkonen in fourth, Red Bull had Verstappen third and Ricciardo sixth. Mercedes had Bottas in second place and Hamilton fifth.

For Ferrari with Raikkonen on 20 lap old mediums it was a no brainer to stop. Likewise for Vettel on 13 lap old mediums, he had too much to lose by staying out. In that scenario, Bottas and Hamilton would have stopped for new softs and at the restart Vettel would have struggled to hold them behind.

Conversely for Mercedes by staying out, Bottas would get the lead and Hamilton would move up to second. Mercedes had stopped both cars late, clearly looking at a comfortable one stop. Bottas’ tyres were 12 laps old and Hamilton’s just eight laps old. There were 19 laps to the finish of which probably only 15 or 16 would be at racing speeds.

The lap times of both had been strong prior to the Safety Car, in fact Bottas had been gently reeling in Vettel, the Mercedes displaying its historic tendency to be faster on the harder compounds of rubber (although Ferrari has improved a lot in this area).

By stopping Bottas, he would have come out behind Vettel, but on used softs rather than new ones. Unlike the Red Bull and Ferrari drivers, neither Mercedes driver had a new set of soft tyres available.

It’s unusual for Mercedes to miss a detail like that, but in reality they would probably have done the same thing even if those tyres were available. Certainly with Hamilton; with Bottas in hindsight a switch to softs could have netted a podium rather than a fourth.

So it was a long shot for Bottas to win the race, defending against Vettel on new soft tyres.

For Hamilton the gamble was more weighted in his favour. He had been at the back of the field after the Lap 1 collision with Raikkonen and his recovery drive had brought him back up towards the front. By leaving him out until Lap 25, Mercedes put him back out on track into the large gap between Raikkonen and Hulkenberg so he was able to drive in clear air at his maximum pace. But he was still over ten seconds adrift of Raikkonen.

The Safety Car brought him back into contention and by staying out as others pitted, he jumped up to third place. Behind him were Verstappen and Raikkonen on fresh soft tyres. Hamilton questioned this, but Mercedes’ calculations had showed that fifteen laps on relatively fresh mediums, with the Red Bull likely to hold Raikkonen for a while, Hamilton would not be passed from behind.

As it transpired, a second Safety Car was deployed soon after when Grosjean and Sainz collided, leaving just 10 laps of racing after the second restart.

This played into Mercedes’ hands on one side, but on the other they still had the handicap of the medium tyres taking longer to warm up at the restart compared to the softs.

But the gamble also accepted that Hamilton wasn’t going to win the race either. He would finish third, or second if Bottas had problems with the tyres. They were only four laps older than Hamilton’s, but once he was passed by Vettel with a brilliant move into Brooklands, Bottas dropped back and was passed by both Hamilton and Raikkonen. Verstappen retired.

It was a great win for Ferrari of the kind that they need to roll out consistently to take this championship. The execution was perfect on every front; effective chassis updates, perfect strategy and driver. The whole thing came together and Vettel leads the championship by eight points.

They – and Vettel himself particularly – have left too many points on the table this season. But at Silverstone they looked like a team that can win the world championship.

The question mark is repeatability.

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 the gap that Mercedes was able to put Hamilton back out into after his late stop, leaving him clear air. But he wouldn’t have caught the front runners without the Safety Car. Look also at the damage the early stop did to Raikkonen, coming out into traffic.

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ferrari may enjoy the advantage of their trick turbo while mercedes spend the rest of the season researching and developing theirs, they can rely on their drivers’ skills to make up the difference..


this guy explains why the ferrari’s so fast..


Well, he certainly knows what it takes to beat LH! Not sure about the “more pressure in the engine”… he may actually mean “more pressure on Mercedes” 😉


What a strange fellow Nico Rosberg is!

He knows perfectly well that what he now says Ferrari are able to do regarding combustion chamber pressure, is exactly what Mercedes Benz have been doing with their engine since 2014. That is a material fact.

I think Mr. Rosberg may have been instructed by Mercedes Benz to put this info’ out on YouTube in a bid to confuse some obscure issue or other.

Increasing combustion chamber pressure to a level over and above that of other competitors from the variable baseline of an exhaust turbine is achieved through the use of an Infinitely Variable Transmission, an IVT for short, and some very sophisticated electronic software. I think it was back in 2014 when Mercedes-AMG were bragging ‘we are in invention mode’ and they were right and able to say that but that is all they were, able to say with any truth and now they’re trying to shift the goalposts. All that fuss and palaver immediately after Silverstone and now an insight such as this is eased beneath the radar, what kind of dirty filthy ongoings are being procured here? I have to ask that because I’ve been aware that the F1 paddock is nothing more than a cesspool for some years now but that’s another story waiting to be told.


not sure how well he copes with pressure.

did he get out of the kitchen?


Lewis’ curve between laps 5 and 10 looks almost like he was running in free air although he overtook many cars during those laps. Midfield cars were like thin air against his Mercedes.


DRS every lap and everybody making way will do that for you. I watched a compilation of his “passes”….he may as well have been driving an ambulance…(albeit a very fast one)!


@ LKFE….Wolff stated, after Monaco, ‘that’s the way it is’ when discussing his instructions to the FI pit wall re Ocon to get out of the way. Now i know that this has been happening for quite some time and also between other teams as well but that of itself doesn’t mean that it is right. IMO it adds a degree of ‘race fixing’ to the series. What’s more, when a team like Mercedes is open to public acknowledgement of this it shows just how much control the manu’s have. Intra team race manipulation can be both a fix or a strategy…inter team is collusion.


F1 has usually had a two- or three- class filed on race day. Although it may seem unfair to ask the slower cars to move aside it would under most circumstances unfair to leave them in the way. Besides, it’s just an ‘enforceable’ blue flag when the askee is is using the asker’s engine against the home team…


James, been reading quite a bit about the Bottas no-pit-stop theory – wasn’t he guaranteed a 2nd place (or 3rd if he gave the position to Lewis) had they pitted him alongside Vettel?

I feel he was sacrificed for Lewis – only reason being to slow down Vettel in the Merc sandwhich, and allow Lewis to try and pass Vet. Thoughts?


fresh tires, fresh tires, fresh tires. In every form of racing I have seen lately, fresh tires are usually a great advantage. Put fresh tires on. As for Mercedes not having sticker softs at the end there, it’s a strategic error. Perhaps they will learn from this – or actually relearn. I do not think there are any ignorant or learning-disabled people in F1.


That’s possible, but doing the opposite to Vettel gave the chance of a win for Bottas. Mirroring Ferrari would simply be to concede the top step, especially as they had no new tyres left.


There was no chance for a win, Grosjean spared Mercedes blushes with crash.

Silverstone showed how powerful the DRS and fresh tyres were.


Ok. It does seem, in hindsight, it would have been very tough for Bottas to hold on to 1st with Vettel behind him on fresh rubber. But I guess it does make sense – especially since Bottas does not have much to lose anyway..being more or less out of WDC contention.


This explains Merc strategy. Nothing to do with Bottas being sacrificed for Hamilton—though i’m sure certain Tifosi would like to think so..


This late race safety car reminds me of NASCAR. It is a major organizing strategy with them. For me, it is not interesting. It negates a leaders advantage, puts everyone back to “almost equal,” and says let’s start over. Socialist racing. Not competitive. It ought to be avoided. No different than Piquet Jr. crashing to get a get a yellow.


@Gene Herbert. You are right about Safety Car. This is most visible future to manipulate race outcomes. Others are more delicate.

Mercedes dominance was killing the sport and closer fights are more beneficial to Mercedes too.

Fact is even Vettel can not understand performance fluctuations of Mercedes from track to track… and he is working with those cars to understand their set up details.

Logical explanation can be that drivers are denied of exact parametres what these cars are capable of and cars are ordered to tune them more or less equal.


safety cars is as part of f1 as qualifying.


Yes, but it seems to have become a more common occurrence. Not complaining – just a view point.


Are you same guy who said before the season Ferrari will struggle you never gave Ferrari a chance to win slap on your face still you are doing wrong race analysis saying again not giving Ferrari credit look at race closely yes Lewis had pole n yes Lewis had a problem but were was other Merc no way near Ferrari even without safety car Ferrari would have won they had pure speed


even without safety car Ferrari would have won they had pure speed

What are you? Dr Strange?


no need to be one. It was evident to anyone who saw the race. Also Vettel said the same in post race interview, that he was just controlling the pace.


Agree. Vettel was controlling pace at the front. Don’t think Ham would have caught and passed him after his start.


Ferraris pure speed wasn’t a match for Hamiltons on the day. Even with him loosing places at the start.. with the speed he was showing I would have backed him to win without the spin!


@ james…Completely OT but would you consider running an ‘insight’ article into the current situation with the, new for ’21 regs? We were led to believe that something would emerge a week or so ago but to date there has been zip. As it is one of the purported biggest shake ups so much of the future for F1 hangs on this. Would like to know just where we are and i would presume that you fully loaded?


Looks like the manufacturers are back pedalling…! Seems that in the absence of a new entrant, the current four want to maintain the status-quo.


@ redline…Yes, that appears so. I read that last night and that is basically why i asked James if he could give us a ‘heads up’. I fear that Liberty will cave in. IMO that would be a disaster as it virtually closes the doors and cedes control to the manu’s. A belief that i’ve held for a very long time. To date Liberty have just toyed and tinkered around the edges and have, once again IMO, done squat to improve F1. If they do buckle then we will see that same old same old in virtual perpetuity and that will be a great shame.


I’m not sure where I stand on this to be honest. I see the manufacturers point of view. PU performance is converging, and if homologated at some point when they are close (as they did with the V8’s), it will curtail development costs. As there is no indication of any other manufacturers entering the sport, why bother with a new PU? The decision can then be re-visited every 3yrs or so…

Much more important IMO are rules concerning the rest of the car…!

Agree that Liberty have just tinkered so far. I always thought it was going to be tough to take on Marchionne, Zetsche and Goshn, but there is a heck of a lot of other stuff they could/should be doing mean time that is more important.


@ Redline….We are now into the fifth year and we still have only two engines anywhere near parity! Surely that us self explanatory. If Renault and Honda knew what to do they’d do it. The reason that there are no new manu’s AFAIK is that there is still a major cost problem with the overall budgets still too high and no incentive for them to enter. We have been fed the story that the reason that there are no newbies on the block is the high cost of, amongst other things, the MGU H and that has also been a stumbling block in a technical sense for both Renault and Honda. Without technical changes to a simplified engine there will be no new suppliers going forward and coupled with budget restraints we are just going to have the same old same old teams dominating the races. There needs to be a better starting point at which new teams can be seduced into participation. So long as the two top engine builders are able to pick and choose their satellites nothing will alter the status quo.


@ kenneth

Definitely, it’s possible that Vettel eased off the pace at the front, however, Mercedes team had also noted from practice that Ferrari had concerns over blistering as they weren’t so comfortable


@ Goferet…Vettel was in total control and managing his race position.


More speculation Kenneth……


Please listen to Mario Isola’s comments – he stated that tyre deg was very similar in Merc and Ferrari… it was Seb controlling the race, nothing more


Gravity. If the tyre deg was similar on both cars, then doesn’t that point towards Seb being unable to make the one stop work without the safety car? His mediums were a lap older than Valterri’s, and they didn’t get to the flag even with two safety cars giving them a rest.


No, the issue here was thermal deg not tyre get which surprisingly (on the harder tyres(s) ) the merc was managing better than the Ferraris… well in lewis’ hands at least (on the mediums) and in both of their hands on the softs.


Probably because of the thinner tyres which Mercedes prefer. No more races with them though.


Hindsight, ain’t that one of the great things for reporters and fans alike. If they would have done this, it might be that they would have…….. etcetera, etcetera. All mumbojumbo as far as I’am concerned. During this race the SC made a mess out of strategy decisions made during the race by teams and had a big impact on the end result, (like a SC has quit often tbh). It’s all part of the game and anything that disrupts a donkey parade is great imo.


Cheers James, the sort if article this site excells at.

Question..If RBR can afford to roll the dice compared to Merc/Ferrari. Why did they not leave DR out the same as Bottas or did they not see the tyres lasting at all. In which case ( although two laps difference) was it a bit false of Merc to claim they left VB out for the win and rather left him out to hold up SV?


I’m a bit surprised Merc didn’t split strategies and bring Bottas in. I wonder if they would, given the same situation tomorrow ?

Anyway, regarding the main question – the future – I get the impression that Lewis is not quite there mentally, or rather perhaps, his big moments (that pole lap) seem to take more out of him mentally than 2 or 3 years ago. He was more upset after the race than I would have expected. He usually fronts up 100% in the second half of the season when it really matters. Will he this year ? Time will tell.


Yeah, I wondered why Bottas was left out. It was obvious after both restarts his left-front which takes all the abuse around Silverstone mega fast right handers was worn down, if not to the canvas then at least three quarters worn. It was obvious on fast right handers Bottas didn’t have any grip, and was basically a lamb to the wolves to be zapped by his opponents.

I never thought I’d see Silverstone baking in track temperatures of 53C but the recent UK heatwave has been so unrelenting if you look at the photos above the grass is bleached yellow just like Jacques Villeneuve hair, circa 1997. Which makes Merc decision to leave Bottas out on overheating old tyres even more strange.


Merc didn’t have fresh tired so they wouldn’t have been able to compete if they pitted anyways do best to take the chance they can keep track position.


Gaz, it really doesn’t. The one thing that we know from all prior races in 2018 is that track position is king. So, it was certainly worth rolling the dice on Bottas tires.

Imagine they had brought hr him in and he is finaohedbthirs or fourth… you and half the internet would be armchair opining thatbthwy should have left him out because look at Hamilton’s tires were ok, and Bottas were only a few laps older… Bottas himself would not have been a happy bunny, as this would h w looked like a sneaky way to get Hamilton ahead!

So, at the time, the decision absolutely made sense.


2-3 years ago he basically didn’t have competition, not even a Rosberg was a real threat back then. Now is different ball game. He can now clearly see the possibility he might loose the championship. Ferrari is on the rise, now he actually have to fight for the podium (on occasion), let alone win, hence his and team’s unfortunate comments we all talking about for few days now.


Ferrari have definitely left plenty of points on the table this season but so have Merc.

Bottas – tyre failure in Baku, poor strategy in Britain. Poor driving in Australia.

Hamilton – strategy errors in Australia, China, Austria and Britain. Poor driving in Canada and poor start in Britain. A loss of possibly 4 wins to LH due to these factors.

What makes me sure that Ferrari will pick up one or both titles this season is that Merc have a lot of tracks coming up in which their car is relatively weak to Ferrari – Hungaroring, Marina Bay, Interlagos are three I am not expecting Merc wins – and the strategy will let them down two or three times again.


i don’t know what would happen until the events unfold.


Look at the gap that Mercedes was able to put Hamilton back out into after his late stop, leaving him clear air. But he wouldn’t have caught the front runners without the Safety Car.

Great report as usual, but not entirely sure how you came to this conclusion, his trajectory on the graph shows he clearly would have caught them – not clear that we would have overtaken them all certainly.


You have to adjust his trajectory for the tyre degradation.

Hamilton was 22.5 seconds behind with 20 laps to go, and given how Bottas’ tyres faded quickly, when he was agressively defending from Vettel, the 1 second faster laps that Hamilton was putting were not sustainable till the end.

I think Hamilton’s target was Verstappen 8 seconds up the road, (Kimi seemed to be 2-stopping, though given he was racing Ric for 5/6 place I wouldn’t have been surprised to see Ferrari leave him out for a few extra laps to hold up Hamilton). Overtake Verstappen while the tyres were fresh and then turn down the engine.

It was a rather unfortunate safety car, from the point of view of assessing car performance.

1. Vettel-vs-Bottas: With Ferrari’s higher tyre wear in Stint 1, would Bottas be able to challenge Vettel at the end? A look at the posts suggest that the Mercedes fans saw the Merc as the faster car and expected a Bottas overtake, and the Ferrari fans felt that the Ferrari was faster and expected Vettel to hold on. It was close, but a definite answer would have been nice and Bottas would have had a chance to redeem himself for Bahrain.

2. Lewis-vs-Max: KImi struggled badly behind the Bulls, (he even mentioned it later), and the Mercedes suffers the when following cars. It would have been nice to see how much time Lewis took to overtake Max. That would have been a good indicator for Hungary/Singapore where the Mercedes is expected to struggle. [Or for races where the Ferrari on the Ultra jumps the slow-starting Mercedes at the race-start]

3. Kimi-versus-Ric: Despite the “80 bhp” deficit Kimi struggled behind both Ric and Max. While Lewis had an 8 lap tyre-offset to Max, Kimi and Ric were on similar strategies so would have been interesting to see how that played out

P.S. On the plus side, this week, the gap to the “leader” and the winner’s time finally merge to zero in the graph. Is this is sign that things are going to begin looking up for Williams 🙂


Certainly he would have cleared Kimi and Max … the front two we can’t say. I think without a SC the race would have finished BOT-VET-HAM. That’s with Vettel staying out or him pitting and trying to make up the gap to Bottas.


I don’t agree .Seb was controlling the race if u look at 1 half of the Race Merc were no were near Ferrari whenever Seb needed the gap he did fastest lap also look at Kimi he too had good speed was easily overtaking tell you on that day Ferrari had faster car in the end too Seb was clearly controlling also remember now he just don’t need to look at tyres but also engine that need to last we saw with both Merc failing in last race by pushing too much .I do hope n sure Merc will comeback s


Andrew, on lap 32 HAM was 23 sec behind VET with 20 laps to go – if the SC didn’t happen, he would also have had to first pass RAI and the VER on track before hunting down VET.


Depends what you mean by front runners – Bottas and Vettel or the top 5.


Yes, I probably misread that as “wouldn’t have caught the cars ahead” as opposed to “front runners”, he definitely would have caught up to the back of Ricciardo, I agree Bottas and Vettel we’re out of reach.


Is it me or did HAM seem to be trying too hard to show being exhausted after the race? I don’t know… something appeared to be a little off


others who have driven in f1 races have expressed how exhausting the fastest track on the calendar is. some fans also saw this.


There was nothing particularly ‘off’ with Hamilton, he was simply having a self pity party.


Hey, True Blue.


@aussieF1 funny one haha


@AussieF1, I pay that cobber.


Hamilton was NOT the only driver who put his heart and soul into qualifying–but he was THE ONLY guy who put on a GREAT ACT of shaking around like a kid–great acting dude…your stock just fell right there


Aj, he was the only one who just got pole in his home Grand Prix though…..


Mai. He was fine and just sulking


He was definitely acting. Not very classy.


Mai, it’s you.


#TinW correct Hamilton is just not as fit as the rest of the drivers. Less time on the catwalk and more time in the gyme perhaps?


Jhunt, most successful driver on the grid less fit than the others? Wow, some talent he must have…..


I have a real gripe with race coverage this year. I feel like we are missing a lot of the on track battles between drivers. Instead the directors seem happy to focus on the time gaps between cars at the front. It’s one thing when you miss close battles but when you miss overtakes then it’s just absurd. I believe Magnussen and Alonso had battled with some overtakes, but even that coverage was limited (I didn’t see it on my broadcast even).

In previous years if something was missed they’d cover it in a replay. This has happened a few races now in a row so it seems to be the new norm. Disappointing to say the least.


f1 has always been about the winner. that’s why they are made to stand on the highest step of the podium and given champaign to spray after their national anthem has been played.


I agree with you cheesypoof….

…I can’t believe I just said that…


Believe it yo 😎


Since Ferrari ‘s first win this season they have looked like they can win the world championship and if they keep doing what they are doing with merc making the mistakes they have been making then they will seal the deal. Ferrari had the faster car in most conditions so this is really their championship to lose.


Ferrari is not the faster car in most conditions. Sometimes it is, sometimes it’s not. Mercedes was the faster car in Silverstone with better tyre degradation, especially at the end of stints. Bottas was 0.5 sec faster than Vettel in 2nd sector and was closing rapidly before the safety car.


vettel only needed to go fast enough to stay ahead of everyone..


Ferrari has been the best car this year, without doubt. Kimi is 3rd in the WDC, for chrissakes! And that is with his turbo failure in Spain, and the unfortunate incident in Bahrain.

I thought after Austria that Mercedes had got ahead, but Ferrari’s pace at Silverstone has them ahead of Merc going forward. Until the next update of course.

Vettel is now the only driver to have finished every race. Sainz had also finished in all 9 races prior to Britain, though he was only on the lead lap for 5 of those. Vettel has raced every race lap so far. Could he keep that up all year? Lewis finished every race last year, but was lapped in Mexico.


True. It was the last race on the thinner tyres though which Mercedes seemed to prefer over Ferrari.


Great article Mr Allen!

Great analysis and insight into the race situation. There were q’s as to why the Merc dtivers did’nt stop, I did’nt know BOTH Merc drivers did not have a new set available. I thought Hamilton had.

This article summed it up perfectly. Thank you


Thank you for a well written race report.

How many laps had these used soft tyres of Mercedes? lf we are talking about the ones they used in their second go in Q2, they only had a couple of laps if l recall property. So yes they were not new but they had to be better than the mediums Bottas was on. l believe Mercedes made an error there in not bringing him in. If that second SC does not happen (l know ifs.) l can see the Ferraris having finished 1&2, so to an extent Mercedes got a bit lucky there.

Whatever anyways, more points for Ferrari at the end.

I commented before the race that if Ferrari won the race on merrit that the titles would be theirs to grab, Vettel won it as discribed but l am not so blind to see that it might not have been so straight forward had Hamilton remained 3rd after the start. Hopefully the German GP will give us more answers as to the way both championships are headed. Marc



After Baku, James’ had suggested in his strategy report that Mercedes are racing for Race Wins/Max Points while Ferrari are racing for the Drivers Championship and this logic explains what Mercedes did with Bottas.

They tried for a “Long shot” at a win, instead of a safe 2nd place, and lost Bottas 6 points.

Mercedes have had the luxury of the fastest car for 4 years now, but this season it is not so, so I wonder if a change in the Strategic Mindset or the Strategy Team is required. If this had been Hamilton, (or if you think Bottas is still a championship contender) a loss of 6 points could well end up defining the Season Winner.

Baku Strategy Report :


Comet, Valterri would have been behind Seb on used tyres if they had pitted him, but by leaving him out he gained track position. He may well have stayed second if he had pitted, but they gave him a chance of winning by leaving him out.



Agree, by staying out Bottas gained track position and was in a position to win the race until Vettel changed for a new set of tyres then it became a matter of time. Another disappointing result through no fault of his own.

Will Bottas’ contract renewal be announced together with Lewis’?


Adrian, a bit disappointing, but is fiurth really that much worse than second?

It’s interesting that neither Merc contract or Dan’s have been announced yet. I would have expected them all to have been done and dusted by now, maybe there will be a surprise yet…



l understand what you say but l somehow think he had no chance of keeping Vettel on new softs behind. May be it is that they don’t care about championship points prefering wins, and that is not just their right but also admirable in many ways, but l see it as throwing Bottas under the bus in my small minded way to benefit his teammate. Wonder what Bottas would have chosen? Marc


@Cometef1 and @TimW : Valterri had spoken after the race and even later and has confirmed that he agreed with the decision, even though in hindsight it looked to be the wrong one.

After the race : “We knew a one-stop was not going to be easy, but we decided to take the risk. Unfortunately, that stint on the Medium tyres was just a bit too long today. It’s always easy to judge these things in hindsight, but at the point we made the call to stay out I was on the same page. I could have easily taken second place today, but we decided to go for it”


Sky Interview — “We took the risk to stay out and try to win the race. At that point, if the team had asked me if l wanted to win or secure second place, l would have said ‘go for the win’,” Bottas reflected. “But looking back, for the result it would have been better to stop. That’s a fact.”

( )

Andy Shovlin also confirmed that in the Mercedes Debrief at 2:48 ( )


Good stuff Ashish, cheers.



Thank you for sharing the above. Marc


Comet, he did stay ahead for five laps, problem was he needed ten! I guess they didn’t know how long the sc period would last for, or precisely how long his tyres would hold out. I can see why they did it, pitting would have been the safe option, but they went for the win. It would be interesting to hear Valterri’s thoughts, my feeling is he knows that he isn’t really in the championship battle anymore, and would rather risk a few points to get a win, but who knows?



Yes it seems that Bottas would rather go for the win. I still don’t think that he had much of a chance with Vettel on faster amd newer tyres. l am sure that they know better and calculated that he had a better shot at it than l gave him. Marc


They gave Valterri the chance of holding up Seb if they left him out. Nothing to do with the win.


Jon, and if he had held up Seb until the end, then what position would he have been in…..?


Should say “so he would have to do it on new mediums or USED softs”,


Jon. There’s no need to hide from anything, Mercedes had two options with Valterri. Option 1, pit him under the safety car. Seb was 2.5 seconds ahead at the time, so no real chance of jumping him in the pits, so he would definitely have remained behind Vettel when he came out of the pits. This means that in order to win the race Bottas has to overtake the Ferrari on the track. Seb has new soft tyres, but Valterri has none of those left, so he would have to do it on new mediums or new softs. This strategy basically guarantees second place, but gives no chance of winning.

Option 2, leave him out. This gives Valterri track position over Seb, and means that now Vettel has to overtake him to win the race. Valterri’s tyres were pretty old, but he has a chance of staying in front, and indeed did exactly that for five laps before his tyres went off. Remember that Mercedes did not know how long the safety car would stay out, or if another would be needed before the end. As it turned out the original sc for the Ericsson incident was quickly followed by another for the Sainz/Grosjean crash, if there had been one more, then Valterri would have won.

You say that Valterri would have moved over for Hamilton, I think there was zero chance of that happening.

Why not tell me in a bit more detail (without changing the subject) exactly what you think would have happened if Bottas had pitted.


#TimW. So disingenuous…He would have backed Vettel into Hamilton and then moved over for Hamilton. His tyres were too shot to do it , but one more safety car and you would be cheering on a genius strategy and we would not have had the sulking ( sorry exhausted) Hamilton on the second podium step.

Fully expect you to reply with the usual tactics of rubbising the post or changing the subject but you can not hide from this one.


Jon, possible scenario but it also effectively created a HAM sandwich (haha) between the 2 Ferrari’s on new softs.

Merc risked a Ferrari 1-2 by going for the win when they could have secured a 2-3 by pitting BOT for used softs.


Correct Tim. Although its intriguing why BOT pace on the mediums was so poor compared to HAM even though it was only 4 laps older….


A really enjoyable race. With hindsight and as a fan of his, I’m glad Vettel struggled with collisions and reliability over the last 12 months or so. I feel it’s sanded a few edges and brought him closer to the formidability of the likes we’ve seen with Michael. Only time will tell if this is true or if it’s just wishful thinking.

Again, a well-balanced and great race; it sure gave us a lot to talk about!



I’m pretty curious about the second RB stints. Judging by the consistency of the slope of Dan’s line on the graph compared to Max’s, it looks like he was handling the medium tyre much better than Max. He closed down a 5 second lead from lap 18 to lap 30…an average of 4/10’s per lap. It doesn’t look like he made up the time in a “push” in lap…there was a constant differential. Dan’s line doen’t show any signs of dipping at the point he was brought in for the second time.

We are told that RB “split” strategies…that assumes Max was going to be on a one stopper…yet he pitted fro mediums first on lap 17 (even before RIC).

BTW -the next car that was on a legitmate one stopper stopped on Lap 20 (Hulk) and he went on to the hard tyre. Others that 1 stopped were at anywhere between lap 21 and 30 for their stop.

What is your view of this?

Stopping at 17 for mediums doesn’t look like a legitimate one stopper…compared to the rest of the field?

Bringing Dan in for a second stop once he caught Max seems like a strategy to avoid the drivers racing each other? If Max was truely on a one stopper, wouldn’t the logical thing to do be to instruct Max to let Dan past as they were on different strategies -knowing that Max would regain track position when Dan pitted again?

Looking also at the chart, there is no suggestion that they need be concerned about dropping Dan behind traffic -Lewis was well inside his window and the next car back (Hulk) was some 50 seconds back.

Are you aware of when RB decided to split strategies? Any other reason for this to not smell as bad as it does?


@ LKFE…..Good post. There is no doubt that Ricciardo was definitely the faster of the two, As Horner has said, the decision to put Ricciardo on a two stopper was not premeditated.


Agree LKFE it seemed like an odd call to pit Ric. He sounded surprised an annoyed on the radio so was apparently not a pre-race strategy option. But let’s work with the idea that it was a race-day-call to optimize strategy options for the team. In this scenario the logical thing would be to pit the slower car so it would be on fresher tires and be able to run faster lap times to end of the race, and keep the faster of the two cars running the one-stop plan. But RB didn’t do that. They pitted the faster car for new tires and left the slower car on track (0.4 sec a lap). Unless RB can offer some new information it seems clear the car they pitted did NOT optimize their TEAM strategy.

Meanwhile, over at Ferrari, what a weekend. Chassis upgrades, engine, drivers and team strategy all very impressive. Nice to see Kimmi going for it. Also nice to see Mercedes really being pushed. I was awesome to see all 4 cars so close at end of the race. If we could only bring RB forward to join the battle. Having Ric and Vstap hassling the front four would be such a blast!!!


The outlier was Daniel Ricciardo in the Red Bull.

Invitation to kenneth, Bruno, and Luke: please read carefully the three paragraphs in the article starting with the quote above. To your discredit, every single one of you has endulged in conspiracy scenarios suggesting RB deliberately pitted Ricciardo, putting him on a 2-stop strategy with the sole purpose of protecting Verstappen against RIC. You wouldn’t listen to the perfectly sensible and logical explanation brought forward by (mainly) Dutch posters, apparently because the arguments centered on whether or not the 2-stopper had been decided on beforehand or on the spur of the moment.

The very same and straightforward explanation is now presented by the owner of this site in his – as always – insightful article. With one clarification though: whereas a 2-stopper was no doubt contemplated beforehand, it was decided upon race-time. But… of course not for the ludicrous and scandalous reasons you’re entertaining but just to tackle Kimi.

I hope for your sake that this time you see reason and let common sense prevail. No anti-RIC or pro-Max scheming is going on at Red Bull. And least of all any conspiracies need to be invoked to account for what happened in the race. As for Daniel’s ‘objections’, drivers are often surprised by strategic decisions, especially if the need for them arises suddenly in the race. Evidently, the team would not want any arguments about this on the public radio, if only for the opposition listening in and spelling the intended tactics out to them.


@ lemwil…I forgot to say that your use of the term ‘conspiracy’ is totally without merit. The Team…Marko/Horner and even Mateschitz have stated that the team is built around Verstappen with the sole aim of making him the youngest ever WDC. For your information…conspirators do not go public with their intentions for obvious reasons. Maybe the ‘sensible and logical’ Dutch can’t comprehend.



While Red Bull’s favorite child is Max, just as Vettel was back in the day, l don’t think that were out to screw Ricciardo. Ricciardo got somewhat unluky to have been ask to pit so shortly prior to the SC. Had no SC come into play, who knows where he might have finished with respect to Max. Marc


@kenneth, don’t distract with semantics. Conspiracy, fix, scheming, you know what I mean. Eye opener for you: stating a mission does not mean you are going to realise it by using ANY internal means possible, like scheming, fixing, etc. And in my perception, favouritism usually is implemented not in the open, with aspects which are therefore quite conspiratory, i.e. real purpose not to be revealed.


@ lemwil…you have no idea of what the reasoning for Red Bull/Horners tactics were, that is unless you have access to the pit wall!


@kenneth, neither have you. But you are making claims as if you know all the time. I don’t, I just showed there is no reason to surmise sinister schemings.


@ lemwil….obviously you’re new to F1 especially in the case of Red Bull and their tactics. I’ve given you the teams ‘mission statement’ yet you continue to deny. Did you actually look at the lap charts? If so, what conclusion have you drawn from those facts and what happened on track? . Axx1’s following comments state the point very well.


Lemwil, actually due to VER poor pace on the mediums they were both racing RAI. It was RIC who upped his pace and found himself right behind his team mate and costing him time against RAI. RedBull should have told VER to up his pace or allow RIC through.

Similarly if VER was on a 1-stop strategy, it made no sense to hold RIC behind and should have let him through.

RedBull’s decision to pit him on that lap made no engineering sense but it smells more like a political decision.


You are talking sense. I thought on the same line.


@ Axx1…very true.


Lemwil (Daniel)

C’mon buddy you can do better than this. LKFE poses a perfectly reasonable question as to why Dan was suddenly pitted when he had closed to one second of Max and you interpret this as a conspiracy theory to protect Max from the embarrassment of being asked to pull aside. A legitimate question that he asked JA to comment on.

In the two previous threads the Dutch posters you refer to stated unequivocally that it was part of RB’s pre-race planning to double-stop Dan. How could they possibly know. Were they present at RB’s pre-race meeting with Dan and Max and their respective engineers? It’s quite possible that a two-stopper was part of the planning for both drivers depending upon how the race evolved including the effect that a Safety Car would have; as it turned out there were two. Even Dan was asked pre-race what RB’s intentions were and he wasn’t categorical as to whether it would be a one or two-stoper.

Instead of addressing supposed conspiracy theories why don’t you at least address LKFE’s question? I too was surprised when Dan was suddenly pitted after closing on Max. Did Max have an issue or was Dan just quicker than him? Perhaps you can start with that.


This site often refers to RBR being able to play with strategy and not be conservative as Merc are. So why bring DR in. Conservative Merc claim they left VB out with a chance to win so why not leave DR out ( yes tyres are two laps older) Perhaps RBR did not think that the tyres would go the distance and all this just proves a Mercedes lie. Can someone clear this up ?


@ Adrian…very good post. On another semi related incident…. If you recall the argy bargy in Austria about which driver leads out at each GP the Dutchies heaped a load of ‘merde’ on Ricciardo. I happened to be reading one of the rare pit to car comms that got published and dealt with this issue. Someone on the pitwall told Verstappen to go ahead and pass Ricciardo , which Verstappen refused to do. Who was it that gave that instruction? It wasn’t Ricciardo’s engineer and it surely couldn’t have been Verstappen’s engineer now could it. So who else was of the opinion that Ricciardo had a point? Buried in there is a lie, someones not telling the truth. When i heard the comms on the TV it sounded very much like it was Horner., but i can’t be too sure. Would like to hear your opinion despite the fact that it’s now history.



Good question. Up until a couple of days ago I just assumed that it was Max’s engineer who instructed him to pass Dan then I read something which seemed to imply that the whole thing became an issue (hence Dan’s reaction) as a result of a mix up between the two engineers in relation to something that had been pre-planned.

In Austria it was Dan’s turn to head out first in Q3 however Q3 was different on this occasion as there were three runs not the usual two. Dan headed out first on all three occasions. However, whether there was some miscommunication on what had been previously agreed (and not communicated to Max) in that Dan and Max would switch around if there was a third run to even the session up I don’t know.

Beyond that mate I can’t help you.


@ Adrian…..Thanks for your contribution to the question. Just this evening i read that it was the Red Bull pit wall that told Verstappen to pass Ricciardo. If , as you suggest,that it was Verstappen’s engineer that told him to pass Ricciardo i find that hard to believe. That would mean that even Verstappen’s engineer was ignorant of the ‘supposed’ sequence of events!! Highly unlikely that he wouldn’t be in the same loop if as Horner says it was a standard approach. Anyway, it’s all academic as they say in the hallowed halls of Oxford hahaha. I’d still like to know who it was though?


Lemwil can’t have been in reply as he posted an hour and a half or so earlier. That said, any rational appraisal of the tactics in such circumstances would have anyone scratching their head as to why they chose to pit RIC at that point, when it seemed obvious that he could have bounded ahead and VER could have kept RAI at bay.

Then again, it was looking similar to Baku and whilst one would expect that Max would not try similar ridiculous crap again, well, maybe the team were not so sure.


Hello Adrian, appearances deceived you I think! I do not mention LKFE in my comment. Neither is my post a reaction to his, they just got juxtaposed unfortunately. (To be precise: my post was the only one on this topic for half a day, LKFE’s post appeared later but because nowadays younger posts get placed on top, it just so happened it ended up right above mine. So take care with conclusions you infer from the positioning of posts!!!) My entry here was a reaction to the discussion about this in the main race article posts. The 3 posters I mentioned definitely believed in scheming going on, Dutch posters opposed them. Others, like yourself there (and now LKFE here), are only curious as to what went on and pose reasonable questions.
As to your remarks regarding the Dutch posters: yes, it appears they were wrong the strategy was settled before the race. However, the (now pretty sure) fact it happened mid-race allows many explanations, not just the conspiracy one. That was the point I made.



Fair enough, I accept your explanation that your post wasn’t specifically directed to LKFE. However, I still have problems with it which you may like to address:

1. You stated in reference to the Dutch posters: “You (meaning Kenneth, Bruno & Luke) wouldn’t listen to the perfectly sensible and logical explanation brought forward by (mainly) Dutch posters…….”. What “explanation” are you referring to? If it was a reference to those Dutch posters who stated that a two-stopper was planned pre-race for Dan it’s nonsense, as I’ve already pointed out in my earlier post. One of them even said that he heard it reported on Dutch TV. Really!

2. Whilst I don’t believe that Dan is the victim of a conspiracy I’m concerned, as Kenneth has detailed, that RB have made it abundantly clear that they are going to build the team around Max to the extent that Mateschitz has stated that RB (which he owns lock stock and barrel) want to make Max the youngest WDC ever. Notwithstanding the hypocritical double speak being blurted out by Horner and Marko that there is no number one and number two driver in RB. Now, you tell me Daniel what effect would this have on the guy who hast to share a garage with Max? Whether it’s Daniel Ricciardo or Carlos Sainz? Do you think that Dan for the rest of the season and going into next year (if he re-signs) will have complete confidence that he is going to get equal treatment? And I haven’t even mentioned that Jos is on the payroll as a talent scout and in the garage just about every second race day. Make of these things what you will.

3. Perhaps you intend to respond to LKFE’s post. Perhaps you don’t. Your call. But I for one would be interested to see what you have to say because like a number of posters I was puzzled as to why Dan was pitted when he was within a few 10ths of DRS range of Max.

Feel free to respond.


@Adrian, no one of you (LKFE, kenneth, Axx1, or yourself) adresses the narrative presented by JA, which I’m referring to in my post. Which is, of the two Red Bull drivers DR was the first to find himself in the position to have to fend off Kimi. Max, despite boxing early, was on a one-stopper and saving his tyres. Kimi boxed as early as lap 13 and definitely was on a 2-stopper. As a team you cannot risk two one-stoppers will suffice to keep the Ferrari at bay. Neither can you wait too long with pitting. So the moment RIC was told to box made sense. Now, should RB have reversed the strategies because RIC was quick on mediums in lap 19 through 30? I.e., box Max and have RIC continue on a one-stopper? I think they did not contemplate that because the decision for Max’ 1-stopper had been made. Remember, he was 3rd and already defending a podium. Pitwalls tend to defend such a position. No doubt Max could drive a bit faster but that would compromise his tyres. Just remember what happened to Bottas’ tyres in the last couple of laps. In fact, maybe in part because he started out fast on his mediums, RIC diminished his chances to be chosen as the one to continue to the end on them. But that’s talking with hindsight.

Why was Max not asked to let RIC pass? It would have cost time towards the fast approaching Kimi and boxing was required anyway.


@LKFE…yes, i would’ve liked James to have responded as well but it won’t happen.


…and here i am still waiting for JA’s view as well…


@ Adrian…very good post and summary. Nicely put.


I loved kimi’s fightback in the race…for better or worse if this is the last year of the iceman…I am sure he will bow out reminding us what made him a legend in this sport. I totally can sense kimi winning a couple of races this season if things go his way. Lets see what happens, he deserves a win back with Ferrari even though those guys have screwed him in the past. Hoping for the best


If Vettel win the championship, we will see Kimi again in Ferrari another there are chances he will join Mc’Laren as pretty sure Alonso will go to Renault. By the way kimi isn’t drive bad like last year so he deserve to be in the Ferrari next season. It would be better even for Leclerc if he join Haas rather Ferrari.


Tarun, RAI pace was encouraging but I wonder why Ferrari pitted him so early. He may have been losing time behind VER but surely they could forsee the traffic he would encounter leaving the pits. A couple laps longer and he would have cleared the traffic. Baffling decision making.


nah it was kimi who was shouting on the radio wanting to come in…he wanted to switch to two stops..check his radio message


Close: They ware watching two things: Getting out of a Redbull hot-dog, and keeping him out of Hamilton range in case of SC-periods.

I guess they believed the option for 1 stop on the medium was do-able, and their speed enough to prevent attacks from behind, and gave them the option on a 2 stop sprint in case of a SC situation.


Excellent analysis as always, James. I wasn’t aware that Merc didn’t have new soft tyres available. I thought the decision to not pit either drivers was to gain track position and do the opposite of Ferrari. Interesting.


Renault and HUL deserved a mention for mine as their different strategy got them best of the rest. ALO and the team also got a good result, but the standout for mine was the second stint of RIC. His apparent surprise at being pitted when storming on the medium tyres shows that he had really good pace, pulling away from RAI and approaching his teammate at great speed.


@ Bryce…Yes, Ricciardo was on it allright. I was asking myself the question, at the time, as to how they are going to treat this issue, as Daniel was much faster than Verstappen. I was literally gobsmacked when they pitted him. There is no doubt why now….


Great analysis, thx. Well said “repeatability”. Add luck to it too.

And it is mainly the car performance, F1 is more about engineering than drivers.

That was very nicely put by Max Verstappen in a recent interview… “When you have the best car on the grid, everyone can win with that car. Any F1 driver could have won in the Mercedes for the last four years. Everyone knows that” Max knows something about someone’s… greatness…

Anyways, the championship is heating up, let’s enjoy the racing and let’s monitor Leclerc development and Bulls rivalry, the two great things in F1 currently.


You get to the best car by being the best – it’s pretty much been that way since Farina! There are outliers, but the best drivers most often get the best seats. And F1 is definitely about the car performance as it is not and never has been a spec series. But you still have to beat your team mate and that is something that Max has yet to do over the course of a season with Danny.


Aezy, and how is it that Bottas get the best car?

No need to answer…


Lkfe. By being the best available.


He was the best available at the time Rosberg left. The others had contracts without driver-option break clauses, with teams that didn’t want to play ball with Mercedes. Simple.

Valtteri is driving well this year, but has had rotten luck.

He’s not way off Lewis this year in qualifying … avg of 0.059 secs off. As a comparison Ricciardo has avg’d 0.215 secs off Max so far this year.


Tim, doesn’t seem like he’s the best available next year though…

I would also add that both from MB’s perspective, and any other drivers perspective, being “available” (at any point) would matter little when theres a seat on offer in the fastest F1 car in history. Contracts get bought out all the time, and no driver with any ambition would not jump at the opportunity…

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