How Hamilton and Massa raced to the front (Malaysian Grand Prix analysis)

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

The McLarens and Ferraris had to fight through the field
The McLarens and Ferraris had to fight through the field

Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa gained 14 positions during the race – but used very different tactics to do it.

While Hamilton made several passes on the track, Massa made the same progress with a well-timed pit stop.

Lap 1

Lap 1 position change, Malaysian Grand Prix
Lap 1 position change, Malaysian Grand Prix (click to enlarge)

As we saw on several occasions last year, Rubens Barrichello made a poor start, falling down the order.

Lewis Hamilton, on the other hand, got away cleanly and picked off seven cars, many of them at turn one. Felipe Massa followed him and gained the same number of places.

At the front of the field Sebastian Vettel made an excellent start and capitalised on Mark Webber’s failure to defend his place to rob him of the lead at turn one. That mistake cost Webber the win.

Hamilton and Massa fight through the field

Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button, Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso's progress
Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button, Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso's progress

Hamilton, Massa and Button finished sixth, seventh and eighth having started 20th, 21st and 17th. The chart above shows their progress compared to other relevant drivers, plus Fernando Alonso who made a similar ascent through the field before retiring.

Hamiltons and Massa’s races unfolded very differently after their starts. While Hamilton began picking off the cars in front of him Massa, also on hard tyres, couldn’t make the same progress. Unlike Hamilton, he didn’t have the advantage of an F-duct.

The upshot of this was that by the time Massa made his pit stop on lap 26, Hamilton was over 13 seconds ahead. This meant McLaren didn’t need to react to Massa’s pit stop immediately by bringing Hamilton in. At this point, Hamilton’s problem was Button.

Button had lost position to Hamilton and Massa at the start, then Alonso squeezed past him too. Although he managed to pass Alonso on the track, Button came in for an early change to hard tyres on lap nine.

By lap 29 Button was going quickly enough on his hard tyres to give Hamilton a headache as his rubber deteriorated. Hamilton pitted, getting out just ahead of Button but with five seconds in hand over Massa.

Hamilton caught Sutil at over two seconds per lap but this was a car he couldn’t pass – he got on the radio and told his team the Force India was just too quick in a straight line.

Interestingly, Michael Schumacher had been only two seconds behind Sutil when he dropped out, depriving us of a Hamilton-Schumacher battle for position.

Massa eventually passed Button has the McLaren drivers’ tyres dropped well off the pace. So much so that Fernando Alonso had a good chance of passing him even with his gearbox problem, though he eventually succumbed to a blown Ferrari engine.

Pit stops

Malaysian Grand Prix pit stops
Malaysian Grand Prix pit stops (click to enlarge)

After his poor start Rubens Barrichello was the first person to pit but couldn’t make it to the end of the race on his second set of tyres.

Button, on the other hand, pitted on lap nine and completed the remaining 47 laps without another stop – though his tyres were heavily worn by the end of the race. It was not unlike his long stint at Melbourne last week, and is further evidence of his skill in looking after tyres.

The order at the front of the field could easily have been reversed had Mark Webber pitted before Sebastian Vettel. In all likelihood Red Bull (and the other teams) give priority on pitting to whichever driver is leading when they’re racing each other, to prevent arguments.

But could we see a scenario where a driver in Webber’s position takes it upon himself to pit before his team mate does to gain the benefit of being the first to pit?

Race charts

The race charts below break down the major movement in the race:

Overall race chart

Drivers' positions relative to the race leader
Drivers' positions relative to the race leader (click to enlarge)

Overall race chart (zoomed to leaders)

Drivers' positions relative to the race leader (zoomed)
Drivers' positions relative to the race leader (zoomed) (click to enlarge)

Overall race chart (all times compared to leader’s average time)

Drivers' positions versus the leaders' average lap time
Drivers' positions versus the leaders' average lap time

Lap chart

Malaysian Grand Prix lap chart
Malaysian Grand Prix lap chart (click to enlarge)

2010 Malaysian Grand Prix

109 comments on “How Hamilton and Massa raced to the front (Malaysian Grand Prix analysis)”

  1. No doubt which driving style was the most entertaining though :)

  2. Alonso was good value today, and unlucky not to score any points. He nearly succeeded in passing Button while nursing broken gearbox, which would have been sensational.

    I have a question though: did his aggressive driving contribute to his engine failure?

    There was evidence in Bahrain that following close to other cars makes the Ferraris overheat badly, and I wonder if we saw more of this today.

    1. he paid the price for saturday’s mistake.

    2. No,he used push to pass button too often = blows the engine

    3. The failure was present in formation lap (and he did a very poor start)

    4. When following Massa, I noticed once he stayed way over on the left whilst Massa was on the right, having a look at Button or lapping another car (can’t remember which). Ferrari definitely seem to have an issue with cooling.

    5. Well, he had to drive in an exceedingly engine stressful manor, to keep the car up to speed. This probably contributed more than anything else. Still this is a very hot race an that can’t have helped. His pass on Button was good but remember he overcooked it an Button was on completley knackered tires.

      1. It’s funny I hear people criticize Fernando for driving too aggressive and hurting his engine..
        but ultimately that’s what we want! Drivers going for that extra point.. being aggressive.. full marks for Fernando even though he didn’t finish! :)

  3. Nice analysis Keith. Hope to see facts and stats soon :)

  4. It is a treat to watch Lewis race! He is a true racer!

    1. horse power
      4th April 2010, 22:41

      couldn’t agree more.Lewis is the real deal what an awesome job today and how i’d love to see him world champ again.He’s magical

    2. Yes, that’s the last two races he overtakes on the track. That’s what we want to see.

  5. SennaRainho
    4th April 2010, 17:12

    Great work again Keith! I do however think that “Button’s skill of looking after tires” should rather be: “Button’s lack of race-aggression again maintained his tires”…. :-)

    No, honestly I think it’s a pity that tire-maintenance has become such a huge advantage. I mean; my grand-father was PERFECT at it, but I doubt anyone would have enjoyed watching him drive!

  6. Interesting and great analysis as always Keith.

    But this throws up an interesting question. When Sutil pitted on lap 20, Hamilton was less than 4 seconds behind him and more than 10 seconds ahead of Massa. Lewis was managing the harder compound well and was doing quick times.

    Then Ferrari brought Massa in to change his harder tyres on lap 26, Hamilton still about 15 seconds ahead of him.

    McLaren then brought Hamilton in on lap 30 but then Felipe was only 5 seconds behind him and crucially Sutil was 4 seconds ahead of him.

    So, time lost by Hamilton by pitting 4 laps late is close to 10 seconds, had he got those 10 seconds, Hamilton would have been ahead of Sutil and perhaps challenging Kubica.

    Not a huge tactical blunder like Australia. But definitely an oversight.

    1. It was a real blunder. At one point Hamilton asked the team on the radio if there was rain coming—apparently his super long run was made in anticipation thereof. The fact that he left both Ferraris and Button way behind the first stint but was among them in the second shows it was a mistake. Arguably it was a fair gamble—RedBull were telling their guys to up the pace in light of Hamilton, who came very close to getting by both of them on the overlap. Had it rained, Hamilton would have been fighting for victory. However, given their massive rain prediction fail the previous day and the lack of a solid forecast,a strategy based on the risk, rather, the possiblity, of rain was daft. It likely cost them two positions. For his flight to China, Whitmarsh needs to grab a text on risk analysis and basic game theory. He has got it wrong three times in two races running.

    2. Actually, I think this is an example of where we (as arm chair fans) may be in danger of taking an overly simplistic view. That’s not to say Mclaren didn’t make a blunder, but we shouldn’t automatically assume they did.

      If Hamilton had been brought in 4 laps earlier, he would have had to do more than half the race on the softer tyre compound. What we don’t know (or at least I don’t) is how long Mclaren thought Lewis could last on that compound.

      If they thought that the fastest overall strategy (for Hamilton) was to go a little bit longer on the harder compound in order to better preserve the softer compound, then who’s to say they weren’t spot on?

      They certainly would have had a lot more information on the subject – rate of tyre degredation for the 2 compounds etc – than we do.

      1. KaptKubleman
        5th April 2010, 2:43

        I agree. On lap 28 I was thinking: “Why the heck aren’t they bringing in Hamilton”. Then I realized that It was only half race distance. His Harder compound had lasted that distance, but would the softs have lasted?

        Interesting to note that in Australia, Alonso fought his way up the order and was then stuck behind Massa for many laps on the one set of tyres (after changing from inters). I think that Hamilton’s tyres could well have lasted the distance given the abuse they were able to accept at Alonso’s hands.

    3. That logic is flawed, you cannot add and subtract numbers like that. Since Hamilton’s pre-stop and Sutil’s post-stop pace were matching, a pit stop at any point would still have resulted in Hamilton rejoining the exact same 4 seconds behind Sutil.

      The only way to jump someone in pits is to pit earlier than the other guy. Sutil pitted around lap 20, Hamilton around lap 30. That’s not a blunder, that’s different strategies.

      Don’t be confused by the fact that Massa was so quick on fresh rubber because the only reason he made up 10 seconds was that he had no-one ahead of him. Hamilton (despite his pace) couldn’t have realized any of those 10 seconds because of his track position.

  7. Im not a Hamilton fan… but this season i have been enjoying watching him. pardon the weaving with Petrov, he has been impressive this season.

    1. I am not a Hamilton fanatic, more rather an Alonso fan but, LEWIS IS A JOY TO WATCH! What a fantastic racer he is, chapeau!

  8. What I’ve understood ‘generally’ from people over the past 3 and a bit seasons:

    Lewis Hamilton, 2007 – he’s only any good ‘cos he’s a spoilt daddies boy in the best car ever and favoured over team mate. Runner up, haha, choked in the end, no good after all.

    Lewis Hamilton, 2008 – he’s only any good ‘cos he’s a spoilt daddies boy in a good car and favoured over team mate. Lucky cheating WDC.

    Lewis Hamilton, 2009 – Hmmm, maybe this kid is good? Doesn’t seem so spoilt now: ragged & chastised for following bad team orders and the car is crap; yet he still bags 4 poles and 2 wins.

    Lewis Hamilton, 2010 – holy s**t, we’ve not seen the like of this driver for years! He’s the best thing on the track and a true racer through and through.

    Welcome back to 2007 folks…

    1. It’s called the “Hamilton hype”, most of the new f1 fans around now are all Hamilton fans….If you can really call them that since they don’t know who won the title before him and before him etc etc. I was asked by a hamilton fan “who was Fangio” on another Forum, I just left there and then in complete silence.

      personally i’m still trying to figure out who have the worst “fanatics” (none related to the website btw) but it looks to me there are 3 groups.

      1.The Alonso fanatics who dislike Hamilton more then Barcelona hate Real Madrid in football, and some who go even further then that as we have seen at the spanish gp 2 years running with racist remarks as we full well know.

      2.The Hamilton fanatics who consider Lewis the greatest thing on the circuit ever, who always belittle other drivers aka “Vettel can’t overtake like hamilton” “massa can’t drive in the rain like hamilton” “lewis beat alonso in his rookie year which makes him forever better”.

      3.The Schumacher fanatics who pritty much do the same as the hamilton fans except they involve Ferrari in the pot with, Schumi+Ferrari=7WDC “no one will ever beat it” or “schumacher might not of won this year but he still has 7 WDC…………. dude 7”.

      All in all Alonso going to Ferrari is a good move but now we have to listen to these 3 allllllll over again, and with normal f1 fans like us stuck in the crossfire being insulted for having a different view wont end pritty, so keith will be very busy cleaning up spam for the next couple of years.

      1. (Some of them don’t know who won the title before him)


      2. my vote is for 1) :)

        and I don’t know if AlonsoHamilton hate is reciprocal, but BarcelonaReal Madrid is (probably influenced by political reasons)

      3. Atleast we have gotten rid of all the Kimi fanatics.

        I used to call them “IFfanatics”. Since almost all their arguments included “If Kimi didn’t have engine failure”, “If Kimi’s team had made the right strategy call”, “If Ferrari had developed the car to Kimi’s liking”, “Kimi would be champion if”, “If this.. if that”.

        For them, reality didn’t count. Just hypothetical situations where everyone except Kimi had car gremlins mattered more.

        1. Kimi would definitely have won today, if he was driving in F1 instead of rallying.

          1. LOL @Jonathan. Was it a joke? Its the same as if I would say that Hakkinen would win 2006 f1 drivers championship if he was still driving

        2. @sumedh: personally i think they act just like Kimi, drink alot and are just plain quiet until they win. That’s what you got at spa anyway.

          I know there are actual Lewis fans out there who know what they are on about and admit there are flaws with him like any other driver. But all it takes with a chat on a forum like this is: “I’ve only just started watching Formula 1 since Hamilton came in who made it interesting.” done, i’m finished, can’t talk to you anymore since it’s obvious how little you know about the actual sport (for the love of…..atleast know whats going on on the circuit rather then just watch how fast he goes around geeze…..)

          brilliant quote by “Steven Wright” for most of the single minded “F1 fanboys”

          (Light travels faster than sound- isn’t that why some people appear bright until you hear them speak?)

      4. F1SilverArrows,

        I suggest you dismount from your highhorse. You have no right to call anyone a lesser fan of the sport because of who they support. Ignorance can be forgiven, arrogance on the other hand…

        1. never said they were lesser fans just very annoying hearing them week by week, season by season.

          what high horse? I’m just mentioning a common situation that comes up all season, does that bug you in some way?

          1. Well I am a Hamilton fan, but I watched the sport since before he. Seems the problem isn’t really the fans of each drivers but the fanboys/girls, yes them ones described above. Those who upon no argument washes an no logic suffices an no evidence matters.

            To be fair, Kimi had an awful lot of gremlins, schumacher an awful lot of titles and, Vettle has never overtaken like Hamilton and Massa’s rain skills, well he had one hella bad race, still Brazil 08 is my answer to the fanboys.

            Still, a lot of these people are just comming into F1. They might learn eventually, everyone was a newbie once, we wern’t born with the knowledge we now have about Prost. An it’s not ourtageous to not know who Fangio was, I suspect most people don’t, granted not here but all the same.

        2. Matt, he’s got it spot on – it’s not arrogant, just objective analysis…

      5. Oh, so you saw Fangio drive? Wow.

        1. My god I’m so glad there weren’t forums and blogs around when I started supporting Damon Hill when I was 12 years old in 1994 – the warm welcome some of the “true fans” give to newer, inexperienced fans earlier in these comments might have made me want to turn my back forever! I may not have known who Fangio was as a 12 year old, but 16 years later my knowledge has increased somewhat, and I’m even a Hamilton supporter…

      6. I’m afraid i’m going to have to go with number 2.

      7. I agree that fanatics are sometimes a problem but lets remember what the name of this blog is….

        It does annoy when people only want to see one biased view and lambaste anyone that thinks differently. However to assume that some one is not credible due to the fact that they do not know who fangio is is just ridiculous! One of the great things that Hamilton has brought to the sport of F1 is a hell of a lot of new f1 fans. We should not look down on them just because they are new, we should be welcoming them and passing on knowledge and thoughts. Gradually these new fans will learn more and look back at the past greats as they become more and more interested in motor sport. I know many people that are new football fans that talked utter rubbish (as they knew no better) at the beginning but instead of talking down to them I suggested games to watch and players to look back at and now some of them know far more than I do! I have been watching F1 for as long as I can remember and I am still learning.

        There is also the point that these fanatics are not necessarily barking entirely up the wrong tree. Schumacher is a great driver (although it is also right to say that he never had as many good drivers to compete against as he does now), Alonso is a fantastic race driver (I however do not particularly like him) and Hamilton has the makings of a truly legendary driver (he does still have a lot to learn too though). These fanatics are following the right drivers but over time most will learn to look at all the facts. A few however will never ever see the light.

        1. I pretty much disagree with this thread. I don’t mean to say that people are wrong about the fanboys, but they’re not the problem; it’s the haters. When faced with:

          “OMG Alonso is the GREATEST”


          “Once again Button wins a race by luck”

          I can generally say that it’s the latter who knows less and is “less of a fan” than the former. Hyping ability is a lesser evil than ignoring it.

          1. Fully agreed Icthyes.

  9. Sush Meerkat
    4th April 2010, 17:39

    I think its disgusting that McLaren quite clearly brought Button in early and compromised his strategy and race to favour Hamilton.

    This is obviously Hamiltons teams and Button finishing behind him shows who they favour, after all Hamilton car states that is it number 2.

    The above was a facetious comment targetted towards the idiots who thought McLaren supported Button last week and to show how their “demented honking” looks stupid.

    1. Button himself said he suggested to come in for tyres.

      Why are people so keen to suggest McLaren are favouring one or the other driver? I think they’re doing a good job managing the drivers to be honest.

      1. Katy: Sush Meerkat said “The above was a facetious comment…”

        1. Oooh my bad! Sorry I jumped the gun a little :-P

          1. Sush Meerkat
            4th April 2010, 19:14

            Thanks pSyngrg for the backup, and Katy, I was only saying that because Jenson was behind Lewis.

            I’m a Jenson fan, and I didn’t foam at the mouth just because Hamilton beat him once, unlike the hamilton fans.

            The worse thing about F1 is the fans, and how they act.

            McLaren fans are the worse, they are like football fanboys, when they lose its not their fault, when they lose against their own team… they lose all logic

            Clearly McLaren wanted Jenson to win so bad that they lose 5 million pounds worth of sponsorship by messing up Hamiltons strategy.

            but when Hamilton beats Button, I don’t see the same voices whine again like they did one week ago.

            Clearly it means Hamilton is favoured


          2. This is the problem with internets. Sarcasm doesn’t come across very well :(

          3. Yeah I couldn’t believe it when I read that some people were saying McLaren were favouring Button over Lewis last weekend, so when I read this I assumed there were some more ridiculous people out there. I apologise hehe.

  10. Watched Malaysia (and Australia) on TV in Japan – where I can’t understand the commentary. I didn’t really need commentary as anyone with eyes could see that Hamilton was both of those races. Although I am not a big Hamilton fan I am starting to think the FIA should pay the guy a bonus on top of his regular team salary for making the spectacle.

  11. I find it unbelievably that people want refuelling back! How will making pit-stops longer and overtaking via strategy produce better racing?

    What would refuelling have bought to this race, probably stopped Mclaren and Ferrari overtaking because they’d have been fuelled heavy and just waited for others to stop.

    1. Much of the excitement in today’s race (obviously not all, granted four top drivers were coming through the field) was a result of different drivers/teams running different strategies (eg Button, Massa, Hamilton, Alonso) and therefore being fast at different stages of the race. This is what made refuelling exciting, the different strategy options.

      Hopefully we will see more of the same this year as this race proved that we don’t need rain in the race to make it exciting, but I fear in most races the strategies will tend to be similar like in Bahrain. Respect to Button for another bold strategy which didn’t quite pay off this time (but didn’t really fail either), hopefully it doesn’t put him off going for it again and encouraging others to try out something different.

      1. Exactly which shows we still get some strategy without it being all about strategy. Today was the perfect balance of strategy and racing today for me personally.

      2. Very true.

        The last 2 races livened up only because people were on different strategies.

        On a normal race weekend, strategies will be very similar thus allowing for processional races.

        However, even in 2009 on a normal race weekend, strategies would be similar. But back in 2009, drivers could try variations such as short-fueling or running a bit longer during the middle stint. And 1 or 2 extra laps would make a difference of position.

        In 2010, pit-stop windows are more shorter. When 1 guy in the front pits, the rest of the front runners just follow suit immediately. And an extra (or lesser) 1 or 2 laps don’t make a difference of position since the fuel levels are same for both drivers.

        1. I guess what it shows is that they need to reconsider the tyre rules. No rule where the top ten need to start on the qualifying tyres, and no mandatory use of both types of tyre.

          1. Definately true. Especially as the tyre rule was brought in to keep strategy. It’s a silly rule.

            Loose it bring back strategy an the possibility of overtaking. I think still keep the mandatory tyre change rule though.

          2. I agree about the tyre rule, people didn’t start on qualifying tyres. This let people play different strategies which made the race more interesting.

            This shows to me they should scrap the tyre rule as soon as possible then different drivers will start on different tyres at the start of the race.

      3. JerseyF1 said “…this race proved that we don’t need rain in the race to make it exciting…”

        I don’t wanna put a downer on this or any other race but there was rain. It just happened to be during quali and effectively gave us front runners coming through the field…

        1. I almost hate myself for suggesting it, but reverse grids?

          This race still shows the issues with aero though. Your charge is only as good as the dirty air off the back your prey.

    2. Refuelling imrpoves the racing because the cars and drivers can be more at the limit. It’s simply better racing.

      These fully fuelled cars are simply slow.

      I guess strategywise it doesnt matter. it doesn’t help much but it sure doesn’t make it overtaking less possible either.

      The big issue is. Some drivers overtake and others don’t. Massa simply doesn’t overtake. he just sits there and hopes he can get past the driver in front on strategy. hamilton and Alonso try to overtake to improve their position further. Nothing has changed there.

      1. “Felipe baby” is capable of overtaking to get through the field, but he just isn’t showing it at the moment.

      2. You must remember that the McLarens have the F-duct, which gave them a lot of speed to overtake. Hamilton clearly used this to his advantage in the beginning of the race.

        People also forget that Massa overtook Button in the end of the race and was getting really close to Hamilton. If the race had an extra 43 laps, it would it would be interesting to test the “Massa doesn’t overtake” theory.

        1. Well we saw already in the first “43” laps how well Massa does at overtaking.

          Besides, Button was barely able to keep the car on the grey stuff. He compeltely ruined his tyres.

          1. @Patrickl:

            Button is the best there is when it comes to managing his tyres.

            So, we can be sure that if Massa overtook Button, he could have overtook anyone who had been driving in Button’s car (and that includes Hamilton).

            So, the Massa can’t overtake theory makes little sense.

            FYI, After Alonso had gotten himself on Vettel’s gearbox at bahrain, he took close to a lap to overtake him.

            After that, Massa was through Vettel on the next turn itself!!

            So will you conclude that Alonso is a worse overtaker than Massa?

          2. People claim Button is the best at managing his tyres. Yet obviously in Malaysia he didn’t do so well.

            It didn’t take Alonso a lap to get past Vettel.

            Vettel lost a lot of speed on the straight so both cars could get past. Not sure how this reflects on either driver’s overtaking skills.

            Please try to keep it real. You are simply being annoyingly ridiculous.

  12. good job but how you do the graphs? i want to do something similar for another series. do you use excel?

    1. You can make graphs like those easy with excel.

  13. “But could we see a scenario where a driver in Webber’s position takes it upon himself to pit before his team mate does to gain the benefit of being the first to pit?”

    Surely that wouldn’t work because the team wouldn’t have time to bring out the tyres if they didn’t have warning that the driver was coming in, like we saw with Hamilton in Valencia last year. Valencia is an unusual pitlane in that it places the WCC at the end of the pitlane, rather than at the beginning, (Melbourne and Suzuka are the only other 2 that do that), so McLaren were in the 2nd to last pitlane garage yet still didn’t have time to bring out the tyres – they cost Hamilton 5 seconds, and that was with refuelling, it would have been 10 seconds in a non-refuelling pitstop – so there is no way that a top team would be able to at most races as they are normally at the start of the pitlane. So IMO there is no way we will ever see a driver do that as it will only cost them time as their team won’t be ready to service them.

  14. This shows how McLaren got the strategy wrong again. If Hamilton had followed Ferrari’s strategy for Massa, who knows where he could have ended up.

    The guy drives his heart out, but the team just keeps letting him down.

    Still, I’d change the title to:

    “How Hamilton raced to the front and Massa drove to the front”

  15. Button, on the other hand, pitted on lap nine and completed the remaining 47 laps without another stop – though his tyres were heavily worn by the end of the race. It was not unlike his long stint at Melbourne last week, and is further evidence of his skill in looking after tyres.

    Bridgestone said that Button’s tyres were almost completely dead after the Australian race, and today it was even worse. He has a lot of skill in maintaining tyres, but as we saw today, that’s only good if there is no-one else threatening him on a fresher set. I’m not sure why Button came in so early today, or why we wrecked his inters so quickly in Australia, but the need to makes you wonder about his tyre management skills if his go off before everybody else’s?

    Maybe it’s more to do with not being able to heat the tyres up as well, as well as his driving style? You can get graining on cold tyres too, if they are not up to temperature the lateral forces produce grains; so skillful at maintaining tyres at optimal temperature, yes, but for managing tyres overall, there seems to be a weak spot in Jenson’s abilities.

    1. Button destroyed his soft tyres in the first stint tyres pretty rapidly. Then he switched to the harder tyres. They should easily have lasted the race distance.

  16. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Trulli made no stops, so he hasnt used both tyre types. Its not legal move. He must be DSQ

    1. He did – there was a mistake on the data published by the FIA. The chart above has been corrected.

  17. bob : the qualifying was under a rainy weather.

    1. Its nonsense @geek, cause there was no rain :) BTW just found in that he had pitstop in lap 15, but it hasnt written in :) So Keith your graph about pitstops is wrong. Trulli had stop :)

    2. As I understand it, if the race is dry, both tire compounds must be used… I didn’t notice that Trulli didn’t stop at all – but THAT is tyre management!

      1. Let’s just delete my comment..

  18. I think that we are going to see the following situation a lot in this year:
    if you can´t overtake the guy in front of you, you will simply stop early and due the fact that fresh soft tyres are faster (almost 2 seconds) will eventually get that position when front driver finally stops for fresh tyres. The problem will be then to avoid the later to overtake you because your tyres will be gone and the tyres of the guy behind you will be fresh. As we saw already, some drivers are able to acomplish this task, i.e., to hold a much faster driver behind you.

    1. Yeah.

      From the radio transmissions, I assumed that was what Webber was going to do.

      Instead they gave Vettel the first stop again.

      Webber is just such number 2 there.

      1. In a situation like for RBR today, it’s pretty simple. The strategy guys decide of the best time to pit boths cars (in this case “as soon as Rosberg pits”), and priority is given to whoever is in front, which today was Vettel.

        1. Well it was clear that Webber’s crew thought he would be stopping first.

          Makes sense that the guy who starts in front gets to pick the strategy since you set the strategy at the start of the race.

  19. Stuart Hotman
    5th April 2010, 0:08

    I normally dislike Jordan as a pundit but it was comical when he laid into Whitmarsh about screwing up qualifying. Having watched the race now, it seems McLaren could have had a 1-2 if they had just got those crucial banker laps in quali. Everyone knows you get a banker in when its wet. At least the championship is hotting up. Roll on China

  20. theRoswellite
    5th April 2010, 1:56

    Just a little add on data here.

    This is the average grid positions for the drivers after the first three races. It is obvious to see the effect Sepang has had on the Ferrari and McLaren team.

    I’d say the big surprise was Sutil.

    1 Sebastian Vettel 1.6
    2 Mark Webber 3
    3 Nico Rosberg 4.3
    4 Michael Schumacher 7.3
    5 Robert Kubica 8
    5 Adrian Sutil 8
    7 Fernando Alonso 8.3
    8 Rubens Barrichello 8.6
    9 Felipe Massa 9.3
    10 Jenson Button 9.6

    11 Nico Hulkenberg 11
    12 Lewis Hamilton 11.6
    12 Vitantonio Liuzzi 11.6
    14 Sebastien Buemi 13.3
    14 Pedro do la Rosa 13.3
    16 Kamui Kobayashi 13.6
    17 Vitaly Petrov 15.3
    18 Jaime Alguersuari 16.3
    19 Heikki Kovalainen 18.3
    20 Timo Glock 18.6

    21 Jarno Trulli 19.3
    22 Lucas di Grassi 22.6
    23 Bruno Senna 23
    24 Karun Chandhok 23.3

  21. I’m a bit confused about how the “Drivers’ positions versus the leaders’ average lap time” chart gets calculated, can someone enlighten me?

  22. What I would love to have seen is a battle to the end between the two Red Bulls. Looking at the times leading up to the stops, Webber was a bit more than a second behind. Without a damaged stop, he would have returned to the track in second place with about the same distance. Considering their speeds on the track we would have had a log battle to the end. Could he have passed? Unlikely I am sad to say but it would have been great to see Vettel under some pressure through to the end.

  23. US Williams Fan
    5th April 2010, 5:23

    As always – Great Analysis Keith! Very detailed. Keep up the good work!

  24. Gr8 analysis Keith. Thanks for all the hard work. For those moaning about “…this driver did this…” and “…another driver did that…” let’s just all take a deep breath and enjoy exciting, controversial and awesome racing. It doesn’t seem that long ago that people were saying F1 was as exciting as watching grass grow or paint drying. The driving standard in terms of talent is higher than I can remember in twenty odd years and I started watching in 1982. So sit back, relax and enjoy the “show”. These times will pass all too quickly. P.S. For the fanboys/girls Hamilton is a spoilt daddy’s boy! Alonso is a liar! Button is just lucky…a lot! Massa is rubbish in the wet!

  25. hamilton took an early charge but both the Ferrari failed to do some overtaking early in the race.But once again Hamilton showed how good a driver he is given the fact he started at the back of the pack.

  26. Convient for McLaren that the tire strategies played out as they did this race. One mistake each now for Hamilton and Button. Great driving by Hamilton, shame Button had to come in so early though…

    1. Mistake? Are you talking about Button? He got in front of Massa and Alonso didn’t he?

      Of course he lost the positin, but obviously he was in a better spot than if he simply followed them around.

      At best you could say that Button should have handled his tyres better. He obviously wore them too much to be able to keep even a poor overtaker like Massa behind him.

      The big blunder was during qualifying.

      1. Felipe is a decent overtaker as he has shown before, even if maybe he is not as good as Alonso or Hamilton. He just needs to get back to the pace we know he’s capable of.

        1. Well I guess decent isn’t enough anymore. Nor has it been for the last 5 years or so.

          1. He is better than you’re making out.

          2. What’s the point of debating this? The only (rare) overtakes that Massa does are when he has a better start or when other drivers go off track (Webber taking himself and Hamilton off in Australia). Other than that people need to go back years for an example. People still need to come up with Massa passing a struggling midfielder (Kubica) in 2007 to show that Massa can actually overtake.

            THAT’s how bad he is. They need to go back to 2007 for an example.

          3. @Patrickl, I assume you slept through Australia 2007, Silverstone 2007, Japan 2008, Canada 2008, China 2009 (which was in the rain, BTW)

            And I don’t even count Hungary 2008.

          4. I agree with sumedh. And Patrick, if you spend less time writing off Massa as a sub-par driver, then other people will spend less time proving you WRONG.

          5. Hungary and Canada are exactly the races I’m talking about when he basically only shows overtaking after the start or when cars fly off track.

            You both know that there are a million races where he didn’t overtake nada in a car that should allow him to overtake plenty.

            A few races where he in fact overtook a few cars (and then mostly from the start or cars that flew off track) doesn’t negate the standard trend.

            China 2009 he didn’t overtake a single car. I’m also NOT talking about making up places because he didn’t make a pit stop and then dropped out of the race. Seriously, that’s the Sutil way of claiming you (could) have done brilliantly.

          6. You forgot about the double pass which IIRC was voted on this site as the best pass of 2008, and others, but your Massa bashing is getting too tiring to bother arguing against. I’m stopping here.

  27. SennaRainho
    5th April 2010, 16:43

    This thread is getting out of hand! My first F1 hero was the noble gentleman Jackie Stewart – and there have been many since – yet I have never watched Fangio drive. I have known about him having the most titles for most of my life but I honestly know quite little more than that.

    My hardest period in F1 was after Senna tragically passed. I had no idea where to turn in order to enjoy the sport again. I was a big Schumacher anti-supporter simply because he was Senna’s main opponent. I naturally went with Hakkinen because he stood up to Schumacher and later on it was Raikkonen.

    My point to all of this is that if you watch the sport as a complete neutral the exitement is very limited. But if you keep your hopes high for certain drivers it is a true thrill when they do well and a pain when they don’t. I see that clearly again now that Raikkonen is no longer in the field. I never naturally gave in to Massa, Alonso or Hamilton simply because I still wanted Raikkonen to beat them!

    Yes, I am guilty of saying “if…” about Raikkonen several times because it was so darn frustrating to see him with mechanical failures in 38% of all the races he ever drove for McLaren. Yes, I think he would have made better “if”…. but I am not ignorant to the fact that speed and reliability are not easily balanced. I was a true Raikkonen fan because of the spectacular drives he sometimes showed and that made the sport exiting (and frustrating) for me in those years!

    So to all the fanboys and fangirls out there supporting the sport: KEEP IT UP! Without you F1 would not be one of the biggest TV spectacles we have. We need all the supporters we can get regardles who your favourites are.

    When we are young we don’t understand every aspect and we like to place our heros higher than they might deserve, but younger supporters we have, the longer they can stay with us. We really need to embrace the opinions of everyone as long as they are only opinions. I don’t see any point in putting down fanboys or supporters of particular drivers. If you don’t agree with their views you can simply state your own. We are all just race-fans in the end and not hooligans.

    As I have stated before we are blessed with some truly great drivers at the moment. I still would have liked to see Raikkonen beat them all but I am old enough to acknowledge the talents of Alonso, Hamilton, Vettel, Webber, Massa, Rosberg and others. I actually used to despise Alonso for constantly bitching about every little thing – like someone cutting a chicane – while he got away with cutting several himself in other races. However, I have seen how much he has matured over the years and something similar is happening with Hamilton at the moment.

    Along with Vettel and Rosberg they entered the sport very young and there is nothing easier than pointing fingers at people who are inexperienced in life – but when I think about it – I am not sure how I would have handled being a closely followed celebrity at the age of 22?

    Instead I am starting to realize how interesting it is to actually see these youngsters and evolve into men. Some more tha nothers but seen in that light there is a limit to what we can expect from a maybe only ten year old “fanboy” in here. If we find that their views are too “green” we can simply ignore them but please don’t try to make fools of them for what they believe. Rather try to explain why you think they might be wrong and back it up with data where possible so they can learn as much as possible and take our places when we are gone!

  28. Keith,
    Is there some data on the pitstops? During the race I thought Rosberg was fastest but I am not sure.

  29. Great analysis, thank You, Keith.
    And interesting statistic about the average grid positions. Will be fun to follow the development of that over the season.
    I think Alonso’s engine was overrevved due to the gearbox problem. But great that he tried to fight it despite this gearbox problem.
    A great race with a lot of exiting duels, and many over-takings – how many?
    Re the discussion of F1 fans, I think that motor sports fans are generally much more respectful of the competition to the drivers or teams they like, than is the case in many other sports. And of course everyone starts from zero at some point. To have someone to discuss it with You have to bid newcomers welcome and teach them in their pace. I agree a lot with SennaRainho, although I’m a very dedicated fan of the sport, without being a dedicated fan of a particular driver, or team. Being a big fan of a particular driver is IMO to overlook the fact, that the car and the design and team building it is more important to the results. As an example see how Lewis performed last year – same team, and Lewis didn’t have the excuse that he had not been able to influence the development of the car.

  30. Hi, all this debate about massa/vettel etc being worse overtakers then hamilton. Lets not forget nearly every overtake Hamilton makes these days is more due to the car then his overtaking ability. last year it was Kers and this year the f-duct, these 2 devices added with the Mercedes engine, the most powerful in f1, have made his car faster then anyone elses in a straight line, and even 2kmh faster can help his car catch a slipstream and help his car get past. (and its not just top speed, its rate of acceleration too dont forget) he can make up 5-6 car lengths down a straight just through this, not driver talent, and then its just a simple outbreak at the end of the straight. the ferrari driver dont have such an advantage, thus they couldnt overtake as well as hamilton did in the last 2 races. i wonder how many cars he couldve passed in an even playing field with no f-duct? No one can claim that it didnt aid him in his overtaking. To get an example of how much tougher it would be without the f-duct, look at how he struggled getting past Sutil, as Sutils car has a Mercedes engine also (evening out the playing field in the battle), it too longer on the straight for the f-duct adcantage to work, why couldnt he use his Amazing skills to get passed him? he was 2 seconds a lap faster then him… its all about the cars these days.
    Fanboys dont look into the details like this, they just see hamilton making passes and think he is the greatest thing in f1. They should look at how other drivers are performing in inferior cars like Kubica who has been making no mistakes and is finishing races in higher positions then the car belongs, while Hamilton is finishing lower then his car belongs. Kubica has finished twice in a row ahead of Hamilton in a car 0.5 seconds a lap slower. Hamilton has made mistakes, Kubica hasnt. In their only ontrack battle, Hamiltons car was much faster then Kubicas in Melbourne, and Hamilton made a mistake trying to pass Kubica in turn 4 after Kubica brilliantly defended in an inferior car. Hamilton eventually had to pit as he couldnt get past Kubica.

    1. You do know that Kubicas car has a F-duct too?

    2. SennaRainho
      6th April 2010, 22:43

      …so how did Hamilton blast past Button in the early stages at Melbourne? F-duct? D’OH!!

      Kubica is absolutely great but that doesn’t make Hamilton bad. Actually I would love to see both of them battle it out in a McLaren.

      I agree with Palle, (Danish?) that a large part of a drivers speed is due to the car. In the top teams however, they are all currently so even that the “rest” depends on the driver. And that’s the entire point: Even if 90% of the speed is courtesy of the car, those final 10% still makes the whole difference if e.g. the top cars are within 1% of each others speed potential.

      Besides, no car is better than it’s setup and this is another point in which the driver skill can make a difference.

      An example is when Prost won by almost a minute in (Brazil 87) by setting up his car for low down force while everyone else went for high down force. He had slow corner speed but what made the difference was the low tire wear and he only had to pit once.

      1. Even if it is necessary to have a top driver to win the WDC, Brawn succeded last year. With the risk of offending Button fans, I think it is realistic to say that the odds of Button winning was very, very small before the first test of the Brawn racer showed what it could do. I fully agree that Button raised his game, when he realized the potential and even under great pressure before the last two races last year he performed as a true champion. And what would the RB6 be without Newey? F1 is a hightech team-sport and the Fan hype on the drivers are overlooking that fact, over and over again. I like to be impressed by new drivers (like Kobayashi overtaking Button in his first race), and old drivers in new teams etc, but the drivers are only the pilots. They alone can win nothing. As in war, You can have brave, skilled soldiers, but if you’re technically and tactically inferior You will loose. The pilot depends on the service from his mechanics, his Engineer, the teams tactical computers, their weather station, etc. etc. The pilot needs a lot of people to perform for him to succeed, the team needs the pilot to perform for them to succeed, but they win or loose together.
        And yes, I’m Danish:-)

        1. hamilton passing button was probably to do with the drivers, as button wasnt driving particularily fast at that point of the race, although i cant remember who was on what tire.
          I never said Hamilton was a bad driver anywhere btw.

  31. Boys we are talk car racing…it doesn’t matter how good the driver is…you need rich uncle to even make it to this Level….just ask that kid driving the Torro rossi,he will replace that old fart at MB

  32. dj: You need a rich “uncle”, yes, but if You’re not very very talented, you can’t find a rich “uncle”, or he isn’t rich enough. The driver is important, but when we discuss the best 8 to 12 drivers at this level, the technical package seems more decisive.

    1. ya,I know,but just a Rfactor widget and we could be racing these babes…Jenson sure waited along time for a good car

  33. dj: You can’t compare armchair racing with reality. It is so physical with all those G-forces. Look at Fisichellas pole lap of Spa last year: in a turn combination he has 3,4 g lateral to the left, which then almost instantly switches to 4 g lateral to the right… 1 and a half hour like that, anybody without a lot of physical training would be totally crushed. 30 min of carting is physically tough, even if You are generally fit, and F1 is so much more, You can’t compare.

  34. SennaRainho
    9th April 2010, 18:25

    Palle, I very much agree that Button pretty much won due to the car only but I think we can both agree that the example is a bit extreme. The car was clearly not within regulations and should never have raced.

    When the cars raced are built within the same rules they are equal enough that the driver has to make up for the rest of the difference.

    Once the driver is established in the top it is sometimes hard to know the true potential and I also love to watch Kobayashi performing well in a weak car which used to be how careers were made. Vettel did it, Raikkonen, Alonso, Schumacher, Senna and the list goes on.

    Now though, as in the case of Hamilton, they come straight from McLaren’s “kindergarden” and we don’t know what they can do in an under-performing car. Or maybe we do after all as he was driving a quite poor car last year.

    Though I prefer to see the drivers prove themselves before entering top teams, it will be interesting to see if young Magnussen will make it straight to the permanent McLaren seat :-)

  35. SennaRainho, I think it is perfectly OK that the Brawn car was allowed to race. After all F1 is also an engineering competition – who can design and build the best car. Otherwise we have GP2 where the cars are quite the same, like many other racing series. The possibility of outsmarting the competition is giving F1 a unique aura of hightech and it creates a development environment, where it is possible to bring forward new advanced technologies, (almost) otherwise not possible.
    Unless Young Magnussen is technically (re feedback to his engineer, etc.) more talented than his father, he will not make it to a McLaren seat in F1.

  36. SennaRainho
    9th April 2010, 22:42

    I agree with your points but I just don’t think they apply to the Brawn case. FIA made a huge effort to try cut down force as well as cost in 2009. Both points were rare cases of sharp sight FIA but the double difuser was not only against the regulations according to most of the inspectors but it was downright contradiction to both points: Cars could barely follow each other at all and everybody had to spend huge sums to try to keep up.

    I don’t remember which team it was but someone actually inquired to the FIA about the possibility of a double difuser and was told it would be illegal. Brawn was more persistant but you basically end up with teams following different regulations which is first of all unfair but also hopelessly boring to watch.

    Kevin is already aware of his fathers shortcomings and I am sure that he will work hard not to make the same mistakes. Besides, he might be completely different person. I hope he’ll make it, now that we are about to witness the first start to a season in 20 years where no scandinavian has scored points within the first four races!!

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