Kovalainen resists Petrov’s attack (Canadian Grand Prix analysis)

Massa was on course for eighth place before his collision with Schumacher

Massa was on course for eighth place before his collision with Schumacher

How did Heikki Kovalainen’s Lotus keep Vitaly Petrov behind for ten laps? Why did Michael Schumacher try to go half the race distance on a set of super-soft tyres? And where would Felipe Massa have finished if he hadn’t tangled with Schumacher?

Examine the Canadian Grand Prix in detail with the interactive data below.

Lap 1

Lap 1 position change

Lap 1 position change (click to enlarge)

While the top four held their places at the start two collisions mixed up the field behind them. Felipe Massa and Vitantonio Liuzzi tangled, and Vitaly Petrov comprehensively took out Pedro de la Rosa.

Kamui Kobayashi was among those to profit from this, gaining eight places at the start before sticking his Sauber into the ‘Wall of Champions’.

Pit stops

Pit stops

Pit stops (click to enlarge)

Teams tried a variety of strategies to cope with the rate at which the super-soft tyres were deteriorating on the low-grip surface – and the higher than expected temperatures which also changed the behaviour of the tyres.

Ultimately it seems the best strategy was to start the race on the super-softs, then switch to mediums and a further set of mediums. This was the strategy adopted by the top three finishers.

Mark Webber left his super-soft stint until last, forcing a long middle stint on the medium compound tyres in which he lost a lot of time.

Robert Kubica ran a similar strategy and came close to recovering the place he lost to Nico Rosberg – he was just 1.2 seconds behind the Mercedes at the end having caught Rosberg at up to a second per lap.

Michael Schumacher was in a similar position but opted for an early switch to super-soft tyres. That left him trying to complete more than half the race on a set of super-soft tyres – and some rather desperate attempts to keep rivals behind him.

Race progress

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Tick/untick drivers? names to show their laps, click and drag to zoom

Heikki Kovalainen did a fine job keeping Vitaly Petrov behind in the closing stages.

The Renault driver had the benefit of fresher super-soft tyres when he caught the Lotus with ten laps to go. But Kovalainen kept Petrov behind and crossed the line just half a second ahead of the R30. It’s further evidence of the impressive progress being made by Lotus.

Looking at Felipe Massa’s line it seems he would have had a good chance of passing Sebastien Buemi to finish eighth had he not collided with Schumacher.

Drivers’ lap times

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The lap times chart shows the extent of the Red Bull duo’s problems at the end of the race. The pair backed off by up to six seconds per lap, despite which Nico Rosberg was still 16 seconds behind at the finishing line.

It also shows how much time Michael Schumacher lost on his badly worn super-soft tyres, beginning around lap 47.

Lap chart

Lap chart

Lap chart (click to enlarge)

The Canadian Grand Prix had four different leaders including – for one lap only – Sebastien Buemi.

2010 Canadian Grand Prix

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29 comments on Kovalainen resists Petrov’s attack (Canadian Grand Prix analysis)

  1. Scribe (@scribe) said on 14th June 2010, 1:21

    Well we knew Lotus had done to get in ahead of Petrov, didn’t know quite how well. Absolutely outstanding from Kovalinen to have held of the team thats at least 5th on pace if not faster for 10 laps and on older tyres. Kovalinen is having a cracker of a season, if only he’d produced this sort of thing at McLaren, he’s going a long way to fixing his reputation.

    • Yes Heikki has been having a good season really, i think he just feels more comfortable and relaxed at Lotus and enjoying the challenge of improving a team from the bottom up.

      • Ady said on 14th June 2010, 5:37

        We must remember the big off Petrov had at the begining of the race that likely cause damage to the underside of his car.

        But none the less, Lotus have done a great job.

        • bosyber said on 14th June 2010, 8:36

          I also think Petrov should have maybe pitted earlier, covering Kovalainen.

          Instead he started having more tire degradation during that period, causing him to loose about 16 seconds to the leaders, while Kovi (apart from the pit stop and a slow outlap) only lost about 9, and caused him to remain behind Kovalainen.

          Had Petrov pitted 3 rounds earlier than he did, he would have been right on top of him, as that is where he lost most time.

    • MJ4 said on 14th June 2010, 9:29

      When discussing Kovalainen’s performance, however, one shouldn’t forget about his serial inability (or unwillingness) to get properly out of the way when he is being lapped. Not for the first time this year…

      • UneedAFinn2Win said on 14th June 2010, 9:37

        How did you get that preposterous suggestion to your head, or are you just speaking out your posterior?

      • bosyber said on 14th June 2010, 9:53

        Maybe because, at least this time, he was actually fighting with the midfield cars during the race, and wasn’t much worse than, for example Huelkenberg?

        And maybe those midfield cars have gotten tired of blue flags if the front runners are a mile behind them and stop paying attention thinking that professionals like Alonso in fast cars should be able to pass without quite so much trouble.

        (well, Lewis was also on the phone asking for a blue carpet being rolled out, but at least he did not complain about it later).

        15 years ago, blue flags were only used when a backmarker was clearly holding people up/not looking in mirrors, not immediately even when they were busy with a fight for position.

        Not sure when it started changing, although I do seem recall people losing races because they got held up while MSC usually was not – and that did play a role. I do not want to go back to that, but maybe a bit more reluctance with those flags is good.

        In the end I believe that taking care of backmarkers is part of being a race winner, and a WCC should be expected to be able to. I think it is a matter of them disregarding slower cars a bit too easy, without realizing they also are fighting for position themselves.

        Two things about that as well: Last few years, one of the harders backmarkers to pass was Alonso in the Renault, and McLaren and Ferrari did have to get used to being in the blue flag waves position last year – They should be more understanding.

        And, interesting parallel with some people criticizing Anthony Davidson in Le Mans for making a corvette GT1 car scare and hit the wall. I do not think that was his fault, but in F1 nowadays, he surely would have been right to
        not care about it, as he was quoted to be.

  2. Katy (@katy) said on 14th June 2010, 1:25

    Thanks for the graphs Keith, just had a little look through seeing what happened in Buemi’s race. Great graphs :-D

    • bosyber said on 14th June 2010, 9:09

      Buemi really did seem to have good race pace, and managed his tires well. He was right behind Rosberg when he pitted, and then close behind Schumi. I think he could have possibly gone faster than either (but for possibly degrading tires, he might have been able to get Rosberg, I think).

      It is interesting that MSC’s times start to really fall as soon as he has Buemi on his tail. Coincidence, or was he driving too aggressive there? Maybe if he had let Buemi pass easier, he could have kept those tires working less bad and would have kept a few positions at the end.

  3. Randy said on 14th June 2010, 1:50

    Good job Heikki. Lotus is starting to look like the real deal.

    • richard Hughes said on 14th June 2010, 9:36

      i agree with that they are doing so well at the moment i just hope they can keep up the good work and start to push there way up the field :) they should defo keep up the good work

  4. Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 14th June 2010, 2:35

    Poor old Petrov. He jumped the start and that’s his own fault, but he got muscled wide at the start and spun. I thought it was wrong of the stewards to give him two penalties in as many laps; surely an upgrade to a single stop-go would have been bettr.

    • LosD said on 14th June 2010, 8:22

      Ah, but as have been discussed before; They don’t really seem to have that option.

      • bosyber said on 14th June 2010, 8:42

        They should consider changing that. How many times have we seen people be unlucky/unwise, shoot themselves in the foot and down to back of the field, only to be kicked several times for various issues.

        On the one hand it is a matter of keeping your cool even if things are not going your way (like Massa did not do well, again, this race, see his speeding in the pitlane after a problem.) But it is also a bit useless when they have already come to harm from it.

        In Australia, Alonso could have had a similar “causing an accident” at the start, for harming MSC’s race, and it would have ruined a great comeback by him, for which he had to work very hard. Given the choice, he probably would choose to not do it again and instead stay near the head of the field from the start. The penalty would have been superfluous.

  5. Matt G (lotus fan) said on 14th June 2010, 8:26

    Best race of the season so far for Lotus, almost qualified infront of Kob and finishing in front of the renault. Shame Trulli had to retire but I’m hoping that Lotus can get a point before the end of the season.

  6. sw6569 (@sw6569) said on 14th June 2010, 8:44

    schumacher stopped because of the incident with Kubica which ruined his prime tyres. Thats why he was on such a stupid strategy

  7. Daffid said on 14th June 2010, 9:15

    Shame about Sutil’s puncture and slow lap limping home, deprived us of a good battle with Rosberg and Kubica, he was having a stellar race till that point.

  8. Pking007 said on 14th June 2010, 9:16

    Shumacher is fast becoming a menace on the track. TBH i’m suprised he got away first with the incident with Kubica and then Massa.

    • WidowFactory said on 14th June 2010, 9:31

      LOL becoming? Ask Hill & JV about menacing driving…

      • Lee said on 14th June 2010, 12:33

        Indeed, Always has been a menace. I fully acknowledge that he is a very good driver, however I am not sure he is really as good as his trophy cabinet suggests, he has certainly gained a lot of points in the past by driving people off the road among other questionable tactics.

  9. Shimks said on 14th June 2010, 9:22

    Two things:

    I love Kubica, but how he didn’t get a fine for dangerous driving, I don’t know. That was a ridiculous risk he took on the entry to the pit lane.

    How come drivers kept going on absolutely knackered tyres? If they’d come in for an extra tyre change (Schumacher, for example), wouldn’t it have paid off?

    Fantastic race. So exciting! :O)

    • Metallion said on 14th June 2010, 9:50

      Kubica said that he moved in behind Sutil since he was going to pit, but that Sutil then braked very early and hard and he had to do that to avoid an accident.

      Oh yeah and Schumacher got a puncture in the beginning of the race.

    • Alec said on 14th June 2010, 17:07

      I think the drivers had to stay out as they had no fresh tyres left! There might have been some scrubs from quali although I doubt they were in good enough shape to do the necessary laps required. That or if the tyres were good enough the teams might not have had them prepared as nobody was expecting the primes to degrade so quickly from the start of the race, it’d have been a pretty unprecedented move putting on old tyres during a race!

  10. Kester said on 14th June 2010, 9:59

    Small correction to the last bit – I counted 5 different leaders, not 4: Hamilton, Vettel, Buemi, Alonso, Webber

  11. Horacio said on 14th June 2010, 17:54

    Keith, when you tick/untick Massa or Barrichello from the lap times, all others times are changed.
    Maybe I am doing something wrong, but wanted to check the impression I had from following the GP from the Live Timing at f1.com. There, I had the impression that Massa’s pace was very very close to the Red Bulls and Alonso’s, until that encounter with Schumacher.
    Massa’s pace was excelent considering his troubles to find a sweet spot with those tyres. If I remember correctly, when he encountered Schumacher, Buemi was 1.4 seconds ahead, and at that time of the race the Ferrari was most than half a second faster that the Toro Rosso.

    • Horacio said on 14th June 2010, 17:58

      OK, what changes is actually the scale on the vertical axe. Sorry for the misunderstanding.
      In any case, the chart confirms that Massa’s pace was extremely solid all through.

  12. Where do you get all this data???

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