Valencia’s short pit lane helps Hamilton hold onto second (European GP analysis)

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Valencia, 2010

It wasn’t just slow stewards which inadvertently helped Lewis Hamilton hold onto second place after his drive-through penalty.

Valencia’s short pit lane was the difference between him finishing second instead of sixth.

See below for more data on the European Grand Prix including the race progress and lap time interactive charts.

Lap 1

Lap 1 position change

Lap 1 position change (click to enlarge)

Mark Webber didn’t get off the line too poorly, but after Lewis Hamilton got alongside him he was punished to the tune of seven places by the end of the first lap.

First the Ferraris set upon Webber, then Jenson Button and Robert Kubica went either side of him as they rounded turn eight, both making it past.

By the end of the lap Webber had slumped from second to ninth.

Vitaly Petrov blamed his poor start on wheelspin as the lights changed, dropping him from tenth to 15th.

Pit stops

Pit stops

Pit stops (click to enlarge)

The normal routine of pit stops was just getting started when Webber’s crash brought the safety car out.

Most of those who could pit on lap nine did, several others pitted on lap ten, and the ones who lost out were the ones who had to follow the safety car around before coming in – Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa.

Hamilton spared himself that delay by illegally overtaking the safety car – unwittingly or otherwise. But as things worked out, the penalty he got for doing that was less than the time he ultimately saved by not following the safety car around.

Race progress

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

Hamilton came very close to not making it out in front of Kobayashi. Drivers have up to three laps to serve drive-through penalties and McLaren kept him out as late as they could to maximise his chance of getting ahead.

At the point Hamilton was informed of the penalty he was 2.2s behind Sebastian Vettel and McLaren’s radio broadcasts revealed he was saving fuel to attack Vettel later on. But once they knew they were getting a penalty Hamilton speeded up, increasing his gap over Kobayashi from 11.2s to 13.2s.

This was crucial, as typical pit lane time loss at Valencia is 12.7s. It’s the shortest pit lane F1 has used so far this year. Had the same situation happened at Shanghai, where pit lane time loss is 21s, Hamilton would have come out in sixth place behind Robert Kubica.

It’s worth reflecting that, not only did the stewards take rather too long to give Hamilton a penalty, but the only penalty available to them is one that varies in its severity from race to race. Hardly an ideal situation.

Drivers’ lap times

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Jenson Button grabbed the fastest lap late in the race with a 1’38.766. That was just 0.083s slower than the lap record, set by Timo Glock last year.

Lap chart

Lap chart

Lap chart (click to enlarge)

Adrian Sutil pulled off one of the race’s few overtaking moves and it paid off three times over.

As well as taking a place from Sebastian Buemi he was able to pull ahead and inherit another place from Kamui Kobayashi when the Sauber driver pitted.

It also meant he was far enough of ahead of Fernando Alonso that, when Sutil got his post-race five second penalty, he stayed ahead of Alonso.

NB. charts do not reflect time penalties added after the race.

2010 European Grand Prix

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94 comments on Valencia’s short pit lane helps Hamilton hold onto second (European GP analysis)

  1. Oliver said on 28th June 2010, 10:54

    Then you will have arbitrary rules and match fixing.
    If the FIA didn’t enjoy reading verbose wordings of their rules and regulations, we would not have a safety car line, but instant deployment of a safety car.
    Why deploy a safety car then still have drivers having the option of being able race the safety car to a line or be looking for a line to decide if they are ahead or behind a safety car.

  2. Oliver said on 28th June 2010, 10:56

    WOW!!!! “You are posting comments too fast”

    Come on Keith, I only type at 45Mph. :-)

  3. valentina46 said on 28th June 2010, 11:24

    Totally agree with you guys..The pit lane should be closed until all the cars are behind the SC. But I think Hamilton’s punishment should have been the black flag. He didn’t only overtake the SC but also the medical car. So he didn’t even care about the health of a fellow driver.
    Alonso was so right about what he said after the race: The one who respects the rules finishes 8th, while the one who violates them finishes 2nd. How fair can that be?

  4. Finally a bit of luck for Hamilton! Its about time too.

  5. KateDerby said on 28th June 2010, 18:59

    Interesting stat on laps led but can anyone tell me how many laps the Safety Car has led?
    Is it more than Alonso?

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