Why McLaren couldn’t keep Webber behind Hamilton (Singapore GP analysis)

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

During the race it looked as though McLaren missed an opportunity to get Lewis Hamilton in front of Mark Webber. But taking a look at the data it’s clear they never had the chance.

Once again we saw several drivers able to go virtually the entire race distance without pitting for tyres. Such as Felipe Massa, whose unconventional strategy was scuppered by an early safety car.

Lap 1

Lap one position change
Lap one position change

Before the race Sebastian Vettel said that as a new track cleaning machine was being used at Singapore he didn’t think starting off-line would be as great a disadvantage.

So it proved as both he and Jenson Button got a better start from the ‘dirty’ side of the grid than the cars they were alongside. Neither were able to make a pass stick, however.

From the pictures of the start of the race it’s clear much less dirt and dust was thrown up by the cars than was the case last year.

Jaime Alguersuari qualified 11th but started from the pit lane due to a water leak.

Pit stops

Pit stop strategies
Pit stop strategies

Once again, plenty of drivers were able to make very early stops for tyres and run to the end of the race without a further pit stop.

Bridgestone brought the super-soft and soft tyres to this race last year. Had they done the same this year instead of swapping the soft for the medium it might have been harder for drivers to use such strategies.

NB. Adrian Sutil, Sebastien Buemi, Vitaly Petrov, Nico H???lkenberg and Heikki Kovalainen’s lap three pit stops all appear to be missing from the list of pit stops published by the FIA.

Race progress

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Schooner asked one of the big strategic questions of the race:

I seem to recall that Hamilton, at some point after the first safety car, was some 22 or 23 seconds ahead of Webber. With Webber surely to close that gap after he got by Barrichello, I was expecting to see Hamilton come in for his new rubber at that stage, possibly getting out ahead of Webber.

By waiting as long as they did, no way was that going to happen. A tactical error by McLaren, in my opinion.

It’s a fair question but Hamilton was never actually far enough ahead of Webber to be able to make his pit stop and get back out in front.

He lost 29.3 seconds to Webber when he pitted, and as you can see from the chart above he never had that much of an advantage. His lead over Webber peaked at 24.253s on lap 23.

The only way McLaren could have kept Hamilton in front of Webber would have been to pit him (or Button) on lap three when Webber came in as well.

This underlines how big a gamble it was for Webber to pit that early, and how well he made it work by passing Kamui Kobayashi and Michael Schumacher.

If those two drivers hadn’t made their mistakes at turn three which allowed Webber to pass them, his gamble would not have paid off.

Lap chart

Lap chart
Lap chart

Post-race penalties for Sutil and H???lkenberg promoted Massa from tenth to eighth after he’d started 24th.

But little of his progress came as a result of overtaking moves outside of the first lap. His significant gains of position away from pit stops came at the expense of Vitaly Petrov and Timo Glock when they were pushed wide by other rivals.

Ferrari’s strategy of pitting him on lap one would probably have worked much better for him had so many other drivers not pitted lap three.

2010 Singapore Grand Prix

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