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

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

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.

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

  1. On that lap chart… Kubica road from 12 to 8 is mighty impressive

  2. SennaRainho said on 27th September 2010, 9:37

    This was almost exactly the opposite of how Hamilton broke his front suspension two weeks ago. Somehow he pulled the shortest straw in both incidents. I think he was far enough ahead that Webber should have backed off – just like Hamilton should have done two weeks ago but I’m glad FIA are not so keen on punishing real racing after the Vettel/Button afair!

  3. Let’s face it, McLaren had the worst of the top three cars again this weekend. Hamilton showed that he’s very talented and he isn’t afraid of going for an overtake.

    The championship isn’t over for him. There are 4 races in tracks that McLaren has the advantage if you consider top speed and engine. For me Webber won’t have another chance.

  4. colin grayson said on 27th September 2010, 13:06

    the reality is that with hamilton ahead webber had to brake earlier to avoid a collision which would probably put both of them out

    he didn’t do it ….but he got really , really lucky and could finish 3rd

    personally I would be very happy for him to be champion , he has been a good driver for a long time and is near the end of his career

    but you have to face the facts

    • Patrickl said on 27th September 2010, 15:52

      The cars often survive a tap like this. Usually the car in front is tapped into a spin and the following car goes through.

      It’s pretty much a calculated gamble. Although Webber went way to fast and the crash had too much force.

      Anyway, Liuzzi survived hitting Massa in a similar incident in Canada. Button survived hitting Alonso in Australia. Massa’s car even survived that assault on Hamilton in Fuji last year.

      I think only Hamilton was unlucky that his car didn’t survive in Italy. But then he was too far ahead and Massa ran into the back of his front wheel.

  5. I was dissappointed that Button seemed incapable of closing the gap on Webber.

  6. Dafizzner said on 27th September 2010, 14:21

    The Red Bull’s are getting really good at knocking the Mclaren’s out of races!

  7. Patrickl said on 27th September 2010, 15:47

    Button said that the McLarens suffered from severe graining on the super softs.

    Which explains why they weren’t able to keep up with Alonso and Vettel as the laps went on and even more so that they couldn’t even outrun Barrichello.

    If Webber had let Hamilton live (when he was overtaken), perhaps we could have known the real speed of the McLaren.

    • The title to this post, and the picture, begs a simple answer “Because Webber hit him.”

      But, seriously, The McLarens were in their own drifting competition. It was ridiculous if you watched the in car cameras; you thought you were watching an HRT. If Hamilton had got by Webber, even with Webber’s shot tires, Webber would have been all over him for the rest of the way, and, frankly, given the nature of those two guys, it would have thus come to tears one way or another.

      I really feel like in two races running McLaren have got it totally wrong on their tire performance analysis and resulting strategy. If it was true that the hard was faster in Monza, they waited until it was too late to exploit the advantage. In Singapore, they didn’t realize unitl it was way too late that they were dropping multiple seconds to RBR in race conditions on the softs.

  8. Manatcna said on 28th September 2010, 22:34

    The most obvious answer, in my opinion – They weren’t fast enough.

    Driver Championship chances now, slim to none.

    Constructor Championship chances now, slim to none.

    Looks like it’s between Webber and Alonso.

  9. Pitstop times, for sutil

    clubforce (on twitter) Total pitlane time is 32.9secs, stationary is 6.2secs as there was a small prob with the right front wheel.

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