Force India: Safety car compromises strategy

2011 Japanese GP team review

Force India paid the price of not splitting their strategies as the safety car disadvantaged both their drivers.

Adrian Sutil Paul di Resta
Qualifying position 11 12
Qualifying time comparison (Q2) 1’32.463 (-0.283) 1’32.746
Race position 11 12
Laps 53/53 53/53
Pit stops 3 3

Force India drivers’ lap times throughout the race (in seconds):

http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/charts/2011drivercolours.csv
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53
Adrian Sutil 107.614 102.01 101.739 101.697 101.896 101.701 102.171 105.303 121.238 100.956 101.188 101 102.417 101.163 100.949 101.149 100.943 101.638 101.42 101.651 101.793 101.736 104.577 138.371 125.38 117.835 149.055 102.931 100.875 100.381 99.037 99.073 99.304 99.618 99.722 100.435 102.79 117.134 98.603 98.625 98.888 99.318 98.133 98.395 99.234 99.101 99.013 98.825 101.181 99.7 99.222 99.659 100.087
Paul di Resta 106.673 102.476 101.75 101.614 101.673 101.817 101.953 101.962 102.563 105.607 120.606 103.852 101.988 101.63 101.086 100.958 101.12 101.046 101.454 102.904 101.637 101.903 102.16 118.986 141.157 118.436 149.144 102.049 100.085 99.788 99.458 99.256 99.384 99.474 101.478 117.683 99.926 100.264 99.964 99.301 99.257 99.097 97.97 100.178 99.687 102.098 99.813 99.483 100.02 100.134 100.409 100.545 100.797

Adrian Sutil

Start tyre Soft
Pit stop 1 Soft 21.511s
Pit stop 2 Soft 21.337s
Pit stop 3 Medium 21.839s

Sutil was disappointed to miss out on the top ten in qualifying. He made amends for that at the start, moving up into ninth place.

He was among the first group of drivers to pit, coming in on lap eight, two laps before Di Resta and jumping his team mate in the process. But they swapped plaes again at the next round of stops – Sutil coming in on lap 23, di Resta a lap later under the safety car.

Both now on medium tyres, they struggled to hold onto their places in the top ten. Sutil made progress at first: passing di Resta on lap 44 and the lap after that he bravely dived down the inside of Kamui Kobayashi as they hurtled into 130R.

But like his team mate he eventually succumbed to the attacks of Vitaly Petrov and Nico Rosberg, who took him together on lap 49.

Sutil said the team were “unlucky” not to score points: “In terms of strategy we had to go for three stops because the degradation was so high. For a while it looked like ninth was possible, but in the end we lost out to the cars making two stops who had the benefit of soft tyres at the end of the race.”

Adrian Sutil 2011 form guide

Paul di Resta

Paul di Resta, Force India, Suzuka, 2011

Paul di Resta, Force India, Suzuka, 2011

Start tyre Soft
Pit stop 1 Soft 21.964s
Pit stop 2 Soft 21.9641s
Pit stop 3 Medium 21.553s

Di Resta took 12th on the grid behind his team mate despite feeling unwell.

He then capitalised on Kamui Kobayashi’s slow start, swinging around the Sauber plus his team mate and both Renaults to take eighth place.

Running the same strategy as his team mate, Di Resta was similarly disadvantaged by the safety car: “[it] spoilt our strategy because that was our fastest part of the race and it was important to try and pull a gap. It helped the cars making two stops because they caught us in the final laps and it was very hard to defend.”

After the restart di Resta was passed by his team mate. Petrov also took him at the start of lap 46 using DRS. The Renault driver then ran wide at Dunlop, holding di Resta up, allowing Rosberg to pass him as well.

He finished eight seconds behind his team mate in 12th meaning both finished where they started.

Paul di Resta 2011 form guide

Nico Hulkenberg

Drove Adrian Sutil’s car in first practice.

2011 Japanese Grand Prix

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14 comments on Force India: Safety car compromises strategy

  1. sallicedj (@sallicedj) said on 10th October 2011, 14:05

    I really enjoyed Sutil’s overtake on Kobayashi it seemed like the old Sutil I liked to watch in the past had returned. Hope he finishes a season on a high. Although I also want Di Resta to beat him so he can cement his place in F1.

  2. Raveendhana (@raveendhana) said on 10th October 2011, 15:21

    i wonder was that safety car really necessary at that point, if so, why did it take so long to clear the debris.

    • sato113 (@sato113) said on 10th October 2011, 16:12

      there was debris on the dunlop curve which is a blind fast corner. all the cars were spead out around the track at that point too.

      but i personally think Whiting was letting Kobayashi and some others at the back catch up with the safety car train. (some of them were quite far back due to pitting when the safey car came out.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 10th October 2011, 16:51

      I think it took almost 2 laps to get everyone to fall in line behind the SC, then one lap to clear the bits and pieces and it went in the next lap.

      More bizare was, that the debris had been on track for some 5 laps at least before they decided on the SC to get rid of it.

  3. JCost (@jcost) said on 10th October 2011, 15:53

    Force India, apparantly, has the potential to become de next big “independent” team, à La Red Bull. Their relationship with McLaren is not fully maximized, maybe more money from Vijay would help.

  4. MGriffin90 (@mgriffin90) said on 10th October 2011, 17:16

    I thought Di Resta did a brilliant job, considering it was a track he hadn’t raced on, and he was unwell.

  5. BBT (@bbt) said on 10th October 2011, 17:30

    I thought that at the time, good to see the data supports it.

    I hope they retain Di Resta, given a bit more of a chance I reckon he could be right up there with the best. I don’t think its just hype by the British media.

  6. Fixy (@fixy) said on 10th October 2011, 19:22

    Realistically 5th place in the standings is all Renault’s to lose, as they showed going back to normal pace in Suzuka, and Force India will need to score incredible results to beat them.
    Di Resta and Sutil were very closely matched, which is a thing I like to see, and I’d like to see it more at Ferrari ;)

  7. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 10th October 2011, 20:13

    @jcost Sorry to bring it up, but check out the Comment of the Day on this article…

    http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2011/10/08/810/

    I do hope they pull it together. They had a pretty die 2010 but the seasons either side of that are much better.

  8. wasiF1 (@wasif1) said on 11th October 2011, 3:44

    Tough luck for them,seems like they will both finish in the points but the SC today have spoiled many people’s strategy.

  9. Mr draw said on 11th October 2011, 13:23

    How could a 3-stop strategy have a tyre disadvantage over a 2-stop strategy?

    “For a while it looked like ninth was possible, but in the end we lost out to the cars making two stops who had the benefit of soft tyres at the end of the race.”

    Did they have the wrong tyres at the end of the race because they (unfortunately) just stopped before the safety car? But then why didn’t Di Resta switch to the harder tyre in his pitstop during the safety-car phase?

  10. Kamui Fan (@kamui-fan) said on 11th October 2011, 15:12

    Another great race from di Resta, especially impressive considering he was ill. Sutil was ok but lost out due to circumstance.

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