2012 Abu Dhabi GP tyre strategies and pit stops

2012 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Did Ferrari and Red Bull use Felipe Massa and Mark Webber tactically to help their team mates in the drivers’ championship?

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix tyre strategies

The tyre strategies for each driver:

Stint 1 Stint 2 Stint 3 Stint 4
Lewis Hamilton Soft (19)
Mark Webber Soft (30) Medium (7)
Pastor Maldonado Soft (29) Medium (26)
Kimi Raikkonen Soft (31) Medium (24)
Jenson Button Soft (29) Medium (26)
Fernando Alonso Soft (28) Medium (27)
Nico Rosberg Soft (1) Medium (6)
Felipe Massa Soft (26) Medium (29)
Romain Grosjean Soft (1) Medium (8) Soft (28)
Nico Hulkenberg Soft
Sergio Perez Soft (30) Medium (8) Medium (17)
Paul di Resta Soft (1) Medium (8) Medium (30) Soft (16)
Michael Schumacher Medium (27) Soft (14) Soft (14)
Bruno Senna Medium (32) Soft (23)
Kamui Kobayashi Soft (25) Medium (30)
Daniel Ricciardo Soft (26) Medium (12) Soft (17)
Jean-Eric Vergne Soft (9) Medium (24) Soft (22)
Heikki Kovalainen Soft (28) Medium (27)
Charles Pic Soft (26) Medium (15)
Vitaly Petrov Soft (27) Medium (28)
Timo Glock Soft (27) Medium (28)
Pedro de la Rosa Soft (28) Medium (27)
Narain Karthikeyan Soft (7)
Sebastian Vettel Medium (13) Soft (24) Soft (18)

For the second race in a row one-stop strategies were the order of the day for most drivers. Sebastian Vettel pitted twice having been forced to make an early first stop after damaging his front wing.

Felipe Massa, Ferrari, Yas Marina, 2012Later in the race he arrived on the tail of team mate Mark Webber, who quickly made for the pits. Did Red Bull bring Webber’s pit stop brought forward to keep him out of Vettel’s way?

It doesn’t appear so – it seems to have been a response to Pastor Maldonado’s pit stop one lap earlier and an attempt to get him back in front of the Williams following his unsuccessful earlier attempt to pass. And it worked: Webber came out ahead of Maldonado.

What about the timing of Ferrari’s pit stop for Felipe Massa? This is curious as there were at least two radio messages from Rob Smedley to Massa telling him to stay out as Massa apparently grew more concerned about his tyres.

On lap 23 Massa lost over a second to Alonso and Sergio Perez passed him on the next lap. It seems most likely Ferrari kept him out in the hope of getting him out in front of Heikki Kovalainen’s Caterham.

However keeping him on track also had tactical value in their battle with Red Bull. He could potentially delay Webber and keep him from getting back within range of Alonso. Nor was Vettel far behind Massa at this point, and he was gaining quickly.

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix pit stop times

How long each driver’s pit stops took:

Driver Team Pit stop time Gap On lap
1 Mark Webber Red Bull 19.066 30
2 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 19.368 0.302 28
3 Jenson Button McLaren 19.455 0.389 29
4 Sergio Perez Sauber 19.486 0.420 30
5 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 19.529 0.463 25
6 Felipe Massa Ferrari 19.585 0.519 26
7 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 19.701 0.635 27
8 Paul di Resta Force India 19.829 0.763 9
9 Timo Glock Marussia 19.884 0.818 27
10 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 19.885 0.819 33
11 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 19.918 0.852 37
12 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 20.122 1.056 26
13 Paul di Resta Force India 20.265 1.199 39
14 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 20.278 1.212 31
15 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 20.319 1.253 9
16 Pastor Maldonado Williams 20.723 1.657 29
17 Vitaly Petrov Caterham 20.769 1.703 27
18 Romain Grosjean Lotus 21.017 1.951 9
19 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 21.231 2.165 38
20 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 21.270 2.204 41
21 Charles Pic Marussia 21.941 2.875 26
22 Pedro de la Rosa HRT 22.272 3.206 28
23 Bruno Senna Williams 22.587 3.521 32
24 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham 23.032 3.966 28
25 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 24.962 5.896 13
26 Romain Grosjean Lotus 26.057 6.991 1
27 Paul di Resta Force India 26.670 7.604 1
28 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 29.277 10.211 1
29 Sergio Perez Sauber 33.431 14.365 38

Red Bull were the quickest team in the pits for the fifth time this year.

2012 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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25 comments on 2012 Abu Dhabi GP tyre strategies and pit stops

  1. BasCB (@bascb) said on 5th November 2012, 10:59

    So your verdict on RBR and Ferrari using their no. 2s to help their top drivers is that RBR wasn’t (as the stop was dictated by getting Webber into a good spot) while its likely it played a more significant role in how they handled Massa’s stop at Ferrari @keithcollantine?

    Thanks for filling in the details, because yesterday it did make the impression of Webber not wanting to give way to Vettel, speeding up and then being pulled into the pits to achieve it.

  2. JerseyF1 (@jerseyf1) said on 5th November 2012, 11:19

    Massa’s stop was still two laps earlier than Alonso’s on the same tyres though and was still one of the first normal stops. Stopping a couple of laps earlier would have given him a very long second stint so I’m not sure the Massa timing looks that suspicious.

    I also note that despite Red Bull having the fastest pit stop it certainly wasn’t either of Seb’s stops – should we call Webber “lucky”?

  3. maichael (@maichael) said on 5th November 2012, 11:48

    Am I the only one who noticed Webber’s consistent aggression into turn 8, which finally caused a safety car when he plowed his Red Bull into Grosjean?

  4. Andre (@) said on 5th November 2012, 11:57

    Vettel did the same thing that webber did at turn 8, difference was Maldonado is an idiot, as well as massa. Button is a world class driver which provided a different outcome.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 5th November 2012, 13:56

      No, the difference in this occasion was that Webber failed to leave enough space. On both occasions @f1andy83.

      • AdrianMorse (@adrianmorse) said on 5th November 2012, 15:12

        In the press conference, Vettel did say about his move on Button: “He was very, very fair. You can’t do that kind of move with all the drivers on the grid”.

        I didn’t see whether Webber left enough room or not (and I’m not really defending him – I’m a Webber fan but yesterday’s race was terrible), but I think in that narrow sequence of corners it does matter which driver one is trying to overtake, and I think Massa is one driver least likely to give room.

        • Atticus (@atticus-2) said on 5th November 2012, 15:31

          @adrianmorse I agree with Vettel, Button was such a gentleman not trying to squeeze Vettel off the track when he could have easily done so by taking just a slightly wider line on the exit of T11.

          You rarely see such generous defensive driving nowadays, but it was sort of common in the 1950s and 1960s, as much as I can tell by the footages I saw from those eras. Drivers just let someone pass if the guy was cleanly quicker.

        • BasCB (@bascb) said on 5th November 2012, 15:32

          True enough that @adrianmorse, and we have seen Webber be part of such a nice overtaking battle several times. But this weekend he was not fair in battling, probably too upset about the bad start and wanting to badly move up the field too quick.

  5. astonished (@astonished) said on 5th November 2012, 15:01

    I think that FOM should have rebroadcast the team radio Smedley to Massa “Felipe, Sebastian is faster than you” I have to admit that he got out of the way very elegantly…

    Nobody can “blame· Massa of obstructing Vettel.

    Preventive footnote: this is all sarcasm

  6. dam00r (@dam00r) said on 5th November 2012, 16:48

    I think that Kovalainen will take Grosjeans seat for next year.
    Or drive in a Force India.

    • Dizzy said on 5th November 2012, 18:32

      Grosjean’s been resigned at Lotus & Force India’s 2nd seat is going to be filled by Algersuari.

      Jaime has said on twitter that he’s signed an F1 deal for 2013 & that he’s going to a team between 5-7 in constructors that scores regular points.
      He’s stepped down from his BBC radio commentary role & has said he’s training harder than ever to ensure he’s race fit after a year away.

  7. Di Resta made 3 pit stops, was last (and quite a bit behind) because of the first lap incident and yet he managed to get into the points (in a car clearly not as capable as the RB8). That’s pretty impressive – and to think I was starting to doubt him after he was well and truly beaten by Hulkenberg recently!

  8. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 8th November 2012, 18:24

    The front wing situation with Vettel forced them to react, I believe that was the deciding factor of whether or not he got on the podium, had they have kept him out he might not have had the luxury of benefiting from the SC so much.

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