2013 Abu Dhabi GP tyre strategies and pit stops

2013 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Felipe Massa, Ferrari, Yas Marina, 2013Did Ferrari not put Felipe Massa on the faster soft tyres at the end of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix because it was the correct strategic decision – or because they wanted to move his team mate ahead of him?

Following the race Massa expressed his dissatisfaction that only Fernando Alonso has used the faster soft tyre for the final stint of the race.

Ferrari technical Pat Fry said the deciding factor had been the timing of Massa’s last pit stop, after they had switched both their drivers to two-stop strategies.

“Initially we had thought of running just a one stop race,” said Fry, “but when we realised that that the wear rate of the mediums in the second stint would not have allowed us to go all the way to the end, while doing competitive times, backed up by our simulation systems, we told Fernando and Felipe to go flat out, as they would need to make a second stop.”

“With Fernando, we managed to get to lap 44 which meant he was able to run the softs to the end of the race. Unfortunately, we couldn?t do the same with Felipe and with him we chose not to risk it, keeping him on the mediums. It was a real shame.”

Two things are curious about this explanation. First, Massa’s final pit stop does not seem to have been prompted by rising lap times due to tyre wear: the last seven laps of his second stint were all within seven-tenths of a second of each other. That suggests Ferrari could have left him out longer to shorten his eventual stint on the soft tyres.

Furthermore, Ferrari’s assumption that Massa would be unable to do a 17-lap stint on soft tyres is surprising given that he had already done an 18-lap stint on used softs with a full fuel load at the beginning of the race.

If Massa had enjoyed the benefit of soft tyres for his final stint – which he reckoned were “maybe more than a second quicker per lap” – it’s unlikely he would have fallen behind Alonso. They certainly would have helped him pass Jean-Eric Vergne, who cost him the time that allowed Alonso to make his pit stop and come out ahead.

After Massa confirmed he will not be driving for Ferrari next year he said he would not help Alonso in the races and later made good on that claim by ignoring a direct order to let his team mate pass in Japan.

Did Ferrari weigh how many more points Alonso could gain in the closing stages versus how many Massa could? Or was this just a very conservative strategy? Either way Massa is right to points out his strategy probably cost him a better result.

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix tyre strategies

The tyre strategies for each driver:

Stint 1 Stint 2 Stint 3
Sebastian Vettel Soft (14) Medium (23) Medium (18)
Mark Webber Soft (8) Medium (25) Medium (22)
Nico Rosberg Soft (10) Medium (23) Medium (22)
Romain Grosjean Soft (8) Medium (29) Medium (18)
Fernando Alonso Soft (16) Medium (28) Soft (11)
Paul di Resta Soft (20) Medium (35)
Lewis Hamilton Soft (7) Medium (22) Medium (26)
Felipe Massa Soft (18) Medium (20) Medium (17)
Sergio Perez Soft (6) Medium (21) Medium (28)
Adrian Sutil Medium (28) Soft (27)
Pastor Maldonado Soft (5) Medium (20) Medium (30)
Jenson Button Medium (2) Soft (9) Medium (44)
Esteban Gutierrez Medium (18) Soft (12) Medium (25)
Nico Hulkenberg Soft (9) Medium (18) Medium (27)
Valtteri Bottas Medium (24) Medium (21) Soft (9)
Daniel Ricciardo Soft (7) Medium (21) Medium (26)
Jean-Eric Vergne Soft (17) Medium (34) Medium (3)
Giedo van der Garde Soft (7) Medium (26) Medium (21)
Charles Pic Soft (8) Medium (24) Medium (22)
Jules Bianchi Soft (5) Medium (26) Medium (22)
Max Chilton Soft (6) Medium (26) Medium (21)
Kimi Raikkonen Medium

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 21.175 8
2 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 21.298 0.123 37
3 Sergio Perez McLaren 21.370 0.195 27
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 21.372 0.197 7
5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 21.453 0.278 44
6 Felipe Massa Ferrari 21.485 0.310 18
7 Sergio Perez McLaren 21.503 0.328 6
8 Jenson Button McLaren 21.516 0.341 11
9 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 21.530 0.355 16
10 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 21.609 0.434 29
11 Romain Grosjean Lotus 21.627 0.452 8
12 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 21.633 0.458 33
13 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 21.653 0.478 10
14 Mark Webber Red Bull 21.911 0.736 33
15 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 21.930 0.755 17
16 Adrian Sutil Force India 22.048 0.873 28
17 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 22.070 0.895 30
18 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 22.194 1.019 7
19 Paul di Resta Force India 22.270 1.095 20
20 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 22.275 1.100 14
21 Giedo van der Garde Caterham 22.286 1.111 33
22 Romain Grosjean Lotus 22.286 1.111 37
23 Felipe Massa Ferrari 22.315 1.140 38
24 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber 22.363 1.188 9
25 Charles Pic Caterham 22.498 1.323 8
26 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 22.685 1.510 18
27 Max Chilton Marussia 22.802 1.627 32
28 Giedo van der Garde Caterham 22.834 1.659 7
29 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber 22.863 1.688 27
30 Pastor Maldonado Williams 22.886 1.711 5
31 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 22.946 1.771 28
32 Valtteri Bottas Williams 23.361 2.186 24
33 Pastor Maldonado Williams 23.410 2.235 25
34 Max Chilton Marussia 23.490 2.315 6
35 Jules Bianchi Marussia 23.576 2.401 31
36 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 23.608 2.433 51
37 Charles Pic Caterham 24.005 2.830 32
38 Jules Bianchi Marussia 24.064 2.889 5
39 Valtteri Bottas Williams 26.680 5.505 45
40 Jenson Button McLaren 27.176 6.001 2

2013 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Image ?? Ferrari/Ercole Colombo

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36 comments on 2013 Abu Dhabi GP tyre strategies and pit stops

  1. All the facts considered, it does look slightly suspicious that Massa be given that strategy, since unusually he seemed to be a legitimate match for Alonso in race pace.

  2. Sam (@ardenflo) said on 3rd November 2013, 19:54

    The real question is, how ‘okay’ is Ferrari with Massa ignoring team orders.

  3. Joshua Mesh (@joshua-mesh) said on 3rd November 2013, 19:57

    Hindsight is always 20/20.

    • Carinni said on 14th November 2013, 16:57

      Not hindsight, in hk tv live, we immediately pointed out that it is so obvious ferrari is using pit stop n wrong tyre to let alonso pass, I think u are too naive

  4. Mr win or lose said on 3rd November 2013, 20:07

    Please no more conspiracies. Alonso was much quicker than Massa at the end of the second stint, so it made sense to pull Massa in. I don’t know if the hard tyres really were a disadvantage as Massa said – their lower grip is compensated by less wear, so Massa should have been faster at the end of the race. But he wasn’t. Alonso just did a better job. Case closed.

    • Corrado (@corrado-dub) said on 3rd November 2013, 20:58

      I kinda think so too. ALO was 1s (and more) faster than MAS in 2nd stint. Was surprised ALO couldn’t pass MAS tho. He spent quite some laps behind MAS althought significantly faster. We can say MAS hold ALO in the 2nd stint, but things wouldn’t have changed anyway because GRO was too far in front.

    • FragrantGimp said on 3rd November 2013, 22:13

      >Alonso was much quicker than Massa at the end of the second stint

      Proven wrong by the live timing. And you’re conveniently forgetting that Massa himself was ‘much quicker’ on the softs than Alonso.

    • rayan said on 4th November 2013, 0:30

      come on alonso fan..alonso was faster bcoz he had soft tyres,but massa had harder tyres ..and everybody knows there is a massive differnce in this race between these two tyres…

      • Mr win or lose said on 4th November 2013, 23:14

        Alonso was much quicker than Massa at the end of the second stint
        - Proven wrong by the live timing.

        Of course there is no speed difference when the driver behind cannot overtake, but that doesn’t mean he is not any faster.

        Come on Alonso fan… Alonso was faster b’cuz he had soft tyres, but Massa had harder tyres and everybody knows there is a massive difference in this race between these two tyres

        Then explain why most drivers completed more laps on the harder tyres. That’s probably not because the hard tyre was just a second per lap slower.

  5. tmax (@tmax) said on 3rd November 2013, 20:08

    I don’t think there is any doubt on this. It was just Ferrari trying to make sure that Alonso gets out in the front. I think Massa could have done a few more laps on the medium just like Alonso and then he could have switched to the softs which could have got little more closer to Romain than Alonso got to.

  6. Mike Dee (@mike-dee) said on 3rd November 2013, 20:14

    The only explanation that doesn’t look like a team order would be that Alonso had new option tyres available (probably as he didn’t make it to Q3) whereas Massa only had scrubbed sets left. I think Ferrari made the right call for the team though, which unfortunately did not help Massa.

  7. Architrion (@architrion) said on 3rd November 2013, 20:17

    Several questions rise here:
    1.- Who do Ferrari believe to be a safe point hauler to fight for the Constructors Champ? Do you think this guy is Massa?
    2.- Can Massa explain why Alonso was right on his tail last 10 laps before his second pitstop, considering his tyres were four laps fresher?
    3.- Do Massa expect to receive a fair treatment after four back to back years of incompetence and disobedience?
    4.- How many years will we have to wait till this board gives Alonso some nice words and accomplishments? Maybe 2015 when he will be driving a McLaren again, finally?

    PD. You can save your words if you’re going to accuse me of fanboy or anything like that. I’m as Alonso’s fan as Hamilton, Kimi, Vettel or Maldonado. The last driver I cheered for was Damon Hill and some races of Montoya.

    • If you count out the races we’ve had since Monza, how many times has Massa been disobedient? I’m sorry, Massa couldn’t take more orders than this if he were a waiter, to be honest. I’m not saying you’re a fanboy, I’d rather say you’re not at all objective.

    • Dave (@raceprouk) said on 3rd November 2013, 23:37

      Just one thing with Q3 – that period involves his ’09 accident in Hungary and subsequent recovery from brain damage.

    • Q2 – If Alonso was that fast, why wouldnt he pass massa? The same goes in their 1st stint as Alonso’s just tailing on massa, while massa made a good overtake against hamilton.

      • Architrion (@architrion) said on 4th November 2013, 15:09

        Same 7th gear ratios maybe? but larger than McLaren’s?

        I’m getting really tired of reading all type of conspiracy theories against poor Massa. The guy has been subpar last 4 years to say the least, and, suddenly it’s as if he had shown once and again to be faster or better racer than Alonso. Well, it seems to me that the guy has no car for next year champ. Maybe all those who look under the carpet could explain to every team principal why Massa is the driver they all should sign…

    • AldoG said on 4th November 2013, 15:13

      3.- Do Massa expect to receive a fair treatment after four back to back years of incompetence and disobedience?

      Sorry, but I laughed out really loud reading this.

  8. magon4 (@magon4) said on 3rd November 2013, 20:34

    I do feel Ferrari were to blame, and I don’t know how they could have done this needing the points so much. Even Felipe’s stop was very strange, with a very rare mistake by a mechanic.
    It’s sad and it doesn’t make sense, but I think Massa is right in being disappointed. He was running better than Alonso most of the race.

  9. Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 3rd November 2013, 20:35

    I saw flashes of the old Massa today. Great to have him back ! His opportunistic move on Hamilton was very nice, and he was doing very well until the strategy went the other way…

  10. Corrado (@corrado-dub) said on 3rd November 2013, 21:06

    Read the pit stops times again, guys ! RBR fastest, then Mercedes and McLaren ! Where’s “Ferrari does the fastest pit stops” some guys throw at ALO but VET still beats him ??

  11. i watch the whole race and to be honest, felipe can do a longer stint with his 1st medium. also felipe 1st stop is okay, but something strange happen in the 2nd stop as the ferrari pit crew “pretend” to have a problem while replacing massa’s tyre

  12. Ben (@scuderia29) said on 3rd November 2013, 23:23

    having alonso in front of massa helps nothing when youre chasing constuctors points, stupid stupid conspiracy

  13. Alex Brown (@splittimes) said on 4th November 2013, 0:13

    What I find confusing is why would the team gift one driver’s points to another when the WDC is more or less over? What team wouldn’t want both its cars in the best position possible to finish the race? What if Alonso had had a mechanical?

    The only real reason I can think of for pitting someone when they don’t have to is to check issues, e.g. puncture, damage etc. Still doesn’t explain why you’d put someone on the harder compound in a light car, on a rubbered-in track with falling temperatures when they’ve already shown the tyres can more than take it.

  14. caci99 (@caci99) said on 4th November 2013, 14:45

    If someone throws the conspiracy theories that a team would sabotage one driver to benefit the other, there is always the argument that no such team is that stupid to deliberately sabotage their own driver. But throw it Ferrari, it is perfectly okay.
    An article written with arguments at first asking for opinion, but ending

    Either way Massa is right to points out his strategy probably cost him a better result.

    Says it all.

  15. jun_0679 said on 4th November 2013, 14:45

    It’s just hindsight… since Vettel & Grosjean, who both pitted just a lap before Massa, went for mediums, and Alonso & Bottas were the only 2-stoppers to choose softs for their final stint, I’d say the mediums were the safer bet. The track temperature dropping meant that it would be more difficult to use the softs toward the end of the race (though I’m not sure how significant this was), because its working range is higher than the mediums. So aside from the drivers who still had an obligation to use the soft tyres, Alonso was the only one who gambled with it. Now I’m not sure why Massa pitted when he did, but it seemed he was too preoccupied with blocking his teammate that he wasn’t going as fast as he should’ve. And I think Massa/Smedley was afraid that Alonso might try an under-cut if they didn’t react fast enough. Even if Massa had priority for the pit stop, if he passed, then they couldn’t deny Alonso from pitting could they?

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