Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Albert Park, 2016

Mercedes made to work for one-two despite Ferrari slip-up

2016 Australian Grand Prix reviewPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

A popular view on Ferrari’s chances in the first race of the season was that the Australian Grand Prix had come a bit too early for them.

The SF16-H is more of a departure from its predecessor than many other cars on the grid. The team hasn’t fully realised its potential and had covered much less ground with it in testing than Mercedes, whose W07 already had over 6,000 kilometres on the clock.

The opening round of the 2016 season bore out that view. The Ferraris stunned Mercedes at the start by capturing the lead. But they passed up the chance to take a free pit stop for Sebastian Vettel when the race was suspended on the 19th lap, uneasy about running the medium-compound tyre.

Mercedes, who got through dozens of sets of the white-marked rubber in testing, went for it and snatched back a victory which had seemed to be getting away from them.

Ferrari stun Mercedes

Start, Albert Park, Melbourne, 2016
The Ferraris burst through at the start
“I’d had a perfect weekend in every way up until the lights went out,” reflected pole sitter Lewis Hamilton. Leading every practice session and all three stages of qualifying quickly proved to be for naught when he got away poorly.

Why had Hamilton got away so poorly? Suspicion naturally fell on the revised starting procedure which now restricts drivers to using only a single clutch paddle instead of two. Hamilton played down the suggestion. The field had also had to cope with going through the pre-start sequence twice due to Daniil Kvyat’s Red Bull breaking down, and as the pole sitter’s car remains stationary the longest it suffers the most.

Whatever the cause, as Hamilton spun his wheels Vettel flashed past him and began squeezing the other Mercedes of Nico Rosberg to the inside. The number six Mercedes locked its tyres as they reached the first corner, turned in behind Vettel and used the full width of the track at the exit, his left-rear wheel brushing Hamilton’s front wing.

While the Mercedes drivers sorted themselves out Kimi Raikkonen had straightened his car up nicely and fired past the pair of them. Max Verstappen and Felipe Massa also took advantage of Hamilton, relegating him to sixth place.

Lap one ended with Vettel already a second and a half to the good ahead of Raikkonen with Rosberg a further second back and Hamilton staring at Massa’s rear wing. Passing a Mercedes customer car threatened to be a tricky proposition, but he was about to get a helping hand.

Kevin Magnussen had picked up a puncture at turn two on the first lap so Renault brought him in for a set of medium tyres. HE reappeared among the leaders and Massa ran wide in the Renault’s slipstream at turn one. Hamilton pounced, lining Massa up at the exit of turn three of all places, and completed the move.

While Vettel continued to lead and Rosberg edged closer to Raikkonen, Hamilton’s next target was fourth-placed Verstappen. But within a few laps he was on the radio to advise his team he couldn’t find a way around the Toro Rosso. “We can just extend the stint,” his team replied – a message which would have been forbidden had it not been for an 11th-hour relaxation of the new radio restrictions.

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Split strategies

The first visitors to the pits were clearly planning to pit twice. Rosberg took softs on lap 12 and crucially he just managed to get out in front of Nico Hulkenberg, the leading driver who hadn’t started on super-softs.

The next time by Vettel was in for a second set of super-softs. He too had to get his elbows out when he returned to the track when he found Rosberg bearing down on him. Raikkonen, second, stayed out a further three laps but was urging his team to bring him in.

Raikkonen came in on the same lap as Hamilton, who had been so delayed in the opening stint Vettel had passed him shortly afterwards. Despite bringing their two cars in just four laps apart Mercedes pursued a completely different strategy for Hamilton, perhaps evidence of the greater strategic freedom for their drivers which was hinted at in the off-season.

Hamilton took on a set of medium tyres, meaning the four cars of the top two teams were using three different compounds. This was a promising sign the revamped tyre regulations have indeed introduced new variety to the competition. But which of the competing strategies would have played out best will remain a mystery as a shocking accident brought the action to a sudden stop on lap 18.

“I could see the sky”

Fernando Alonso, McLaren, Albert Park, 2016
The aftermath of the Alonso-Gutierrez crash
Fernando Alonso had left the pits on a fresh set of soft tyres on lap 13 and was catching F1 returnee Esteban Gutierrez at over two seconds per lap. Approaching turn three on lap 17 Alonso jinked left in the Haas driver’s mirrors. Gutierrez was moving the same way and Alonso’s car used his as a launching pad.

The McLaren hit the retaining wall hard, hit the ground and barrel-rolled into the run-off area. It was a frightening accident all-too reminiscent of the 2001 tangle between Jacques Villeneuve and Ralf Schumacher which claimed the life of marshal Graham Beveridge.

Thankfully when the dust settled all were unhurt. “I was in the car flying and bouncing around,” Alonso described afterwards. “I could see the sky, then the ground, then the sky again.”

“Then, when the car landed, I saw a little gap and I got out quickly to make sure that my mum, who was watching the race on TV at home, could see that I was okay.”

Alonso’s mother may have a different opinion, but both drivers and stewards agreed this had been no more than a racing incident. But clearing up the debris left behind required the complete suspension of the race, and the red flags duly flew.

Ferrari’s tactical error

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Albert Park, 2016
Vettel paid the price for sticking with super-softs
The stoppage was a gift for those who had not pitted yet which, ironically, included Gutierrez’s team mate Grosjean. The race was stopped on lap 18 and as the regulations allow drivers to change tyres (to allow for changes in weather), several teams concluded they could fit mediums and run to the end of the race.

“I was already on a one-stop strategy,” said Hamilton, “and to be honest I don’t know why everyone else didn’t do the same on the medium.”

Ferrari, who have long struggled with tyre warm-up on harder compounds, left both their drivers on the same set of super-soft tyres. Rosberg, who had split the pair of them after his first stop, fitted a set of mediums.

If Rosberg didn’t realise the win was as soon as he spotted the Ferraris on the same set of tyres, it would have been obvious within five laps of the race restarting when Vettel’s lap times began to drop off. Once Vettel made for the pits Rosberg only had to manage his pace to the flag.

The strategic question quickly became academic for Raikkonen. He headed for the pits on lap 21, telling his team “something happened, I broke something”. Flames licked from the airbox as he parked his SF16-H. This from a team which has tended to have excellent reliability was another sign they hadn’t quite been ready for the start of the season.

Verstappen vexed

Max Verstappen, Toro Rosso, Albert Park, 2016
Verstappen fumed after being dropped behind Sainz
Toro Rosso had also elected not to change tyres during the suspension and were paying the price. Hamilton was on the tail of Sainz and was beginning to put him on the defensive when the obstacle removed itself – Sainz radioed in “we need to stop” and was immediately brought in.

Verstappen ahead came in on the next lap only to discover his team weren’t ready for him. The time lost and the added disadvantage of losing the ‘undercut’ to his team mate dropped him behind Sainz, a development which infuriated Verstappen.

“I don’t understand why I was not the first one in the garage.” he fumed on the radio after the race. “It’s unbelievable.” Toro Rosso were on the cusp of order a change at one point until Sainz managed to pass Jolyon Palmer and, still pursued by Verstappen, climbed back into the lower reaches of the points.

Verstappen nearly committed the ultimate folly of taking his team mate out, touching Sainz and spinning late in the race, damaging his own front wing.

Hamilton reclaims second

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Albert Park, 2016
Hamilton stumbled on his way to second
Having cleared the two Toro Rossos, Hamilton breezed past Ricciardo with DRS and moved back up to second place. This was Ricciardo’s cue to make a final stop for super-soft tyres.

Ricciardo had briefly thought a podium finish might be possible. A superb pass on Hulkenberg in the early laps kept him in touch with the top five, and over the final stint he set the fastest lap and regained a position from Massa. But fourth looked like the limit for him.

Hamilton’s second place briefly came under threat when he ran wide at turn nine on his now rather well-used medium tyres.

“What’s difficult is to know how long the tyre is going to go, how long you can lean on them or how hard you can lean on them for how long,” he told reporters afterwards.

“I had 20 laps left and I was like ‘I don’t think these tyres are going to last’ because they started to slide, they got dusty at some point, but they kept going. And then all of a sudden I had that drop, fronts locked and I went a little bit wide at turn nine.”

“Sebastian was on my tail and after that it was so slippery. I’m glad they went the distance, the strategy was great, the team did a great job with that.”

Vettel kept up the pressure on Hamilton until, with two laps to go, he made an error of his own, running onto the grass at turn 15. With that the contest for the podium was settled.

Dream debut for Haas

Romain Grosjean, Haas, Albert Park, 2016
Haas achieved their point-scoring goal at the first try
Having made his only change of tyres during the red flag period his team mate had been partly responsible for, Grosjean successful withstood pressure from the Mercedes-powered Hulkenberg and Valtteri Bottas to clinch a superb debut sixth place for Haas. These were the first points for a new team on their debut in 14 years.

The Toro Rossos completed the points positions followed by Palmer, who had impressed with his race craft when going wheel-to-wheel with Bottas earlier in the race. The Williams driver eventually got the better of him with a robust pass at turn nine.

The other Renault of Magnussen followed him home 12th having passed the brake-troubled Sergio Perez three laps from home. Jenson Button’s race never recovered from a strange strategy call to fit new super-softs during the suspension – he finished 14th ahead of Felipe Nasr and Pascal Wehrlein.

The Manor newcomer had held a legitimate 14th place until pitting with unfortunate timing shortly before the Safety Car came out. “Our plan was to have a short stint on the super-soft,” he explained, “which meant we pitted for the soft not long before the crash, so that was a major setback because many of the other cars still hadn’t stopped.”

F1 the way it should be

Following the embarrassment of Saturday’s ill-conceived new qualifying format, the twists and turns of Sunday’s race restored faith in Formula One’s capacity to provide proper sporting excitement.

It remains to be seen whether Formula One 2016-style can continue to provide action of this quality. There were certainly times when the pace of the Mercedes indicated they are going to be very hard to beat.

But from the safety of the cars to the quality of the driving, Sunday at Albert Park showed F1 at its best. It was the perfect answer to the unworthy notion that grand prix racing needs gimmicks like time penalty grids to create exciting races

2016 F1 season

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51 comments on “Mercedes made to work for one-two despite Ferrari slip-up”

  1. I was equally relieved to see a proper race after such overwhelming qualifications. Nice to start a year like that!

    1. Agreed. There’s been a lot of negativity recently but thankfully the race provided the perfect antidote.

      There was a decent race for the lead but more impressive for me was seeing Haas so high and all the battles in the mid field. If you take Mercedes and Ferrari out it’s a really even field. Really looking forward to the rest of the year.

    2. @spoutnik Agreed. It was a very welcomed relief. I really enjoyed yesterday’s race, it was very interesting from a strategic point aswell, with 3 compounds to choose from. Battles on track, a fairy tale of a debut for a new team, and even the long time backmakers seem to be on it this year!

      Roll on Barhain. 2016 has all the basics to be a great year, even if the result ends up being the same.

  2. It was the gravel that tripped Alonso’s car so it flew in the air to the fence and landed upside down. I know lots of people feel rose-tinted about gravel, but it’s just not as safe as tarmac.

    1. I only saw the accident once but although the car rolled wasn’t the major damage done in the impact with the wall?

      I like gravel traps but I think they’re best on traditional circuits rather than on street circuits where barriers seem more effective.

      1. Michael Brown
        20th March 2016, 22:43

        The car rolled because it hit the grass and gravel sideways. As much as I don’t like tarmac runoff because it’s abused by the drivers, it is safer. Perhaps a less grippy tarmac could be tried? Although, drivers could lose control and end up sliding across the actual track.

    2. @lockup tarmac has it’s benefits but there are clever ways to use it, and then there’s how F1 uses it, by placing tarmac everywhere.

      1. Tarmac is a problem on chicanes indeed @fer-no65, though it’s a problem that can be solved. It needs tracks and Charlie to apply some thought to it, like Monza at the second chicane recently, but UNlike Canada’s last chicane! As you say the material itself isn’t really the problem.

    3. The problem with gravel is that it applies a lot of force to slow the car down, but does so to the wheels, below the centre of mass. A car going sideways experiences even more force. This can result in exactly the sort of torque we saw today, and the car flips. If you don’t want cars to flip, you need to apply the force at the same level as the centre of mass, and the only thing I can think of that would do that would be catch-fencing.

    4. @lockup Gravel was not designed to slow down cars that carry that much speed and running straight but sideways and could make it worse by flipping the car like we saw what happened to Alonso. Gravel is better if the car is still going straight as it will decelerate the car faster if in case of brake (or suspension) failure especially after fast part of the track. If Alonso’s car was spinning I think the chance of it getting flipped is lower too. IMO gravel is better for that part of the circuit and tarmac could probably more dangerous for Alonso because of the speed he will hit the barrier.

      It also showed why FIM prefer tarmac because bike is inherently unstable on its roll axis and gravel will almost always rolling the bike. Different pro and cons for different risk management really.

      1. Gravel likely saved alonso’s life. His car bounced on the gravel losing most of its speed, then came to rest shortly after. Without that bounce (which is what would have happened on tarmac), and the walls so close, the accident could very much have resulted in fatal injuries.

        1. The car dug its floor into the gravel and that turned it into an aeroplane. It skipped once off the gravel again before it hit the barrier and flopped down. With tarmac it would simply have slid right-side-up, losing speed steadily and with the crash structures between Alonso and any impact. Have another look:

          https://www.formula1.com/content/fom-website/en/latest/headlines/2016/3/alonso-walks-away-from-huge-crash-in-australia.html

      2. One of the problems with gravel @sonicslv is that it needs a lip to contain it, and that tends to launch the car, even if it’s running straight. True sometimes the front wing digs in and it slows the car nicely, and side-on sometimes the wheels dig in and it slows the car nicely too; but it’s so variable. It can catch a car, or the car can skim or fly over it straight to the barrier. And yes gravel can be terrible for bikers, making them tumble instead of sliding.

        The complete-brake-failure scenario is almost the only one where tarmac is less effective than gravel, but it doesn’t happen very often and the driver still has options because the car is on the ground and can be steered. Even with suspension failure, like we saw in China a couple of years ago on one of the Torro Rossos iirc, tarmac is effective and predictable.

        1. @lockup For a race car, gravel is better solution because the scenario where it will roll the car is very minimal compared to scenarios where it will stop the car. I don’t think a car rolled on its x axis because gravel is ever happened. I agree with hamilzors that the flip might save Alonso from greater injury because in modern F1 car, the greatest danger is not getting crushed, but your inner organ receive concussion because of sudden stop, just like Alonso on Spain test last year. A tarmac on this particular accident wont shed any significant speed because of how close the wall is.

          Which bring me to tarmac is indeed can be better than gravel but it require 1 important thing: distance. For your saving scenarios above it can’t be done if the tarmac area only as big as they have in Albert Park. That’s why many modern F1 circuit with tarmac runoff area is so big that you probably can put 2 football field inside it.

          1. Well I can’t agree @sonicslv, I think often the car is lifted by the lip and flies or skips across the gravel hardly seeming to lose any speed at all. How often exactly? I guess we lack data :)

            On the distance, well tarmac applies a consistent resistance. I agree the g when the car hits the barrier is important, but tarmac does slow the car down, also it’s important that the force is fed into the shoulder, ribcage and pelvis, by the seat belts, and isn’t applied to the head or neck.

            Yes some runoffs are huge. I suppose it’s always safer to have the barrier further away, if you can.

          2. @lockup Well, the act of skipping and landing on the gravel itself will shed more speed than consistent resistance from tarmac. You can test this yourself with a solid ball (iron or billiard ball perhaps) and try rolling them on asphalt and gravel or sand. See which one stopped faster even if the ball skipping around the gravel ;) I think it’s just basic physics here.

            The tarmac huge runoff area is intended for scenarios that you actually proposed, which is the driver can regain control before hitting the wall thus saving them the race, the car, and removing the extra risk from removing the beached car from the track. But on the scenario where the car will hit the barrier, gravel is still better than tarmac. The less speed you hit the barrier is always better anyway.

    5. Totally. How many more instances do we need before gravel is finally dropped?

      1. It is sad, I like gravel, but this accident would not have been as bad if there was tramac. The main reason i like gravel besides optics, is that is punishes a driver for mistakes. Maybe F1 can implement a strip of very slippery paint right next to the track thus it punishes the driver for mistakes but still is able to slow down the car without flipping it.

        1. car had no tires, no brakes, with asphalt Alonso was dead now.

  3. Can someone tell me which 3 driver shared the most podiums. As i know Hamilton, Rosberg, Vettel trio shared 12 times. Is there any higher number?

    1. Webber, Vettel and Alonso possibly? I was also thinking about this during the race but I’m sure someone will point it out in the stats/facts article.

  4. How was the sigh at the track when Vettel ran off on the second last turn trying to catch Hamilton! They’re close but not close enough

  5. I don’t understand why everyone thinks Ferrari made a tactical error. Yes, Sebastian did say they could have done things differently in hindsight, but, given the situation Ferrari took the right call.

    It wasn’t a “given” that Medium tires will last the race from the restart, while many believed that is a possibility it pretty much was granted that such a long run would require some sort of performance sacrifice (radio restrictions, tire preservation etc.).

    So, IMO, Mediums may not have given Ferrari the confidence they needed to take on Mercedes even if Mercs followed same strategy (holding back two faster cars — even if the pace diff is just 0.2s per lap, as many claim — for so long may not be ideal, especially with DRS and Mercedes’ 20+ race distance testing with Medium tires). If we consider the alternate possibilities for Mercedes

    Merc – S/SS or SS/S stints

    That might not have changed Ferrari’s situation much (because, Ferrari would have thought they could do a better job with SS than Mercs and that would have made the decision irrelevant – whether to run S or SS). So, getting out on SS and putting some distance b/w Seb and Mercs would have looked ideal to Ferrari.

    Unfortunately, for Ferrari, Mercedes took Mediums and could keep the Mediums alive for the full stint. The one scenario that involved Ferrari giving up the lead and fighting for it till the end had become the reality, and I’ve no doubt Ferrari was confident that they could handle the fight. Of course, Seb would have to compensate 1 pit-stop’s worth of time, but, he would have the advantage of fresh Softs while Mercs are running aged Mediums (I think, SS/S would have looked good enough to make up the pit-stop time deficit).

    Consider a race where Kimi hadn’t retired with engine problems (surely, it must have had some impact in the way Seb ran rest of the laps); consider a race where Seb’s pit-stop wasn’t messed up, consider a race where the SS gave a little more performance; Consider a race where Merc’s Mediums didn’t last/maintain the performance for the distance — in any of those situations, it is almost a given that Seb would have finished the race ahead of Ham and possibly taken the fight to Rosberg. So, when Ferrari made the decision to go out on SS for the restart, they didn’t make a mistake — they took the option that they thought will give them an edge.

    If Ferrari made a mistake, it was Seb’s pitstop and his off-track moment while chasing Hamilton, not the strategy.

    1. With enough “considers” Manor might have won.

      1. One can only “consider” the possibilities while making decisions like these. Nothing was certain to suggest Ferrari let the opportunity slip with their atrategy, that was my point.

      2. Your polite and encouraging response makes me want to post a comment with a lot more “considers” (possibly, for a Manor win) just to annoy you.

    2. Ferrari simply don’t have to pace on mediums.. Idk why everyone saying it was a mistake.. The strategy was the best for the situation..

      1. They might have done they did not run them all weekend. At the time I was saying they should stick with ss as they had just put them on. In hindsight it is easy to see. Track position was king Merc could not take Torro Rosso on the same tyre type and age at the start no way Rosberg could take Vettel on mediums but does not matter now they did what they did.

      2. Exactly, Ferrari’s strength lies with the softer compounds, they know they can’t match the Mercs with the medium tyres. That’s why in winter testing we saw the Silver Arrows only with mediums and Ferrari evaluating mostly the softer tyres, each team evaluated the tyres that suit their cars best which is the base for their strategy in races. People who think that not changing Vettel to the mediums was an obvious mistake, forget that important detail ;)

      3. We don’t know that, but in fact once comitted to pit again starting after the red flag in soft may have given the chance to run to the end at least saving second, hamilton was never close to challenge rosberg lead.

    3. You’re almost right, but it’s even simpler than that. Had Räikkönen not retired, Ferrari could have split their strategies. As it was, Mercedes had that option which Ferrari had to cover. Worst scenario for Ferrari would have been if they had gone out on the mediums with Merc on SS in which case both Ham and Ros would have sailed past Vet and terminally disappeared into the distance. The option chosen was on paper the best one but a slightly botched pit stop plus Merc making the mediums both work and last longer than Ferrari (probably) thought possible decided the race in the end.

  6. The irony of all this is that elimination qualifying was supposed to “improve the show” by shaking up the order and potentially eliminating top teams in Q1/Q2. The plan failed and instead we got the business-as-usual Mercedes lock-out of the front row with Ferrari right behind them that we would’ve had regardless, and still the race was terrific.

    Can anybody honestly say this race would’ve been improved by Hamilton/Rosberg/Vettel starting in the mid-field and spending a few laps DRS-passing slower cars? Elimination qualifying was doomed before the race even began, but how the race unfolded was the nail in the coffin in my mind. F1 doesn’t need to shake up the grid to have a great race, but it does need more competitiveness and a little more unpredictability at the front. Focus more on that, not on gimmicks.

    1. F1 always change more than 1 variable in the rules to improve the show which is not scientific, I always thought change 1 variable to see if it works, DRS and High deg tyres in 2012 when only 1 was needed. I think the 3 tyre strategy rule made a huge difference in the race and for now is all that is needed.

  7. If only we had just the safety car, without the red flags.. Instead of the battle for 2nd between HAM and VET, there would be a three way battle for the lead. Even better than the already exciting race. Next time I hope.

    1. @leblep It’s interesting to consider what might have happened at the front if a safety car had been enough rather than a red flag (leaving aside the fact that the mess was just too much to clear under SC). Hamilton would have benefited by gaining time on the leaders, and was on tyres to the end (which would have lasted better having had a few slow laps behind SC too). Rosberg would have to pit again. Ferrari strategy would have been unchanged but with Vettel and Rosberg both having to pit and Vettel ahead this could have been a significant battle, another Roseberg undercut could have settled it unless Ferrari blinked first and forced Merc to have to extend and overtake at the end. Also, Raikkonen’s reliability issue may not have arisen without the Red Flag situation and he could also have been involved.

      But, in the end we got what we got and have to live with it, and perhaps it would have actually turned out less exciting in the alternative reality than we might think!

  8. Only way Vettel would have won after stoppage was to make a sufficient cap to attack right after their tire change but Vettel wasn`t capable of making one. So, why was that? The way Mercedes concentrated on mediums in testing left me thinking that the new tire rule allows people to choose one compound that they can use in every race and if they can find the way their car can work the tire sufficiently a long time their pace advantage can allow them to make one less stop and together with track position advantage it will be a winning formula.

    It wasn`t so much Ferraries blunder but Mercedeses strategical genius – a slap in the face i would say.

    1. Only way Vettel would have won after stoppage was to make a sufficient cap to attack right after their tire change but Vettel wasn`t capable of making one

      Actually he was, he build a gap of 4 seconds in 4/5 laps but by then the tyres were gone and Rosberg clawed back into the 1 second range. Ferrari was keeping Vettel out way too long. They should have pitted him 3/4 laps earlier and go for the mediums and go flat out, if fuel allowed that.

      1. Swapping tires to same ones Mercedes had wasn`t an option because difference in time would have been not enough. They wanted to make sure softs will be in best condition to fight Mercedes.
        Like i said, Mercedes had two steps harder compounds, delta between compounds are 0.8 seconds. That makes 1.6 seconds advantage in race but in reality it was 4 seconds after 6 laps and Vettel had to stretch the stint out to make softs to last.

        Whatever way to watch it Mercedes have enough in hand to seal the deal when needed and anything else is just for the show.

  9. Paul (@coreblimey)
    21st March 2016, 7:17

    Happy birthday
    Ayrton Senna
    56 today
    Not forgotten

  10. Let’s mark the weekend down as great race, terrible qualifying.

    I’m no t convinced that ferrari are that close to Mercedes – if they can maintain it for a couple more races I might be but I think it’s too early to make any meaningful assessments.

  11. Ferrari cant match Mercedes on the same tyres. So why not take the chance on SS > Soft? I on the other hand would’ve gone with Soft and then Supersoft a few laps earlier

    1. Lewisham Milton
      21st March 2016, 12:08

      Ah but you’d still have finished behind me in the 2016 Hindsight Grand Prix.

  12. Jonathan Parkin
    21st March 2016, 11:25

    I have to question why Alonso’s accident brought out the red flag, yet the Jacques Villeneuve/Ralf Schumacher collison in 2001 did not. The sight of the ambulance carrying Graham Beveridge having to stop to let the field past is one of my least favourite memories of watching F1

  13. I fail to see the tactical error made by Ferrari. It’s obvious Mercedes is the faster car by at least 0.25seconds. Trying to mirror Mercedes’ moves with a slower car obviously means they’ll finish 2nd all the time. So, Ferrari must try something else and a good idea of trying to catch&beat Mercedes is to make the car work best with the faster tyres in order to use most of the race the faster tyre and take the lead of the race and stay in clean air. This is what Ferrari tried to do and it worked until the SC. The main problem is that it could work only if the race is not interrupted by a SC period. That’s because using the faster tyres more Ferrari needs to make room for another pit-stop. This is what Vettel was doing until the SC: build the gap needed for an extra pit-stop. Using that strategy and without a SC period, Vettel has most chances to win the race. Mirroring Mercedes’ moves, even without the SC, Ferrari had minimum chances to win the race.

  14. I’m a bit surprised that people see the tyre choice as the only tactical error Ferrari made. They did something really stupid with the first pit stops. Vettel led Raikkonen by 3 seconds I believe. Rosberg almost made the undercut work, but why did they chose to ruin Raikkonens chances of winning the race by making him drive three more laps with tires that were gone? There was no point. He wouldn’t have been able to go to the end with those new tires… Hell, they weren’t even mediums. Basically they stole 10 seconds from him, and chose not to try to get a 1-2. Ferrari seems to always do something different with the two drivers, even when they are leading, when Mercedes in the same situation usually use the same strategy for both and take the 1-2.

    Am I the only one who found this “strategy” for RAI completely stupid? If it was any other driver, they would have questioned the decision to the media after the race, but Kimi doesn’t see the point, sadly.

    1. You are not the only one ;), the Italian version of Motosport.com has an article with the title “Raikkonen’s tactic sacrificed in favour of Vettel’s”, where Arrivabene answers that “two drivers cannot win the same race” when asked why they practically threw Kimi’s race under the bus by taking his tyres to the limit. If the team principal believes that, then you understand why Kimi simply shrugs and carries on, that’s the party line, sadly. Last year in Monza, Ferrari pulled the same trick in order to cover Vettel, but then it made sense because Kimi messed up at the start and all he could do was try to recover, which he did and a podium was out of question. This time, the move made no sense at all and makes one wonder if Ferrari can ever win the Constructor’s Championship again with that philosophy, you need BOTH cars to take as many points as possible, after all ;).

      1. Wow. Thanks for the info on the article. Not even the Finnish media saw this, nice that the Italians did. It’s not enough that Kimi has 90% of the bad luck in the team, in terms of technical problems and what not, he isn’t allowed to even take the second place when he is driving seconds behind the leader. It wouldn’t even be a problem with Kimi to have the same strategy, because if he was asked not to race Vettel, he would comply. And just as a side note, Vettel wouldn’t, as we all know from the past. It’s the second year with these guys, and we haven’t seen them race each other, and we probably never will.

        1. I’d love to know how the Finnish media covers Kimi’s races :), but too bad they didn’t comment on this. Kimi’s strange bad luck when it comes to having car problems when usually Vettel’s Ferrari seems bulletproof somehow reminds me of Rosberg last year at Sochi, where the throttle of the most reliable car simply broke down when the championship was still open, strange indeed ;P. I support both Vettel and Kimi, and the closest thing to seeing them race each other happened also in Russia when they were battling for fourth and the team didn’t intervene. I’d love to see them battling for the first places, but it seems that’s not the Ferrari way. Kimi would definitely comply with team orders, but when it comes to Vettel I think that Ferrari would never ask him not to race Kimi, so in the end it wouldn’t really be up to him (although, we do know what Seb thinks of team orders ;). Still, last year in Brazil Kimi had no problem letting Vettel pass to get to third place and in turn Sebastian did the same in Abu Dhabi, they both respected each other’s strategy. They weren’t fighting for first place and the championship was over but I think Vettel would have fought that call if his teammate had been any other driver. I think Ferrari were unprepared to suddenly find themselves leading the race and were so desperate to get that first victory (Marchionne had been harping about it all winter) that they chose to sacrifice Kimi to ensure the result. Obviously, the red flag changed everything, and ironically if Kimi hadn’t retired their chances to stay on the lead would have been much better. Let’s hope that makes them reflect and give Kimi an equally good car and better strategies ;).

          1. You have a good memory regarding past races ;). Finnish media only talked about Ferraris stupid tyre choice, Kimis bad luck and the fantastic start they both had. Although Kimi didn’t really get anywhere near the start Seb got. Rosbergs screw up on the first corner gave him the second place. It was nice to see Kimi in second place after the start, because normally he is way too careful in the start and loses a place or two.

            One interesting point with the Finnish media and particularly Finnish f1 fans last year was those clashes with Bottas. Bottas is well liked and very respected in Finland, but those crashes didn’t sit well with Finns. Kimi is untouchable, and many thought with the first one, that Kimi let Valtteri know about his intentions to try to overtake by changing the line well before the corner. And the second one seemed like a payback, and he himself didn’t probably think it could ever work. Kimi left some room so that with normal speed Valtteri could have made the corner on the inside, with two tires on the curb.

            I kind of agreed with them. Valtteri has a long way to get to the legend status Kimi has.

        2. Thank you MattiR for the info regarding the Finnish media coverage:). Good to know that they paid attention to Kimi’s great start. True, his start wasn’t as spectacular as Vettel’s, but I really enjoyed how he seemingly took a look at the Mercedes fighting each other on the left side of the track and simply passed them by accelerating by the right side ;). Now that you mention it, yes, Kimi usually loses a place or two at the start of a race ;(, hopefully this year with this new car he’ll feel more confident and he’ll stop being too careful as you pointed out.

          As for Bottas, before Russia I regarded him as a competent and reliable driver who was aggressive but usually stayed out of trouble. I felt bad for him that day for being knocked out of the race, but I felt even worse for Kimi because it was the pressure of the team telling him that it was “now or never” on that last lap what made him take such a risky approach while trying to overtake the Williams. After Mexico and how aggressive was Bottas it totally felt like payback. It’s understandable that Valtteri wanted to make a stand considering he wants to be hired by a bigger team but ending Kimi’s race with that maneuver felt over the top. Ever since I simply hope that they qualify as far from each other as possible ;P.

  15. I love ferrari cars and I am a great fan of ferrari but I am unhappy to see how ferrari is slip up but it’s my request to ferrari that in the next race which is at 26 may they have to win the race . which ever. technical problems are there they have to improve them and they have to win the race.
    Ferrari plz you cannot lose at the next race you have to win

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