Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Shanghai, 2011

Hamilton: Qualifying strategy key to win

2011 Chinese Grand PrixPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Shanghai, 2011
Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Shanghai, 2011

Lewis Hamilton said his qualifying strategy of saving a set of soft tyres helped him win the Chinese Grand Prix.

Speaing in the post-race press conference he said: “I think definitely the strategy we came up with going into qualifying definitely helped. My new option tyres seemed to last a little bit longer than the guys in front.

“But I think it was quite a few things that came together. The pit stops were fantastic, the guys are always pushing to improve, the car felt great, and I was trying to nurse my tyres while trying to pick up pace.

“It was one of the best races I’ve experienced, at least this year, where the guys in front had to do quite a lot of overtaking.

“But real thumbs-up to the guys back at the factory and in the garage they really put their hearts into developing the car and making the car the best it can be in the weekend and it feels amazing to be able to bring home a victory.”

He added he tried not to panic when he nearly missed the start of the race with an engine problem:

“I don’t let worry come into my thoughts. I was in the car nice and early and we had a problem where the car just wouldn’t start.

“I’m still not sure exactly what went on but they had to take a lot of bodywork off and I knew there was six minutes to go and then there was two minutes to go and fortunately everything just came together very quickly.

“The guys did a great job but of course for me it’s very important to stay as calm as possible because that reflects on all the guys in the garage so I try to stay positive. And they got the car out, which was most important.”

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33 comments on “Hamilton: Qualifying strategy key to win”

  1. So are 1 lap runs in Q3 the way to go now? Save the extra softs and benefit on Sunday. Will be interesting to see what way people go about it in Turkey.

    1. Until they can get closer to the RBR’s this is teh only way to go. They learned the lesson from Malaysia last week.

      1. I’m wondering now if Red Bull might try to sell dummies in qualifying, look slow and tempt McLaren to go for two runs, only to pull out 4 tenths.

        1. Red Bull’s advantage in Q1 and Q2 was small actually, then in Q3 it was over a second.

          1. Well what I was getting at is maybe hold back on the first run in Q3 too!

        2. As Alonso said today, qualifying is basically irrelevant now. Race pace is everything.

      2. Yep, and keep on hoping RBR makes a bad strategy call.

    2. I don’t think saving a set of tyres had as much to do with it as he thinks, I think he’s just proud of it.

      RBR had the same problem that Hamilton had last time around, pitting early may give a short-term boost but seriously compromises your race later when you can’t afford to pit a seriously degraded set of tyres. I imagine the drivers ask to be pitted early, but hopefully their engineers will hold them back in future.

    3. Shouldn’t those in Q3 get an extra set (solely for use in Q3)? The race was fantastic, but at the cost of qualifying which showed signs of becoming ultra-conservative. Just two drivers doing a first run wasn’t good. We could end up with a cat-and-mouse Q3 and the kind of speculation that used to surround fuel loads. I think they should allow an extra set and ban the rule that the top 10 have to start on their quali tyres.

    4. Hamilton didn’t really seem to gain much from his extra set of softs though.

      In the end his last stint on the hard tyres is what made the difference.

  2. I think this is going to open up a whole lot of interesting possibilities later in the year – especially for teams like Renault, who are strong on certain circuits, but don’t have the all-round speed of Red Bull and McLaren.

    1. Indeed it will! Webber proved today that qualifying is not quite the holy grail it was last year. Ok, he was in the RB7 but the tyres seem to negate much of the performance difference between many teams.

  3. 2 stops or 3 stops…that is the question. Today 3 stop was answer. I don’t think Hamilton’s 1 run in Q3 is the key. 3 stoppers were usually gain advantage against 2 stoppers. of course fresh tyre would help him some overtaking but I don’t think it’s the key

    1. The key is RB screwing up. Just imagine, if Webber without KERS could storm through to take 3rd, wonder what Vettel would have done with a 3 stop strategy. As much as Lewis can be happy about the race, he should be wary of RB’s pace.

      1. and now they don’t have F-duct advantage in Turkey. I think today what we saw is just how RB7 is overwhelming.

      2. Hindsight is 20/20. All the teams will have it to do all over again come next race… with substantial upgrades to fine tune no less. It’ll be a different ballgame, & there’s no guarantee that any of them will get their upgrades to work right off the bat, if any at all. I doubt Lewis or McLaren be dwelling too much on Red Bull’s pace this weekend. If they seriously wanna clip red Bull’s wings, they’ll be flat out trying to out develop them & find more pace in the MP4-26. Adrian Newey gets a lot of credit (deservedly so) but McLaren & Renault came up with brilliant designs themselves this year & I don’t think we’ve seen the best from them yet. Not that Red Bull will stand still though… I just think there’s more to be had from Macca & Renault… especially if they crack the flexible wing mystery. Red Bull’s massive advantage only exists in qualifying trim. The teams are a lot closer on race pace, & tire management will always make things interesting.

      3. Button was on this magical 3-stop strategy too. It didn’t seem do him much good.

        Massa was on the same desastreous 2-stop strategy and he didn’t seem to lose out as much as you’d expect him to have.

        It’s not the number of stops which made much difference, but that they called Vettel in for his stops way too early.

        1. His first pitstop had a lot to do with where he ended up though. If he had stayed ahead of Vettel there, it would have made for quite a different race.

          1. Yes, remember that they didn’t do the same 3-stop as Nico did, they turned a scheduled 2-stop into a 3-stop so their own strategy wasn’t optimum either.

          2. Seeing how Button couldn’t keep up with Vettel anyway I doubt it actually mattered.

            They put Vettel on a 2-stop strategy since then all he needed to do was to follow Button and be ahead in the end because he would make a stop less.

        2. Button was on this magical 3-stop strategy too. It didn’t seem do him much good.

          Exactly, point proven.. because he didn’t have the extra set of new unused softs (although they only did 3/4 of a flying lap)

  4. As MB and DC say on BBC, it’s key to be on the right tyre at the right time, McLaren timed it perfectly today and Red Bull to be honet dropped the ball in my opinion. When you look at Vettels strategy it was fairly conservative in it’s approach. Although Vettel claimed they were “Trying something different” as they had lost track position, they also knew they were 7 tenths quicker on fresh tyres. Strange decision in my eyes, but then again we all have the benefit of hindsight!

    1. Actually Red Bull timed it perfectly for Webber.

      I wonder if anyone in the top 10 is going to look at that and try doing a Q3 lap on hard tyres.

      Brundle and Coulthard were ridiculing him for starting on the hard tyres, but I though it made sense. When in traffic it doesn’t cost too much since the hard tyres are slower anyway. Then when the free tracks came he was on fresh sets of soft tyres.

      That last stint from Webber was insanely heroic though. He made up almost 30 seconds to Vettel in 15 laps. Almost 2 seconds a lap!

  5. Keith plse give us some feed back about alonsos DRS , did he use it in the wrong zone or was it a manfactaul

    1. It was a malfunction.

      1. It looked to me like he got the led showing it was available to use, so Alonso reacted by pushing the button.
        Then he must have realized that was not supposed to happen and let go of it.

        1. This has been clarified by the FIA as an error in their activation system, it activated 300yards later than the activation line and so remained active later than the hairpin.

          The whole system is a joke, the activation is so unreliable. Both Fernando and Schumacher have suffered from it that we know of in the last 2 races.

      2. It’s a malfunction which ever way you look at it really, isn’t it?

  6. Hami said on friday that he is better than vettel come driving and he did not dissapoint his fun look how many pass did he manage to take, vettel wins from pole but come when he starts in the middle pack he cant pass no one

  7. Nice words from Hamilton.

    Vettel didn’t stand a chance tyres wise however it still takes immense skill to pass the fastest guy on the grid. Fully deserved win from Hamilton.

    The tyres really came alive more than ever today, brilliant stuff. Pirelli, well done!

  8. the pirellis have provided another benefit now, an overdue correction (devaluing) qualifying position. i’d like this phenomena to continue all season.

  9. It can’t just have been about Q3. Button lost his balance totally in the final stint, so it was more than Hamilton having better tires in stint 3. The reverse of Sepang, Hamilton had both better tires and a better set up than Button. Unless, of course, one would consider that Button could not preserve his tires as well as his teammate. The mixed fortunes of RBR and VMM drivers the past two races show that they are both still feeling their way in the dark toward understanding the tires. Any of the four drivers is liable to have a brilliant or disasterous race.

    1. Pirelli need to improve the consistency between tyres (they a poor in that respect). Sort that out and get rid of the DRS and we could have a near prefect season.

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