UBS RACE STRATEGY BRIEFING FORMULA ENI MAGYAR NAGYDÍJ 2012
Budapest, 27-29 July 2012
UBS Race Strategy Briefing
The UBS Race Strategy Briefing before each Grand Prix gives you the lowdown on all the vital considerations the F1 teams will take on board when deciding what Race Strategy to use in the forthcoming Grand Prix. A bad decision can cost a race victory, whereas a bold gamble can sometimes steal one from the jaws of defeat. So put yourself in the know and get the inside line on how the race will be won.
UBS Race Strategy Report
The UBS Race Strategy Report is a unique analysis of the key decisions on the pit wall and in the cockpit that decided the outcome of the latest Grand Prix. It's the indispensable guide to the who, the why and the how behind every Grand Prix result.
Hungaroring – 4.381km kilometres. Race distance - 70 laps = 306.630 kilometres. 14 corners in total. Average speed of 196km/h is the lowest of any permanent track on F1 calendar.
Aerodynamic setup – High downforce. Top speed 301km/h (with Drag Reduction System active on rear wing) - 291km/h without.
Full throttle – 55% of the lap (low). Total fuel needed for race distance – 150 kilos (average/high). Fuel consumption – 2.11kg per lap (average)
Time spent braking: 14% of lap. Number of brake zones – 11. Brake wear- High.
Loss time for a pit stop = 15 seconds (average/low)
Total time needed for pit stop: 19 seconds
Fuel effect (cost in lap time per 10kg of fuel carried): 0.35 seconds (high)
The Hungaroring circuit is rarely used and so the track is usually dirty at the start of the F1 race weekend and the grip improves as the weekend goes on. This means that it’s very easy to be misled by the tyre performance on Friday and the only really meaningful work that can be done on car set up and planning race strategy is in the one hour session on Saturday morning.
The track is tight and twisty with generally a low grip surface and it is also quite bumpy.
The track is all about slow corners and is quite technical. It is also physically challenging for the drivers as they are always turning or braking with very little time for a rest, apart from the short main straight. Although the braking is not particularly hard, the brakes don’t get much chance to cool down so wear is high.
The start is always crucial at Hungaroring, as the slow second and third corners tend to open the field out. The run down to Turn 1 is quite long; from pole position to the braking point before Turn 1 is 400m. KERS will be important at the start, but in the race it will be less effective; there is not a lot of high energy braking time so it’s hard to get the KERS fully charged during a lap of the race.
The Hungarian Grand Prix is the eleventh round of the 2012 FIA F1 World Championship and thus marks the start of the second half the season.
Red Bull has taken a big step forward in the middle part of the season and has had the edge in qualifying and the race recently. They have made significant gains in low speed corner performance and that will pay dividends at the Hungaroring. The circuit should also suit Ferrari, while the McLaren and Lotus cars tend to be strong on circuits with more medium and high speed corners.
As far as drivers’ form is concerned; it has been a happy hunting ground for Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button who have both won the race twice. Fernando Alonso won in 2003, Kimi Raikkonen in 2005, Heikki Kovalainen in 2008 and Mark Webber in 2010. Michael Schumacher has four Hungary wins.
The long range forecast for the weekend is temperatures around 27-28 degrees, but there are thunderstorms in the air, which could bring rain, as with last year.
Pirelli tyre choice for Budapest: Soft (yellow markings) and Medium (white markings). This combination will be making its seventh appearance this year.
The choice of the tried and trusted soft and medium compounds, rather than soft and supersoft used last year, means that the strategy will probably come down to fine margins with two stops being the target. It will be interesting to see whether the medium tyre turns out to be the better race tyre, as many strategists predict it might.
Its expected performance life is 29 laps, compared to 22 for the soft, while the soft should be around 0.3 seconds to 0.5 seconds faster per lap, but reaching a crossover point where the medium becomes better over the long run. The target for the first stop will be around lap 17.
The Hungaroring is notoriously hard on the front tyres, partly due to all the long corners and partly due to the balance of the car being much more forward.
In the past, overtaking was extremely difficult at the Hungaroring, but the DRS adjustable rear wing zone, situated on the pit straight, should help create overtaking opportunities, as it did last year.
The time needed for a stop at Hungaroring is quite short at 15 seconds, but the tyre wear rates should not be too bad, despite the high temperatures so it’s likely that we will see predominantly of two stop strategies this weekend. The smart ticket for the top ten runners could be to run used softs at the start (as the regulations say they must) and then new mediums for the second and third stints of the race.
Safety cars are rare at the Hungaroring.
The chances of a safety car are only 20% and there have been only two in the last seven years.
The start of the Grand Prix is absolutely vital in terms of executing the ideal race strategy. A few places gained means a team has more options, while a few places lost usually means switching to Plan B and being more aggressive to make up ground.
As far as 2012 start performance is concerned drivers have gained (+) or lost (-) places off the start line this season, on aggregate, as follows (taken before the German Grand Prix) –
+11 Raikkonen, Kobayashi
+10 Maldonado, Pic
+6 Di Resta*, Karthikeyan
+5 Schumacher, Hamilton,
+ 1 Vettel
Held position: Button
-1 Hulkenberg , De la Rosa ,
*Di Resta eliminated lap 1 at Silverstone, Petrov did not start
Of course good strategy planning also requires good pit stop execution by the mechanics and we have seen tyre stops carried out in less than two and a half seconds by F1 teams.
It is clear that the field has significantly closed up in pit stops.
The league table below shows the order of the pit crews based on their fastest pit stop time in the 2012 FORMULA 1 SANTANDER BRITISH GRAND PRIX. The positions from previous race are in brackets.
Worth noting is that McLaren has been working on its pit stops and they now have the fastest stops of all the teams, by some margin. Also Marussia’s sixth place in the table is significantly higher than their position in the championship.
|Rank||Team||Pit stop time|
|3. (3)||Red Bull||3.2s|
|9. (9)||Toro Rosso||3.7s|
The FORMULA 1 ENI MAGYAR NAGYDÍJ 2012 was far from being a thriller in terms of on track action with hardly any overtaking after the first laps.
But it was a very interesting tactical race which leaves a lot of questions to answer, like could Lotus have won the race if they'd done things differently? Why did Button and the Red Bulls make three stops? And how close did Hamilton come to not winning?
On Sunday morning most of the strategists were saying it would be a wet race. The forecast had not changed for five days and rain would fall between 1pm and 2pm local time. But as the day went on the bad weather moved away from Budapest and it was hot and sunny with the chance of rain receding. In the end a giant storm came in around 7pm local time which only succeeded in delaying teams' flights out of the airport, but didn't affect their race.
Rain on Friday afternoon during practice had reduced the amount of data teams had on long run performance so once again it was a bit of a stab in the dark as to how to approach race strategy and tyre choice.
Three stops looked to be faster than two stops over a race distance, but the problem was that a three stopper would be behind the two stoppers after his last stop and would have to overtake.
The feeling was that Hamilton would drive away from the rest, using his apparent pace advantage of around 4/10ths of a second per lap. The soft tyre was considered to be up to half a second per lap faster than the medium, based on Friday practice but after 10 laps the lap times on the medium were expected to be stronger than the soft. But could all the teams make it through 70 laps competitively on just three sets of tyres?
Once again the picture turned out to be slightly different from expectations.
The challenge for victory by Grosjean and Raikkonen
The opening 10 laps told the story; Lewis Hamilton had dominated qualifying but he wasn't able to pull a gap on Grosjean's Lotus. This was going to be a close fight.
Further back Raikkonen had let himself down in qualifying by not matching Grosjean's pace and started fifth on the grid, which became sixth when Alonso passed him on the first lap. He lost around 4 seconds in that opening stint, sat behind the Ferrari. This didn't cost him the race win, necessarily, but it meant that he wasn't able to jump Vettel at the first stop, which he would have done otherwise. This would have set him up for a clearer track in his middle stint and then it would have been interesting to see how close he and Hamilton were after the final stop.
Grosjean in contrast, looked comfortable in second place. Lotus was of the view that the soft tyre was faster and they would do two stops with a soft/soft/medium strategy. They stuck to their plan.
Other teams were worried about getting through 70 laps on two stops and so favoured a soft/medium/medium strategy. This was a race tailor made for Lotus with its easy action on the tyres.
Lotus had two players in the game: Grosjean lost his chance of a win by taking too much out of the tyres at the start of the middle stint. This meant that at the end of the stint he didn't have the pace to stay out longer and try to jump Hamilton at the second stops. By this stage Vettel had pitted on lap 38 and with a margin of just three seconds to play with on tyres which were spent, Lotus had no choice but to cover Vettel by stopping Grosjean.
Contrast this with Raikkonen's execution of the strategy: He ran a 20 lap first stint and easily jumped Alonso at the first stop. This brought him out fifth, around 4.5 seconds behind Vettel, (where he would have been had he not lost a place to Alonso at the start). Facing a long middle stint on soft tyres (it was 25 laps in the end) he made no effort to close this gap, instead nursing his tyres for around 8-10 laps before then slowly reeling Vettel in before the German's second stop on lap 38. At this point, in clear air he let rip; 1m 25.7 on lap 41, 1m 25.9 on lap 42. As Vettel and Grosjean got their medium tyres up to temperature, Raikkonen took almost two seconds a lap out of them. He would easily jump them at his second stop.
The strategy worked perfectly, the question now was whether he could get Hamilton too. The burst of speed had taken the edge off the tyres - he did a 1m 26.6 on lap 43. Meanwhile on lap 44 Hamilton on new mediums did a 1m 26.3. He's just too quick, so Lotus pit Raikkonen to consolidate the gains over Vettel and Grosjean and then see what Raikkonen can do to Hamilton in the final stint with tyres that are five laps fresher.
He tries to pass, but cannot and has to settle for second place.
Had Grosjean matched Raikkonen's technique of nursing the tyres for six or seven laps at the start of the second stint, sitting out of his dirty air and then attacked Hamilton at the end of the stint, he could have jumped him and won the race. Such is experience. I'm sure he'll look at Raikkonen's performance and learn from it.
Not a day to stop three times
Pre-race predictions about three stopping proved prophetic: it was faster on paper but required overtaking and despite the DRS system, overtaking at the Hungaroring proved elusive. Last season's race was rain affected so we never really saw how little difference DRS would make on a track that has always been almost impossible to pass on.
Button did three stops, his tyre life not as good as Hamilton's in the opening stint, his rear tyres going off more quickly. But what wrecked it was after his second stop, which was 19 laps into a stint on new mediums, he came out behind Bruno Senna, who had similar age medium tyres to the ones Button had taken off. He kept Button behind him until his stop on lap 42. However during this time, Button remained around 6 seconds behind Hamilton, the same margin as before Button's second stop. But he had not had the opportunity to use the pace of the new medium tyre and this allowed Vettel to jump him at his second stop. Alonso then jumped him when Button made his third stop on lap 45.
He was the first front runner to pit at the first stop on lap 15, which was still within the two stop window and he reported that the second set of tyres was still fine when he made the early second stop. There wasn't a possibility to undercut Grosjean at that stop as he was almost six seconds ahead of Button. It was just the wrong call to go for three stops, but clearly they felt that they couldn't do the race in two, despite Hamilton holding on and doing just that in his McLaren.
Meanwhile Webber stopped three times because his differential had problems and this led to higher tyre wear, while Vettel switched to three stops near the end after losing time in the opening stint when he lost third place to Button, who was not on the same pace as Hamilton and Grosjean. Vettel went for a new set of softs for a final sprint to see if he could claim a podium, but he had to delay the stop in order to get enough of a gap over Alonso behind and this left him with not enough laps to catch Grosjean for third place.
FORMULA 1 ENI MAGYAR NAGYDÍJ 2012, TYRE CHOICES
at the start
|Pit Stop 1||Pit Stop 2||Pit Stop 3||Pit Stop 4||Number of|
|Hamilton:||SU||MN (18)||MN (40)||2
|Räikkönen:||SU||SU (20)||MU (45)||2|
|Grosjean:||SU||SU (19)||MU (39)||2|
|Vettel:||SU||SU (17)||MN (38)||SU (58)||3|
|Alonso:||SU||MN (17)||MN (43)||2|
|Button:||SU||MN (15)||SU (34)||MN (45)||3|
|Senna:||SU||MN (16)||MN (42)||2|
|Webber:||MN||MN (20)||SN (39)||SU (55)||3|
|Massa:||SU||MN (18)||MN (43)||2|
|Rosberg:||SN||MN (16)||MN (40)||2|
|Hülkenberg:||SU||MN (15)||MN (39)||2|
|Di Resta:||SN||MN (16)||MN (38)||2|
|Maldonado:||SU||MN (15)||MN (41)||DT (52)||3|
|Perez:||SN||MN (21)||MN (47)||2|
|Ricciardo:||SN||SN (14)||SU (34)||MN (47)||3|
|Vergne:||SU||SN (12)||SU (30)||MN (46)||MN (64)||4|
|Kovalainen:||SN||MN (17)||MN (36)||SU (56)||3|
|Kobayashi:||SU||MN (8)||SU (40)||2|
|Petrov:||SN||MN (18)||MN (35)||MN (51)||3|
|Pic:||MN||SN (20)||MN (39)||2|
|Glock:||MN||SN (18)||MN (40)||2|
|De La Rosa:||MN||MN (22)||SN (41)||2|
|Kartikeyan:||SN||MN (18)||SU (39)||2 NC|
|Schumacher:||SN||MN (1)||DT (4)||MN (32)||3 NC|
The UBS Race Strategy Report is written by James Allen with input and data from several F1 team strategists and from Pirelli
RACE HISTORY CHART
Kindly supplied by Williams F1 Team
Note Raikkonen's pace in the middle stint relative to all the other cars in that phase of the race. Note also how his tyres start to drop off at the end of that stint and how close Grosjean and Vettel are after Raikkonen's stop. Had he stayed out another lap he would have been behind them.
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