UBS RACE STRATEGY BRIEFING FORMULA 1 GROSSER PREIS SANTANDER VON DEUTSCHLAND 2012
Hockenheim, 20-22 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.
Hockenheim - 4.574 kilometres. Race distance - 67 laps = 306.458 kilometres. 17 corners in total. A shortened version of the classic Hockenheim track, the circuit has a mixture of all types of corners.
Aerodynamic setup - Med/High downforce. Top speed 326km/h (with Drag Reduction System active on rear wing) - 312km/h without.
Full throttle - 65% of the lap (medium). Total fuel needed for race distance - 150 kilos (average/high). Fuel consumption - 2.33kg per lap (ave)
Time spent braking: 15% of lap. 7 braking zones. Brake wear - Heavy.
Loss time for a Pit stop = 12.8 seconds
Total time needed for pit stop: 16.8 seconds.
Fuel effect (cost in lap time per 10kg of fuel carried): 0.31 seconds (ave)
Hockenheim alternates as host of the German GP with Nuerburgring. The shorter Hockenheim track was inaugurated in 2002 and is well known to the F1 teams, but this is the first time that Pirelli has raced on the circuit. The last time the race was held there, it proved quite tough on the Bridgestone tyres and is expected to be the same this year.
It is a short lap at Hockenheim, the cars come around every 73 seconds or so. The first part of the lap has two long straights and only two corners and it is notoriously difficult to warm the tyres up on a cool day.
Pirelli is bringing its soft and medium tyre compounds to the race this year, the sixth time this combination has been seen in ten races this season. The last occasion was Valencia.
The FORMULA 1 GROSSER PREIS SANTANDER VON DEUTSCHLAND 2012 is the tenth round of the 2012 FIA F1 World Championship. It has been a very open championship so far with seven different race winners in nine races. Only Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber have won twice and they are the leading championship contenders.
Red Bull and Ferrari are the two form teams at the moment. McLaren dropped back in the last two races and are in need of an upgrade, while Lotus has been threatening to win a race, but lacks the qualifying pace to get control of a race from the start.
As far as drivers’ form is concerned; Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton have won the German Grand Prix twice, Mark Webber has won it once and Michael Schumacher has won it four times.
The German Grand Prix at Hockenheim is often held in warm conditions, although there have been some wet races too. This year’s forecast is for warm weather, in the mid to high 20s, but some thunderstorms are possible.
Pirelli tyre choice for Hockenheim: Soft (yellow markings) and Medium (white markings). This is a similar combination to what we saw in the first four races of the season and again at Valencia.
If it is hot the tyres will suffer at Hockenheim with thermal degradation, which means that they have a sudden drop off in performance beyond a certain point, usually when they are around 70% worn. It has several slow corners and the acceleration out of these causes longitudinal sliding, while some of the medium and higher speed corners put a lot of energy into the tyres and increase the degradation.
It’s important to prepare and warm up the tyres properly for a qualifying lap and it’s tricky to do that on the first part of the lap, which has few corners and it’s easy to get understeer.
It is likely to be a two or three stop race, depending on the temperature. If the temperatures are high (35 degrees or more of track temperature) then the tyre degradation could be severe, as it was in Bahrain on these tyre compounds. That race was a three stopper, but some teams like Lotus and Sauber, which are more gentle on tyres, might manage to do two stops.
Since the new Hockenheim track was opened in 2002 there have been two safety cars in seven Grands Prix.
There was a safety car in 2004 for a crash at the start, another in 2008 due to an accident.
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 –
+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 time in the British Grand Prix, from the car entering the pit lane to leaving it. 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|
All three leaders had followed the same strategy of soft/medium/medium tyres, but this was a weekend which showed a lot about how far many teams have come in getting on top of the Pirelli tyres, which were described by some as a "lottery" early in the season. It was an easy two stop for most teams who could race as they wanted to, with an open choice of strategy.
The tyre selection for Hockenheim was soft and medium, the same as in Melbourne and four other events this season. In many ways the race track and its demands on the tyres were comparable with Melbourne, but it showed how much progress some of the teams have made and how one or two are still struggling to balance tyre temperatures; this is affecting their strategies and how much impression they can make on the race.
Earlier in the season some teams experienced a difference in temperature from front to rear tyres of as much as 20 degrees, which played havoc with balance. Ferrari, Red Bull and Lotus lead the way in terms of progress made on balancing temperatures, Sauber have been pretty good all along, while McLaren have lost out recently but are now getting closer and Mercedes still seem to have significant problems.
In Germany there wasn't much to choose between the performance of the soft and medium tyres. It came down to preference, although some teams that go well on the soft found that over a stint the soft would be around 2 seconds faster.
It was certainly faster in the opening laps of a stint than a medium and this raises the question of whether Vettel could have attacked Alonso at the first stops.
The pre-race wisdom was that the soft tyre would be similar on pace to the medium in race conditions, even though it had been 0.7s slower in qualifying trim. The softs were expected to be good for up to 21 laps and the mediums 24 laps. This tended to push teams towards thinking about a soft/medium/medium strategy, which is what the podium finishers used, but it did give scope for soft/soft/medium and we saw that this was actually a little faster. With such tight battle at the front to the end, had one of them taken a gamble, we might have seen something different.
The battle among the front three
Alonso's engineer Andrea Stella has said that the only time they were worried on Sunday was after the 1st stop when the medium tyres were taking time to come in. Alonso had pitted on lap 18 and Vettel didn't stop for another two laps.
Alonso did a 23 lap middle stint while Vettel did only 21 laps. Arguably, looking at what Raikkonen did on soft tyres in the middle stint, there might have been an opportunity here for Red Bull.
Having watched Alonso go to the medium tyre, by switching to softs Vettel might have got ahead of the Ferrari, but in all probability Alonso would have reacted by doing a soft tyre stint at the end, while Vettel would have been forced to use mediums and this probably would have evened things out. It's a fine margin, but it would have been interesting to see Red Bull try it.
Red Bull and Ferrari did not do a lot of race preparation work on the tyres in the brief time the track was dry at Hockenheim. So they went for the medium as the preferred race tyre, also Ferrari put Massa onto it on lap one after he was forced to pit for a nose change, so they were gathering data on it as the 1st stint unfolded.
The softs degraded at 0.1s per lap on Sunday, while the mediums degraded at 0.08s per lap, so there was very little in it on degradation. It was more about relative pace.
Raikkonen and Lotus on form: If only they could qualify well
It was another strong showing by the Lotus team with Kimi Raikkonen classified fourth but promoted to third after Vettel's penalty. Once again they showed that if they could get to the front they have the race pace to win. In Hockenheim they pitted Raikkonen early on lap 11 and stayed on the soft. By doing so he jumped Webber, Hulkenberg and Maldonado. Then by using Lotus' gentle action on the tyres he did a 27 lap middle stint, which included overtaking Michael Schumacher, that gave him the platform for his fourth place finish.
Raikkonen was the highest placed finisher to do soft/soft/medium, which Lotus are convinced was the fastest strategy last weekend. It didn't work for everyone: Schumacher tried it but the Mercedes' continued roughness on rear tyres meant that he ended up having to make a third stop which cost him fifth place. He was also handicapped by having only one new set of medium tyres for the race.
Kobayashi stuns with a reverse strategy
We have seen a number of drivers in the Pirelli era come through the field in a quick car with a reverse strategy to everyone else, but usually it is because they have saved new sets of tyres from being eliminated early in qualifying.
On Sunday Kamui Kobayashi came through from 12th to fourth (after Vettel's penalty) on medium/medium/soft strategy - but as qualifying had been wet everyone had new tyres to use, so he didn't have that advantage. So how did he do it?
The Sauber is extremely fast on full tanks, so he had a strong opening stint and as he had started on mediums, he was able to go to lap 22 before his first stop. At that point he was up to fourth and he came out from the pits in ninth place, but in a position to attack with two short stints of 21 and 24 laps. He passed Webber and Perez in the middle stint and Hulkenberg in the final stint and then inherited a place from Schumacher when he made his third stop.
He even looked like he might mount an attack on Raikkonen on his final stint on softs but his pace dropped off at the end. Nevertheless it was a great return to form for the Japanese driver and an illustration that if you have a quick car you can make a different strategy work. Also it was impressive how easily he was able to overtake.
However like Lotus, Sauber have to deal with the fact that they do not qualify well.
at the start
|Pit Stop 1||Pit Stop 2||Pit Stop 3||Pit Stop 4||Number of|
|Alonso||SN||MN (18)||MN (41)||2|
|Vettel||SN||MN (20)||MU (41)||2|
||SN||MN (19)||MN (40)||2|
|Räikkönen||SN||SN (11)||MN (38)||2|
|Kobayashi||MN||MN (22)||SN (43)||2|
|Perez||SN||MN (17)||MN (40)||2|
|Schumacher||SN||SN (14)||MN (36)||SN (52)||3|
|Webber||SN||MN (12)||MN (40)||2|
|Hülkenberg||SN||MN (12)||SN (31)||MN (46)||3|
|Rosberg||MN||SN (12)||SN (32)||SN (50)||3|
|Di Resta||SN||MN (10)||MN (39)||2|
|Massa||SN||MN (1)||MU (24)||SN (47)||3|
|Ricciardo||SN||MN (19)||MN (38)||2|
|Vergne||MN||MN (6)||MU (27)||SN (45)||3|
|Maldonado||SN||MN (13)||MN (38)||SN (57)||3|
|Petrov||SN||MN (14)||MN (32)||MN (50)||3|
|Senna||SN||MN (1)||MN (25)||SN (47)||3|
|Grojean||SN||MN (1)||MU (24)||SN (42)||3|
|Kovalainen||SN||MN (13)||MN (31)||MN (44)||SU (53)||4|
|Pic||MN||SN (21)||MN (43)||2|
|De La Rosa||SN||SU (20)||MN (45)||2|
|Glock||MN||SN (19)||MN (40)||2|
|Kartikeyan||SN||MN (22)||MN (46)||2|
|Hamilton||SN||MN (3)||MN (31)||SN (47)||3 NC|
The UBS Race Strategy Briefing is written by James Allen with input and data from several F1 team strategists and from Pirelli.
Note Kobayahi's strong pace in the opening stint and the way he picks up places as others pit. Also note Raikkonen's middle stint on soft tyres and the relative pace of Vettel and Alonso before and after the 1st stops.
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