UBS STRATEGY BRIEFING
2012 FORMULA 1 SANTANDER BRITISH GRAND PRIX
Silverstone, 6-8 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.
|2010||Mark Webber||Red Bull-Renault|
|2009||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull-Renault|
|2005||Juan Pablo Montoya||McLaren-Mercedes|
The Key Strategy considerations
Silverstone – 5.891km kilometres. Race distance - 52 laps = 306.198 kilometres. 18 corners in total. A high speed circuit based on an old WWII airfield. Lots of high speed corners, very easy on brakes.
Aerodynamic setup – Med/High downforce. Top speed 311km/h (with Drag Reduction System active on rear wing) - 301km/h without.
Full throttle – 66% of the lap (medium). Total fuel needed for race distance – 150 kilos (average/high). Fuel consumption – 2.36kg per lap (high).
Time spent braking: 9% of lap (very low). 9 braking zones. Brake wear- Low.
Loss time for a Pit stop = 15 seconds.
Total time needed for pit stop: 19 seconds.
Fuel effect (cost in lap time per 10kg of fuel carried): 0.38 seconds (high).
Silverstone is one of the classic circuits on the F1 calendar. It is loved by the drivers because of the many high speed corners it offers. It provides a rigorous test of aerodynamic efficiency, like Barcelona.
The track was built on a wartime airfield and is in a windy spot, with gusts that can often upset the balance of the cars.
The circuit has been modified quite a bit in the last few years and various parts of it have been resurfaced, such as the high speed Copse corner. The grip level remains relatively low, but the high speed corners take a lot out of the tyre, especially laterally.
The 2012 FORMULA 1 SANTANDER BRITISH GRAND PRIX is the ninth round of the 2012 FIA F1 World Championship. It has been a very open championship so far with seven different race winners in eight races.
Traditionally Silverstone has been a circuit which suits the Red Bull car, with its aerodynamics very effective in high speed corners. With the major upgrade they brought to their car at the last race in Valencia, they are currently the team to beat. Lotus is also very strong on this type of circuit and must be a strong contender for a podium.
However Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso leads the world drivers’ championship and is the only driver to have won two races this season. The Spaniard also won the British Grand Prix last year on Ferrari’s 60th anniversary in F1.
As far as drivers’ form is concerned; Mark Webber, Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen have won this race once, Fernando Alonso has won it twice and Michael Schumacher has won it three times.
The weather in England is notoriously hard to predict. It could be warm and sunny, or cold and wet. The long range forecast for this weekend is for temperatures around 18 degrees.
Pirelli tyre choice for Silverstone: Soft (yellow markings) and hard (silver markings). This is a similar combination to what we saw at Barcelona in May.
That race was interesting because the leading drivers made three stops and primarily raced on the hard compound tyre, with soft used only for the opening stint. But Barcelona has a rougher track surface, which eats up the rubber more quickly.
At Silverstone, Pirelli is forecasting that the soft tyre will be faster than the hard by up to 1 second in qualifying and around 7/10ths of a second in the race.
The wear rate of the tyres at Silverstone is high because of the lateral loads through the high speed corners, like Copse and Abbey. The surface of the track is not particularly grippy.
The secrets for this weekend will be a) getting the right balance of tyre temperatures front and rear, which comes from a good aerodynamic balance and b) picking the exact point in the wear rate where the tyre performance drops off suddenly, to make a stop. This should be when the tyre is around 70% worn out.
If the temperatures are high (35 degrees or more of track temperature) then the tyre degradation will be more severe and the race will certainly be a three stopper. It will probably be either a two or three stopper in cooler dry conditions.
Silverstone is a fast, open circuit with lots of run off areas. So for marshals it’s relatively safe to recover a broken car.
The chances of a safety car are 57%, with 0.6 safety cars per race.
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 –
+17 Glock, Alonso
+10 Perez , Senna
+ 9 Maldonado
+ 8 Kobayashi
+ 7 Pic
+ 6 Di Resta
+ 5 Schumacher*, Hamilton, Vergne
+ 4 Karthikeyan
+ 2 Vettel
- 1 Grosjean
- 2 Petrov
- 3 De la Rosa , Button
- 4 Rosberg, Hulkenberg
- 5 Webber
- 13 Ricciardo
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. Here again Ferrari leads the way consistently this year.
It is also clear that the field has significantly closed up in pit stops. The top seven teams’ fastest stops were within 3/10ths of a second of each other in Canada! It shows how much work has gone on in this area.
The league table below shows the order of the pit crews based on their fastest time in the 2012 FORMULA 1 GRAND PRIX OF EUROPE, 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. However they still had a front jack failure in the race, which undermined all their efforts.
|Rank||Team||Pit stop time|
|3. (3)||Red Bull||20.023s|
|5. (7)||Force India||20.295s|
|9. (9)||Toro Rosso||21.209s|
The UBS Race Strategy Briefing is written by James Allen with input and data from several F1 team strategists and from Pirelli
The British Grand Prix was a tense strategic battle between Red Bull and Ferrari. They went different ways on race strategy and ultimately Red Bull prevailed, Webber passing Alonso five laps from the end. So could Alonso and Ferrari have held on for the win if they had played the strategy differently? That’s one of the questions we’ll be addressing in this UBS Race Strategy Report.
The challenge of McLaren was blunted again, Lewis Hamilton losing ground on his championship rivals while Lotus again scored strongly with both cars as Grosjean did a unique strategy on Sunday.
Background to the race
Heavy rain during practice and qualifying days had left the teams with very little information about how the tyres would perform on race day. There was only the one hour practice on Saturday morning to go on and this showed that on a cold track surface the soft compound tyre was graining badly (the top surface of the rubber rolling up) so Ferrari in particular were wary about it on race day.
The weather was very erratic all weekend and it stayed dry for the race, against expectations. Many teams including Mercedes and McLaren had planned for a wet race. Although the track temperature was shown as above 24 degrees, the ground was still too cold to get the soft tyre working well and the hard compound turned out to be the better race tyre. The key to doing well in the race, then, was to manage the soft tyre.
Could Alonso have won the race with different strategy?
Ferrari and Alonso were wise to start with the hard tyre, as it proved the best tyre to race on. They started out wanting to minimise the time spent on the soft tyre and as soon as the tyre covers came off on the grid it was clear what the pattern of the race would be. Alonso would run two stints on hard tyres and a short final stint on softs, Webber would do the opposite; an opening stint on soft and then two longer stints on hard.
Alonso’s race would be dictated by keeping the soft tyre stint to a minimum at the end, while Webber’s would be all about staying in touch with Alonso in the opening stint and then coming on strong at the end.
Ferrari had another weapon at their disposal; they sent Massa out on softs for the first stint, so they would have data on tyre performance. This turned out to be less helpful than imagined…
Massa’s first stint was 13 laps during which time the team came to believe that the soft tyres were not as bad as expected. This would prove crucial later in the race, as it meant that Alonso committed to a 15 lap final stint on softs. Had he pitted a couple of laps later on each of his first two stops, he probably would not have lost the lead at the end. Without that data they would have been more inclined to stay off the soft tyre and would have done a strategy, which might have brought Alonso the win.
Alonso built a lead of five seconds over Webber and when the Australian stopped on lap 14, Alonso went just one lap longer. His pace on the hard tyres was still good, he set a couple of quick laps before his stop on lap 15, certainly comparable with Webber’s first two or three laps on new hard tyres in the second stint. So there was margin there to play with.
The gap between them was maintained at five seconds throughout the middle stint. Webber pitted again on lap 33, which left him with 19 laps to go to the finish on another set of hard tyres.
Alonso stayed out four more laps, pitting on lap 37 with a lead of four seconds to protect in the final stint. Although Webber had a couple of faster laps than Alonso before the Ferrari stop, Alonso again was able to find speed from the used hard tyres prior to his stop and another lap would have been possible. With two or three more laps in the opening stint and another lap in the second, this would have put him back out on track after a stop on lap 41 with a small margin over Webber, but just 10 or 11 laps to do on soft tyres to the finish. On this basis he would probably have been able to hold onto the lead to the end. Alternatively, he could have done what Hamilton did and run a short middle stint on softs of no more than 10 laps, reacted to Webber’s stop on lap 33 and finished on the same hard tyres as the Red Bull driver.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing, especially the day after the Grand Prix when one can look at all the what-ifs. Ferrari and Alonso have done brilliantly to lead the championship at this stage. They have made strategic mistakes this season which have cost Alonso points, but there’s no getting away from the fact that, although their hunch at the start was correct that the hard was the better race tyre, there was definitely a win to be had on Sunday with a slightly more cautious approach to the soft tyre in race strategy.
Doing things differently: Hamilton and Grosjean
There were two other interesting strategies on Sunday from McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton and Lotus F1’s Romain Grosjean, which also shed light on what might have been for Alonso.
Both teams decided early on, like Ferrari that the hard tyre would be the faster race tyre. Hamilton, like Alonso, started on it, while Grosjean was involved in a first lap incident with Vettel and had to pit on lap two. He went to the hard tyre and then did the whole race on it, with only one further stop, So essentially he did a one stop strategy. He did a 24 lap stint and a 26 lap stint on it and was competitive. He was 22nd and last on lap 3, but came through to finish 6th behind his team mate Raikkonen, who had raced with Vettel and Massa. On lap 50, his tyres 24 laps old, he set the second fastest lap of the race.
It was another stunning performance by Grosjean and an illustration of the pace and durability of the hard Pirelli tyre, as well as the Lotus’ ability to find great race pace. With better qualifying performance, they would have a car capable of winning races.
Hamilton went for a hard/soft/hard strategy and did a long first stint, which appeared to have got him into a position to race Grosjean for sixth. He got the soft tyre out of the way with a short middle stint, but he didn’t have the pace in the final stint and faded. McLaren have problems balancing front and rear tyre temperatures and it’s costing them badly.
SILVERSTONE TYRE CHOICES
at the start
|Pit Stop 1||Pit Stop 2|
|Webber||SN||HN (14)||HN (33)|
|Alonso||HN||HN (15)||SN (37)|
|Vettel||SN||HN (10)||HN (37)|
|Massa||SN||HN (13)||HN (35)|
|Räikonen||SN||HN (13)||HN (34)|
|Grosjean||SN||HN (2)||HN (26)|
|Schumacher||SN||HN (12)||HN (34)|
|Hamilton||HN||SN (21)||HN (28)|
|Senna||SN||HN (14)||HN (20)|
|Button||HN||SN (16)||HN (31)|
|Kobayashi||HN||HN (16)||SN (27)|
|Hulkenberg||HN||HN (16)||SN (35)|
|Vergne||SN||HN (14)||HN (32)|
|Rosberg||HN||HN (15)||SN (37)|
|Maldonado||SN||HN (11)||HN (12)|
||SN||HN (12)||HN (29)|
|Glock||HN||HN (18)||SN (38)|
|Pic||SN||HN (13)||HN (32)|
|De La Rosa||SN||SN (27)|
|Kartikeyan||HN||HN (16)||SN (35)|
|Di Resta||SN||HN (1)||Retired|
The UBS Race Strategy Report is written by James Allen with input and data from several F1 team strategists and from Pirelli.
RACE HISTORY GRAPH
Kindly provided by Williams F1 Team
Notice the pace Alonso has at the end of the first and second stints and the margin Alonso has over Webber at the first and second stops. Note also the way Webber catches Alonso in the final stint.
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