James Allen’s strategy moments
Hamilton needs to get into T1 first to control the race and have a realistic chance of winning. He has a good start but Rosberg holds him and he then loses out to Vettel. Massa has a great start, getting ahead of Bottas but Bottas gets the place back from Massa two corners later.
Chilton crashes with his teammate Bianchi on T4/5 and the Safety Car is released. Significant amounts of debris and oil on the circuit means that the Safety Car is out for some time as they try to clean it up. The 7 lap Safety Car period eases fuel saving concerns across the field but the tyre pressures/temperatures steadily drop so maintaining tyre temperatures on restart becomes the focus.
On restart, Red Bull employ an aggressive strategy by pitting Ricciardo, earlier than the majority of the field, in an attempt to undercut both the Williams in front of him. They do this knowing they would easily be able to complete the remaining 57 laps of the race with two stints on soft tyres. Bottas reacts to Ricciardo’s stop and pits a lap later, coming out ahead of Ricciardo on track.
Massa tries the same, attempting to jump Bottas on the road, but is badly compromised by losing 4.5 seconds with a slow pit stop - he loses further positions to Vettel (who also pitted on lap 15), Vergne and Alonso.
Had he stopped on lap 14 he might have stayed ahead, but as Bottas was the lead Williams car on the track, he had stop priority. Without this slow stop and resultant track position, Massa would have been fighting for the lead, as he was ahead of Ricciardo in the first stint and had good pace unlike Bottas.
Elsewhere on track Force India instigate a one stop strategy. They always planned to one-stop, even before qualifying, and they set up their car to achieve it. Their race strategy had an effect on the outcome of the Grand Prix as Hulkenberg, on older tyres, held Vettel back during his second stint. This meant Ricciardo is able to catch Vettel and be well placed to get ahead of him when Red Bull called Vettel in for his second pit stop too early; his middle stint is just 21 laps compared to Ricciardo’s 24 laps.
Perez makes his only pit stop; by managing to get the supersoft tyre to last this long in the opening stint, Perez has got himself into position to attack Rosberg for the win in the final 20 laps.
The rate Ricciardo caught and passed Rosberg once he had overtaken Perez shows that the Force India strategy was exceptional, placing them higher up the field through strategy than their car performance would have alone. However a reliability problem with Perez’s own brake system and subsequent shunt with Massa takes the chance of a great team performance away.
Massa tries to recover advantage by making a late second stop and comes out behind Bottas whose tyres are 12 laps older than Massa’s. Williams make a good team decision and tell Bottas to let Massa through as he is the faster driver and only 5.3 seconds behind the leaders. Immediately after passing Bottas, Massa passes Hulkenberg for 5th position and is able to get within 3 seconds of the leader with 7 laps to go.
On trying to pass Perez for 4th position, Massa is caught out by Perez’s brake issues and both cars are involved in a massive shunt ending their races.