Key Strategic Moment

Key Strategic Moment

The Key Strategic Moment at the 2016 Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix was the reaction to the race stoppage on Lap 17. Several drivers opted for the medium compound tire to go to the end of the 58 lap race. Romain Grosjean did a long opening stint on soft tires using the red flag as his only pit stop. He maintained all the places he’d gained from other cars pitting before the stoppage and finished sixth, giving the Haas F1 Team eight points on their debut.

James Allen on F1, UBS F1 Expert

Winning Strategy

Closing the gap - what is Ferrari’s winning strategy in Melbourne?

Closing the gap - what is Ferrari’s winning strategy in Melbourne?

After a successful test program, Scuderia Ferrari hopes to challenge MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS in Melbourne. Qualifying is one opportunity, if they can do a better job operationally in the hectic new ‘elimination’ format. In the race, they can try an aggressive undercut with one car using the softer tires, or the opposite; they can try to leave one car out longer on medium tires to hold up the Mercedes mid-race. If Ferrari is to win, it will be race strategy that does it.

A promising start - How did Scuderia Ferrari perform in Melbourne?

A promising start - How did Scuderia Ferrari perform in Melbourne?

Scuderia Ferrari did not win in Melbourne, but Sebastian Vettel led, using the aggressive strategy we forecast. The red flag for Fernando Alonso’s accident on Lap 17 put an end to their hopes. This neutralized the strategies and gave everyone the chance to choose a new tire for the restart and as many could make the finish on a set of mediums, Sebastian Vettel’s chance of beating Nico Rosberg went. Ferrari is not as strong on the medium tire as the MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS Formula One Team cars.

Race Strategy Briefing

Albert Park is only used once a year. The surface is very low grip so the cars slide in the corners, which damages the tires.

Overtaking is always tough at Albert Park, with typically just 20-25 overtakes per race. There are two DRS zones on the lap; one on the pit straight and one going into turn 3.

The probability of a Safety Car at Albert Park is quite high at 55%; many corners have walls on the outside, so accidents are common. Safety Cars featured in 2014 and 2015.

Despite being a street based circuit, with 16 corners and nine braking zones, at 220 km/h average speed Albert Park is surprisingly faster than most F1 tracks. In fact, it’s in the top six.

The brakes have a tough time as there are seven big stops (down from over 230 km/h) each lap and around 18% of the lap is spent braking.

Race Information

Australia, Melbourne

March 20 | 16:00 local time, 6:00 CET

Albert Park has become the customary curtain-raiser of the Formula 1 season in recent years, and the street-style circuit allows for close racing and a great spectacle for fans. Its colorful gravel makes the event aesthetically pleasing as well as punishing anyone that does not tread carefully - no tarmac run-off here. Taking over from Adelaide as the Australian Grand Prix in 1996, the temporary circuit consists of both high and low speed corners, closely lined by unforgiving walls that have caught many drivers out, including Pastor Maldonado’s lapse in concentration at the climax of the 2012 event. The safety car risk is high here at 60%. Kimi Räikkönen took his second and final victory for Lotus here in 2013, whilst Jenson Button is the most successful of the current crop having won the race three times. Räikkönen and Lewis Hamilton have taken victory twice whilst Sebastian Vettel, Nico Rosberg, Fernando Alonso have one win each.

Circuit length 5.303 km
Race distance 307.574 km
Laps 58
2015 race winner Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
Pirelli allocation supersoft, soft, medium

Strategy Insights

Reliability will be less of an issue in this third year of hybrid turbo engines, so this should be a hard fought race. Pirelli has nominated the same tire compounds as last season, soft and medium, but with the added choice of the supersofts as per the 2016 regulations. Testing showed that the medium front tires can take a while to warm up, especially in cooler conditions, as we sometimes encounter, especially on the smooth surface in Melbourne. This should be a two-stop race and with the soft a good margin faster than the medium, so strategy will be crucial. The safety car is a regular feature at Albert Park so it is important for teams and drivers to be reactive to a sudden safety car deployment as there are places to be made up by being decisive.

In collaboration with James Allen