F1 Strategy Report Podcast 2017 Episode 15 – Malaysia Grand Prix

Episode 15 of the 2017 Strategy Podcast: by Apex Race Manager provides insight & analysis of strategic decisions made during the 2017 Malaysia Grand Prix.

Our host Michael Lamonato is joined by Nate Saunders from ESPNF1.

Our guest Nate Saunders from ESPNF1

Our guest Nate Saunders from ESPNF1

If you like the podcast, leave us a review on Apple Podcasts.

For full written report about the strategy plays in this race, and detailed data (including all the stints and tyre choices) click here. All of our previous F1 Strategy Report Podcasts are here.

APEX Race Manager – it’s out now on iOS & Android.

Contact us on twitter @strategyreport.

F1 Strategy Report Malaysia Grand Prix 2017


Race 15 – 56 Laps – 5.543km per lap – 310.408km race distance – low tyre wear

Malaysia GP F1 Strategy Report Podcast – our host Michael Lamonato is joined by Nate Saunders from ESPNF1..


The wheels appeared to be falling off Sebastian Vettel’s championship campaign in Malaysia, where a power unit problem in qualifying prevented him from setting a time, forcing him to start from the back of the grid.

Vettel needed to ensure Hamilton didn’t outscore him by more than seven points to maintain a realistic shot at the title, and a stunning recovery drive to fourth, plus Lewis Hamilton’s second-place finish behind Max Verstappen, guaranteed just that.



With little long-run data collected through two truncated Friday practice sessions, the principal factor in tyre strategy would be temperature. If the track were too hot, the supersoft tyre, worth around 0.7 seconds per lap over the soft, would overheat, shortening is useful life and limiting its pace. As it transpired, however, track temperatures on Sunday, after heavy rain in the hours before the race, remained below 40°C, enticing teams into one-stop races.



Despite substantially improving its pace between practice and qualifying, Mercedes remained the third-quickest car on Sunday, and Max Verstappen wasted no time slicing past Hamilton on lap four, claiming the lead that would deliver him victory.

Hamilton opted not to fight too hard, recognising not only that his car wasn’t up to the challenge but also that he needed to score points only against Vettel.

In this regard Bottas, though painfully off the pace, played a solid team game nonetheless for Hamilton by keeping Ricciardo bottled behind him for nine laps, after which the Australian was too far behind the Briton to attempt to challenge for second place.

Though this was the podium order — Verstappen-Hamilton-Ricciardo — the battle for third went down to the wire.



Sebastian Vettel, with nothing to lose from last on the grid, started the race on the soft tyre, meaning he would be on the supersoft tyre when his rivals were on softs at the end of the race, giving him a pace advantage. With minimal degradation on the day, having a lighter car in the second stint meant he was getting an extra two second of pace out of the supersoft tyre compared to those who used it in the first stint.

The first stint worked a treat for Ferrari, with Vettel up to fifth by lap 21 thanks in part to decisive passes and midfield cars pitting early. Now behind Bottas, Ferrari opted to use the undercut, shortening the first stint but avoiding the need to waste time overtaking.

Daniel Ricciardo made his stop on lap 30 — he was the last frontrunner to do so — after which 14 seconds separated him from Vettel. The Australian was reeled in at around one second per lap, and the pair sparred until lap 49, when the aggressive driving finally took its toll on Vettel’s tyres, forcing him to accept fourth place.

Was it the optimum strategy? Arguably Vettel should have run a longer first stint on the softs — Esteban Ocon got 53 laps out of the yellow tyre — but he would have had to pass Bottas, after which Bottas could have himself deployed the undercut and forced Vettel to pass him a second time.

The only thorn in Vettel’s side was Fernando Alonso, who held him up between laps three and nine, costing him around one second per lap. Perhaps with a bit of extra tyre life Vettel would have been able to slice past Bottas and out of undercut range in the pit stop window.


This was a strong drive from Esteban Ocon, coming from last on lap three to P10 in a closely matched midfield.

Switching from the supersoft to the soft on lap three and expecting to make it to the end was bold, and though the soft is perhaps the season’s most versatile tyre, Ocon’s Perez-esque conservation drive mustn’t be discounted. Hülkenberg attempted a similar strategy from lap nine but found none of the pace, ultimately pitting a race-destroying second time on lap 50.


Sergio Perez, however, didn’t even need to worry about the midfield, jumping two places to sixth on the first lap. This enabled him to go long on his first stint without getting caught up in traffic — Fernando Alonso, for example, attempted the same strategy, but he lost 20 seconds relative to Perez during the first stint cutting through the midfield, meaning his stop dropped him straight back into the action. Perez, however, having built a big enough gap to the midfield before his stop, lost no places for his tyre change, securing him a commendable sixth place.



Williams drivers Lance Stroll and Felipe Massa finished strongly in eight and ninth, but the pair were almost 10 seconds behind McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne at the chequered flag having accidentally allowed him past on lap 13.

Stroll led Massa before the pit stops after jumping him at the start, but it was Massa who was stopped first when the team became spooked that Kevin Magnussen was in undercut range when the Dane made his sole tyre change.

The result was that Massa ended up ahead of Stroll, so the team attempted to switch the pair back for the sake of fairness — but as they engineered the swap, Vandoorne charged out of the pits and jumped both, earning himself his second seventh-place finish but losing Williams a potential extra four points.


Michael Lamonato @MichaelLamonato


Pole position: Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
Winner: Max Verstappen, Red Bull
Strategy: One stop — supersoft-soft
Fastest lap: Sebastian Vettel, Scuderia Ferrari — 1:34.080


Supersoft: Perez (30 laps)
Soft: Ocon (53 laps)

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F1 Strategy Report Podcast 2017 Episode 14 – Singapore Grand Prix

Episode 14 of the 2017 Strategy Podcast: by Apex Race Manager provides insight & analysis of strategic decisions made during the 2017 SIngapore Grand Prix.

Our host Michael Lamonato is joined by Trent Price from eRacing Magazine.

Our guest Trent Price

Our guest Trent Price

Don’t forget to fill out our listener survey – go to www.f1strategyreport.com

For full written report about the strategy plays in this race, and detailed data (including all the stints and tyre choices) click here. All of our previous F1 Strategy Report Podcasts are here.

APEX Race Manager – it’s out now on iOS & Android.

Contact us on twitter @strategyreport.

F1 Strategy Report Singapore Grand Prix 2017


Race 14 – 58 Laps – 5.065km per lap – 293.633km race distance – low tyre wear

Singapore GP F1 Strategy Report Podcast – our host Michael Lamonato isjoined by Trent Price from eRacing Magazine.

The 2017 Singapore Grand Prix seems destined to be remembered for its impact on the championship, with Sebastian Vettel crashing out and opening the door for an unlikely Lewis Hamilton victory.

Mercedes was the third-fastest car for the entire weekend up until the race, but a combination of that disastrous first-lap crash and the greasy conditions, in which Hamilton has typically excelled, conspired to gift the Briton a commanding championship lead.

Daniel Ricciardo was to be the only challenger, and though his Red Bull Racing car looked mighty during practice and qualifying, Hamilton found an extra gear during the race that made him impervious to any strategic ploys from the opposition.


Pirelli’s tyre information and much of Friday’s practice data was made useless by the rain that hammered the circuit as the cars sat on the grid.

It was enough to put the track somewhere between intermediate and wet tyres, and without the sun to dry it, the circuit remained slippery for much of the race.



Pole-sitter Sebastian Vettel’s race lasted just metres after he crashed with teammate Kimi Räikkönen and Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen on the run to the first turn.

Lewis Hamilton was busy cruising around the outside of all three and Daniel Ricciardo as the carnage unfolded, and when Räikkönen, Verstappen and Vettel retired, he had only Ricciardo for competition.

Ricciardo and Red Bull Racing had three opportunities to influence the fight for the lead, but not all of them were seized upon.



With no-one sure how long the track would take to dry, holding onto the intermediate tyres for as long as possible to avoid making unnecessary stops was the name of the game in the first stint — until the first safety car, that is.

When Daniil Kvyat embedded his car in the barriers on lap 11 and the safety car was deployed, Red Bull Racing took the opportunity to pit Ricciardo without losing places knowing that Hamilton was choosing to stay out and hold track position.

The fresher rubber should have advantaged Ricciardo, but Hamilton was able to lean more on his tyres to keep the Australian at bay.

In the tighter midfield Valtteri Bottas, Carlos Sainz and both Williams drivers stayed out, gaining them positions.



Ricciardo’s second opportunity to pressure Hamilton came after lap 20, when the circuit was agonisingly close to being dry enough for slick tyres.

Kevin Magnussen led the way on lap 25, and on the subsequent five laps the rest of the field followed suit.

It wasn’t until lap 29, however, that Ricciardo stopped, which proved too late to have any effect on Hamilton, who pitted one lap later. The ultrasoft tyre required a second lap to warm into its performance range, meaning Hamilton’s next-lap stop deprived Ricciardo of any undercut advantage.


The final safety car on lap 39, deployed to rescue Marcus Ericsson’s stranded Sauber from Anderson Bridge, gave Red Bull Racing a potential third opportunity to give Ricciardo a strategic advantage.

With the safety car deployed Ricciardo held an approximately 20-second advantage over Bottas in third as he approached the pit entry, which should have been enough to make a tyre change and emerge ahead of the Finn. Ricciardo could then have pressured Hamilton with fresher tyres at the restart.

The opportunity was missed, however, and when Hamilton aced his restart, the grand prix was effectively lost.



Having seen Hamilton’s lead obliterated by two safety cars and noting that Ricciardo had an opportunity to make a free pit stop during the third deployment, Mercedes instructed Lewis to lower his pace to ensure Bottas could keep closer to Ricciardo.

Hamilton was reluctant, knowing that any drop in concentration could prove terminal for his race, but a combination of his slowing and Bottas finding some rhythm ensured Ricciardo had no strategic opportunities through to the end of the race.


Carlos Sainz was one of the standout performers of the race, scoring a career-best fourth place finish.

The route to his 12-point haul was deceptively simple: he was one of five drivers, including race winner Lewis Hamilton, to made just one stop.

Sainz and Toro Rosso resisted the temptation to switch to new intermediate tyres during the Kvyat-triggered safety car, which earnt him four places, and he made a clean stop on lap 27 for slick tyres

Here, however, he and Toro Rosso erred, fitting Sainz’s car with supersoft rather than ultrasoft tyres, which left the Spaniard with a pace disadvantage when defending against Perez throughout the second half of the race.

Sainz didn’t crack under pressure, however, making this one of the highlight drives of the night.

Michael Lamonato @MichaelLamonato


Pole position: Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari
Winner: Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
Strategy: Two stops — intermediate-ultrasoft
Fastest lap: Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes — 1:45.008


Ultrasoft: Stroll (32 laps)
Supersoft: Sainz (31 laps)
Soft: Ericsson (4 laps)
Intermediate: Hamilton (29 laps)
Wets: Wehrlein (19 laps)

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F1 Strategy Report Podcast 2017 Episode 13 – Italian Grand Prix

Episode 13 of the 2017 Strategy Podcast: by Apex Race Manager provides insight & analysis of strategic decisions made during the 2017 Italian Grand Prix.

Our host Michael Lamonato is joined by Luca Manacorda from FormulaPassion.it.

Our guest Luca Manacorda from Formula Passion

Our guest Luca Manacorda from Formula Passion

Don’t forget to fill out our listener survey – go to www.f1strategyreport.com

For full written report about the strategy plays in this race, and detailed data (including all the stints and tyre choices) click here. All of our previous F1 Strategy Report Podcasts are here.

APEX Race Manager – it’s out now on iOS & Android.

Contact us on twitter @strategyreport.

F1 Strategy Report Italian Grand Prix 2017


Race 13 – 53 Laps – 5.793km per lap – 306.720km race distance – very low tyre wear

Italian GP F1 Strategy Report Podcast – our host Michael Lamonato is joined by Luca Manacorda from FormulaPassion.it.

A record number of spectators flocked to Monza for last weekend’s Italian Grand Prix, most of them eagerly hoping for Ferrari success at the team’s home race. That wasn’t the case though, with Mercedes dominating proceedings.

But despite Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas running away with a one-two finish and Sebastian Vettel coming home a distant third, there was still plenty of action and drama further back to keep fans and viewers entertained.

Monza’s one of the most unique and exciting races on the calendar and the circuit lived up to its ‘Temple of Speed’ nickname, with some fast-paced action and ridiculous speeds. In fact, Hamilton’s 151.382mph average winning speed is the fifth quickest of all time.

Wet weather produced a crazy qualifying session on Saturday and also threw up some interesting strategic headlines on Sunday, so let’s dive right into the biggest strategy stories from the Italian GP:

Quali chaos

Wet weather threatened on Friday but failed to really appear, but it eventually arrived on Saturday, postponing and delaying qualifying. When the sessions eventually got going properly, the rainy conditions spiced the grid up nicely, with several drivers qualifying out of position.

The wet weather opened up strategy options for the dry race, because all 20 drivers got the choice of tyre compounds for the start.

Grid penalties galore

But, while the wet weather mixed up the order for the start, it was the whole host of grid penalties that properly mixed things up. Nine drivers in total had penalties for gearbox and engine component changes, which is a ridiculous number, really.

Hamilton was the only driver to retain his qualifying position, breaking the all-time pole position record, and he was joined by Lance Stroll on the front row, ahead of Esteban Ocon, Valtteri Bottas, Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel. Max Verstappen was down in P13 and Daniel Ricciardo P16, setting up a tasty fightback for Sunday.

Soft and super-soft

The vast majority of the field went for the softest compound of the options available, the super-soft, for the race start. Despite lacking some data due to Saturday’s rain, degradation and durability was strong at Monza and the super-soft worked well, lasting quite a long time. Four drivers – Ricciardo, Verstappen, Fernando Alonso and Jolyon Palmer – decided to do something different on soft tyres.


Ferrari struggles

On home soil, the pressure was on for Ferrari to deliver, but it soon became clear the team was going to struggle at Monza. Vettel and Raikkonen were not happy with the car on Friday and didn’t fare well in Saturday’s wet weather. Grid penalties elevated them on the grid but neither driver had pace to challenge Mercedes drivers and even the Red Bulls appeared faster

Mercedes powers ahead

A well-timed power unit upgrade for Belgium, which customer teams have yet to receive, put Mercedes one step ahead of the pack at Monza and this gave the team an even greater advantage, on a circuit that was always going to suit the Silver Arrows.

Bottas was quick all weekend but still struggled to match Hamilton, struggling a little in the rain on Saturday. Hamilton stormed to pole position and was in complete control in the race. He was able to run his own race, with a long 32-lap stint on super-softs before switching to softs. Bottas made progress in the early laps to move into second place and followed Hamilton into the pits one lap later.


Ricciardo goes long

Both Red Bull cars looked set to go long in the first stint, on soft tyres, but Verstappen’s early puncture ruined that. Ricciardo pressed on with that strategy, using the RB13’s superior pace to displace many midfield runners through strategy alone, although he also had to do some on-track overtaking too.

He emerged from his stop in P5, making up several spots compared to where he was before the pitstop cycle began, and quickly made good use of his softer, fresher tyres to put an almighty overtake on Kimi Raikkonen into the chicane for fourth.

The Aussie started closing on Vettel but ran out of time and tyres in the final laps, having to settle for fourth. Interestingly, he completed a similar strategy back in 2014 and 2015 at Monza. Alonso and Palmer both tried to do the same but eventually retired with issues, having battled closely on track.


A late charge

Perez tried to do the same as Ricciardo, but on the super-soft tyre for the long first stint, before switching to fresh softs. He had a lot of tyre life and performance towards the end but eventually ran out of time, not helped by those he was battling also having Mercedes power.

It appears there was some scope for improvement, had he pitted a few laps earlier and put those soft tyres to work, he might’ve gained a spot from Massa. Both ended up closing on the duelling Ocon and Stroll, but couldn’t get through.

Pitstop decider

The main battle within the top 10 was decided by pitstops. Stroll was undercut by Raikkonen thanks to an uncharacteristically slow stop from the Williams crew, although Raikkonen’s wasn’t all that speedy either.

Ocon, Stroll and Raikkonen were separated by 0.5 second intervals before the stops but Raikkonen pitted first, followed by Ocon one lap later and then Stroll on the following tour. Stroll was two seconds back from Raikkonen afterwards, and he finished a few seconds behind Ocon at the finish.

Hulk mixes things up

Nico Hulkenberg did the opposite of Ricciardo, pitting early on lap nine to go from super-softs to softs, but while this gave him a speed advantage early in his second stint, it left him easy pickings for Daniil Kvyat and Verstappen to pass him in the closing laps after losing tyre life.

Jack Leslie @JackLeslieF1

Longest Stints

Supersoft: Vandoorne, Bottas (33 laps)
Soft: Hulkenberg (43 laps)

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Stints by Driver

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F1 Strategy Report Podcast 2017 Episode 12 – Belgian Grand Prix

Episode 12 of the 2017 Strategy Podcast: by Apex Race Manager provides insight & analysis of strategic decisions made during the 2017 Belgian Grand Prix.

Our host Michael Lamonato is joined by Phil Horton from Motorsport Week.

Our guest Phil Horton

Our guest Phil Horton

Don’t forget to fill out our listener survey – go to www.f1strategyreport.com

For full written report about the strategy plays in this race, and detailed data (including all the stints and tyre choices) click here. All of our previous F1 Strategy Report Podcasts are here.

APEX Race Manager – it’s out now on iOS & Android.

Contact us on twitter @strategyreport.

F1 Strategy Report Belgian Grand Prix 2017


Race12 – 44 Laps – 7.004km per lap – 308.052km race distance – low tyre wear

Belgian GP F1 Strategy Report Podcast – our host Michael Lamonato is joined by Phil Horton from Motorsport Week.

Formula 1 returned to action at Spa-Francorchamps after the seemingly never-ending summer break, and the iconic track hosted another action-packed and exciting race.

Lewis Hamilton started from P1 on the grid after smashing the lap record and matching Michael Schumacher’s all-time pole position record of 68, looking in command throughout the race.

He withstood pressure from title rival Sebastian Vettel and negotiated a safety car restart well to hold onto first place and pick up his third Belgian Grand Prix victory, as well as his fifth of the season.

Vettel picked up second place, his championship lead being cut to seven points, with Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo making a late charge to third – ahead of Kimi Raikkonen and Valtteri Bottas.

Spa is the longest track on the F1 calendar and threw up a range of different strategy stories. Here are the main strategic headlines from the Belgian GP:

Hamilton pits first

Interestingly, race leader Hamilton was the first of the frontrunners to pit for a fresh set of tyres, diving into his box on lap 12 and going for the soft tyres. It was a lightning-quick stop of 2.3 seconds. Ferrari kept Vettel out two laps longer to try the overcut, feeling his tyres and pace were good enough to continue.

However, his stop wasn’t quite as quick as Hamilton’s, and strong outlaps from the Mercedes gave him a slightly increased advantage after the first round of stops. With both drivers going onto the soft tyre, it appeared they were going for a one-stop, which seemed to be the slightly quicker strategy.

A mix of tyres

Interestingly, all three tyre compounds worked well at Spa, meaning all of them were used for the first stint. Pascal Wehrlein was the only driver to start on the softs but he retired early on, meaning we didn’t get to see what strategy Sauber were going for with that decision.

Felipe Massa, Lance Stroll, Daniil Kvyat, Stoffel Vandoorne and Marcus Ericsson all opted for the super-soft tyres for the first stint, looking to go longer on the more durable and less grippy tyres. However, a few of them pitted before the ultra-soft runners.

This was either because they expected a virtual safety car or safety car from Max Verstappen’s stopped car or wanted to ditch the super-softs, as they weren’t working as well as expected, and looked to go onto a different tyre.

Kimi ruins his race

Kimi Raikkonen’s chance of a podium took a big hit with a 10-second stop/go penalty for failing to slow for yellow flags, when Verstappen retired. This cost him time and track position, which proved costly further down the line.

On the replays, it was clear Raikkonen failed to lift through the yellow flags, and Raikkonen had to serve the stop/go penalty on its own, as the team were expecting a one-stop race. Had he lifted under yellows, he would’ve been in a better position to score a podium.


Safety car shake-up

The deployment of the safety car proved to be perfectly-timed. It was brought out due to the amount of debris from Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon’s contact, at a pivotal time in the race. One-stoppers could effectively get a ‘free’ stop and avoid the possibility of degradation and wear at the end of their final stints.

It came out at a prime time for those stopping for a second time, therefore fitting into their strategy and giving them a free stop too. So, it worked out quite well, although it didn’t particularly mix up the order.

However, it did give us a fascinating prospect – a late sprint to the flag. All three tyre compounds appeared for this final stint, with the two leaders going for different strategies. Hamilton was on the softs, Vettel on the ultra-softs.

This gave Hamilton more tyre life, but Vettel had more performance and the threat of running out of tyres towards the end of the race. The ultra-soft was around one second quicker than the softs but Vettel couldn’t find a way through on Hamilton, and probably lost time trying to follow the Mercedes so closely.

In the end, Vettel couldn’t get close enough, with Hamilton taking the win and Vettel fading slightly in the closing laps.

Ricciardo fights back

With Verstappen retiring, that left Daniel Ricciardo in fifth place. He moved up to fourth with Raikkonen’s stop/go penalty and went onto the super-softs for the second stint, clearly going for a two-stop. The safety car helped effectively give him that second stop for free.

Red Bull gave him ultra-soft tyres for the last stint and this allowed him to attack on the restart, passing Valtteri Bottas for P3. The Mercedes ran wide and lost a place to Raikkonen as a result. Ricciardo’s fast reactions and speed on the restart proved pivotal in him scoring a podium.


Two lots of contact

Force India’s two drivers had a messy race after colliding with each other twice. On the first lap, Sergio Perez was running alongside Nico Hulkenberg on the run to Eau Rouge when Esteban Ocon joined the party. Perez moved across and squeezed Ocon against the wall.

On lap 30, the two clashed at a similar point on the track, Ocon trying to make a move and Perez moving across. The resulting contact gave Perez a puncture and Ocon damaged his front wing, which the resulting safety car helped with.

But, the clashes cost Force India a double points finish, as Ocon recovered to ninth and Perez was down in 17th. Both were running well within the top 10 at the time of the second clash.

Jack Leslie @JackLeslieF1

Longest Stints

Ultrasoft: Sainz (19 laps)
Supersoft: Vandoorne, Kvyat (18 laps)
Soft: Palmer (22 laps)



Stints by Driver

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F1 Strategy Report Podcast 2017 Episode 11 – Hungarian Grand Prix

Episode 11 of the 2017 Strategy Podcast: by Apex Race Manager provides insight & analysis of strategic decisions made during the 2017 Hungarian Grand Prix.

Our host Michael Lamonato is joined by Abhishek Takle – F1 Journalist.

Our guest Abhishek Takle

Our guest Abhishek Takle

For full written report about the strategy plays in this race, and detailed data (including all the stints and tyre choices) click here. All of our previous F1 Strategy Report Podcasts are here.

APEX Race Manager – it’s out now on iOS & Android.

Contact us on twitter @strategyreport.

F1 Strategy Report Hungarian Grand Prix 2017


Race11 – 70 Laps – 4.381km per lap – 306.630km race distance – low tyre wear

Hungarian GP F1 Strategy Report Podcast – our host Michael Lamonato is joined by Abhishek Takle – F1 Journalist.

Formula 1’s annual visit to the Hungaroring featured a fascinating, but not particularly thrilling, 70-lap race. Ferrari took a controlled 1-2 finish, with Sebastian Vettel picking up his second Hungarian Grand Prix win, ahead of Kimi Raikkonen.

The first lap was frenetic and fast-paced, before an early safety car neutralised the action. It started to become a bit processional during the mid-part of the race, but it all came alive towards the end as the top five closed up.

Unfortunately, with the circuit being notoriously difficult to overtake on, the order largely remained the same – apart from Lewis Hamilton letting through his team-mate Valtteri Bottas. But, it was a much more intense way to end the race.

High temperatures and slightly heavier tyre degradation predictions indicated a two-stop strategy could possibly be the quicker option, but in the end, it proved to be a much more straight-forward race. Here are all the major strategy headlines:

Naughty Verstappen

Of course, one of the biggest stories from the Hungarian GP was the first-lap contact between Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo at Turn 2. It took Ricciardo out of the race with damage and fluid pouring out of his car, while Verstappen managed to continue on, with a 10-second time penalty.

Verstappen and Ricciardo were side-by-side going into the corner. But, Verstappen locked up, ran deep and slammed into his team-mate. The resulting time penalty proved costly for both drivers, as Red Bull’s pace really came alive in the race – as Verstappen showed.

For much of the first stint, Verstappen was ahead of Lewis Hamilton, but the RB13 looked after its tyres very well – as we have seen before – and he went longer on his pitstop. But, of course, with his penalty, he dropped well behind Hamilton after his lap 42 switch to softs.

But, with not only fresh tyres but good pace, he was able to quickly close on Bottas, Hamilton, Raikkonen and Vettel, and ended up finishing only 13-seconds off the lead. Imagine what could have been possible without the penalty? A podium, for sure.

Team instructions…

Hamilton soon caught Bottas after the pitstops and was clearly the quicker of the two at the time, so Mercedes told Bottas to let his team-mate through and give challenging the Ferrari drivers a go. He did, but frustratingly, after a long stint hunting them down, he couldn’t get close enough to try a move.

When Hamilton had gone past Bottas, he’d promised to let him back through if he was unsuccessful. Verstappen was closing and right behind Bottas on the last lap, but he was a man of his word and let the Finn ahead at the very last corner to take third place.


Frontrunning strategies

In all honesty, it was a pretty straightforward race for the top drivers. Bottas went first with the pitstops, diving in on lap 30, followed swiftly by Hamilton on the next trip around the circuit. Ferrari reacted but at that stage, they had a decent advantage – with Vettel and Raikkonen stopping on lap 32 and lap 33 respectively.

Raikkonen was actually frustrated that he was stopped so soon. He felt his pace was good, and he could have gone longer on those tyres. It was a feeling also felt by Hamilton, but team radio issues that were only resolved later in the race prevented him from communicating that to Mercedes at the time.

One-stop for most

Even though the temperatures were extremely high in Hungary, as usual, the early safety car neutralised the race and allowed drivers to extend their first stints – which made it a safe one-stop, in the end. The tyres held up well, with better than predicted degradation, and few drivers experienced issues.

Even though drivers had just one pitstop, there were still a number of issues during those trips to their pit boxes. Nico Hulkenberg had a particularly slow stop, as did Romain Grosjean – which caused his retirement. Even the leaders suffered slightly sluggish stops, so it wasn’t a clean or swift afternoon in the pits.

Sauber problems

It was a tough race for the Swiss outfit. During the safety car, both Marcus Ericsson and Pascal Wehrlein pitted, and it looked like a daring strategy move to ditch the super-softs for soft tyres. However, it was actually due to both picking up punctures on the opening lap, and this put them off-strategy with the rest of the pack.

Wehrlein played it safe and stopped again for another set of softs on lap 28, but Ericsson stayed out much longer. It looked like he was trying to get to the end but on lap 63 he pitted for super-softs, which ruined that possibility.


Not much variation

Unlike recent races, we didn’t see that much variation in the tyres the drivers started on. Just Paul di Resta – making his return, replacing the unwell Felipe Massa at Williams – and Daniil Kvyat took the slightly riskier strategy of lining up on the soft tyres.

In the end, the super-softs proved strong and durable enough to run at good pace without little degradation for well over 30 laps. Verstappen’s 42-lap stint was the longest on that set, and many others did impressively stretched-out first stints, while Ericsson did a mammoth 62 laps on the softs.

The medium tyre was pretty universally unloved for the entire weekend, only making appearances in Friday practice before being ditched. The softer compounds are just too durable and quick to not take advantage of.

Jack Leslie @JackLeslieF1

Longest Stints

Supersoft: Palmer (46 laps)
Soft: Ericsson (62 laps)

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Stints by Driver

P01 P02 P03 P04 P05 P06 P07 P08 P09 P10 P11 P12 P13 P14 P15 P16 P17


R-01 R-02 R-03