I thought I'd share a blog post I have written, which is a belated analysis on the incidents during the Turkish Grand Prix - from my F1 blog 'Making Up The Numbers': http://f1numbers.wordpress.com/2010/06/ ... t-express/
Hope you enjoy it - here is a short summary below
Vettel got by Hamilton at the start, but he managed to get the place back and that’s how things stayed until the first pit stop. At that point, Vettel jumped Hamilton after he made his stop:
From the graph, we can see that as Vettel comes in for his stop first, he uses his out lap on fresh tyres to gain enough of an advantage to jump Hamilton, who loses half a second on his way into the pits…
The next phase of the race involved Webber setting a furious pace, with Vettel chasing and Hamilton and Button trying to keep up. It looked like it was Red Bull’s race to lose – turns out that it was…
On lap 37 Vettel suddenly started to catch up to Webber and it was clear he was going to make a move for the lead. Sure enough, on lap 40, running onto the back straight, he squeezed down the inside of Webber, who gave him just enough room to try but would not budge. Strangely, Vettel then proceeded to turn into Webber before he had cleared him and the two cars collided.
Webber had to pit for a new nose and rejoined in third place, behind Hamilton and Button. Webber now had to effectively settle for third and the McLarens were in control at the front. But why did the Red Bulls even get to the point where they collided? Webber had been dominating the whole weekend as well as the previous two races. So how did Vettel suddenly catch up to him? The team, who immediately blamed Webber for the crash, initially implied that both drivers were on the same engine settings and that Vettel had caught him on pure pace. In fact, Helmut Marko implied that Vettel had completed the pass and that Webber should have moved out of his way.
Later on, after Webber implying in a post race interview that the truth lay somewhat deeper… and eventually it was revealed that Webber was told to save fuel in the three laps leading up to the crash. Apparently Vettel was not because he had already saved fuel in the first stint of the race. Going back to the first graph, it is plausible that Vettel could have saved a small amount of fuel, but his lap times are not much slower than those of Webber’s. However, because Webber was in front, he would have been in clean air which meant that he may have used a little more fuel than he wanted. A final comment on this is that Vettel was apparently told to push because Hamilton was close behind.
Let’s take a look at the lap times from the first pit stop to the Vettel-Webber Collision on Lap 40:
I have transposed the lap times of the two Red Bull drivers with those of Hamilton for comparison. You can see that all three post similar lap times, steadily decreasing as the fuel burns off, with all three posting similar lap times. But then, between laps 30 and 40, weird things start to happen:
All three run similar lap times until after lap 36, where Vettel’s times drop dramatically. At the same time, Webber and Hamilton’s lap times rise and fall at the same rate. In fact, Vettel is lapping at almost a quarter of a second faster than either of the other two drivers. If Webber was saving fuel, then Vettel was certainly pushing. Let’s take a look at the gap to the leader for Vettel and Hamilton over this same period:
From this graph you can see that on average, the gaps to Webber stay the same over this part of the race. If Vettel was told to push from lap 36 because Hamilton was catching him, it’s not really true because he only gains two tenths on him up to this period. Then Vettel starts his charge and cuts four tenths out of Webber’s lead and putting himself within striking distance of him.The Verdict on Red Bull
So looking at the statements made by the Red Bull team, I don’t think that Vettel had saved enough fuel early on in the race. I also don’t think that Hamilton was catching Vettel especially fast either. At the same time, Webber was told to save fuel, putting both drivers on a collision course with each other. In my opinion, and taking into account the data on the graphs above, the team wanted Vettel to catch Webber to try and pass him, in order to give Vettel some momentum in the Drivers’ Championship.
Did the team show favouritism by doing this? Probably – but there is enormous internal pressure for Red Bull to produce a champion out of their Red Bull Academy, and Vettel is the only guy close to this goal. Therefore, it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch of the imagination to think that Red Bull would prefer Vettel to win over Webber in the long run – and would probably resort to such subtle measures in order to help him out.
They didn’t factor in the sheer bloody mindedness and determination of Webber though. He knows the true story and the battle lines have now been drawn. It would be a brave man to bet against him over the course of the year.McLaren’s Switcheroo for the Lead
But that wasn’t the end of the controversy. With Hamilton and Button 1-2 after lap 40, the race was under their control. Hamilton was cruising towards an easy win until lap 48, when Button overtook him into the final corner – only for Hamilton to force his way past into the following turn 1. It was a very strange manoeuvre and after the race, neither McLaren driver looked very happy on the podium, with Hamilton and Button in an animated discussion in the green room before the podium ceremony, which only ended when they realised they were being filmed.
It was put down to good old racing shenanigans until the following Friday, when FOM released their race highlights. In it was a short radio conversation between Hamilton and his race engineer, Phil Prew:
Prew: “Lewis we need you to save fuel, both cars are doing the same”
Hamilton: “Jenson’s closing in on me, you guys…”
Prew: “Understood, Lewis”
Hamilton: “If I back off now, is Jenson gonna pass me, or not?”
Prew: “No Lewis… no”
And then shortly after Hamilton re-takes the lead, Jenson is told to save fuel.
Hmm… interesting stuff. What happened to the two McLaren drivers after the Vettel-Webber crash? Let’s look at the lap times, using Webber as a reference:
The McLarens do similar lap times until Hamilton backs off on lap 48. He is over a second slower than Button (with Webber miles behind). So he must have expected Button to do the same, as that is a big difference in lap time. Sure enough, after lap 48 and the positions were swapped back, the pace heats up again.
Looking at it again from the perspective of Button’s gap to Hamilton for the same period, we get:
Button does close in a lot from lap 40 to 47 (about half a second), but is still over a second behind. After he overtakes and is overtaken on the end of lap 47/start of lap 48, he backs off dramatically (as he was told to save fuel). Webber is so far behind in third place that the McLarens can afford to do this.
Hamilton and Button finish the race with a 1-2 for McLaren, with Webber third:So What Happened to McLaren?
I think a similar event may have happened at McLaren. It does seem odd that Hamilton was told to back off to save fuel … only to be promptly overtaken by a team mate who was supposed to be doing the same thing. The team’s explanation was that Phil Prew had given Hamilton an opinion that was not that of the team, and that both drivers were given set lap times to stick to, which Button claimed to have no knowledge of.
I think what happened here was that Button knew he had to save fuel but thought he would make a cheeky move for the lead before the team told them both to slow down and save fuel. Sadly for him, it didn’t work, but it explains the puzzled looks from both drivers after the race.Fallout
Having said that, the McLaren boys seem to have come out of it far better than those at Red Bull. You get the impression that the crash between the Red Bull drivers has really driven a wedge between them and that battle lines have been drawn. You get the sense that they won’t be working together in the near future.
By being quick to blame Webber, back Vettel and then try and cover up the facts, Red Bull have come out of this looking like they are favouring Vettel to win. Whether this is true or not, only the team knows. Webber will use this incident to motivate him and show the world he can beat Webber… and who knows, maybe he will
In contrast, after the initial discussions on the podium, the McLaren drivers seem to have patched over any differences they may have had. They do seem to still be able to operate as a team, and it is really interesting to see two drivers very different in style and philosophy making the car work for them and score wins and podiums together.
I think when we look back at the 2010 season, we will see this race as the turning point – while Red Bull may have the fastest car, McLaren operate much better as a team. Only time will tell which approach wins…