Wynters wrote: ↑
Wed Aug 19, 2020 1:35 am
I put this in the RBR thread but it's probably useful here too.
Barcelona. A track easier to win from Pole on than Monaco (or so David Croft said...)
Lap 1, Hamilton pulls 1.5 seconds on Verstappen who has had a great start, driving around the outside of Bottas in turn 1 with cool professionalism. I noted that he didn't squeeze Bottas, which he may have done a couple of years ago (and, with Stroll unseen on Bottas' inside, could've been disastrous).
Verstappen holds Hamilton (or vice-versa) at 1.5 seconds (Hamilton has a slow lap 3 but, otherwise, slowly increases his pace in line with fuel burn off). Bottas finally clears Stroll on Lap 5, and closes the gap to Verstappen within two laps. Everyone then settles down into 'Grandma' mode. I think these 5 laps are crucial. DAS and their PU give Mercedes a big advantage in pace in the opening lap (as I've highlighted before) and Bottas spends that lap (and four more) behind a car with a comparable straight line speed. I'm not sure he get's Verstappen at the end of Lap 1, but I think it's his best chance without having to rely on strategy.
Until Lap 10. To quote Brundle, this is when Hamilton pulls the pin with a 1:23.618
, 7/10ths faster than his previous pace. Verstappen and Bottas try to respond, but Hamilton ups the pace by a further 4/10ths the next lap, 1:23.238
. Verstappen can only manage a 1:23.473
. Hamilton's next four laps average 1:23.032
. Verstappen 1:23.549
. And, to make it worse, Verstappen's tyres are beginning to go away from him. Lap 15 is a 1:23.759
to Hamilton's 1.23.095
. Verstappen's times begin to fall away, rising into the mid 1:24s
until he pits at the end of lap 21. Verstappen's last lap before pitting is a 1:24.579
, Hamilton, same lap, a 1:23.394
Verstappen had been asking the team to pit him earlier but, with the delta needed to overtake in Barcelona so brutal, the team felt they needed to keep him out until he cleared the Racing Points. I agree with them. The Racing Points are also what stop Bottas undercutting Verstappen. He'd closed up to under 2 seconds as Verstappen struggled on the last of this tyre life but, if he'd pitted, he would have come out behind Stroll and, possibly, Perez.
RBR put in a typically outstanding pitstop and Verstappen is clear of traffic. Bottas, in clear air now, stays out for two laps to try and start building an offset to Verstappen but his lap times of c.1:24:4s
and his almost identical inlap suggest he had nothing in reserve. Hamilton pits the same lap in a Mercedes 'double-stack', the rear left costing him 2 seconds. However, his two extra laps over Verstappen were c.1:23.5s
and his in lap was over a second faster.
Whatever issues Mercedes had in Silverstone 2 did not apply here. In the last four laps of their stints, Hamilton was over three seconds faster than Verstappen, and went nearly 10% further.
Stint 1 summary:-
Hamilton: 23 laps at 1:23.755 (1:23.995)
Verstappen: 21 laps at 1:24.075 (1:24.426)
Bottas: 23 laps at 1:24.098 (1:24.507)
This excludes the first lap and inlap. The time in brackets includes them, as neither Verstappen nor Hamilton were strongly hindered in those laps. This really hammers home just how much the Red Bull was struggling.
Worth noting that Verstappen understandably pushed on his out lap (as did Bottas), Hamilton was much more relaxed (c. a second slower)
Red Bull had pitted Albon at the end of lap 17 and he came about behind Esteban Ocon (who was putting in a notably punchy performance, pretty much the only person to get overtakes done during his first stint (of a one-stopper, no less)). Albon had been falling way from Perez but, although his tyres were clearly suffering, Ocon was at the tail end of the Magnusson train and Albon only needed to find three seconds to come out in front of all of them and into five seconds of clear air behind Ricciardo. So, why pit him early and why put him on the Hard? My initial thought was that this was done to provide sufficient time to get tyre information to inform Verstappen's strategy. However, looking at Albon's times vs K-Mag's...Albon was lapping faster but the delta was falling. Albon would've needed six more laps, at least, to get in front of K-Mag and that would mean running until lap 23 (the lap the Mercedes pitted) without the delta falling off even further. That doesn't look feasible. At which point, if Albon is screwed anyway, you may as well get something useful out of him. Red Bull makes the best of a bad job here. What do they learn? That the Hard tyre sucks.
Stint 2 for the leaders. Verstappen will do 20 laps, Bottas 25 and Hamilton 27.
Bottas comes out 4 seconds behind Verstappen but closes to 1.8 within two laps. Two laps later, he is at 1.6 seconds. Verstappen reacts calmly. He's been holding a steady pace (slowly improving as fuel burns off) and this doesn't alter as Bottas closes. After his two laps of pushing to avoid a potential overcut, he does five laps at an average of 1:23.514
. Bottas gets to 1.6 and Verstappen's next 5 laps are an average of 1:23.259
, during which Bottas can't stay in his dirty air and falls back to 2.2 seconds behind. It's possible that lapping Latifi also played a part but I can't find any footage to prove/disprove it. For comparison, Bottas' equivalent pair of 5 laps are an average of 1:22.976
to close the gap and 1:23.515
as he drifts back.
Meanwhile, Verstappen has taken advantage of Mercedes' fumbled pitstops (not least the 2+ seconds Hamilton lost) and Hamilton's slow outlap and is closing. By the end of the 6th lap of Hamilton's stint, what had been a 7+ second gap before the pitstops is now a sub-3.5 second gap, as Verstappen steadily closed him down. However, where Hamilton's pace slowly increases as his fuel burns off, Verstappen can't quite match it and, from lap 30, begins to slowly fall away. A quick punch of the throttle on lap 34 sees Hamilton suddenly gain 5/10ths. The next lap, Verstappen can only find 2/10ths in reply and doing that finishes his tyres. Having averaged 1:23.267 over the previous ten laps and having just put in a 1:22.896
, Verstappen's next lap is a 1:23.548
and his next five laps (at which point he pits) are a 1:23.587
This sees Verstappen begin to fall back into Bottas' hands. On lap 38, Bottas takes advantage of a particularly slow Verstappen lap to close up. Verstappen takes another lap before he responds (tyre temp troubles?) but Bottas is now only 1.44 behind. Verstappen pushes to a 1:23.096
, opening the gap to 1.6, then pits at the end of the next lap to avoid any chance of an undercut. It gives me an average stint time (excluding in/out laps) of 1:23.515
over 20 laps.
In clean air once more, Bottas shows his pace in hand. Where he had been matching Verstappen's 1:23.4s over the last few laps, he bangs in a pacey 1:21.857
. Verstappen responds with a good outlap (combined with another great pitstop) and keeps his foot down as Bottas spends five laps in the 1:22.8s
. It's enough to keep the Finn behind him and, when Bottas pits, he comes out seven seconds behind Verstappen.
Up front, Hamilton has been setting his own pace and, other than a lap being held up by Perez*, it's been uneventful. Scheduled to come in one lap after Bottas, he stays out so the team can change their strategy from doing the final lap on Softs to, instead, finishing the race on Mediums.
Stint 2 summary:-
Hamilton: 27 laps at 1:22.729 (1:23.443)
Verstappen: 20 laps at 1:23.376 (1:24.280)
Bottas: 25 laps at 1:23.091 (1:23.810)
The time in brackets includes in/outlaps but excludes time stationary for the first pitstop)
The final stints for Hamilton and Verstappen were on the Medium, Bottas had an ill-judged stint on the Softs. The race is done at this stage. Bottas will find no time on the Softs and will pit at the end of lap 64 so he can set the fastest lap on the last lap. Hamilton comes out from his last pit stop more than ten seconds clear of Verstappen and the gap only opens to the end.
I've not yet looked at Vettel's pace on the Softs but Bottas started this stint 7.1 seconds behind Verstappen (on 8 lap fresher tyres), and spent 14 laps closing up to 5.2 seconds. Over the same stint length vs Hamilton, who was comfortably cruising in the lead and on the 'slower' tyre, Bottas lost more than half-a-second a lap to his team mate.
Stint 3 summary:-
Hamilton: 16 laps at 1:20.979 (1:22.102)
Verstappen: 25 laps at 1:21.977 (1:22:681)
Bottas: 16 laps at 1:21.652 (1:23.080)
The time in brackets includes outlap and the last lap (inlap for Bottas) but excludes stationary time at the pitstops.
Not much to say about this GP, it was all over by Turn 2 (for the leaders, at least). The midfield battle was pretty interesting, mix of strategy and pace. Up front, Hamilton could go much faster, for much longer. His second stint, in particular, is impressive. On the main race tyre, the Mercedes was more than 8/10ths a lap faster and did 135% of the distance (although bear in mind that this performance gap is inflated due to lighter fuel impacting the last third of the stint). A comparison of the same laps (e.g. lap 25 vs lap 25 until lap 40 vs lap 40) gives us a pace difference of 1:23.028 vs 1.23.389, but that doesn't take into account the much high tyre management Hamilton needed to do. Frustratingly, we so rarely get to compare apples to apples in F1.
As always, feedback/corrections are very welcome and thank you for the kind words so far.
*Ironically, Kvyat's penalty was for holding up Verstappen. Both Perez and Kvyat were cited for ignoring blue flags from Turn 6 until Turn 1 on the next lap.