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McLaren race operations


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#1 BillBald

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 17:59

Clearly the car is a dog, but it might be possible for them to sort it out.

I want to focus on the race operations, strategy calls and pitstops, which were so poor last season, to see if they've managed to get that sorted.

Australia
Did McLaren get the best result possible?

In Q2, they put both drivers on options when Inters seemed to be better. They then kept Sergio out on the options, and it was apparently Jenson who chose to pit to go back onto Inters. In Q3, it seemed as though they weren't thinking of the race, when they sent Jenson out for a longer stint on options, which he promptly destroyed and then had to use for the start of the race.

In the race itself, Jenson was in traffic for a lot of the time.

Actually I don't feel that they did such a bad job. It seems to me that they were gambling on the race being at least partly wet, as that would have given them their only chance of serious points.

If the race had been wet, McLaren would actually have been in very good shape. They probably put less mileage on their inters than most of the other teams, and that can be important when the teams are not given enough inters for a really wet weekend. And if the race had started on a wet track, it would not have mattered that Jenson's options were finished.

Because of his early stop, Jenson had no real possibilities for undercutting, he just had to run each set of primes until they were finished. Luckily he made it to the end. Sergio did a short second stint on primes options, and that seemed to get him into relatively free air.

In summary, I would say they didn't do too badly.

Edited to correct factual error.

Edited by BillBald, 18 March 2013 - 00:20.


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#2 SpartanChas

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 18:12

The pits tops looked phenomenal today. They really did a great job.

#3 Ickx

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 18:17

I don´t understand the timing of Jensons Q3 run. It was too early to set a good time on a drying track that will always get better and better for every passing car and too late to try to do two runns as the SS will never be good enough for more than one lap.

#4 trogggy

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 18:18

The pits tops looked phenomenal today.

Made me larf, that. :p

#5 BillBald

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 18:38

I don´t understand the timing of Jensons Q3 run. It was too early to set a good time on a drying track that will always get better and better for every passing car and too late to try to do two runns as the SS will never be good enough for more than one lap.


Yes, it was mistimed. But if the track had dried more slowly, Jenson might have been the only one fully up to temperature on the options.

They were gambling, a reasonable thing to do given the current state of the car.

As soon as the track became almost completely dry, Jenson never stood a chance anyway.

Edited by BillBald, 17 March 2013 - 18:41.


#6 chhatra

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 19:10

The pits tops looked phenomenal today. They really did a great job.


Only 1 pitstop was on par with RB and Ferrari.

Still making mistakes. Ferrari made the best of a bad car by being extremely efficient operationally.

The team really needs to get it together.

This is where Jenson proves whether he is truly ready to lead a top team.



#7 joshb

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 19:13

The pits tops looked phenomenal today. They really did a great job.


Button had a 2.4 apparently

#8 BillBald

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 20:07

Button had a 2.4 apparently


What was their slowest stop?



#9 Seanspeed

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 20:12

Dont have the figures for all the tire changing times, but looking at overall pittime, Perez's first and Button's second stops weren't very good. Both a couple seconds slower than the best pit times.

http://www.formula1....op_summary.html

Edited by Seanspeed, 17 March 2013 - 20:12.


#10 Coops3

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 20:18

Did they break the record again with that 2.4 stop?

It's great, but it's also slightly embarrassing in a way when the car is so bad.

#11 Lights

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 20:26

In terms of pitstops they certainly can still learn a bit from Ferrari. Mind-blowing speed and consistency.

McLaren's race operations today were fine though, it was a straight-forward race as neither driver was really stuck somewhere, they were more often chased than doing the chasing, resulting in that McLaren got the best result out of it and not much more was possible.

#12 BillBald

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 21:18

In terms of pitstops they certainly can still learn a bit from Ferrari. Mind-blowing speed and consistency.

McLaren's race operations today were fine though, it was a straight-forward race as neither driver was really stuck somewhere, they were more often chased than doing the chasing, resulting in that McLaren got the best result out of it and not much more was possible.


Jenson lost some time behind Ricciardo, but looking at the race charts there was nothing to be done strategy-wise. Ricciardo was not really racing Jenson (he'd have had to stop again even if he hadn't retired) but he was holding Jenson up.

http://mclarenf-1.co...ge=chart&gp=893

(Mouse over Ricciardo's trace to make it more visible)



#13 chumma

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 22:58

Didn't McLaren set fastest time yesterday? 2.4 seconds? Ps I think Mclaren's strategy, not counting qualifying, was pretty good. I put quali down to the drivers anyway, surely its their call in those conditions and Sergio got it wrong? They had to take some sort of a gamble though, and make the best of the situation.

#14 Bloggsworth

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 23:05

Still making mistakes. Ferrari made the best of a bad car by being extremely efficient operationally.


Yep, really bad car, 2nd & 4th - Never mind, keep peddling the myth...

#15 BillBald

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 23:38

Yep, really bad car, 2nd & 4th - Never mind, keep peddling the myth...


I think he might be talking about last year.



#16 fred54

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 23:51

What's the difference between Tooned and McLaren? One is clearly a joke, with a comically inept authority figure with no control over the personnel under his charge, where things always go woefully wrong with predictable inevitability - the other is Tooned.

#17 Withnail

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 23:58

I have no issues with race operations this weekend. In quali, particularly, the team knew they didn't have a lot to lose by trying different things to what the top teams were trying, in terms of tyres and timings of runs. The gambles didn't really pay off, but they didn't lose too much either. Perez might have qualified slightly higher, but it cost them 1 or 2 points, tops. They both moved forward in the race, and pit stops were brilliant.

#18 Gareth

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Posted 18 March 2013 - 08:36

I thought they made two big errors in qualy.

One with going to slicks. They'd looked pretty fast on inters all through qualy (certainly quicker than their slicks pace), so I wasn't sure why they felt the need to gamble in that situation.

The secodn mistake was sending Jenson out at all really. Putting all that wear on the SS tyres, for no gain in position, didn't help at all and was the cause of a very difficult strategy to execute on Sunday.

#19 BillBald

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Posted 18 March 2013 - 14:01

I thought they made two big errors in qualy.

One with going to slicks. They'd looked pretty fast on inters all through qualy (certainly quicker than their slicks pace), so I wasn't sure why they felt the need to gamble in that situation.

The secodn mistake was sending Jenson out at all really. Putting all that wear on the SS tyres, for no gain in position, didn't help at all and was the cause of a very difficult strategy to execute on Sunday.


I wondered whether their priority was to save inters at all costs, because the teams don't get enough inters for an all-wet weekend. So that could have been a big plus, if it had rained in the race.

Again, if it had been wet at the start, the ruined SS tyres wouldn't have been used anyway.

I think they saw that their only chance of good points was a wet race, and they put all their efforts into optimising that situation - a dry race was a lost cause, they were surprised to score even 2 points.





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#20 robefc

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Posted 18 March 2013 - 14:05

I wondered whether their priority was to save inters at all costs, because the teams don't get enough inters for an all-wet weekend. So that could have been a big plus, if it had rained in the race.

Again, if it had been wet at the start, the ruined SS tyres wouldn't have been used anyway.

I think they saw that their only chance of good points was a wet race, and they put all their efforts into optimising that situation - a dry race was a lost cause, they were surprised to score even 2 points.


I can't remember if it was a journalist or a rival team member etc who pointed out that Macca should have not run in Q3, maybe it was Gareth and he is a journo/F1 insider! :)

In hindsight, as MW likes to say, that surely would have been the right choice. The chance to do something different and they still wouldn't have used the inters in Q3.

I think they put all their eggs in the 'Jenson is awesome on slicks on a drying track' basket.

Edited by robefc, 18 March 2013 - 14:27.


#21 Lights

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Posted 18 March 2013 - 14:13

I can't remember if it was a journalist or a rivla team member etc who pointed out that Macca should have not run in Q3, maybe it was Gareth and he is a journo/F1 insider! :)

In hindsight, as MW likes to say, that surely would have been the right choice. The chance to do something different and they still wouldn't have used the inters in Q3.

I think they put all their eggs in the 'Jenson is awesome on slicks on a drying track' basket.

When he went on track in Q3 I thought: 'Think of 2010 Jenson, go into the gravel somewhere, let them think it's too wet for slicks' :D

Sadly it was too dry too soon, and therefore McLaren let him go with too many minutes on the clock.

In hindsight not running was indeed the right thing.

Edited by Lights, 18 March 2013 - 14:13.


#22 BillBald

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Posted 19 March 2013 - 14:55

I mentioned this in another thread, but maybe I should say something here as well.

McLaren did a very fine job in timing Jenson's last pit stop, bringing him in at the same time as Grosjean and preventing a possible undercut.

It might have been pure dumb luck, but I prefer to think that McLaren were being smart and watching the Lotus boys to see when they were getting ready. If so, this is the kind of thing they would not have done last year, so they deserve a lot of credit for getting their act together.

Let's hope we see more of the same this year.



#23 bonjon1979a

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Posted 19 March 2013 - 15:02

What's the difference between Tooned and McLaren? One is clearly a joke, with a comically inept authority figure with no control over the personnel under his charge, where things always go woefully wrong with predictable inevitability - the other is a cartoon.


It's funnier this way.

#24 OO7

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Posted 19 March 2013 - 15:16

Button had a 2.4 apparently

And that wasn't even the fastest stop, as it was highlighted against an amber background.

#25 BillBald

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Posted 23 March 2013 - 22:44

Re. Australia

I see that some have criticised McLaren for putting Perez onto options for the 2nd stint, saying they should have been saved for later (or possibly not used at all if it rained during the race).

That's a reasonable point of view, I think this strategy did lose track position for Perez, but it also put him into clear air for the rest of the race (until he caught Grosjean near the end).

So it probably wasn't ideal.



#26 BillBald

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Posted 23 March 2013 - 22:53

Malaysia

It looks like McLaren might have made a mistake in not pitting for fresh inters in Q3.

MW said that because of Jenson's good stint the previous day, they thought that the tyres would last better than they did.

Of course they had made setup changes overnight, which seem to have made the car much better in the dry. Perhaps they should have realised that it was almost a different car, so they shouldn't make any assumptions based on previous day's wet running.

Otherwise a very good job.

Edit: actually they might have slipped up by running primes in Q1 - some others used options in Q1 and Q2, and have saved 3 sets of primes for the race.


Edited by BillBald, 24 March 2013 - 01:40.


#27 Wouter

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Posted 24 March 2013 - 21:41

Mclaren still hasn't improved in racing operations, very fast stops when it works but full of risks. I hope they are not going to fire mechanics again over this; the risk is inherent in the push for the fastest time and as usual, it goes wrong at the worst moment (when Button was running so good in Sepang).

#28 tkulla

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Posted 24 March 2013 - 22:25

The team really needs to account for the level of strategic urgency on pitstops. They are obsessed with the sub-2 sec pitstop and there are certainly times when that tenth might gain Button or Perez a place. But as we saw yesterday pushing for the fastest possible stop increases the risk of a problem.

Since the system is computerized to a degree a "safe" mode for situations when a driver has a good buffer of space to leave the pits into makes sense to me. A couple of extra safeguards that add a tenth or two but reduces the risk should be easy enough to do.

#29 Withnail

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Posted 24 March 2013 - 22:30

The team really needs to account for the level of strategic urgency on pitstops. They are obsessed with the sub-2 sec pitstop and there are certainly times when that tenth might gain Button or Perez a place. But as we saw yesterday pushing for the fastest possible stop increases the risk of a problem.

Since the system is computerized to a degree a "safe" mode for situations when a driver has a good buffer of space to leave the pits into makes sense to me. A couple of extra safeguards that add a tenth or two but reduces the risk should be easy enough to do.


Yeah - I'm not sure how much the speed of the pitstop was related to the problem - the 'go' signal was given too soon, due to a mistake by the guy operating the 'go' signal. I don't think this was due to rushing - it was just a mistake. We used to see cars getting released too soon even in the days of refuelling.

#30 P123

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Posted 24 March 2013 - 22:32

The team really needs to account for the level of strategic urgency on pitstops. They are obsessed with the sub-2 sec pitstop and there are certainly times when that tenth might gain Button or Perez a place. But as we saw yesterday pushing for the fastest possible stop increases the risk of a problem.

Since the system is computerized to a degree a "safe" mode for situations when a driver has a good buffer of space to leave the pits into makes sense to me. A couple of extra safeguards that add a tenth or two but reduces the risk should be easy enough to do.


I agree. It's as if they are stuck with the mantra of going for a record time, which brings with it obvious risks. 1s slower than ultimate would have been fine for that stop as JB had built up a reasonable gap on track.

#31 BillBald

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Posted 25 March 2013 - 00:03

The team really needs to account for the level of strategic urgency on pitstops. They are obsessed with the sub-2 sec pitstop and there are certainly times when that tenth might gain Button or Perez a place. But as we saw yesterday pushing for the fastest possible stop increases the risk of a problem.

Since the system is computerized to a degree a "safe" mode for situations when a driver has a good buffer of space to leave the pits into makes sense to me. A couple of extra safeguards that add a tenth or two but reduces the risk should be easy enough to do.


I agree 100% - let's hope they are reading this thread!



#32 BillBald

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Posted 25 March 2013 - 18:25

Apart from that pitstop...

What do people think about the race strategy?

I suggested earlier that McLaren might have missed a trick by failing to save 3 sets of primes for the race, which other teams were able to do by qualifying on options in Q1.

But as it turned out, in the race they only used 1 set of primes for Jenson, and 2 sets for Perez.

Since McLaren spent almost all the FPs trying different experiments, they never did any long runs, so maybe they lucked into it a little bit, but it seems to me that it was a very decent strategy, which gave a chance of a very good result. The strategy depended on running a long stint on the primes, not unreasonable given that the options seem to have lasted better than they were expecting.

In the case of Perez, they probably gave him an overlong final stint (2 laps longer than Jenson). I'm not sure why they didn't pit him later than Jenson because at the previous pitstop Perez had been a lap later. There might have been a tactical reason which I haven't spotted. Edit: there was a reason, it was to get him ahead of Kimi & Hulk, but he couldn't stay ahead, because it left him with a final stint which was too long.

In the case of Jenson, there's some debate about whether he was on for a possible podium, maybe not but 4th or 5th seems likely. To stop Jenson finishing 3rd, Merc would maybe have had to allow Rosberg to pass Lewis.

This analysis suggests that 4th place for Jenson would have been the most likely outcome. One thing I'm confused about - McLaren apparently told Ted Kravitz that Jenson had a bald tyre when they pulled him in, but Pirelli tyres fall off the cliff before getting down to the canvas, and there's no sign of that in the laptimes.

Edited by BillBald, 28 March 2013 - 15:18.


#33 Lights

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Posted 25 March 2013 - 18:39

In the case of Jenson, there's some debate about whether he was on for a possible podium, maybe not but 4th or 5th seems likely. To stop Jenson finishing 3rd, Merc would maybe have had to allow Rosberg to pass Lewis.

This analysis suggests that 4th place for Jenson would have been the most likely outcome. One thing I'm confused about - McLaren apparently told Ted Kravitz that Jenson had a bald tyre when they pulled him in, but Pirelli tyres fall off the cliff before getting down to the canvas, and there's no sign of that in the laptimes.

Thanks, interesting link.


#34 BillBald

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Posted 13 April 2013 - 13:05


China

Excellent quali strategy. If the McLaren were a slightly better car I would say Jenson was favourite for the win. He just needs to clear Ricciardo quite promptly, if the STR is well off the pace of the leaders as you would expect.

Jenson's top speed is very low at 311.5 kph, almost as low as Vettel's. That seems to be a continuation of McLaren's policy from the end of last season. We have to hope that Jenson doesn't get into traffic, otherwise it could be a repeat of the early laps in Austin (except maybe worse).

Perez' top speed is a little bit higher at 315.5 kph, but he is starting from further back.

An early safety car could mess things up, but I don't think they happen very often in China in dry races, there is quite a lot of run-off at most corners.

I suspect that they will have looked at a 2 stop, but be ready to switch to a 3 stop. It might be better to avoid using the options in the last stint, as they probably have no idea how long they will last. They maybe can be used tactically if Jenson finds himself stuck in traffic at some point.




#35 BillBald

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Posted 13 April 2013 - 14:24

http://forums.autosp...a...t&p=6220299

Strategy to maximize results

One lap shot at Q1 on softs
One lap shot at Q2 on softs
Do not run on Q3

Start the race on mediums, 3 stop-strategy, run new tires all the way, 14 lap 1st stint, 16 lap 2nd stint, 18 lap 3rd stint, 8 lap 4th stint (softs), all the race on new tires.



You called it, rodlamas !!

#36 JRizzle86

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Posted 13 April 2013 - 14:50

The strategy for the car's current pace does seem a mark of genius. Run the Mediums welll into the race and then once the track rubbers in run the softs at the end, it almost seems too obvious.

#37 BillBald

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Posted 13 April 2013 - 17:06

The strategy for the car's current pace does seem a mark of genius. Run the Mediums welll into the race and then once the track rubbers in run the softs at the end, it almost seems too obvious.


I think it might be best not to make the same mistake as Sutil in Oz. If possible the options should be used before the last stint. If the last set of tyres starts to fall away, primes would hold up better.

Also, a short fast stint on options mid-race might be ideal if either driver is stuck in traffic, either for overtaking or for getting the undercut by stopping sooner.

Let's hope Mclaren continue to get it right, they might score some good points if they do.

Edited by BillBald, 13 April 2013 - 17:07.


#38 BillBald

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 01:08

It looks like McLaren got the best possible result for Jenson, maybe not for Sergio.

I thought that the guys who started on options would struggle more than they did to get back to the front. Perhaps the incident between Gutierrez and Sutil made a difference - if those two had still been on track, the early stoppers would have had to do more overtaking, possibly having to deal with a DRS 'train'. The other factor was the 2nd DRS zone, of course, which made overtaking much easier than it previously was in China.

Perez' stint on options didn't work out too well. He came out immediately behind Grosjean and had to overtake him to make use of the extra performance, maybe that's partly why the options went off so quickly.

Jenson didn't show the kind of pace in his final stint that Vettel did, but I think that was mainly down to tactics. Basically he just needed to get ahead of Massa, pull a small gap, and then look after the tyres. There was nothing to be gained by pushing any harder.



#39 BillBald

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Posted 26 April 2013 - 00:42


'Put them into clean air, not into traffic'

This should be written on a Post-It note, and stuck on the screen of every McLaren strategist. Did any other team cause their drivers to have to deal with so much traffic in Bahrain?

Strategy in Bahrain was about one thing above all – you had to avoid being held up by Rosberg on his journey from pole to the midfield. Within a handful of laps it was clear what was happening. Rosberg had no race pace, but he was difficult to shake off once you got past him. A combination of his good straightline speed, and the placing of the DRS zones, meant that you had to be a lot quicker to break the DRS - you only had half a lap to pull a gap of more than a second.

It was clear what the others had to do: get yourself onto a different pitstop schedule. Red Bull stopped Mark early, he got clear of the Rosberg train, but then his tyres went off at the end, so that maybe wasn't the best solution.

And then, after the second stint, Merc themselves solved the problem for everyone. They pitted Rosberg on lap 20, too early for a 3-stop strategy.

Lotus gratefully took advantage of the opportunity for Grosjean. He didn't stop until lap 27. Of course, after that he was a little way behind Rosberg, and by the time he caught him, Rosberg's tyres were pretty much finished, so the DRS game couldn't continue. The result was that Grosjean joined his team-mate on the podium.

And what did McLaren do? Unbelievably, we saw Perez following Rosberg into the pits. Perez had done just 10 laps on the primes, the same as he'd done on the options, but with a reduced fuel load. There is surely no way that Perez needed to pit, his tyres must have been good for at least 2 or 3 more laps, maybe more.

Pitting when he did simply guaranteed that Perez would be fighting with Rosberg for at least another stint. Clearly it was a moment of madness, an over-hasty decision, McLaren just reacted without having had time to think.

And then they called Jenson in the next time round, so that both their drivers could continue fighting with Rosberg, and with one another.

Those of us who had been hoping that McLaren might turn their strategy around this year now have to face reality. It's not going to happen, because I don't think McLaren even realise that they are getting it so badly wrong.



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#40 ZooL

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Posted 26 April 2013 - 11:19

'Put them into clean air, not into traffic'

This should be written on a Post-It note, and stuck on the screen of every McLaren strategist. Did any other team cause their drivers to have to deal with so much traffic in Bahrain?

Strategy in Bahrain was about one thing above all – you had to avoid being held up by Rosberg on his journey from pole to the midfield. Within a handful of laps it was clear what was happening. Rosberg had no race pace, but he was difficult to shake off once you got past him. A combination of his good straightline speed, and the placing of the DRS zones, meant that you had to be a lot quicker to break the DRS - you only had half a lap to pull a gap of more than a second.

It was clear what the others had to do: get yourself onto a different pitstop schedule. Red Bull stopped Mark early, he got clear of the Rosberg train, but then his tyres went off at the end, so that maybe wasn't the best solution.

And then, after the second stint, Merc themselves solved the problem for everyone. They pitted Rosberg on lap 20, too early for a 3-stop strategy.

Lotus gratefully took advantage of the opportunity for Grosjean. He didn't stop until lap 27. Of course, after that he was a little way behind Rosberg, and by the time he caught him, Rosberg's tyres were pretty much finished, so the DRS game couldn't continue. The result was that Grosjean joined his team-mate on the podium.

And what did McLaren do? Unbelievably, we saw Perez following Rosberg into the pits. Perez had done just 10 laps on the primes, the same as he'd done on the options, but with a reduced fuel load. There is surely no way that Perez needed to pit, his tyres must have been good for at least 2 or 3 more laps, maybe more.

Pitting when he did simply guaranteed that Perez would be fighting with Rosberg for at least another stint. Clearly it was a moment of madness, an over-hasty decision, McLaren just reacted without having had time to think.

And then they called Jenson in the next time round, so that both their drivers could continue fighting with Rosberg, and with one another.

Those of us who had been hoping that McLaren might turn their strategy around this year now have to face reality. It's not going to happen, because I don't think McLaren even realise that they are getting it so badly wrong.

To be fair Button made the pit stop call. If you can't look after your tires then you will come out in traffic.

Traffic is not really a big thing nowdays, especially at Bahrain, its very easy to overtake on these tyres and with double DRS zones. If your driver is ruining his hard tyres in 11 laps then there's not much the team can do.

#41 BillBald

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Posted 26 April 2013 - 12:08

To be fair Button made the pit stop call. If you can't look after your tires then you will come out in traffic.

Traffic is not really a big thing nowdays, especially at Bahrain, its very easy to overtake on these tyres and with double DRS zones. If your driver is ruining his hard tyres in 11 laps then there's not much the team can do.


I was talking about Jenson's second pitstop.

I heard the radio calling Jenson in, I didn't hear Jenson saying his tyres were finished. It would have been impossible for the pitwall to judge, because at the time Jenson was going through corners side-by-side with Grosjean, so losing time for that reason. Even if Jenson's tyres were going off, the team should have kept him out, the worst thing the team could have done was to continue the battle with Rosberg which was costing so much time.

Traffic WAS a big thing at Bahrain, for the reasons I explained above. The placing of the DRS zones on opposite sides of the track meant that you could not pull clear of a slower car unless you were well over a second a lap faster. If the cars are together at turn 1, and the car in front cannot make a gap of more than a second before turn 9, the car behind will close up under DRS. And so it continues ad infinitum.

Edited by BillBald, 26 April 2013 - 12:10.


#42 BillBald

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Posted 16 May 2013 - 02:05


The more I look at the Jenson's Bahrain strategy the worse it seems.

Not being on the ball, and failing to pit Jenson ahead of Rosberg was bad enough, but pitting him the very next lap, like a desperate commuter running after a train that was already departing, was the most ridiculous thing you could imagine. If they'd faced the reality that they'd missed the opportunity to keep Jenson ahead, changed tactics accordingly, and left him out for 2 or 3 more laps, he'd have had a reasonably good chance to regain the advantage due to having fresher rubber.

But just as I'm ready to give up completely on McLaren, they get the strategy pretty-well right in Spain. Close to perfect for Jenson, although I'm not sure about starting on options when they could have started on primes. I suppose the idea was for him not to lose any further places at the start, which didn't quite work out!

The fact that Jenson caught up and overtook Sergio, after being 11 places behind him on lap 1, might lead you to suppose that McLaren had messed up Sergio's strategy big-time, but that doesn't seem to be the case.

At the first stop, Webber got the undercut on Sergio, but he stopped so early it was unavoidable really. At the second stop, Di Resta got ahead, but he was a little faster anyway, so there was no hold-up. Hulkenberg also got the undercut, and he would have been more of a problem, but fortunately for Sergio, the Hulk got involved in a pit-lane incident at the next stop. So the team wasn't really on the ball, but it didn't actually cost much.

It was suggested that it might have been a mistake to run Sergio in Q3, instead of preserving a new set of tyres for the race. But if they'd done that, what would Sergio have done with the new tyres? If he'd run a slightly longer stint, he'd maybe have lost more places due to the undercut. Not running in Q3 works better if you start on new primes and run much longer, and especially if the options have a very short life.

I think what's become clear is that McLaren's possible strategies are limited by the car. It seems to look after its tyres fairly well, but only when it's not pushed too hard. When a driver pushes hard and stops often, like Jenson in Bahrain and Checo in Spain, the result is much higher deg without a big improvement in speed. Unless future updates change the car fundamentally, the strategy is going to have to be about running long stints, and avoiding fighting other cars too much - pretty boring stuff, but they need the points.

The other thing about a more aggressive strategy, is that it puts the pitcrew under more pressure, and at the moment those guys don't appear to handle pressure very well.




#43 turssi

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Posted 16 May 2013 - 03:08

Very nice read on a topic made interesting by McLarens complete fail in 2012. Thanks bald bill!

#44 Buttoneer

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Posted 16 May 2013 - 12:27

I think what's become clear is that McLaren's possible strategies are limited by the car. It seems to look after its tyres fairly well, but only when it's not pushed too hard. When a driver pushes hard and stops often, like Jenson in Bahrain and Checo in Spain, the result is much higher deg without a big improvement in speed. Unless future updates change the car fundamentally, the strategy is going to have to be about running long stints, and avoiding fighting other cars too much - pretty boring stuff, but they need the points.

The other thing about a more aggressive strategy, is that it puts the pitcrew under more pressure, and at the moment those guys don't appear to handle pressure very well.

Well, indeed. I'm sure Ross Brawn would be able to tell you that a strategy will work only if the car and driver are fast enough to make it work. With the sort of tyre wear we are seeing and the high number of pitstops, pitting extra-early is not the disadvantage it once was and we've seen some very out-of-place cars make up plenty of positions and find their proper place in the pecking order. Qualifying badly doesn't seem to be the problem it used to be for a fast car.

#45 BillBald

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Posted 16 May 2013 - 22:28

Very nice read on a topic made interesting by McLarens complete fail in 2012. Thanks bald bill!


Cheers :)



#46 BillBald

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Posted 16 May 2013 - 23:03

Well, indeed. I'm sure Ross Brawn would be able to tell you that a strategy will work only if the car and driver are fast enough to make it work. With the sort of tyre wear we are seeing and the high number of pitstops, pitting extra-early is not the disadvantage it once was and we've seen some very out-of-place cars make up plenty of positions and find their proper place in the pecking order. Qualifying badly doesn't seem to be the problem it used to be for a fast car.


I think pitting extra-early can be a problem if it causes you to make an extra pitstop, or alternatively drive very slowly so you don't have to make that extra stop.

Webber has shown a few times that it's often better to pit early than to stay in traffic. Of course that's with Red Bull strategists running the show. With McLaren's current strategists, the outcome seems to be better when they don't try to be too clever, and just call the driver in when the tyres are losing grip.

If you are running an aggressive strategy with short stints, staying out too long and allowing an opponent to get the undercut can be disastrous. But if you are running longer stints at a slightly reduced pace, you are less likely to be held up because you are mainly racing cars which are as fast or faster than you are.

If you're pitting early to get the undercut on one or more cars you are fighting with, that's when you really need the pit crew to be on the ball. But for every Germany 2012, there is another race completely ruined and points thrown away, so it really seems that working under pressure is not the Mclaren pit crew's strong point. The strategists need to take account of that, and devise strategies which don't depend on a quick pitstop.




#47 Buttoneer

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Posted 17 May 2013 - 08:36

Webber has shown a few times that it's often better to pit early than to stay in traffic. Of course that's with Red Bull strategists running the show. With McLaren's current strategists, the outcome seems to be better when they don't try to be too clever, and just call the driver in when the tyres are losing grip.

But I don't think it's about 'clever' or 'stupid' proactive choices by strategists so much as necessity. McLaren's pitstop requirements are driven by the demands of the car which means they can't pick and choose whether to beat the traffic or not, just pit whe they have to. That's not strategy. Red Bull are in a different place with a car they know is capable of winning and can afford to compromise on pitstop timing in order to make it work on the circuit.

When the car is fast again, and McLaren are on the podium, perhaps we can then talk about hapless pitstops and dumb choices.

#48 BillBald

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Posted 18 May 2013 - 16:33

But I don't think it's about 'clever' or 'stupid' proactive choices by strategists so much as necessity. McLaren's pitstop requirements are driven by the demands of the car which means they can't pick and choose whether to beat the traffic or not, just pit whe they have to. That's not strategy. Red Bull are in a different place with a car they know is capable of winning and can afford to compromise on pitstop timing in order to make it work on the circuit.

When the car is fast again, and McLaren are on the podium, perhaps we can then talk about hapless pitstops and dumb choices.


I agree with you that some other teams have more choices, particularly Lotus. But that doesn't mean that McLaren have no choices at all.

Like other teams, McLaren will have a plan A which they think will be the fastest way to run the race. I'm sure it would involve stopping on specific laps, changing to specific tyres (compound, new or used).

All their choices revolve around the extent to which they will amend that strategy as the race unfolds, or possibly switch to a different strategy. Actual tyre deg is obviously a major factor in that decision, but not the only factor. If they pit earlier than projected, that will tend to hurt their strategy (unless there is a big advantage in pitting earlier). If they can pit later, it helps by shortening the remaining stints.

Let's look at some choices they might have to make in a typical race:

1. By pitting one lap earlier than planned, they can get the driver into clean air with slower cars behind him. That would always be a good choice. The benefit of clean air and lower tyre deg from not having to fight for position on track would definitely outweigh the extra lap they would have to do in one of the remaining stints. If they don't make this choice, they can legitimately be called 'stupid'.

2. Same scenario, but now the car they are beating to the undercut is actually much faster, so their driver will have to defend continuously. Now it's not so clear cut. Near the end of the race, the undercut might be a good choice. Early in the race, it would destroy their strategy with the higher deg it would bring.

3. Same scenario as the first one, but now they have to pit 5 laps earlier than they planned, instead of just one lap earlier, to get that clean air. Again it's not so clear cut, and with a car like the current McLaren, it might be wiser to miss this opportunity, since you would risk having to make an extra pitstop.

Of course we don't actually know what the target lap is, so in any particular case we don't know whether they needed to pit 1 or 5 laps early. But if they had the opportunity to stay ahead, passed it up and then pitted the very next lap, which they did twice in a row in Bahrain, we can be quite certain that they made a bad choice. Doing a single extra lap on a stint is never going to be worthwhile if it loses you track position. That looks very much like the stupid move in scenario 1 above.

After they'd allowed themselves to be undercut in Bahrain, if they then did a few more laps before pitting, that would look more like scenario 3 above, and would be a valid choice.

The situation doesn't always arise that McLaren have clear-cut good and bad choices. But when they do, and they make the bad choice, I'm going to be calling them a bunch of names.




#49 Force Ten

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Posted 19 May 2013 - 08:21

Also, when you have sort of a clean air, you have still some good laps left in your tyres and you are easily holding up one of your team's main championship rival that is visibly faster than you it makes sense to pit, get back out again in traffic and give said rival a free air. That special kind of stupidity requires definitely an award.

#50 Lights

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Posted 19 May 2013 - 08:29

Also, when you have sort of a clean air, you have still some good laps left in your tyres and you are easily holding up one of your team's main championship rival that is visibly faster than you it makes sense to pit, get back out again in traffic and give said rival a free air. That special kind of stupidity requires definitely an award.

Struggling to remember what you're referring to, what do you mean?