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Did Mercedes make good strategy calls for Hamilton at Abu Dhabi?


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#1 Risil

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Posted 12 December 2021 - 22:48

Obviously, Hamilton was on the wrong tyres on the last lap. But could Mercedes have done anything with their tyre strategy that set him up better? Would covering the possibility of a late safety car have been worth it? I don't know. I am interested though!



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#2 FortiFord

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Posted 12 December 2021 - 22:53

Only with the benefit of hindsight.

They made the correct calls at the time. Unfortunately for them Red Bull would always do the opposite to what they did at the VSC and SC. Understandably they valued track position more than fresh tyres.

#3 William Hunt

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Posted 12 December 2021 - 22:53

Mercedes counted on the fact that there wouldn't be enough laps left to let the backmarkers between him and Max through so if you look at it from that view they absolutely made the right call. If they had known what Masi would do they would have called him in for softs for sure.



#4 baddog

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Posted 12 December 2021 - 22:53

I think they were caught between bad decisions, made one, it looked right then it wasnt.. but the other could have also been a fail. Not sure there was a better option in the moment.



#5 Seanspeed

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Posted 12 December 2021 - 22:54

He's coming and you know it:

 



#6 MikeTekRacing

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Posted 12 December 2021 - 22:56

They couldn’t make a different call
Give up track position and hope to overtake Max if (there was a big if) you get any racing? Good luck planning that…

#7 KavB

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Posted 12 December 2021 - 22:56

I think they did make the right decisions.

 

I initially thought they threw it away when Hamilton didn't pit for another set of hards, but they quickly proved me wrong when Max wasn't able to cut into Hamilton's lead despite his new tyres.

 

Not pitting under the safety car was the logical decision. They were in an extremely difficult position but staying out made the most sense. The race would have ended under the safety car under normal circumstances (but I'll leave that discussion to the other thread!) and had they conceded track position to Max then they would have lost the title in the silliest way possible.  



#8 Heyli

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Posted 12 December 2021 - 22:57

I honestly dont know. If they agreed in advance that they'll try to finish under green flags, I guess they could have somehow anticipated something like this, but it was still extra-ordinairy. It seemed like the right choice playing the numbers game.



#9 EvilWarMachine

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Posted 12 December 2021 - 23:03

I was yelling at the TV to pit Hamilton during the VSC, the lap after Verstappen. It would've been touch and go as to whether he rejoined in front of Max. This is the only thing I think they may have got wrong, and I'm not certain that it was wrong.

 

They couldn't have pitted during the SC as they would've lost track position with the threat of a SC finish.

 

RB had 'Free Hits' as far as the pit stops went.



#10 Paa

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Posted 12 December 2021 - 23:07

At the SC they were first to chose. It was basically a 50-50 chance, whether race will restart or not. They could have gone for new tyres, then Max would have stayed out being vulnerable at the restart.

It was their choice to make, Red Bull just followed them, doing the opposite.

 

They bet everything on finishing under SC and then started lobbying to make it happen. I think they overlooked that FIA will do everything to finish the grand finale under green conditions if possible, so I think this was a slight misjudgment from their part.(possibly making the restart scenario rather 66/33 instead of 50/50).  Of course they would have looked like an absolute fool if race did finish under SC and they gave up position, so it was not an easy choice to make.

However, I feel they just went with the more comfortable option and then got angry it did not come to their way,


Edited by Paa, 12 December 2021 - 23:14.


#11 garoidb

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Posted 12 December 2021 - 23:09

I have commented along these lines already in a different thread. Somewhat surprisingly, this was Mercedes first title decider race against another team, and so they have no experience of this kind of thing. I think they were risk averse, not wanting to lose track position above all else. In the past, I have thought that the potential for acrimony was the reason for this characteristic. In other words, there could be a blame culture and it could emanate from the time that the title was decided exclusively between their two cars. That was an unhealthy situation. This season was a new experience for them and it looks now like their team boss was feeling a lot of pressure. It is a bit surprising as they have won the last seven titles so you would think he would see the bigger picture, the longer game. In a title decider, it can go for you or against you and I would have expected Toto to be more even in his disposition. Someone on a different thread talked about Lewis treating those two imposters both the same - that kind of thing. Anyway, I think they were too conservative in their strategy, as has been seen from different teams in title deciders in previous years. They had bad luck but that can happen. I think the whole appeals process was not wise. They will abandon it pretty soon but it has made them seem like poor losers (not Lewis). I just think something is wrong in how they react (or don't) under pressure.



#12 Marklar

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Posted 12 December 2021 - 23:13

The VSC they definitely could have done differently. it was still out when he passed the pitlane for a 2nd time, if he was unlucky it would have ended midway through his stop but given his gap it may have still worked.

they absolutely couldnt do anything about the SC though, it looked way more likely that the race will end under SC than not

Pitting under the VSC would have given him about half as old tyres, would that have been enough? I have no idea


Edited by Marklar, 12 December 2021 - 23:14.


#13 ensign14

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Posted 12 December 2021 - 23:13

I think we know that, had Hamilton pitted under the “safety” car, and come out behind Verstappen, Masi would not have had one lap of green.

#14 Gareth

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Posted 12 December 2021 - 23:15

First VSC - choices are: (a) pit and be about 5s behind Max, on much fresher tyres; or (b) don't pit and be 17s ahead with older tyres. I thought at the time they should come in, but when you see how the race unfolded after the VSC (and before the SC) staying out was the right decision. The fresh tyres for Max were nowhere near enough for him to make up the gap. Hamilton was holding that gap pretty steady after the first 4 or 5 laps.

 

The SC - choices are: (a) pit and hope there is a lap or more of racing, and that you get by Max; or (b) don't pit and hope that there is either no racing or racing with backmarkers to cover your ass. Again, right decision IMO. Predicting that Masi would do what Masi did is proper Captain Hindsight stuff.

 

So I think both calls were correct.

 

Two things made the difference today: 1. not having another driver in the fight; and 2. Michael Masi. Merc's strategy calls were sound.



#15 Gareth

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Posted 12 December 2021 - 23:17

The VSC they definitely could have done differently. it was still out when he passed the pitlane for a 2nd time, if he was unlucky it would have ended midway through his stop but given his gap it may have still worked.

they absolutely couldnt do anything about the SC though, it looked way more likely that the race will end under SC than not

Pitting under the VSC would have given him about half as old tyres, would that have been enough? I have no idea

Pitting on the second tour:

 

1. would have seen the VSC end mid pitstop. Pretty sure he would have stopped behind

 

2. most importantly, would have given him no tyre delta at all - you risk track position, and a 17s lead, to potentially drop behind on the same tyres? No way.



#16 cpbell

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Posted 12 December 2021 - 23:17

I said during the VSC that they were daft not to change tyres.



#17 flyboym3

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Posted 12 December 2021 - 23:19

Strategy was perfect, I'm a big critic of their calls and even I would have made the same decisions given the track.

Unless I had a crystal ball of course.

#18 Shambolic

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Posted 12 December 2021 - 23:19

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#19 Paa

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Posted 12 December 2021 - 23:19

I think we know that, had Hamilton pitted under the “safety” car, and come out behind Verstappen, Masi would not have had one lap of green.

 

 

I think we do not know that, so this is just a malicious speculation.



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#20 HP

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Posted 12 December 2021 - 23:23

Mercedes, possibly because of historical reasons ( Alonso being stuck behind Petrov in AbuDhabi 2010 ) wanted to keep track position at all costs. It seemed to me their decision was based on that strategy. However how can a team not protect against 40+ laps old lap tyres vs softs?

 

Had they gone for a tyre change behind the VSC, they'd be possibly fine. Hamilton at that stage radioed "bit of a risk leaving me out, no?". At least he realized the dangers of the pit wall call. Tyres were old at the end of the race.

 

When Latifi crashed, the response of Hamilton's race engineer was "We would have lost track position" (had they changed tyres). Indeed they would and maybe they assumed that the race would end behind the SC, so they didn't, which was regardless of the discussion regarding the last lap, just the obvious, but not the only decision. Had the track been cleared a lap earlier, Verstappen would have cleared Hamilton anyway. 40+ laps old lap tyres vs softs. If not for the Masi call, Mercedes would have looked very amateurish .

 

But if for a tiny moment we throw away these assumptions, It should have been obvious that Hamilton on fresh soft tyres vs Verstappen's old tyres (not as old as Hamilton's at the stage though) was a good position to be in, IF the team had a little more faith in Hamilton's abilities. Also Verstappen is known to be defend very hard, and there was the real possibility that Verstappen overdid it out of desperation to keep his position, and collect some time related penalty.

 

Several times this year I felt Mercedes is running things without "thinking on their feet". They need to bring in more flexibility. Or just listen to Hamilton a little bit more would just do fine.


Edited by HP, 12 December 2021 - 23:27.


#21 midgrid

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Posted 12 December 2021 - 23:23

Red Bull had a large gap behind so could afford to keep on rolling the dice. The driver in that position will eventually secure an advantage.

#22 Paa

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Posted 12 December 2021 - 23:23

they absolutely couldnt do anything about the SC though, it looked way more likely that the race will end under SC than not

 

 

I'm not so sure about that. It was like 6-7 lap before the race end, I don't remember exactly. But it is around 15 minutes at SC pace.

 

Latifi's car was not in a difficult spot to remove and there were not too much debris around, no need to repair the barries etc. It looked like a 3 minute job to be honest. (not the whole SC procedure, but the cleaning itself) 



#23 Spillage

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Posted 12 December 2021 - 23:25

I think whether or not to pit under the SC was a horribly difficult choice but, ultimately, they got it wrong. Pitting for softs would have won Hamilton the title.

It's understandable and it was such a difficult call that an element of luck is involved, but in the end Red Bull got it right and Mercedes didn't.

#24 chrcol

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Posted 12 December 2021 - 23:25

I actually felt they made the best decision's possible.

 

In 99% of races with same crash at same time the race ends under SC.

 

Who could predict the RD would throw the rule book out the window?


Edited by chrcol, 12 December 2021 - 23:26.


#25 richardprice

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Posted 12 December 2021 - 23:27

Lets look at the possible outcomes:

1. Hamilton pits, Verstappen doesn't - we end up with a number of back markers between P1 and P2.  Outcome depends on what happens in the SC period.
2. Hamilton pits, Verstappen pits - no real difference in positions, both might be behind back markers.  Outcome depends on what happens in the SC period.

3. Hamilton doesn't pit, Verstappen doesn't pit - no different in positions, no back markers.  Outcome depends on what happens in the SC period.

4. Hamilton doesn't pit, Verstappen pits - what we ended up with.  Outcome depends on what happens in the SC period.

So it ultimately all comes down to what would have happened with the SC period ending.

If the SC period ending had been by the rules, then the race winner in the above scenarios would have probably been:

1. Verstappen
2. Hamilton
3. Hamilton
4. Hamilton

The options for the SC period affecting the outcome is thus:

a. the rules are rigidly followed, the timeline is the same (no superhuman effort to clear the accident and debris), back markers let through - race would have ended under the SC due to lack of time or laps remaining to satisfy the regulations, positions held.

b. the rules are rigidly followed, the timeline is the same, back markers not let through - race would run to end, back markers would have come into play, track position would have counted for a lot more than it did

c. the rules are not followed, an advantage is created

And if a red flag had been thrown instead, Mercedes would have changed the tyres anyway.

So, from a strategy point of view, Mercedes decision looks to be fine IMHO.  It wasn't a strategy disaster which caused the race to end the way it did.



#26 ensign14

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Posted 12 December 2021 - 23:27

I think we do not know that, so this is just a malicious speculation.

Given the way Masi deliberately ignored the rules to ensure his favourite was handed the title, I think we do.

#27 chrcol

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Posted 12 December 2021 - 23:27

I was yelling at the TV to pit Hamilton during the VSC, the lap after Verstappen. It would've been touch and go as to whether he rejoined in front of Max. This is the only thing I think they may have got wrong, and I'm not certain that it was wrong.

 

They couldn't have pitted during the SC as they would've lost track position with the threat of a SC finish.

 

RB had 'Free Hits' as far as the pit stops went.

 

Max would have been in front, VSC ended 3 seconds after Lewis passed the pit entrance.

 

Remember the interval gaps are inflated during VSC as they going slower, so the 22s gap was actually 17s.


Edited by chrcol, 12 December 2021 - 23:28.


#28 ARTGP

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Posted 12 December 2021 - 23:28

I actually felt they made the best decision's possible.

 

I agree, there wasn't any other decisions they could have made. Checo's defense cost Lewis almost 8 seconds and that set in motion every decision they could afford to make afterwards.

 

RB gambled because they had absolutely nothing to lose. It was a pure gamble. It paid off. 


Edited by ARTGP, 12 December 2021 - 23:30.


#29 schubacca

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Posted 12 December 2021 - 23:30

The VSC they definitely could have done differently. it was still out when he passed the pitlane for a 2nd time, if he was unlucky it would have ended midway through his stop but given his gap it may have still worked.

they absolutely couldnt do anything about the SC though, it looked way more likely that the race will end under SC than not

Pitting under the VSC would have given him about half as old tyres, would that have been enough? I have no idea

 

This is where I feel Merc floundered.



#30 TomNokoe

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Posted 12 December 2021 - 23:31

I thought they could've been braver in extending Hamilton's first stint. Bravery that would've been justified once Max was caught up behind Sainz. Bravery that may have made passing Perez slightly easier, thus giving him enough gap to pit later on.

I think their decision not to pit under VSC was correct and totally vindicated by the gap pre-SC.

Not pitting under SC also totally acceptable. You cannot throw away the lead of the title decider with five laps left.



#31 WelshSwan

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Posted 12 December 2021 - 23:32

Mercedes were in a no win situation whereas Red Bull could afford to gamble. Whatever they did with Lewis, RB were going to do the opposite. And in all honesty, IF Lewis had pitted under the SC, came out behind Max as a result, I can't honestly say whether Masi would have made the same call. 


Edited by WelshSwan, 12 December 2021 - 23:33.


#32 anyeis

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Posted 12 December 2021 - 23:33

The first stop after Max was not really necessary so soon. He was in traffic



#33 ANF

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Posted 12 December 2021 - 23:35

I still don't understand why they pitted Hamilton on lap 14 and dropped him behind Pérez. When Verstappen pitted on lap 13 he had a gap to Hamilton of about 6 seconds. You don't have to immediately protect against an undercut with a 6-second gap, do you? Hamilton could have stayed out in the lead on the medium tyre, waited for Pérez to pit on his softs, and maybe had some luck with a quick pit stop under (V)SC... Instead they brought him in on lap 14, gave up the lead and the tyre advantage they had had against Verstappen, and he was then held up by Pérez. I don't get it.



#34 Spillage

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Posted 12 December 2021 - 23:37

I guess they didn't pit because they were worried that the race would end under the safety car and that by pitting they'd surrender the title.

But I thought this about the way Mclren threw away the Russian GP - when you're in the lead it feels more comfortable to stick than to twist. Inaction is an easier choice than action even though not acting is also a conscious choice. I think on some psychologiscal level it allows you to decide that there's nothing more you could have done.

Whatever. If they'd pitted they'd have won the WDC. They seem more interested in protesting the result than digesting that fact, though.

#35 ANF

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Posted 12 December 2021 - 23:37

The first stop after Max was not really necessary so soon. He was in traffic

Right, Verstappen came out in traffic too! It makes even less sense!

#36 Shambolic

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Posted 12 December 2021 - 23:37

For once being comfortably in the lead was a bad thing, as it allowed the car behind to do whatever the leader didn't.



#37 chrcol

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Posted 12 December 2021 - 23:38

Mercedes were in a no win situation whereas Red Bull could afford to gamble. Whatever they did with Lewis, RB were going to do the opposite. And in all honesty, IF Lewis had pitted under the SC, came out behind Max as a result, I can't honestly say whether Masi would have made the same call. 

 

I think we may have got the last lap but with cars not unlapped, as I feel he changed his mind on that after RB lobbied.


Edited by chrcol, 12 December 2021 - 23:38.


#38 Paa

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Posted 12 December 2021 - 23:43

At the SC they were first to chose. It was basically a 50-50 chance, whether race will restart or not. They could have gone for new tyres, then Max would have stayed out being vulnerable at the restart.

It was their choice to make, Red Bull just followed them, doing the opposite.

 

They bet everything on finishing under SC and then started lobbying to make it happen. I think they overlooked that FIA will do everything to finish the grand finale under green conditions if possible, so I think this was a slight misjudgment from their part.(possibly making the restart scenario rather 66/33 instead of 50/50).  Of course they would have looked like an absolute fool if race did finish under SC and they gave up position, so it was not an easy choice to make.

However, I feel they just went with the more comfortable option and then got angry it did not come to their way,

 

 

BTW, with this post above I'm not suggesting they made a mistake by any mean.

I think they made sensible decisions during the whole race, maybe bit on the conservative side, but that is what you do with a pace advantage.

 

They were put in a position to take a gamble and they pulled the short straw. 

 

I just wanted to emphasize that they were in control making that choice. They could have forced Red Bull to the other way around. 


Edited by Paa, 12 December 2021 - 23:45.


#39 flyboym3

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Posted 12 December 2021 - 23:49

I still don't understand why they pitted Hamilton on lap 14 and dropped him behind Pérez. When Verstappen pitted on lap 13 he had a gap to Hamilton of about 6 seconds. You don't have to immediately protect against an undercut with a 6-second gap, do you? Hamilton could have stayed out in the lead on the medium tyre, waited for Pérez to pit on his softs, and maybe had some luck with a quick pit stop under (V)SC... Instead they brought him in on lap 14, gave up the lead and the tyre advantage they had had against Verstappen, and he was then held up by Pérez. I don't get it.

It's pretty standard to cover your main rival a lap after. Brawn did this with Schumacher all the time. An incorrect timed safety car with pitlane closed and the leader loses all their advantage and would be a pitstop behind.
Your discussing it on the premise that you could forsee the future.

Vowles has made some howlers and I would upgrade him but today there's nothing they could do unless they read could read the future which is ofc isba silly standard to judge them against.

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#40 HP

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Posted 12 December 2021 - 23:49

Lets look at the possible outcomes:

1. Hamilton pits, Verstappen doesn't - we end up with a number of back markers between P1 and P2.  Outcome depends on what happens in the SC period.
2. Hamilton pits, Verstappen pits - no real difference in positions, both might be behind back markers.  Outcome depends on what happens in the SC period.

3. Hamilton doesn't pit, Verstappen doesn't pit - no different in positions, no back markers.  Outcome depends on what happens in the SC period.

4. Hamilton doesn't pit, Verstappen pits - what we ended up with.  Outcome depends on what happens in the SC period.

So it ultimately all comes down to what would have happened with the SC period ending.

If the SC period ending had been by the rules, then the race winner in the above scenarios would have probably been:

1. Verstappen
2. Hamilton
3. Hamilton
4. Hamilton

The options for the SC period affecting the outcome is thus:

a. the rules are rigidly followed, the timeline is the same (no superhuman effort to clear the accident and debris), back markers let through - race would have ended under the SC due to lack of time or laps remaining to satisfy the regulations, positions held.

b. the rules are rigidly followed, the timeline is the same, back markers not let through - race would run to end, back markers would have come into play, track position would have counted for a lot more than it did

c. the rules are not followed, an advantage is created

And if a red flag had been thrown instead, Mercedes would have changed the tyres anyway.

So, from a strategy point of view, Mercedes decision looks to be fine IMHO.  It wasn't a strategy disaster which caused the race to end the way it did.

Your logic is sound. But there are different ways to calculate the odds. What I've seen over decades is that those who create their opportunities because they have nothing to lose more often win than not. That needs to be factored in when making strategic calls. Also the logic you present is doing nothing strategically to eliminate the worst case scenario. And Hamilton, as I pointed above in my post saw it coming during VSC. Changing tyres around the VSC, while having the faster car had, IMO, when you collect and consider more data, a more than 75% percent chance to be the successful strategic decision.


Edited by HP, 12 December 2021 - 23:54.


#41 TomNokoe

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Posted 12 December 2021 - 23:51

I should further add, if Hamilton had pit under the final SC, there's every chance we could have had a repeat of Jeddah where a competition red was flown and he lost track position.

#42 Paa

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Posted 13 December 2021 - 00:00

I should further add, if Hamilton had pit under the final SC, there's every chance we could have had a repeat of Jeddah where a competition red was flown and he lost track position.

 

 

It is very possible that this was at the back of the mind of Merc, affecting their decision.



#43 ANF

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Posted 13 December 2021 - 00:01

It's pretty standard to cover your main rival a lap after. Brawn did this with Schumacher all the time. An incorrect timed safety car with pitlane closed and the leader loses all their advantage and would be a pitstop behind.
Your discussing it on the premise that you could forsee the future.

Vowles has made some howlers and I would upgrade him but today there's nothing they could do unless they read could read the future which is ofc isba silly standard to judge them against.

Hmm, you're right. A safety car with a closed pit lane could have caught them out.

#44 noikeee

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Posted 13 December 2021 - 00:04

I think you can't really complain about Mercedes failing to guess a coin flip correctly.

#45 richardprice

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Posted 13 December 2021 - 00:07

Your logic is sound. But there are different ways to calculate the odds. What I've seen over decades is that those who create their opportunities because they have nothing to lose more often win than not. That needs to be factored in when making strategic calls. Also the logic you present is doing nothing strategically to eliminate the worst case scenario. And Hamilton, as I pointed above in my post saw it coming during VSC. Changing tyres around the VSC, while having the faster car had, IMO, when you collect and consider more data, a more than 75% percent chance to be the successful strategic decision.

Sorry, but the fact that you try and put any sort of "scientific" qualifications on the outcome here makes me instantly dismiss your opinion.

You say "when you collect and consider more data", which quite frankly is armchair statistics and I highly doubt that you have access to either the necessary mathematical degree nor the necessary quality of data to make any actual determination, especially one where you can say something like "more than 75% percent chance to be..."

In other words, you are just making it up and dressing it up with words - at least I didnt go any further in my post than a "probable" outcome.



#46 TomNokoe

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Posted 13 December 2021 - 00:07

This is nonsense Tom.


I would encourage you to watch the footage again.

#47 goldenboy

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Posted 13 December 2021 - 00:13

They didn't really have a choice. Nothing wrong with their strategy calls.



#48 andyscoot

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Posted 13 December 2021 - 00:15

This was nailed on for a red flag or finish under the SC based on basically every race with a late incident that's gone before.

Merc would have pitted and lost track position, looking like goons in the process. Meanwhile Max could pit, knowing that if it does end up finishing under the SC he loses nothing.

P2 was absolutely a benefit from a strategy perspective.

#49 HP

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Posted 13 December 2021 - 00:28

Sorry, but the fact that you try and put any sort of "scientific" qualifications on the outcome here makes me instantly dismiss your opinion.

You say "when you collect and consider more data", which quite frankly is armchair statistics and I highly doubt that you have access to either the necessary mathematical degree nor the necessary quality of data to make any actual determination, especially one where you can say something like "more than 75% percent chance to be..."

In other words, you are just making it up and dressing it up with words - at least I didnt go any further in my post than a "probable" outcome.

Let's examine your logic further. Of your 4 choices, 2 are not important for strategic consideration. The key issue is we know RBR has to do the opposite. Those where both teams do the same can be taken out of the equation. Pitting there is however always the chance for an issue with the changing for tyres, but you are not interested in those details. So lets move on. We are down to a 50/50 choice.

 

We can reduce the strategic call to one question then: To pit or not to pit? What RBR is doing is a given, doing the opposite. So what do you prefer to be in front with a car shod with 40+ laps old, hard tyres vs. fresh softs? Or behind fresh soft tyres vs. old ~18 lap old, hard tyres? With 2021 spec car and tyres, I'd choose to be behind all the time.

 

EDIT: Hamilton had that good of a car, that he managed to get ahead of Verstappen at the start. Hamilton on his Q2 mediums, Verstappen on his Q2 softs. We know however that when tires are too old, they quickly, and without much warning start to lose performance. Main point here is, Hamilton managed to get past with fresh tyres. So why wouldn't he be able to pull it off, even much easier?


Edited by HP, 13 December 2021 - 00:44.


#50 Anderis

Anderis
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Posted 13 December 2021 - 00:30

The strategy calls were neither great nor terrible.

 

They were caught between a rock and a hard place. Red Bull didn't have other cars in their pit window so they could afford free pit stops without any setbacks. Latifi's crash was at the worst possible moment. One lap later and the race would've ended behind SC. A few lap earlier and it would've been clear there would be some racing laps left and maybe pitting was an option. If they pitted and the race ended behind SC, they would've looked ridiculous. Like Monaco 2015, but worse.