Singapore Grand Prix strategy report

GP SINGAPORE F1/2016 Raikkonen Ferrari pitstop

Race 15 – 61 Laps – 5.065km per lap – 308.828km race distance – low tyre wear

Singapore GP F1 Strategy Report Podcast – our host Michael Lamonato is joined by James Allenfrom JA on F1.

Some will say the Singapore Grand Prix kicked off and ended in dramatic fashion, but the mid-part was a little dull. For those interested in strategy, that’s far from the case.

The Marina Bay Street Circuit hosted a fascinating race, with Nico Rosberg just holding off Daniel Ricciardo to take the win and snatch back the top spot in the drivers’ standings. Lewis Hamilton rounded out the podium after beating Kimi Raikkonen.

Singapore saw a whole host of great drives up and down the field, including Sebastian Vettel’s charge from last to fifth and Kevin Magnussen snatching a point with 10th. We saw a diverse range of strategies used during the race, here were the main headlines.

Qualifying strategy

Red Bull was the only team to do something different and take a risk in Q2, with both Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen setting their best time on the super-soft tyre. They made it through to Q3, meaning they were the only drivers in the top 10 to start on the red-marked Pirelli tyre.

It showed how confident Red Bull felt at the Marina Bay track, with the RB12 being well-suited to the layout. It’s hard to really tell just how much of an advantage it gave them, but the gap between the super-softs and ultra-softs wasn’t massive and it helped both drivers be in better shape at the end of the opening stints.

Aggressive tyre stints

Ferrari opted for quite an aggressive strategy with Vettel to help him move up the field from last on the grid after a problem in qualifying. The German driver started on the softs for a long first stint, helping him pick off the stragglers, before two shorter ultra-soft stints to aggressively weave up the order.

It worked well and was one of the alternative strategies in the race. Red Bull went for a super-soft/super-soft to kick off the race, which helped him to eke out an advantage over the chasing Hamilton. The Mercedes driver felt the soft tyre was the wrong call and it caused him to lose touch of the RBR car.

Perez goes long

Once again we saw a Force India going for several long stints on the soft tyre. Sergio Perez opted for two long segments on the yellow-marked Pirelli compound, having ditched the ultra-soft for the early safety car (ironically caused by his team-mate Nico Hulkenberg). It saw him make steady progress up to eighth and was effectively a two-stop, as the safety car stop was pretty much free.

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Merc triggers a big strategy move

Mercedes turned the race on its head when it pitted Hamilton on lap 45 to try and get back ahead of Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari. Stopping one lap earlier and with fresh super-softs helped him move ahead of the Iceman, with Ferrari reacting to put Raikkonen on the ultra-softs.

This didn’t look like a particularly great call. He did close in on Hamilton towards the end of the race but struggled to close the gap early in the stint and this harmed his challenge. Red Bull then seemingly reacted by pitting Ricciardo, maybe feeling threatened by the pace of the Mercedes and Ferrari cars.

It looks like that’s what happened, anyway. Ricciardo could’ve gone to the end on the softs but that would’ve put his second place under threat from the closing Hamilton and Raikkonen. In the end it saw him quickly cut the gap to Rosberg, who did stay out. But he just ran out of time on his super-softs. It proved to be an awesome finish to the race though.

Toro Rosso too conservative?

Daniil Kvyat looked in good form in Singapore and even said Toro Rosso was too conservative on their strategy, which saw him pit for ultra-softs on lap 15 and then go for two super-soft stints, switching tyres on lap 37. He felt possibly challenging Fernando Alonso for seventh was on the cards if they’d been a bit more aggressive, maybe following McLaren with an earlier second stint and move to the softs. The car looked quick so it could’ve been possible.

The undercut works well

As always in Singapore, the undercut worked well with the warm track conditions and gap between the tyre compounds, coupled with the step up in tyre nominations. We saw several times that pitting earlier worked a treat, particularly with Hamilton and Raikkonen.

Ricciardo also stopped one lap before Rosberg and this put him closer to the Mercedes, but the Red Bull driver was on the medium-nominated tyre. He could’ve stayed out a few laps longer and then elongated his middle stint, to give him fresher softs for a final drive to the flag on the same compound as Rosberg – this could’ve worked better. But again, Red Bull had to react to those behind them in this case and it almost paid off.

Jack Leslie @JackLeslieF1

Longest Stints

Soft: Perez (36 laps)
Supersoft: Kvyat (24 laps)
Ultrasoft: Wherlein (24 laps)

Most Stops

Ericsson, Massa, Verstappen, Hamilton, Raikkonen, Ricciardo, Ocon, Sainz (3)

All the Data

Thanks to Pirelli Motorsport for the detailed infographics
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Stints by Driver

SCSafety Car
Lap 1-2

 

RedAss-Black-top3. Ricciardo
Start P2
Used Supersoft15 lapsPit 28.89
Supersoft17 lapsPit 28.921
Soft15 lapsPit 28.662
Supersoft14 laps
Finished P2 (+0)

 

Stallion-Black-top5. Vettel
Start P22
Soft24 lapsPit 28.924
Ultrasoft18 lapsPit 29.391
Ultrasoft19 laps
Finished P5 (+17)

 

Mercury-Black-top6. Rosberg
Start P1
Used Ultrasoft16 lapsPit 30.546
Soft17 lapsPit 28.97
Soft28 laps
Finished P1 (+0)

 

Stallion-Black-top7. Raikkonen
Start P5
Used Ultrasoft17 lapsPit 29.041
Supersoft16 lapsPit 29.135
Soft13 lapsPit 28.954
Used Ultrasoft15 laps
Finished P4 (+1)

 

Hars-Black-top8. Grosjean
Start P20
Soft0 laps
Retired L0 (DNF)

 

Saucer-Black-top9. Ericsson
Start P14
Ultrasoft8 lapsPit 29.706
Supersoft17 lapsPit 29.468
Ultrasoft11 lapsPit 29.68
Used Soft24 laps
Finished P17 (-3)

 

RageR-Black-top11. Perez
Start P17
Used Ultrasoft1 lapsPit 32.821
Soft24 lapsPit 28.742
Soft36 laps
Finished P8 (+9)

 

Saucer-Black-top12. Nasr
Start P16
Supersoft17 lapsPit 30.297
Supersoft18 lapsPit 29.537
Soft25 laps
Finished P13 (+3)

 

McLaren-Black-top14. Alonso
Start P9
Used Ultrasoft14 lapsPit 29.401
Supersoft20 lapsPit 30.381
Soft27 laps
Finished P7 (+2)

 

Franks-Black-top19. Massa
Start P11
Used Ultrasoft16 lapsPit 28.682
Supersoft12 lapsPit 29.578
Ultrasoft15 lapsPit 29.903
Used Ultrasoft17 laps
Finished P12 (-1)

 

Renboat-Black-top20. Magnussen
Start P15
Ultrasoft17 lapsPit 28.759
Supersoft21 lapsPit 29.754
Supersoft23 laps
Finished P10 (+5)
Hars-Black-top21. Guttierrez
Start P13
Ultrasoft18 lapsPit 30.307
Used Ultrasoft18 lapsPit 30.16
Soft24 laps
Finished P11 (+2)

 

McLaren-Black-top22. Button
Start P12
Ultrasoft1 lapsPit 42.815
Supersoft14 lapsPit 28.998
Ultrasoft12 lapsPit 29.025
Soft16 laps
Retired L43 (DNF)

 

Burro-Black-top26. Kvyat
Start P7
Used Ultrasoft15 lapsPit 30.301
Supersoft22 lapsPit 29.205
Used Supersoft24 laps
Finished P9 (-2)

 

RageR-Black-top27. Hulkenberg
Start P8
Soft0 laps
Retired L0 (DNF)

 

Renboat-Black-top30. Palmer
Start P18
Supersoft11 lapsPit 28.847
Supersoft23 lapsPit 28.804
Soft26 laps
Finished P15 (+3)

 

RedAss-Black-top33. Verstappen
Start P4
Used Supersoft13 lapsPit 28.815
Supersoft14 lapsPit 28.948
Supersoft17 lapsPit 28.854
Soft17 laps
Finished P6 (-2)

 

Mercury-Black-top44. Hamilton
Start P3
Used Ultrasoft15 lapsPit 29.15
Soft19 lapsPit 28.421
Soft11 lapsPit 28.315
Used Supersoft16 laps
Finished P3 (+0)

 

Burro-Black-top55. Sainz
Start P6
Used Ultrasoft7 lapsPit 29.846
Used Supersoft20 lapsPit 29.32
Soft28 lapsPit 29.377
Used Ultrasoft5 laps
Finished P14 (-8)

 

Franks-Black-top77. Bottas
Start P10
Ultrasoft1 lapsPit 32.709
Soft14 lapsPit 28.78
Supersoft15 lapsPit 28.545
Used Ultrasoft2 lapsPit 1:03.680
Used Ultrasoft3 laps
Retired L35 (DNF)

 

Manner-Black-top31. Ocon
Start P21
Ultrasoft19 lapsPit 1:44.383
Ultrasoft15 lapsPit 30.614
Supersoft11 lapsPit 42.368
Supersoft14 laps
Finished P18 (+3)

 

Manner-Black-top94. Wehrlein
Start P19
Ultrasoft18 lapsPit 30.532
Supersoft18 lapsPit 30.471
Ultrasoft24 laps
Finished P16 (+3)

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