As usual, Pirelli made a mistake. The Italian tire manufacturer has predicted a quick race to finish a stop race. Before the start, Mercedes strategists warned: “This will be a two-stop race. It was like that in the end. Only four of the 17 drivers in the finish line crossed the 70 mark with a tire change. And the best took fifth place.
Both stops were fast. But it depends on who accepted the three prizes during the race and who did not. This direction provided drivers with two VSC stages and a real safety car. The stop under VSC speed was nine seconds faster than the racing speed in Montreal. Sergio Perez and Mick Schumacher each triggered the VSC phase in rounds 9 and 19. Both finished eighth due to a technical glitch.
Yuki brought out Sunoda’s bit exit crash safety car. Ferrari Racing Director Mattia Binotto criticized the racing management: “Once again it took them a long time to make a decision. We had exactly one second to decide with Science. Fortunately our boys responded enthusiastically, otherwise Carlos would have passed the entrance to the pit.”
Four drivers use the first VSC gift
Only Max Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton, Yuki Tsuonda and Nicholas Latifi received the first VSC prize in Round 9. So it was clear to her: it would be a two-stop match. Early time encouraged access to many. There was a risk of falling too deep in the field and starving on the TRS train. That’s why Mercedes only brought Hamilton into the pit. He fell into an empty gap behind his teammates and Stephen O’Connor.
Red Bull pulled Max Verstappen as his front tires started to grain and Carlos Science closed the gap to the head. The damage to Verstappen was minor. He was pushed to third place behind Fernando Alonso, who was known to not fight much. Alonso had said before the race that it made no sense to burn his tires in a fight against Red Bull and Ferrari. They are not his enemies.
At the second VSC signal, seven drivers caught it. For George Russell, Stephen O’Connor, Guanyu Cho, Daniel Ricciardo, Sebastian Vettel and Lando Norris, the prize was timely. Even if you know later that it’s not a good idea, you can try to drive through it without stopping again from there.
Science VSC gets only half of the benefit
Carlos Science caught only half of the VSC stage, so only 50 percent benefited. In addition, the comparison with Verstappen, who unveiled his tire, changed the previous VSC phase. The world champion went 2.649 seconds ahead and 6.407 seconds behind. Makes a net time loss of 9.036 seconds.
Science took the lead in 4.362 seconds at its first stop. He was then 9.492 seconds behind. The Ferrari driver lost to his opponent in the Red Bull in 13.854 seconds. He made up for some of this secondarily by thanking for the new tires. Science reduced the interval to 22 rounds to 5.945 seconds. Creates an advantage of 0.16 seconds at a time. In the end it didn’t matter. The safety car in the fold 49 reduced all gaps to zero.
For Alonso, the timing of the second VSC phase was very unfortunate. First, Alpine wanted to last at least 25 laps on medium tires. The second VSC changed the plan. But when Alonso was long straight in front of the pit entrance, the racing director again showed the green light.
Second in the qualifying round, he had to stand out for eight long laps in the first set of tires and lost 7.6 seconds to teammate Okan in the new, tougher tires. Part of the time lost is not just in the tires. The pneumatic valve system lost air. That cost performance.
Ferrari’s fear of Hamilton
The final safety car arrived too late in the lap 49. It was too late for Charles Leklerk, the stopper in the ditch to change tires on the 41st lap. It was too late for Mercedes drivers to make the second stop at 44 and 45 mph. “Louise had to go inside. His tires were gone. We could have waited a little longer with George, but you can no longer guess a security car on a particular lap,” the strategists explained.
Red Bull pulled the rip card below racing speed. Science had eleven laps tire favor. The risk of the rear tires not hitting the end was very high. So Verstappen gave up the lead and stored another hard tire for the remaining 27 rounds.
5.9 seconds ahead 10.8 seconds behind. But 23 laps younger tires. Not just looking at the Ferrari Verstappen. “Even without the safety car, we would have thought of bringing Carlos into the pit a second time to protect ourselves against Luis,” Pinoto reveals.
Red Bull and Ferrari Mercedes drivers have sometimes noticed that they are just as fast as the best drivers. “Our front gap was always the same. At about seven-tenths,” the Mercedes engineers made it all clear. “We had less tire wear than the Red Bull and Ferrari. It showed us better on older tires.”
Why Science Doesn’t Use Medium Tires?
For Carlos Sainz, Esteban Ocon, Valtteri Bottas, Guanyu Zhou, Daniel Ricciardo and Alexander Albon, neutrality after the Tsunoda crash was a relief or at least a welcome opportunity to store new tires for the final sprint.
On the other hand, Verstappen cursed: “It changed me from an attacker to a defender. I like to attack.” Red Bull firmly believed that without the safety car, her husband would have caught the sign at ten lanes. Pinoto said: “It would have been tight.”
Verstappen’s six laps tire defect was not really important in the final. If Ferrari had put the sign on the middle tires it would definitely have been tighter for him. Spaniard may have managed a six-tenths delta in the lap after the restart.
But the Ferrari number was too hot. It was assumed that the safety car life would be shorter and the residual life of the tires would be longer. And a fear of potential grains in the front tires. It took up to lap 55 for the race to resume. If Ferrari had known, it would have been worth the risk.
Leclerc with traction problems
According to Charles Leckler, Ferrari’s strategic software ranked fifth as a possible outcome. Mercedes calculates differently. “All of our computational models assume that Leklerk will end up in front of us.” Nobody cares: Leklerk had trouble getting ahead and was always stuck behind Okan. Leclerc had the new rear wing on the car, which gives the best TRS effect.
However, the driver in third place complained of poor traction and problems with differentiation. George Russell showed the importance of good acceleration outside of Harbin. The Englishman drove the biggest wing on the field and could not really overtake it. But the # 63 Mercedes brakes were very stable and had good traction, with Russell knocking out two Haas and Okan within five laps.
Will we come to our question at the beginning of the story? Who made the best use of VSC and SC phases? Of the four stops, only Valteri Potos got the safety car. Charles Lecklerk, Lance Stroll and Kevin Magnussen were stopped at racing speed. Potass is a big beneficiary. With a normal tire change, he would have fallen behind the Leclerc-Zhou-Ricciardo-Vettel team. Missing the security car but still got one point to browse.
Of the two stoppers, Carlos Science, Stephen O’Connor, Guanyu Cho, Daniel Ricciardo and Alexander Alphonse had good intuition. On paper. Did it do them any good? At least it didn’t hurt anyone. The second VSC phase moved him forward and Ocon benefited greatly as the security car gave him protection.
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