Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: Team-by-team

Posted on November 18, 2011

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Red Bull-Renault

Sebastian Vettel (ret.): Led from the start, and had a puncture at turn two. We’ll never know how fast he would have been.

Mark Webber (4th): Had the pace to get on the podium given Button’s KERS problems. Lost time in the first pit stop dropped him behind Massa – never sussed the DRS zones and always failed to stay ahead. Ran out of tyres earlier than the others in the second stint at a stage where a three stop was still competitive – would probably have been fast enough on the mediums that he probably lost a few seconds with the extra stop, but it did mean that he didn’t need to pass Massa on track. Once again a mystery how he didn’t finish higher.

McLaren-Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton (1st): Missed pole when a clear favourite, but that became moot as soon as he missed the spinning Vettel. Had enough to keep Alonso at bay on the soft tyres, and was comfortably faster on the medium tyres at the end. Great win, and no penalties.

Jenson Button (3rd): Jumped by Alonso at the start, and was more concerned with Webber behind than looking forward, even before KERS problems from about lap 12. Always had Massa handled, and was fortunate that Massa provided a buffer to Webber. Third was as good as it was going to get.

Ferrari

Fernando Alonso (2nd): Great start to run second, and from early on was in a two-car race for the win. Tried to go long at the second stops, but even with losing some time behind Ricciardo on the way into the pits, it was never on, and he took a comfortable second place. The weakness of the red cars on the hard tyres was again apparent, but Alonso was taking it easy in the final stint as his pace on the medium tyres was much closer to Massa’s.

Felipe Massa (5th): Was competitive with Button and Webber as they held each other up, although not quite as quick. A full 0.7s per lap slower than his team mate, he was nearly caught by Rosberg at the end due to a half-spin. Massa was 0.4s per lap faster than Rosberg on underlying pace, but the Mercedes had new tyres in the second stint, and so was about a match on pace. Under pressure – Ferrari’s pace advantage over Mercedes is disguising his problems.

Mercedes

Michael Schumacher (7th): Put in his place by his team mate, and reasonably fortunate to finish ahead of Sutil’s Force India. Started on tyres which had done two qualifying runs – so was passed by Rosberg on the opening lap, although his robust defence of the position came close to causing a diplomatic incident. Sutil was on similarly old tyres, but having the buffer of Di Resta on the harder tyres behind held up any potential opposition. Much faster in the second stint on new tyres, although now behind Sutil (also on new tyres). Ran longer to the second stops, but only got out ahead as Sutil was slow on his opening laps on the harder tyres. Had a slow puncture at the end, but lost no pace – otherwise Sutil would have been past.

Nico Rosberg (6th): Once past Schumacher had a lonely race to sixth. Got close to Massa at the end, due to a lack of pace from the Ferrari at the end of his second stint. A very good performance.

Renault

Bruno Senna (16th): Started on harder tyres and went for a lap one tyre stop reckoning on 27 laps for a set of softs. Always ambitious, this showed either bad pace on the harder tyres (his team mate was slow) or a roll of the dice knowing they didn’t have the inherent pace to do well. Fell about 8 laps short of the needed stint length. Picked up a drive through (blue flags) and the team decided to not to stop again – probably because of the penalty. Would have been much, much better off stopping again – lost 40s to Maldonado in the last 16 laps alone. Unfathomable.

Vitaly Petrov (13th): At the end of the first stint he was a contender for points, despite losing 10s in the queue behind the medium-tyre-shod Di Resta. Lost 4.5s in two laps before his first stop, and then had a horrible 16 lap stint on the medium tyres. His pace on the soft tyres in the final stint was excellent – if they had shortened his middle stint by 6 laps, he would have been challenging Kobayashi for a point. It seems that they were trying to one stop on desperately slow tyres from way out – maybe it’s hindsight, but I can’t figure out how they came to that decision. Not a good strategy day for the Renault boys.

Williams-Cosworth

Rubens Barrichello (12th): After a really promising race performance in India which went unnoticed, this race just goes to show that the headlines are misleading. He did all he could to come 12th from the back row, but the result flatters the pace of the Williams as they had new tyres and the midfield lost a lot of time behind Di Resta on his harder tyres. Good drive, but the car wasn’t quick.

Pastor Maldonado (14th): Also started on the back row, but was never in touch with Barrichello. One-stopped, which was the slower strategy, and got himself a drive through. Suffered from the same lack of inherent pace.

Force India

Adrian Sutil (8th): So close to beating a Mercedes – in fact it’s not easy to see how he lost out. It wasn’t until the second stint that he will have realised that Schumacher also had very used tyres in the first stint and new tyres in the second stint – these two in close company throughout were the only cars on this strategy. Although an interesting approach to Q3, judging by Rosberg’s relative pace having two sets of tyres on one qualifying run each would have been marginally faster. Ran out of tyres before the Mercedes losing a couple of seconds, and didn’t pick up the pace quickly in the final stint (perhaps fuel saving). It was just enough for Schumacher to beat him.

Paul di Resta (9th): Defined the midfield race by starting on the harder tyres and managing to hold up Petrov and two Toro Rossos. Force India had good pace, but seemed to be worried about a safety car that never came  so hedged their bets by one-stopping the second car. Two-stopping with a first stop at about lap 15-20 would have been much faster, and could have got him close to the battle ahead. In the end, it didn’t cost, but that’s partly because few of the midfield got the strategy right.

Sauber-Ferrari

Kamui Kobayashi (10th): Started on the harder tyres and stopped on lap six after losing a few places. Had to fight back through traffic, which lost some time, but given the pace of the harder tyres he ran the closest to the optimum strategy of all the cars in the race. Had good pace to go with it, but not as good as his team mate. Having the right strategy won the race for the final point. Did well.

Sergio Perez (11th): Must be kicking himself. Got ahead of Di Resta at the start to chase the Schumacher/Sutil train on their used tyres. Hit Sutil breaking his front wing resulting in an early switch to the harder tyres, and a compromised strategy with only one further stop. The long stint on the slower tyres cost dear as the Mexican had excellent pace. Didn’t quite make the tyres last to stay in the hunt for a point. But if he hadn’t broken the front wing his pace was good enough to stay with Sutil and Schumacher for the duration – it would have been a question of how many points he took home.

Toro Rosso-Ferrari

Sebastian Buemi (ret.): Doesn’t have the luck running for him at the moment. Ahead of Alguersuari, he was part of the train being held up by Di Resta. Finally got past, having lost a lot of time, but a two stop would have kept him competitive with the Scot’s one stopper. Almost certainly would have claimed the final point.

Jaime Alguersuari (15th): Ran behind Petrov and Buemi in the first stint in the Di Resta train. A very long pitstop dropped him back, and there were claims that he would have scored a point without the problem. The underlying pace doesn’t support this, as the Saubers were as quick and weren’t held up in the first stint. Demonstrated to Renault that stopping again was the correct move as he went past Senna easily in the last stint.

Lotus-Renault

Heikki Kovalainen (17th): Very similar pattern to the previous races, but not quite as competitive here. One of the few cars to start on brand new soft tyres, took full advantage to run ahead of the medium-tyred Williams and the early stopping Saubers. The middle stint on used softs showed the Lotus’ real pace, and he dropeed back at about 1.5s per lap on the midfield. Less good than it looked.

Jarno Trulli (18th): Miles behind Kovalainen (0.6s per lap) and miles ahead of Glock (1.0s per lap). Had some problems which resulted in his being very slow on the harder tyres at the end. Didn’t make any difference, though.

HRT-Cosworth

Daniel Ricciardo (ret.): Again, on race pace, was faster than the Virgins, but was held up by his one-stopping team mate in the first stint. Once he stopped, his pace showed, and he was chasing Glock in the second stint. Stopped earlier, and so lost touch with the Virgin, and then lost the alternator.

Vitantonio Liuzzi (20th): Better than of late. Ran ahead of Ricciardo and D’Ambrosio in the first stint, was hard done by to be put on a one-stop. His pace was slow – about 1s down on his team mate, but he did well on the harder tyres, and brought the car home.

Virgin-Cosworth

Timo Glock (19th): The car is the slowest in the field. Caught by Ricciardo in the middle stint, he kept ahead as he got the tyres to last longer. Probably had the HRT beaten before its retirement. Finishing within 30s of Trulli sounds OK, but Kovalainen nearly lapped him.

Jerome D’Ambrosio (ret.) Brought up the rear once passed by the Saubers in the first stint. Seemed to have the pace to beat Liuzzi, but never got to show it.

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