Tactical check GP Abu Dhabi 2017

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Tactical check GP Abu Dhabi 2017
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D he Pirelli tire scheme for all cars says it all . 16 of the 20 drivers started the last Grand Prix of the year with ultrasoft tires, and they crossed the finish line on super soft soles. These include places 1 to 13. There has never been so much agreement among the strategists.

Only the Sauber drivers and Brendon Hartley reversed the sequence of the tires. They too came with a stop over the distance. Only Lance Stroll struck out of line. The Canadian didn't get his tires to work. He pitted three times.

At least the timing of the pit stops was different. The drivers with the Ultrasoft-supersoft sequence pitted between laps 12 (Vandoorne) and 32 (Grosjean). The faction that started the race with supersoft tires didn't stay longer either.

The last of the alternatives was Marcus Ericsson on lap 30 in front of the Sauber garage. It cannot even be said that this tactic was wrong. Pascal Wehrlein was at least 14th. With this strategy, the Sauber drove with the Toro Rosso and HaasF1. The Mercedes strategists admitted: 'It was the easiest race from the pit wall to Monza.'

Only 15 overtaking maneuvers in 55 laps

Abu Dhabi only offers many overtaking spots on paper . But mostly the two long straights are too short for the drivers. Race track designer Hermann Tilke knows what needs to be changed on his track: “The curves that lead into the straights are too slow. The man in front has a time advantage of two tenths when accelerating. To catch up, the DRS zones would have to be longer or the curves in front of them faster. ”

The delta for a successful overtaking maneuver was calculated to be 1.4 seconds. At 0.8 seconds one speaks of a fair chance of overtaking. The DRS advantage on the Yas Marina Circuit is only 6 tenths. In addition, the tires hardly degrade. 'There are not enough differences in grip,' complained the engineers and drivers.

Neither undercut nor overcut work in Abu Dhabi. Most of the time, the drivers came out of the pits in the same order in which they drove in. “An old ultrasoft tire was no slower than a fresh one. So it didn't really matter to Lewis that we had to pit Valtteri three laps ahead of him, ”say the Mercedes strategists. Before the Mercedes tire changes, the gap was 2.6 seconds,Then the two Silver Arrows were separated by 1.8 seconds.

A total of 22 pit stops and 15 overtaking maneuvers were counted. Given the already hopeless situation, how should one expect Hamilton to simply get past Bottas? With two opponents sitting in the same car and almost equally fast.

'What I won in the slipstream on the two straights, I lost again in sector 3,' complained Hamilton. The constant driving behind at intervals of 1.5 seconds stressed the rear tires over time. That's why Hamilton fell behind in the end. “Valtteri could take better care of his tires. He then set them on fire when he needed them, ”explain the strategists.

Straight lines to cool the tires

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Vettel quickly lost touch with the Mercedes train at the top.

It was surprising that Mercedes had a big lead over Ferrari and Red Bull. The Mercedes engineers hadn't expected that either. Not on a track for maximum downforce. “The first signs were on Friday in the long runs, but we assumed a tenth for Ferrari and a little more for Red Bull. The picture on Saturday was somehow normal. It's not that we've improved more than usual. The others didn't get faster than usual towards Q3. In the race the difference was much bigger than expected. ”

The explanation for this? The technicians try a comparison with Singapore: “Also a night race, also asphalt temperatures of around 30 degrees. From our side, the same wheelbase, the same downforce. But much less straight. The tires never have time to recover in Singapore. They overheat easily. In Abu Dhabi they get hot after the fast bend at the beginning of the lap, but can then cool down nicely on the straights. '

' In sector 3, too, there are always short straights in between and three right-hand bends are followed by two Left turns, which gives the inner tire the opportunity to cool down. Ferrari shouldn't have had a problem with the tire temperatures. Certainly not in the race. At Red Bull we saw the same thing in qualifying as in Brazil. The tires fell out the window. ”The answer for thatis simple: Red Bull reduced downforce so as not to lose too much time on the straight. But the cars skidded in the curves. And the tires protested.

The tire change turned out to be a break in the race for the top trio. When Sebastian Vettel got rid of his ultra-soft tires after 20 laps, he was 8.1 seconds behind Valtteri Bottas. Ten laps later it was already 13.6 seconds. Kimi Raikkonen and Max Verstappen also lost a lot of time on the Silver Arrows at the time. Everyone had to save fuel. Not the Mercedes drivers.

Hülkenberg's lead compensated for pit mishaps

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Hulkenberg was able to keep ahead of Force India.

The season finale was not very exciting. After his overtaking maneuver against Seregio Perez, Nico Hülkenberg had to shorten the route for a five-second penalty. When Hulkenberg was 7.8 seconds ahead of Perez, Force India pulled the plug. For free. The undercut didn't work. Although Hulkenberg left 7.9 seconds more time in the pit lane. First the penalty, then problems with the right rear wheel. The Renault nevertheless got onto the track just before Force India.

Since Perez's pit stop was an enforced measure to overtake Hülkenberg, Force India changed plans at Esteban Ocon. The Frenchman was kept on the track for 31 laps. “We were hoping for a safety car, but it didn't come. That would have given us 10 seconds, ”said Force India sporting director Otmar Szafnauer.

Ocon was eighth and stayed eighth. Romain Grosjean benefited from waiting until lap 32 to change tires. The HaasF1 driver had the speed on the used ultrasoft tires to make up for the freshly tyred Supersoft league. It wasn't enough for points though.

The undercut was only good for Fernando Alonso. The Spaniard came into the pits one lap before Felipe Massa and had stored his entire energy budget for the one lap after the pit stop. At first the plan seemed to go wrong. Massa got back in line in front of Alonso.

But on the long straight the McLaren driver struck. With a Honda engine against Mercedes power. But full against zeroBattery power, as Williams technical director Paddy Lowe confirmed. Not even a Mercedes engine can make up for the 163 hp difference.

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