Why McLaren couldn’t keep Webber behind Hamilton (Singapore GP analysis)

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During the race it looked as though McLaren missed an opportunity to get Lewis Hamilton in front of Mark Webber. But taking a look at the data it’s clear they never had the chance.

Once again we saw several drivers able to go virtually the entire race distance without pitting for tyres. Such as Felipe Massa, whose unconventional strategy was scuppered by an early safety car.

Lap 1

Lap one position change

Before the race Sebastian Vettel said that as a new track cleaning machine was being used at Singapore he didn’t think starting off-line would be as great a disadvantage.

So it proved as both he and Jenson Button got a better start from the ‘dirty’ side of the grid than the cars they were alongside. Neither were able to make a pass stick, however.

From the pictures of the start of the race it’s clear much less dirt and dust was thrown up by the cars than was the case last year.

Jaime Alguersuari qualified 11th but started from the pit lane due to a water leak.

Pit stops

Pit stop strategies

Once again, plenty of drivers were able to make very early stops for tyres and run to the end of the race without a further pit stop.

Bridgestone brought the super-soft and soft tyres to this race last year. Had they done the same this year instead of swapping the soft for the medium it might have been harder for drivers to use such strategies.

NB. Adrian Sutil, Sebastien Buemi, Vitaly Petrov, Nico Hulkenberg and Heikki Kovalainen’s lap three pit stops all appear to be missing from the list of pit stops published by the FIA.

Race progress

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Tick/untick drivers’ names to show their laps, click and drag to zoom

Schooner asked one of the big strategic questions of the race:

I seem to recall that Hamilton, at some point after the first safety car, was some 22 or 23 seconds ahead of Webber. With Webber surely to close that gap after he got by Barrichello, I was expecting to see Hamilton come in for his new rubber at that stage, possibly getting out ahead of Webber.

By waiting as long as they did, no way was that going to happen. A tactical error by McLaren, in my opinion.

It’s a fair question but Hamilton was never actually far enough ahead of Webber to be able to make his pit stop and get back out in front.

He lost 29.3 seconds to Webber when he pitted, and as you can see from the chart above he never had that much of an advantage. His lead over Webber peaked at 24.253s on lap 23.

The only way McLaren could have kept Hamilton in front of Webber would have been to pit him (or Button) on lap three when Webber came in as well.

This underlines how big a gamble it was for Webber to pit that early, and how well he made it work by passing Kamui Kobayashi and Michael Schumacher.

If those two drivers hadn’t made their mistakes at turn three which allowed Webber to pass them, his gamble would not have paid off.

Lap chart

Lap chart

Post-race penalties for Sutil and Hulkenberg promoted Massa from tenth to eighth after he’d started 24th.

But little of his progress came as a result of overtaking moves outside of the first lap. His significant gains of position away from pit stops came at the expense of Vitaly Petrov and Timo Glock when they were pushed wide by other rivals.

Ferrari’s strategy of pitting him on lap one would probably have worked much better for him had so many other drivers not pitted lap three.

2010 Singapore Grand Prix

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    Keith Collantine
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    65 comments on “Why McLaren couldn’t keep Webber behind Hamilton (Singapore GP analysis)”

    1. I hadn’t thought about Webber’s gamble in terms of needing to pass Schumacher and Kobayashi. A bold gamble indeed.

      I was pretty irritated for the second race in a row when it was proven that a set of tires could last an entire race distance.

      1. Sound_Of_Madness
        26th September 2010, 22:43

        At least it was the hard one.

      2. haha, are you serious? those tires did last the race distance, but did you see the blisters on them by the end? it was a true gamble and had Webber not walked the tight rope in regards with pushing to overtake, and relaxing when necessary, there is no way the tires would have held on that long. Another couple laps of pushing and something had to happen. Very different to the previous race weekend where Vettel hardly had to let up at all.

        1. Especially when looking at Webbers wheel after the race. Looks like it might have deflated any time in the last 25 laps.

    2. Mclaren was way off the pace but sureally the decision of Webber pitting earlier and also overtaking schumacher and kobayashi were the reasons for him to get the 3th place in the end.
      Button did a race like we are used to watch, but this way he will not win this championship.
      Hamilton did what a championship contender had to do, the problem was that he forgot to give a bit of room to webber and suffered but the same could have happened to webber.
      As i told before, if he had given some room to webber ( ( he had space for that ), the next corner would have been in is favour and the 3th place was then for him.
      That didn´t happened but still both drivers have title hopes still intact and next tracks should also be more suitable for the mclarens.

      1. No he would still get impaled by Webber. Webber out-braked himself and his trajectory wasn’t even right for talking the turn. So I think the result would have been the same.

        1. garbage, if Hamilton left even another foot then they would have got through the corner ok, as it stands Webber was up on the kerb as much as he could & hamilton had space on the right but felt the need to ‘squeeze’ Webber to try & make the overtake stick on that one corner.

          Hamilton didn’t leave quite 1 cars width on the inside (he nearly did, but not quite judging from his onboard & looking at the gap he left to the inside kerb) & as such a car couldn’t fit up the inside, which is where Webber was, so there was contact.

          As someone mentioned above, if he left Webber a tiny bit more room instead of trying to squeeze him out in the 1st corner, he would have had the inside run to the 2nd right hander & have taken the position.

          Also lets not forget that its easily could have been Webber out & fuming with a broken front wheel after being chopped off by Hamilton, so it was a silly chop to try on the guy that is leading you in the championship either way, as he’s never going to be a pushover in that situation, even if it is THE Lewis Hamilton trying to put the move on him.

          1. Ham gave Web tons of room, your just blinded by your Aussie bias ,but there will be pay back

            1. if half a cars width is tons of room I guess your right.. He took that corner like he expected to cleared Webber but he wasn’t. Not even half a car a head. Wish that stupid FIA logo had been elsewhere as it was on the onboard camera it was RIGHT at the mirror so you couldn’t see anything in the mirror. That been interesting to see…

            2. Sigh, people, let’s just keep it at “race incident”, this only leads to rehashing the same believes again and again – we can’t know for sure who would have been best able to prevent this crash, giving more room, or braking a bit earlier.

              Webber was lucky he didn’t loose his wheel, Hamilton unlucky to get his rear broken. I hope he does well next race to keep him in the championship, but you are free to feel otherwise. It is useless to argue about it this way.

            3. hahah because of my name? Nice, try but wrong, that would be the same as me assuming you are defending him just because you are British…

              If Hamilton gave Webber heaps of room they wouldn’t have hit. Simple.

              Webber’s left wheel was all the way up on the kerb when Hamilton closed the door, there was no where left for him to go, an F1 car takes up a certain amount of space & Lewis simply hoped he would get scared & back off but he didn’t.

              If it wasn’t that way then the Stewards & the commentators would have called foul & Webber would have recieved a penalty.

              I get the feeling Hamilton was seething right up until he saw the replay, then he realised he didn’t have a leg to stand on so he decided to come out with the “blind spot” comment, which is one step short of an excuse once he realised Webbo hadn’t done anything wrong, IMHO.

            4. I get the feeling Hamilton was seething right up until he saw the replay, then he realised he didn’t have a leg to stand on so he decided to come out with the “blind spot” comment

              If you read the rest of that interview you’ll see he says he hadn’t seen the video at that point.

          2. Aussie Fan:

            “Webber’s left wheel was all the way up on the kerb when Hamilton closed the door, there was no where left for him to go”

            Yes there was, its called “breaking”.

            Wanna bet a Foster’s that if we ever get to see the reverse there will be a penalty to Hamilton?

            1. Exactly! And not only that. I am sure had situation been reversed Webber would be very loud denouncing Hamilton’s unsafe racing, as so many times in the past he and some other drivers were very keen to repeat whenever there was a slightest chance.

            2. x2 on zvoni’s comment.
              when Lewis was in Webber’s spot in Monza he took the blame on himself and everyone agreed. now when Lewis is in the other position and it’s Webber in the offending spot no one wants to take that stance. had the tables been turned who would really hesitate to call foul on Lewis especially after Monza? spineless if you ask me. just because he’s never won a championship doesn’t mean we all need to gift it to Webber because “it’s his turn.” this is racing, not American politics.

          3. @aussie Fan. Agree 100%. Hamilton is prone to accident. His driving style and over agressive deserves him both. Victoriuos and a Losser!

    3. yep.. McLaren never had the gap to make the pitstop even earlier. WEB’s initial overtakes helped him close the gap early on.

    4. Question: before the second safety car, Kubica had around 6-7 second advantage over Barrichello. When the SC was deployed both of them pitted and somehow the Brazilian was right behind the Pole. Anyone has an idea how that happened?

      1. The FIA must have had Codemasters running the race!

        There was probably a problem with Kubica’s pit-stop, but I didn’t see anything or hear anything said about what he was doing at that point in the race.

        1. Barrichello actually caught up with Kubica before entering the pit lane and their pitstops were shown. That’s why I’m asking – something must have happened on the in lap…

    5. I do remember thinking there was no way the McLarens were ever going to get a big enough gap to come out ahead of Webber, but I didn’t register the significance of Webber getting past Kobayashi and Schumacher, it might have all turned out so differently.

      Still though, as I was saying to a friend before Hamilton’s target was to beat Webber. Even if an Alonso win moved him ahead of the championship, with the races that are coming up you’d fancy Hamilton to have an easier task of clawing back a gap to Alonso than hauling over an increased gap to Webber (only 3 points at the time but so many more later!), being as this was arguably McLaren’s weakest track of the final five and Red Bull looking set to dominate at least one of the following four. So basically the smart decision would have been to cover Webber, even if it had meant that they would have both finished in the lower points. But I guess that’s all with the benefit of hindsight; a podium for Hamilton with Webber finishing 6th and I wouldn’t be making any criticism.

      1. The thing is the Championship is still in Hamilton’s hands alone. If he wins the last 4 races he can’t be beaten.

        7 points between first and second = 28 points difference over 4 races. Hamilton is only 20 points behind Webber.

        The same goes for any of the top 5. Button is only 25 points behind Webber. 4 wins and Button would win the Championship.

    6. Today, the RB6 was just quicker than the McLaren’s, but it’s ver interesting to see that Mark couldn’t do Seb’s pace when he was third behind him after the last safety car.

      1. Cause Webber was on old tyres as well as not really getting the car to his liking all weekend.

        1. He still struggled the whole weekend to match Seb’s pace.

          He even admitted it. He was 6 tenths slower all weekend long.

          1. It was only 6 tenths behind in one session. Webber was only 0.4 behind Vettel in quali & thats the same distance that he was in front at Spa.

            Webbo admitted that he was struggling with the track & Seb was quicker than him this weekend, kudos for that and good on him for being quick to remind Seb that it was the other way around at Monaco :)

            1. Why this people hated Mark alot.. Go aussie win the championship!

    7. Finally we see luck go webbers way. Some great overtaking and a great strategy.

    8. Hamilton’s Pit Lane time was 30.4 so the real cost of pitting is close to 24-25 seconds.

      Hamilton lost 29.3 to Webber during laps from 27 to 29, but that’s because on the lap before he pitted he was slower than Webber and on the lap after that he was stuck behind a HTR car.

    9. Hamilton proved so many times in the past he needs not better, but just equal equipment, to beat the opposition. For three years in a row McLaren is not being able to give him decently competitive car. It was less pronounced in 2008. but for the most of the 2009. and 2010. McLaren is shamefully lagging behind two or three top teams. Logically, the only way to try to stay in touch with competition is to push hard, harder then it would be healthy for him and the team. Consequently, mess ups occur more frequently and they will occur as long as McLaren is not capable of producing competitive car. If the present band of engineering staff is not capable of delivering, change them, hire someone else, and then with Hamilton’s speed there will be no problem in keeping the opposition at bay without too many risky attempts.

      1. You do have to worry about McLaren’s ability to develop a good car. It seems like this year they went all-out to get a downforce-producing machine and it still came out 3rd best at Bahrain. Then Ferrari lagged behind and McLaren briefly caught Red Bull but now they’ve fallen behind both teams again.

        McLaren have always had good development pace but when you look at the fundamental car things have been a little worrying over the past two years.

        1. I agree. Ferrari has caught up, McLaren has not. And again, I agree, it seems to not be a development issue but a base car design issue.

      2. It does seem they appear to want their drivers to risk a bit more than the others.
        Id fancy Hamilton in a Red Bull…

      3. How on earth could you not rate the 2008 racer as “decently competitive” ?

        Plus this years’ one isn’t that bad, is it? They won a race at Spa a month ago. And they almost won at Monza, a fortnight ago.

        Isn’t it too harsh on them? They could be going slower in terms of development rate, but what about Red Bull then? they were unbeateable and just in the blink of an eye, Alonso’s Ferrari challenges them fair and square.

        1. They won at spa but it still wasn’t the best car

          1. “They won at spa but it still wasn’t the best car”

            Actually it was pretty close and when it’s wet that car is ahead of the rest. Jense and Lewis were the only ones who could improve their quali times when the rain started coming.

      4. Most drivers would give their right arm to drive the uncompetitive cars that Lewis is ‘burdened’ with. It’s all perspective.
        Their car was much better than you give it credit in 2008, they got jumped by the double diffuser in 2009 and in 2010 by the blown exhaust. I wouldn’t be too concerned, they still have 2 drivers within 30 points of the championship lead, they can’t be doing that badly.

      5. The McLaren needs to be the best car in order for Hamilton to win.

        1. If Hamilton or Alonso were in the best car the Championship would be over already, they are both well ahead of the rest in terms of pure ability.

          1. Right. They’d battle each other, tempers would flare, secrets would come out, mistakes would be made, and due to the combination of all that they’d lose the drivers and constructors championships.

    10. The pit-speed limit must have been lower than usual? This is by far the longest total pit-stop time so far. and from what I can tell, the pit-lane is as long/short as anywhere else?

      1. Tom M in Australia
        27th September 2010, 0:45

        I think it was – I thought the cars were visibly slower than usual.

      2. it was only 40 kmh, not sure why as it is wide enough.

      3. And the crucial thing in all of that is Webber didn’t have to take that pain because he pitted under the SC and just floated up to the back of the non-stoppers.

    11. The pit lane speed was lower, just rewatched the race and brundle said it was 40mph (60km an hour). This was due to it being a street circuit but brundle said that the pitlane looked wide enough for the usual speed limit

      1. aah that explains those extreme times! I thought it looked as big as any pit?! And the total pit-times aren’t as high at monaco or melbourne either huh? I think that played a big part in some strategies.. If the speed-limit would’ve been regular then Webber would never have been able to get Hamilton I think.. although Webber off course also spent as long in the pit lane, those extra 8-10 seconds would’ve left less margin for time to loose behind other cars I think.. Oh well..

    12. I’m pretty sure that Steve Matchett(on Speed TV) said that a perfect pit in and out time at Marina Bay would be in the neighborhood of 22 seconds or so, which is the reason why I got a bit worked up about Hamilton not pitting sooner. Obviously, either Matchett had it wrong, or I heard it wrong. At any rate, your stats don’t lie, and I stand corrected. Thanks!

      1. I don’t recall the Speed TV coverage mentioning the reduced pit lane limit. It could be that Steve based that 22 seconds estimate on a 60mph limit.

        1. Matchett is usually right on top of this sort of thing, but it seems that he might not have been aware of the lower pit lane speed limit. I certainly wasn’t, until reading these posts.

    13. it was interesting to see McLaren did not have the predicted race speed they normally enjoyed,
      Hamilton could not keep up the pace with those infront.
      Webbers crew made a big gamble i thought but sure it payed off, in the end only because of the incident that took Lewis out, otherwise Lewis would have been on the podium.
      totally enjoyed the race.
      thanks for all the info Keith, i see marriage hasn’t slowed you down must be a excellent women you managed to find.

    14. Talk about a reliability, one point noticed by ESPN said that McLaren cars are a bit fragile like from Hamilton’s Monza & last night. Remember Alonso’s incident on the Spa’s 1st lap by Barrichelo? Ferrari’s wheel is as solid as a rock & took up the beating. Maybe McLaren should look into that.

    15. Webber did what he did to Vettel at the Turkish race to Hamilton.

      1. hahahahahahahahahahaha yeah & the commentators, stewards & everyone else are wrong and you are right eh?

        Thanks for clearing it up for all of us uninformed people whom didn’t know what REALLY happened! :)

        1. Just accept the result & move on.

    16. On that lap chart… Kubica road from 12 to 8 is mighty impressive

    17. This was almost exactly the opposite of how Hamilton broke his front suspension two weeks ago. Somehow he pulled the shortest straw in both incidents. I think he was far enough ahead that Webber should have backed off – just like Hamilton should have done two weeks ago but I’m glad FIA are not so keen on punishing real racing after the Vettel/Button afair!

    18. Let’s face it, McLaren had the worst of the top three cars again this weekend. Hamilton showed that he’s very talented and he isn’t afraid of going for an overtake.

      The championship isn’t over for him. There are 4 races in tracks that McLaren has the advantage if you consider top speed and engine. For me Webber won’t have another chance.

    19. the reality is that with hamilton ahead webber had to brake earlier to avoid a collision which would probably put both of them out

      he didn’t do it ….but he got really , really lucky and could finish 3rd

      personally I would be very happy for him to be champion , he has been a good driver for a long time and is near the end of his career

      but you have to face the facts

      1. The cars often survive a tap like this. Usually the car in front is tapped into a spin and the following car goes through.

        It’s pretty much a calculated gamble. Although Webber went way to fast and the crash had too much force.

        Anyway, Liuzzi survived hitting Massa in a similar incident in Canada. Button survived hitting Alonso in Australia. Massa’s car even survived that assault on Hamilton in Fuji last year.

        I think only Hamilton was unlucky that his car didn’t survive in Italy. But then he was too far ahead and Massa ran into the back of his front wheel.

    20. I was dissappointed that Button seemed incapable of closing the gap on Webber.

    21. The Red Bull’s are getting really good at knocking the Mclaren’s out of races!

    22. Button said that the McLarens suffered from severe graining on the super softs.

      Which explains why they weren’t able to keep up with Alonso and Vettel as the laps went on and even more so that they couldn’t even outrun Barrichello.

      If Webber had let Hamilton live (when he was overtaken), perhaps we could have known the real speed of the McLaren.

      1. The title to this post, and the picture, begs a simple answer “Because Webber hit him.”

        But, seriously, The McLarens were in their own drifting competition. It was ridiculous if you watched the in car cameras; you thought you were watching an HRT. If Hamilton had got by Webber, even with Webber’s shot tires, Webber would have been all over him for the rest of the way, and, frankly, given the nature of those two guys, it would have thus come to tears one way or another.

        I really feel like in two races running McLaren have got it totally wrong on their tire performance analysis and resulting strategy. If it was true that the hard was faster in Monza, they waited until it was too late to exploit the advantage. In Singapore, they didn’t realize unitl it was way too late that they were dropping multiple seconds to RBR in race conditions on the softs.

    23. The most obvious answer, in my opinion – They weren’t fast enough.

      Driver Championship chances now, slim to none.

      Constructor Championship chances now, slim to none.

      Looks like it’s between Webber and Alonso.

    24. Pitstop times, for sutil

      clubforce (on twitter) Total pitlane time is 32.9secs, stationary is 6.2secs as there was a small prob with the right front wheel.

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