Paul di Resta was one of seven drivers to make the gamble of starting on soft tyres.
But he was the only one to finish in the points despite an inconveniently-timed safety car.
Here’s the data from the Singapore Grand Prix.
Sebastian Vettel led every lap and Jenson Button held second place for every lap.
Mark Webber’s start ran true to form – he lost two places, making it a net 22 he’s lost on the first lap this year.
Seven drivers took the gamble of starting the race on the harder soft compounds tyres. But only one of them finished in the points – Paul di Resta.
Di Resta was able to stay within range of team mate Adrian Sutil, who started on super softs, who was held up behind the two Mercedes drivers.
He was the last driver to make his first pit stop, staying out until lap 19. Sutil appeared to let him by on lap 26 soon after Di Resta caught him.
The safety car period worked against him – he couldn’t afford to be left vulnerable by not pitting, but equally it cost him the opportunity to complete his stint on super soft tyres and use another set to finish the race, which could have been faster.
However it’s doubtful it would have given him enough of an advantage to finish in front of Lewis Hamilton.
Mercedes excelled in the pit lane, setting the four fastest pit stop times.
The race progress chart shows the daunting scale of Vettel’s performance advantage in the early laps. He was 11.6 seconds clear after ten laps and his lead exceeded 20 seconds on lap 26.
After the safety car came in played the rules to perfection, backing up the field and taking advantage of the lapped cars behind him to instantly re-establish a four second lead. This still represented a loss of 18 seconds over his former lead.
He then pulled out a scarcely-believed five seconds on the next lap as Button picked his way through traffic. Before his final pit stop his lead stood at 13.9 seconds. It’s highly likely this would have been over half a minute without the safety car interruption.
Just as surprising, Button then reeled him in over the final laps, partly thanks to traffic. As the race ended Button was just 1.7 seconds behind – the smallest lead Vettel held all race.
All lap times
Button took the fastest lap, preventing Vettel from claiming a perfect result (pole, led every lap and fastest lap).
Despite finishing sixth, Di Resta only set the 15th-fastest lap of the race.
2011 Singapore Grand Prix
Image © Force India F1 Team