2012 Abu Dhabi GP tyre strategies and pit stops

2012 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Did Ferrari and Red Bull use Felipe Massa and Mark Webber tactically to help their team mates in the drivers’ championship?

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix tyre strategies

The tyre strategies for each driver:

Stint 1Stint 2Stint 3Stint 4
Lewis HamiltonSoft (19)
Mark WebberSoft (30)Medium (7)
Pastor MaldonadoSoft (29)Medium (26)
Kimi RaikkonenSoft (31)Medium (24)
Jenson ButtonSoft (29)Medium (26)
Fernando AlonsoSoft (28)Medium (27)
Nico RosbergSoft (1)Medium (6)
Felipe MassaSoft (26)Medium (29)
Romain GrosjeanSoft (1)Medium (8)Soft (28)
Nico HulkenbergSoft
Sergio PerezSoft (30)Medium (8)Medium (17)
Paul di RestaSoft (1)Medium (8)Medium (30)Soft (16)
Michael SchumacherMedium (27)Soft (14)Soft (14)
Bruno SennaMedium (32)Soft (23)
Kamui KobayashiSoft (25)Medium (30)
Daniel RicciardoSoft (26)Medium (12)Soft (17)
Jean-Eric VergneSoft (9)Medium (24)Soft (22)
Heikki KovalainenSoft (28)Medium (27)
Charles PicSoft (26)Medium (15)
Vitaly PetrovSoft (27)Medium (28)
Timo GlockSoft (27)Medium (28)
Pedro de la RosaSoft (28)Medium (27)
Narain KarthikeyanSoft (7)
Sebastian VettelMedium (13)Soft (24)Soft (18)

For the second race in a row one-stop strategies were the order of the day for most drivers. Sebastian Vettel pitted twice having been forced to make an early first stop after damaging his front wing.

Later in the race he arrived on the tail of team mate Mark Webber, who quickly made for the pits. Did Red Bull bring Webber’s pit stop brought forward to keep him out of Vettel’s way?

It doesn’t appear so – it seems to have been a response to Pastor Maldonado’s pit stop one lap earlier and an attempt to get him back in front of the Williams following his unsuccessful earlier attempt to pass. And it worked: Webber came out ahead of Maldonado.

What about the timing of Ferrari’s pit stop for Felipe Massa? This is curious as there were at least two radio messages from Rob Smedley to Massa telling him to stay out as Massa apparently grew more concerned about his tyres.

On lap 23 Massa lost over a second to Alonso and Sergio Perez passed him on the next lap. It seems most likely Ferrari kept him out in the hope of getting him out in front of Heikki Kovalainen’s Caterham.

However keeping him on track also had tactical value in their battle with Red Bull. He could potentially delay Webber and keep him from getting back within range of Alonso. Nor was Vettel far behind Massa at this point, and he was gaining quickly.

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix pit stop times

How long each driver’s pit stops took:

DriverTeamPit stop timeGapOn lap
1Mark WebberRed Bull19.06630
2Fernando AlonsoFerrari19.3680.30228
3Jenson ButtonMcLaren19.4550.38929
4Sergio PerezSauber19.4860.42030
5Kamui KobayashiSauber19.5290.46325
6Felipe MassaFerrari19.5850.51926
7Michael SchumacherMercedes19.7010.63527
8Paul di RestaForce India19.8290.7639
9Timo GlockMarussia19.8840.81827
10Jean-Eric VergneToro Rosso19.8850.81933
11Sebastian VettelRed Bull19.9180.85237
12Daniel RicciardoToro Rosso20.1221.05626
13Paul di RestaForce India20.2651.19939
14Kimi RaikkonenLotus20.2781.21231
15Jean-Eric VergneToro Rosso20.3191.2539
16Pastor MaldonadoWilliams20.7231.65729
17Vitaly PetrovCaterham20.7691.70327
18Romain GrosjeanLotus21.0171.9519
19Daniel RicciardoToro Rosso21.2312.16538
20Michael SchumacherMercedes21.2702.20441
21Charles PicMarussia21.9412.87526
22Pedro de la RosaHRT22.2723.20628
23Bruno SennaWilliams22.5873.52132
24Heikki KovalainenCaterham23.0323.96628
25Sebastian VettelRed Bull24.9625.89613
26Romain GrosjeanLotus26.0576.9911
27Paul di RestaForce India26.6707.6041
28Nico RosbergMercedes29.27710.2111
29Sergio PerezSauber33.43114.36538

Red Bull were the quickest team in the pits for the fifth time this year.

2012 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Image © Ferrari spa/Ercole Colombo

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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25 comments on “2012 Abu Dhabi GP tyre strategies and pit stops”

  1. So your verdict on RBR and Ferrari using their no. 2s to help their top drivers is that RBR wasn’t (as the stop was dictated by getting Webber into a good spot) while its likely it played a more significant role in how they handled Massa’s stop at Ferrari @keithcollantine?

    Thanks for filling in the details, because yesterday it did make the impression of Webber not wanting to give way to Vettel, speeding up and then being pulled into the pits to achieve it.

    1. Yeah, I also felt that Webber didn’t yield so the pit wall called him in. I know Webber was close to his pit window but you know, I can’t erase the impression in my head.

      1. @eggry he was definitely brought in for a pit stop so that vettel could pass. yes, webber came ahead of maldonado but also behind perez, grosjean and di resta…not really an ideal place to start your 2nd stint. i really doubt red bull didn’t foresee that, i think they just wanted to get him out of the way of vettel. brundle commented on that as well.

        1. @andrewf1 BTW, Did you remove your avatar image? or it’s just me seeing default John Doe image?

          1. @eggry as far as i know, i never bothered to put one up in the first place. unless someone hacked my account.

          2. @andrewf1 oh sorry. I guess I was confused.

        2. (@andrewf1) Couldn’t agree more.

  2. Massa’s stop was still two laps earlier than Alonso’s on the same tyres though and was still one of the first normal stops. Stopping a couple of laps earlier would have given him a very long second stint so I’m not sure the Massa timing looks that suspicious.

    I also note that despite Red Bull having the fastest pit stop it certainly wasn’t either of Seb’s stops – should we call Webber “lucky”?

  3. Am I the only one who noticed Webber’s consistent aggression into turn 8, which finally caused a safety car when he plowed his Red Bull into Grosjean?

    1. No you are not the only.

    2. @maichael What are you suggesting?

    3. I think you mean Turn 14. And no, I think he was not that aggressive, he tackled the corner like everybody else.

    4. @maichael – sadly for most, things are always what they seem…until watergates & crashgates occur. I noticed – plowing into Grosjean is infinitely more covert than plowing into a wall. Horner>Briatore xD

    5. @maichael Sorry but that is just ********, Webber has ignored team orders in the past and you think he’d suddenly agree to deliberately crash into another competitor?

  4. Vettel did the same thing that webber did at turn 8, difference was Maldonado is an idiot, as well as massa. Button is a world class driver which provided a different outcome.

    1. No, the difference in this occasion was that Webber failed to leave enough space. On both occasions @f1andy83.

      1. In the press conference, Vettel did say about his move on Button: “He was very, very fair. You can’t do that kind of move with all the drivers on the grid”.

        I didn’t see whether Webber left enough room or not (and I’m not really defending him – I’m a Webber fan but yesterday’s race was terrible), but I think in that narrow sequence of corners it does matter which driver one is trying to overtake, and I think Massa is one driver least likely to give room.

        1. @adrianmorse I agree with Vettel, Button was such a gentleman not trying to squeeze Vettel off the track when he could have easily done so by taking just a slightly wider line on the exit of T11.

          You rarely see such generous defensive driving nowadays, but it was sort of common in the 1950s and 1960s, as much as I can tell by the footages I saw from those eras. Drivers just let someone pass if the guy was cleanly quicker.

        2. True enough that @adrianmorse, and we have seen Webber be part of such a nice overtaking battle several times. But this weekend he was not fair in battling, probably too upset about the bad start and wanting to badly move up the field too quick.

  5. astonished (@)
    5th November 2012, 15:01

    I think that FOM should have rebroadcast the team radio Smedley to Massa “Felipe, Sebastian is faster than you” I have to admit that he got out of the way very elegantly…

    Nobody can “blame· Massa of obstructing Vettel.

    Preventive footnote: this is all sarcasm

  6. I think that Kovalainen will take Grosjeans seat for next year.
    Or drive in a Force India.

    1. Grosjean’s been resigned at Lotus & Force India’s 2nd seat is going to be filled by Algersuari.

      Jaime has said on twitter that he’s signed an F1 deal for 2013 & that he’s going to a team between 5-7 in constructors that scores regular points.
      He’s stepped down from his BBC radio commentary role & has said he’s training harder than ever to ensure he’s race fit after a year away.

  7. Di Resta made 3 pit stops, was last (and quite a bit behind) because of the first lap incident and yet he managed to get into the points (in a car clearly not as capable as the RB8). That’s pretty impressive – and to think I was starting to doubt him after he was well and truly beaten by Hulkenberg recently!

  8. The front wing situation with Vettel forced them to react, I believe that was the deciding factor of whether or not he got on the podium, had they have kept him out he might not have had the luxury of benefiting from the SC so much.

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