2013 Abu Dhabi GP tyre strategies and pit stops

2013 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Did Ferrari not put Felipe Massa on the faster soft tyres at the end of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix because it was the correct strategic decision – or because they wanted to move his team mate ahead of him?

Following the race Massa expressed his dissatisfaction that only Fernando Alonso has used the faster soft tyre for the final stint of the race.

Ferrari technical Pat Fry said the deciding factor had been the timing of Massa’s last pit stop, after they had switched both their drivers to two-stop strategies.

“Initially we had thought of running just a one stop race,” said Fry, “but when we realised that that the wear rate of the mediums in the second stint would not have allowed us to go all the way to the end, while doing competitive times, backed up by our simulation systems, we told Fernando and Felipe to go flat out, as they would need to make a second stop.”

“With Fernando, we managed to get to lap 44 which meant he was able to run the softs to the end of the race. Unfortunately, we couldn’t do the same with Felipe and with him we chose not to risk it, keeping him on the mediums. It was a real shame.”

Two things are curious about this explanation. First, Massa’s final pit stop does not seem to have been prompted by rising lap times due to tyre wear: the last seven laps of his second stint were all within seven-tenths of a second of each other. That suggests Ferrari could have left him out longer to shorten his eventual stint on the soft tyres.

Furthermore, Ferrari’s assumption that Massa would be unable to do a 17-lap stint on soft tyres is surprising given that he had already done an 18-lap stint on used softs with a full fuel load at the beginning of the race.

If Massa had enjoyed the benefit of soft tyres for his final stint – which he reckoned were “maybe more than a second quicker per lap” – it’s unlikely he would have fallen behind Alonso. They certainly would have helped him pass Jean-Eric Vergne, who cost him the time that allowed Alonso to make his pit stop and come out ahead.

After Massa confirmed he will not be driving for Ferrari next year he said he would not help Alonso in the races and later made good on that claim by ignoring a direct order to let his team mate pass in Japan.

Did Ferrari weigh how many more points Alonso could gain in the closing stages versus how many Massa could? Or was this just a very conservative strategy? Either way Massa is right to points out his strategy probably cost him a better result.

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix tyre strategies

The tyre strategies for each driver:

Stint 1Stint 2Stint 3
Sebastian VettelSoft (14)Medium (23)Medium (18)
Mark WebberSoft (8)Medium (25)Medium (22)
Nico RosbergSoft (10)Medium (23)Medium (22)
Romain GrosjeanSoft (8)Medium (29)Medium (18)
Fernando AlonsoSoft (16)Medium (28)Soft (11)
Paul di RestaSoft (20)Medium (35)
Lewis HamiltonSoft (7)Medium (22)Medium (26)
Felipe MassaSoft (18)Medium (20)Medium (17)
Sergio PerezSoft (6)Medium (21)Medium (28)
Adrian SutilMedium (28)Soft (27)
Pastor MaldonadoSoft (5)Medium (20)Medium (30)
Jenson ButtonMedium (2)Soft (9)Medium (44)
Esteban GutierrezMedium (18)Soft (12)Medium (25)
Nico HulkenbergSoft (9)Medium (18)Medium (27)
Valtteri BottasMedium (24)Medium (21)Soft (9)
Daniel RicciardoSoft (7)Medium (21)Medium (26)
Jean-Eric VergneSoft (17)Medium (34)Medium (3)
Giedo van der GardeSoft (7)Medium (26)Medium (21)
Charles PicSoft (8)Medium (24)Medium (22)
Jules BianchiSoft (5)Medium (26)Medium (22)
Max ChiltonSoft (6)Medium (26)Medium (21)
Kimi RaikkonenMedium

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix pit stop times

How long each driver’s pit stops took:

DriverTeamPit stop timeGapOn lap
1Mark WebberRed Bull21.1758
2Sebastian VettelRed Bull21.2980.12337
3Sergio PerezMcLaren21.3700.19527
4Lewis HamiltonMercedes21.3720.1977
5Fernando AlonsoFerrari21.4530.27844
6Felipe MassaFerrari21.4850.31018
7Sergio PerezMcLaren21.5030.3286
8Jenson ButtonMcLaren21.5160.34111
9Fernando AlonsoFerrari21.5300.35516
10Lewis HamiltonMercedes21.6090.43429
11Romain GrosjeanLotus21.6270.4528
12Nico RosbergMercedes21.6330.45833
13Nico RosbergMercedes21.6530.47810
14Mark WebberRed Bull21.9110.73633
15Jean-Eric VergneToro Rosso21.9300.75517
16Adrian SutilForce India22.0480.87328
17Esteban GutierrezSauber22.0700.89530
18Daniel RicciardoToro Rosso22.1941.0197
19Paul di RestaForce India22.2701.09520
20Sebastian VettelRed Bull22.2751.10014
21Giedo van der GardeCaterham22.2861.11133
22Romain GrosjeanLotus22.2861.11137
23Felipe MassaFerrari22.3151.14038
24Nico HulkenbergSauber22.3631.1889
25Charles PicCaterham22.4981.3238
26Esteban GutierrezSauber22.6851.51018
27Max ChiltonMarussia22.8021.62732
28Giedo van der GardeCaterham22.8341.6597
29Nico HulkenbergSauber22.8631.68827
30Pastor MaldonadoWilliams22.8861.7115
31Daniel RicciardoToro Rosso22.9461.77128
32Valtteri BottasWilliams23.3612.18624
33Pastor MaldonadoWilliams23.4102.23525
34Max ChiltonMarussia23.4902.3156
35Jules BianchiMarussia23.5762.40131
36Jean-Eric VergneToro Rosso23.6082.43351
37Charles PicCaterham24.0052.83032
38Jules BianchiMarussia24.0642.8895
39Valtteri BottasWilliams26.6805.50545
40Jenson ButtonMcLaren27.1766.0012

2013 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Image © Ferrari/Ercole Colombo

Author information

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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36 comments on “2013 Abu Dhabi GP tyre strategies and pit stops”

  1. All the facts considered, it does look slightly suspicious that Massa be given that strategy, since unusually he seemed to be a legitimate match for Alonso in race pace.

  2. The real question is, how ‘okay’ is Ferrari with Massa ignoring team orders.

    1. Annoyed, but probably not that bothered since he’s only got two races left.

      1. And there’s no WDC left to win

  3. Hindsight is always 20/20.

    1. Not hindsight, in hk tv live, we immediately pointed out that it is so obvious ferrari is using pit stop n wrong tyre to let alonso pass, I think u are too naive

  4. Mr win or lose
    3rd November 2013, 20:07

    Please no more conspiracies. Alonso was much quicker than Massa at the end of the second stint, so it made sense to pull Massa in. I don’t know if the hard tyres really were a disadvantage as Massa said – their lower grip is compensated by less wear, so Massa should have been faster at the end of the race. But he wasn’t. Alonso just did a better job. Case closed.

    1. I kinda think so too. ALO was 1s (and more) faster than MAS in 2nd stint. Was surprised ALO couldn’t pass MAS tho. He spent quite some laps behind MAS althought significantly faster. We can say MAS hold ALO in the 2nd stint, but things wouldn’t have changed anyway because GRO was too far in front.

    2. >Alonso was much quicker than Massa at the end of the second stint

      Proven wrong by the live timing. And you’re conveniently forgetting that Massa himself was ‘much quicker’ on the softs than Alonso.

    3. come on alonso fan..alonso was faster bcoz he had soft tyres,but massa had harder tyres ..and everybody knows there is a massive differnce in this race between these two tyres…

      1. Mr win or lose
        4th November 2013, 23:14

        Alonso was much quicker than Massa at the end of the second stint
        – Proven wrong by the live timing.

        Of course there is no speed difference when the driver behind cannot overtake, but that doesn’t mean he is not any faster.

        Come on Alonso fan… Alonso was faster b’cuz he had soft tyres, but Massa had harder tyres and everybody knows there is a massive difference in this race between these two tyres

        Then explain why most drivers completed more laps on the harder tyres. That’s probably not because the hard tyre was just a second per lap slower.

  5. I don’t think there is any doubt on this. It was just Ferrari trying to make sure that Alonso gets out in the front. I think Massa could have done a few more laps on the medium just like Alonso and then he could have switched to the softs which could have got little more closer to Romain than Alonso got to.

  6. The only explanation that doesn’t look like a team order would be that Alonso had new option tyres available (probably as he didn’t make it to Q3) whereas Massa only had scrubbed sets left. I think Ferrari made the right call for the team though, which unfortunately did not help Massa.

    1. I doubt very much that Alonso didn’t use his one set of new softs in the first stint as they were aiming for only one stop

      1. Yes, you are right, I forgot he could choose his set.

    2. Nonsense, even alonso is faster, the best he can do is fifth, if with soft tyre, massa is also fifth, not necessary to pull in massa. Even pull in, u should still put on soft, the only reason is to let alonso pass

  7. Several questions rise here:
    1.- Who do Ferrari believe to be a safe point hauler to fight for the Constructors Champ? Do you think this guy is Massa?
    2.- Can Massa explain why Alonso was right on his tail last 10 laps before his second pitstop, considering his tyres were four laps fresher?
    3.- Do Massa expect to receive a fair treatment after four back to back years of incompetence and disobedience?
    4.- How many years will we have to wait till this board gives Alonso some nice words and accomplishments? Maybe 2015 when he will be driving a McLaren again, finally?

    PD. You can save your words if you’re going to accuse me of fanboy or anything like that. I’m as Alonso’s fan as Hamilton, Kimi, Vettel or Maldonado. The last driver I cheered for was Damon Hill and some races of Montoya.

    1. If you count out the races we’ve had since Monza, how many times has Massa been disobedient? I’m sorry, Massa couldn’t take more orders than this if he were a waiter, to be honest. I’m not saying you’re a fanboy, I’d rather say you’re not at all objective.

    2. Just one thing with Q3 – that period involves his ’09 accident in Hungary and subsequent recovery from brain damage.

    3. Q2 – If Alonso was that fast, why wouldnt he pass massa? The same goes in their 1st stint as Alonso’s just tailing on massa, while massa made a good overtake against hamilton.

      1. Same 7th gear ratios maybe? but larger than McLaren’s?

        I’m getting really tired of reading all type of conspiracy theories against poor Massa. The guy has been subpar last 4 years to say the least, and, suddenly it’s as if he had shown once and again to be faster or better racer than Alonso. Well, it seems to me that the guy has no car for next year champ. Maybe all those who look under the carpet could explain to every team principal why Massa is the driver they all should sign…

    4. 3.- Do Massa expect to receive a fair treatment after four back to back years of incompetence and disobedience?

      Sorry, but I laughed out really loud reading this.

  8. I do feel Ferrari were to blame, and I don’t know how they could have done this needing the points so much. Even Felipe’s stop was very strange, with a very rare mistake by a mechanic.
    It’s sad and it doesn’t make sense, but I think Massa is right in being disappointed. He was running better than Alonso most of the race.

  9. I saw flashes of the old Massa today. Great to have him back ! His opportunistic move on Hamilton was very nice, and he was doing very well until the strategy went the other way…

  10. Read the pit stops times again, guys ! RBR fastest, then Mercedes and McLaren ! Where’s “Ferrari does the fastest pit stops” some guys throw at ALO but VET still beats him ??

    1. @corrado-dub: I have never seen such strange arguements over here. However, I remember Alonso calling Ferrari the best team.

  11. i watch the whole race and to be honest, felipe can do a longer stint with his 1st medium. also felipe 1st stop is okay, but something strange happen in the 2nd stop as the ferrari pit crew “pretend” to have a problem while replacing massa’s tyre

  12. having alonso in front of massa helps nothing when youre chasing constuctors points, stupid stupid conspiracy

  13. What I find confusing is why would the team gift one driver’s points to another when the WDC is more or less over? What team wouldn’t want both its cars in the best position possible to finish the race? What if Alonso had had a mechanical?

    The only real reason I can think of for pitting someone when they don’t have to is to check issues, e.g. puncture, damage etc. Still doesn’t explain why you’d put someone on the harder compound in a light car, on a rubbered-in track with falling temperatures when they’ve already shown the tyres can more than take it.

  14. If someone throws the conspiracy theories that a team would sabotage one driver to benefit the other, there is always the argument that no such team is that stupid to deliberately sabotage their own driver. But throw it Ferrari, it is perfectly okay.
    An article written with arguments at first asking for opinion, but ending

    Either way Massa is right to points out his strategy probably cost him a better result.

    Says it all.

    1. Regardless of why he was on that strategy, it turned out to be the wrong one. I don’t see what’s so wrong with pointing that out.

  15. It’s just hindsight… since Vettel & Grosjean, who both pitted just a lap before Massa, went for mediums, and Alonso & Bottas were the only 2-stoppers to choose softs for their final stint, I’d say the mediums were the safer bet. The track temperature dropping meant that it would be more difficult to use the softs toward the end of the race (though I’m not sure how significant this was), because its working range is higher than the mediums. So aside from the drivers who still had an obligation to use the soft tyres, Alonso was the only one who gambled with it. Now I’m not sure why Massa pitted when he did, but it seemed he was too preoccupied with blocking his teammate that he wasn’t going as fast as he should’ve. And I think Massa/Smedley was afraid that Alonso might try an under-cut if they didn’t react fast enough. Even if Massa had priority for the pit stop, if he passed, then they couldn’t deny Alonso from pitting could they?

  16. Scuderia kabayo
    4th November 2013, 15:03

    No conspiracies. Just ferrari being ferrari.

  17. astonished (@)
    4th November 2013, 18:35

    My two (literally) pennies

    1.- funny to see that all pit strategies at Abu Dhabi gp go down to Massa being cheated on by Ferrari….. Nothing else happened?. Either the article or the title is biased.
    2.- I suggest Keith to run a co-variance analysis among posters (and perhaps himself, admittedly this being a statistical fraud) of who supported conspiracy today and who did of weber’s stops vs. Vettel in India

    Thanks God mr Fry is British (as mr Horner) an we avoid nationalistic arguments. Sorry this is a third penny.

    1. I must say you stole my words, absolutely. I agree 100%.

      It’s been so much time since my last comments here, and sadly I came back because of that huge difference between Red Bull – Webber – India vs Ferrari – Massa – Abu Dhabi. Come on. I’ve been reading Keith posts since 2006, and I expect so much more from the guy, frankly. This used to be an smart and intelligent place to be.

  18. astonished (@)
    4th November 2013, 18:36


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