No reward for Massa’s Safety Car strategy gamble

2014 Russian Grand Prix tyre strategies and pit stops

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Felipe Massa, Williams, Sochi Autodrom, 2014A fuel pressure problem in qualifying meant Felipe Massa started the Russian Grand Prix from 18th on the grid.

Williams took a chance on an alternative strategy to move him up the order. It was one that would have worked very well had the Safety Car been deployed.

But although there was good reason to expect it would happen, the Safety Car didn’t play a role in the grand prix.

Massa pitted at the end of the first lap to replace his medium tyres with softs. Had the Safety Car come out, other cars around him which started on softs would have needed to pit to make the mandatory switch to mediums.

As that never happened, Massa found himself stuck in traffic once he came up against the similarly quick car of Sergio Perez.

“I lost a lot of time behind him,” said Massa. “After my second stop I soon found myself behind Perez again and I didn’t really have any good opportunities to take a risk and pass him.”

Earlier in the race Massa had been little more than a second behind Rosberg, who like him pitted on the first lap of the race. But while Rosberg completed the remainder of the race on his medium tyres and climbed to second, Massa finished a frustrated and point-less 11th behind Perez.

Russian Grand Prix tyre strategies

The tyre strategies for each driver:

Stint 1Stint 2Stint 3
Lewis HamiltonSoft (27)Medium (26)
Nico RosbergSoft (1)Medium (52)
Valtteri BottasSoft (26)Medium (27)
Jenson ButtonSoft (22)Medium (31)
Kevin MagnussenSoft (26)Medium (27)
Fernando AlonsoSoft (25)Medium (28)
Daniel RicciardoSoft (11)Medium (42)
Sebastian VettelSoft (30)Medium (23)
Kimi RaikkonenSoft (26)Medium (27)
Sergio PerezMedium (25)Soft (28)
Felipe MassaMedium (1)Soft (26)Soft (26)
Nico HulkenbergMedium (24)Soft (29)
Jean-Eric VergneSoft (23)Medium (30)
Daniil KvyatSoft (20)Medium (17)Soft (15)
Esteban GutierrezSoft (39)Medium (13)
Adrian SutilMedium (12)Soft (40)
Romain GrosjeanSoft (20)Medium (32)
Pastor MaldonadoMedium (21)Soft (31)
Marcus EricssonSoft (27)Medium (16)Soft (8)
Kamui KobayashiMedium (21)
Max ChiltonMedium (4)Soft (5)

Russian Grand Prix pit stop times

How long each driver’s pit stops took:

DriverTeamPit stop timeGapOn lap
1Kevin MagnussenMcLaren29.73626
2Sergio PerezForce India29.8760.14025
3Felipe MassaWilliams29.9120.1761
4Jenson ButtonMcLaren29.9940.25822
5Daniel RicciardoRed Bull30.0060.27011
6Romain GrosjeanLotus30.0370.30120
7Nico HulkenbergForce India30.0960.36024
8Kimi RaikkonenFerrari30.0970.36126
9Pastor MaldonadoLotus30.1800.44421
10Jean-Eric VergneToro Rosso30.2720.53623
11Felipe MassaWilliams30.2780.54227
12Esteban GutierrezSauber30.3030.56739
13Daniil KvyatToro Rosso30.3210.58537
14Sebastian VettelRed Bull30.3550.61930
15Valtteri BottasWilliams30.3630.62726
16Lewis HamiltonMercedes30.5030.76727
17Adrian SutilSauber30.7330.99712
18Marcus EricssonCaterham30.7601.02443
19Marcus EricssonCaterham31.0201.28427
20Max ChiltonMarussia31.3741.6384
21Daniil KvyatToro Rosso31.5841.84820
22Nico RosbergMercedes33.8204.0841
23Fernando AlonsoFerrari35.1125.37625

2014 Russian Grand Prix

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    Keith Collantine
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    31 comments on “No reward for Massa’s Safety Car strategy gamble”

    1. Sumedh Vidwans
      12th October 2014, 18:53

      Is 23 the least number of pit stops that we have seen in a race since the infamous 2005 US GP?

      1. I think some Bridgestone era races with multiple early retirements might have had less.

      2. Sumedh Vidwans
        12th October 2014, 19:01

        I stand corrected! Bahrain 2010 had only 21 pit stops.

    2. Massa was already behind Raikkonen at the end of Lap 1. (if who I saw was him behind Rai) What was the point calling him to the pits from 12th??? Bad bad decision. His made his second stop when others made their sole stop.. what’s the point? He struck behind Perez and they changed to the same tyre at about the same time as Perez so it was garanteed he will be struck behind the Mexican for the remainder of the race…

      1. @f1mre Exactly, they could have passed as many cars on softs as possible, then ran to the end on a set of softs.. or run long on the medium like Gutierrez, then charge past Ferraris and Red Bulls at the end.

    3. I fail to see any logic at all in massa strategy if you can call it that. He made up lots of placebos first lap but committed to loosing 25 seconds to everyone else.a safety car would kot have helped at all either.
      A better racer might have done something but once again it’s like watching a rookie only he’s one of the most experienced.
      Wish alonso was going to Williams and end massas career.

    4. You say places I say placebo….

    5. If you ask me I’d say Williams don’t know how to gamble.
      They are now 3rd in the constructors, but they acted like they were 11th with the strategy.
      What safety car were they anticipating? Cars running wide?

      1. They were expecting cars caught in gravel traps.

        1. Gravel??? and Tilke???
          Those two don’t mix

    6. No safety car a surprise? With run-off areas the size of a Tesco car-park, was the likelihood of a crash even remotely possible?

      1. @mouse_nightshirt I addressed that in the link on that part of the text.

    7. Williams has always been hopeless at strategy. All their championships were won when their cars had huge technical advantages over the competition* and strategy was irrelevant therefore. Take it from me – if you ever get to drive for Williams, make up your own strategy! ;)

      * Sole exception: Keke Rosberg – and he won because the others were shooting themselves in the foot.

      1. That is true and the same goes with their pit speed. They are never the fast team. Conservative strategies and pits has been with them ever since i watched them from the time Mansel was there.

    8. Massa really needs to buy himself a mirror so he can see who he can blame for his poor performance today.

      He was on average a second a lap faster than Perez in the laps before he ended up stuck behind Perez. Combined with a straight line speed advantage and DRS, there really should not have been an issue to getting past Perez.

      I said it upfront to people who were looking forward to a come back race from Massa (even waving at Alonso when flying past) that I thought that very unlikely. Massa simply isn’t a racer who can move up the field.

      1. the force india had quick top speed and the williams isnt planted like the merc hence the reason rosberg could overtake with ease . how many merc powered cars have you seen overtake other merc powered cars this season excluding mercedes team, i cant think of many. and if massa isnt racer then does that make ricciardo not racer as well for getting stuck behind alonso. its not massas fault he started 18th and after being in 12th on 1st lap they didnt change the strategy(by staying out).

        1. It’s not about getting stuck, but about getting stuck behind a car that’s a full second a lap slower and then to complain that it was the strategy …

          He couldn’t stay out because the softs couldn’t last a whole race.

          I have seen plenty Merc powered cars overtake each other. For instance, Bottas did it several times when he did made his comebacks from the back back to the front.

          1. He started with mediums.
            Williams is so stupid that he could do the exact opposite to Rosberg. Do the whole race on mediums and change for softs on the last lap.

            They choosed to burn the mediums on the first lap and do two stints on the softs. Pure geniuses.

      2. So why Bottas couldn’t pass Vettel who drove a very slow(for RBR standards) car and had to wait until Vettel pitted?

        1. Seriously? A Red Bull is only a few tenths slower as a Williams and that lasted for 2 laps only.

    9. Ridiculous strategy.
      Not even a safety car would’ve helped him.

      Massa usually makes good starts, which he did. So they should have let him rape the hell out of those Mediums and then pitted for softs to go to the end.

      Even my wife said, “why would he stop twice when everyone stopped once?”

      1. I don`t think “rape” is an appropriate word to use in the context here…

      2. Indeed, Massa usually makes great starts, the team know that so if he made a good start they should have switched to plan B straight away.

        They should have already thought about this and planned for it. Illogical.

      3. Thank you both for your insightful and fair comments

      4. Hehe, @brunes “Even my wife is smarter than the Williams strategists”

    10. Perhaps safety car appearances should be made compulsory. Similar argument to the fuel issue. Teams and drivers should take risks – stupid or otherwise!

    11. James (@jamesjames123abc)
      13th October 2014, 17:53

      In my opinion, Bottas could quite easily have finished 2nd. I think Williams should’ve pitted Bottas several laps earlier, so that he’d come out in front of Vettel, rather than behind. His pace started to drop off around lap 20, when he was in the 1:44s, until he was in the 1:45s by the time he pitted. The ~3 seconds he lost to Vettel in those 5-6 laps probably cost him the chance to run in free air, ahead of Rosberg, as well as Vettel.

      1. Williams sucks so bad on strategies it isn’t even funny.
        They are the only team that can make Mercedes a run for their money on a wheel to wheel battle, but lost every single opportunity to it by wrong calls from the pits.

        But i think Bottas was half sleeping when Rosberg made the move on him, too. He only tried to defend position when Rosberg was almost through.

    12. Trenthamfolk (@)
      14th October 2014, 18:33

      Given Massa’s outspoken rhetoric about safety, to base your strategy on the hope that someone messes up seriously enough to put every other driver’s safety at risk (hence the safety car) is just perverse…

      1. And quite ridiculous considering they have the car and performance to not need such pointless luck based strategies.
        I think Williams has better chance listening to me that any other guy they have on the pit wall.

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