Massa doubts victory was possible

2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix tyre strategies and pit stops

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Although Pirelli brought their soft and super-soft tyres for this year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the harder generation of compounds in use this season meant the race was quite similar to last year’s in terms of the strategies used.

For most drivers it was a case of starting the race with a short stint on the option tyre (super-soft this year, soft last year) and spending the remaining two stints on the prime (soft this year, medium last year).

Inevitably those who deviated from this were those with the most to gain from taking a risk, particularly the two Red Bull drivers. But even for them the performance benefit from new tyres was not significant enough to make a three-stop strategy worthwhile.

Felipe Massa made a late deviation from the normal strategy – and one which gave him a chance to win. While Nico Rosberg dropped back and Lewis Hamilton drove more conservatively as a result, Massa had successfully extended his first two stints which gave him the chance to revert to the faster super-soft tyres for a short final stint.

But although he took eight seconds out of Hamilton during the final stint, Massa didn’t think the win was on. “It was a close race,” said Massa, “I didn’t think the victory was there, but it was so close at the end”.

One overlooked aspect of pit strategies this year is how teams have mastered the art of quick, consistent and reliable four-wheel changes. There have been few repeats of the problems we saw teams experiencing last year when problems during the pit stops caused cars to lose wheels.

Remarkably, the seven fastest pit stops during today’s race were performed to within one tenth of a second of each other by five different teams. At both this year’s race and last year’s 40 individual pit stops were performed, and while last year 18 were within a second of the best, this year that number rose to 28 – and would have been one higher but for Nico Hulkenberg’s five second penalty.

Even the Caterham crew, who had an excuse for being rusty having missed the last two races, managed to perform one of those stops. Remarkable work all round.

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix tyre strategies

The tyre strategies for each driver:

Driver Team Pit stop time Gap On lap
1 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 21.546 6
2 Romain Grosjean Lotus 21.574 0.028 21
3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 21.582 0.036 47
4 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 21.611 0.065 46
5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 21.619 0.073 5
6 Kevin Magnussen McLaren 21.623 0.077 29
7 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 21.642 0.096 37
8 Valtteri Bottas Williams 21.661 0.115 10
9 Romain Grosjean Lotus 21.699 0.153 8
10 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 21.741 0.195 11
11 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 21.747 0.201 27
12 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 21.885 0.339 10
13 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 21.887 0.341 31
14 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 21.998 0.452 7
15 Valtteri Bottas Williams 22.015 0.469 35
16 Sergio Perez Force India 22.031 0.485 14
17 Felipe Massa Williams 22.040 0.494 43
18 Jenson Button McLaren 22.042 0.496 28
19 Felipe Massa Williams 22.054 0.508 13
20 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 22.068 0.522 27
21 Kevin Magnussen McLaren 22.087 0.541 21
22 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 22.206 0.660 26
23 Adrian Sutil Sauber 22.227 0.681 37
24 Adrian Sutil Sauber 22.277 0.731 22
25 Sergio Perez Force India 22.325 0.779 41
26 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 22.348 0.802 44
27 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham 22.426 0.880 36
28 Adrian Sutil Sauber 22.491 0.945 5
29 Jenson Button McLaren 22.627 1.081 6
30 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 22.761 1.215 30
31 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 22.919 1.373 13
32 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 23.094 1.548 21
33 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 23.128 1.582 7
34 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 23.270 1.724 28
35 Will Stevens Caterham 23.545 1.999 37
36 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 24.083 2.537 34
37 Will Stevens Caterham 24.144 2.598 14
38 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 24.169 2.623 6
39 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham 24.421 2.875 15
40 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 27.445 5.899 15

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix pit stop times

How long each driver’s pit stops took:

Stint 1 Stint 2 Stint 3 Stint 4
Lewis Hamilton Super soft (10) Soft (21) Soft (24)
Felipe Massa Super soft (13) Soft (30) Super soft (12)
Valtteri Bottas Super soft (10) Soft (25) Soft (20)
Daniel Ricciardo Soft (27) Soft (20) Super soft (8)
Jenson Button Super soft (6) Soft (22) Soft (27)
Nico Hulkenberg Soft (15) Soft (22) Super soft (18)
Sergio Perez Soft (14) Soft (27) Super soft (14)
Sebastian Vettel Soft (21) Soft (25) Super soft (9)
Fernando Alonso Super soft (5) Soft (22) Soft (28)
Kimi Raikkonen Super soft (6) Soft (20) Soft (29)
Kevin Magnussen Soft (21) Super soft (8) Soft (26)
Jean-Eric Vergne Soft (13) Soft (17) Soft (14) Super soft (11)
Romain Grosjean Super soft (8) Super soft (13) Soft (33) Soft
Nico Rosberg Super soft (11) Soft (23) Soft (20)
Esteban Gutierrez Super soft (7) Soft (21) Soft (26)
Adrian Sutil Super soft (5) Soft (17) Soft (15) Soft (17)
Will Stevens Super soft (14) Soft (23) Super soft (17)
Kamui Kobayashi Super soft (15) Soft (21) Super soft (6)
Pastor Maldonado Super soft (7) Soft (19)
Daniil Kvyat Super soft (6) Soft (8)

2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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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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14 comments on “Massa doubts victory was possible”

  1. Another over looked aspect was that in reaction to Rosberg’s woes Mercedes were not using the full potential of the cars Power supply. Lewis even asked for the engine not to be turned up, he had more speed if needed without that. The margin, any margin was all that was needed under the circumstances.

    Good to see Massa with real twinkle in the eye again as well.

  2. Are the tyre strategies and pit stop times under the wrong headings?

  3. Think is, had Rosberg’s not failed, would Massa be able to overtake him?

    1. No way. HAM was turning down the engine but only so far as to stay in front of MAS.

  4. The title was over and all I was hoping for Hamilton to have a slightly bigger problem so Massa could take the win. That would’ve been brilliant.

  5. Should Massa have stayed out on the softs til the end of the race? Clearly the tyres would be in bad shape, but he had a 15 second lead with 12 laps to go. Normally Hamilton would have been able to eat in to that and overtake easily, but factor in that his engine was turned down and he didn’t need to win the race – it’s possible he could have decided to sit behind Massa and not risk it.

    Also, by staying out, Massa was unlikely to drop any further than 2nd place anyway, due to the gap to 3rd.

    1. Massa’s set of softs he took, while pitted for the first time on lap 13 wouldn’t have lasted 42 laps, so it was not worth of try to stay out on track until the end by ”must” with only 1 stop. It would have been like Kimi’s situation in the 2012 Chinese GP, when he dropped from the podium positions down to 14th because of staying out on track with the same set of tyres for too many laps, so If Massa would have tried, then he’s tyres would have died before the end and Hamilton with 18 laps fresher softs would have caught him up quickly and then Massa would have had to come to pits and could have had lost the 2nd place to Bottas, who had much fresher (22 laps newer) softs as well.

    2. Maybe the time difference were big enough to excuse such a risk in terms of racing tactics but i think it was also a matter of safety and finish risk. If Massa did that then maybe the tyres could have delaminated by being pushed beyond their limits.
      If that happened then Massa and Williams would have lost everything and am certain Williams was more keen on getting that nice double podium result for the end of the year that risking everything so much.
      They viewed the win as a long shot anyway.

  6. Why Massa didn’t try stay on those soft tyres until the end of the race. I know it’s very risky, but he was way far ahead of third placed Bottas, so why not try?

    1. @osvaldas31

      You know i never thought of that he could have made it i think. He could still have pitted if it got too bad that he would not finish and get 2nd. Ham was closing a little bit around 3 laps before Massa pitted. Maybe Williams thought should bring him in so they have a shot to catch back up. But Ham would had to take 1 second a lap and i don’t think he would have, no way Hamilton would have tried a overtake towards the end.

  7. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    24th November 2014, 14:07

    Great race for Massa! Good to see him taking the fight to the impressive Bottas in the last 3 races. That will be a great intra-team battle to watch and these guys appear to really working together as a team more than any other constructor out there. I think what’s good for Williams is good for both drivers! Let’s hope they do as well in 2015!

  8. Lets all pump the breaks on Bottas he is not as good as some people think. He barely beat Maldando, and clearly if Massa can get podiums the car is a great car. Many times i seen people say him and Ric were best drivers of the year and that they would win the WC in the Merc that is laughable to me. What evidence is there that they can hang with Hamilton and Ros, Ric maybe but Bottas? Last 3 races he as been beaten by Massa. Alo would never of let that happen, whilst this looks a negative post how they did not in a race and Ric won 3 i will never know. No way a top driver loses the Austria race.

    Im not saying Bottas is poor but he did have a great car this year a car that Ric, Alonso and Hamilton would have been abe to win races in. Massa was alot better than Raikonnen has been but im almost sure Alonso would get 3rd in the WC in that car. Lotus in 2013 was probably a WC car i mean Gro and Kimi were making everyone but Red Bull look silly at times. To this day i believe 2013 Lotus was a WC car in Alo hands.

    1. Every time(3 times) when Merc had big troubles, RIC had track positions and better pace. Additionally, before Merc formally won WCC, I suspect Wolff would not like to see(allow) his B team to beat his A team.

    2. I agree that Bottas although solid he never showed to be THAT awesome. He left quite a lot slip threw his hands and made some mistakes although you can say that the guy has less experience than Riccardo and that his first year wasn’t exactly very helpful to him considering what a total dog that Williams was. It was his first try driving a decent car this year, so lets see if he can show improvement next year. Riccardo did seem quite amazing though considering his team mate was not Massa but a 4 times champion and also considering how he took advantage every chance the Mercs gave and how amazingly he overtook people in many races.

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