Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Sepang International Circuit, 2015

Could Ferrari have won without the Safety Car?

2015 Malaysian Grand Prix

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Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Sepang International Circuit, 2015The Malaysian Grand Prix raised the exciting prospect that the previously dominant Mercedes may face serious opposition from at least one of their rivals this year.

But would Ferrari have triumphed over their rivals without the benefit of an early Safety Car period?

Both Mercedes drivers headed for the pits when the Safety Car came out on lap four while eventual winner Sebastian Vettel stayed out and took the lead. Was that what won him the race – or were Mercedes always going to lose this one?

For

After Mercedes thumped the field in Australia it was clear on Friday in Malaysia that Ferrari were in much stronger for round two – as they expected before the race.

The performance the SF-15Ts hinted at on the rough Jerez circuit during testing was borne out at Sepang, another tough track for tyres were temperatures reached punishing highs. The Sepang lap times shows this was borne out in the race: compared to Ferrari, the Mercedes drivers’ lap times rose too quickly too soon in the latter stages of each stint.

Had the Safety Car not come out Vettel would have been left trying to pass leader Lewis Hamilton on the track. In this scenario his superior tyre life would have given him the opportunity to pit earlier and attack Hamilton using the ‘undercut’, knowing he was better-placed than the Mercedes driver to tolerate the resulting longer stint afterwards. And he when the Safety Car came out he was already within a second of the Mercedes.

Against

Whether or not Mercedes did the ‘right’ thing when the Safety Car came out, their position had already been compromised by their tactics in qualifying, which left them with one fewer set of the medium tyres. This arguably did at least much as damage to their chances of winning as did the appearance of the Safety Car.

Last year Mercedes did their first three stints on the softer medium tyre, then switched to the hards for a brief run at the end. The decision between the two tyres was more finely poised this time, and in the heat Mercedes believed they would favour the harder tyre in the race.

Instead they found an irate Hamilton asking them why he had been put back on the hard tyres for his final stint, and had to tell him that the set of mediums he’d used in Q1 weren’t fresh enough. Looking at Rosberg’s pace during that last stint when he was on medium tyres, if Hamilton had still had a set he would have caught Vettel and been in a position to pass him despite the earlier deployment of the Safety Car.

I say

Safety Car, Sepang International Circuit, 2015This isn’t a case of whether Vettel ‘got lucky’ with the Safety Car, but whether the Ferrari had the raw pace to beat the Mercedes under normal racing conditions – and could do again.

Ordinarily when a Safety Car comes out the biggest advantage the leader loses is the margin they have already established over his closest rival. But Hamilton didn’t really have one, so that case can’t be made here.

There is also the point that Nico Rosberg’s race pace was marginally better than Hamilton’s, but because the team pitted both drivers under the Safety Car – obeying the principle of equality they adhered to last year – Rosberg was disadvantaged by having to queue behind Hamilton in the pits. In future they may have to sacrifice their equal treatment of the pair in order to cover off the threat from rival teams.

But given that Vettel already had track position over Rosberg, I think there’s a more than reasonable chance Ferrari could have won this even without the help of the Safety Car.

You say

Do you agree Ferrari would have won in Malaysia without the Safety Car period?

  • Strongly agree (30%)
  • Slightly agree (38%)
  • Neither agree nor disagree (6%)
  • Slightly disagree (15%)
  • Strongly disagree (8%)
  • No opinion (2%)

Total Voters: 439

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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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91 comments on “Could Ferrari have won without the Safety Car?”

  1. Yes. Because the Ferrari matched the Mercedes on pace AND had better tyre wear. But if it wasn’t for the safety car, I believe it would have been:

    1. Vet
    2. Ros
    3. Ham

    1. in my opinion it would be exactly like as finished last sunday:
      1. Vet
      2. Ham
      2. Ros

  2. Sure
    They had the pace and tyre management
    Raikkonen won in 2013 in Lotus using the same strategy

  3. James (@jamesjames123abc)
    5th April 2015, 11:59

    It’s hard to tell how Hamilton and Rosberg would’ve done on a ‘normal’ 3-stop strategy. By stopping at least 4-5 laps earlier than they would’ve done, it meant they had to do those extra laps on worn tyres. It would’ve been very close.

    1. I agree, without the safety car I would have expected LH to be able to defend his lead but traffic or a slow pit stop may have given Vettel the lead. Slightly disagree on balance.

  4. ColdFly F1 (@)
    5th April 2015, 11:59

    I ‘strongly agree’ – It seemed that Vettel/Ferrari had the raw pace and skill to win in Malaysia.

    NB – I voted incorrectly – subtract 1 ‘strongly disagree’ and add 1 ‘strongly agree’ in the end.

  5. Giving up the faster set of tyres after only 4 laps was costly- Mercedes needed the pace they offered to help deal with their inferior ability to manage any of the tyres. Had they stretched that first set out for longer, they either wouldn’t have needed to spend so long on hards or possibly could even have used the 3rd set of mediums which didn’t have much life in them after qualifying.

    Ordinarily when a Safety Car comes out the biggest advantage the leader loses is the margin they have already established over his closest rival. But Hamilton didn’t really have one, so that case can’t be made here.

    Hamilton may not have lost a margin, but instead he was given a deficit, he not only lost position, he had to spend several laps clearing cars before even retaking 2nd- he lost around 6 seconds there.

    1. Yes, but that is much less of a penalty than the pit stop nonetheless.

      1. I think @vettel1 is right here @matt90. Yes, Hamilton lost the 10 seconds and tyre wear from having to pass cars to get back to Vettel, but without the SC he would have still had to do 1 pitstop more than Vettel and that would have lost him 20 seconds.

        For Rosberg I do think he might have been in a closer position without that SC pitstop, as he clearly lost out more (wasn’t he also faster on track than Hamilton before they pitted?) from being stacked behind Hamilton.

  6. The moment Hamilton stopped pulling away it was apparent Ferrari might have this. Ferrari was faster in a straight line and with DRS and better tyre life would possibly have passed early on anyway.

    I think Hamilton would have been able to fight again at the end of the race had Mercedes got the tyre strategy right in qualifying and not dithered trying a two stop then going back to a three stop, but I think Vettel still had pace he wasn’t using fully left then anyway.

    Mercedes don’t need to worry too much about the constructors, but for the drivers championship they can’t be costing Hamilton points like they did last year.

    1. We see lots of your type of comment but no one seems to appreciate that with marginal tyre life there is no advantage in tearing away and killing them unless you can truly get away by seconds. Track position while trying to keep as much life as possible in the tyres is the strategy they had in mind. It had nothing to do with if LH could pull away. Of course he could. At the expense of the tyres longevity. Hence any early advantage would become a disadvantage over the long run and hence retaining position was enough. Mercedes clearly intended to go as long as possible on the first set and lost any potential slow lap time longevity advantage LH had built by throwing them away rather too early.

      It is still questionable if they could have won. But they certainly could have put up a far better fight without the perfect storm or the silly panicking and strategic errors.

      Too confident and no Friday running killed that chance as well as fixing (and telling all) to a 3 stop strategy.

      Such is life in this ridiculous Pirelli formula.

      When did it become better to develop a car that ran slower but longer as it was ‘kind’? 2011. How is that much other than benefitting only those that do not have the ultimate pace and satisfying the ‘everyone must be a winner’ modern fly by night fan?

      Never mind – perhaps we can get back to where the tyres are not the total factor in more than a couple of races again soon.

      After all, For that we can watch the mess they have made of different classes all within MotoGp.

      1. “We see lots of your type of comment but no one seems to appreciate that with marginal tyre life there is no advantage in tearing away and killing them unless you can truly get away by seconds.” you are right, but vettel would have been putting in the same limited effort… the natural advantage of the mercedes was not their, in every other race the last year and a bit it was.

  7. See Vettel had the same 10-second margin at the end of the race, he had by the time Hamilton cleared the others who stayed out during the SC phase.

    So in my opinion, Vettel had the pace to keep up with the Mercs and the SC merely spared us more straight head-to-head fight between the two. Instead, it became a battle that was fought with that 10-second gap inserted between the two cars at all points of their given distance on any given lap.

    1. But as you say, the margin was about the same, but if there hadn’t been a safety car the Mercs would have run longer on their first stint, which would have allowed them to be a bit harder on their tires in the other stints. It definitely would’ve been a very close finish, and likely a battle on track between Vettel and Hamilton. Given Vettel skills defending that we’ve seen in the past he may well have been able to keep Hamilton behind, but I don’t think it’s a foregone conclusion.

      1. Then again we don’t know in the final stint how much Vettel was just managing that gap, as he didn’t appear to be pushing to quite the extent Räikkönen was at that point.

  8. For sure. As Kimi would get a place in the podium if he didn’t had the tyre issue.

  9. Also, I don’t think we can judge Hamilton’s pace on an imaginary medium-shod last stint from Rosberg’s, @keithcollantine. Rosberg had the better car on race day and with Hamilton suffering from understeer the Briton barely had the pace to keep up with Rosberg when HE was on the medium tyre and Rosberg was on the hard. Hamilton wouldn’t have been as fast as Rosberg on mediums at the end. (See your race chart for pace differentials.)

  10. Keith, the title and actual question are different, which adds confusion. ‘Could’ and ‘would’ are very different things. I think that Ferrari could have done it, but believe that they probably wouldn’t have actually quite managed it.

  11. I put slightly agree. Some defensive driving may have meant Hamilton could have held of Vettel and Rosberg who both had better pace, unfortunately DRS would have put pay to that prospect anyway.

  12. Strongly agree. Please also consider that in the latter part of the race the Ferrari of Vettel did not need to show greater pace – he only had to manage his lead, something he knows how to do as well, if not better, than anyone in the field.

  13. Missing FP1 and most of FP2 surely didn’t help Lewis’ race preparations, so to even finish 2nd was an achievement in itself.

    Seb was able to do 17 laps on the tyres he started the race on. Now had Mercedes stayed out and managed to do at least 10-14 laps, then the outcome could’ve been a lot different

  14. Keith, in your analysis of the “against” section, you could have noted that Allison himself stated that he is unsure whether Vettel could have caught and passed both Mercedes drivers on track without that safety car. To quote:
    “So if you are a 0.1s or 0.2s quicker, which is maybe what we were, then that’s super hard to turn into an overtake and super hard to turn into an overtake on two cars; they [Mercedes] would have had the opportunity to split their strategy and at least beat us with one. The safety car presented us the opportunity to get past them in a relatively painless way.”
    http://www.espn.co.uk/f1/story/_/id/12592863/james-allison-explains-how-ferrari-won-malaysian-grand-prix-why-repeat-tough

    Those comments would appear to suggest that Allison seems to think that the safety car did hand them an advantage by making it possible for them to get past Mercedes without having to fight it out on track and reducing Mercedes’s strategic options, both of which worked in Ferrari’s favour.

    1. Yeah, Allison is right, it really is nearly impossible to pass someone on track if you’re only 0.2s quicker per lap, but at the same time it is nearly impossible not to win a race if you are both 0.2s quicker per lap and do one pitstop less… All the evidence I’ve seen suggests there is simply no way Mercedes could have made the two stopper work for Hamilton. Even if the two stopper was possible for Rosberg, it wouldn’t have made any difference as he was behind Vettel already… So looking at lap times and tyre usage, and leaving out the safety car period, there was just no way for Mercedes to get this one. What hurt Mercedes ego the most was the fact that Vettel could even afford to conserve engine throughout the last stint, merely managing the gap.

      In next few races we’ll see if it was a one off, or Ferrari has really risen to the challenge. I personally hope it is the latter, as someone has to take the fight to Hamilton, and I just don’t believe Rosberg has it…

  15. Who are we kidding? Hamilton wins the race if he had better strategy. It’s almost as if Mercedes didn’t want to win. Dumb early pit stop and using the wrong tires in the same race…

    1. It’s almost as if Mercedes didn’t want to win.

      Yap, they let Ferrari win

    2. Well losing out to Ferrari has certainly injected a bit of competition into the whole thing..maybe it was planned that way!

  16. Say the Safety Car didn’t happen :

    1. We know that Mercedes HAD TO make it a 3-stop in Sepang, their tyres management isn’t so good. One pit stop accounts for about 20 seconds, so Hamilton would have a 20s disadvantage to Vettel in the 2-stop. After Hamilton got 2nd place after the 1st pit stop, the difference was only 10s and they both had 2 pit stops remaining, and Hamilton’s tyres were 4 laps younger than Vettel’s

    That means that the Safety Cars actually helped Mercedes there, the gap between a 3-stop and a 2-stop was reduced by 10 seconds. Mercedes made the right decision pitting the cars, it’s just that they are not as fast as Ferrari that day.

    2. Say Mercedes went for a 2-stop, with their worse tyres management comparing the Ferrari their cars would go slower than the Ferrari of Vettel. Ferrari would have won anyway.

    Conclusion : Ferrari won fair and square with or without the safety car. But China’s cool temperature isn’t going to help them repeat this victory!

    1. I agree with this point. Everyone says the safety car hurt them, but it was going to be 3vs2 stops between them and Vettel. So actually, they saved time by doing one pit stop under the safety car and were ‘only’ 10 seconds behind Vettel after they cleared the traffic instead of 25+.

      Their biggest mistake is not having an extra set of medium tyres, then they could take the fight to Ferrari at the final laps and we could’ve watched some exciting racing.

      1. This difference being that at 4 laps in the tyres still had a lot of life left in them, and you can manage them better at the front when you’re not trying to pass slower cars after the pit stop, then even if you didn’t have and extra set of medium tyres as you suggest, the final stop would allow them to put on their only avalible medium tyres, so the strategy was the issue and not the safety car.

        1. An extra pit would have costed them 23 seconds at the least. No way they are going to make that up to Ferrari considering they couldn’t make up 10 in 40 laps time.

          1. @evered7 You have to remember that on lap 39 Lewis pitted and was 23 seconds back with 17 laps to go, he erased 13 seconds off the 23 second deficit, and was 10 seconds adrift at the end, the same amount lost to pitting under the safety car, now if Merc had stayed out when the safety car was deployed, it would have been very close between the Ferrari and Mercedes.

          2. You have to remember that on lap 39 Lewis pitted and was 23 seconds back with 17 laps to go, he erased 13 seconds off the 23 second deficit

            You’re assuming that Vettel was pushing 100% and not just cruising and watcching

          3. @scepter I am not sure where you are looking but this link doesn’t show a 23 second gap. It was more like 14.5 which ended at 10 seconds at the finish line.

          4. @evered7 My source was the race, I had recorded it, and at lap 39 Vettel’s lead was 23 seconds with 17 laps to go, you might have been looking at an earlier pit stop, when Ferrari and Merc were doing alternate pit stops, but for the final stops Vettel stopped on lap 38 and Lewis on lap 39, this is how the 23 second deficit came about.

    2. Mercedes ran a 2 stop race with 4 laps less. That’s hardly the same as them needing to do a 3 stop race.

      In essence they did a 2 stop race. Just with the added deficit of being 10 seconds behind Vettel after the SC.

      1. Mercedes ran a 2 stop race with 4 laps less.

        Yap, why we have to count the time the SC was in the track

      2. Seems for you you don’t count the 25 sec that is a pitstop under race conditions instead of a pitstop under SC which in this case amounted to 10-11 sec including traffic.
        And it is even possible that Mercedes would found some if pitted with race under way, while less traffic if they pitted say at 12-14 lap or so is possible that 25 sec deficit would mean say 27-29 sec if they had to pass one or 2 cars.

        1. Yeah I don;t count that because they didn’t need to make that stop. That;s the whole point.

  17. Of course, Merc have pit stop bonus under the safety car yet they can’t took advantage of it.
    Pace wise Merc is ahead, but in tyre deg Merc was poor compare to Ferrari.

    1. tyre deg determined pace to some extend- so merc were not ahead pace wise. if tyre deg was worse for merc, we should still assume they are ahead going by last year and the first race. Fair play to ferrari, that was a “real” win. Ferrari were ahead Pace Wise

  18. doublediffuser
    5th April 2015, 14:16

    I think they would. Actually, I think if anything SC was advantage to Merc. I remember watching Sky and pundits saying “Oh, this is great decision by Merc, getting a free pit stop…” just to backtrack after the race how its strategic mistake that cost them the race, I don’t buy it. They lost 10 seconds behind that train but thats exact same difference Vettel finished the race with.

    I was shocked once race started and Hammer couldn’t get away from Vettel in first 4 laps, and we all know Lewis gets away rather quickly when in pole position with a good car. Actually, in 4th lap Sebastian was cutting that lead while Rosberg was being left behind. I wonder what would happen in few lap time when Ham’s tires would go off and Vettel was still going, because he was completely in DRS zone for whole 4 laps until SC. That kinda surprised me, and I think that should make Merc guys a bit wary of Ferrari’s race pace.

    I think Ferrari’s pace is severely underrated to be honest. Back in Melbourne they stuck behind Massa after having bad qualifying sessions, and by James Allison own words, lost around 20 seconds to Merc and I guess once they were 3rd they weren’t exactly pushing because there was no need since Mercs were far ahead. Now, 20 seconds at Melbourne is 0.2 seconds per lap, which is not big difference to have when your tires are falling off that much quicker.

    All in all there is too much of optimism at Ferrari (especially JA) to think they won’t be going to China and thinking they dont have serious pace to pose a treat to Merc. Merc still has more pace, but when tires and strategy comes into play the kind of advantage they have goes down rather quickly.

    1. doublediffuser
      5th April 2015, 14:18

      Just a small correction. At Melbourne JA said they would be 20seconds quicker had they not been behind Massa. So thats 14 seconds off the Merc, which is 2 tenths per lap.

  19. the time difference between LH & SV at the end has no bearing to that after the safety car. it does not take into account that Lewis restarted 5th (or 6th) after the safety car and had to clear those back to 2nd all the while Seb had clear air and was on the fastest tyre. Also remember Seb moaning that Lewis had slowed too much under SC, he complained he was delta -10 which no doubt helped Lewis in some way.

    1. but lewis repassed everyone easily and was only 10 seconds behind aqnd was on fresher tyres at many times. so if mercedes had the advantage they had last year, hamilton would still have beaten Vettel by 30 seconds easily you would think, but that did not happen – the deficit remained the same till the end of the race! that shows Ferrari were on the pace to beat Mercedes anyway.

  20. LOL! It is a big joke if we start analyzing ifs and buts when it comes to Malaysia. By the same ifs and buts, I would say that Raikkonen had a strong chance of winning in Malaysia IF he didn’t get eliminated in Q2 due to being stuck behind Ericsson. If we discount the pitstop he did on lap 2 due to puncture when he had to give up a fresh set, he did numerous overtakes and still managed to run the remaining race with just 2 stops. Again, he was faster than Vettel throughout the practice sessions. So it is just reasonable to assume that he could have won in Malaysia.

    No wonder he was disappointed with that P4. There are only a handful of weekends where Ferrari has a strong chance of win. If bad luck strikes him at the exact same time, it is going to be frustrating.

    1. Vettels times were better in the race, Raikonnen would have finished 2nd or 3rd.

  21. Yes, this was like Raikkonen’s 2013 win in Melbourne.

  22. If we go by the first 4 laps before safety car, Vettel kept with Hamilton, and was about to enjoy the drs advantage as he was only .8 seconds behind – so it looked like he had the pace, add to that ferraris better tyre usage, then yes i think ferrari could have won without safet. we will never know though, and i dont care, the end result is all that matters!-even without safety car, the result would have been close -and it shows that ferrari were not show boating in testing. now if renault can get their act together and use their last 15 tokens to achieve the claims they had for this year (850hp was claimed, and then redbull said they had the same power as last year ~700-750) then we may have a competitive sport.

  23. the only thing that hurt merc was tyre wear,hards instead of mediums on final stint.and lewis not setting his car up correctly because of car troubles in practice.

    1. that is mercs fault for using more mediums in qualifying when they didnt need to. Lewis had good car setup as proven by being on the pace in next practise. car setup is know before the weekend in modern times in f1, with only small adjustements needed. given merces dominance in this era, they should still have been winning even on hard! ferrari has improved far more then mercedes have.

  24. Slightly agree, because the people in charge of the Mercedes strategy need to be sacked immediately. They are Mercedes’s weakness.

  25. Lets assume that Vettel could do a 2 stop, even without the safetycar, which did seem likely as he didn’t appear to be running out of tyre at the end. That Mercedes would need to do a 3-stop is fairly certain as they were running out of tyres even with the safetycar.
    When Hamilton pitted the first time he would normally have lost roughly 20 seconds to Vettel. However, by pitting under the safetycar he had only lost 10 seconds while negotiating traffic. So while he had to make his last two stints last slightly longer, he saved 10’ish seconds by taking the pitstop under the safetycar, and Vettel had a full 10 seconds in hand by the time he started his last lap, and he probably had more speed in hand if he had needed it. On that basis I see no reason why Vettel would not have won with or without the safetycar.

    1. Why do people keep saying they needed to do 3 stops. They did 2 stops for 52 laps. Would those 4 laps extra on 3 sets of tyres really have made all that difference? Of course not.

      1. @patricl they were starting on used tyres. They could barely do the 52 laps on brand new tyres. Four laps more on just one set of new tyres. On top of that the safety car spared their tyres of a few laps of hard work as well.

        Secondly, if they could have done a two stop without the safety car, they could have done at two stop with the safetycar. I refuse to believe that they took that pitstop for fun.

        1. They all start on the tyres from quali. 15 tot 17 laps would easily have been possible.

          They didn’t take that pitstop for fun. It was just a dumb mistake.

          1. @patrickl It’s not about 15 to 17 laps. It’s 15 on NEW tyres to 17 on used qualifying tyres. They weren’t exactly doing great on their tyres at it was. Had they not stopped, they would have had to go slower, thus slower then Vettel. I fail to see how that would have helped much.

          2. No, it’s 15 to 17 laps on USED tyres. They all start on USED tyres.

            They would have gone only marginally slower and Vettel was unable to overtake even Massa in Australia. Two Mercedes would pose a whole lot more difficult a hurdle.

      2. Would matter, because those 4 laps were also done with most fuel.

  26. Why does everyone keep saying that Merc 3-stopped?
    They only did 3 and a bit laps at full racing pace in the first stint. Effectively they 2-stopped, same as Ferrari.

    1. Mercedes had 2 stops after the safety car, that is correct. But they used 2 set of hards to make it. Mercedes couldn’t make the mediums work as Ferrari was able to maintain their speed better on the medium tyre than Mercedes could do on hards. Vettel did 20 laps on mediums maintaining good pace whereas Mercedes couldn’t make the hard tyres last 20 laps while maintaining acceptable pace.

      Without a safety car Mercedes had 2 choices. Either go for a 2-stopper, but then they would have had to use m-h-h and would have been compromized on pace. Or they had to go for a three stopper and would have lost 20-25 seconds as a consequence. They wouldn’t have been able to recover the time lost in the pits.

      Personally I think Mercedes must have broken away at the start to beat Ferrari. But they couldn’t do it.

  27. I strongly disagree. I think Ferrari in spite of Mercedes miscues would not win. Regardless of Vettel’s pace the team would have sacrificed in this case Rosberg, to hamper the Ferrari’s progression.

    1. How? Vettel was ahead of Rosberg and pulling away from him already. If he pitted early, he would come ahead of Hamilton. Considering that both were going to three stop, all Vettel would have to do was to wait for them to pit and proceed with the race.

  28. Personally i think if Ferrari have more durable tyres at other circuits they will be
    a real thorn in the side of Mercedes.

  29. Yes. It’s a simple case of margins.

    Hamilton was approximately 10s behind Vettel after gaining second place following the safety car period, on fresher tyres. Vettel won by that margin. Considering Vettel was able to coast towards the end, and the longer stint lengths for the Ferrari, he would have further pace in hand over the Mercedes if required.

    He would certainly be able to overtake also. He did just that to Rosberg (granted, he was fairly submissive) and was directly behind Hamilton when he aborted the fight to pull into the pits.

    There is no doubt Mercedes blundered the strategy, but in the end it was inconsequential.

    1. Vettel overtook Rosberg and Hamilton with ease because their tyres were dead. They were 3 seconds a lap slower at that point. If they had all been on the same strategy (as they would have been if they hadn’t made that useless early stop) then Vettel would not have been any faster at all and would not have been able to simply drive past.

      1. I’m under in illusions that he wouldn’t have been simply able to drive past @patrickl, but he was in the privileged position of being able to undercut them if required due to Ferrari’s superior tyre conservation.

        1. Undercut only works when one is much faster than the car stuck behind. In reality it hardly ever works.

          You last sentence is in complete disagreement with the first bit of your argument. Either they stop later because their tyres last much longer or they stop sooner to get the undercut. Which is it?

  30. Accidentally voted slightly disagree instead of slightly agree. Well done to me. :/

  31. Slightly disagree.

    While Ferrari has much closer pace and can run 2 stops, without SC I could think a few points that could affect the outcome of the race:
    – Vettel will have to do the entire first stint under dirty air until Hamilton pitted (which still quite long way to go if safety car not happened) or undercut him (which makes 2 stop looks more risky and even then i doubt he can undercut if Mercedes react quickly. Mercedes still have the better 1 lap pace). We dont know how this will affect them since either Vettel and Raikkonen never stuck behind someone for some time in the whole race.

    – Hamilton will have longer option tire run, which has been proved much quicker than the primes.

    – When Mercedes decided to pit they wont stuck behind any other car which not really a problem for Hamilton but it has bigger impact on Rosberg. Maybe they could prolong their second stint by one or two lap which saving 1.5s or 3s if the option is 1.5s faster per lap than primes.

    – Mercedes will have the control of the race longer and maybe they could see hints that Ferrari is a genuine threat and come up with a plan (although I have doubt on Mercedes strategy call).

    Considering those, I’d say Hamilton will still win the race altho it won’t be easy and we might have some great battle between him and Vettel. Vettel will get second place and Rosberg not that far behind (Hamilton and Vettel battle will allow him to catch up). Or, Rosberg have battle with Vettel and Hamilton could took the win more easily. Of course Vettel could still win with more pressure from Hamilton, thats why I’m slightly disagree :)

    Another thing I noticed is this looks like classic Vettel win in RB. He got the lead early and just control the whole race. Not that I’m undermining his win (in fact I think he’s the best driver when it comes on controlling the race when leading and it takes skill), but I still not sure on how good his overtaking skill on the track (bad in early era, becomes better in 2012-13, trashed completely by Riccardo last year).

    Kimi’s race already destroyed by the puncture so sadly 4th is the highest he could do if the three front runners dont have any problems.

  32. It’s not the safety car that helped Vettel win the race, it was the unneeded pit stop that did.

    Vettel wasn’t any faster than Rosberg or Hamilton. Mercedes really ran a 2 stop race as well. Just that they stopped after a few laps doesn’t mean they would have needed to do so. They were just playing it safe in their mind.

    They lost a lot of time with the needless stop and since they lost the lead as well they couldn’t defend against Vettel either.

    That article about the medium tyres used in Q1 doesn’t say if those were old or new. If they used old tyres for that it doesn’t matter if they used those or hard tyres. They wouldn’t have used them during the race anyway.

    1. Oh and let’s forget that the reason they lost an extra set of mediums was because they threw the first set away after only a first few laps.

      Had they not made they unneeded stop they could have done a full stint on medium tyres saving them half a second a lap as well. That adds up to a lot of seconds extra which they lost because of that.

      So they lost at least 15 to 20 seconds because of that SC period stop plus they lost track postion which meant Vettel didn’t even have to fight for the lead.

      1. With 2 stops their tires would have been even more shot so would even more disadvantaged against Ferrari , this would be offset with 10 sec penalty of their pit under SC.
        They could very well loose more than 10 sec pitting with those extra laps since they were already on the cliff.

    2. Mercedes really ran a 2 stop race as well. Just that they stopped after a few laps doesn’t mean they would have needed to do so

      It is funny when people don’t look at the data because it will break its theories

    3. Yeah, sure, if you expect the Mercedes to do half the race on mediums that got quite a bit of action on Saturday (compared to the fresh set of the hards they had trouble managing for the same amount of laps) you could say that @patrickl.

      I just think that is wishfull thinking.

      1. Half the race? Why half the race? The first set was only used for 4 laps.

        If you really think they could not have done those 4 laps over the 3 sets of tyres used in a 2-stop race then I’d call that lack of thinking.

  33. The correct question should be: ” was Ferrari quick enough without the safety car and a wring strategy from Mercedes who gave up the head at lap 5 with no reason”?

  34. I think, yes.

  35. Slightly agree.

  36. Look at Malaysian Grand prix lap chart, unselect all, select Hamilton and Vettel:
    http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2015/03/29/how-mercedes-safety-car-strategy-backfired/
    Look at laps 18 to 23: Vettel eats more than 10 secs on Hamilton, who in the race also complains about the tyres.
    That said, I don’t understand why Merc treats their drivers unjust by treating them “equal”, thus preventing the second driver from choosing his strategy freely, not that it necessarily would have benefitted Rosberg in this race.

    1. I think not having to be stacked up behind Hamilton would have helped Rosberg quite a bit in Malaysia. He would have been in the lead, in clean air for the restart, instead of having to battle through from p7 or where was it @palle.
      Off course he would then have dropped back when he made is pitstop, but by then the other cars that were passed by Hamilton would have probably been looking to pit too, meaning he MIGHT have had more clear track and would have had an easier job getting more from the tyres.

      1. @bascb

        think not having to be stacked up behind Hamilton would have helped Rosberg quite a bit in Malaysia. He would have been in the lead, in clean air for the restart

        Vettel would have been in the lead at the restart. Because of the stacking and coming out behind more cars, etc., Rosberg probably lost a bit more time than if he had just pitted after the SC came in.

        Of course, if Rosberg benefited by that strategy, Hamilton would have a cow (and vice versa, if Rosberg was brought in, and Hamilton stayed out).

        Merc really needs to get on top of that – what to do with SC’s and splitting strategies. Maybe the driver in front gets the preferred strategy, and if it ends up being wrong, well that’s the way racing goes.

        1. Yes, you are right, he would not have been the first car on track, but the second one, still in nice and clean air @uan.
          After that, it would all depend on how long he could stay out before his tyres waned.

      2. Vettel was in front of Rosberg so he could not have been in the lead.

    2. Vettel on new options (from lap 18) was quicker than Lewis on old primes!

      Who would have expected that?

  37. Why is it Hammy fans can’t accept that Vettel beat him fair and square lol

  38. Strongly – And I hope this will be the case for future races, Bahrain would be entertaining too.

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