Sebastian Vettel and Valtteri Bottas could have finished higher in the Japanese Grand Prix had they made their second pit stops earlier.
Both were jumped by drivers who pitted before them and used fast out-laps to undercut them for position.
Vettel had been told to pull out a two-second lead over Nico Rosberg during his middle stint and he had exactly that much in hand before his second pit stop. However after Rosberg pitted on lap 29 his rapid out-lap of 1’55.869 – over two seconds quicker than Vettel’s team mate had managed on the previous lap – set him up to claim second from Vettel.
“At the second round of pit-stops we were surprised by the out-lap that Nico pulled,” Vettel admitted. “I guess we thought the gap was big enough, so you can’t say we made a mistake.”
“But in the end it’s a bit of a shame when you cross the line; I think that if we could have stayed ahead it would have been difficult for Nico to pass, as around there it is not so easy to get close, and we saw that he struggled a long time with Bottas.”
Raikkonen’s out-lap (and the fastest pit stop of the race) helped him jump ahead of Bottas, who he’d been just six-tenths of a second behind before pitting.
Nonetheless Williams head of performance engineering Rob Smedley felt the team could have been more aggressive and pitted sooner, as it had done earlier in the race. “Our call on the first stop was the right one and kept us in front of Rosberg,” he said, “but our second stop was too late and so we lost the position to Raikkonen.”
2015 Japanese Grand Prix lap chart
The positions of each driver on every lap. Scroll to zoom, drag to pan, click name to highlight, right-click to reset:
2015 Japanese Grand Prix race chart
The gaps between each driver on every lap compared to the leader’s average lap time. Scroll to zoom, drag to pan, click name to highlight, right-click to reset: