Strategy gives Red Bull hope of fighting Mercedes

2016 Singapore Grand Prix pre-race analysis

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Mercedes have had eight front-row lock-outs so far this year, but not in Singapore. Nonetheless, there’s a decent chance they will be running first and second soon after the start in Singapore.

Daniel Ricciardo split the two silver cars in qualifying, but second place will be on the less clean side of the grid. And as Red Bull have opted to start the race on the harder super-soft tyres, Lewis Hamilton will have a strong chance of beating him to turn one. Assuming, of course, Hamilton gets away better than he did in Italy.

Singapore GP qualifying in pictures
If Red Bull can finish the first lap with at least one of the Mercedes behind them it will do their victory chances a lot of good. However their alternative strategy offers their best hope. They should be able to run a longer first stint than Mercedes, meaning they have a better chance of avoiding traffic when they eventually pit.

Key to this is how quickly the field spreads out behind them. An early Safety Car which bunches the field up again is something Mercedes will not want to see.

The Safety Car has never failed to appear during previous runnings of the Singapore Grand Prix. Due to the length of the track Safety Car periods take a long time in Singapore, and so race control may prefer to use the Virtual Safety Car whenever possible.

One driver who is counting on them to make up for a disappointing qualifying session is Sebastian Vettel. The only upside to his Q1 exit with a broken anti-roll bar is he now has plenty of fresh tyres for the race. With a few well-timed Safety Car appearances he could recover a decent points finish.

Pirelli expect most teams to use two-stop strategies in the race. Crucial to this will be at what point in the race they can put on a set of the soft tyres and run until the end. Last year Romain Grosjean did 33 laps on one set of softs, but his pace dropped off over the final laps. Drivers therefore may not feel comfortable about attempting to run to the end until half-distance in the 61-lap race. Though of course there is always the temptation to gamble on a slightly earlier stop in the hope that the Safety Car makes an appearance later on.

The other dimension to the Red Bull-Mercedes fight is the championship situation. Rosberg can’t afford to throw away any points, but losing them to Ricciardo is at least preferable to losing them to Hamilton. And if the championship contenders finish the race in the same order they start it, Rosberg will move back into the points lead.

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Qualifying times in full


Q2 (vs Q1)

Q3 (vs Q2)
1Nico RosbergMercedes1’45.3161’43.020 (-2.296)1’42.584 (-0.436)
2Daniel RicciardoRed Bull1’44.2551’43.933 (-0.322)1’43.115 (-0.818)
3Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’45.1671’43.471 (-1.696)1’43.288 (-0.183)
4Max VerstappenRed Bull1’45.0361’44.112 (-0.924)1’43.328 (-0.784)
5Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1’44.9641’44.159 (-0.805)1’43.540 (-0.619)
6Carlos Sainz JnrToro Rosso1’45.4991’44.493 (-1.006)1’44.197 (-0.296)
7Daniil KvyatToro Rosso1’45.2911’44.475 (-0.816)1’44.469 (-0.006)
8Nico HulkenbergForce India1’46.0811’44.737 (-1.344)1’44.479 (-0.258)
9Fernando AlonsoMcLaren1’45.3731’44.653 (-0.720)1’44.553 (-0.100)
10Sergio PerezForce India1’45.2041’44.703 (-0.501)1’44.582 (-0.121)
11Valtteri BottasWilliams1’46.0861’44.740 (-1.346)
12Felipe MassaWilliams1’46.0561’44.991 (-1.065)
13Jenson ButtonMcLaren1’45.2621’45.144 (-0.118)
14Esteban GutierrezHaas1’45.4651’45.593 (+0.128)
15Romain GrosjeanHaas1’45.6091’45.723 (+0.114)
16Marcus EricssonSauber1’46.4271’47.827 (+1.400)
17Kevin MagnussenRenault1’46.825
18Felipe NasrSauber1’46.860
19Jolyon PalmerRenault1’46.960
20Pascal WehrleinManor1’47.667
21Esteban OconManor1’48.296
22Sebastian VettelFerrari1’49.116

Sector times

DriverSector 1Sector 2Sector 3
Nico Rosberg27.391 (1)39.297 (1)35.886 (2)
Daniel Ricciardo27.552 (3)39.671 (2)35.867 (1)
Lewis Hamilton27.463 (2)39.831 (4)35.927 (4)
Max Verstappen27.727 (5)39.709 (3)35.892 (3)
Kimi Raikkonen27.630 (4)39.915 (5)35.995 (5)
Carlos Sainz Jnr27.955 (12)40.017 (6)36.225 (6)
Daniil Kvyat27.954 (11)40.091 (7)36.226 (7)
Nico Hulkenberg27.796 (7)40.143 (10)36.508 (10)
Fernando Alonso27.965 (13)40.136 (9)36.393 (8)
Sergio Perez27.785 (6)40.194 (11)36.471 (9)
Valtteri Bottas27.853 (9)40.113 (8)36.753 (14)
Felipe Massa27.833 (8)40.406 (13)36.723 (13)
Jenson Button27.993 (14)40.224 (12)36.687 (12)
Esteban Gutierrez27.923 (10)40.485 (14)36.677 (11)
Romain Grosjean28.046 (15)40.527 (15)36.834 (15)
Marcus Ericsson28.354 (17)40.972 (16)37.101 (17)
Kevin Magnussen28.505 (19)40.985 (17)37.102 (18)
Felipe Nasr28.442 (18)41.173 (19)37.245 (19)
Jolyon Palmer28.565 (21)41.074 (18)37.026 (16)
Pascal Wehrlein28.324 (16)41.674 (21)37.669 (20)
Esteban Ocon28.528 (20)41.636 (20)38.013 (21)
Sebastian Vettel28.719 (22)41.816 (22)38.264 (22)

Speed trap

PosDriverCarEngineSpeed (kph/mph)Gap
1Pascal WehrleinManorMercedes314.5 (195.4)
2Lewis HamiltonMercedesMercedes314.5 (195.4)-0.0
3Felipe MassaWilliamsMercedes313.8 (195.0)-0.7
4Valtteri BottasWilliamsMercedes313.7 (194.9)-0.8
5Nico RosbergMercedesMercedes312.8 (194.4)-1.7
6Esteban OconManorMercedes312.4 (194.1)-2.1
7Sergio PerezForce IndiaMercedes311.4 (193.5)-3.1
8Nico HulkenbergForce IndiaMercedes311.3 (193.4)-3.2
9Kimi RaikkonenFerrariFerrari308.8 (191.9)-5.7
10Felipe NasrSauberFerrari308.7 (191.8)-5.8
11Max VerstappenRed BullTAG Heuer308.2 (191.5)-6.3
12Fernando AlonsoMcLarenHonda307.6 (191.1)-6.9
13Daniel RicciardoRed BullTAG Heuer307.2 (190.9)-7.3
14Romain GrosjeanHaasFerrari306.5 (190.5)-8.0
15Marcus EricssonSauberFerrari306.3 (190.3)-8.2
16Sebastian VettelFerrariFerrari306.2 (190.3)-8.3
17Esteban GutierrezHaasFerrari306.2 (190.3)-8.3
18Jenson ButtonMcLarenHonda305.6 (189.9)-8.9
19Daniil KvyatToro RossoFerrari304.3 (189.1)-10.2
20Kevin MagnussenRenaultRenault303.4 (188.5)-11.1
21Jolyon PalmerRenaultRenault302.2 (187.8)-12.3
22Carlos Sainz JnrToro RossoFerrari300.1 (186.5)-14.4

Remaining tyres sets per driver

Lewis HamiltonMercedes200103
Nico RosbergMercedes200103
Sebastian VettelFerrari102031
Kimi RaikkonenFerrari102003
Felipe MassaWilliams101014
Valtteri BottasWilliams101014
Daniel RicciardoRed Bull102102
Max VerstappenRed Bull102102
Nico HulkenbergForce India201003
Sergio PerezForce India201003
Kevin MagnussenRenault102013
Jolyon PalmerRenault102013
Daniil KvyatToro Rosso101103
Carlos Sainz JnrToro Rosso101103
Marcus EricssonSauber012022
Felipe NasrSauber102022
Fernando AlonsoMcLaren101004
Jenson ButtonMcLaren101014
Pascal WehrleinManor012022
Rio HaryantoManor012022
Romain GrosjeanHaas011014
Esteban GutierrezHaas011014

Over to you

Will Red Bull give Mercedes a serious fight in the Singapore Grand Prix? And where will Vettel finish from the back of the grid?

Share your views on the Singapore Grand Prix in the comments.

2016 Singapore Grand Prix

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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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18 comments on “Strategy gives Red Bull hope of fighting Mercedes”

  1. Verstappen long runs have been the best of anyone all weekend long. Qualifying was inopportune but fourth still gives a decent chance of a win. Had trouble with the ultra soft tyres but will do wonders on the super soft. Expect two Red Bulls on the podium, probably one on the top step.

    1. Guybrush Threepwood
      17th September 2016, 22:16

      I suggest you take a look at FP2 where Ricciardo’s long runs were much better than Verstappen’s.

      1. I did. They weren’t.

      2. Guybrush….no they weren’t…..on the US Ricciardo was AVG 0,1 faster then Max…..on the SS Max was AVG 0,4 faster then Ricciardo

  2. The top 5 broke Vettel’s last year pole lap record !

    1. Fastest lap of the track not exactly means Lap record. Lap record are only official timing recorded from the race.

      1. Rosberg did beat Vettel’s 2013 fastest ever lap around Singapore, which does mean that over one lap these cars are now faster here as well. There cannot be too many circuits left where the V6s are still slower than the 2011+ V8s (i.e. both using the designed-to-degrade tyres).

        1. Vettel his lap was set during the race, Rosberg during qualifying.

          On top of that the configuration has changed. Ricciardo holds the record on this lay-out with a 1:50.041. This will very likely be broken today now that both Mercedes cars are in top shape. Vettel however drove a 1:48.574 on the original lay-out.

          1. Vettel his lap was set during the race, Rosberg during qualifying.

            On top of that the configuration has changed. Ricciardo holds the record on this lay-out with a 1:50.041. This will very likely be broken today now that both Mercedes cars are in top shape. Vettel however drove a 1:48.574 on the original lay-out.

            Besides Vettel drove a pole lap off 1:42.841 (2013) on harder tyres than Rosberg did his pole lap yesterday which was a 1:42.584. Ricciardo is again back in the 1:43s, it’s pretty safe to say Rosberg his lap yesterday was pretty quick.

    2. Guybrush Threepwood
      18th September 2016, 4:36

      They do have the Ultra-soft tyre available which they did not last year.

  3. Correction. I missed out reading “pole lap” record. I read it as lap record.

  4. Interesting. Mercedes has no new super soft tyres, but two new sets of soft tyres. They have one used set of super softs – how many laps has that run already? Are they maybe planning to do a one-stop (ultrasoft-soft)? How did the soft tyre perform in practice?

    Also will be interesting what Vettel does from the back. In a race without safety car, I think he might be able to break into the top 10 (not by much though). He will be hoping for well-timed safety cars though so that he could end up higher; I wonder whether he has talked to Briatore already?

    1. I’m tipping Seb to run one or two laps to try and gain a few places on the ultra-soft before pitting for the super-soft to go as fast and far as possible in clear air before the mid-field can pit and come out in front of him. This could get him to about 10th on track before 2nd stop for new softs and see how far they take him. Being able to do 2 stints on softs might have been handy to ensure getting to the end, so a 3-stop is very possible. Maybe the Ferrari can keep the supers alive for as long as the Mercs do with the softs. Kimi will be hoping so.
      Of course a lot depends on accidents and safety cars.

  5. I think Mercedes may be forced into a 3-stop (U – S – S – SS) or then may really struggle towards the end of the race with drop off.

    Where as Red Bull will have an easy 2-stop, however they might split the strategies, i.e. SS – SS – S / SS – S – SS

    My prediction is Ricciardo for the win, Rosberg 2nd, Verstappen 3rd, Hamilton 4th

  6. Ric for the win Ves will be taken out by a reptile

  7. Hm, does the heavy rain that fell in between mean there is less difference between the two sides of the grid? And how will it affect the tyres – will the USofts suffer more, will the soft be a better prospect now?

  8. Trying not to be pessimistic, but if Rosberg comes out of turn 1 in the lead it’s effectively race over. Who stands with him on the podium could be the main action point today.

  9. This race has only won by the three current great champions of Formula one over the last 8 years. If Nico needs to change this today, he needs to give his all. I still believe he lacks that extra bit to be a champion. But he has shown already that he is a best driver ever to not win a World championship.

Comments are closed.