Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Barcelona, 2011

Hamilton and Vettel’s 2011 rematch

2017 Spanish Grand Prix pre-race analysis

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Prior to 2017 there were surprisingly few occasions when Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel went gone toe-to-toe in a straight fight for victory.

The 2011 Spanish Grand Prix was a notable exception. After breaking free of Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari early in the race, Hamilton chased Vettel all the way home, eventually losing out by just six-tenths of a second.

Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Circuit de Catalunya, 2017
Spanish Grand Prix qualifying in pictures
For lap after lap Hamilton’s McLaren stuck to the tail of Vettel’s Red Bull, unable to force a mistake from the eventual race winner. This year’s race looks like being Hamilton’s chance to avenge that defeat.

Following Ferrari’s surprise front row lock-out in Russia, normal service has been resumed in Spain. For the third time in five races Hamilton is on pole position with Vettel alongside. Of course Vettel’s best and first chance to get ahead with come at the start, on the long drag to turn one.

The start of last year’s first lap will be imprinted in Hamilton’s mind as he got no further than turn four where he collided with team mate Nico Rosberg. Hamilton had lost the lead from pole position when Rosberg swept around the outside of him at turn one. Vettel will need everything from his Ferrari engine if he’s going to be in a position to pull that off.

The soft tyre is so much quicker than the medium that Pirelli suspect the fastest possible strategy would be to do three 20-lap stints on the softs and a single six-lap run on the mediums. However this will not necessarily be the optimum strategy as it would make drivers more vulnerable to coming out in traffic.

Two 25-lap stints on softs and a 16-lap stint on mediums may therefore be preferable. Mercedes’ pace on the mediums has been better than Ferrari’s, but as we’ve seen in other races this season Mercedes tend not to make their tyres last as long. However the traffic situation behind the front runners will have a strong bearing on which strategies they opt for, as getting stuck behind slow cars at a track like this is a serious disadvantage.

This is where Fernando Alonso’s McLaren could play a decisive role, providing it manages to take the start this time. Dragging a single quick lap out of it is one thing, but lapping consistently at that pace in the race is likely to be beyond it. Keep an eye out for Alonso to slip back early on, slowing the cars behind him, and potentially creating space ahead for leading cars to try aggressive strategies.

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Qualifying times in full

DriverCarQ1

Q2 (vs Q1)

Q3 (vs Q2)
1Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’20.5111’20.210 (-0.301)1’19.149 (-1.061)
2Sebastian VettelFerrari1’20.9391’20.295 (-0.644)1’19.200 (-1.095)
3Valtteri BottasMercedes1’20.9911’20.300 (-0.691)1’19.373 (-0.927)
4Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1’20.7421’20.621 (-0.121)1’19.439 (-1.182)
5Max VerstappenRed Bull1’21.4301’20.722 (-0.708)1’19.706 (-1.016)
6Daniel RicciardoRed Bull1’21.7041’20.855 (-0.849)1’20.175 (-0.680)
7Fernando AlonsoMcLaren1’22.0151’21.251 (-0.764)1’21.048 (-0.203)
8Sergio PerezForce India1’21.9981’21.239 (-0.759)1’21.070 (-0.169)
9Felipe MassaWilliams1’22.1381’21.222 (-0.916)1’21.232 (+0.010)
10Esteban OconForce India1’21.9011’21.148 (-0.753)1’21.272 (+0.124)
11Kevin MagnussenHaas1’21.9451’21.329 (-0.616)
12Carlos Sainz JnrToro Rosso1’21.9411’21.371 (-0.570)
13Nico HulkenbergRenault1’22.0911’21.397 (-0.694)
14Romain GrosjeanHaas1’21.8221’21.517 (-0.305)
15Pascal WehrleinSauber1’22.3271’21.803 (-0.524)
16Marcus EricssonSauber1’22.332
17Jolyon PalmerRenault1’22.401
18Lance StrollWilliams1’22.411
19Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren1’22.532
20Daniil KvyatToro Rosso1’22.746

Sector times

DriverSector 1Sector 2Sector 3
Lewis Hamilton21.730 (3)29.537 (2)27.647 (1)
Sebastian Vettel21.626 (2)29.440 (1)28.106 (5)
Valtteri Bottas21.752 (4)29.543 (3)27.912 (2)
Kimi Raikkonen21.616 (1)29.657 (4)28.055 (4)
Max Verstappen21.879 (6)29.862 (5)27.965 (3)
Daniel Ricciardo21.874 (5)29.960 (6)28.283 (6)
Fernando Alonso22.300 (14)30.295 (7)28.444 (8)
Sergio Perez22.101 (9)30.521 (14)28.387 (7)
Felipe Massa22.041 (8)30.504 (11)28.635 (11)
Esteban Ocon22.040 (7)30.507 (12)28.464 (9)
Kevin Magnussen22.123 (10)30.380 (8)28.703 (13)
Carlos Sainz Jnr22.243 (12)30.398 (9)28.695 (12)
Nico Hulkenberg22.264 (13)30.513 (13)28.620 (10)
Romain Grosjean22.123 (10)30.475 (10)28.732 (15)
Pascal Wehrlein22.330 (15)30.697 (15)28.710 (14)
Marcus Ericsson22.510 (18)30.839 (18)28.866 (16)
Jolyon Palmer22.486 (17)30.860 (19)29.055 (19)
Lance Stroll22.394 (16)31.051 (20)28.966 (18)
Stoffel Vandoorne22.714 (20)30.791 (17)28.944 (17)
Daniil Kvyat22.668 (19)30.787 (16)29.186 (20)

Speed trap

PosDriverCarEngineSpeed (kph/mph)Gap
1Sebastian VettelFerrariFerrari326.5 (202.9)
2Esteban OconForce IndiaMercedes325.7 (202.4)-0.8
3Kimi RaikkonenFerrariFerrari325.2 (202.1)-1.3
4Felipe MassaWilliamsMercedes325.0 (201.9)-1.5
5Kevin MagnussenHaasFerrari323.4 (201.0)-3.1
6Lance StrollWilliamsMercedes323.4 (201.0)-3.1
7Daniel RicciardoRed BullTAG Heuer323.0 (200.7)-3.5
8Sergio PerezForce IndiaMercedes322.8 (200.6)-3.7
9Lewis HamiltonMercedesMercedes322.7 (200.5)-3.8
10Max VerstappenRed BullTAG Heuer322.2 (200.2)-4.3
11Valtteri BottasMercedesMercedes321.4 (199.7)-5.1
12Romain GrosjeanHaasFerrari320.4 (199.1)-6.1
13Nico HulkenbergRenaultRenault319.0 (198.2)-7.5
14Carlos Sainz JnrToro RossoRenault318.4 (197.8)-8.1
15Pascal WehrleinSauberFerrari318.4 (197.8)-8.1
16Marcus EricssonSauberFerrari316.9 (196.9)-9.6
17Jolyon PalmerRenaultRenault316.2 (196.5)-10.3
18Daniil KvyatToro RossoRenault315.3 (195.9)-11.2
19Fernando AlonsoMcLarenHonda314.1 (195.2)-12.4
20Stoffel VandoorneMcLarenHonda310.2 (192.7)-16.3

Over to you

Is this going to be a straight fight between Hamilton and Vettel? Is Ferrari’s reliability a concern after their practice problems? And

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

2017 Spanish 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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28 comments on “Hamilton and Vettel’s 2011 rematch”

  1. Speed trap shows that ferrari has lower downforce setup for this race which i believe will play a part in the hunt of Hamilton but ferrari last sector puzzles me because if they are unable to be behind before the main straight then we will not see them passing.

    1. MG421982 (@)
      13th May 2017, 20:19

      I’m afraid you’re right. Look at the difference between HAM and VET for Sector3… 0.5sec… that’s where VET lost the PP! If he won’t be able to keep up with HAM in the last 2 corners, his superior top speed won’t change a thing.

      1. He lost it in the chicane, it’s probably driver failure. It’s very easy to lose time in that chicane, as far as I know. It’s like Suzuka’s.

        1. I don’t think he lost that much time as he still made the apex, so the gap is probably closer to 0.3 sec. However, with dirty air that’s probably, and unfortunately, enough to neutralise the top speed advantage.

      2. They’ve (regrettably) extended the DRS zone though.

  2. Where is Nico Rosberg when we need him?

    1. Feels like a Ferrari Victory…Max is making Dan look like a ‘Webber’ …Palmer is so far below his machinery and should to be sacked effective immediately because he is out of his depth..Williams are a blight on F1 for taking the so called 80 mill for a spoiled brat or maybe Lance was the singer and his sister is the F1 star and his dad’s accountants stuffed up…anyway Williams must feel so proud!!!

  3. Alonso´s 7th place (despite been slower than the Saubers and Renaults) speaks volumes about the McLaren chassis and skills.
    Honestly I hope he can finish in the top10.

    1. Alonso´s 7th place (despite been slower than the Saubers and Renaults) speaks volumes about the McLaren chassis and skills.

      Sorry, I disagree. Alonso’s 7th place on the grid speaks volumes about Alonso’s skills. Period.

      1. Yes loup l agree, its seems like we are in a F1 nightmare… here is Alonso trying too make a dog preform miracles and we are stuck with watching rich brats in decent machinery under preforming….sadder still is while FA lives through this hell he is getting older and we are missing out on his magic at the front..

        1. AntoineDeParis (@antoine-de-paris)
          14th May 2017, 8:23

          @nosehair

          “we are stuck with watching rich brats in decent machinery under preforming”

          any examples?

          1. not sure if your question was sarcastic or not, but @nosehair was probably thinking of Stroll and Palmer.

          2. Stroll palmer

          3. @gechichan, to be fair to those drivers, Stroll and Palmer were only a few tenths off their team leaders – the gap between them was similar to, for example, the gap between Kimi and Vettel in Q1, or between Ocon and Perez in Q3.

          4. @antoine-de-paris is right, the grid hasn’t been filled with so many top level drivers for ages, except for Palmer and Stroll who seem out of place and Ericcson whom isn’t mega this is a very talented grid. And even so, those three all hold titles.

      2. Sorry @loup-garou but this is nonsense. Alonso alone can’t make up with his driving for the seconds the car is lacking. At some point, the car has to deliver too. This session showed that the chassis is not that bad.
        Alonso said it since the pre-season testing. Everybody laughed at him. Now he proved he was right.

        I hope the engine can last the whole race.

    2. On the UK Sky coverage yesterday Martin Brundle commented that from speaking to several drivers who have followed the McLaren on the track is that in corners the car looks good and comparable to the Red Bull, with a good underlying chassis however the Honda engine is nowhere.

      Overall a stunning performance from Alonso that shows he has a car he can work with, the Honda upgrades cannot come soon enough.

      1. AntoineDeParis (@antoine-de-paris)
        14th May 2017, 9:20

        Chassis and PU allowed Fernando to perform on that level on that circuit.

  4. Love this season. After three years of stodgy racing punctuated by great moments we’re seeing great racing punctuated by stodgy moments. So much happening narratives get lost. It’s really excellent.

  5. I’m surprised that the optimal strategy is 3 stops, as an analysis of the pre-season race simulation lap times showed that tire degradation was much less than last year, when 2 stops was the winning strategy. I was expecting a rather straightforward 1-stop race for most drivers. Apparently due to the uselessness of the harder tire compounds it’s beneficial to do more stints on soft tires. However, if track position is key, this may be a risky strategy. I expect at least some drivers to switch to mediums at their first stop to have the possibility to finish the race without further stops, while the leaders will probably stick to a more conventional 2-stop strategy with two stints on softs followed by a stint on mediums. That can be very interesting.

    If fuel consumption is not too much of a problem for the McHonda I don’t think Alonso will be very slow in the race. However, if he gains a few positions at the start, then he is very likely to hold up a couple of faster guys. It will then be interesting to see if the McHonda’s straight-line speed will be enough to keep a Ferrari or Red Bull at bay in the DRS zones.

    1. However, if he gains a few positions at the start, then he is very likely to hold up a couple of faster guys.

      Only if Alonso’s car makes the start..

      1. So sad but so true.

      2. @nirupam

        This is where Fernando Alonso’s McLaren could play a decisive role, providing it manages to take the start this time.

  6. I remember this race for one of the great starts I’ve seen, Alonso flying from 4th to 1st and you could hear the crowd go wild! Magical scenes.

  7. I am actually looking forward to seeing Ricciardo vs Alonso. Provided Alonso’s car takes the start, I can see him getting the jump on Ricciardo and compromising his race. It will be fun to see how easily Ricciardo can re-overtake Alonso.

    1. Sumedh, you know, I would laugh if, after all of these dreams about Alonso getting a great start off the line and battling with Ricciardo and Verstappen, he ends up having a rather average start and just slots in behind them.

  8. Three factors that favour a Ferrari victory today:

    * Medium is 2.7 secs slower than Soft (according to Pirelli)
    * The Ferraris have a greater window of tyre performance than Mercedes and less wear
    * The Ferraris are able to run within 0.5 s of a car in front far, far longer than Merc can do

    Taken together, it means that Mercedes are doomed to a much longer stint on the Mediums or a three-stop strategy. While Ferrari could make one 6-lap stint on mediums with two 30-lap stints on softs work, Merc would have to make that 16(M) and 2 x 25(S) or 6(M) and 3 x 20(S).

    A further advantage is that Ferrari can wait and see what Merc do and adapt their own strategy as the Mercs have to pit sooner. Even if Merc manage 1 – 2 on the first lap, all Ferrari has to do is to wait and see what tyres Merc put on during their first stop.

  9. Traffic can also be a key factor here, let’s wait and see. Difficult to predict a result for this one.

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