Romain Grosjean, Haas, Suzuka, 2018

“He cheated!” How Perez mugged Grosjean at the VSC restart

2018 Japanese Grand Prix

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Sergio Perez exploited his knowledge of Formula 1’s Virtual Safety Car procedure to surprise Romain Grosjean and pass the Haas driver for seventh place in the Japanese Grand Prix.

Grosjean was stunned by his rival’s move and accused the Force India driver of jumping the restart on lap 41. He had been over two seconds ahead of Perez before the VSC period, which was triggered when Charles Leclerc stopped his Sauber at the side of the track.

The VSC period began as Grosjean and Perez were beginning the lap. During a VSC period drivers are given a target lap time around 30% slower than a normal race lap. Perez was able to get a run on Grosjean by exploiting how that reference time is measured.

For timing purposes each circuit is divided into marshalling sectors, of which there are 30 at Suzuka. How close the drivers are to the VSC lap time is measured every 50 metres.

To ensure drivers don’t lap significantly quicker than the VSC lap time they are required to be slower than (‘positive to’) the reference time at least once in each marshalling sector. However in the rest of that sector they can be quicker than (‘negative to’) it.

Perez exploited that opportunity by going from ‘positive’ to ‘negative’ just as the VSC period was ending, which brought him onto Grosjean’s tail. Perez’s race engineer Tim Wright kept him abreast of the progress marshals were making in moving Leclerc’s car, and therefore how soon the VSC was likely to end.

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Tom McCullough, Tim Wright, Sergio Perez, Force India, Suzuka, 2018
Perez and Wright (centre) played a blinder
“This could be a short one,” Wright advised Perez as he entered marshalling sector 10. “Positive plus 3.5, they are moving the car.” As he rounded Dunlop, Perez was told “VSC ending soon” and he began to close the gap to Grosjean.

“Stay positive, stay positive,” Wright urged as Perez took lengths out of the Haas in front of him. With a bit of luck, the VSC period ended just as they were approaching Degner two, allowing Perez to carry the advantage of his extra speed and close on Grosjean as they approached the hairpin.

He took a look down the inside of the Haas as they rounded the corner. A shocked Grosjean saw the pink Force India looming in his mirrors. “Mate he’s jumped the restart,” exclaimed Grosjean, “he’s in my arse.”

“Passed on, understood,” answered Grosjean’s engineer Gary Gannon. As they accelerated up to Spoon both drivers had their engines turned up. But Grosjean had another problem: he was on the medium tyres, which he’d been struggling with before the VSC period due to his tyre sensors not working, while Perez’s softs were coming up to temperature more quickly.

“He cheated,” insisted an unimpressed Grosjean as they rounded 130R and Perez teed him up for a pass. The Force India dived down the outside at the chicane and was through into seventh place.

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“Mate this is not possible I was plus 0.3,” fumed Grosjean. “He has got to give me the position.” But he didn’t, and afterwards Grosjean admitted the team would look closely at what happened.

“We need to analyse what happened with the Virtual Safety Car restart,” he said. “I was right on my delta time and Perez, when the gap was 2.4 seconds before, overtook me straight away.

“We need to check and see if there is not a problem in the system there. I thought I had done the job on my side. We did our best.”

Perez, of course, was not giving anything away about how he had grabbed the ‘class B win’: “At the restart with the Virtual Safety Car I managed to get really close to Grosjean and just when I saw the opportunity I went for it.”

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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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100 comments on ““He cheated!” How Perez mugged Grosjean at the VSC restart”

  1. If that’s really the case, then Force India did a stellar job exploiting that loophole.
    The flipside of this is the existence of such a loophole that makes a mockery of the idea behind the VSC.

    1. manoli moriaty
      8th October 2018, 12:59

      No quite, the “loophole” exists in a small window, and requires careful planning from driver and engineer to exploit any benefits. FI put the work in, and reaped the benefits.

      1. But it is not possible to bridge the gap 2,4s in 50 meters. So obviously something is very wrong there.

        1. Felix (@felix-anderen)
          8th October 2018, 15:01

          He let more time fall and then when Time Wright told him the safety car was going to end, he sped up. He probably when back on the time and then gained speed and since Grosjean had to speed up he would lose a bunch of time since Perez could’ve been so much faster through 130r.

          I don’t think it was a loophole rather a great plan from driver/engineer.

        2. erikje – Perez didn’t get past Grosjean for two corners. What he did was gain about 50m more straight track on which to accelerate, shock Grosjean, and incidentally, warm his tyres. So yes, you can bridge some of a gap really quickly. But then the benefits add up to a big advantage a couple of turns later.

        3. But it is not possible to bridge the gap 2,4s in 50 meters. So obviously something is very wrong there.

          But it is possible over 100’s of metres. If he starts accelerating before Grosjean he can continue to catch him after the VSC has ended. The article says as much

          With a bit of luck, the VSC period ended just as they were approaching Degner two, allowing Perez to carry the advantage of his extra speed and close on Grosjean as they approached the hairpin

        4. There are 18 marshalling sectors (this is not the same thing as marshalling posts; there can be and often are multiple posts in a sector) at Suzuka, which is a 5.807 km track. Therefore, it is only necessary to be positive to the VSC for 50 metres per marshalling sector.

          Due to rounding, some of the marshalling sectors will have 7 timing segments count for it instead of 6. I think, but have not been able to 100% confirm, that the sector involving the Degners is one of them. As such, Checo could have been negative for 300 metres instead of 250 (or, if you are Romain and have no idea this trick exists, 0) to make up the time in the gap.

          Add to this the architecture of the circuit – Checo was able to get good speed on the entrance to the straight leading to the hairpin, while Romain was held back by starting the straight slowly and thus lost some time down the entire straight – and the ability to make up 2.4 seconds of time makes perfect sense.

      2. @ manoli moriaty
        Not quite what?

        I’m not saying that Pérez or his team cheated and didn’t deserve to reap in the benefits. They saw an opportuninty and took it. And poor Romain Grosjean lost out to a strategy he thought was impossible because it sounds intuitively wrong.
        Nevertheless, it’s a loophole that goes against the spirit of the neutralisation of the race. That’s why I strongly feel it should be closed as soon as possible.

  2. nice job from Tim Wright, he gained a place while seated in the pitwall. I bet quite a few teams need that sort of clear thinking during race weekends.

  3. I would like the scrapping of VSC and replace it with regular SC.
    Creates a bit more excitement.

    1. @willemcecchi The VSC disrupts the race less – it was only used for about half a lap yesterday, with a Safety Car that would probably have taken longer.

      1. Probably a NASCAR fan wanting to get into F1. In NASCAR, a shadow is enough reason to throw a yellow and get the pace car on track. “And it’s great because it resets the race, ‘we’ get a lot of pit stops, it’s very ‘exciting'”. It also allows them time to buy more watered down beer without missing any ‘action’.

        1. @dusty what a jaded and presumptuous post, it’s almost as if spouting ignorant stereotypical trite in place of actual knowledge is common place for you. If a NASCAR race has thrown a flag for something so narrow minded as a shadow (yes I see that you’re being facetious) then please by all means show when and where that took place. As for the person posting and your belittling of their potential fandom, they make a solid point. The introduction of the VSC was to make a safe environment without the need of too many on track workers to clean the hazard. It’s hard to see how the environment is safe when people can speed between check points to gain an advantage.

          I find it interesting that endurance/sports car racing has found the ability to do SCs in a way that function as a smart VSC method and maintain safety without gained advantages. Your comparison and wanton bashing of another race series for no reason other than because you wanted to is lacking, since NASCAR ovals are smaller and hazards tend to be on track on the racing line. Or in an area that would be unsafe even if a virtual safety car were imposed.

        2. @dusty

          What’s wrong with watered down beer? It’s too hot here down south to be drinking imperial stout all the time.

          Pity we can’t get cars to follow like NASCAR in F1. Or 2000’s tech and road courses in NASCAR.

          Oh well, back to my weak beer.

      2. Any system where you aren’t supposed to gain an advantage, yet can close a 2 second gap without breaking the rules is disruptive. I’m no fan of the VSC and would like it removed – the Safety Car works and is easy for the viewer to understand. It also adds a bit of excitement, whereas the VSC just adds weird boredom.

        1. I just can’t agree that in this case the safety car would have been a better choice. Why spend multiple laps watching the cars circulate slowly when it can just be half a lap and we can get back to racing again?

        2. Unfortunately the VSC cannot be removed because race control has historically proven insufficiently willing to apply it. A tool whose use is declined when its application would be appropriate is as much use as no tool at all. Race Control seemed to take long enough to work out that a VSC was necessary on Sunday, let alone a more disruptive SC…

      3. it was only used for about half a lap yesterday, with a Safety Car that would probably have taken longer.

        Only in Indycar can a safety car do less than a full lap, @keithcollantine.
        What’s been the minimum amount of laps the safety car has done in F1 (without a red flag)?

        1. Pretty sure it would be at least 3-4 laps? One to come out, the second to gather the cars, the third to clean the track and the fourth the one where they announce it combing back in @coldfly?

          I guess Keith used probably here, to save the time of arguing over whether that was exact enough

        2. I believe the minimum theoretically possible is two complete laps (one for the lead car on the way to joining the Safety Car train, the other to end the SC stint if for some reason the problem was cleared on the same lap as the SC was issued). However, I think the shortest stint was three laps on Silverstone 2003’s first Safety Car, when the problem was a single headrest system that was easily retrieved. (Nowadays that would probably be 1 minute under the VSC too).

  4. Clearly, FI are on top of their game in everything they do on the track. What a brilliant insight into what can be extracted from all areas. They should run a workshop in Maranello…

  5. Interesting. It does look a bit like gaming the system (Verstappen also gained over a second on Bottas during that VSC period) and problably the drivers should look into it with the FIA to make the procedure / system better.

    But for now Kudos to close cooperation from his “spotter” and Perez to get a chance for a lovely overtake. By the way, it was a large part of why I voted for Perez with driver of the weekend.

    1. it was a large part of why I voted for Perez with driver of the weekend.

      In retrospect, you probably would have voted for Tim Wright. @bascb

      1. Hahahahaha.. yeah! Tim Wright drives, right? hahahaha

  6. Why does the VSC depend on a complex system of timing and marshalling sectors, instead of a flat speed limit like the pit lane?

    I like the low-impact nature of VSC for smaller incidents, but not when it is something that can be gamed like this, or arbitrarily affects some drivers.

    1. @phylyp

      Why does the VSC depend on a complex system of timing and marshalling sectors, instead of a flat speed limit like the pit lane?

      That would arbitrarily disadvantage some drivers more than others depending what part of the track they’re on.

      Imagine we have a race at Yas Marina and a speed limit is enforced while Driver A is in sector two and Driver B is in sector three. They both have to slow down to, say, 100kph.

      At Yas Marina sector two is mostly flat-out and sector three is mostly slow corners. Therefore to hit that speed limit Driver A would have to reduce their speed a lot more than Driver B. Therefore Driver A loses a lot more lap time than Driver B, which is obviously unfair.

      1. @keithcollantine – Thank you. You’ve just shown me (again) why there are no easy solutions in F1, it is a complex sport. :)

        OK, how about… turn on the speed limit a few marshalling sectors prior to the incident? Such that a specific point on the track is where everyone slows down, and stays slowed down.

      2. @phylyp
        To follow on from @keithcollantine ‘s point, the system would be fairer if the VSC period lasted for a complete number of laps and no drivers were allowed to pit (or be in pit lane at the start of the VSC period). In that way, each driver would cover the same distance in the same time (as now, because each driver would be travelling at the same speed) but crucially, all drivers would have to drive the slow sectors at a reduced speed and they would all have to drive the fast sectors at a reduced speed.

        However, this ‘solution’ isn’t perfect. Closing the pit lane would not be practical and neither is being prevented from starting a VSC period when pit lane is empty. Similarly, the issue with timing deltas remain because whilst in theory each driver would cover the same distance in the same time, in reality they will be some differences. There are other issues too. I don’t think there is a perfect system but I definitely think the current system could be improved.

        1. @georgeod – nice argument. The current implementation of VSC is time-based (VSC starts now, ends then), and I think your idea (and my comment just above) would require changing VSC to be position-based (VSC starts at this line, and ends at the same line).

          Closing the pit lane would not be practical

          I think this is easily solved – temporarily close the pit lane exit to any car pitting under VSC. If any car has damage, they can still pit, but can’t leave until race control have a handle on things, and the VSC has stabilized the field.

          Of course, I now expect someone to point out the obvious flaw in this idea ;-)

          1. @phylyp

            It’s pretty robust, but what if a driver was already in the pits when the VSC was called? In Indycar when an accident occurs, drivers often immediately pit to anticipate a full course caution, which in Indycar automatically results in the pits being closed. This favours drivers who are located on track closer to pit in, if they choose to gamble on pitting in the hope of the FCY being called.

          2. @georgeod – good point.

            2 possible options, neither of which are the cleanest:
            1. Close the pitlane exit only some seconds after VSC (time depends on the length of the pit lane, say 10 seconds). This should allow someone who came in to the pits under normal conditions to exit normally).
            2. Or identify the cars entering the pits after VSC is initiated and close the exit to halt the first of this train (race control to warn the team’s pitwall).

        2. the system would be fairer if the VSC period lasted for a complete number of laps and no drivers were allowed to pit

          Drivers would still gain or lose depending both on their current velocity when the VSC is called and where abouts they are when it ends. Imagine a car at the start of the back straight in China vs a car in the middle, even if they both complete a full lap under VSC (how is that even defined, the when the leader does a full lap?) one car will lose out on the other.

          1. It could work, if the “complete number of laps” starts and ends at a given position (say, the marshalling sector before the start of the problem area, until the end of whichever lap when the problem is cleared) rather than based on time.

      3. OK, how about… turn on the speed limit a few marshalling sectors prior to the incident? Such that a specific point on the track is where everyone slows down, and stays slowed down.

        @phylyp That would be a slow-zone, like there is in WEC, and makes far too much logical sense to be applied to F1.

        1. @hollidog – I knew there was a flaw :-)

        2. @hollidog, whilst the original slow zone system did run between marshalling sectors in the WEC, they have had to change it after complaints from the drivers that it was dangerous.

          If you had a train of cars, when the first driver to reach the scene of the accident began slowing down, the driver near the back often couldn’t see the drivers in front slowing down until the last moment. During the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans, Loic Duval ended up crashing because of that – he unexpectedly came across a train of cars slowing down for a slow zone after a blind bend and swerved to avoid crashing into the back of the car in front of him, only to end up losing control of the car after running onto the grass and spun off into a barrier.

          That is why they have scrapped that original system and have changed it to having fixed length slow zones last year, with the slow zones having to be set up with clear lines of sight to reduce the risk of similar types of accident occurring again. That format has been received more favourably by the drivers, but the ACO have said that they are still not entirely satisfied with the system and are still trying to fine tune it.

          That is probably why the FIA chose not to implement the system you have proposed – because the WEC have found that, in certain circumstances, it can cause even bigger problems.

      4. @keithcollantine Sorry Keith, but I have to disagree. The whole point of the VSC is not to be fair to the drivers, but to safegate the Marshals, hence the name Virtual Safety Car. F1 should not have a system in place that can be “gamed”.

      5. I have only one problem with your statement Keith, it’s disavantage for some driver but It should improve Safety and to bad for the drivers but Safety cars are for the marshalls not for the drivers!

    2. or arbitrarily affects some drivers

      Flat speed limit would arbitrarily affect some drivers too

      1. Yeah, I realized that after reading Keith’s nice real-world explanation :-)

  7. If I understand that explanation correctly, if a VSC lasts long enough, the entire field could potentially bunch up just like with a regular safety car. Force India’s clever manipulation wasn’t really within the spirit of what the VSC is supposed to accomplish, and maybe a re-think on how it is monitored is in order.

    1. Fudge Kobayashi (@)
      8th October 2018, 14:17

      Nope. Because this marginal gain can only be made in the final VSC enforced sector before the restart, the delta must be adhered to the rest of the time regardless of how long the VSC runs for.

      1. @ftruth @schooner Advantage can only be made then. However, if a driver is unsure of when the VSC will end, then the near-instant nature of F1 VSCs ending means they could “prime” their car at any point that driver felt it was likely to end (to avoid a missed opportunity at the cost of a little fuel/tyre wear), potentially causing driving errors long before the hazard is cleared.

  8. Clever! not sure if fair, but very clever. Kudos to Perez and his team!

    1. Didn’t break any rules so it’s 100% fair, at least in my opinion.

      1. @eoin16 – agreed, it is fair to the letter of the law. But as @schooner says, not to the spirit. Maybe a re-look is warranted to see how that gap can be narrowed.

        1. @phylyp I’m of the opinion that there is no such thing as the “spirit” of the laws/rules.
          Rules are written in black and white and it’s the job of all teams to find out the limits of it. Force India just did a better job than Haas in this case.
          My problem with the idea of the “spirit” argument is that it only comes from teams that missed something… remember Horner going on and on about the double diffuser being against the spirit of the regs…that was because RBR didn’t have one. If RBR had one in 2009, Horner would have been telling everyone that his cars comply with the wording/letter of the regs and therefore completely legal.

          1. @eoin16 – I accept your opinion from the point that Perez did nothing wrong at all, and he and his pitwall are to be applauded for their ingenuity.

            I’d however also say that the spirit of the law is something that very much exists (but doesn’t need to be obeyed in competition) – because that defines what the objective of that law is.

            And as we’ve seen here, if there is a gap between the objective/intent of a law vs. what is codified as law, then the powers-that-be should see if it requires tightening up.

            And I particularly take this stance because the VSC is a safety feature of the race, so it is not something that should be gamed or exploited, because when people are doing that, it means they’re probably not paying attention to safely driving the car around.

          2. @eoin16 – of course, trying to write the letter of the law to fulfil the spirit often means that the sporting regulations will end up resembling the Magna Carta, so that is an argument that can be levelled against my point :-)

        2. I don’t think it does go against the spirit. I see it as being similar to being allowed to pass at the first safety car line. The safety concern is over if the VSC period is ending, so any ability to get a “good restart” should be exploited. It’s really similar in my opinion to the leader in a true safety car situation becoming the effective safety car upon the restart. The rules about not driving unnecessarily slowly basically go out the window in an effort to game the chasing pack.

          Let’s not look for problems where none exist. I really don’t think there’s anything to see here other than some clever racers.

      2. @eoin16 sure it didn’t break any rules, but the VSC is supposed to avoid any driver getting an advantage, and Perez cut a nearly 2 second gap to Grosjean.

        1. @fer-no65

          To be fair.. If Haas knew the tricks, the gap would still have been 2 plus seconds. Got to hand it to Force india on this one. The sport is all about finding tricks within the rules.. And they beat Haas to it hands down.

          Maybe Haas should consider outsourcing this function as well..

          1. Maybe Haas should consider outsourcing this function as well..

            c’mon @todfod howcome do I hate you and love you in the space of 5 mins?
            someone make this COTD please

  9. Smart thinking of FI maybe a certain red team could learn for that small team…

    VSC should be like the pit you can’t go faster then 100km/h (example) AND you can not drop the distance to your frontrunner then 5 cars length (like SC) then nothing can happen with strange times as i always wonder why distance between cars varied a lot!

    1. The car should just be on a max limitter at 100km/h. Not sure why it can’t just be like that.

      1. @macleod, @john-h

        Look at: Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine)
        8th October 2018, 13:16.
        He sums up the disadvantages.

        1. That is after mine comment :(

  10. I am sure this simple solution was considered and there is a downside.

    If you are 2.4 sec behind the car in front of you, maintain 2.4 seconds +/- 10% delta. If you pit, you fall into line behind the next car and maintain a safe distance.

    1. @blueruck It does have a downside ;)

      It’s not an issue of timing, it’s a matter of distance. Say you have two drivers on a track. Sector 1 has an average speed of 360km/h (100 meters per second). Sector 2 has an average speed of 180km/h (50 meters per second). Suppose when the VSC is out, both drivers travel at 90km/h (25 meters per second) and the VSC is out for 20 seconds.

      The driver in sector 1 would have covered 100*20=2000m if there was no VSC. Under the VSC they travel 25*20=500m. They have traveled 1500m less than if there was no VSC.

      The driver in sector 2 would have covered 50*20=1000m if there was no VSC. Under the VSC they also travel 25*20=500m because they are also traveling at the same speed as the driver in sector 1. They have traveled 500m less than if there was no VSC.

      In this example, the driver in sector 2 has gained 1000m on the driver in sector 1. It has nothing to do with the timings between the drivers. This is how Vettel was able to jump Hamilton in the pits at the Australian GP. Vettel gained distance on Hamilton, hence emerged on the track in front of him.

      1. The solution would then be for VSC to always be a full lap.
        Say that by the start of the next sector you enter, you have to be at the limited speed.
        Then, when VSC is lifted, your can return to normal speed once you cross that same sector limit again.
        That should eliminate the advantage, as all have driven the same distance under the fixed speed limit? And it would be easy to catch anyone who doesn’t respect the limit, same as enforcing speed limit in pitlane.

  11. I wonder about the VSC rule.I think it is 40% of the speed of a normal lap, but where does the baseline normal lap come from?

    1. @lass321

      where does the baseline normal lap come from?

      Rule of thumb. There is no need for scientific precision, as the precise VSC target lap time doesn’t really matter as long as it’s the same for everyone.
      I don’t know who calls the VSC target time, the race director, the stewards of the meeting, or a combination thereof, but I guess they just keep an eye on the current lap times and track conditions in order to formulate a proposal that is entered into the system if no one disagrees. As I said, there is absolutely no need for precision because the addition of 40% of the base lap time eliminates any meaningful distinction between lap times within a fairly large ballpark. Whether the base lap time is fixed at 1:34 (close to the fastest lap) or 1:40 (slower than virtually every lap by every driver in the race), the resulting VSC lap times of 2:11.6 or 2:20 are, for all intents and purposes, equivalent in the sense that they’re slow enough to reduce the risk of accidents to insignificance, but fast enough to prevent the engines from overheating and the tyres from getting dangerously cold.

  12. Clever and kudos to RPFI. However, personally I would dump all that palaver and simply state that when the VSC is activated you have to have the Pit Limiter switched on. Much simpler.

    1. But quite unfair as explained in previous comments.

  13. Wasn’t it Grosjean that just did the same to Alonso in Hungary? I’m amazed teams don’t look more thoroughly at VSCs as it clearly allows some additional tactics.

  14. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    8th October 2018, 14:08

    I am not sure I follow. There is one sentence that I have particular trouble understanding:

    As he rounded Dunlop, Perez was told “VSC ending soon” and he began to close the gap to Grosjean.

    Why would Perez be allowed to close the gap under VSC if it hasn’t ended? Isn’t the whole point of the VSC that drivers need to maintain the gap?

    The VSC has been exploited twice this year – once for a win and now another time for what seemed like a ridiculous pass – I can’t give much credit to Sergio cause it wasn’t really an overtake as a blunder from one team and it’s debatable which team made the blunder here – was it Haas or was it Force India?

    Perez could have been blackflagged yesterday if the stewards viewed that as a violation of the VSC rules which it probably was to some extent.

    1. Why would Perez be allowed to close the gap under VSC if it hasn’t ended? Isn’t the whole point of the VSC that drivers need to maintain the gap?

      @freelittlebirds – that’s the weird intricacy of the VSC implementation. We think it is a case of maintaining the gap (by everyone maintaining the same speed), but in fact there is this complex system of marshalling sectors where drivers are meant to adhere to a delta within each sector. And there is a bit of wiggle room in how that is tracked – their speeds relative to the reference lap is not monitored continuously – so they can keep surging and slowing down, provided they have slowed down once every 50 metres.

      So, if at the start of a marshalling sector I have slowed down, I can continue accelerating for about 50m until the next marshalling sector, and if the VSC is lifted at that time, I can continue accelerating and carry that momentum.

      1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        8th October 2018, 14:40

        @phylyp Thank you for the explanation! I suppose that was what Vettel was referring to when he mentioned that teams are exploiting the VSC around May or so. It’s such a strange system that in this case allowed Perez to pass Grosjean who did not defend because he thought Perez had broken the regulations to cover 2+ seconds. Grosjean now appears stupid for doing so.

        The VSC contains the word safety in it and anything that is safety related is something that the FIA should err on the side of caution. Closing a 2.4 second gap on the restart just seems way beyond the limit of acceptable gains under VSC.

        I don’t think Grosjean is wrong for thinking so and it’s almost a reason to re-evaluate the VSC rules and yesterday’s results.

        Should a driver who has a 5 second lead be afraid of being passed on the VSC restart?

        1. @freelittlebirds

          I suppose that was what Vettel was referring to when he mentioned that teams are exploiting the VSC around May or so.

          Nope, that was a different matter. That loophole consisted in exploiting the way the target times are calculated by taking unusual lines to shorten the lap as much as humanly possible, which led small gains of 1 or 2 tenths per lap. I think that loophole has been closed since.

          And another thing:

          The VSC has been exploited twice this year – once for a win and now another time […]

          I assume you’re referring to Vettel’s pit stop in Australia? In that case, you’ve been misled by the fuss that was made after the race. What Vettel did, was pitting under VSC conditions and saving a few seconds in the process – which is something that has been ‘exploited’ a million times under VSC conditions (by everyone who has ever pitted during a VSC period), and a zillion times under regular Safety Car conditions, as both SC modes, virtual or not, are absolutely identical up to the point when the leader of the race catches the Safety Car.
          It’s the very reason why we tend to see significantly more pit stops whenever a (V)SC is deployed. Calling that ‘exploiting’ may be technically correct, but not a meaningful use of that word.

          1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
            8th October 2018, 16:16

            But under VSC, you can pit and come out in front of the race leader who had built a substantial lead at that point – free tyres and a victory. I think “exploiting” is too kind a word at least imo.

          2. @freelittlebirds
            I think you’ve simply been misled by the fuss Hamilton made after the race because he (understandably) disliked being at the losing end of something that has happened a zillion times. Pitting under the VSC or at the start of a Safety Car period doesn’t result in a ‘free’ pit stop, but definitely a ‘cheaper’ one – everybody knows that and tries to act accordingly. Countless places have been lost and gained over the years due to this, outside of F1 90% of oval race results hinge on this, it’s exceedingly common.
            Yet you single out that one race and keep mentioning the VSC as if it were any different from the normal Safety Car in that respect. That just doesn’t make sense.

          3. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
            9th October 2018, 0:08

            I thought it was a free pit stop, wasn’t it?

            Didn’t Vettel pit and come out in P1 with new tyres? I might be wrong but that’s my recollection.

            A cheap pit stop is a different story altogether – you don’t gain a single position but at least you get new tyres and end up behind or in front of the person with the older tyres.

    2. When was the VSC exploited for a win @freelittlebirds

      1. I think the reference is to Vettel’s victory at Australia @johnmilk

        1. @phylyp I guess that could be a point of view

    3. @freelittlebirds

      Why would Perez be allowed to close the gap under VSC if it hasn’t ended? Isn’t the whole point of the VSC that drivers need to maintain the gap?

      It’s partly to do with the size of the gap: the drivers can’t be expected to maintain a perfect average speed all the time which is why they are allowed to be ‘negative’ (faster) within the marshalling sectors as long as they ‘positive’ (faster) at least once per sector.

      But it’s also to do with the speed they’re doing when the VSC period ends. This is why Perez went from being 3.5 seconds positive (i.e. further behind Grosjean than when they’d been racing) to nearly negative (his engineer warned him “stay positive, stay positive”) just as the VSC period was ending – he was catching Grosjean so he’d have more momentum.

      This is like when you’re approaching a stationary car at a set of red traffic lights and instead of driving up to the lights, stopping, and waiting for them to change you slow down enough so that the lights change as you’re approaching them, so you can accelerate from a higher starting speed and leave the other car in your dust.

      Not that I do that all the time or anything…

      1. @keithcollantine I believe you now understand why we need an edit button

      2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        9th October 2018, 0:12

        @keithcollantine great analogy with the traffic lights – I wasn’t aware that the distance and speed could vary so much.

  15. Basically the optimal tactic is to know the location each sub-sector exactly and accelerate up to that point then slam the brakes, except when the VSC turns off you don’t do the slam the brake bit.

    Honestly this is F1, it’s ridiculous, they shouldn’t have the need to compare timing at marshalling points, it should be constantly compared to the reference lap to ensure consistent and ultimately safe driving. The technology required is trivial, but F1 is of course behind.

    Congrats to FI for seeing the opportunity but it’s a shame on F1 for the opportunity to exist.

  16. @skipgamer – I agree. While I would applaud the ingenuity of the people who use this technique, I am not happy that they’re busy exploiting something to an advantage when it is a time for safety.

    Honestly this is F1

    Vettel, is that you? :-)

  17. Wonder if Checo knew everything about the VSC rules.

  18. Hey monsieur, you may want to use ‘on’ instead of ‘in’ next time ;)

  19. How about a maximum speed limit for each 50m section which is activated by a VSC button similar to the pit lane button. Surely they can devise software to provide for that? That way the max speed in a slow section differs from the max speed in a fast section, but all the cars stick to a 30% slower than the 50m section delta.

  20. Interesting. Well played.

  21. There were a bunch of incidents years ago when it was clear that Michael Schumacher knew the rules in detail and worked them to his advantage. Seem to recall him serving a time penalty in the pits, on the last lap and he still won the race … from the Pit Lane. I think this one has been fixed.
    The more complex the rules, the more intricate the opportunities are to take advantage of the nuances.
    Kudos to RPFI. Perez owes someone a beer … or two.

    1. I may be thinking of another incident (there are so many…) but as I recall Schumacher was black-flagged, which he ignored… and Brawn masterminded SCH to pit at the end of the last lap. The Ferrari pit was behind the Start/Finish point so SCHH was deemed to have won the race before pitting for the black-flag…
      Hardly honourable behaviour from any of that ‘crew’…

      But, as I say, I might be thinking of something completely different. ;)

      1. No, no black flag, just a 10-sec-stop-and-go. 1998 British GP.

        1. Thanks ‘krxx’ – my memory has definitely lessened in twenty years… lol.

  22. If I understand correctly, the move is all about timing. If they mistime their charge, they would have gotten a penalty. Great execution by Checo Pérez and his quarterback.

    It will be interesting to see if and how other teams apply this lesson in future races to attack and defend.

  23. The VSC rules has been a farce more than once during the past years, not only in F1 but also in GP2/F2 (remember Markelov in Monaco in 2016?).

    What is wrong with a simple Code 80 where everybody must drive on the pit limiter after slowing down when the VSC starts?

    1. Forgive me but… one might ask what is wrong with reading other comments above (where your question was answered) before posting…? ;)

  24. For those who are interested, I went into full-on nerd mode last night and looked at the Live Timings. I paused it as the VSC began, and recorded all the gaps. Then I did the same as the VSC ended.

    Results as follows…..

    HAM
    BOT 5.880 6.279 +0.399
    VER 1.592 1.090 -0.502
    RIC 5.710 9.103 +3.393
    RAI 7.295 7.438 +0.143
    VET 41.204 54.817 +13.613
    GRO 6.268 8.600 +2.332
    PER 1.163 0.989 -0.174
    OCO 1.905 2.634 +0.729
    GAS 5.095 6.936 +1.841
    SAI 4.479 6.337 +1.858
    ERI 9.971 11.712 +1.741
    HAR 1.231 1.778 +0.547
    ALO 6.287 7.456 +1.169
    VAN 11.393 15.912 +4.519
    SIR 17.003 19.980 +2.977
    STR 10.744 16.243 +5.499

    Overall gap HAM to HAR (ALO, VAN, SIR & STR were lapped)

    VSC started at 1:07:38 Gap HAM – HAR = 90.390
    VSC lasted 1:11
    VSC ended at 1:08:49 Gap HAM to HAR = 110.714 +20.324

    So the biggest winner was actually VER, who was around half a second closer to BOT at the restart. Interestingly, VER received the following radio message during the VSC…

    “Keep your dash positive. Target plus one. Shortest line please Max, shortest line.”

    Meanwhile, PER was only 0.174s closer at the restart. I’m guessing that what happened is that he hung back, to create a large positive delta, and then accelerated hard at the perfect moment so that, while he was only 0.174s closer as the VSC ended, he was going much faster.

    1. Thanks Graham – nothing like a “full-on nerd mode” :)

  25. Lenny (@leonardodicappucino)
    8th October 2018, 22:46

    There is an extremely easy way to (mostly) fix this loophole: simply require every driver to be positive on their delta when the vsc ends. Race control normally give a message that the vsc is ending on TV, so surely they could communicate that to the drivers.

    1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      10th October 2018, 14:50

      @leonardodicappucino that might be possible but you’d have to give advance notice so that drivers can correct their deltas and make sure they are at the max speed allowed. My only concern is that it contradicts VSC which is supposed to protect and make sure that drivers aren’t racing or accelerating to the max speed limit to hold position. If VSC hasn’t formally ended, they should be focusing on making sure that they are driving safely.

      Perhaps they need a formal “VSC over” stage of 10-15 seconds (whatever time is necessary) after VSC has ended and drivers can work with their engineers to make sure that they correct their deltas so they can hold position without compromising anyone’s safety in the process.

  26. It’s Ericsson’s fault.

  27. I’m a big fan of the way Formula E count down the start and finish of their VSC equivalent (no doubt as to when it finished). I suspect they just use a fixed speed though which has already been discussed above. Realistically such a system only creates disparity between drivers on very different parts of the track, so the car you’re immediately racing against is unlikely to benefit/lose and hence it looks to be very fair. I guess they’re also slow as hell compared to F1…

  28. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    10th October 2018, 14:41

    I know this is now a “stale” topic by F1 standards but essentially what Perez did was create a larger gap before the VSC ended and then timed his acceleration at the end of the VSC so he could approach Grosjean and overtake.

    In retrospect, it is a brilliant tactic aided by the fact that Grosjean failed to understand it and allowed Perez by.

    The biggest issue I have is that the VSC is all about safety – safety not just for drivers but for marshalls. Decelerating and accelerating under VSC, granted within limits, is not a safe practice.

    Essentially all teams will now attempt to time the end of the VSC and have much faster speeds than the cars in front of them. The cars in front will now have to make sure they keep track of the speeds of the vehicles behind them. That means that the drivers are racing under VSC and that is a violation of the virtual safety car. Drivers and teams need to keep their eyes on their own speed and the track, not on the driver behind them and their tactics

    I believe the VSC was put in place because of Bianchi’s accident at Suzuka – imagine all drivers in proximity to another driver or in a train of cars playing these tactics trying to pass 2-3 cars in the rain.

    Since those tactics play out under VSC, they are “unsafe” and as such I think Perez’s pass should be deemed illegal to set a precedent that no position gains shall be made or planned by teams under VSC.

  29. I think you get too complicated, in a SC, all the distances and advantages are eliminated, if in the re-start, a car leaves a space and starts to accelerate before, when crossing the pit line, it will have more speed and this could make a pass to the car ahead, of course there would be conditions to meet, but the possibility is there, and in any case, the possibilities are for everyone, there are those who take advantage of them and there are those who do not.

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