Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Interlagos, 2018

Why Ferrari’s “big gamble” could pay double in the race

2018 Brazilian Grand Prix pre-race analysis

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Sebastian Vettel was fortunately to avoid a penalty after his angry exchange with the FIA officials on the weighbridge during yesterday’s qualifying session.

But the reason he ended up there to begin with is also why he goes into today’s race in a potentially very strong position.

As rain began to fall in Q2 Ferrari, like all their rivals, initially sent both drivers out on the super-soft tyres. Although the harder, soft compound tyres were considered the best strategic option for the race, they were harder to get up to temperature in the damp conditions.

However both Ferrari drivers fancied their chances of getting through to Q2 on the softs. “It’s still drizzling,” said Vettel on his radio. Told the rain was going to stay at the same rate, Vettel replied “then I’m happy with option”, and pitted to switch tyres.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff believes this has won Ferrari a handy advantage for the race. “Ferrari took a big gamble in qualifying switching switching tyres when the rain was imminent,” he said. “And it paid off. They are on the on the more robust tyre for [the race].”

Although Hamilton can expect to get off the line better on his super-softs, Wolff expects Vettel to apply significant pressure during the first stint. “They have a disadvantage at the start but a big advantage over the first 10, 15 laps which in our models shows their most favourite.

“But again it’s it’s motor racing and anything can happen. We didn’t take that risk because we thought it was disproportionate. But I can understand that Ferrari, where they are now, the only way of really staying in the fight for the constructive championship is to do things differently and take risks.”

Hamilton will have to treat his tyres carefully to stand a chance of getting through the race with a single pit stop. But another factor also threatens to play into Ferrari’s hands: The weather.

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Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, Interlagos, 2018
Red Bull were fast on Friday but Ricciardo has a penalty
“They say in the race there could be some rain,” explained Esteban Ocon. “It doesn’t say at the start.” Estimates vary as to weather rain will arrive after, during, or even before the race. But several teams believe a shower is likeliest around mid-distance.

Those starting on the super-softs – which are the Mercedes, Red Bull and Sauber drivers plus Romain Grosjean and Pierre Gasly – may have to stretch them out a long time if the teams suspect a rain shower is imminent.

Red Bull had better tyre life over a long stint on Friday and could offer more of a challenge to their rivals in the race, particularly if the rain does come. In the midfield battle, the rapid Saubers look set to wreck Haas’s hopes of taking a bite out of Renault’s lead over them in the constructors’ championship.

A significant question mark remains over Mercedes performance in race conditions as they struggled with tyre performance in the last two races. Meanwhile Ferrari look in a tactically strong position.

Will it allow them to keep their championship hopes alive? Ferrari need to score at least 13 points more than Mercedes to stop their rivals clinching the constructors’ title today.

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Qualifying times in full


Q2 (vs Q1)

Q3 (vs Q2)
1Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’08.4641’07.795 (-0.669)1’07.281 (-0.514)
2Sebastian VettelFerrari1’08.4521’07.776 (-0.676)1’07.374 (-0.402)
3Valtteri BottasMercedes1’08.4921’07.727 (-0.765)1’07.441 (-0.286)
4Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1’08.4521’08.028 (-0.424)1’07.456 (-0.572)
5Max VerstappenRed Bull1’08.2051’08.017 (-0.188)1’07.778 (-0.239)
6Daniel RicciardoRed Bull1’08.5441’08.055 (-0.489)1’07.780 (-0.275)
7Marcus EricssonSauber1’08.7541’08.579 (-0.175)1’08.296 (-0.283)
8Charles LeclercSauber1’08.6671’08.335 (-0.332)1’08.492 (+0.157)
9Romain GrosjeanHaas1’08.7351’08.239 (-0.496)1’08.517 (+0.278)
10Pierre GaslyToro Rosso1’09.0461’08.616 (-0.430)1’09.029 (+0.413)
11Kevin MagnussenHaas1’08.4741’08.659 (+0.185)
12Sergio PerezForce India1’09.2171’08.741 (-0.476)
13Esteban OconForce India1’09.2641’08.770 (-0.494)
14Nico HulkenbergRenault1’09.0091’08.834 (-0.175)
15Sergey SirotkinWilliams1’09.2591’10.381 (+1.122)
16Carlos Sainz JnrRenault1’09.269
17Brendon HartleyToro Rosso1’09.280
18Fernando AlonsoMcLaren1’09.402
19Lance StrollWilliams1’09.441
20Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren1’09.601

Sector times

DriverSector 1Sector 2Sector 3
Lewis Hamilton17.454 (3)34.122 (2)15.601 (1)
Sebastian Vettel34.287 (20)15.601 (1)
Valtteri Bottas17.445 (2)34.241 (5)15.625 (2)
Kimi Raikkonen17.380 (1)34.290 (6)15.671 (3)
Max Verstappen17.639 (7)34.228 (3)15.911 (7)
Daniel Ricciardo17.654 (8)34.232 (4)15.894 (6)
Marcus Ericsson17.668 (9)34.693 (8)15.799 (5)
Charles Leclerc17.634 (6)34.783 (10)15.681 (4)
Romain Grosjean17.683 (10)34.603 (7)15.941 (8)
Pierre Gasly17.725 (11)34.869 (11)15.979 (13)
Kevin Magnussen17.613 (5)34.707 (9)15.965 (11)
Sergio Perez17.747 (12)35.014 (14)15.969 (12)
Esteban Ocon17.595 (4)34.981 (13)15.945 (9)
Nico Hulkenberg17.802 (13)34.874 (12)15.949 (10)
Sergey Sirotkin17.935 (15)35.197 (17)16.113 (16)
Carlos Sainz Jnr17.968 (18)35.065 (15)16.192 (18)
Brendon Hartley18.027 (19)35.170 (16)16.083 (14)
Fernando Alonso17.961 (17)35.255 (18)16.130 (17)
Lance Stroll17.882 (14)35.354 (20)16.084 (15)
Stoffel Vandoorne17.952 (16)35.266 (19)16.230 (19)

Speed trap

PosDriverCarEngineSpeed (kph/mph)Gap
1Lewis HamiltonMercedesMercedes336.5 (209.1)
2Sergey SirotkinWilliamsMercedes336.4 (209.0)-0.1
3Sebastian VettelFerrariFerrari334.0 (207.5)-2.5
4Charles LeclercSauberFerrari333.9 (207.5)-2.6
5Esteban OconForce IndiaMercedes332.9 (206.9)-3.6
6Valtteri BottasMercedesMercedes332.5 (206.6)-4.0
7Sergio PerezForce IndiaMercedes332.0 (206.3)-4.5
8Lance StrollWilliamsMercedes331.8 (206.2)-4.7
9Kimi RaikkonenFerrariFerrari331.8 (206.2)-4.7
10Marcus EricssonSauberFerrari328.9 (204.4)-7.6
11Romain GrosjeanHaasFerrari326.3 (202.8)-10.2
12Kevin MagnussenHaasFerrari324.6 (201.7)-11.9
13Pierre GaslyToro RossoHonda324.5 (201.6)-12.0
14Daniel RicciardoRed BullTAG Heuer323.9 (201.3)-12.6
15Nico HulkenbergRenaultRenault323.8 (201.2)-12.7
16Max VerstappenRed BullTAG Heuer323.3 (200.9)-13.2
17Stoffel VandoorneMcLarenRenault320.5 (199.1)-16.0
18Brendon HartleyToro RossoHonda320.2 (199.0)-16.3
19Carlos Sainz JnrRenaultRenault319.8 (198.7)-16.7
20Fernando AlonsoMcLarenRenault318.3 (197.8)-18.2

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Drivers’ remaining tyres

Lewis HamiltonMercedes101103
Valtteri BottasMercedes101103
Sebastian VettelFerrari101103
Kimi RaikkonenFerrari101103
Daniel RicciardoRed Bull011103
Max VerstappenRed Bull011103
Sergio PerezForce India101014
Esteban OconForce India101014
Lance StrollWilliams101113
Sergey SirotkinWilliams101113
Carlos Sainz JnrRenault101023
Nico HulkenbergRenault101014
Pierre GaslyToro Rosso101004
Brendon HartleyToro Rosso101032
Romain GrosjeanHaas101004
Kevin MagnussenHaas101014
Fernando AlonsoMcLaren101023
Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren101113
Marcus EricssonSauber101004
Charles LeclercSauber101004

Over to you

Will Vettel stop Hamilton from scoring his 10th victory of the year? Are Red Bull quick enough to fight for victory? And who will win the closely-fought midfield battle?

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

Quotes: Dieter Rencken

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2018 Brazilian Grand Prix

Browse all 2018 Brazilian Grand Prix articles

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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11 comments on “Why Ferrari’s “big gamble” could pay double in the race”

  1. Depending on weather and if it rains that call on going with harder tyres will hard in rearside. Also these new Pirreli tyres are really wierd we have seen it too many times this year going contra on tyre strategy is a wrong decision.

  2. IMO Ferrari’s gamble will pay realistic dividends only if the rain starts around 25-30 laps which is where softs fall off I’m right. If it rains any sooner however, it’ll equalize the whole track more or less.

    That said, I don’t believe dry race would give any advantage to Ferraris unless tyres start to melt off of Mercs’ cars like in Mexico.

  3. Weren’t the SS graining on the ferraris? That probably is the most important fact for their gamble.

    We still have to see in the race if the softer tyres are quicker in race trim, weirdly that hasn’t been always the case.

    With that said, if Toto says Ferrari are favourites, I expect a Merc victory with a 30s advantage

    1. I was surprised by how competitive everyone was on softs. Apparently the red tires do not offer much of a single-lap performance advantage. It’s true that the yellow tire is very blister-prone. Don’t know how the medium tire will perform, assuming that this will be the tire used for most of the race. It might blister as well, given it is more durable, so more heat might accumulate. This may shape up to become a great race.

  4. Ferrari still have one more chance to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in 2018?
    Hopefully they’ll be laser- focused now on how to win in 2019.

  5. Will Vettel stop Hamilton from scoring his 10th victory of the year? – No.
    Are Red Bull quick enough to fight for victory? – No.
    And who will win the closely-fought midfield battle? – Sauber.

    1. Good prediction, I wouldn’t have expected either that red bull would’ve been that strong here.

  6. I am not sure Ferrari will benefit much.
    In a dry race, they only have used SS or will need to go to mediums.
    To benefit in the rain, it has to come after the SS have pitted, and heavy and sudden enough to make the switch to inters quickly. Running around slowly on old softs in a drizzle while the others are on new tyres will lose them a load of time.
    When it comes down to it, with wet races you have to react, not guess the conditions a day in advance.

    1. Yeah MB should not panic if they can’t keep up in the first stint and shift to two stops. Ferrari are more vulnerable to two stops than them and the good rain scenarios are fewer.

    2. It is used because of the out lap done on it from a strategy point it’s still new.

  7. This kind of data is the reason I keep coming back to this website. Please double check your tables so it’s worth coming back.

Comments are closed.