Safety Car pit stop for Perez was ‘safest and most logical’ decision at the time

2020 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix

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Racing Point were “incredibly nervous” about the chances of the Safety Car being deployed in the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix because of the way they had set their car up.

The team’s technical director Andrew Green explained the decision to pit Sergio Perez for fresh tyres during the late Safety Car period, which cost him a potential podium finish.

“The race was going our way completely up until the Safety Car,” said Green. “Checo had manoeuvred himself with great pace up to fourth, overtook the pack by going longer on the medium tyres. He drove really well. The car was really strong, we were very happy with where it was going.”

Green said the team had set their car up to be kind to its tyres, which allowed Perez to make the gains he did early in the race. But it left the team concerned about making a late-race restart after a Safety Car period on his worn hard compound rubber.

“The worst possible scenario was a Safety Car,” said Green. “That was not really how we were geared up, unfortunately. It was always going to be a difficult decision, that one.

“We were on the hard tyres, the car had been set up quite specifically for the long runs. And for the race we were incredibly nervous about having to restart the hard tyres on the Safety Car. I think we would have struggled.”

This led the team to bring Perez in for a pit stop for a fresher tyres, though it dropped him from third place to seventh.

“The safest thing to do, and we thought that the most logical thing to do, was to swap him for a set of the new softer tyres so that we didn’t have to worry,” said Green. “We thought other people might do the same. But a lot depends on how they were set up for the race.

“I think it probably just showed where our race pace was because we’d set the car up to look after the tyres and be kind and not overheat them. So we were always going to struggle behind the Safety Car in that situation.”

The team’s decision to fit fresh tyres was further compromised by George Russell’s crash, which extended the length of the Safety Car period.

“With the second incident behind the Safety Car, we couldn’t have predicted that one. So the number of laps remaining to overtake was shortened again by a considerable margin, I think that that worked against us.”

“In hindsight, we would have made a different decision,” Green admitted. “But I think at the time, with the information we had, that’s the decision we came to.”

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2020 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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13 comments on “Safety Car pit stop for Perez was ‘safest and most logical’ decision at the time”

  1. Well, one thing that was shown is that it shouldn’t have compromised him as much as it did given what Kvyat showed was possible. Kvyat gained 3 positions and went up from 7th to 4th, Perez lost one and gained one and stayed 6th. Unlucky that he lost the position initially, but he should have been able to make up a place or two.

    1. This is strictly speaking true but also a bit misleading. Albon had a terrible restart and blocked Perez on two occasions. Kvyat was behind and took advantage of Albon blocking Perez. Perez could not do more given that the straight line is not “straight” and Albon was moving from one side to the other.

    2. The point is overtake was not granted, even he may have lost 1 or 2 positions without changing tires he lost 3 for sure changing them, obviously they never tought the other guys will stay out on older tires than them or a second safety car scenario, but overall poor decision at extracting the best strategy for Perez outstanding skills, he din’t let the team down it was the other way around.

  2. Andrew Green prefers to continue to justify their bad decision than to accept that they were wrong.

    This mistake takes RP out of third place in the constructors ‘championship, and also pushes Checo away for the fight for fourth place in the drivers’ championship.

    It was a blatant mistake, and Andrew Green is making it bigger with every justification he wants to make.

    Yesterday’s bad decision could cost RP a lot of money, that’s why AG can’t find the perfect excuse.

    1. A respected TD is trying to give fans insight into the nuances of strategy, yet you attack him. The team are perfectly entitled to say “we run our cars as we see fit”, yet he’s trying to make an effort.

      1. “we run our cars as we see fit”, a “respected TD” could not answer like this, because the result was not for the better, his decision led the team to lose positions, not win them.

        The soft compound was not necessarily the best, the mediums and the hard ones were the ones that were giving better results on the track, against SC Pérez he was having a better rhythm than DR and everything that came from behind, and when changing the tires to the soft compound , the car behaved differently, Green is acknowledging it, they prepared the car for harder compounds, this is how the car would do better.

        That bad decision could cost the team several million euros, if I were the owner of the team I would be very upset, because clearly it was a bad decision, and as an entrepreneur you know that someone can make mistakes, there are risks, but someone is more wrong when they do not recognize your mistakes, and the first step to profiting from a mistake is to accept it.

        1. They didn’t really make a mistake. They were in a position where they were in trouble either way. If they hadn’t brought him in, the cars behind probably make the stop and have the advantage on the restart. Whoever is ahead has the trickiest decision in that situation since they have the least amount of information. The car behind will almost always do the opposite of what you do.

    2. @luis Interestingly, in the first Austrian Grand Prix they did the opposite (not pitting when everyone else did), which turned out to be a mistake. Possibly that race was still on their mind, so they decided not to repeat the same mistake… which turned out to be a mistake, as this time track position was king. Those on fresh tires had only half a lap to make up positions, which Kvyat did brilliantly. At the time, however, it wasn’t an easy decision to make.

      1. I think you are agreeing with me, both times it is a team error.

        If everyone entered in the box and you did not enter and lost positions,… it is a mistake.
        If everyone was left out and you entered in the box and lost positions, … it is a mistake.

        If DR and DK changed to soft tires, they would also have been wrong, the car’s rhythm would have changed, …that’s why they didn’t change, they knew it, they didn’t make the mistake, …RP made the mistake.

        1. To be fair, RP were at the front of the F1.5 field so they did have to make their decision without any idea what the following teams would do. I think his explanation is a great insight, and after the start of the last round, where the hards took a lap or two to warm up, I guess they thought Perez may have been swamped by all the drivers behind him given he wouldn’t be able to keep his hards in their operating window, while Ricciardo was running a normal setup. It looked to me like Perez had trouble getting the softs to switch on for the first few corners too.

          We will never really know, but there is a possibility it could have been worse for Perez if he stayed out.

    3. @luis Absolutely. This is poor by Racing Point.

  3. For people blaming them for their decision: ALB got stuffed on worn hards. By being slow ALB ironically had the upper hand to pit (which they messed up). By being fast (and lucky with MAG) PER was actually in the worst position.
    A damned of you do damned if you don’t situation to me.

  4. Marcus HARDUNG
    5th November 2020, 8:16

    The result for Rscing Point is not perfect , and it shows,that making the,step from underdog to regular podium contender is
    aconsiderable one on terms,of calling the right shots .
    When in the years gone by it was easy to go for “adventureous “ or odd strategies ,as nobody would,complain when you end up p12 instesd of P11, but now a sense of preserving and managing all sorts of risks has come into play when neither car , team and drivers are really
    in position to weigh up .
    Giving up track position , you need very very good reason .Struggling with switching on tyres is going to hurt you no matter what you do , and bodged restarts happen with or without fresh tyres ,so obviously the thought process was simply wrong , as you give up a lot for a vague opportunity to claim back but
    not improve …as the car was already 3rd and had enough tyre to go to the finish .
    Alarming is the defense talk , instead of simply stating : we did make a wrong call and gave Sergio a task he was never
    going to make stick goven the circumstances.We are gutted .Next time we will use our opportinities better.

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