Safety Car causes strategic shuffles in Singapore

2014 Singapore Grand Prix tyre strategies and pit stops

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The Singapore Grand Prix has become the one round of the season where F1’s strategists can almost take it for granted that the Safety Car will play a role. This was the seventh running of the race, and as in the six previous events the Safety Car played a role.

For most of the teams it was a question of trying to make it to the end of the race without a further pit stop. Some such as Red Bull had already put their drivers on the harder soft tyres for what was supposed to be their second stop of three – instead it became their last.

“We went onto the [super-soft] tyre at the first stop,” explained Red Bull team principal Christian Horner. “By the time we got to the second, Fernando [Alonso] had got the undercut on us, so we went onto the different tyre to change the strategy.”

This was the logical thing for Red Bull to do. Had the Safety Car not come out, they would have been able to attack Alonso at the end of the race by switching back to the super-soft tyres while he was on softs.

But as it turned out the Safety Car was needed, and Ferrari were forced to sacrifice Alonso’s track position to get him on a set of tyres he could run to the end of the race with.

Williams began the race using an aggressive three-stop strategy for Felipe Massa which jumped him ahead of Kimi Raikkonen. He made his second pit stop on lap 23, earlier than anyone else last year, and having switched to the soft tyres he was able to run to the end of the race, which proved handy when the Safety Car came out.

“The grip levels were very low in the final few laps,” said Massa, “but I had a big enough gap to sixth place to ease the car home”.

Massa’s strategy was bad news for Raikkonen. “From then on I found myself stuck behind a Williams for the entire race,” he said.

“Unfortunately, every time I managed to get close, I lost aero performance on the rear and on top of that, tyre degradation was very high.”

The team who impressed most in the pits was McLaren, who set the four fastest pit stop times of the race, and all five of their stops ranked inside the top seven.

Singapore Grand Prix tyre strategies

The tyre strategies for each driver:

Stint 1 Stint 2 Stint 3 Stint 4 Stint 5
Lewis Hamilton Super soft (13) Super soft (13) Super soft (26) Soft (8)
Sebastian Vettel Super soft (12) Super soft (13) Soft (35)
Daniel Ricciardo Super soft (12) Super soft (15) Soft (33)
Fernando Alonso Super soft (12) Super soft (12) Super soft (7) Soft (29)
Felipe Massa Super soft (10) Super soft (12) Soft (38)
Jean-Eric Vergne Super soft (11) Super soft (13) Super soft (20) Soft (16)
Sergio Perez Super soft (15) Soft (14) Super soft (1) Soft (14) Super soft (16)
Kimi Raikkonen Super soft (11) Super soft (14) Super soft (6) Soft (29)
Nico Hulkenberg Super soft (9) Super soft (16) Soft (6) Soft (29)
Kevin Magnussen Super soft (13) Soft (13) Super soft (20) Super soft (14)
Valtteri Bottas Super soft (11) Super soft (12) Soft (37)
Pastor Maldonado Super soft (11) Super soft (12) Super soft (7) Super soft (1) Soft (29)
Romain Grosjean Super soft (10) Super soft (12) Super soft (8) Soft (30)
Daniil Kvyat Super soft (10) Soft (13) Super soft (20) Soft (17)
Marcus Ericsson Super soft (12) Super soft (18) Soft (30)
Jules Bianchi Super soft (15) Super soft (15) Soft (15) Super soft (15)
Max Chilton Super soft (16) Super soft (2) Soft (23) Super soft (18)
Jenson Button Super soft (14) Soft (17) Soft (21)
Adrian Sutil Super soft (8) Super soft (16) Soft (7) Super soft (9)
Esteban Gutierrez Super soft (15) Soft (2)
Nico Rosberg Super soft (13)
Kamui Kobayashi Super soft

Singapore Grand Prix pit stop times

How long each driver’s pit stops took:

Driver Team Pit stop time Gap On lap
1 Jenson Button McLaren 28.627 31
2 Jenson Button McLaren 28.641 0.014 14
3 Kevin Magnussen McLaren 28.684 0.057 13
4 Kevin Magnussen McLaren 28.706 0.079 46
5 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 28.733 0.106 25
6 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 28.810 0.183 24
7 Kevin Magnussen McLaren 28.841 0.214 26
8 Valtteri Bottas Williams 28.880 0.253 23
9 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 28.912 0.285 12
10 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 28.991 0.364 31
11 Felipe Massa Williams 29.006 0.379 22
12 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 29.036 0.409 23
13 Romain Grosjean Lotus 29.040 0.413 22
14 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 29.113 0.486 27
15 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 29.164 0.537 25
16 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 29.284 0.657 52
17 Romain Grosjean Lotus 29.322 0.695 10
18 Sergio Perez Force India 29.339 0.712 44
19 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 29.362 0.735 25
20 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 29.363 0.736 30
21 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 29.422 0.795 13
22 Sergio Perez Force India 29.502 0.875 29
23 Felipe Massa Williams 29.578 0.951 10
24 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 29.655 1.028 31
25 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 29.702 1.075 11
26 Adrian Sutil Sauber 29.748 1.121 24
27 Jules Bianchi Marussia 29.752 1.125 45
28 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 29.761 1.134 12
29 Romain Grosjean Lotus 29.761 1.134 30
30 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 29.806 1.179 11
31 Max Chilton Marussia 29.877 1.250 41
32 Jules Bianchi Marussia 29.885 1.258 30
33 Adrian Sutil Sauber 29.887 1.260 8
34 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 29.960 1.333 11
35 Sergio Perez Force India 29.979 1.352 15
36 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 29.987 1.360 9
37 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 30.089 1.462 10
38 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 30.111 1.484 44
39 Marcus Ericsson Caterham 30.144 1.517 12
40 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 30.147 1.520 12
41 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 30.188 1.561 23
42 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 30.194 1.567 31
43 Valtteri Bottas Williams 30.340 1.713 11
44 Marcus Ericsson Caterham 30.364 1.737 30
45 Jules Bianchi Marussia 30.413 1.786 15
46 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 30.415 1.788 31
47 Adrian Sutil Sauber 30.672 2.045 31
48 Max Chilton Marussia 30.751 2.124 16
49 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 31.040 2.413 26
50 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 31.092 2.465 43
51 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 33.679 5.052 15
52 Sergio Perez Force India 35.289 6.662 30
53 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 35.309 6.682 24
54 Max Chilton Marussia 37.975 9.348 18

2014 Singapore Grand Prix

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Image © Singapore GP/Sutton

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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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18 comments on “Safety Car causes strategic shuffles in Singapore”

  1. The team who impressed most ion the pits was McLaren, who set the four fastest pit stop times of the race, and all five of their stops ranked inside the top seven.

    Yep, I bet they take great pride in that. Shame about the rest of the car not being quite up to speed!

    1. Isn’t it ironic that when they did have the car to challenge it was the opposite with all the botched stops.

  2. Formula Indonesia (@)
    22nd September 2014, 9:42

    Alonso could have salvaged Podium, but did Lewis saved a lot of tyres in his first 2 stints???? i think he could lapped 2nd place after looking at his pace after SC

    1. They didnt needed to go that fast before SC. We all know how Mercs can just turn up their engine power and boom, they are gone away from eyesight. May be it is still a bit unreliable for them to run 100℅ race distance at that power, thats why they only use it when it is truly needed.

      Its amazing how fast their car can go, he was almost 8.5 secs up on Vettel within 3 laps after SC, whereas last year Vettel blitzed through the field at about 2 secs/lap speed.

      1. Vettel was saving his tires, and on the harder tire, so it’s not an apt comparison per se. I think one interesting data point is how far ahead on fuel consumption Hamilton was in the later stages, according to the FOM graphic. This suggests that Hamilton was able to use a lot of coasting and keep the engine turned down throughout the race, and still control things easily. This is a mark of a superior chassis, not just engine, because MB is not just turning up the wick to make pace.

      2. Hamilton was on the Supersoft during SC while the rest, practically from 2nd to 10th were on soft tyres.

        Does it even makes sense for Vettel trying to catch Hamilton?

  3. I am bemused Alonso did not follow Hamilton’s strategy.

    He’d have had clear track ahead of him, and on the supersofts – based on the early stints – he could’ve more or less been able to keep Lewis’ pace. Even if, say, he’d have got 10s less in the bag, he’d come out behind Massa and no straightline speed difference would’ve kept the Williams in front, not to mention the Red Bulls.

    This was clearly the better strategy option as underlined by the excellent pace and progress of others, who chose it – Vergne and Pérez. (Magnussen and Kvyat did so as well, but they had issues, so their pace was not representative.)

    This all sounds like a ‘Monday morning quarterback’, but considering even I realized the softs are not much more durable than the super-softs (Pirelli indicated that on Friday), surely they should have known it as well.

    Even if not, it still bugs me that even in retrospect, Alonso & Co. says that they think their strategy was good when it clearly wasn’t.

    1. Agreed, Ferrari was “happy” with 4th , don’t get the tire stagy unless they were hoping for ANOTHER safety car.
      Seems to me as the number of cars retire and laps decrease so do the ODDs of a safety car coming out-just a guess on my part no hard numbers

    2. Same with Hulkenberg. I guess Force india decided to split the strategies and gave Perez the one which was the biggest gamble, but by now they should have learned that these “gambles” usually work out best anyway.

  4. I think it was very impressive by Merc and Lewis to make the SS last for 26 laps with that pace. for others it fell off around lap 18 – 20 and these 6 laps made the difference – because I’m not so sure if the result would have been the same if he came out behind ALO.

    1. @tmf42

      8 out of those 26 laps were behind the safety car though, where they would have degraded very little.

      1. @mike-dee I was comparing it to guys like Vergne /Magnusson who spent the same amount of time behind the SC with the SS but theirs really fell off a cliff by lap 20.

        1. I see, yes. If you listened to Hamilton’s radio, you would have thought that his tyres had also gone completely off (but he was still pulling a gap on Vettel so it couldn’t have been that bad…).

  5. Wow at Massa’s 38 lap stint on the softs and still managing to come in 5th. We saw what Bottas’s tyres were doing after 37 so it’s pretty impressive that Massa managed an extra lap whilst maintaining his position.

    1. It could also be said that Bottas defense up until the last lap helped Massa because while he was busy defending, Massa was managing his tyers and putting some good gaps between them. If the pack had overtaken Bottas in time, they might have caught Massa

  6. @keithcollantine
    think i’ve spotted an error:
    ‘for what was supposed to be their third stop of four – instead that stint became their last of three.’

    I think the plan was always a 3 stop, not a 4. But instead it became a 2 stop due to the safety car.

    1. @sato113 Yeah I’ve got stints and stops mixed up there – have fixed it now.

  7. Two drivers (Perez and Maldonado) had one-lap stints — obviously something wrong was detected (slow puncture?) straight away. You’d think that Pirelli could do a better job of quality control, either in manufacturing or mounting the tyres. Not sure about Chilton’s two-lap stint (was it mentioned in the commentary?), but it could have been the same scenario (or the safety car?)

Comments are closed.