Firstly, apologies to our regular readers as this website has been rather dormant for the last 3 or 4 weeks, but following on from the Canadian GP I must publish this piece that sheds some light on Vettel’s race in Canada.
Further, the rhetoric of the British press is astonishing. Today the tabloid paper the Express published an article claiming Ferrari and Binotto are dropping their appeal against the 5-second penalty Vettel was given due to ‘new evidence’ – i.e. that Ferrari now thinks that Vettel did have control of his car, and in fact steered into the path of Lewis. I quote:
“Chief Mattia Binotto has written to the FIA informing them there will be no challenge.
“Video evidence has emerged seemingly showing Vettel making a second steer after he had come off the grass.
“It suggests the German had control of his car and almost put Hamilton into the wall in a bid to defend his lead.”
Clear is the fact that Vettel didn’t have control of his car, and the entire episode could at worst be described as a ‘racing incident’, and Binotto himself today told motorsport.com that:
“[We are] considering the images and data we have available, we are convinced that there was no misconduct, but Sebastian made a mistake on the way out but I think he only tried to recover the car, slow down, and get back on track more safely.
“We are collecting all available data, trying to bring new elements to eventually have a different decision.”
Ferrari are now looking into their ‘right to review’ in an effort to seek the same reverse decision through a different means.
Vettel fuel saving
To quote a Reddit user who has disseminated some interesting new evidence highlighting the level of workload Vettel and Ferrari had to do in order to keep P1 over Mercedes, below is some interesting text translated from the f1analisitecnica.com website, a very good analytical and technical blog.
The writer, Alex Brunetti, watches the entire race from all the driver’s onboard camera’s, including Vettel’s (something I very much doubt the Express writer bothered to do!).
The piece explains how Vettel was seen adjusting the differential setting for 3/4 turns every lap while Leclerc most of the other drivers did that only at the hairpin.
Moreover, he spent most of the race on engine 1 mode, which is the highest setting, in order not to be overtaken by Hamilton, while lifting and coasting and trying to charge the ERS in every way possible every lap of the race. The race engineer had the concern he would not be able to finish the race trying to defend from Hamilton like that.
Very really impressive despite the error, given all the things he as to focus on every lap of the race:
• 14 corners in Circuit Gilles Villeneuve
• 70 laps
• 980 corners total
• Sebastian made a mistake on 0.102% of corners
• Has 99.898% perfect race
Many might argue that the blog and writer are Italian, therefore bias. Perhaps this is true, but equally, the English speaking press often fails to look beyond the Hamilton bias and appreciate just how difficult it is for other teams, even Ferrari, to break the Mercedes car performance dominance.
Below is a direct translation from the source blog f1analisitecnica.com – enjoy.
LAST CAR IS ON THE GRID. GP Analysis Canada 2019
That “Last car Is on the Grid” pronounced by Riccardo Adami a few minutes after our 20:10 on Sunday had a different flavor. Those who know that their driver will not have to make an attack start this time but for the first time in the 2019 World Championship, a start in defense. Defending against Lewis: the historical rival of this hybrid era. The attitude of the men in the red on the eve of this race let it be seen that it would not be easy to bring home a good result. I felt more pessimism in the words of Binotto and Vettel themselves on the eve of this race, compared to the one perceived in races gone considerably worse. Everything is probably to be attributed to Friday’s race pace, where it was evident that Ferrari was behind with medium and soft rubber and with the unknown of a hard that turned out to be the race rubber that (of course) Ferrari has not practically brought.
That’s why, after the first three laps, I immediately started to think that Hamilton would have overtaken Vettel shortly afterwards. I had the confirmation already from Leclerc that he could not keep the pace of Hamilton and I was also aware that Ferrari would have to sooner or later manage the high fuel consumption that the Italian PU burned in the only point where it really went stronger: the long straight before the final chicane.
Seb’s race was in fact practically all done in Engine 1 (I’ll come back later in the detail of the maps) and after seeing Norris’ car, transformed by the FIA into a safe, expensive and glittering Marshall point at the trackside without the help of VSC or SC, it was even clearer to me that Sebastian Vettel despite trying everything and everything would never get to the end of the race keeping that first position.
I open a parenthesis on the car of Norris: in an F1 so careful to safety, with what courage can you penalize a driver for a dangerous return to the track, when the car of Norris has remained at the edge of the track for practically the whole race? The race director exposed double yellow flags in laps 9, 10, 11 and 12. During these four laps no decision was taken – Virtual Safety Car or Safety Car – to remove the car so much so that in lap 12 the track was declared “clear” so free. The theory in this case suggests that the choice to define the track as Clear was because it was ideally “beyond” the track (ideally, certainly not by regulation). “Track Clear”, however, which only lasts one lap since during the 13th the yellow double cars are waved again – a type of flag that we remember means: “slow down and be ready to stop if necessary” – Evidently from the race direction, I thought at that moment, they realized that you can not declare a free track with a car stopped on the side even if IDEALLY (I stress this again) out of the trajectory. And instead in lap 14 again the track is “clear”. What happened between laps 9 and 14? Simple, absolutely nothing. The obstacle considered at first to wave not a simple yellow flag but a double yellow flag, is … disappeared. And yet he was still there physically; they probably thought of a new initiative in the “F1 Experiences” genre in which a marshal was offered the opportunity to sit in the single-seater to follow the Grand Prix from a privileged position. The initiative was unsuccessful: obviously the race management has forgotten that the single-seaters are not equipped with air conditioning… I will return to the penalty to Seb Vettel only later, however, and I am silent with sarcasm.
We are still on lap 10, and the German gets a suggestion from Adami: “we suggest left leverage in turns 3 and 8”. What does this mean? This year, in my introductory article on the Ferrari steering wheel, I quickly talked about DIF IN and DIF MID (curve input differential and curve centre differential). The time has come to add something about this: the two parameters are managed by two rings on the spokes of the steering wheel (DIF IN on the left – DIF MID on the right) that the driver operates by sliding the two inches on the mechanism (being rings, do not press like buttons). From this year (maybe some tests already started last year) Ferrari uses “shortcuts” that can be activated by two levers placed on the back of the steering wheel.
This aspect is to my attention by now from Bahrain and if I already had few doubts at the time now I can absolutely confirm that the left lever – lowered, then activated as in the screen at the top – serves to change “on the fly” the differential in the curve input, while the right one to change the DIF MID. From some communications “in code” of Adami, my idea is that, both the input differential and the one in the middle of the curve, are set to a neutral value chosen before the race. At that point the driver selects on the selectors on the spokes, before the race or during the race itself, the modified value that needs to be overwritten within a lap (based on compound, wear, track temperature). At that point that adjustment will come into play when operated by the levers, which are basically switch on/off of the modified parameters.
During this race, EVERY LAP from the eleventh, Sebastian activates the DIF IN modified before turn 3, turns it off after turn 4, turns it back on before turn 8, turns it off after turn 9, arrives at the hairpin and there manages the DIF MID by activating the right lever, deactivates it as soon as the hairpin ends, and returns to act on the DIF IN input of turn 13 to turn it off on the straight of the finish line. I checked the onboards of all four leading drivers and although I am not a good connoisseur of the Mercedes steering wheel, I can confirm that no one has operated every lap the same differential settings that has managed Vettel to try to pull out of that car, even what he did not have at that time. Most of the drivers, including Leclerc, as far as I could see, managed only a lap adjustment on the differential in the hairpin bend.
The images that I will attach to the article, starting from the one above, are not random: they are in fact taken from any lap and show how Sebastian drove with qualifying trajectories throughout the GP to try to defend himself in particular in the three areas of DRS that could (but have not succeeded) to cancel the advantage of engine and top speed that Ferrari had on this track.
To be deeply honest, you can’t be sure that the DRS and the Mercedes engine were not enough to overtake a Vettel in defense who relied on any mapping to avoid being overtaken (we’ll really come back soon): this is because Hamilton in every lap where he was particularly close to Sebastian before turn 10, has almost always made a mistake in braking by locking the right tire. Some of these mistakes, not shown by the international director (because in that phase also focused on Ricciardo vs Bottas), were live Sky Italia, mistaken even for repeated replays of the same error when instead it was Hamilton who made the error in photocopy lap after lap. If it had been the chicken on duty, probably, we would have talked about incapacity, repeated error, chronic incapacity in the approach of a curve. On the other hand, I, who don’t consider on the grid “chicken” even the last driver, would dare to say that Lewis had problems with brake temperature or that the car didn’t have a perfect set up or that he still wasn’t able (helped by his track engineer) to find during the race a different value of Engine Braking, Brake Balance or Brake Migration in race. But to read that Hamilton’s locking is a signature and doesn’t cause any problems (when repeated at least five times, losing contact with Vettel on the straight) I consider it an offence to everyone’s intelligence and above all I don’t understand some people’s silence about it.
Apart from these theories of mine, however, Hamilton’s overtaking has never arrived either on the track or outside it. Vettel’s pit-stop job was excellent, having understood Lewis’ drop in performance on lap 20 (1.17.0), which made both red drivers change the Plan from A to B. Excellent again, having understood that the Plan B (lengthening the stint waiting for SC) had to be put in doubt at the same time when, making the pit stop you could easily stay ahead of Bottas. On lap 24, therefore, Seb was given a target lap of 1.16.7, on lap 25 he was asked to push again (push now), on lap 26 he was asked to push even more (push hard now) because they would have made the only stop of the day. Seb asks for -1 click of the front wing and at the exit from the pits he starts to show the value of the hard tyre even though he had never tried it during the weekend on the Canadian track. Hamilton, in fact, tries an overcut for an extra lap but this is no use, considering that Seb does nothing but increase his gap from him.
With Hamilton several seconds away, the German’s Ferrari entered FS 2 (Fuel Saving) mode on lap 32. He is also instructed to switch to a more conservative ICE mode (Engine 4). From lap 32 to lap 40 Hamilton approached in an impressive way (demonstrating the absence of consumption problems as well as the excellent performance in the hard rhythm of the W10 well described here) and was within reach of DRS already on lap 40. ICE, however, from the data collected, goes back to consuming more fuel than it is available to get to the end, so after two laps (lap 42) they suggest to go back to Engine 4 and to take advantage of the Mode OV (a mode that I think indicates overtake; this mode, little exploited by Ferrari usually, is not to be exchanged with the push mode of qualifying or with the various K1, K1+ and K2 that by now you know well to be exclusively parameters of the MGU-H + Turbo group). On lap 43, however, Hamilton is still close and Adami tells Seb that the OV mode is not enough and it’s necessary to put Engine 1 side by side.
On lap 44, however, comes a communication, also transmitted by international direction, but mistranslated by Marc Genè in the impetus of live. Genè in fact says live that the driver has been informed that the numbers on the display are wrong and that therefore this thing would not please Vettel. In fact, the radio team was the opposite; Adami says: “The numbers you see on the steering wheel are correct! Take Actions”. What are the numbers they refer to? Simply the fuel indication. Adami, in fact, is now afraid that without a SC (as it happened then) the German car would never have reached the finish line.
This, despite the fact that he was now on lap 32 in Fuel Saving 2 mode, did lift and coast and had also done 9 laps in Engine 4. In essence, what Seb recovered with the lift and coast in the first two sectors, was burned on the long straight in an attempt to defend himself from Hamilton. So how do you do it? What could be the actions that Adami suggested to do to save fuel and at the same time not get overtaken?
Seb finds the answer and completely changes the approach of different curves and driving style. In turn 1, for example, he enters faster, so as to bring more speed to the point of rope of turn 2 without the aid of gas (at risk of a spin like that had by our compatriot Giovinazzi). Throughout the first and second sector, he pulls the gears more – in doing so he tries a desperate recharging of the electric from MGU-H so as to have more battery charge in the long straight and exploit less ICE – and at the same time (where he can) he tries to do lift and Coast (before the hairpin and before turn 6 in particular). In addition, depending on how much electric recharging he could generate, the driver activated (autonomously, it’s right to point this out) the K1 and K1 Plus modes sometimes before the hairpin bend, sometimes in the straight before turn 8, almost always squeezing the last percentage of ERS on the long straight. All of this, I remember, while in a mode called overtake and in Engine 1, he was responsible for saving fuel (which, for those who now follow the articles Last Car is on the Grid from some meetings, is practically a technical nonsense).
Vettel and Ferrari wanted to avoid that overtaking at all costs, despite the fact that the vehicle was not really at the level, despite they were almost without fuel, despite the pace on Hamilton’s hard cars was better than theirs (just see how many laps Hamilton has recovered the disadvantage of the pit stop that has penalized him in the strategy in the article mentioned above).
Thus comes the error during lap 48 that is simplistic to call “error from Hamilton’s pressure”. The error is there, no one denies it and it could and should have been avoided even with a guide to the limit: after all, the German still drove to the limit up to lap 40 and beyond the limit up to lap 48. But that wasn’t the case. The burden of a 5-second penalty on which so much has already been said has arrived.
I will be brief then: the penalty for the way it is conceived today the regulation had margins to be applied, and it was all there. It was clear to me (and the attached tweet is proof of this) that it was written when the investigation had yet to be opened. The only thing the commissioners could do with the rules in hand was to justify or contextualize the return to the track from the gap caused by the oversteer, but even that “against a Mercedes” seemed utopian to me from the beginning. Vettel could brake and go straight against the internal barriers, or force his mind and arms not to correct an oversteer and proceed in a donut in which Hamilton would probably find himself hooked.
The commissioners, however, did not want to find justifications or extenuating circumstances and even this is impassive. Perhaps, however, it is the difference of judgment in other situations of the past that is most annoying today. Remaining to this single event as hell we can talk about safety not respected in the return to the track, when they left a Mclaren stationary on the track for 60 laps considering that the last tragedy in F1 occurred to a foreign vehicle on the track? Of course, Mclaren is not a recovery vehicle with a “dangerous shape” but can we really honestly say that stopping there was not a danger?
And again: why, if in the past admitting a mistake candidly represented proof of repentance to be forgiven? Exaggeration? Why then, is the Safety Car regime with the drizzle considered a confusing situation where a driver can make mistakes, while instead losing control of the car at 248Km/h and still being able to get back on track without doing damage to himself and others is considered normal?
Vettel lost his rear wheel in braking at 248Km/h top speed on lap 48, but in 47 he had started braking at 247Km/h. I took both screens when both the telemetry displays both the brake and accelerator pedals at the same time. You can check for yourself through the F1 app what I can only show you in still images. Once it went well, the second time, no. Steering angle error? Error for dirty air? Pressure error? Error; no doubt. But surely the commissioners have not shown (as in the past) to know how to invent funny justifications (which this time would have had at least the taste of candid common sense). But perhaps, in a year in which the world is now definitely closed, (although not in a mathematical way, because blah blah blah), it was also useful to have received this penalty.
Immediately after the mistake, Adami asks Seb to switch to Race mode and continue his laps in Engine 1. Seb understands that both Race mode and endothermic engine mode will continue to consume more than they can afford and so continues to run trying to save money, while pushing beyond the limit on the long straight. This brings us to lap 58 and the driver is notified of the penalty. Adami tried to find the right words and even though Hamilton was notified of the penalty at the end of the 57th lap, they waited for him to reach the hairpin bend on lap 58 so that he would be free to get angry while he was on the straight. Adami’s “head down”, or “stay focused”, are worthless. Vettel, in fact, replies to Riccardo that he is concentrated with the tone of someone who reassures his interlocutor, but this does not deny that “we are stealing the race”, with the tone this time of a person now full of too many things that as he himself will declare, are not those that made him fall in love with this sport years earlier.
He thus arrives at lap 63 and Adami tells him that he is doing a great job with consumption and that another 4 laps should suffice with what he is doing. Just for the sake of clarity, in case you’ve lost this passage, Vettel is still in Mode Race (and not Mode Fuel Saving) and with Engine 1 (what lets the endothermic engine express its maximum potential) and “what he’s doing” is a lift and coast in places where he could afford it, high engine revs to recharge the electric and try to bring as much speed as possible in the curves (especially the chicanes) so you have to re-accelerate less at the exit (remember the locking in turn 3 for the crucial mistake, yes?); all this keeping back a possessed Hamilton who, after learning of the penalty, asks to be given more engine – probably because, as he will declare in the final radio team – he didn’t like to win this race so much.
But even with more engine allowed to Hamilton since the beginning of lap 58, the overtaking on track will never come. So we are at the checkered flag, finally. Finally, because being next to Seb in the car in the last laps, watching him drive like a madman even though he was aware that even though Hamilton had nothing to do on the track, he still saw himself stealing (to quote his verb) an ultra-meritated victory, was a suffering that only a true fan can understand. But racing, unfortunately, is also this (now).
And Leclerc? No, I didn’t forget Charles. The Monegasque race was simply quieter. After a good shot but without that extra amount that could worry a Hamilton already terrified by the anti-stall (it opens on the radio four times in the reconnaissance lap. The team doesn’t answer because it could not, but it informs the driver that the starting system is OK on the last chicane, because the commissioners authorize them to do so), Leclerc doesn’t manage to keep the rhythm of the two in front. It is not known if for a lack of him (a track not very congenial to his driving style), for his set up, or because it was really Vettel and Hamilton who made the difference in Canada, after several laps of silence (you will have understood that Charles is a driver who doesn’t speak much on the radio), Marcos asked him if he could increase the pace on lap 13 to get closer to Hamilton.
Leclerc thus began to run significantly better, setting a fastest lap on lap 18 and one on lap 22. They communicate to the Monegasque always during lap 20 that Hamilton is on lap 1.17 and then they pass to plan B also with him. Unlike what happened with Vettel, however, this resulted in hindsight (due to the gaps with Bottas) in a more obvious error in the case of Leclerc. I added with “hindsight” because Leclerc was third before the pit and the only maneuver that could perhaps help him to move into second place, was probably to diversify strategies. If a SC had arrived between lap 20 and 34 (I use the 34 because it was the one then, where they actually stopped him), Charles could have had a pit stop almost “for free”. This didn’t happen, however, and stopping him at the same time as Seb (laps 27-29) would have been the same as letting him out behind Bottas, which would probably have slowed him down given the previous histories of 2018.
Ferrari, given the still acceptable pace (especially in comparison with Bottas) of the Monegasque average, asked the driver if he could still keep up with that pace and he replied that everything was still going well with that tyre. On lap 33, therefore, having by now freed themselves from the shadow of Bottas on whom he had a good advantage, they decided to paint in an attempt to get him out in front of Verstappen (waiting for the stop of the number 33, which we remember, started with the hard cars, would have been a massacre). Leclerc was informed that at the exit of the pits they would have been very close, but even if he went out behind the Dutchman it was a calculated risk considering that after a lap of setting the temperature of the hard cars, Charles overtook with the strength of the DRS and the K1 Plus Verstappen without any problems.
Thus began on lap 37, the rest phase of his SF90. First of all it passes in Engine 4 (which it will use until lap 54). On lap 54, he was again invited to go into Engine 1 even though in Fuel Saving mode, to get closer to the leading group as the two drivers (Seb and Lewis) were fighting each other and in case of an error of both it was good to stay within range. Thus makes mark two additional fastest laps (59 and 64). On lap 61, in addition to Engine 1 already set on lap 54, he goes back to Mode Race. On lap 65 there is an encrypted communication in which they ask the driver for his opinion (in my opinion, but I have several elements to be convinced of) on a stop to mount a Soft tyre and make the fastest lap in the race. Charles’ answer is quite clear. “NO WAY; I stay here” (it doesn’t exist, I stay here). Marcos communicates that he has received the message but after a few bends now in lap 66 he reopens saying: we think it is “free” and communicate the gap from Bottas (over 27 seconds) and the 7 seconds that keep him away from the Mercedes Hamilton despite he was pushing the car to the limit. Charles reopened on the radio saying: “Let me focus, please”. At that point Marcos and the wall surrendered to the decision of the pilot and then communicate, to push as much as possible until the checkered flag. There is no communication about the penalty of Vettel. Binotto stated in the post race that the wall has forgotten to do so. I’m not really sure that’s true, but from a team point of view nothing would have changed in the calculation of points. In fact, the only variation to how this GP ended would have been represented by the extra point for the possible fastest lap that Charles has categorically denied to his track engineer. This will lead to the checkered flag.
A chequered flag that comes bitter for Ferrari fans who will not forget that Seb’s finger, this time, was not in the mode of exultation but in that of rejection.
The radio teams at the end of the race, are as usual available on my personal Twitter account: here that of Vettel, here that of Leclerc.
Author: Alex Brunetti – @deadlinex