The 2022 Formula One season has seen a revolution in the pecking order. Mercedes AMG F1 have won 8 consecutive team championships but are struggling to find a win this year. Yet the Brackley PR machine and Lewis Hamilton repeatedly find hope in their sub par performances and believe a win in 2022 is not far away.
Last weekends race in Zandvoort saw the Silver Arrows attempt to win via a 1 stop strategy, but their strategists are still using the pre-ground effect specification cars play book.
Red Bull by way of contrast made their intentions clear as to how they would run the race during Saturday’s qualifying.,
Max Verstappen started Q1 with a fresh set of Soft red tyres and was quickest. In Q2 he retained the used reds from Q1 and being only beaten by Carlos Sainz and easily moving again on one run into Q3.
Red Bull were saving soft tyres and with hindsight planned to run the race with new soft tyres at the start, changing for medium yellow tyres in their middle stint and finishing the race on the soft tyre.
Verstappoen’s team knew they would probably lose track position by the second and final pit stop, but backed their car and driver to deliver the overtake necessary to win the race during the final stint.
Mercedes by way of contrast set their stall out to stop just once [assuming no safety car].
Yet analysis from Sky F1’s Alex Brundle now demonstrates this strategy would be a fail, even if the race was uninterrupted by Safety Cars.
The best Mercedes could hope for doing a one stop race was to finish P3 and P4 behind Verstappen and LecLerc. This of course would have been even worse had Ferrari not failed Carlos Sainz with a slow pit stop and an unsafe release.
Alex Brundle ran “what if” analysis had during the safety car Mercedes had made different decisions.
If as Nico Rosberg suggested they had left both drivers out in P1/P2 then both would’ve been passed by LeClerc in the Ferrari and Verstappen in the Red Bull.
Further, had the team pitted Lewis under the final Safety Car instead of Russell, the result would have seen the team gain a P2 and P4 as they did, but with Lewis on the podium instead of Russell.
It is apparent that various F1 teams are struggling to adapt their race strategies for the new car designs.
In previous years track position was King. A car trying to follow and overtake would hit a wall of turbulent air when catching the car in front. This would ruin the aerodynamics of the front wing quickly destroying tyres. So to be in front after the pit stops was crucial.
The new 2022 Ground Effect F1 car regulations have significantly reduced this ‘dirty air’ effect and opened up the opportunity for teams to give up track position and trust their new faster tyre offsets will allow them to passs those who are on older tyres.
So thankfully it appears the ‘one stop strategy’ will quickly become a thing of the past as teams realise flat out racing is now King and tyre conservation no longer necessary.
Pirelli are already suggesting they will introduce new front tyre compounds for 2023 to dial out the understeer the new breed of F1 cars are suffering.
It’s time for the strategists to ditch their pre-2022 rule books and plan their races flat out with multiple pit stops.
Those incredible scenes 🔴
— Formula 1 (@F1) September 7, 2022