Kobayashi, Tactics and the Safety Car


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I bring this up because it seems that conventional wisdom was largely wrong in the European Grand Prix.

While Hamilton and Vettel's track position in front of the Safety Car effectively gave them a free pit stop by hook or by crook; it seems that the best course of action for others would have been to stick it out in a Kobayashi style way.

With this simple staying out strategy, Kobayashi, 17th at the release of the Safety Car, was able to leap Fernando Alonso, Sebastien Buemi, Nico Rosberg, Felipe Massa, Pedro de la Rosa, Jaime Alguersuari, Vitaly Petrov, Michael Schumacher, Vitantonio Liuzzi and Nico Hulkenburg.

Several drivers' decisions to pit rather than attempt to make up places is understandable. But it is difficult to reconcile the decisions to bring in these drivers:

  • Michael Schumacher - who had missed the pitlane and hence sat 3rd. Even without sophisticated GPS it is obvious that a second lap under Safety Car would run the risk of red light syndrome
  • Felipe Massa - knowing he would be stacked behind Alonso, would Ferrari not have been better to try to get Massa to do the Kobayashi role and hold off Button. In fact, Kobayashi's presence could have presented Massa a buffer. It would have been overly sensible of Ferrari to try something rather than condemn Massa to the 10-20 club for a second race running!

I wonder if a shift from the idea of a "free pitstop" should occur if, for example for a proximal second driver, it is clearly unlikely that the pitstop would be free.

It is also nice to see Sauber continuing to pull out the strategies that they continually executed for Nick Heidfeld in previous years, and vaulting Kobayashi into a position he did not merit under the order of the start of the race.

I realise that all this is only obvious in hindsight!
Tyre choice my friend.

Koby started on hards, the softs would have lasted awhile but I doubt 50+ laps. The soft-hard tyre combo is the quickest, unless of course a saftey car comes out...
I think the timing of the safety car in relation to each car's track position had a lot to do with it.
It was quite unusual to say the least.

As you say, Vettel and Hamilton lucked in as they passed the SC and were able to speed off.

Alonso and Massa were caught in the few hundred metres between the pit entry and the second SC line which was extremely bad luck.
Would they have been better off staying out? It's hard to say.
Undoubtedly they would have had track position but would they have been able to pull a 20 second gap at the restart?
In hindsight yes they may well have been able to, thanks to Kamui holding everyone else up (apart from Vettel and Hamilton of course), but they were on softs so wouldn't have been able to stay out for 30-40 laps.

The rest of them made the correct decision IMO, as evidenced by Buttons 3rd place.
They were able to pit and catch the safety car before it was back around to the pits.

The only reason Kamui made up so many places is Buttons inability or unwillingness to overtake for 40 odd laps, or however many it was.
So perhaps the tactic worked at this circuit but I'm not so sure it would have elsewhere.
And as KraXik said, Kamui happened to be on the right tyres.

Schumacher was unfortunate as the video posted by Keke shows him attempting to pit but then aborts it, possibly due to Sutil steaming up the outside?
Even so, the cars had not all formed up behind the SC so was it right that the red light at the end of the pit lane was on?

I'd be of the opinion that as the line hadn't completely formed behind the safety car then no the pit lane light should not have been red. In terms of split second timing that was really unlucky for schui.

As for his aborted pit attempt, there maybe some written evidence to back this up but having watched this clip a few times i really am not convinced it was an aborted attemp more a complete hash of trying to take the corner.
Looking at the majority of cars and lines for the last corner it usually starts at the extrme right side of the track and initially inside of the pit entry line (due to the nature of the layout) then moving left to clip the apex of the last corner. What you actually see here is he was clearly on the left side of the pit entry line on an inside line from the start before moving back to the right momentarily, If this had something to do with the cars infront that were genuinely entering the pits i'm not sure but possible. I also think you could of driven a bus into the pitlane in front of sutil, there was time to get it done.
slickskid said:
If this had something to do with the cars infront that were genuinely entering the pits i'm not sure but possible. I also think you could of driven a bus into the pitlane in front of sutil, there was time to get it done.

Wow. When you watch the video it looks like a rookie mistake by Shuey.
Schuey didn't appear to be aborting, just trying to keep out of the way of cars that were going into the pits until that little flick right to open up the corner. He may have been driving to the old set of safety car rules that were in force when he left F1, thinking he had plenty of time to pit.

In the old system CART used to use (I don't know if Indy Cars uses it now), the pit lane wouldn't open until all the cars had formed up behind the safety car. This seems far more rational and likely to cause the least confusion. However it could possibly have meant Kamui would have led the race for 45 laps, which may have upset quite a lot of people. :dunno:
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