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Ferrari Strategy: Defense Turned Into Offense
Ferrari strategy has been somewhat lacking all season in comparison to Mercedes who have consistently outclassed the grid and even given Lewis/Valtteri wins they otherwise wouldn’t have had. But in Singapore, it appears it was Ferrari who had the upper hand.
But not on purpose.
Ferrari were reacting to the race for the most part. It just so happened that this was the first weekend in a while where both Ferrari’s were in striking distance of a grand prix victory. Typically, either one or both of the silver arrows at this point have pulled off ahead – leaving the Scuderia to become observers.
Here’s what’s covered:
- Did Ferrari Favor Vettel To Win In Singapore?
- Why Wasn’t Mercedes On The Podium?
Ferrari Strategists Defend Against Red Bull
The initial driver of what resulting in a Vettel win had nothing to do with Vettel intentionally planning to undercut. Sebastian Vettel’s garage was ensuring that the four-time world champion wasn’t eliminated from the race chasing Verstappen’s Red Bull down for 40 laps. As such, once Verstappen relayed the message that he grip was “totally gone”, Vettel got the message that it was time to box. Furthermore, if you analyze the onboard, you’ll see Verstappen has a very clear, direct objection to staying out even a single lap longer, told to box, then Vettel veers into pit lane with only seconds left.
At this stage even still, it’s not totally evident this will pay off for Vettel. But what is clear is that Max coming in definitely wouldn’t hurt him. It wasn’t until Vettel’s team noticed something as he exited his pit stop.
Vettel’s Mega Outlap
Verstappen had a solid pit stop, 2.3 seconds, compared to a rather slow pit by Vettel, 3.0 seconds. But what became clear as Sebastian got on the throttle was that even if Verstappen had a flawless exit, he was likely going to get stuck behind Hulkenberg. This would give Vettel clear air to separate and get his tyres up to temperature while trying to gap Leclerc who had just pitted. What no one saw coming, except maybe Vettel himself, was his times as he had his Ferrari getting purple sector after purple sector.
Vettel's Sector 2 Split
Vettel's Sector 3 Split
Vettel's Post Pit Lap
Regardless of what strategy Ferrari went with, Vettel had Leclerc beat with his first couple laps exiting his pits. Vettel in sector 2 of his outlap was -0.535 and in sector 3 Vettel was -0.356. On his following lap, Vettel clocked a blazing 1:45.453 compared to Leclerc’s 1:46.564. This resulted in a -1.111 gap time favoring Vettel even with Leclerc pushing on his fresh set of hard tyres.
Leclerc's Sector 2 Split
Leclerc's Sector 3 Split
Leclerc's Post Pit Lap
Mercedes Caught In Ferrari Civil War
Once Leclerc’s garage could see Vettel’s splits and his open track, to build a lead over his teammate, he was told to push. And with Verstappen fighting through the backmarkers with Vettel trying to stay close to the Ferrari, his pace was quicker than expected to. Not only did Vettel set himself up nicely to score well in Singapore, he inadvertently set the pace for Red Bull who ultimately end up ahead of Hamilton. Mercedes couldn’t have seen all of these events playing out which would end up pushing the top of the grid to drive much harder than they ever normally would on hard tyres on the front end of a race with 23 corners.
Ferrari Strategy Emboldens Vettel 2.0
The morning the Singapore Grand Prix started, I published a video showing how Sebastian Vettel’s Qualifying Times from Q3 were actually by far the fastest on the grid in aggregate. I think his garage saw this too based on some interviews he gave after the Saturday session ended. Combine this with him being able to successfully fend off the entire field even with VSCs galore, Vettel was reminded of his pace. He was reminded he is a four time F1 world drivers champion. And to top it all off – he’s driving a Ferrari. One can only imagine what Russia will bring, but I anticipate Vettel taking this momentum and confidence into a podium finish.
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