Technical Director James Allison answers your queries about the Abu Dhabi GP
Christine Smyrnios (@RisDeSmy) asked on Twitter
- Why did you choose to pit Lewis so early?
James Allison: "Well, it was indeed a very early and very aggressive pit stop but we chose it then because that's when the Virtual Safety Car came out.
"You don't get to choose when the Virtual Safety Car comes out but when it does, you have to make a quick decision about whether you have an opportunity to stop or not.
"The Virtual Safety Car presents that opportunity because you get a pit stop that is much quicker than a normal pit stop, something like 10 seconds quicker.
"So, if you can choose to do it at the right moment and your opposition do not, then it catapults you forward up the track by about 10 seconds.
"So, we took the opportunity with Lewis to do that and profited from it. The compromise of course is that we then had that really long stint to do on the tyres, something which Lewis managed very well and never looked threatened for the lead of the race."
Rohan Prasad (@rohanprasad97) commented on Instagram
- Why wasn't Valtteri pitted along with Lewis? Also, why was there a second pit stop for him?
JA: "Well, first question first. It made sense to stop Lewis at that Virtual Safety Car because he was in the lead of the race and we could definitely guarantee that he would come out in a good place on the track.
"For Valtteri, three seconds behind Lewis, the situation was different. Had he stopped at the same time as Lewis, he would've been queued up behind Lewis for a few seconds in the garage waiting his turn and while those few seconds were going on, all those cars tightly packed at the start of the race would've been streaming by. And instead of emerging on the track in the very favourable position that Lewis did, he would've found himself a bit more down in the field having to fight his way back through slower cars and therefore not getting the sort of benefit that we were able to give to Lewis by that strategy.
"The other reason of course is that it was a way of us hedging our bets. It was an aggressive thing to do with Lewis, one which required us to be very accurate with our calculation of what the tyres could live with and there's always some uncertainty about that. So, by having one car on the aggressive strategy and another car on the defensive strategy, we knew that we were hedging our bets and able to have a dog in both fights.
"As to why we stopped him the second time, that is more straightforward. When he suffered a nasty lock-up on lap 35, losing a place to Vettel and then subsequently to the Red Bulls we were just concerned that he would've damaged this tyres, and we wanted to give him the confidence of having a car that he could run safely to the flag in. There was no danger from behind, there was an easy, free pit stop and so we chose to take it, giving him a fresh set of boots for the remainder of the race, something which he was able to bring to the flag without any problems."
Ali Abdallah (@ali.abdallah_) queried on Instagram
- Did Valtteri have problems with brakes, he suddenly started missing his braking zones and started locking up?
JA: "Well I think anyone who watched the race would've seen that nasty lock-up that cost him the second place he was holding at the time and then subsequently another one which lost him positions to both the Red Bulls.
"So, a lock-up on the brakes certainly cost him very dear. We didn't find anything wrong with the hardware itself but Valtteri was a little unlucky to be caught out by a change in the wind conditions at the time.
"Around about three quarters of an hour into the race, there was a small rain shower and with that rain shower, there was quite a sharp change to the weather. The beginning of the race had been warm and very low wind, but after the rain shower, the temperature plummeted and the wind really picked up.
"At the time when he suffered his lock-up, the gusts of wind were as high as 40kph. And he just got the wrong side of one of those. The cars are extremely aerodynamic devices and they can be very easily disturbed by the wind, and he was unlucky braking on the limit when he got hit by a particularly severe gust, causing him to lock up.
"Once you have locked up once, it's very, very much easier to lock up a second time because the tyre wants to keep locking up at the same spot. So, it hurt his race a lot, unlucky to be caught out by those windy conditions and really stopped him from having the result he deserved after an extremely strong performance in Qualifying and a comfortable race up to that point in a commanding second place."
Dennis Sampson asked on Facebook
- How on Earth did Lewis make the tyres last practically the whole race.
JA: "It was a pretty impressive thing. Nearly an hour and a half on a single set of tyres, stopped on lap seven, went all the way to the end of the race on that single set. The reason he was able to do it was that he is a very careful driver, able to drive incredibly quickly but without overstressing the tyres.
"When you make the tyres slide on the road by being too heavy footed, or by braking too hard or cornering too hard, it damages them. Every time you damage them, they slow down, you never get that lap time back. So, Lewis was driving really, really carefully.
"He knew that he had a long, long stint ahead of him. So, he drove really carefully for many laps at the beginning, only really opening the car up towards the end of the race when he was trading fastest lap times with Vettel right at the death of the race.
"If you look at the opening stint where he was driving at the same pace more or less as the guys in front of him, he was doing something like a second a lap or so off what he was able to do with the car at that time.
"He was doing that because he knew that he had to bank that performance so he could spend it later in the race, when he knew that he'd be threatened from behind by all the cars that were on newer rubber than he was."
Adam Hudson (@adamomfg) commented on Instagram
- Do you mind the boys doing burnouts at the end of a season?
JA: "Well, the truth is we completely love it. You couldn't do it every race because by doing those donuts we would lose information about how the tyres had worn.
"Because it really mucks up the rear tyres when they are spinning like that, we would have no record of what the tyre condition was and also it damages the gearbox to a degree.
"But, at the end of the season when everyone has had many, many months of the campaign of the season, it's fantastic to see the cars out there hooliganing around like this.
"In fact, if you listened on the radio, you would've heard Pete Bonnington his race engineer imploring him to come round onto the start/finish straight and do another series of donuts so that we could see them live instead of watching them on monitors."
Amélie S. Belosevic (@amelie.blsvc) asked on Instagram
- What are you trying to improve on and what are you trying to keep on the same performance level looking at the 2019 season?
JA: "Well, the simple answer to that is we're trying to improve on everything and we don't want anything to stay at the same level of performance. It's a sort of cliché in Formula One which is if you stand still, you are going backwards.
"But, it's absolutely true, everything moves at a ridiculously fast pace and you can't let any single area of your operations, not just the technical side of the team but any single part of the very, very complex series of departments and activities that happen back in the factory, if you leave any of those static then you'll start to fall behind competitors who are hungry and who want to beat you with everything in their hearts.
"So, every single part of our organisation has to be better and stronger for the next year and that's what we will all be doing.
"It's one of the funny things about this sport, that you can have a season as long and as tough and as brilliant as the one we have just had, and yet within five minutes of it being settled everyone is looking ahead, they are looking forward to the challenge of the next year and what they are going to do to meet that challenge."