Formula 1 strategy | Rickard Andersson

Formula 1 strategy

Is it just me or does qualifying with a very light fuel-load and getting a good position on the grid always a good idea in Formula 1? At least for the top 3 or 4 teams? In my opinion, there’s absolutely no point in doing more than 20 laps in the first stint on a regular two stop strategy. It’s one thing if your car is a lot faster than the competition, but currently, that’s only the case with McLaren. Ferrari and Sauber should adopt this strategy more often. Heidfeld did it yesterday in Canada and it worked beautifully.


  1. Pavithran Nair
    Posted December 13, 2007 at 10:54 | Permalink

    It’s not always a good strategy. The fuel load that you carry during your qualifying is the same fuel load that you will carry at the start of the actual race.

    Fuelling your car lightly would result in you being able to go really fast at the start, but you’ll have to stop. A good pit stop in Formula 1 takes about 18 seconds from the moment the driver hits the 60km/h limit at the entrance of the pit lane to the moment the driver exits the limit at the other end of the pit lane.

    18 seconds is an eternity in Formula 1, especially when your closest opponent who was on the heavier starting fuel load now is much lighter. He’d be able to throw in flying lap after flying lap, thus gaining a big advantage over the guy who not only spent 18 seconds to pit, but who is now on a much heavier car after the refuelling.

  2. Posted December 13, 2007 at 11:05 | Permalink

    In reality, the time it takes to make a pit stop is more than that because you have to factor in the full disruption to the lap (going in and out of the pit). I would say maybe 30 seconds is more accurate.

    Still, if you pit after 15 laps or after 25 doesn’t really matter that much. You’ll waste those 30 seconds regardless of when you pit for the first time. The only downside of running a light car from the start is that your second stint will be longer. But like I said, if you’re in one of the top teams, you probably have relatively good control over tyre wear and other factors to consider for a long stint.

  3. Posted January 16, 2008 at 07:09 | Permalink

    well i definetly disagree with it being a good idea even if the front runner has qualified in first or second position, if the person in either position has pumped lesser fuel in the car or even used supersoft tyres during the qualifying session then it is more than likely that they will be very quick. however, come race day, if the person infront of you starts off with harder tyres and couple of laps more fuel than you then he will definetly leap frog you in the pits. its easy really, soft tyres are quicker but wear much much quicker, and having less fuel on board would mean once again that you will have to make an early stop, each stop depending on wether you are on 2 or 3 stopper but perhaps in this instance we have chosen a 2 stopper, if the driver infront stops and takes on new harder tyres and 25 laps of fuel which would normaly take round 35 seconds all up, and the person behind keeps pumping flying laps in a lighter car with tyres that are lasting the distance, when the next driver comes in after 3 laps of having extra fuel to start of with then he will need only a minimal amount of fuel untill the next stop wich would take lesser time in the pits, when this driver exits the pits, he will most definetly be the new leader of the race. the next round of pits are normaly the closest but usualy by then the race has been determined by the first round of pits unless mechanical gremlins get involved…

    so its defineltly a big no no from me.

  4. Posted January 16, 2008 at 09:05 | Permalink

    I’m just speaking out of experience. In my opinion, pretty much every time someone from the top 3 or 4 teams qualifies with a low fuel load, I see them at the top of the results.

  5. Posted January 19, 2008 at 00:07 | Permalink

    well thats fair enough i guess if your speaking from experience… and i agree that lesser fuel loads will get you a result, however you need a quick car to back it up, the best way to go is to have more fuel and just an all round fast car. longer runs pay off in f1, but circumstances change and you never know!! formula 1 is a beautiful sport due to its unpredictability.


  6. Posted January 19, 2008 at 17:31 | Permalink

    Indeed. I can’t wait for the season to start!

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