Ross Brawn believes the thrilling conclusion to the United States Grand Prix shows Formula 1 should look at reducing the amount of data teams have before a race.
Lewis Hamilton started from pole position but lost out to Kimi Raikkonen off the line, and then switched to a two-stop strategy that ultimately limited him to third place. Raikkonen went on to win with a fairly conventional one-stop, while Max Verstappen was second having opted for a different tire compound and jumped Valtteri Bottas in the pits.
“The three drivers on the podium crossed the line within the same three seconds,” said Brawn, Formula 1’s managing director of motorsport. “They all ran different tire strategies — through choice in the case of Raikkonen and Hamilton and by necessity for Verstappen, who started from the penultimate row of the grid
“That’s unusual in Formula 1, where the level of sophistication in terms of simulation and strategy is so high that one doesn’t usually get such a variance, especially when it involves the top three teams. This was probably down to the fact that no one had been able to run dry weather tires on Friday as the track was wet throughout the three hours of practice. That meant the teams had less data than usual on which to base their race plans, and thus the margin for error increased.
“To use a (soccer) metaphor, when two teams play perfectly, a nil-all draw is the logical conclusion. In Formula 1, when the simulations are all worked out to the smallest detail, then they all converge towards the same best possible strategy.
“So does less data produce a better show? It’s definitely more uncertain and therefore another topic for discussion when looking at ways to make our sport even more exciting, from the first lap to the last, as was the case this Sunday in Austin.”
It’s a view backed up by Force India team principal Otmar Szafnauer, who believes the lack of dry running on Friday hurt his team’s performance compared to Renault.
“(Renault’s) long-run pace looked (strong) when they were pushing,” Szafnauer said. “They were a bit quicker. We’ll have to analyze it and figure it out because over a lap we’re faster than them, and usually our strength is in race trim. But the significant difference here was we never got any long running, so we couldn’t adjust via data capture.”