Timing is everything. This was a very important weekend, particularly with the background of driver moves.
Any fault from McLaren would have led to serious questions being asked about whether they were really a team for Hamilton to consider giving him further World Championships.
As it was, a combination of the best driving skill in the entire world, and a poor strategy call – in hindsight – from both Red Bull and particularly Ferrari meant that Hamilton could exercise his incredible talent to it’s thrilling levels and come through from third to win.
Ferrari are being seriously criticised for making a one-stop. No doubt that they should make all the right calls, they should get everything right, and they should achieve excellence – yet this is a human world and decisions must be made. The right decision can only be made every time by a psychic who can predict the future.
It is clear that Ferrari indeed could have made the right call – but they only had one lap in which to do that.
They had one lap in which there was room to pit Alonso and bring him out in front of Lewis.
But, they will have been worried about the Ferrari’s slow time to build up pace in the tyres.
What if they chose the two stopper but then Alonso had tyre issues, allowing Lewis to overtake, and moreover meaning that Alonso had to chew up his tyres in a direct fight with Hamilton for 5 or 10 laps?
Then the pit stop would have been worthless anyway.
So they made the split-second decision to go for the one-stop and hope that, as has happened before, the Ferrari would give end-of-stint pace back into the tyres.
Ditto Vettel and Red Bull. They could have made the choice to two-stop, but, it was not that simple. Re-joining the race with ‘new’ tyres may have put them into traffic, or given another set of issues rather than hope the tyres lasted as they had done in practice.
McLaren still have serious work to do on their pit-stops, and moreover their race pace is unconfirmed – yet somewhat fortunately, the race pace of other teams has been inconsistent in earlier races.
The Valencia circuit is reasonably similar to Montreal, as there are no long corners or sweeping ones. Easiness on tyres and a one stop strategy will surely be the choice of Renault and Sauber, again, as they seem to be making it work very well.
This is a key factor in this year’s Championship – the top teams cannot make their own strategies just for racing each other. As Montreal proved, they need to be wary of these cars that – although not as purely quick – are incredibly light on their tyres and can therefore gamble a one-stop and pick up the pieces left over from other’s deficiencies.
The confidence or worries about this Canada race will play into Valencia – even if Ferrari or Red Bull are sure – completely sure with stats and data – that a one-stop will be faster, they will be ready to change that to a two-stop.
McLaren will have the confidence that, even if LEwis doesn’t qualifying pole, he can be racing behind Alonso and Vettel and call the pit-stops. If he pits earlier than those ahead of him, they will be forced to blink and change to a two-stop.
So Valencia is going to be a ‘first to blink’ race. This is, of course, unless LEwis can put it on Pole. That seems unlikely unless McLaren bring upgrades, which is currently unknown.
If McLaren have the same understanding of tyre-degradation then Lewis has a big Valencia chance. But qualifying set-up is going to be the most important part of the race at first. We have to wait!