6 clever racing strategies in the history of F1 that paid off a lot

Alex Albon’s unorthodox pit stop at the start of the final round of the Australian Grand Prix allowed him to score Williams’ first point of the 2022 Formula One season.

Albon’s P10 was won thanks to a combination of his marathon stage with hard Pirellis, with Aston rider Martin Lance Stroll supporting Albon and Williams midfielder’s rivals taking a strategic risk.

READ MORE: Albon says P10 finish was “unimaginable” before pursuing Australian-inspired strategy

These unorthodox strategies are rare, but it is not the first time in the history of F1 that a seemingly strange strategic strategy has yielded a significant result.

1. Stirling Moss – 1958 Argentine Grand Prix

Final position: 1st

The combination of legendary private team owner Rob Walker and the incomparable Stirling Moss achieved great success, none more remarkable than the victory at the 1958 Argentine Grand Prix. This was the result of what is best described as a “strategic beacon”.

Driving a light but low-powered 1.96-liter Cooper-Climax T43, effectively an F2 car, Moss could not match the pace of the 2.5-liter Ferrari. Worse, its four-spoke wheels took much longer to change than the Ferris wheel’s single-threaded wheels.

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Moss took his time to take the lead, but once he had his nose in front of him, he never lost control.

Walker and Moss did not hide the time they hoped to waste to stop by the tires, but the clandestine plan was to make a single Continental game last until the finish line.

STRATEGIC MASTERS: Moss makes a beacon of victory and begins a new era

Moss took the lead when Maserati rider Juan Manuel Fangio pitted. By the time Ferrari driver Luigi Musso realized what was going on and Rob Walker’s pit-wheel set in the pits was part of a ploy, it was too late to catch up.

Despite Moss’ caution with the tires about to fail, driving through the oil-covered parts of the track to reduce the load at the end, he held on to the victory with just under 2.7 seconds and got his first victory by to a central motor car a year. F1.


Moss crossed the finish line just 2.7 seconds ahead of Musso’s Ferrari, with the tires of his compact Cooper-Climax T43 engine centered to the canvas (Photo by Keystone / Hulton Archive / Getty Images)

2. Gerhard Berger – 1986 Mexican Grand Prix

Final position: 1st

Gerhard Berger and Benetton’s first victory at the 1986 Mexico Grand Prix was the result of a relentless pit strategy using Pirelli tires.

Berger started fourth, finishing third behind Nelson Piquet’s Williams and Ayrton Senna’s Lotus at the start before being overtaken by Alain Prost’s McLaren, jumping ahead of the three as they pitted. .

PALMER: How Albon did a blinding strategy to get Williams’ first point of the season

Berger took the lead on lap 36 and hoped to be attacked by the new Goodyears behind him. Tire wear was not a concern, but degradation was noticeable, but remarkably, his Pirellis held up well and proved to be steady. He won with a stunning 36 seconds from Prost.

A crucial part of the strategy was the risky decision to use a different tire compound on each of the four corners of the car. This took into account not only the additional load on the left side on a track that predominantly compromised right-handers, but also the variable demands on the front and rear axle. Doing it with the right tire pressures was the tire equivalent of alchemy.


Berger and Benetton’s clever strategy helped them win Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna

3. Mika Salo – Monaco Grand Prix 1997

Final position: 5th

The rain slowed the pace of the 1997 Monaco Grand Prix, with the fastest lap 35 seconds from pole position. This meant that the race ended in the two-hour limit, with 62 of the 78 scheduled laps completed, creating an opportunity for Tyrrell’s small team to get their only points of the season.

With the rain coming and going, Tyrrell tried to complete the race non-stop in the pits. Although the low-powered Ford ED V8 engine was not thirsty, it still required Salo to make changes to maximize the economy once it became clear that the strategy could work in the middle of the race.

PODCAST: Mika Salo about life as a super diver, giving up a certain victory, fighting for injuries and more

“We reduced the fuel mix and revs and started moving around the curves to keep myself out of power,” said Salo, who also suffered damage to the front wing after being trapped in an incident in the second round. “I didn’t think we could do it. My tires shot and when it rained again, I lost all grip and was lucky not to hit the wall.”

Salo, who was one lap below the finish line, held on to second-row starter Giancarlo Fisichella’s Jordan in the final stages to get Tyrrell’s last F1 point.


Salo got the last F1 points from the Tyrrell team

4. Giancarlo Fisichella – Brazilian Grand Prix 2003

Final position: 1st

Giancarlo Fisichella placed eighth for the 2003 Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos and took the position under the Safety Car deployed on the first lap. It was a drastically improved performance for Jordan compared to the first two races of the season, which is why Fisichella argued against the counterintuitive boxing instruction during this period of Safety Car.

But this unorthodox movement had a clear goal in sight. The race was held in wet conditions and turned out to be an accident party, with race director and testing engineer Gary Anderson making a bold plan. An early stop under the safety car allowed the car to be fed to reach 75% of the distance of the race without another stop, the point at which, in the case of a red flag, the Grand Prix would not restart. This led Fisichella to pit at the end of lap 7.

ON BOARD: Take control of the action with our 360 ° interactive look at Verstappen’s retirement in Melbourne

The strategy worked perfectly, with Fisichella beating McLaren’s Kimi Raikkonen to lead the Senna S on lap 54. Mark Webber then crashed his Jaguar after losing it in a wet patch, dropping a wheel that Fernando Alonso’s Renault picked up. The result was a red flag.

Initially, the victory was awarded to Raikkonen, but six days later the FIA ​​corrected a timing count error and Fisichella was declared the winner.


Jordan bet on the chaos playing in his hands … and it worked

5. Michael Schumacher – 2004 French Grand Prix

Final position: 1st

Michael Schumacher started the French Grand Prix second behind Renault’s Fernando Alonso with a Ferrari that was fundamentally faster, but struggled to prove it in a qualifying lap or in the first laps of a stage on his tire. Bridgestone.

Ferrari entered the race with three stops, but strategist Luca Baldisserri also had a four-stop option in mind if Schumacher was not outdoors. After chasing Alonso in the first two stays, Ferrari pledged to make four pit stops.

STRATEGIC MASTERS: How Ferrari stole victory from Renault with a secret 4-stop plan

Schumacher took a relatively light load on his second stop on lap 29. Alonso’s stop was advanced, but still considering three stops, and the time lost with the aged Michelins at the end of his second stage went meaning you came out of the pits behind. Schumacher.

Schumacher could now lower his hammer and took more than enough time during the third and fourth stages to get out of his last stop on lap 58 ahead of Alonso. Despite spending just over 15 seconds more on the pit lane than Alonso in his four stops, Schumacher won by 8,329.

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As the lead oscillated between pit stops

6. Sebastian Vettel – 2010 Italian Grand Prix

Final position: 4th

Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel headed to Monza racing planning to stop around lap 14-15, but in the end stayed in his Bridgestones set starter until lap 52. Like Albon in Australia 2022, made it mandatory. pit stop to switch to the other tire compound at the end of the penultimate lap.

The strategy worked very well. Vettel was seventh in the first part of the race and, although his soft compound tires lost some grip, he was able to spin at a good pace throughout the stage thanks to the use of clear air. . He was ready to jump Williams driver Nico Hulkenberg and Renault’s Robert Kubica quite easily, but it was a touch and go with Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes and teammate Mark Webber.

PODCAST: Listen to Sebastian Vettel reflect on his career and life outside of F1 on Beyond The Grid

Rosberg’s traffic, which had Webber in tow, at the end of the race allowed Vettel to make his stop and get ahead to finish fourth. While not a great result in itself, the fact that Vettel won the title by just four points made this strategic decision very significant.


Vettel’s long stage on the road to P4 would be crucial points for his first title

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