Vettel Wins Malaysia After Losing KERS

One of the main talking points after the hectic Malaysian Grand Prix (aside from the Alonso & Hamilton penalties) was the continuing troubles of Red Bull and their KERS.

On lap 29 we heard Vettel’s engineer Rocky tell him not to use the system any more.  This was after not being able to use the system at all in Australia.  Yet Vettel was still able to win the race at a canter, so how did it affect his lap times?

For comparison, I have compared Vettel’s lap times to those of Button, who finished in second.  This is because Vettel and Button were racing each other directly and also Webber may have also had KERS problems in the race, leaving some uncertainty over his true pace:


As we can see, for the most part, Vettel and Button match each other rather well for the first two stints.  It is the third where things get interesting.  I have marked on the graph the point where Vettel is told to turn off his KERS – presumably because of cooling issues.  But the strange thing is that he suddenly gets a lot quicker – in fact, his pace improves relative to Button on that third stint, and in the fourth, when both were probably cruising – Button for his tyres and Vettel because he had a decent lead.

So although Vettel’s Red Bull has a supposed weak point in it’s KERS, the team still seems to have a heck of a performance advantage compared to the others.  It could well be that Red Bull resort to using KERS on the start only, because as things stand, they can afford the luxury of turning the system off.

It’s going to be a long hard season for McLaren and Ferrari to catch up, I think…

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About rubbergoat

Hi there! I’m a mad keen F1 fan who has been addicted to the sport for 20 years. I watch every race and follow the sport in every way I can. I have a keen interest in numbers and I would like to analyse the races from a statistical point of view to see if the data shows something we can't see on TV. As always, I’d love to hear what you think and especially if we can discuss my analyses that would be great – but please no nasty stuff!

9 thoughts on “Vettel Wins Malaysia After Losing KERS

  1. I do think he may have used it again later in the race, I think we saw the meter drop a little, maybe they were using it occasionally without the radio messages being played on air. But yes the central point remains, that car still has an advantage despite the closer margins in the race.

    I read something earlier saying Vettel had the 6th fastest lap, Webber had the fastest lap as he tried to catch up and as you say, little to no KERS for him.

    That’s a heck of a laptime drop-off at the end of the stint.

    • Yeah – those tyres really drop off at the end of their stints – no wonder drivers were struggling!

  2. Small sample but looks like when the tyres go off then the speed of the car is negated and everyone goes the same amount of crap.

  3. I believe the radio call from the pitwall was a strategic one!

    By claiming that they could not use KERS, they were hoping that those behind would hear this & up their pace, thus chewing up their tyres.

    Vettel wants to ensure he can keep his engines, by coasting @ 90% power whilst 25s ahead of the field.

    He also asked Rocky to repeat his KERS instruction 3 laps latter.

  4. Joe Saward made an interesting comment on his blog recently looking at the relative times of Vettel and Webber. He thought that Vettel could potentially have gone a second a lap quicker than he actually did (at certain points, maybe not the whole race). Which if true means everyone else really is in trouble……..

  5. Very nice :) and love your new site layout too.

    I particularly like that you can see the dramatic change in lap times as the tyres go off

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