F1 Qualifying Strategy Shift

Bernie Collins Shares F1 Qualifying Strategy Insights


Bernie Collins delves into the nuanced F1 qualifying tactics and the strategic shift needed early in the season.

Bernie Collins, formerly the strategy chief at Aston Martin F1 and now a consultant, notably for British TV, discusses one of the teams’ challenges: balancing caution in qualifying, based on early-season knowledge of the car.

“Sometimes it’s the very simple things that change,” Collins explained in the KTM Summer Grill. “For example, in the first half of the year, you approach qualifying perhaps a bit more conservatively in how you react.”

“So, do you need a second run in Q1 to make it through to Q2? For all these considerations, you would have accumulated 10, 11 races’ worth of thought about taking another lap and worrying about it. And you find yourself thinking in the way a lower-tier team would.”

“You wonder if you need additional runs, if you’re trying to give the driver the maximum effort, and it’s tough to shift quickly from one situation to another.”

“Suddenly, we’re fast enough to use a tire in Q1, saving our other tires for Q2 and Q3, or maybe even using up tires earlier in the weekend to have more race tires available.”

Red Bull’s Strategic Aggression Mastery

“It’s this shift that’s often hard to make, especially in the early races, because you’re not yet confident in how the package will perform across all circuits.”

Red Bull “manages well” its aggression

She acknowledges that this mindset shift also happens when a team evolves its car, necessitating a step back in technical and strategic certainties. She commends teams like Red Bull for their risk-taking in this area.

“The hardest thing I’ve always found is changing the attitude on the pit wall regarding the aggressiveness of pit stops, overtaking ease, and the tires used at the start.”

“It’s about getting the entire pit wall to adopt this new working method and really trust that we don’t need that second run, or that we can overtake that car on the track, having the aggression to know your pit stop will be quicker than theirs in the end.”

“So, it’s this mindset of being a conservative team trying to score points versus an aggressive team like, for example, Red Bull – who seems to have managed this well from a strategic standpoint.”

“It changes things like tire wear, like the compounds you can use early in the year – I think they really struggled with the soft compounds, suddenly at the end of the year.”

“So you end up reworking much of your tire model and trying to disregard the previous car’s data, which, again, in the early races of an evolution, means you have a very limited amount of data to work with.”

F1 Qualifying Strategy Shift. F1 Qualifying Strategy Shift

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