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Spanish GP: Tyre and Pit Stop Strategy

By saltire | 13 May 2012 | 8 Comments | 5,446 views

Another fascinating race has unfolded and we’ve now had five different winners stand on the top step of the podium. The three stop strategy was optimal at Catalunya with only Hamilton choosing a two stop model in order to recover from starting at the back of the grid – he eventually made up 16 places. Meanwhile, Pedro de La Rosa made four stops (three stints on soft tyres and two on the hard) on his way to finishing last of the finishers.

Fernando Alonso came tantalizingly close to stealing Maldonado’s maiden win but his plans may have been ultimately scuppered by lack of new tyres, all four of his stints were on used tyres.

Tyre Strategy
Click image to enlarge

A closer look at the lap times of the three front runners is worth a look considering the different tyres in play. Kimi Raikkonen and Lotus opted to use a second set of soft tyres for his second stint compared with hards for Maldonado and Alonso. In hindsight it may have been the wrong decision as he lost ground through this stint whereas his pace on the prime compound was much better relative to his rivals – it may have allowed the Finn to have caught and challenged Alonso in the closing laps. He may have stayed out too long on his third stint too, losing one and half seconds on his last lap before pitting for the final time.

Meanwhile, Maldonado’s start to his third stint is noteworthy. Having pitted early he put in some phenomenal laps in order to undercut Alonso – regardless of the Ferrari driver losing time behind Charles Pic’s Marussia.
 
Viva F1
 
Data: Pirelli Tyres

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8 Comments »

  • Mav

    Vettel was certainly on a three-stop strategy after making his first stop so early – he took new tyres when he came in for his nose.

    Rather confused by the tyres at the moment. The soft compound and hard compound are supposed to be different right?

    ;-)

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  • Mav

    Interesting to see that Alonso was on used tyres for the final stint and Maldonado on new tyres – so much for Maldonado’s tyres being three laps older.

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  • Mav

    Hamilton’s 31 lap stint is the longest single stint since Perez at Melbourne last year. And he was even chasing down Rosberg at the end of it.

    Can’t look after tyres did you say? ;-)

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  • Kimster

    The car was scary quick. He got a perfect setup on that car. If he had that much confidence in the car then it’s not surprising given the 22 lap stints done at the end of the race by Alonso at a second a lap quicker than Lewis, that Lewis managed to get 31 laps out of the tyres.

    As long as you’re not struggling with the car and you drive in a considered manner you will always save the tyres.

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  • Mav

    Interesting to see that Alonso was on used tyres for the final stint

    Ah, of course… Alonso put all his hard tyres through a heat cycle in an effort to improve their performance

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  • Kimster

    Mav,

    Pastor did an even longer stint on new tyres!

    Heat cycle doesn’t work with these Pirelli’s. A tyre that has done a heat cycle is 7 seconds slower on average over a stint as well as degrading quicker. Note how Alonso’s tyres went quicker as well.

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  • Mav

    Heat cycle doesn’t work with these Pirelli’s.

    Never said it did. I was just wondering why Alonso actually had three sets of used hard tyres as he didn’t use them all in quali. Ferrari presumably thought there was a benefit though as they must have returned unused hards.

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  • Kimster

    Mav,

    Oh I thought you were responding to my comment! Yeah, would be surprised if the Ferrari really was so unique with it’s tyres.

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