European GP: Tyre and Pit Stop Strategy
Valencia, dull? 2012 begs to differ. Race winner, Fernando Alonso started from eleventh while nobody from the front two rows left with points in a topsy-turvy race that revolved around a mid-race safety car period and a series of retirements at the sharp end of the running order.
The safety car was a big factor in the strategies too, with those drivers starting on the soft tyre almost uniformly making their second stop while the race was slowed after Jean-Eric Vergne’s collision with Heikki Kovalainen left debris on the track. Daniel Ricciardo was one exception, he stopped shortly after the restart which probably costing the Toro Rosso driver a few places. However, the reason for doing so may have been dictated by his team mate occupying the pit box while undergoing repairs rather than any deliberate strategy gamble.
However, in hindsight, starting on the medium compound looks to have been advantageous. Michael Schumacher and Mark Webber finish third and fourth, an improvement of 9 and 15 places respectively from their starting slots and despite both losing places at the start. Sergio Perez may have also benefitted from the strategy but Sauber elected to make an early stop to get the Mexican driver out of traffic. Meanwhile Paul di Resta and Bruno Senna went their own way with a one-stop strategy which might have reaped greater results than it eventually did, if the safety car period hadn’t happened at such an inopportune time.
Safety car: lap 27-32
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