Belgian GP: Tyre and Pit Stop Strategy
Despite rumours circulated by certain members of the German press that Red Bull were calling for mandatory three stops such was the degree of tyre degradation reportedly observed during qualifying, Jenson Button dominated the Belgian Grand Prix from start to finish via just a solitary visit to the pit lane. Two tyre changes were the norm, however, although ironically, it was Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel who overcame a poor start by also making the single pit stop to climb up to a valuable second place in the wake of Lewis Hamilton’s and, in particular, Fernando Alonso’s retirement.
Curiously, Vettel’s one-stop strategy actually ended up being called by Mercedes rather than Red Bull. Instructed to pit on lap 35 if Michael Schumacher stayed out but to keep running if the Mercedes driver pitted, the plan resulted in a moment of confusion as Schumacher was forced to chop across the front of the Red Bull in order to head to his pit box. With the Red Bull pit crew ready and waiting with fresh tyres, it meant that Vettel’s late decision to stay out made Schumacher’s move look more aggressive than in reality it actually was. From there, Schumacher, in his 300th race, may have fancied his chances of challenging on fresh rubber but the loss of sixth gear left him watching his mirrors instead and eventually slipped back to seventh.
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