Chinese GP: Tyre and Pit Stop Strategy
A masterful victory from Fernando Alonso kept him out of the strategic battles going on behind and, at points in the race, around him. Taking the projected approach to the race of a three-stopper after starting on the soft tyre compound, the Ferrari driver took control of the race after coming out ahead of pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton in the first round of pit stops.
Meanwhile, Sebastian Vettel was one of a small group of drivers who kept the soft compound back to the end of the race, when the car was at its lightest. The world champion made up five places from the start, although given he sacrificed grid position by qualifying on the slower, medium tyre it is questionable how effective the tactic was in reality, even if it produced a dramatic finale. That said, Paul di Resta and Valtteri Bottas also made up places while taking the same approach.
McLaren, however, turned to a two-stop strategy, with Jenson Button converting it to a fifth-place finish, an improvement of three-places from the start. That was probably a better finish than McLaren would have hoped for although he certainly gained from the timing of Nico Rosberg and Felipe Massa’s first pitstops – the former having to queue behind his team mate and the latter waiting one more lap because of his but the result in both cases being a exit down the field, in traffic. The fact that Rosberg subsequently retired was irrelevant to Button.