2012 Malaysian Grand Prix tyre strategies and pit stops

2012 Malaysian Grand Prix

Jenson Button, McLaren, Sepang, 2012The drivers kept their pit crews busy with a whopping 75 pit stops in Malaysia.

Pit stops times

Last week Ferrari were by far the quickest team in the pits, turning round all their pit stops quicker than everyone else.

In wet conditions a quick pit stop time is strongly affected by how well a driver can top on his marks and get away when he is released. That plus quick pit work equals the best stop – and it was Michael Schumacher and the Mercedes team who were the fastest in Sepang.

Consistently quick pit stops from Ferrari helped Fernando Alonso on his way to an improbable win. His lap 14 stop allowed him to leapfrog both McLaren drivers – the corresponding pit stops for Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton were three and five seconds slower respectively.

Hamilton lost time in this visit as the rear jack did not go on properly and the team had to hold him in his pit box. His lap 41 visit was little better – as one mechanic struggle to remove tape from one of his brakes, Hamilton made an early departure.

Hamilton lost 8.5 seconds to Alonso over his three pit stops – more than half his deficit of 14.5 seconds at the finishing line. “In general, we lost some time in the pit stops and I was pushed out of the fight somewhat,” said Hamilton after the race.

Here are the times for all the pit stops during the Malaysian Grand Prix.

Driver Team Pit stop time Gap On lap
1 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 22.163 39
2 Paul di Resta Force India 22.175 0.012 39
3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 22.534 0.371 40
4 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 22.610 0.447 25
5 Paul di Resta Force India 22.856 0.693 14
6 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 22.864 0.701 14
7 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 22.998 0.835 40
8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 23.050 0.887 26
9 Felipe Massa Ferrari 23.130 0.967 27
10 Mark Webber Red Bull 23.195 1.032 39
11 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 23.231 1.068 39
12 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 23.343 1.180 40
13 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 23.358 1.195 40
14 Pastor Maldonado Williams 23.409 1.246 39
15 Jenson Button McLaren 23.477 1.314 39
16 Jenson Button McLaren 23.509 1.346 24
17 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 23.549 1.386 15
18 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 23.648 1.485 37
19 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 23.662 1.499 40
20 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham 23.782 1.619 38
21 Bruno Senna Williams 23.824 1.661 39
22 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 23.856 1.693 4
23 Pastor Maldonado Williams 23.974 1.811 15
24 Paul di Resta Force India 23.988 1.825 2
25 Felipe Massa Ferrari 24.034 1.871 3
26 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 24.057 1.894 15
27 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 24.094 1.931 14
28 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 24.216 2.053 10
29 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 24.216 2.053 15
30 Lewis Hamilton McLaren 24.271 2.108 5
31 Jenson Button McLaren 24.305 2.142 4
32 Felipe Massa Ferrari 24.420 2.257 14
33 Sergio Perez Sauber 24.520 2.357 15
34 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 24.539 2.376 14
35 Sergio Perez Sauber 24.543 2.380 41
36 Mark Webber Red Bull 24.569 2.406 5
37 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 24.653 2.490 4
38 Vitaly Petrov Caterham 24.718 2.555 4
39 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 24.831 2.668 5
40 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 24.927 2.764 13
41 Bruno Senna Williams 24.980 2.817 13
42 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 25.041 2.878 40
43 Timo Glock Marussia 25.096 2.933 3
44 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham 25.130 2.967 14
45 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 25.199 3.036 13
46 Timo Glock Marussia 25.390 3.227 39
47 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 25.470 3.307 4
48 Pastor Maldonado Williams 25.535 3.372 5
49 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 25.600 3.437 5
50 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 25.658 3.495 5
51 Timo Glock Marussia 25.660 3.497 13
52 Sergio Perez Sauber 25.671 3.508 1
53 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 25.884 3.721 47
54 Jenson Button McLaren 25.922 3.759 13
55 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 26.255 4.092 13
56 Bruno Senna Williams 26.269 4.106 7
57 Mark Webber Red Bull 26.337 4.174 14
58 Lewis Hamilton McLaren 26.338 4.175 41
59 Felipe Massa Ferrari 26.934 4.771 38
60 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 27.602 5.439 5
61 Narain Karthikeyan HRT 27.700 5.537 37
62 Lewis Hamilton McLaren 27.961 5.798 14
63 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 28.122 5.959 5
64 Pedro de la Rosa HRT 28.483 6.320 39
65 Charles Pic Marussia 29.317 7.154 3
66 Vitaly Petrov Caterham 29.359 7.196 13
67 Vitaly Petrov Caterham 30.335 8.172 39
68 Bruno Senna Williams 31.006 8.843 1
69 Charles Pic Marussia 32.224 10.061 39
70 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham 32.670 10.507 4
71 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham 34.109 11.946 23
72 Jenson Button McLaren 36.517 14.354 15
73 Charles Pic Marussia 36.542 14.379 15
74 Narain Karthikeyan HRT 36.876 14.713 15
75 Pedro de la Rosa HRT 38.887 16.724 16

NB. A full list of stationary times is not available.

Tyre strategies

Stint 1 Stint 2 Stint 3 Stint 4 Stint 5 Stint 6
Lewis Hamilton Intermediate (5) Wet (9) Intermediate (27) Medium (15)
Jenson Button Intermediate (4) Wet (9) Intermediate (2) Intermediate (9) Intermediate (15) Medium (17)
Michael Schumacher Intermediate (5) Wet (9) Intermediate (25) Hard (17)
Mark Webber Intermediate (5) Wet (9) Intermediate (25) Medium (17)
Sebastian Vettel Intermediate (5) Wet (10) Intermediate (25) Hard (7) Medium (9)
Romain Grosjean Intermediate (3)
Nico Rosberg Intermediate (5) Wet (8) Intermediate (13) Intermediate (13) Hard (17)
Fernando Alonso Intermediate (4) Wet (10) Intermediate (26) Medium (16)
Sergio Perez Intermediate (1) Wet (14) Intermediate (26) Hard (15)
Kimi Raikkonen Intermediate (5) Wet (8) Intermediate (27) Hard (16)
Pastor Maldonado Intermediate (5) Wet (9) Wet (1) Intermediate (24) Medium (15)
Felipe Massa Intermediate (3) Wet (11) Intermediate (13) Intermediate (11) Medium (18)
Bruno Senna Intermediate (1) Wet (6) Wet (6) Intermediate (26) Medium (17)
Paul di Resta Intermediate (2) Wet (12) Intermediate (25) Hard (17)
Daniel Ricciardo Intermediate (4) Wet (10) Intermediate (11) Intermediate (12) Medium (19)
Nico Hulkenberg Intermediate (4) Wet (11) Intermediate (25) Hard (16)
Kamui Kobayashi Intermediate (5) Wet (8) Intermediate (27) Medium (6)
Jean-Eric Vergne Intermediate (10) Wet (5) Intermediate (25) Medium (16)
Vitaly Petrov Intermediate (4) Wet (9) Intermediate (26) Medium (16)
Timo Glock Intermediate (3) Wet (10) Intermediate (26) Medium (16)
Charles Pic Intermediate (3) Wet (12) Intermediate (24) Medium (15)
Pedro de la Rosa Wet (16) Intermediate (23) Hard (15)
Narain Karthikeyan Wet (15) Intermediate (22) Hard (17)
Heikki Kovalainen Intermediate (4) Wet (10) Intermediate (9) Intermediate (15) Medium (17)

The choice of which type of slick to use for the final stint was crucial. Alonso opted for mediums, as did the Red Bull and McLaren duos.

Others opted for hards including the Mercedes – who seem to have particularly high tyre degradation – and Raikkonen.

And, most significantly, Perez, who found good enough grip on them to hunt Alonso does over the final laps.

In Melbourne last week Martin Whitmarsh reiterated that McLaren – like several other teams – give priority to their leading driver on pit calls when they’re running close together.

So why, one might ask, did Button pit first out of the two McLarens during the first two rounds of pit stops in Malaysia, when he was close behind his team mate?

The reason why teams give priority to their leading driver on pit calls is to avoid moving the following driver ahead through the benefit of the ‘undercut’ in dry conditions. The first driver to change tyres in dry conditions can gain several seconds by being the first to take on fresher tyres.

In wet conditions that does not necessarily apply, and so nor does the policy of giving the first call to the leading driver. Plus, the teams have other, more pressing considerations in wet weather races.

When the track is wet, the driver’s assessment of conditions plays a larger role in deciding when to change tyres and what to put on. The tactics which are a major consideration in ‘normal’ dry races – such as when to pit to avoid coming out behind a rival, which the driver cannot judge – decrease in importance because the penalty for being on the wrong tyre at the wrong time can be huge.

In both situations today Button made an earlier call than Hamilton to change tyres. This might simply be because Hamilton feels more comfortable with the car’s handling in wet conditions – note his superb time on intermediate tyres on lap four mentioned earlier.

2012 Malaysian Grand Prix


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Image ?? McLaren/Hoch Zwei

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30 comments on 2012 Malaysian Grand Prix tyre strategies and pit stops

  1. Tony Perkins said on 26th March 2012, 21:03

    Don’t forget they left Lewis out for 1 lap extra when everybody else was coming in for slicks. Very poor from Mclaren , something we have seen before from them .

  2. Jean-Eric Vergne (Toro Rosso) pitted only twice in the race. Lap 15 and lap 40. His tyres may have been changed on the grid during the red flag period. According to the live timing and commentary he did 15 laps on intermediate before pitting.

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