2012 Spanish Grand Prix tyre strategies and pit stops

2012 Spanish Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton ran a 31-lap stint at the end of the race and still had enough tyre life to attack Nico Rosberg for seventh.

Spanish Grand Prix tyre strategies

The tyre strategies for each driver:

Stint 1 Stint 2 Stint 3 Stint 4 Stint 5
Pastor Maldonado Soft (11) Hard (13) Hard (17) Hard (25)
Fernando Alonso Soft (10) Hard (16) Hard (18) Hard (22)
Romain Grosjean Soft (10) Soft (16) Hard (25) Hard (15)
Kimi Raikkonen Soft (11) Soft (16) Hard (21) Hard (18)
Sergio Perez Soft (1) Hard (16) Hard (20) Hard (0)
Nico Rosberg Soft (9) Soft (13) Hard (18) Hard (26)
Sebastian Vettel Soft (7) Hard (20) Hard (15) Soft (24)
Michael Schumacher Soft (10) Soft (2)
Kamui Kobayashi Soft (8) Hard (18) Hard (15) Hard (25)
Jenson Button Soft (9) Hard (16) Soft (13) Hard (28)
Mark Webber Soft (6) Hard (11) Hard (23) Hard (25)
Paul di Resta Soft (9) Soft (14) Hard (19) Hard (23)
Nico Hulkenberg Soft (10) Soft (9) Hard (20) Hard (26)
Jean-Eric Vergne Soft (10) Hard (13) Soft (17) Hard (25)
Daniel Ricciardo Soft (11) Hard (14) Soft (14) Hard (26)
Felipe Massa Soft (10) Hard (19) Hard (16) Hard (20)
Bruno Senna Soft (12)
Vitaly Petrov Soft (10) Hard (18) Soft (16) Hard (21)
Heikki Kovalainen Soft (13) Soft (14) Soft (16) Hard (22)
Charles Pic Soft (15) Soft (12) Hard (8)
Timo Glock Soft (14) Soft (12) Hard (21) Hard (17)
Pedro de la Rosa Soft (10) Soft (9) Hard (16) Hard (16) Soft (12)
Narain Karthikeyan Soft (11) Soft (11) Hard (0)
Lewis Hamilton Soft (14) Hard (21) Hard (31)

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Barcelona, 2012Lewis Hamilton’s progress from 24th to eighth by the end of the race was aided by him making good progress through the midfield in the opening laps.

He gained four places on the first lap but continued to gain places in the laps that followed. This was vital, as it meant those who pitted early came out of the pits behind him, allowing him to delay his first pit stop until lap 14 – later than everyone bar Charles Pic.

From there McLaren put him on a two-stop strategy. It left him needing to complete the final 31 laps on one set of tyres – which he managed, making him the only driver to finish the race using a two-stop strategy.

He was pleased with his effort: “People often say that I have an aggressive driving style, but my final stint on the [hard] tyre was 31 laps, so I reckon I proved today that I can make tyres last.”

It also allowed him to finish in front of his team mate, who had started 14 places further up the grid. Jenson Button seldom looked comfortable in the car all weekend, and tended to lose more time when following another car closely.

Spanish Grand Prix pit stop times

For the third time in five races Ferrari were the quickest team in the pits. All three of Fernando Alonso’s pit stops were faster than Pastor Maldonado’s.

The Williams driver lost four seconds in the pits compared to his rival. This could have been decisive – Maldonado’s winning margin was less than that.

McLaren’s recent track record with pit stops certainly gives Hamilton an incentive to use strategies which require as few visits to the pits as possible. Not everything went according to plan again today – he lost around two-and-a-half seconds when he clipped a wheel leaving the pits after his first pit stop.

Here’s how long each driver’s pit stops took:

Driver Team Pit stop time Gap On lap
1 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 19.456 10
2 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 19.624 0.168 27
3 Felipe Massa Ferrari 19.699 0.243 29
4 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 19.745 0.289 7
5 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 19.777 0.321 11
6 Paul di Resta Force India 19.867 0.411 42
7 Jenson Button McLaren 19.888 0.432 38
8 Lewis Hamilton McLaren 19.980 0.524 35
9 Paul di Resta Force India 19.987 0.531 9
10 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 20.028 0.572 26
11 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 20.059 0.603 22
12 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 20.059 0.603 39
13 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 20.073 0.617 48
14 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 20.105 0.649 44
15 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 20.113 0.657 10
16 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 20.114 0.658 25
17 Mark Webber Red Bull 20.119 0.663 6
18 Mark Webber Red Bull 20.129 0.673 40
19 Felipe Massa Ferrari 20.130 0.674 10
20 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 20.197 0.741 40
21 Pastor Maldonado Williams 20.218 0.762 24
22 Romain Grosjean Lotus 20.223 0.767 10
23 Jenson Button McLaren 20.333 0.877 9
24 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 20.381 0.925 26
25 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 20.388 0.932 10
26 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 20.460 1.004 40
27 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 20.502 1.046 9
28 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 20.515 1.059 39
29 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 20.521 1.065 10
30 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 20.558 1.102 19
31 Pastor Maldonado Williams 20.620 1.164 11
32 Timo Glock Marussia 20.669 1.213 47
33 Timo Glock Marussia 20.902 1.446 26
34 Charles Pic Marussia 20.936 1.480 15
35 Romain Grosjean Lotus 21.035 1.579 51
36 Sergio Perez Sauber 21.055 1.599 17
37 Jenson Button McLaren 21.061 1.605 25
38 Timo Glock Marussia 21.082 1.626 14
39 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 21.101 1.645 11
40 Romain Grosjean Lotus 21.215 1.759 26
41 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham 21.275 1.819 43
42 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham 21.290 1.834 13
43 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 21.301 1.845 27
44 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 21.311 1.855 41
45 Charles Pic Marussia 21.338 1.882 27
46 Pedro de la Rosa HRT 21.471 2.015 51
47 Narain Karthikeyan HRT 21.518 2.062 11
48 Pedro de la Rosa HRT 21.543 2.087 35
49 Paul di Resta Force India 21.680 2.224 23
50 Vitaly Petrov Caterham 21.817 2.361 44
51 Sergio Perez Sauber 21.864 2.408 1
52 Lewis Hamilton McLaren 21.963 2.507 14
53 Pedro de la Rosa HRT 22.135 2.679 19
54 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 22.260 2.804 8
55 Pedro de la Rosa HRT 22.275 2.819 10
56 Narain Karthikeyan HRT 22.515 3.059 22
57 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham 22.566 3.110 27
58 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 22.645 3.189 23
59 Felipe Massa Ferrari 22.645 3.189 45
60 Pastor Maldonado Williams 22.829 3.373 41
61 Vitaly Petrov Caterham 23.072 3.616 28
62 Vitaly Petrov Caterham 24.856 5.400 10
63 Mark Webber Red Bull 24.864 5.408 17
64 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 26.143 6.687 42
65 Sergio Perez Sauber 28.531 9.075 37

2012 Spanish Grand Prix

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21 comments on 2012 Spanish Grand Prix tyre strategies and pit stops

  1. Theoddkiwi (@theoddkiwi) said on 13th May 2012, 22:49

    Inspiring drive from Lewis, and clearly proves he is making better racing decisions. Great passes, controlled aggression when needed and discipline to keep his lap times in the right window to keep the pace with our tearing up his tyre.

    Now can people please stop saying Button looks after his tyres better then Lewis?

    • Wooolfy said on 14th May 2012, 0:56

      I totally agree. I won’t be entertaining anyone saying Lewis is no good managing tires and being ultra aggressive. Today he was better than the entrie field on both types of tires given that the soft he started on was a used tire that he set chart topping times on during qualifying. Very phenomenal performance I may add.

      • dkpioe said on 14th May 2012, 11:47

        he wasnt best on the hards, look at second stint, not that fast, and sure he made the third stint last 31 laps, but at the expense of good lap times, hence being overtaken by vettel – his best lap time as a result was 2.3 seconds slower then the best, thats not phenomenal to me.

        • mac_user67 said on 14th May 2012, 20:26

          He had to make a two stop strategy last – of course he can’t set the fastest laps whilst nursing the tyres!

        • Harry19 said on 14th May 2012, 21:18

          lol…he went 31 laps on a set of tyres, of course he’s not going to set a fastest lap! And he was never racing Vettel

    • AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 15th May 2012, 13:12

      @theoddkiwi It was a brilliant performance from Hamilton, certainly a more mature drive than most of last years efforts. However, this game is all about consistency. He has a way to go to prove he can be as easy on the tyres as Button.

      • Theoddkiwi (@theoddkiwi) said on 16th May 2012, 0:55

        @andrewtanner Consistancy like scoring points in every race, unlike nearly every one else on the grid in particular his team mate. I think only Alonso is the exception.
        His tyre issues have been more about car setup rather than race craft much like most of the drivers including twinkle toes Button, who couldnt make a three stopper work and faded at the end while Lewis was attacking Rosberg for 7th.

  2. kbdavies (@kbdavies) said on 14th May 2012, 0:46

    Of the top teams, McLaren seem to consistently have the slowest pit stops – even without any incidents. Ferrari’s pitstops (taken from the overhead cam) are a lesson in precision and smoothness. Why is it so difficult for McLaren to achieve the same level of efficiency?

    And why does Massa always seem so difficult to overtake? I reckon without being stuck behind Massa for so long, Lewis would certainly have made it to 5th – as EJ predicted. Massa also made it difficult for Jensen, but his defence of Lewis was much more robust. Lewis would definitely not have fallen into the clutches of Vettel before the race ended, have would have attacked Rosberg earlier.

    • Theoddkiwi (@theoddkiwi) said on 14th May 2012, 4:10

      I wonder if the other drivers have a degree of hesitation passing Massa in terms of his err robust defence techniques.

      • bosyber (@bosyber) said on 14th May 2012, 12:59

        Well @theoddkiwi I think we have seen others be stuck behind Massa (last year Button a few times). I believe Massa is pretty harsh, but certainly effective, in defending and not only with Hamilton.

        I for one was glad to see him pass an F1 after having defended from HAM (or was it Button?) yesterday, as I sometimes feel he’s too defensive, but not active enough at getting past cars.

        • mac_user67 said on 14th May 2012, 20:28

          Yeah Massa may actually be the best team mate if you are seeking a WDC, for WCC not so effective…

    • StefMeister (@stefmeister) said on 14th May 2012, 22:35

      And why does Massa always seem so difficult to overtake? I reckon without being stuck behind Massa for so long, Lewis would certainly have made it to 5th – as EJ predicted.

      Watching the OnBoard’s from Massa/Hamilton on Sky, Massa wasn’t really having to defend against Hamilton that hard.

      The problem Lewis had was that with DRS & the slipstream down the start/finish straght he was hitting the limiter well before turn 1 & often had to pull out the slipstream early to drop the revs to get it off the limiter.

      Recall a radio message in Friday practice from on eof the McLaren drivers saying the had 7th gear too low, seems that carried over into the race.

      Watching the OnBoard stuff all year I’ve noticed that McLaren often seem to be hitting the limiter earlier than others when using DRS & in the slipstream & its almost as if there gearing the car to maximise DRS for qualifying & its hurting them when trying to use it to overtake in the races as there just hitting the rev-limiter too early.

  3. HoHum (@hohum) said on 14th May 2012, 1:31

    A perfect illustration of how these tyres are actually adding to the problem of overtaking the car ahead, all the rule changes to reduce the advantage the leading car has had as a result of turbulence effecting the following cars aerodynamics have been negated by the rapid tyre wear a following car endures. We now have less aerodynamic effect on a following car but a bigger disadvantage due to tyre wear, real progress now can only be made in the DRS zone and the pits.

  4. Kimi4WC said on 14th May 2012, 1:57

    Lotus, 16 laps on slow softs, slap slap.

    • Kimi4WC said on 14th May 2012, 1:59

      Also considering that he could have been released into free air at any time, questionable call.

  5. OOliver said on 14th May 2012, 7:40

    If Lewis can avoid the pitstops as a whole, it would be the best thing for him. A mechanic even managed to leave a wheel gun directly under his wheel. Mechanics don’t suddenly get careless, and you can’t blame it on fatigue since this is just the 5th race. Mclaren is turning into a house of disasters and Withmarsh seems to be indifferent.

    • bosyber (@bosyber) said on 14th May 2012, 13:16

      It was a wheel, not a wheel gun, actually. I would think that it was exactly due to having new guys since last race with limited opportunity to practice the stops in actual race circumstances, so it will likely get better.

    • DaveW (@dmw) said on 14th May 2012, 18:20

      I recall Hamilton saying in an interview that the team had been studying the gantry-camera film and were focusing on the small things like foot position and hand position. So I found it interesting that their new way of screwing up a stop is to leave the just-removed tire in the path of the car, i.e, a fundamental failure in the physical mechanics of the tire-change procedure.

    • DavidBR2 said on 15th May 2012, 14:22

      I don’t think Whitmarsh is indifferent, just not perfectionist. The team needs someone who demands excellence now Dennis has stood aside. Could be the team head (Brawn/Dennis), designer (Newey) or even the driver (Alonso, Schumacher) but without that McLaren are missing that slightly manic quality that keeps everyone that extra bit sharp. Enough to win championships.

  6. bosyber (@bosyber) said on 14th May 2012, 13:20

    It must be great for Ferrari that at least one decision during the season preparation was a sound and working one, namely to focus on getting very fast, and consistently fast, pit stops. Must be giving the mechanics something to cheer for even when Alonso doesn’t manage to magic a rabbit out of the hat.

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