2012 United States GP tyre strategies and pit stops

2012 United States Grand Prix

Almost every driver pitted just once in the United States Grand Prix but Mercedes leant towards a two-stopper which cost them dearly.

United States Grand Prix tyre strategies

The tyre strategies for each driver:

Stint 1 Stint 2 Stint 3
Sebastian Vettel Medium (21) Hard (35)
Lewis Hamilton Medium (20) Hard (36)
Mark Webber Medium (16)
Kimi Raikkonen Medium (24) Hard (32)
Michael Schumacher Medium (14) Hard (25) Hard (16)
Nico Hulkenberg Medium (17) Hard (39)
Fernando Alonso Medium (20) Hard (36)
Romain Grosjean Medium (9) Hard (47)
Pastor Maldonado Medium (21) Hard (35)
Bruno Senna Medium (20) Hard (36)
Felipe Massa Medium (26) Hard (30)
Jenson Button Hard (35) Medium (21)
Paul di Resta Medium (21) Hard (9) Hard (25)
Jean-Eric Vergne Medium (14)
Sergio Perez Medium (22) Hard (34)
Kamui Kobayashi Medium (13) Hard (42)
Nico Rosberg Hard (34) Medium (22)
Daniel Ricciardo Medium (30) Hard (26)
Timo Glock Medium (21) Hard (34)
Charles Pic Medium (26) Hard (28)
Vitaly Petrov Medium (23) Hard (32)
Heikki Kovalainen Medium (21) Hard (34)
Pedro de la Rosa Medium (24) Hard (30)
Narain Karthikeyan Medium (25) Hard (29)

Michael Schumacher, Mercedes, Circuit of the Americas, 2012Few drivers opted for anything other than a one-stop strategy at the Circuit of the Americas as tyre degradation proved low on the smooth and dusty track.

The vast majority chose to start on the medium tyres. A notable exception was Jenson Button, who ran long on a set of hard tyres to rise from12th on the grid to finish fifth.

Romain Grosjean ended up on a different strategy after spinning early on. Having pitted on lap nine he ran on his subsequent set of tyres for 47 laps to recover seventh place.

Michael Schumacher had to make two pit stops after struggling for grip in his first stint. “I couldn’t get any grip from my first set of tyres, and there must have been some kind of damage for them to perform so badly.

“We had to change our strategy to two stops which then compromised our race even further.” Mercedes seemed to think more drivers would stop twice, telling Nico Rosberg this was the case during the race.

United States Grand Prix pit stop times

How long each driver’s pit stops took:

Driver Team Pit stop time Gap On lap
1 Lewis Hamilton McLaren 20.814 20
2 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 20.904 0.090 21
3 Romain Grosjean Lotus 21.190 0.376 9
4 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 21.297 0.483 39
5 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 21.346 0.532 34
6 Jenson Button McLaren 21.445 0.631 35
7 Felipe Massa Ferrari 21.520 0.706 26
8 Sergio Perez Sauber 22.079 1.265 22
9 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 22.099 1.285 17
10 Bruno Senna Williams 22.143 1.329 20
11 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 22.263 1.449 14
12 Pastor Maldonado Williams 22.342 1.528 21
13 Charles Pic Marussia 22.379 1.565 26
14 Paul di Resta Force India 22.444 1.630 30
15 Paul di Resta Force India 22.498 1.684 21
16 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 22.651 1.837 30
17 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham 22.713 1.899 21
18 Vitaly Petrov Caterham 22.762 1.948 23
19 Timo Glock Marussia 23.092 2.278 21
20 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 24.079 3.265 13
21 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 24.439 3.625 20
22 Narain Karthikeyan HRT 24.497 3.683 25
23 Pedro de la Rosa HRT 24.798 3.984 24
24 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 24.840 4.026 24

McLaren achieved the fastest pit stop for the eighth time this year, although Red Bull almost matched them with Sebastian Vettel’s pit stop.

Fernando Alonso suffered a slow stop for Ferrari but fortunately for him Kimi Raikkonen’s pit stop was even slower – indeed, it was the worst of the race. He lost track position to Felipe Massa because of it, as Massa’s stop was 3.3 seconds faster.

2012 United States Grand Prix

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9 comments on 2012 United States GP tyre strategies and pit stops

  1. maestrointhesky (@maestrointhesky) said on 19th November 2012, 12:49

    Hard tyres may have been an accidental choice but it absolutely added to the spectacle with drivers exceeding the limit, smoking up the tyres, and still able to continue without having to return to the pits for a fresh set because they’re softer than blamange! There were also options off the racing line as it wasn’t littered with ridiculous amounts of marbles! Get rid of the rest of the tyre choices and only use these or harder is what I say. What an enjoyable race!

    • TotalMoonRace said on 19th November 2012, 13:16

      the hard tyre favor best car where it housed most downforce to generate grip on the gripless circuit and also helped sorted out the warm up issues.

      hardly a test of driver skills seriously.

    • pSynrg (@psynrg) said on 19th November 2012, 14:42

      I couldn’t agree more @maestrointhesky. What appeared to be a recipe for a processional race in a conservative tyre choice turned out in fact to be the opposite.

      With tyre wear of minor consideration the drivers were free to push the entire race distance. Occasionally we saw them ease off for a few laps to let the tyres recover after a particular heavy push (for example Lewis’s initial attempts at getting close to Seb.)

      But to see the majority of drivers post their FL in the closing stages and after such a long stint was just like old times!

      How is this not a test of driver skill? The fastest and most consistent drivers prevailed because they were capable of pushing as hard as possible for more laps.

      That is the definition of driver skill over material limitations.

      The pace of Vettel & Hamilton was ferocious throughout.

      Take away the tyres as a performance factor and we have a good old fashioned F1 ding dong on our hands.

      • maestrointhesky (@maestrointhesky) said on 19th November 2012, 20:21

        TotalMoonRace. Your comment doesn’t add up. It was refreshing to see cars like the Ferrari were able to match ultimate pace by the end of the race. Surely if Massa hadn’t been sacrificed, he would have had an outside chance of challenging for the lead. This, a car quite obviously generating less down force than the 2 lead cars!

    • Tomsk (@tomsk) said on 19th November 2012, 15:16

      Yep, worked really well for me, on a proper track where racing is encouraged.
      But maybe soft tyres are necessary to create some action on the boring tracks like Barcelona, Valencia and Abu Dhabi . It’s good to see a mixture of the two through the season, but I’d prefer a balance in favour of harder tyres that the drivers can lean on a bit.

      Well said about the marbles – I didn’t miss them, and thanks to the harder tyres there was less difference in grip between the racing line and off-line (despite the palaver before the start) as Gary Anderson observes here: Gary Anderson’s BBC column

  2. Overwatch (@overwatch) said on 19th November 2012, 13:23

    Oh Mercedes….

  3. Ferrari’s struggles to get the tyres heated up, seemed a bit counter-intuitive given their early season form in the rain.

    Am I making invalid comparisons between water-induced coolness and the low-friction led lack of heat in the tyres?

  4. The pit stops by McLaren and Red Bull were terrifically fast; I was convinced that Vettel had a problem when in actual fact I just didn’t see the front tyres coming off! It is great to see such skill in the pits.

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