2012 Spanish Grand Prix tyre strategies and pit stops

2012 Spanish Grand Prix

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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 1Stint 2Stint 3Stint 4Stint 5
Pastor MaldonadoSoft (11)Hard (13)Hard (17)Hard (25)
Fernando AlonsoSoft (10)Hard (16)Hard (18)Hard (22)
Romain GrosjeanSoft (10)Soft (16)Hard (25)Hard (15)
Kimi RaikkonenSoft (11)Soft (16)Hard (21)Hard (18)
Sergio PerezSoft (1)Hard (16)Hard (20)Hard (0)
Nico RosbergSoft (9)Soft (13)Hard (18)Hard (26)
Sebastian VettelSoft (7)Hard (20)Hard (15)Soft (24)
Michael SchumacherSoft (10)Soft (2)
Kamui KobayashiSoft (8)Hard (18)Hard (15)Hard (25)
Jenson ButtonSoft (9)Hard (16)Soft (13)Hard (28)
Mark WebberSoft (6)Hard (11)Hard (23)Hard (25)
Paul di RestaSoft (9)Soft (14)Hard (19)Hard (23)
Nico HulkenbergSoft (10)Soft (9)Hard (20)Hard (26)
Jean-Eric VergneSoft (10)Hard (13)Soft (17)Hard (25)
Daniel RicciardoSoft (11)Hard (14)Soft (14)Hard (26)
Felipe MassaSoft (10)Hard (19)Hard (16)Hard (20)
Bruno SennaSoft (12)
Vitaly PetrovSoft (10)Hard (18)Soft (16)Hard (21)
Heikki KovalainenSoft (13)Soft (14)Soft (16)Hard (22)
Charles PicSoft (15)Soft (12)Hard (8)
Timo GlockSoft (14)Soft (12)Hard (21)Hard (17)
Pedro de la RosaSoft (10)Soft (9)Hard (16)Hard (16)Soft (12)
Narain KarthikeyanSoft (11)Soft (11)Hard (0)
Lewis HamiltonSoft (14)Hard (21)Hard (31)

Lewis 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:

DriverTeamPit stop timeGapOn lap
1Fernando AlonsoFerrari19.45610
2Sebastian VettelRed Bull19.6240.16827
3Felipe MassaFerrari19.6990.24329
4Sebastian VettelRed Bull19.7450.2897
5Kimi RaikkonenLotus19.7770.32111
6Paul di RestaForce India19.8670.41142
7Jenson ButtonMcLaren19.8880.43238
8Lewis HamiltonMcLaren19.9800.52435
9Paul di RestaForce India19.9870.5319
10Fernando AlonsoFerrari20.0280.57226
11Nico RosbergMercedes20.0590.60322
12Daniel RicciardoToro Rosso20.0590.60339
13Kimi RaikkonenLotus20.0730.61748
14Fernando AlonsoFerrari20.1050.64944
15Michael SchumacherMercedes20.1130.65710
16Daniel RicciardoToro Rosso20.1140.65825
17Mark WebberRed Bull20.1190.6636
18Mark WebberRed Bull20.1290.67340
19Felipe MassaFerrari20.1300.67410
20Nico RosbergMercedes20.1970.74140
21Pastor MaldonadoWilliams20.2180.76224
22Romain GrosjeanLotus20.2230.76710
23Jenson ButtonMcLaren20.3330.8779
24Kamui KobayashiSauber20.3810.92526
25Jean-Eric VergneToro Rosso20.3880.93210
26Jean-Eric VergneToro Rosso20.4601.00440
27Nico RosbergMercedes20.5021.0469
28Nico HulkenbergForce India20.5151.05939
29Nico HulkenbergForce India20.5211.06510
30Nico HulkenbergForce India20.5581.10219
31Pastor MaldonadoWilliams20.6201.16411
32Timo GlockMarussia20.6691.21347
33Timo GlockMarussia20.9021.44626
34Charles PicMarussia20.9361.48015
35Romain GrosjeanLotus21.0351.57951
36Sergio PerezSauber21.0551.59917
37Jenson ButtonMcLaren21.0611.60525
38Timo GlockMarussia21.0821.62614
39Daniel RicciardoToro Rosso21.1011.64511
40Romain GrosjeanLotus21.2151.75926
41Heikki KovalainenCaterham21.2751.81943
42Heikki KovalainenCaterham21.2901.83413
43Kimi RaikkonenLotus21.3011.84527
44Kamui KobayashiSauber21.3111.85541
45Charles PicMarussia21.3381.88227
46Pedro de la RosaHRT21.4712.01551
47Narain KarthikeyanHRT21.5182.06211
48Pedro de la RosaHRT21.5432.08735
49Paul di RestaForce India21.6802.22423
50Vitaly PetrovCaterham21.8172.36144
51Sergio PerezSauber21.8642.4081
52Lewis HamiltonMcLaren21.9632.50714
53Pedro de la RosaHRT22.1352.67919
54Kamui KobayashiSauber22.2602.8048
55Pedro de la RosaHRT22.2752.81910
56Narain KarthikeyanHRT22.5153.05922
57Heikki KovalainenCaterham22.5663.11027
58Jean-Eric VergneToro Rosso22.6453.18923
59Felipe MassaFerrari22.6453.18945
60Pastor MaldonadoWilliams22.8293.37341
61Vitaly PetrovCaterham23.0723.61628
62Vitaly PetrovCaterham24.8565.40010
63Mark WebberRed Bull24.8645.40817
64Sebastian VettelRed Bull26.1436.68742
65Sergio PerezSauber28.5319.07537

2012 Spanish Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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

  1. 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?

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

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

        2. 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

          1. What of Lewis’ second stint?

    2. @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.

      1. @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. 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.

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

      1. 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.

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

    2. 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. 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. Lotus, 16 laps on slow softs, slap slap.

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

  5. 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.

    1. 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.

    2. 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.

    3. 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. 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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