Jenson Button, McLaren, Valencia, 2012

2012 European GP tyre strategies and pit stops

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As Sam Michael forecast, McLaren did do the quickest pit stops in Valencia. Unfortunately for Lewis Hamilton, they also did one of the slowest.

European Grand Prix tyre strategies

The tyre strategies for each driver:

Stint 1Stint 2Stint 3Stint 4Stint 5
Sebastian VettelSoft (16)Soft (13)Medium (4)
Lewis HamiltonSoft (13)Medium (15)Medium (27)
Pastor MaldonadoSoft (14)Medium (14)Medium (29)
Romain GrosjeanSoft (16)Soft (12)Medium (12)
Kimi RaikkonenSoft (14)Soft (14)Medium (29)
Nico RosbergSoft (20)Medium (26)Soft (11)
Kamui KobayashiSoft (14)Soft (6)Medium (13)
Nico HulkenbergSoft (14)Medium (14)Medium (29)
Jenson ButtonSoft (10)Medium (16)Medium (31)
Paul di RestaSoft (23)Medium (34)
Fernando AlonsoSoft (15)Soft (13)Medium (29)
Michael SchumacherMedium (19)Soft (22)Soft (16)
Felipe MassaSoft (11)Medium (16)Soft (7)Medium (19)Soft (3)
Bruno SennaSoft (20)Medium (37)
Sergio PerezMedium (10)Soft (15)Soft (32)
Heikki KovalainenSoft (12)Soft (15)Medium (30)
Daniel RicciardoSoft (14)Soft (23)Medium (20)
Jean-Eric VergneMedium (17)Soft (9)
Mark WebberMedium (19)Soft (19)Soft (19)
Vitaly PetrovSoft (13)Soft (12)Soft (3)Medium (19)Medium (10)
Pedro de la RosaSoft (14)Soft (14)Medium (28)
Narain KarthikeyanSoft (15)Soft (14)Medium (27)
Charles PicMedium (11)Soft (17)Medium (29)

Two-stop strategies were the order of the day in Valencia – the deployment of the safety car leading teams to converge on tactics.

The key difference was in timing: the likes of Michael Schumacher and Mark Webber delayed their second pit stops until after the safety car.

Paul di Resta was a notable exception, running a one-stop strategy. This was despite his lap times rising by four seconds during his first stint.

European Grand Prix pit stop times

How long each driver’s pit stops took:

DriverTeamPit stop timeGapOn lap
1Lewis HamiltonMcLaren19.35513
2Jenson ButtonMcLaren19.6400.28526
3Fernando AlonsoFerrari19.7890.43415
4Sebastian VettelRed Bull20.0230.66829
5Michael SchumacherMercedes20.0410.68641
6Nico RosbergMercedes20.1150.76046
7Felipe MassaFerrari20.1260.77127
8Mark WebberRed Bull20.2220.86738
9Jenson ButtonMcLaren20.2460.89110
10Mark WebberRed Bull20.2460.89119
11Paul di RestaForce India20.2950.94023
12Nico HulkenbergForce India20.3320.97728
13Sebastian VettelRed Bull20.3571.00216
14Felipe MassaFerrari20.4761.12153
15Michael SchumacherMercedes20.4771.12219
16Romain GrosjeanLotus20.4791.12416
17Felipe MassaFerrari20.4981.14311
18Nico RosbergMercedes20.6251.27020
19Fernando AlonsoFerrari20.7181.36328
20Vitaly PetrovCaterham20.7261.37113
21Sergio PerezSauber20.9041.54925
22Sergio PerezSauber21.0321.67710
23Heikki KovalainenCaterham21.0401.68512
24Kimi RaikkonenLotus21.1031.74828
25Nico HulkenbergForce India21.1981.84314
26Daniel RicciardoToro Rosso21.2091.85414
27Vitaly PetrovCaterham21.2241.86925
28Jean-Eric VergneToro Rosso21.3031.94817
29Pastor MaldonadoWilliams21.3421.98714
30Vitaly PetrovCaterham21.4072.05228
31Pastor MaldonadoWilliams21.5252.17028
32Kimi RaikkonenLotus21.8792.52414
33Daniel RicciardoToro Rosso22.5973.24237
34Charles PicMarussia22.8383.48328
35Narain KarthikeyanHRT22.9303.57515
36Kamui KobayashiSauber23.0713.71614
37Pedro de la RosaHRT23.1253.77028
38Pedro de la RosaHRT23.1273.77214
39Romain GrosjeanLotus23.1833.82828
40Heikki KovalainenCaterham24.4455.09027
41Kamui KobayashiSauber25.7196.36420
42Narain KarthikeyanHRT26.3707.01529
43Bruno SennaWilliams28.4409.08520
44Vitaly PetrovCaterham30.80011.44547
45Lewis HamiltonMcLaren31.08111.72628
46Charles PicMarussia31.63612.28111
47Felipe MassaFerrari39.04119.68634

For the first time this year McLaren were the quickest team in the pits – Lewis Hamilton’s first visit was the fastest of the race and Jenson Button’s pit stop was almost as quick.

But if McLaren have made progress on speed, consistency remains a concern. Hamilton’s second visit was some 11 seconds slower.

2012 European Grand Prix

Browse all 2012 European Grand Prix articles

Image ?? McLaren/Hoch Zwei

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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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26 comments on “2012 European GP tyre strategies and pit stops”

  1. Are my eyes tricking me, or do I see that the two fastest pit-stops were done by McLaren?

    Looking at this, it’s a shame that the safety car and following chaos got in the mix: Vettel, Grosjean, Raikkonen, Kobayashi and Alonso were on 3-stoppers, whilst Maldonado, Hamilton, Rosberg and Hulkenberg all were on 2-stoppers.

    1. Aditya Banerjee (@)
      25th June 2012, 9:54

      Neither of Vettel, Grosjean, Raikkonen, Kobayashi or Alonso were on three-stoppers.

  2. Traverse Mark Senior (@)
    24th June 2012, 23:14

    Did McLaren hire Nigel Mansell as Hamilton’s front jack man? Seriously though, if Lewis doesn’t win the world championship this year, he can lay the blame squarely at the feet of Whitmarsh.

    1. indeed, everything he seems to do in the race is undone by the pit stops… Maldonado shouldn’t have ever been in the position to drive into Lewis becasue he should have come out ahead of Alonso…

      1. As @prisoner-monkeys will explain to you, it must have been Hamiltons fault.

        1. @hohum Why do all your comments goad @prisoner-monkeys…?

          1. Tit for tat.

    2. the front jack failed…it was a simple failure not a human error.

      1. But exceptionally slow reaction from the McLaren pit crew. They could still have come out in front of Raikkonen.

      2. Traverse Mark Senior (@)
        25th June 2012, 17:44

        @snafu I would agree with you if this was a one off failure, but it has become a regular event for McLaren to screw up Hamilton’s race. I wonder how McLaren will ruin Hamilton’s race at Silverstone? My money is on one of the pit crew accidentally stabbing Lewis.

      3. Who designs and builds the jack and develops the procedure for its use? Today Whitmarsh is beating his chest in the press about how quick one of the stops was. It’s really disgusting to hear them crowing about their stops when Hamilton regularly has time to knit a sweater while the crew services the car. Who cares that they shaved .12 seconds off the record when they gave up 10 seconds in another stop due to design and operational failure. They need to crawl before they can fly, get the basics down before going for a trick jack. This has now become a hallmark of Whitmarshes regime—hey, don’t blame us [insert new operational or part failure] was out of our control.

    3. Pretty disasterous indeed. Dancing around blaming Lewis, giving two thumbs up for pits… Without a jack failure and a wheel nut catastrophe, Lewis gets out in open air perhaps. Could have helped him save enough tire to get through…

  3. The “what ifs”, as always, are endless, but that 11 seconds that Hamilton lost on his abysmal 2nd pit stop would have come in pretty handy at the end of the race.

    1. @schooner, it would have meant that Hamilton had been in P3 at the restart (behind Grosjean but in front of Alonso, Ricciardo and Raikkonen) rather than P6, which probably didn’t have much impact on the race result, with Hamilton running out of tyres at the end. Or perhaps Hamilton would have been able to look after his tyres and keep Alonso behind, who knows?

      1. It’s ifs and buts but the key point is that the man that won the race followed Hamiliton into pit row and drove by him while the team were fumbling around with the jack(s). The only two cars that would have been head of him were to retire with mechanical failure. No one can see the future, but this is precisely why McLaren need to stop patting themselves on the back for their stops. In this case, they lost their man a realistic chance to win.

  4. Mclaren had the spare jack ready as if they were expecting the jack to fail. It really is a sad sight to see a very professional and experienced team make so many errors in every race. HRT look even more prefessional sometimes.

    1. I strongly disagree with you. The jack was made for a reason. I am sure that the team analyzed their problematic pit stops and found out that a new jack would solve some of their problems. Ok, it is a new concept and failed in the 4th pit stop that was used. So they had a spare to the side. McLaren would be like HRT if they hadn’t had the spare!!!! And most importantly, the first and the third pit stop that they used it were the fastest of the race and the second was the ninth fastest. So it is a worthy new concept that they should try to perfect until Silverstone.

      1. I’d dissagree. Seems like a giant failure if it still costs you several positions.
        The “ah we fixed this so this other thing can go wrong” isn’t really a net positive. And are Button’s pit stops relative?

  5. Has anyone else of you been wondering why they didn’t try a third stop for Jenson Button for the final 10 laps or so? By the time he was still ahead of the flying Schumacher/Webber duo and had a comfortable lead (somewhere between 15 – 20 seconds if I remember correctly) over Rosberg, who pitted just a bit earlier to also catch him at the end as it was obvious all those guys would still catch Jenson as his tyres were totally worn off. So taking another set of fresh tyres, I think that well-timed third stop would have brought him into contention to fight for like 6th or even 5th place. The fact that he was hardly inside the points (before Hamilton and Maldonado dropped out) would have been another reason to go for that risk, don’t you think?

    1. McLaren are become lazy in their thinking. Under Ron Dennis, they were known to be the most cunning team in terms of pit strategies. Not anymore though…

      1. Aditya Banerjee (@)
        26th June 2012, 7:27

        Under Dennis? Really?
        What happened at Budapest ’98?

        1. It’s better than this sentence; “What happend to McLaren for a few years?”

  6. I think that pit work is one of the reasons why Lotus has not won a race. Grosjean lost around 3,5s in the pits to Vettel (at the time 2nd and 1st), Raikkonen lost around 2s to Alonso (in the end 2nd and 1st).
    They need then to recover this time, and sometimes there are not enough laps and I’m not even considering when they loose position in the pits and need again to pass slower cars.

    I haven’t seen this analysis yet, although many people have mentioned their bad strategy, but I’m convinced that slower pit-stops from Lotus are a direct cause to them not finishing even higher, when they clearly have the consistently fastest car in the pack

  7. Indeed, consistency is key from McLaren. It looks like their mechanics were spot on but just had some faulty equipment. Perhaps they need to conduct some quality checks?

    Almost .3s is one hell of a gap in the pits for Hamilton’s stop, impressive!

  8. It is all very well McLaren having the quickest pitstop of the race but they have to consistently achieve quick pitstops.

    Without the mistake on Hamilton’s second stop he would have still being ahead of Alonso and with track position it is possible he would have won the race when Vettel and Grosjean retired.

    At the very least we probably would have been a good battle between Alonso and Hamilton for the victory.

  9. Raikkonen’s pit stop are only 24th and 32nd fastest..If they improve a bit..they can provide him an opportunity to fight for a win..just like Ferrari provides it to Alonso.

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