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 1 Stint 2 Stint 3 Stint 4 Stint 5
Sebastian Vettel Soft (16) Soft (13) Medium (4)
Lewis Hamilton Soft (13) Medium (15) Medium (27)
Pastor Maldonado Soft (14) Medium (14) Medium (29)
Romain Grosjean Soft (16) Soft (12) Medium (12)
Kimi Raikkonen Soft (14) Soft (14) Medium (29)
Nico Rosberg Soft (20) Medium (26) Soft (11)
Kamui Kobayashi Soft (14) Soft (6) Medium (13)
Nico Hulkenberg Soft (14) Medium (14) Medium (29)
Jenson Button Soft (10) Medium (16) Medium (31)
Paul di Resta Soft (23) Medium (34)
Fernando Alonso Soft (15) Soft (13) Medium (29)
Michael Schumacher Medium (19) Soft (22) Soft (16)
Felipe Massa Soft (11) Medium (16) Soft (7) Medium (19) Soft (3)
Bruno Senna Soft (20) Medium (37)
Sergio Perez Medium (10) Soft (15) Soft (32)
Heikki Kovalainen Soft (12) Soft (15) Medium (30)
Daniel Ricciardo Soft (14) Soft (23) Medium (20)
Jean-Eric Vergne Medium (17) Soft (9)
Mark Webber Medium (19) Soft (19) Soft (19)
Vitaly Petrov Soft (13) Soft (12) Soft (3) Medium (19) Medium (10)
Pedro de la Rosa Soft (14) Soft (14) Medium (28)
Narain Karthikeyan Soft (15) Soft (14) Medium (27)
Charles Pic Medium (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:

Driver Team Pit stop time Gap On lap
1 Lewis Hamilton McLaren 19.355 13
2 Jenson Button McLaren 19.640 0.285 26
3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 19.789 0.434 15
4 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 20.023 0.668 29
5 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 20.041 0.686 41
6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 20.115 0.760 46
7 Felipe Massa Ferrari 20.126 0.771 27
8 Mark Webber Red Bull 20.222 0.867 38
9 Jenson Button McLaren 20.246 0.891 10
10 Mark Webber Red Bull 20.246 0.891 19
11 Paul di Resta Force India 20.295 0.940 23
12 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 20.332 0.977 28
13 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 20.357 1.002 16
14 Felipe Massa Ferrari 20.476 1.121 53
15 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 20.477 1.122 19
16 Romain Grosjean Lotus 20.479 1.124 16
17 Felipe Massa Ferrari 20.498 1.143 11
18 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 20.625 1.270 20
19 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 20.718 1.363 28
20 Vitaly Petrov Caterham 20.726 1.371 13
21 Sergio Perez Sauber 20.904 1.549 25
22 Sergio Perez Sauber 21.032 1.677 10
23 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham 21.040 1.685 12
24 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 21.103 1.748 28
25 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 21.198 1.843 14
26 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 21.209 1.854 14
27 Vitaly Petrov Caterham 21.224 1.869 25
28 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 21.303 1.948 17
29 Pastor Maldonado Williams 21.342 1.987 14
30 Vitaly Petrov Caterham 21.407 2.052 28
31 Pastor Maldonado Williams 21.525 2.170 28
32 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 21.879 2.524 14
33 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 22.597 3.242 37
34 Charles Pic Marussia 22.838 3.483 28
35 Narain Karthikeyan HRT 22.930 3.575 15
36 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 23.071 3.716 14
37 Pedro de la Rosa HRT 23.125 3.770 28
38 Pedro de la Rosa HRT 23.127 3.772 14
39 Romain Grosjean Lotus 23.183 3.828 28
40 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham 24.445 5.090 27
41 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 25.719 6.364 20
42 Narain Karthikeyan HRT 26.370 7.015 29
43 Bruno Senna Williams 28.440 9.085 20
44 Vitaly Petrov Caterham 30.800 11.445 47
45 Lewis Hamilton McLaren 31.081 11.726 28
46 Charles Pic Marussia 31.636 12.281 11
47 Felipe Massa Ferrari 39.041 19.686 34

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

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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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