2012 United States GP tyre strategies and pit stops

2012 United States Grand Prix

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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 1Stint 2Stint 3
Sebastian VettelMedium (21)Hard (35)
Lewis HamiltonMedium (20)Hard (36)
Mark WebberMedium (16)
Kimi RaikkonenMedium (24)Hard (32)
Michael SchumacherMedium (14)Hard (25)Hard (16)
Nico HulkenbergMedium (17)Hard (39)
Fernando AlonsoMedium (20)Hard (36)
Romain GrosjeanMedium (9)Hard (47)
Pastor MaldonadoMedium (21)Hard (35)
Bruno SennaMedium (20)Hard (36)
Felipe MassaMedium (26)Hard (30)
Jenson ButtonHard (35)Medium (21)
Paul di RestaMedium (21)Hard (9)Hard (25)
Jean-Eric VergneMedium (14)
Sergio PerezMedium (22)Hard (34)
Kamui KobayashiMedium (13)Hard (42)
Nico RosbergHard (34)Medium (22)
Daniel RicciardoMedium (30)Hard (26)
Timo GlockMedium (21)Hard (34)
Charles PicMedium (26)Hard (28)
Vitaly PetrovMedium (23)Hard (32)
Heikki KovalainenMedium (21)Hard (34)
Pedro de la RosaMedium (24)Hard (30)
Narain KarthikeyanMedium (25)Hard (29)

Few 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:

DriverTeamPit stop timeGapOn lap
1Lewis HamiltonMcLaren20.81420
2Sebastian VettelRed Bull20.9040.09021
3Romain GrosjeanLotus21.1900.3769
4Michael SchumacherMercedes21.2970.48339
5Nico RosbergMercedes21.3460.53234
6Jenson ButtonMcLaren21.4450.63135
7Felipe MassaFerrari21.5200.70626
8Sergio PerezSauber22.0791.26522
9Nico HulkenbergForce India22.0991.28517
10Bruno SennaWilliams22.1431.32920
11Michael SchumacherMercedes22.2631.44914
12Pastor MaldonadoWilliams22.3421.52821
13Charles PicMarussia22.3791.56526
14Paul di RestaForce India22.4441.63030
15Paul di RestaForce India22.4981.68421
16Daniel RicciardoToro Rosso22.6511.83730
17Heikki KovalainenCaterham22.7131.89921
18Vitaly PetrovCaterham22.7621.94823
19Timo GlockMarussia23.0922.27821
20Kamui KobayashiSauber24.0793.26513
21Fernando AlonsoFerrari24.4393.62520
22Narain KarthikeyanHRT24.4973.68325
23Pedro de la RosaHRT24.7983.98424
24Kimi RaikkonenLotus24.8404.02624

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.

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    Keith Collantine
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    9 comments on “2012 United States GP tyre strategies and pit stops”

    1. 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!

      1. 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.

      2. 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.

        1. 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!

      3. 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. Oh Mercedes….

      1. @overwatch I was trying to think of something more constructive to say…but I don’t think I can! Well put :P

    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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