Softs would have been better for Rosberg – Mercedes

2015 Hungarian Grand Prix tyre strategies and pit stops

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Did the decision to put Nico Rosberg on medium compound tyres instead of softs for his final stint cost him a chance to win the Hungarian Grand Prix? Mercedes admitted that in retrospect he would have been better off with a more aggressive strategy.

Rosberg had deviated from the standard strategy at his first pit stop as he tried to get on terms with the Ferraris. Surprisingly, having passed both the Mercedes at the start the red cars pulled away from Rosberg in the opening stint on soft tyres.

When Rosberg hit the pits for the first time on lap 20 he was almost ten seconds behind leader Sebastian Vettel. While most drivers started the race on softs and took another set at their first pit stop, Rosberg switched to mediums. Ferrari chose softs again, so had the race run green from start to finish Rosberg should have had the chance to return to the softs for an attacking final stint while the Ferraris ran the medium tyre.

But it didn’t work out that way. The Virtual Safety Car was deployed after Nico Hulkenberg crashed on lap 42. This handed all the teams the opportunity to make a pit stop while losing minimal time. Mercedes seized it, but due to the position of the cars on the track when the VSC boards came out Rosberg was one of the first drivers in.

“The default set of tyres was the [medium], as we still had around 30 laps to go in the race under normal conditions,” explained the team’s executive director Toto Wolff afterwards. There was an added pressure due to the suddenness with which Rosberg appeared in the pits: “That was the only set we were able to fit to the car in time.”

A few other drivers did opt for the soft tyre at this point or earlier, including Daniil Kvyat (who did more than half the race on one set), Pastor Maldonado and Felipe Nasr. “In hindsight, the [soft] tyre would have been ideal to attack Sebastian, who was forced to run the [medium],” admitted Wolff, “but hindsight is a wonderful thing”.

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2015 Hungarian Grand Prix tyre strategies

The tyre strategies for each driver:

Stint 1Stint 2Stint 3Stint 4
Sebastian VettelSoft (21)Soft (22)Medium (26)
Daniil KvyatSoft (13)Medium (20)Soft (36)
Daniel RicciardoSoft (21)Medium (21)Soft (22)Soft (5)
Max VerstappenSoft (14)Soft (23)Medium (9)Soft (23)
Fernando AlonsoSoft (15)Soft (21)Medium (7)Soft (26)
Lewis HamiltonSoft (19)Soft (23)Medium (9)Soft (18)
Romain GrosjeanSoft (14)Soft (20)Medium (8)Soft (27)
Nico RosbergSoft (20)Medium (22)Medium (22)Soft (5)
Jenson ButtonSoft (14)Soft (21)Medium (34)
Marcus EricssonSoft (16)Soft (17)Medium (8)Soft (28)
Felipe NasrSoft (14)Soft (18)Medium (10)Soft (27)
Felipe MassaSoft (14)Medium (15)Soft (25)Soft (15)
Valtteri BottasSoft (13)Soft (25)Medium (11)Soft (20)
Pastor MaldonadoMedium (25)Soft (16)Soft (28)
Roberto MerhiSoft (6)Soft (24)Medium (37)Soft
Will StevensSoft (26)Soft (15)Medium (24)Soft
Carlos Sainz JnrSoft (15)Soft (21)Medium (24)
Kimi RaikkonenSoft (22)Soft (21)Medium (9)Soft (3)
Sergio PerezSoft (16)Soft (14)Medium (11)Soft (12)
Nico HulkenbergSoft (15)Soft (21)Medium (5)

2015 Hungarian Grand Prix pit stop times

How long each driver’s pit stops took:

DriverTeamPit stop timeGapOn lap
1Felipe MassaWilliams21.50254
2Fernando AlonsoMcLaren21.5670.06515
3Daniil KvyatRed Bull21.5740.07233
4Jenson ButtonMcLaren21.7530.25135
5Nico RosbergMercedes21.7800.27820
6Daniel RicciardoRed Bull21.8240.32221
7Valtteri BottasWilliams21.8670.36538
8Sebastian VettelFerrari21.9000.39821
9Felipe MassaWilliams21.9150.41329
10Daniel RicciardoRed Bull22.0080.50642
11Nico RosbergMercedes22.0130.51142
12Sebastian VettelFerrari22.0280.52643
13Sergio PerezForce India22.0680.56616
14Daniil KvyatRed Bull22.0720.57013
15Marcus EricssonSauber22.1990.69733
16Nico HulkenbergForce India22.2220.72036
17Jenson ButtonMcLaren22.2310.72914
18Kimi RaikkonenFerrari22.2700.76843
19Fernando AlonsoMcLaren22.3000.79836
20Sergio PerezForce India22.4090.90730
21Max VerstappenToro Rosso22.5361.03414
22Kimi RaikkonenFerrari22.5661.06422
23Nico HulkenbergForce India22.5731.07115
24Sergio PerezForce India22.5741.07241
25Felipe NasrSauber22.7291.22714
26Marcus EricssonSauber22.7471.24541
27Romain GrosjeanLotus22.8051.30314
28Pastor MaldonadoLotus22.8121.31025
29Felipe NasrSauber22.9071.40532
30Carlos Sainz JnrToro Rosso22.9301.42836
31Valtteri BottasWilliams22.9741.47213
32Marcus EricssonSauber23.0051.50316
33Max VerstappenToro Rosso23.0431.54146
34Will StevensManor23.0511.54926
35Felipe NasrSauber23.0971.59542
36Roberto MerhiManor23.1251.62330
37Lewis HamiltonMercedes23.1461.64419
38Fernando AlonsoMcLaren23.1621.66043
39Max VerstappenToro Rosso23.4311.92937
40Will StevensManor23.6642.16241
41Romain GrosjeanLotus23.9722.47042
42Lewis HamiltonMercedes24.2722.77042
43Nico RosbergMercedes24.5753.07364
44Pastor MaldonadoLotus24.9723.47041
45Carlos Sainz JnrToro Rosso25.0963.59415
46Roberto MerhiManor26.3924.8906
47Lewis HamiltonMercedes27.7156.21351
48Felipe MassaWilliams27.9366.43414
49Romain GrosjeanLotus28.7077.20534
50Valtteri BottasWilliams30.0318.52949
51Daniel RicciardoRed Bull31.0379.53564
52Kimi RaikkonenFerrari59.55538.05352

Drive-through penalties: Maldonado on laps 24 and 58, Hamilton on lap 54 and Verstappen on lap 56

2015 Hungarian 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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20 comments on “Softs would have been better for Rosberg – Mercedes”

  1. Rosberg mentioned the problem in his post-race video, too. What a pity.

  2. To be fair to the team, Rosberg had been asking for the medium tyre already, so they would have had to override him to make that decision too.

    1. Is there any solid evidence (e.g. radio communication) of Rosberg asking for medium tyres to do the final stint ? Because at the end of the race, Toto Wolff admitted the team’s fault on the tyre choice for ROS when the VSC/SC was deployed.

      It’s unusual for a driver asking the team to fit a slower/underperforming tyre, especially when they know they’re losing a lot of time for a pursuing team mate on that compound.

      1. Is there any solid evidence (e.g. radio communication) of Rosberg asking for medium tyres to do the final stint ?

        Yes. I was watching it live on BBC1 and Rosberg By the team that they would put the option on for the final stint, Rosberg asked what Tyres Hamilton would be on and was told “softs”. Nico then said he also wanted the softs rather than option.

        David Coulthard (commentating) queried the request from Rosberg.

        1. What lap was that request ?

          1. It was quite early @elio, after the team told him that they were planning to stop Hamlton first because he would be running the mediums (he had to use both compounds).
            My impression was that this was Rosberg telling the team that he was not amused by them pitting Hamilton earlier and that he would want to stop first, using the mediums (as the softs wouldn’t last).

        2. Nico wanted to stop ahead of Lewis to keep track position; but that ment he had to stop sooner than planned and they worried if they changed to soft they would not last until the end;
          It was the logical decision at the time.
          Had he run his medium until he could safely mount the softs he would have been undercut by Lewis. He would have been on the faster tire but behind.
          His decision was the right one, to stay ahead of Lewis on the same tire.

      2. LOL. I obviously meant “medium” not “Softs”. I’s past my bedtime. :P

  3. It’s obvious it was team fault for not ready to give better tyres for driver last stint.
    Regardless, Rosberg will falling behind Ferrari in soft too like the first stint.

  4. Mr win or lose
    27th July 2015, 9:41

    Still I don’t understand why some teams seem to prefer the medium tyre over the soft tyre at the Hungaroring, even though the softs are much quicker over a single lap, while the degradation is more or less similar. Last year Mercedes put Hamilton on mediums and he wasn’t able to overtake Alonso on softs. This year Rosberg’s pace on softs was disappointing early in the race, but he probably would have been faster on softs than Vettel on mediums at the end of the race. Instead, he got mediums, was attacked by Ricciardo, got a puncture and finished in 8th place. Tyre strategies are not really Mercedes’ cup of tea I guess.

  5. One can only wonder where Hülkenberg finally could’ve finished.

  6. Is there any way to know how many laps all the tyres had on them at the start?

  7. Would have been that bad to put on cold softs at the final stop for Rosberg? Even if the pit stop was a few seconds longer just to pull them out, they were still under VSC, and then full SC, so the time wouldn’t have been lost… Wouldn’t the safety car laps heat up the tires enough by the time the grip is needed?

  8. When across berg was on mediums the team told him Lewis was pitting for mediums, Rossberg then clearly moaned that he wanted mediums again at the next stop. The team said he’d get the faster sifts and he said no he wanted mediums. Both mercs stopped under vsc Rossberg got mediums as requested, Lewis got the faster softs as expected. Rossberg threw therein away with that bad decision. I think he got confused.

    1. “Across berg”? ;)

    2. Both had the mediums. What were you watching? Or did you get confused?

  9. Rosberg should have been insisting on softs in my view. The evidence does not suggest that he did. This underlines for me the difference between him and Hamilton. Had the boot been on the other foot there would have been no doubt what Hamilton would have gone for. Who’s to blame? Rosberg / Team 50% 50%.

  10. The team cost Rosberg an almost certain win with that blunder.

    In the end it cost him a lot more points than the difference between 1st and 2nd too as the contact was very unlikely to happen as the difference between the 2 tyres was big and he was evenly matched with Vettel on the primes.

    Didn’t see him sulking like Hamilton like in Monaco though when the team cost him a win..

    1. He wasn’t matching Vettel, he was clearly faster.

Comments are closed.