Max Verstappen, Toro Rosso, Circuit of the Americas, 2015

Verstappen matches best result after long run on softs

2015 United States Grand Prix tyre strategies and pit stops

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Max Verstappen equalled the best result of his F1 career so far thanks to a mid-race gamble on tyres which paid off.

When the Safety Car came out halfway through the race, Verstappen gambled on switching to a fresh set of soft tyres to last him until the end of the race. It worked: and his reward was fourth behind the two Mercedes and Sebastian Vettel.

Afterwards Verstappen was jubilant. “A fourth position is a great result, definitely the best we could do today, and I’m just really, really happy,” he said.

“There were some very good battles out on track and I’d say this was the most complete ace of the season so far, everything worked out as it should have: I made no mistakes and the team did a perfect job with the strategy, making all the right calls.”

The race began on a damp track with all of the drivers on intermediate tyres. The first drivers to make a switch to slicks – Valtteri Bottas and Romain Grosjean – quickly regretted the decision, but both soon retired with unrelated technical problems. Marcus Ericsson was the first driver to successfully make the switch, leading others to follow him.

“It was difficult to know when to make the move on to slick tyres because you never want to go too early and lose time,” Verstappen admitted, “so you just try and wait and see if someone else does it.”

“When I heard over the radio that another car was on slicks and not doing too bad, I said okay, now we go. Once on the softs, I didn’t risk much as I knew I had to look after the tyres and we managed to get to the end in a strong way.”

However Toro Rosso had a difficult race in the pits with their other car. Carlos Sainz Jnr suffered the race’s slowest pit stop after a problem with his right-rear wheel nut, and picked up a five-second time penalty for speeding in the pits.

2015 United States Grand Prix tyre strategies

The tyre strategies for each driver:

Stint 1Stint 2Stint 3Stint 4Stint 5Stint 6
Lewis HamiltonIntermediate (18)Soft (25)Soft (13)
Nico RosbergIntermediate (19)Soft (19)Soft (18)
Sebastian VettelIntermediate (18)Soft (9)Medium (16)Soft (13)
Max VerstappenIntermediate (18)Soft (10)Soft (28)
Sergio PerezIntermediate (19)Soft (8)Medium (29)
Carlos Sainz JnrIntermediate (19)Soft (8)Medium (16)Soft (13)
Jenson ButtonIntermediate (17)Soft (10)Soft (17)Soft (12)
Pastor MaldonadoIntermediate (18)Soft (9)Soft (16)Soft (13)
Felipe NasrIntermediate (2)Soft (1)Intermediate (14)Soft (9)Soft (16)Soft (14)
Daniel RicciardoIntermediate (19)Soft (19)Soft (12)Soft (6)
Fernando AlonsoIntermediate (1)Intermediate (17)Soft (8)Soft (30)
Alexander RossiIntermediate (1)Intermediate (16)Soft (10)Medium (29)
Daniil KvyatIntermediate (19)Soft (19)Medium (3)
Nico HulkenbergIntermediate (19)Soft (8)Medium (8)
Marcus EricssonIntermediate (16)Soft (3)Soft (6)
Kimi RaikkonenIntermediate (19)Soft (1)Soft (5)
Felipe MassaIntermediate (18)Soft (5)
Romain GrosjeanIntermediate (1)Intermediate (8)Soft (1)
Valtteri BottasIntermediate (1)Soft (3)Intermediate (1)
Will StevensIntermediate (1)

2015 United States Grand Prix pit stop times

How long each driver’s pit stops took:

DriverTeamPit stop timeGapOn lap
1Lewis HamiltonMercedes24.08843
2Sebastian VettelFerrari24.1580.07043
3Lewis HamiltonMercedes24.3540.26618
4Daniel RicciardoRed Bull24.4490.36119
5Daniel RicciardoRed Bull24.4950.40750
6Fernando AlonsoMcLaren24.6310.54318
7Daniil KvyatRed Bull24.6380.55019
8Nico RosbergMercedes24.6400.55219
9Felipe MassaWilliams24.6460.55818
10Jenson ButtonMcLaren24.6890.60127
11Sergio PerezForce India24.7300.64227
12Kimi RaikkonenFerrari24.7330.64519
13Jenson ButtonMcLaren24.8620.77444
14Max VerstappenToro Rosso24.9040.81628
15Felipe NasrSauber24.9750.88726
16Sebastian VettelFerrari25.0190.93118
17Pastor MaldonadoLotus25.0540.96643
18Daniil KvyatRed Bull25.2051.11738
19Nico RosbergMercedes25.2421.15438
20Carlos Sainz JnrToro Rosso25.2591.17119
21Fernando AlonsoMcLaren25.4051.31726
22Pastor MaldonadoLotus25.4461.35827
23Max VerstappenToro Rosso25.5271.43918
24Sebastian VettelFerrari25.5761.48827
25Felipe NasrSauber25.7141.62617
26Alexander RossiManor25.8121.72427
27Felipe NasrSauber25.9311.8433
28Valtteri BottasWilliams26.3842.2964
29Sergio PerezForce India26.4582.37019
30Alexander RossiManor26.5202.43217
31Carlos Sainz JnrToro Rosso26.8402.75243
32Jenson ButtonMcLaren27.2863.19817
33Nico HulkenbergForce India27.3443.25619
34Nico HulkenbergForce India27.3603.27227
35Romain GrosjeanLotus27.6213.5331
36Romain GrosjeanLotus27.7303.6429
37Daniel RicciardoRed Bull27.8023.71438
38Pastor MaldonadoLotus27.8513.76318
39Marcus EricssonSauber29.7285.64016
40Marcus EricssonSauber30.9326.84419
41Felipe NasrSauber31.1377.0492
42Fernando AlonsoMcLaren31.9877.8991
43Kimi RaikkonenFerrari34.54810.46020
44Felipe NasrSauber35.54611.45842
45Alexander RossiManor37.74813.6601
46Valtteri BottasWilliams40.48816.4001
47Carlos Sainz JnrToro Rosso44.58220.49427

2015 United States 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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14 comments on “Verstappen matches best result after long run on softs”

  1. Verstappen was mighty today; so assured and creative, yet sensible in his moves. I was particularly impressed by his defence from Raikkonen in the braking zone, pressuring him without making contact, yet almost interlocking wheels.

    For once, the cliché of ‘I can’t wait to see him in a better car’ need not apply, as we know that he’s going to get one sooner or later, and that time is not an issue when he’s this young. Instead, we should just enjoy the fact that driving the Toro Rosso means he is involved in more battles than he would be if he had a faster car.

    1. I agree with you. This race of his showed us how good of an all round driver he is. It was impressive from him how he managed his option tires for 28 laps to the end. So he got tire management skills of Perez and is able to combine it with proper wheel to wheel racing.

    2. It is almost scary, his tire/break management, defending and overtakes look like he’s been in F1 for years, hope he stays at Toro Rosso for another year, he can gain so much more from another year of mid-field battles and he’s just 18, more than enough time left to shine.

  2. 4th place well deserved. Period.

  3. Have to give credit to this young lad who’s been performing very well for his debut and Jackie Stewart must not keep on saying the cars are easy to drive but someone has to drive it eh.

  4. ColdFly F1 (@)
    26th October 2015, 11:26

    I don’t understand why Verstappen did not pit during the final SC period.
    His gap to BUT (TR could not know that he would stop as well) was roughly the same as the gap between HAM and VES before the SC. HAM pitted and rejoined well before VES, thus VES could have done the same (stay in front of BUT/ALO).
    It would probably not have made a difference in the final standing, but he would’ve been on fresh tyres and stayed closer to the top 3 (now he was lucky that the guys behind him drive into each other and did not make up sufficient ground).

    Also, unclear to me why TR did not take the 5sec penalty for SAI during his final pit stop. He would’ve rejoined in exactly the same position (NAS & RSI were 1 lap behind) and then he could have kept his well deserved 6th finishing position!

    I guess this shows that TR is not as mature yet as the big teams re. their strategy calls!

    1. I thought it weird as well Verstappen didn’t follow Vettel into the pit. Ultimately it didn’t matter, Vettel would have been faster regardless and Perez while underhindered in his pursuit never was a danger. Still, his tyres were plenty old and it would have been safer to pit.

      As for Sainz, you are not allowed to take your penalty during a SC.

    2. Mr win or lose
      26th October 2015, 11:44

      I guess it’s not allowed to take a time penalty during a safety car period. But I did expect Verstappen to pit under yellow too. Probably Toro Rosso wanted to split strategies, but they were lucky indeed that they didn’t lose a 4th place.

      1. Same as in russia!

        I still don’t get why they did’nt call him in during SC2. If so, Max would have restarted with fresh tires behind both mcHonda’s, instead he restarted on old tires just in front of the mcHonda’s. Stopping during SC2 would have offered one more significant strategy option for the end of his race.

    3. I think Torro Rosso had a great strategy for Max. To me it would make sense the team decided not to let him change tyres during SC as their focus perhaps was more on controlling the cars behind Max (older tyres) instead of attacking the Ferrari and Benzos in front of him (fresher tyres / not realistic). So they probably intended to consolidate his 4th position. Max is able to manage the tyres very well and the SC-periods helped as well. Once again he did an *amazing* job!

    4. At the first SC pit stop they let Sainz go first and Verstappen later (which wasn’t costing Verstappen much), and if they would have done the same with the SC2, Verstappen would have ended behind a few other cars.

      I heard the team radio of Toro Rosso say right at that time to Verstappen that his tyres were on the limit, but it could be done. And I think the decision was done in favour of getting the maximum amount of points for the team, so Sainz got favoured to go first again.

      During commentating they said that the option tyres would last only 19/20 laps and maybe 25 when pushed in some cases (riding behind the SC for some laps helped made it work too). I think it shows great confidence of the team in how well they think Verstappen can manage his tyres to go for such a risky strategy.

  5. So Kimi has once again mismanaged his outlap into a spin? You’d think he’d have fixed that issue after doing it a couple of times already but it seems like it’s here to stay.

  6. Verstappen is such an exciting driver, can’t wait to see him in RBR, hopefully with a decent PU. Sainz is also very good, but he needs to stop destroying the car before the race.

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