Analysis: How McLaren and Norris made the wrong tyre choice Horner called “baffling”

2024 British GP interactive data

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A week ago in Austria, Lando Norris was able to challenge Max Verstappen for victory partly because McLaren saved a fresh set of medium tyres for the final stint of the race.

The team had the same advantage in their pocket today. But they chose not to use it, to Red Bull’s surprise, and cost Norris a strong chance of winning his home race.

The race-deciding pit stops began when Norris led the field around on lap 39. Lewis Hamilton pitted from second place behind him and was confident he could take a set of soft tyres to the end, despite the graining problems observed in practice.

Verstappen, who came in from third, didn’t have an extra set of mediums available but preferred the hards to a set of used softs. “We’d seen that the soft tyre was rubbish in the first stint,” team principal Christian Horner told media including RaceFans afterwards. “With the drivers that had it, the front opened up very quickly. We saw that a little bit on Friday.

Lando Norris, McLaren, Silverstone, 2024
Report: Norris ‘hates saying we’ve thrown another win away’ at home
“The hard tyre was more robust and we felt was better for us. So we almost didn’t care what the others put on, we knew that the hard tyre was better for us.”

Red Bull had an advantage in this respect, as Verstappen’s team mate Sergio Perez had qualified poorly and started from the pit lane on a set of hard tyres, giving them a better read on its performance under race day conditions. “We had a bit of info from Checo at the beginning of the the race and it did seem to perform pretty well,” said Horner.

He believed McLaren had the best possible tyre available to them and was astonished they didn’t use it.

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“What was baffling for us was that McLaren were the only team that had a new medium available to them and they chose not to run it, which would have been an ideal tyre for those conditions.”

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Silverstone, 2024
Verstappen passed Norris for second place
However Verstappen, who struggled earlier in the race with tyre degradation, found his car came alive when he could push on a set of hards.

“The hard tyre at the end of the race was very strong,” said Horner. “Particularly in the second sector, the high-speed sector, Max was massively quicker than the cars ahead.”

Norris lost time by pitting a lap later than his rival and squandered precious seconds by locking his wheels as he arrived in the pit box and stopping slightly too late, forcing his mechanics to move. But he believed the decision to fit softs cost him the most, and Verstappen was able to pass him for second place before the end of the race.

Team principal Andrea Stella held his hands up to the mistake. “I think going on soft wasn’t the right call for us,” he said.

“In fact, we degraded the tyres too much to be able to retain the position on Verstappen and Lewis,” he added. “In fairness, Lewis did a really good job of making the soft tyres last the entire stint.”

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He said the mistake was rooted in the decision to ask Norris for his views on which tyre he preferred, instead of making the call for him. His race engineer Will Joseph indicated the soft tyre was the better tyre to stand a chance of beating Hamilton to victory, which Hamilton chose. Stella said they should have taken note of how well Verstappen was performing on his hards on his out-lap.

“In those conditions we wanted to check with Lando what his preference was,” Stella explained. “The sense of asking with Lando and deciding with Lando was ‘will it be tricky going on a C2 compound in these conditions?’ But in fairness, as a matter of fact, it wasn’t that tricky, because Verstappen on a hard compound managed the transition on the dry tyres without big issues.”

“We should have taken the responsibility to say the medium is just the right tyre, we go for it,” he concluded. “I think in checking with Lando, we kind of self-doubted and this led us to follow this direction, which in hindsight wasn’t correct.”

2024 British Grand Prix lap chart

The positions of each driver on every lap. Click name to highlight, right-click to reset. Toggle drivers using controls below:

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2024 British Grand Prix race chart

The gaps between each driver on every lap compared to the leader’s average lap time. Very large gaps omitted. Scroll to zoom, drag to pan and right-click to reset. Toggle drivers using controls below:

2024 British Grand Prix lap times

All the lap times by the drivers (in seconds, very slow laps excluded). Scroll to zoom, drag to pan and toggle drivers using the control below:

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2024 British Grand Prix fastest laps

Each driver’s fastest lap:

Rank # Driver Car Lap time Gap Avg. speed (kph) Lap no.
1 55 Carlos Sainz Jnr Ferrari 1’28.293 240.2 52
2 81 Oscar Piastri McLaren-Mercedes 1’28.748 0.455 238.96 51
3 1 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda RBPT 1’28.952 0.659 238.42 48
4 4 Lando Norris McLaren-Mercedes 1’29.262 0.969 237.59 43
5 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1’29.438 1.145 237.12 45
6 11 Sergio Perez Red Bull-Honda RBPT 1’29.707 1.414 236.41 50
7 14 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin-Mercedes 1’29.710 1.417 236.4 47
8 23 Alexander Albon Williams-Mercedes 1’29.718 1.425 236.38 52
9 16 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1’29.748 1.455 236.3 43
10 27 Nico Hulkenberg Haas-Ferrari 1’29.836 1.543 236.07 43
11 18 Lance Stroll Aston Martin-Mercedes 1’29.897 1.604 235.91 46
12 2 Logan Sargeant Williams-Mercedes 1’29.972 1.679 235.71 42
13 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1’30.093 1.800 235.4 42
14 22 Yuki Tsunoda RB-Honda RBPT 1’30.229 1.936 235.04 43
15 3 Daniel Ricciardo RB-Honda RBPT 1’30.735 2.442 233.73 47
16 31 Esteban Ocon Alpine-Renault 1’30.875 2.582 233.37 46
17 24 Zhou Guanyu Sauber-Ferrari 1’31.014 2.721 233.01 43
18 77 Valtteri Bottas Sauber-Ferrari 1’31.277 2.984 232.34 44
19 63 George Russell Mercedes 1’31.298 3.005 232.29 3

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2024 British Grand Prix tyre strategies

The tyre strategies for each driver:

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2024 British Grand Prix pit stop times

How long each driver’s pit stops took:

Rank # Driver Team Complete stop time (s) Gap to best (s) Stop no. Lap no.
1 31 Esteban Ocon Alpine 28.276 2 21
2 1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 28.365 0.089 1 26
3 11 Sergio Perez Red Bull 28.391 0.115 1 19
4 16 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 28.481 0.205 1 19
5 31 Esteban Ocon Alpine 28.495 0.219 1 19
6 4 Lando Norris McLaren 28.661 0.385 1 27
7 55 Carlos Sainz Jnr Ferrari 28.706 0.43 3 50
8 11 Sergio Perez Red Bull 28.871 0.595 4 47
9 3 Daniel Ricciardo RB 28.875 0.599 1 26
10 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 28.929 0.653 1 27
11 18 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 29.023 0.747 1 26
12 1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 29.076 0.8 2 38
13 31 Esteban Ocon Alpine 29.086 0.81 4 38
14 55 Carlos Sainz Jnr Ferrari 29.097 0.821 2 39
15 24 Zhou Guanyu Sauber 29.125 0.849 3 26
16 16 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 29.166 0.89 3 37
17 24 Zhou Guanyu Sauber 29.178 0.902 1 12
18 55 Carlos Sainz Jnr Ferrari 29.199 0.923 1 26
19 81 Oscar Piastri McLaren 29.2 0.924 2 38
20 16 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 29.233 0.957 2 27
21 31 Esteban Ocon Alpine 29.289 1.013 3 26
22 11 Sergio Perez Red Bull 29.3 1.024 3 37
23 14 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin 29.341 1.065 1 27
24 23 Alexander Albon Williams 29.41 1.134 2 38
25 27 Nico Hulkenberg Haas 29.412 1.136 1 26
26 2 Logan Sargeant Williams 29.444 1.168 2 38
27 18 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 29.469 1.193 2 39
28 81 Oscar Piastri McLaren 29.541 1.265 1 28
29 22 Yuki Tsunoda RB 29.658 1.382 2 38
30 14 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin 29.686 1.41 2 38
31 24 Zhou Guanyu Sauber 29.838 1.562 2 19
32 3 Daniel Ricciardo RB 29.873 1.597 2 37
33 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas 29.884 1.608 2 37
34 22 Yuki Tsunoda RB 30 1.724 1 27
35 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 30.038 1.762 2 38
36 27 Nico Hulkenberg Haas 30.265 1.989 2 39
37 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas 30.308 2.032 1 27
38 4 Lando Norris McLaren 30.387 2.111 2 39
39 77 Valtteri Bottas Sauber 30.628 2.352 1 26
40 77 Valtteri Bottas Sauber 31.527 3.251 2 37
41 63 George Russell Mercedes 32.045 3.769 1 27
42 11 Sergio Perez Red Bull 32.313 4.037 2 28
43 2 Logan Sargeant Williams 32.801 4.525 1 27
44 24 Zhou Guanyu Sauber 33.083 4.807 4 37
45 23 Alexander Albon Williams 34.742 6.466 1 27

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2024 British Grand Prix

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Author information

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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19 comments on “Analysis: How McLaren and Norris made the wrong tyre choice Horner called “baffling””

  1. The radio call to Norris before his last stop was so weird especially when compared to how clear and decisive the comms with Piastri was slightly earlier. They really dropped the ball on that, driver and team together. Norris is driving really well except in the critical moments – true champions, in any sport, take their chances.

  2. McLaren’s strategy for both NOR and PIA lost them the race and cost them positions.

    1. Yes, however as I recall they told both drivers they were the only ones who could put on mediums if needed, then went with it for piastri and not for norris, they don’t broadcast all team radios, so maybe that was a choice by norris.

      The worst call was definitely not pitting piastri for intermediates immediately, it was a bad enough call that I said, just as I saw him go to the finish line that lap and the conditions “he’s gonna lose the time he’d lose for a pit stop in a single lap, if he doesn’t crash out”, and indeed, that’s what happened, norris was already several seconds closer to him as soon as he exited the pits.

    2. The McLaren strategists are infected with a Ferarri plague: Decisions need to be made based on data, and on the right moment, not twice a lap late. It is a whole other thing to gamble big if you’ve got nothing to lose (like with Perez in the RedBull on his first stop). The strategists can ask the driver for an opinion, but should wear their trousers and decide in the end.
      1: Not double stacking Piastri on the first stop was not smart. Piastri lost a lot more than 3-4 seconds.
      2: Waiting a lap too long with the switch to slicks for Norris, when the guys that stopped on lap 37 were showing signs of being faster compared to the sister-cars that didn’t stop yet (slower in sector one, a lot faster in the second sector, about equal in sector3). A stop in lap 38 therefore was the call to make.
      3: Chosing the wrong tire, knowing from those that started on softs, and Piastri’s switch that the medium was the faster tire. They could’ve waited to decide until 15-20 seconds before the actual stop, but prepared for both options

      1. Relying solely on data has actually been one of the primary weaknesses of Ferrari. Ignoring the reality of what they’re seeing happen in front of their faces is the hallmark of a bad strategist. Good strategists use both data and what they can see happening in real time. It’s like all the times they wanted to call in their drivers while they were continuing to put in great laps on their current tires because the data told them that the tires should have been slow by then and Sainz saying “No. What are you thinking?”

        1. You seem to think that data is a synonym for pre-race predictions or simulations.
          Real-time data such as lap times are data as well.

  3. Even if the track were half dry it’s hard to see how you would not make up more than 4 seconds in the wet parts on inters. The excuses make no sense.

    But on the softs you can sort of credit the logic. If you think you have a better car than Hamilton just cover his choice. And Mclaren were faster than verstappen whole race so don’t worry about him.

    Also no one was really confident that Hamilton could do that stint in softs. It was really remarkable he was able to keep a steady pace the whole stint.

  4. Not only they had Max as a reference with hard tyres, they had Piastri as well, as he went in the same lap for mediums.

    Another race, another loss for Mclaren.

  5. I’m also baffled that they went for a qualifying-used soft instead of that entirely unused medium, which ultimately cost victory, while not double-stacking, like Mercedes, cost them a 1-2 chance.

  6. It wasn’t the call to put on softs that lost the race. It was the time lost on the pit stop. If he had come out ahead of Lewis, he would have had the clean air and it would’ve been easier to defend Lewis while his tires were in the ideal condition. Having to defend with the brand new mediums would’ve been a bit trickier for the first few laps.

    1. I somewhat agree, but I do think Norris on the mediums closes the gap and passes Hamilton in the final stint even if he came out behind him.

      Piastri was the fastest car on track until Sainz on the final lap and closed the gap from 20 seconds to 5 on Norris. Verstappen was around 11 behind Norris before the stop and while he gained some stopping earlier, he still closed that gap, passed and pulled 7 seconds on Norris.

      The soft really wasn’t the tyre to be on. Somehow Hamilton made them work, but only just. Another lap and i think Verstappen has an easy DRS overtake.

      1. @hunkulese @Ben
        With how close it was in the end.. Hamilton might want to thank McLaren. If they had pitted at the correct moment Hamilton would have had to overtake Norris. Which I think he would have.. But if they would have fought over first, Verstappen would have had them both in the end.

    2. @hunkulese
      I agree that McLaren’s decision to go for soft tyres looked worse than it actually was because Norris botched the pit stop. If he had a normal pit stop, I think it’s quite possible the race would have gone as you described. In that case, everyone would be praising McLaren for being bold and going for the win instead of settling for the more conventional strategy.

  7. I have an opinion
    8th July 2024, 7:57

    Norris is a fast driver, and that’s it. He’s not a strategist, he’s not a meteorologist and he’s not a tyre engineer. Just tell him when to pit and put the right tyres on and let him drive.

    1. Spot on.

  8. We can analyse the data with hindsight and conclude the medium would have been the best for Lando. Still I don’t understand why Max suddenly was quicker on the hard than Lando on the soft. Lewis was also on the soft and was able to keep up the laptimes needed. I can only come to the conclusion there is a thin line between getting the tyres up to temperature as Lewis/Mercedes seem to manage while Lando didn’t. Also I dont understand how Max was able to get the hard to work as I remember Hungary 2022 where Leclerc/Ferrari made that terrible call to switch to hard while it was to cold to get them up to temperature. It looks like McLaren made a mistake but maybe at that moment it’s also a bit of luck to make the right choice

    1. Señor Sjon
      8th July 2024, 10:09

      The sun broke through, which heated the tarmac, finally bringing the Red Bull somewhat near its operating window. It seems to be very picky about that. Look at Austria when it got from 4 tenths ahead of the field on Saturday to struggling on Sunday.

    2. The cars respond differently on different tires. Some cars might have struggled with hards on and not with mediums or vice versa. Other cars can give you an idea if the tire can or can’t work in the conditions, but it is no guarantee. Only your other car is a guaranteed reference for how the tires should perform.

  9. No other driver would have been able to make that final 14 laps stint stick on the soft tire.

Comments are closed.