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TYRE STRATEGY THE KEY TO AN ACTION-PACKED CHINESE GRAND PRIX

Nico Rosberg completed a perfect weekend for Mercedes, during which both the German driver and his ‘Silver Arrows’ team managed their allocation of the P Zero White medium tyre and P Zero Yellow soft tyre perfectly. Having claimed a dominant pole position by half a second, Rosberg took his debut victory and the first win for Mercedes since the 1955 Italian Grand Prix, using a two-stop strategy. Rosberg’s pace at the beginning of the race was enough to ensure that he was able to complete his first pit stop without losing the lead and from there on he was able to control his advantage, completing the race on the medium tyres.

Tyre choices and pit stop strategy set up a duel in the closing stages of the race, as McLaren’s Jenson Button on a fresh set of P Zero White medium tyres attempted to chase down the leader, on an older set of the medium tyres. Although Button – who stopped three times – was delayed by a problem during his final pit stop, he was just one of many drivers to mount a spectacular charge during the final stint in Shanghai. With four laps to go, Button passed Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel to claim the runner-up spot.

Vettel chose a two-stop strategy, but was forced to defend from the McLaren of Lewis Hamilton, who claimed the final podium place on the penultimate lap, despite making one more pit stop than the reigning world champion. Hamilton now leads the drivers’ championship, with McLaren having adopted a different strategy to most of their rivals. The Englishman was one of the few drivers to stick with the soft tyre during his second stint, while the majority of other drivers went to the harder tyre on their first stops.

Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery commented: “Many congratulations to Nico and to Mercedes for this thoroughly well-deserved victory, during which they exhibited a perfect understanding of how to get the most out of both compounds in challenging circumstances and keep the tyres within the optimal performance window. As expected, we saw a high degree of tyre degradation in the tough conditions of China, with the front-left tyre in particular coming under particular stress. This gave the opportunity for the teams to try out a wide variety of different strategies, which resulted in spectacular yet clean wheel-to-wheel racing that if anything surpassed even last year’s Chinese Grand Prix. I’d also like to congratulate our former test driver Romain Grosjean, who claimed his best-ever finish with sixth overall for Lotus.”


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PIRELLI PUTS THE ACCENT ON STRATEGY IN AUSTRALIA

Pirelli’s 2012-specification tyres delivered on their promise to provide a greater variety of race strategies by decreasing the performance gaps between the compounds this year. The new versions of the P Zero Yellow soft and P Zero White medium were nominated for the Australian Grand Prix, but the drivers had very little dry running with them before the start, as Friday’s free practice sessions in Albert Park were characterised by rain.

The top finishers adopted a two-stop strategy for the race, as was the case last year, but with the pace of the medium and the soft compound only differing by around 0.5 seconds per lap, the way in which they used the tyres was different – with some drivers favouring two stints on the soft tyre and others preferring two stints on the medium.

One of the turning points of the race was a safety car on lap 36, which bunched up the field and allowed Red Bull Racing’s Sebastian Vettel to claim second place by passing McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton in the pits.

At the restart, race leader Jenson Button demonstrated the rapid warm-up time of the medium compound even in the cool conditions of the afternoon by pulling out a second within the first sector, to eventually claim his third victory in Australia. Vettel, who finished runner-up, had adopted a completely different strategy by using the soft tyre during his medium stint. Last year, Vettel’s winning margin was 22 seconds; this year Button won by just over two seconds.

Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery commented: “The Australian Grand Prix certainly lived up to expectations, and we fulfilled our objective of providing scope for more strategies by reducing the performance gaps between the compounds and extending the window of peak performance. An interesting element was that there were many pit stops that were not for wear level but instead for degradation, confirming what we wanted to achieve strategy-wise. We also saw more use of the medium tyre than the soft tyre, contrary to last year. Despite this range of strategies there were some very tight battles all the way down the field right up to a dramatic final lap, with one driver crashing out and eighth, ninth and 10th places crossing the finish line practically together! The wear and degradation of the tyres was around 0.1 seconds per lap on the soft tyre – with the frontrunners choosing to pit twice, despite the rapid pace at the front of the field. Many congratulations to Jenson Button and McLaren for a stylish victory and also to Mark Webber, who scores his best-ever finish on home territory.”

Categories: Formula 1 Pirelli


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