TWO PIT STOPS FOR THE OPENING GRAND PRIX OF A BRAND NEW ERA
MARBLES, GRAINING AND BLISTERING ALL REDUCED COMPARED TO LAST YEAR
As predicted by Pirelli, the Australian Grand Prix concluded with two pit stops, generally following a soft-soft medium strategy that was chosen by race winner Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) as well as the two other podium finishers: Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) and Kevin Magnussen (McLaren).
The ‘marbles’ and blistering phenomenon have been greatly reduced, along with graining. In fact this was seen only on the front-left tyre of a few cars: including that of Rosberg.
As well as car set-up, graining – a phenomenon that has always been present in Formula One – is caused by low temperatures. The Australian Grand Prix did not exceed the air temperature of 20 degrees and track temperature of 27 degrees centigrade seen at the 5pm start, with conditions progressively cooling down as the race went on.
Nonetheless, all the tyres performed strongly from start to finish, in line with expectations before the start of the grand prix, despite a qualifying session yesterday that was largely wet. All the cars began the race on the P Zero Yellow soft tyre, with the exception of Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel and Sauber’s Esteban Gutierrez, who started on the P Zero White medium.
The race strategy was influenced by an early four-lap safety car period, which prompted most drivers to make their opening pit stops early. McLaren’s Jenson Button was able to use pit stop strategy particularly effectively, with well-timed stops that helped to boost himself from 10th on the grid to fourth at the finish.
Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery said: “In Melbourne, we’ve been very pleased with the performance of our tyres in the first race of a new era of Formula One. While the drop in temperature caused some previously unseen light graining issues on some cars’ front-left tyres, it was not particularly severe and did not really affect the stint length. In most cases, it disappeared as the laps went on. The medium tyre, used largely at the end of the race, covered practically half the total distance for many drivers and performed in a very consistent manner. The teams of course all have the same challenge and we are still at the very outset of the season, where engineers work to maximise the chassis and tyre performance package.”
Fastest times of the day by compound:
|First||ROS – 1.32.478||BOT – 1.32.568||N/A||N/A|
|Second||KVY – 1.32.634||ALO – 1.32.616||N/A||N/A|
|Third||PER – 1.33.366||ROS – 1.32.672||N/A||N/A|
Longest stint of the race:
|Soft||35 laps (A Sutil)|
|Medium||25 laps (J Button)|
With most of qualifying held in wet weather, it was hard to predict an exact strategy with certainty. Theoretically, we said start on the soft, change to the soft again on lap 23, and then to the medium on lap 51. But the early safety car threw the pattern slightly out of kilter, with Rosberg’s first stop for another set of softs on lap 12 and the final stop for the medium on lap 38. The top 10 all used a soft-soft-medium pattern, with the exception of Daniil Kvyat in 10th who went for soft-medium-soft.