2012 Canadian GP tyre strategies and pit stops

2012 Canadian Grand Prix

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Ferrari were once again the fastest team in the pits but despite that they chose not to risk a second stop for Alonso. Did that cost them a win?

Canadian Grand Prix tyre strategies

The tyre strategies for each driver:

Stint 1 Stint 2 Stint 3 Stint 4
Sebastian Vettel Super soft (16) Soft (47) Super soft (7)
Lewis Hamilton Super soft (17) Soft (33) Soft (20)
Fernando Alonso Super soft (19) Soft (51)
Mark Webber Super soft (17) Soft (35) Soft (18)
Nico Rosberg Super soft (19) Soft (19) Soft (32)
Felipe Massa Super soft (12) Soft (46) Super soft (12)
Romain Grosjean Super soft (21) Soft (49)
Paul di Resta Super soft (13) Soft (31) Soft (26)
Michael Schumacher Super soft (13) Soft (30) Soft (0)
Jenson Button Soft (15) Super soft (18) Super soft (19) Soft (17)
Kamui Kobayashi Super soft (24) Soft (46)
Kimi Raikkonen Soft (40) Super soft (30)
Nico Hulkenberg Soft (21) Super soft (21) Soft (28)
Daniel Ricciardo Super soft (17) Soft (41) Super soft (12)
Sergio Perez Soft (41) Super soft (29)
Bruno Senna Super soft (23) Soft (46)
Heikki Kovalainen Super soft (17) Soft (25) Soft (27)
Vitaly Petrov Super soft (18) Soft (25) Soft (26)
Jean-Eric Vergne Super soft (16) Soft (27) Soft (26)
Pedro de la Rosa Soft (24)
Timo Glock Super soft (24) Soft (32)
Pastor Maldonado Soft (29) Super soft (41)
Charles Pic Super soft (28) Soft (39)
Narain Karthikeyan Super soft (22)

The battle at the front hinged on McLaren’s commitment to a two-stop strategy, Ferrari’s commitment to a one-stop strategy, and Red Bull wavering between the two.

Lewis Hamilton’s slow pit stop on lap 50 appeared to hand the initiative to Fernando Alonso. But Ferrari kept him out – did they miss a chance to take a second pit stop and come out in front of Hamilton?

McLaren’s Sam Michael believed they had, saying after the race there was one lap when Ferrari could have pitted Alonso and taken the lead.

It wasn’t a clear-cut decision for Ferrari. Hamilton dropped 14.8s behind Alonso after he pitted. Earlier in the race when Vettel fell behind Hamilton in the pits he had dropped 15 seconds back, but there wasn’t much in it.

Alonso had been 2.6s behind Hamilton before the McLaren driver’s last pit stop. Given Ferrari’s faith in their car’s performance on a race stint, and the lack of certainty over whether Alonso would have come out in front had they pitted him, it’s not hard to see why they might have thought keeping him out in front was their best shot at beating the McLaren.

Canadian Grand Prix pit stop times

How long each driver’s pit stops took:

Driver Team Pit stop time Gap On lap
1 Felipe Massa Ferrari 21.115 58
2 Felipe Massa Ferrari 21.128 0.013 12
3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 21.133 0.018 19
4 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 21.179 0.064 38
5 Mark Webber Red Bull 21.199 0.084 17
6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 21.222 0.107 19
7 Mark Webber Red Bull 21.254 0.139 52
8 Jenson Button McLaren 21.363 0.248 52
9 Lewis Hamilton McLaren 21.375 0.260 17
10 Vitaly Petrov Caterham 21.403 0.288 43
11 Sergio Perez Sauber 21.407 0.292 41
12 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 21.453 0.338 24
13 Paul di Resta Force India 21.489 0.374 13
14 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 21.534 0.419 40
15 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 21.558 0.443 58
16 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 21.639 0.524 16
17 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 21.689 0.574 17
18 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham 21.704 0.589 42
19 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham 21.733 0.618 17
20 Paul di Resta Force India 21.734 0.619 44
21 Jenson Button McLaren 21.748 0.633 15
22 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 21.807 0.692 13
23 Romain Grosjean Lotus 21.830 0.715 21
24 Jenson Button McLaren 21.845 0.730 33
25 Vitaly Petrov Caterham 21.888 0.773 18
26 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 22.278 1.163 16
27 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 22.428 1.313 63
28 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 22.524 1.409 43
29 Lewis Hamilton McLaren 22.530 1.415 50
30 Pastor Maldonado Williams 22.704 1.589 29
31 Bruno Senna Williams 22.781 1.666 23
32 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 23.163 2.048 43
33 Charles Pic Marussia 23.291 2.176 28
34 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 23.660 2.545 42
35 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 24.583 3.468 21
36 Timo Glock Marussia 25.520 4.405 24

It’s doubtful Ferrari’s reluctance to pit Alonso was due to any concerns about their pit crew’s performance. They were the fastest team on pit lane for the fourth time in seven races this year.

Ferrari’s performance in the pits has been enviable and so it was again in Canada. The three pit stops their drivers made were the fastest three of the race.

In a remarkable display of speed and consistency, the three pit stops were within 18 thousandths of a second of each other. Deeply impressive.

2012 Canadian Grand Prix

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    Image © Ferrari spa/Ercole Colombo

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    Keith Collantine
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    23 comments on “2012 Canadian GP tyre strategies and pit stops”

    1. That show us how much Marko was doing more PR talk (or maybe they really thought they had it figured?) than a real picture of things when he claimed they (the teams) now understood the tyres. Nice to see how different cars use the tyres differently and it makes for a nicely mixed strategy race.

      1. @BasCB When I saw that the other day I did think that yes, certain teams we’re looking better than others but Marko was so over the top it was ridiculous. Not sure what his angle was.

        1. Not sure what his angle was.

          Probably just trying to quell all the talk about F1 being an unpredictable lottery due to the tyres.

        2. When I saw that the other day I did think that yes, certain teams we’re looking better than others but Marko was so over the top it was ridiculous. Not sure what his angle was.

          It speaks to the attitude within Red Bull, which I don’t particularly like right now. It is one thing to expect you will be competitive based on your car’s performance and previous results. It is another thing entirely to assume you will be competitive irrespective of your car’s performance and previous results, and right now, I think Red Bull are guilty of the latter.

          1. I understand RBR and ToroRosso are two seperate teams, but I feel the TR guys do the same thing. The tossed out the Sebastians(Buemi, Bordais), and Speed, and Liuzzi.

            Seems they want a top team, but fail to remember you need to have a top car first.

            I understand my empathy for Scott Speed is unfounded in that he probably is not a top F1 talent, but it was nice to see a countryman in the field.

      2. I don`t think this race told the teams too much about the tyres. Ferrari and Red Bull were probably caught off guard due to the temperature. If the temperature had been a little bil lower we might have concluded that McLaren dropped the ball. It`s that close at the moment.

        As for speed in race trim I`m still confused. It looked like Hamilton had a speed advantage in his second stint. But in hindsight this might have been down to him leaning more on the tyres than Alonso and Vettel as he had another pitstop coming as they were planning to go to the end. And Grosjean and Perez who both did a one-stopper were quite close to Hamilton in the end. What would have happened if the leading three had stayed out longer before their first pit stop?

        The Pirrellis are a bit like “a puzzle inside a puzzle insidea a puzzle”.

    2. Can you see any clue weather HRT really did know that they would not last much more than 20 laps with their brakes, as Ted Kravitz claimed @keithcollantine?

      If they did they would have surely shortfuelled a bit more than others and it might explain how they were running in front of Senna and Kovalainen for quite a bit. Still, they showed they are making some progress, as fuel did not play a role in qualifying in front of Marussia with PDLR

      1. @bascb – If HRT knew their brakes would only last twenty laps, then surely the FIA would investigate that. After all, they knowingly entered the race with a car that could not complete the full distance, and you could probably make the case that they put their drivers in danger, especially given the high braking load the Montreal circuit demands.

        1. Exactly why i am curious about this @prisoner-monkeys!

          1. If it’s true, it’s definately something that needs to be checked out. Valencia is next, and while it might not torture the brakes as much as Montreal, the circuit does have five heavy braking zones (at turns 2, 8, 12, 17 and 25).

    3. It’s doubtful Ferrari’s reluctance to pit Alonso was due to any doubts about their pit crew’s performance. They were the fastest team on pit lane for the fourth time in seven races this year.

      When Hamilton rejoined, he was right at the point where he and Alonso (and to a lesser extent, Vettel) would be neck-and-neck. A good in-lap could have given Alonso the race; a poor one could have cost him it, so it was really finely-balanced. They seemed to take a lot longer that Red Bull to decide to keep their driver out, so Ferrari’s logic was probably to hope that Vettel would impede Hamilton long enough that Alonso could get to the line first. Relying on hope doesn’t seem very Ferrari-ish, but I’m guessing they had the numbers from the tyre data that said it could have been done. Given that the track temperature dropped six degrees in the space of five minutes earlier in the race, there was probably some significant change that we didn’t heard about.

      Still, I appreciate the way they took a chance on a risky strategy, rather than be conservative about it and try to pass Hamilton on the track

      1. I think there might have been a bit of debate going on between the team and the driver at Ferrari about the best strategy @prisoner-monkeys
        At least that is what I make of Alonso being perfectly comfortable with them having decided to take a chance and keep going to the flag, which indicates he was part of that decision.

        I agree that its good to see them gamble a bit and hope it works out instead of just playing it safe and taking the podium.

        1. This Autosport article seems to suppport our views

      2. You raise a good point regarding Vettel holding up Hamilton and thus allowing Alonso the win. I thought it very strange that Vettel did not bother to defend and maybe you have worked out why.

        I would not put it past RBR to advise Vettel – or Vettel himself to work it out – to let Hamilton through so he could catch and pass Alonso and prevent Alonso winning. Alonso was already leading the title race so another win would have increased his lead.

        1. I don’t think Vettel let Hamilton go so that Hamilton could catch Alonso and limit Alonso’s points haul. That seems at odds with comments from Christian Horner, who said the team were very wary of Romain Grosjean catching Vettel if Vettel made his scheduled stop when he was actually scheduled to make it. They were afraid that Vettel would come out behind the Lotus and get stuck, unable to put his fresh tyres to any kind of use.

          Vettel didn’t put up much of a defence against Hamilton because there was no need to. He knew he wasn’t going to be able to hold Hamilton at bay. So instead of putting up a fight that could have cost both of them dearly, Vettel was smart enough to run his own race at that point and try to cover off Grosjean. Ultimately, it didn’t work, and their hesitation probably cost them third to Perez as well. But I don’t think Vettel was playing the championship game when he let Hamilton by – he simply didn’t have the grip to withstand Hamilton’s onslaught, and whatever grip he did have would be wasted in a futile defence. If Vettel had let him through while he was on fresher rubber, it might be a different story, though …

    4. @keithcollantine i’m sorry if you’ve already said, but how di HAM overtake VET in the first pit stops? was it due to VET coming out behind GRO? (probs not). or new softs being slower than HAM’s worn supers?

      1. @sato113 It was down to Hamilton’s quicker laps leading up to his pit stop and the fact that, as in Monaco, drivers generally couldn’t get their tyres up to optimum temperature immediately after pitting.

        Hamilton was within a second of Vettel when the Red Bull pitted. Vettel came out 1.6s behind Grosjean after his pit stop so that didn’t matter – indeed when Hamilton came out after his pit stop he was 1.4s behind the Lotus (you can see it on the race chart).

        1. surprisingly good strategy work from mclaren too! (even though it was another poor stop)

    5. @keithcollantine If Paul Di Resta’s pit stop on lap 13 wasnt that bad, how did he end up behind Massa? Don’t quite get it….Tyre wear affected them so much?

      1. Lately, Force India always seem to shine in the first phase of the race – but as soon as the first round of stops comes, they just evaporate.

    6. Really impressive from Ferrari in the pits. I wonder how they do it? I bet if the teams even send over people to watch everything happens so quick they can’t make it out!

    7. Hugely disappointing for Force India. They just disappeared in the race after what looked like a promising Qualifying.

      Also, I’ve noticed this year Caterham have really improved their pitstops. They still need a bit of work, but it is good to see. Ferrari are phenomenally fast and consistent in the pits. While FOrce India have lost a bit of their edge in the pits. This is also an area Lotus should really look at improving.

    8. All seems to point to the fact that the tyres have a degrading threshold affected by the ability of the car setup and the driver. So the teams need to understand how their cars respond to tyre performance drop off in particular. It has made for a very exciting season with 7 different winners unlike boring last season

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