The two-stop strategy was the favoured amongst teams today, with 12 of the 20 drivers adopting either the Medium/Hard/Medium or Medium/Medium/Hard strategy. “With wear and degradation very much in line with expectations, both two and three stops were equally possible, with drivers and teams able to adapt their strategies to suit their particular race circumstances,” said tyre manufacturer Pirelli.
Nico Rosberg finished the race today having started on the Medium tyre – like everyone else – running it again in the second stint, then finally making his mandatory switch to the Hard in the final stint. This was also the same strategy both Vettel and Bottas ran, however Vettel had the advantage of track position early on from Lewis Hamilton, which forced Mercedes to put him on a three-stop strategy.
Initially it looked like Ferrari might be able to nab second place again from Mercedes, especially given the pitstop gaffe that cost Lewis Hamilton around four seconds in the second stint. However after losing a second per-lap to Hamilton navigating his way through the traffic, coupled with the overheating issues teams exprieenced it seems Ferrari were unable to make it work for him.
That seemed to be the big frustration amongst drivers on the two-stop that didn’t have the luxury of fresh air, with Raikkonen also singing the blue flag song throughout his crucial middle stint. That is eventually what allowed Massa to close in on him and make him work his tyres slightly more in the final stint when he set his sights on P4.
Of course it was wear and degradation that stopped him from being able to challenge Bottas, with the onboards showing some lairy moments of his SF-15T getting out of shape on the exit of some of the corners. Massa was the only other driver to finish in the top ten on the three-stop strategy, ending up sixth from ninth on the grid.
Both Max Vestappen and Carlos Sainz managed the longest stints on the Hard tyre, going through 28 laps, however despite matching Williams’ pace in Practice, they put too much rear wing on thier cars which made them vulnerable in the straight sections of the circuit. Rosberg meanwhile managed the longest stint on the Medium tyre at 30 laps – which was done in his middle stint.