Spa – McLaren driver Jenson Button claimed his second win of the season at the Belgian Grand Prix, having adopted a one-stop strategy and managed his tyres perfectly to triumph by 13 seconds after leading from start to finish.
It was Button’s second win of the season with Pirelli and his very first at Spa, having also claimed the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in March. Button also became the first man to lead a grand prix from start to finish this season.
Button started from pole position on the P Zero White medium tyres before stopping on lap 20 to change onto the P Zero Silver hard tyre, from which he emerged with his lead over Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel still intact. Vettel – on the same strategy – stopped one lap later and went on to finish second, having started from 10th.
Mercedes driver Michael Schumacher, competing in his 300th grand prix, was the only other top driver to attempt a one-stop race but reverted to a two-stopper with nine laps to go while fighting for a podium.
The teams had to adjust their tyre strategies as the result of an incident at the first corner of the race that eliminated four cars and brought the safety car out for four laps while debris was cleared. As tyre wear is at its peak at the start of the race, with the cars on full fuel, the delay meant that a number of drivers were able to switch to a one-stop strategy while others stuck with a two-stop plan.
At the start only Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg and Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg started on the hard tyre, with the other competitors starting the race on the medium. Hulkenberg stopped twice and finished fourth from 11th on the grid, while Rosberg – who was forced to start from 23rd – also stopped twice and ended up 11th.
The highest-placed two-stopper was Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen, who finished third after completing two final stints on the hard tyre, just under half a minute behind Button.
Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery commented: “This year’s Belgian Grand Prix was all about shifting variables, with Friday’s action rained off leaving the teams with minimal information about the slick tyres before qualifying and the race. Then, a long safety car period at the beginning of the race meant that the parameters were altered once more, with many teams having to quickly adapt their strategies to make the most out of another new situation.
Jenson Button and McLaren gave us a master class in tyre management, stopping just once but at the same time pulling away from their rivals. The same was true for Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull, who also made a one-stop strategy work very effectively and gained eight places.
Although Spa places heavier demands on the tyres than any other circuit on the calendar, our tyres performed well in terms of both performance and durability. Button made his final set of medium tyres perform effectively for 24 laps, or more than 160 kilometres, without any drop-off in terms of speed.”
As a result of the Belgian Grand Prix the drivers’ championship has also closed up, with Vettel moving up to second, 24 points behind Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso who continues to lead the standings.
PIT STOP SUMMARY – 2012 BELGIAN GRAND PRIX
|Räikkönen:||MU||HN (11)||HN (28)||2|
|Hülkenberg:||HN||MN (13)||HN (27)||2|
|Massa:||MN||HN (12)||HN (27)||2|
|Webber:||MU||HN (11)||HN (27)||2|
|Schumacher:||MN||HN (19)||MU (35)||2|
|Vergne:||MN||HN (15)||HN (29)||2|
|Ricciardo:||MN||HN (12)||HN (28)||2|
|Di Resta:||MU||HN (10)||HN (26)||2|
|Rosberg:||HN||MN (20)||MN (36)||2|
|Senna:||MU||HN (16)||HN (39)||2|
|Kobayashi:||MU||HN (1)||HN (7)-HU (24)||3|
|Petrov:||MN||MU (12)||HN (26)||2|
|Glock:||MN||MU (11)||HN (25)||2|
|Kovalainen:||MN||MU (14)||HN (27)||2|
|De La Rosa:||MN||HN (1)||MU (15)-HN (27)||3|
|Kartikeyan:||MN||MU (14)||HN (28)||2 NC|
|Maldonado:||MU||HN (1)||1 NC|
The first column denotes the tyres the driver started the race on.
M = Medium compound
H = Hard compound
N = New compound
U = Used compound
NC = Not classified
The last column gives the total amount of pit stops.
Source: Pirelli Motorsport