Pirelli: Mixed tyre strategies and safety car central to lead battles at Bahrain

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Performance gap between medium and soft tyres drops as track temperatures fall during the evening race.

Sakhir – Tyre strategy was central to one of the most closely fought grands prix in recent history, with a thrilling finale set up by a safety car when there were just 10 laps left to go.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W05 leads Nico Rosberg, Mercedes AMG F1 W05 at the start of the race
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W05 leads Nico Rosberg, Mercedes AMG F1 W05 at the start of the race

Photo by: XPB Images

After the restart, Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton led on the medium tyre from his team mate Nico Rosberg, who used a different two-stop strategy to finish the race on the faster soft tyre. Despite having a tyre that was theoretically slower, Hamilton was able to hold off Rosberg – who set the fastest lap – to take back-to-back victories. Similar battles took place throughout the top 10, with drivers on faster compounds battling against those in front on slower tyres, depending on the strategy they had selected.

However, a gap of more than a second between the P Zero White medium and P Zero Yellow soft tyre in the heat of the day was reduced considerably in the cooler conditions of the evening, as track temperatures dropped by three degrees during the 57-lap race.

The top six all adopted a two-stop strategy (some helped by the safety car) with the Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel using different tactics to finish fourth and sixth from 13th and 10th on the grid respectively. Vettel was one of just two drivers to start the race on the medium tyre.

From Tuesday, the teams will embark on the first in-season test of the year. Under the 2014 regulations, each team must dedicate one of their in-season test days to tyre testing for Pirelli. On Tuesday, Caterham will test for Pirelli, followed by Mercedes and Williams on Wednesday.

Pirelli’s Motorsport director Paul Hembery said: “We’ve seen some fantastic wheel-to-wheel racing in Bahrain, in which tyre strategy and pace management played a definite part. With track temperatures falling, some teams altered their strategy from three to two stops. When you have a safety car close to the end and drivers on a wide variety of different tyres, it always guarantees an exciting finish. Now we start preparing for the first in-season test of the year. Having the opportunity to test for the future with the current generation of cars is something we certainly welcome, so we look forward to seeing what we can get out of it.”

Pit stop strategy for top eight:

Hamilton: start on soft, change to soft on lap 19, change to medium on lap 41

Rosberg: start on soft, change to medium on lap 21, change to soft on lap 41

Perez: start on soft, change to soft on lap 16, change to medium on lap 34

Ricciardo: start on soft, change to medium on lap 18, change to soft on lap 35

Hulkenberg: start on soft, change to soft on lap 15, change to medium on lap 35

Vettel: start on medium, change to soft on lap 16, change to soft on lap 34

Massa: start on soft, change to soft on lap13, change to soft on lap 28, change to medium on lap 38

Bottas: start on soft, change to soft on lap 10, change to soft on lap 25, change to medium on lap 40

Pirelli’s Motorsport

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About this article
Series F1
Article type Race reports
Tags bahrain gp, caterham, daniel ricciardo, f1, mercedes, pirelli, sebastian vettel, williams

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