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 tire 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 tires 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 tire, 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 tires 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 tires, 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 tire, 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 tire performance package.”