Barcelona is renowned for being one of the most demanding tracks on tires of the entire year, but eight of the top 10 finishers all completed the 66-lap grand prix with just two stops.
Last year, the race winner stopped four times in Barcelona, underlining the further improvements and increased durability built into Pirelli’s Formula One tires this season. This has led to lower levels of wear, degradation and ‘marbles’ on the track, without compromising performance.
Tire strategy was instrumental to the Spanish Grand Prix, with Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton claiming his fourth consecutive win to move into the lead of the drivers championship. The Englishman, who went on a medium-medium-hard strategy from pole, beat his team mate Nico Rosberg by just six tenths of a second, who chose a medium-hard-medium strategy. The two strategies ensured a thrilling wheel-to-wheel battle as Rosberg was able to take advantage of his newer and faster tires at the end of the race.
Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel started from 15th on the grid but finished fourth with a three-stop sprint strategy, running mostly on the faster medium tire and setting fastest lap. He was also able to make up several places in the closing stages.
The second two-day in-season test of the year now takes place after the Spanish Grand Prix, from Tuesday. Sauber and Toro Rosso will be testing 2015 tires for Pirelli on the opening day of the test, followed by Force India and McLaren on day two.
Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery said: “We saw some very exciting battles all the way down the top 10 in the closing stages of the race, despite many of the drivers having chosen very different strategies. This underlines the importance of strategy in every race this year, with not just the number of stops but also the order in which the tires are used really making a difference. Following some overnight rain, ambient and track temperatures were cooler today, and this reduced the time difference between the hard and medium compounds: adding another factor into the equation. Although Barcelona is one of the most demanding circuits of the year, tire wear and degradation was fully under control, as proved by the fact that the majority of drivers completed just two pit stops. That’s down to the hard work of all our team in Milan and Izmit since last year, so a big thank you to all of them. Now we focus on the second in-season test of the year, where we will be developing tires for 2015.”
Bob Ulrich was named Modern Tire Dealer editor in August 2000. He joined the magazine in 1985 as assistant editor, and has been responsible for gathering statistical information for MTD's "Facts Issue" since 1993.