Belgian Grand Prix – Race report
Daniel Ricciardo has won his second consecutive grand prix, from fifth on the grid in Belgium. The Australian used a two-stop strategy, starting with two stints on the P Zero Yellow soft tire and finishing the grand prix on the P Zero White medium.
Ricciardo’s victory was the 50th for Red Bull and his third in six races. Underlining the consistency of the medium tire in particular, Ricciardo set his fastest lap on the final tour of the longest circuit in the championship.
Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg finished just over three seconds behind him, despite using a completely different strategy. Rosberg stopped three times, starting on the soft tire then completing two middle stints on the medium, before finishing on the soft.
A three-stop strategy was also used by Red Bull’s reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel. Like Rosberg, Vettel decided to use the soft tire right at the end of the race to boost his pace just when he needed it most to hunt down his closest competitors. With around a 1.6-second time difference per lap between the medium and soft compounds, the P Zero Yellow added an extra element of strategy to one of the most demanding races of the year. As a result, there were some thrilling battles all the way to the flag for the points-scoring places.
Owing to warmer weather conditions, degradation of both compounds was different to how it had been during free practice. This led to a wide variety of strategies being employed on different cars, depending on the individual ways in which they used the tires.
Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery said: “Track and ambient temperatures were higher than they had been up to now during the weekend, which meant that we saw a little less life out of the soft tire than we had initially predicted. But considering the demands of this circuit and the nature of the soft and medium compounds that we had chosen to bring, wear and degradation was still well within expectations. It was interesting to see the different strategies at work, especially with the extra speed of the soft tire. In retrospect, there were probably more drivers who wished they had used the soft for a third pit stop, but our calculations from yesterday indicated that two stops was the best way to go – and we got a very exciting race.”