ERJ staff report (TP)
Shanghai, China – A number of different tire strategy options were available before the Chinese Grand Prix, but Pirelli said the “very strong performance” of the medium tire in the second stint allowed the top 15 to complete two stops only on one of the most demanding circuits of the year.
With some very long corners and high g-forces, the Shanghai circuit exerted “unique” demands on the front-left tire in particular. But the additional durability of the 2014-specification P Zero tires allowed Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton to take his third consecutive victory from four races, with just two pit stops, as opposed to three stops that formed the winning strategy in China last year.
Hamilton built his victory from pole by making the set of soft tires that he started the race with last for longer than his direct rivals. He then completed a long second stint on the medium tire, which was essential to his two-stop strategy, and that of the other drivers. As a result Hamilton could finish the race on the medium tire again after just one more pit stop, to win by 18.6 seconds. This was the Englishman’s 25th race win, equalling the benchmark set by his boss Niki Lauda, as well as Scottish legend Jim Clark.
Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery said: “After a wet qualifying session yesterday, all the drivers had their full allocation of slick tires for the race. From the beginning the strategies were open: it was going to be either a two or three stop race, with the performance of the soft tire in the first stint as well as the medium tire in the second stint holding the key to each driver’s potential.
“Once it was clear that a slight increase in track temperature today wasn’t going to have a significant effect in terms of graining on the soft tire, the teams concentrated on the main race tire: the medium.
“Temperatures generally throughout this weekend have been low – among the lowest we have seen during a race weekend over the last three years – and as a result we did see some graining on the soft tire in particular, which also caused a few marbles on the back straight. That’s not something we like to see, but under the circumstances, it was to be expected. Degradation on the medium tire was less than a tenth of a second per lap here, while degradation on the soft was just over two-tenths of a second.”