In-depth tyre analysis: Silverstone

In-depth tyre analysis: Silverstone

14 July 2011 – Valencia was viewed by many as a slight blip after the captivating run of races witnessed so far this season, with the coastal street circuit failing to cook up much in the way of on-track action. Sweltering air and track temperatures looked set to present the teams with a massive tyre-related headache ahead of the event, but the more conservative compound choices went a long way to reducing the anticipated impact.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
View GPUpdate.net's In-depth Tyre Analysis chart for the 2011 British GP
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The next stop on the calender was Silverstone, scene of Formula 1's first ever Grand Prix. When qualifying arrived following predominantly rain-interrupted practice sessions, a mere 32 thousandths of a second prevented Sebastian Vettel from claiming his eighth pole position of the season on Saturday, losing out to Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber for only the second time in 2011. The Australian was deservedly overjoyed with his effort, heading the front row at Silverstone for the second year in succession.

However, Sunday afternoon saw Ferrari become the third different victorious constructor since Melbourne back in March, with Fernando Alonso adding his name to the growing list of race winners this season. Capitalising on a Red Bull pit-stop error, the Spaniard surged ahead during the latter half of the race to record a fine victory which will no doubt send warning signals out to his championship rivals.

When analysing the Oviedo man’s race from a tyre point of view, some important phases shine through. On a similar strategy to most of the field, Alonso started on Intermediate tyres before completing three stints on the Soft Slick rubber. It is clear that he adapted to the conditions perfectly, staying calm when the track was damp before unleashing the pace of his Ferrari when the surface offered more grip.

The two-time Champion lost a position to McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton when the track was still drying, but his progress on the Option tyres clearly set him apart from his rivals. The second round of pit-stops proved to be the turning point and due to his speed on the softer rubber, Alonso made his tyre change right behind Vettel’s RB7.  As many say in Motor Racing, you make your own luck, and this burst of speed may just have added to the already high pressure levels amongst Vettel’s mechanics.

An uncharacteristic mistake was all Alonso needed, pulling away even further in the closing stages. This leads on well to Vettel’s race which was, as mentioned, severely affected by his inferior stop. Vettel dropped to third behind Hamilton as a result of the mistake, having to contend with increased tyre degradation in the dirty air for nine laps before an earlier final stop - forcing him to complete the longest final stint out of the top five drivers - saw him retake the place.

Vettel was able to lap freely at this point, but the damage was already done, with further tyre woes in the fourth stint adding fuel to the fire in terms of Alonso’s advantage. It was during the final few laps in which fellow Red Bull driver Webber launched an exciting charge for second place, although a somewhat unsurprising ‘maintain the gap’ message from Team Principal Christian Horner overshadowed the situation.

His spirited effort amid the consistent team order controversy was ultimately to no avail, but he finished less than half a second behind Vettel as the chequered flag dropped, the closest he has been to the German at the end of a race this year. Webber admitted that he ‘felt very strong at the start of the stints, not too strong at the end of the stints’ after the race, allowing us to understand the increasing gap to race winner Alonso.

A disappointing weekend for McLaren saw the squad take home just 12 points, its lowest haul of the season coming on home soil. Studying Hamilton’s race in detail, the 2008 Champion’s storming start eventually worked against him, with the team deliberately underfueling his MP4-26 in the expectation that he would be held up during the first stint. Quick progress from the Briton highlighted his raw speed and, despite a couple of small errors, second place on his pit board could be seen by Lap 28. 

It was a very strong tyre performance from Hamilton, on a day which required an instinctive feel for the ever-changing grip levels. If it wasn’t for a fuel saving phase in the final stages, the 15-time Grand Prix victor could have grabbed the final step on the podium in front of his home crowd, if not the runner-up spot. Another man who had the potential to make the rostrum is team-mate Jenson Button, whose race was not only hampered by a pit-stop blunder, but ended by one.

The Frome driver was the first of the top ten runners to pit for dry rubber on Lap 11, slowly building up his speed throughout the race with two much stronger phases on the Option compound. After closing the gap to the cars ahead, Button was in prime position to challenge the Red Bull cars ahead. However, a premature pit lane release saw him retire with a loose right-front wheel, later commenting: "I stayed out for one more lap and I think I would have come out alongside, or even ahead of, Mark after the stop."

An explanation for this increase in pace prior to his retirement would be Button’s ability to extract more tyre performance in the closing stages, without as much of a need as team-mate Hamilton to save fuel. His progress came to an abrupt end, however, leaving him to face retirement number one of the season and come to terms with dropping from second to fifth in the Drivers’ Championship.

Two men who executed the second strategy option extremely successfully were Nico Rosberg and Sergio Pérez, with the pair taking home strong points finishes at the end of the day courtesy of two-stop plans. Beginning with Mercedes GP’s Nico Rosberg, after a slow start and difficult opening phase on the Intermediate compound, the German fought back well and unleashed the true potential of his car on the Soft rubber.

In his direct battle with Pérez, it can be clearly seen via the GPUpdate.net tyre analysis chart that Rosberg utilised the undercut in order to cement his position. By pitting two laps before the 2010 GP2 runner-up he was able to control the battle and hold the gap in the final stint of the race, with Pérez later admitting that "Unfortunately I couldn’t overtake Nico - I was very close but he was too fast on the straights."

A little further behind, one more stand-out top ten performance came from Spain’s Jaime Alguersuari, with the Toro Rosso pilot making the points for the third race in succession. A storming drive from 18th on the grid saw him take tenth at the finish line, adapting well to the changeable conditions to make progress, before backing up his speed with two strong Option stints which consisted of 19 and 21 laps respectively.

An early double-retirement for Team Lotus left Virgin to inherit the lead at the back of the grid, with the Hispania drivers in turn a little further down the order. HRT boss Colin Kolles believes the 2011 rubber will take a little bit of getting used to for newcomer Daniel Ricciardo, explaining: "He has to get used to the tyres obviously, this isn’t too easy when you’ve started just one race with new tyres and the others have already thousands of kilometres under their belts."

The Formula 1 paddock is now preparing for its first visit to the iconic Nürburgring venue since 2009 - a Grand Prix dominated by Red Bull’s Mark Webber despite receiving a debatable drive-through penalty. Will it be time for his first win of the year, can team-mate Vettel get back on the top step or will Alonso extend Ferrari’s authority amid further blown diffuser speculation?

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
View GPUpdate.net's In-depth Tyre Analysis chart for the 2011 British GP
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Some key facts uncovered at Silverstone:
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

- Sebastian Vettel and Felipe Massa were the last men to change from Intermediate to Option tyres, pitting on Lap 13

- Renault driver Vitaly Petrov completed the longest Option tyre stint (27 laps)

- Eight out of the 19 finishers opted for three stops, while 11 pitted twice

- Paul di Resta was the only man to use the Prime compound during the race

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Analysis conducted by GPUpdate.net’s Mike Seymour
Twitter: @MikeSeymourF1

related

Comments

Latest News
Full
Compact

  1. Thursday 27 April 2017

  2. 17:12

    Follow GPUpdate on Instagram in 2017!

    F1
  3. Rins out for 'six to eight weeks' after surgery 16:07

    Rins out for 'six to eight weeks' after surgery

    Suzuki rider Álex Rins has undergone successful surgery in Barcelona following a heavy accident during practice for the Grand…

    MotoGP
  4. 15:22

    Latest Formula 1 photos: Thursday at Sochi

    F1
  5. Video: Ferrari's Russian GP preview 15:02

    Video: Ferrari's Russian GP preview

    Ferrari looks ahead to this weekend's Russian Grand Prix by analysing the challenges of the Sochi Autodrom.

    F1
  6. Bottas not worried about team orders 14:43

    Bottas not worried about team orders

    Valtteri Bottas says he is not worried about Mercedes imposing any team orders, expressing confidence that "all of my good…

    F1
  7. Drivers offer mixed views over 'shield' 14:11

    Drivers offer mixed views over 'shield'

    Formula 1 drivers have offered mixed views over the 'shield' head protection device that could be introduced from the 2018…

    F1
  8. Haas moves to Carbon Industrie brakes 13:41

    Haas moves to Carbon Industrie brakes

    Haas will run with Carbon Industrie brake products from this weekend's Russian Grand Prix at Sochi Autodrom, following a…

    F1
  9. In photos: Russian GP from 2014-16 11:23

    In photos: Russian GP from 2014-16

    Sochi Autodrom, situated in and around the Olympic Park, will host the fourth Russian Grand Prix this weekend. GPUpdate.net…

    F1
  10. Speed bumps added to Turn 2 at Sochi 09:18

    Speed bumps added to Turn 2 at Sochi

    Speed bumps have been added to Sochi Autodrom's Turn 2 ahead of this year's Russian Grand Prix, in a bid to stop drivers from…

    F1
  11. Video: What's on Robin Frijns' phone? 09:02

    Video: What's on Robin Frijns' phone?

    Find out what's on Robin Frijns' phone, including photos of an epic karting battle with Stoffel Vandoorne.

    FE
  12. Lowe expects 'strong' Williams in Russia 08:45

    Lowe expects 'strong' Williams in Russia

    Williams Chief Technical Officer Paddy Lowe says he expects a "strong" performance from Williams at this weekend's Russian Grand…

    F1
  13. Video of the Day: Sergio Pérez on Sochi 05:38

    Video of the Day: Sergio Pérez on Sochi

    Force India driver Sergio Pérez talks through a lap of the Sochi Autodrom, home of the Russian Grand Prix, where he secured a…

    F1
  14. Wednesday 26 April 2017

  15. Pagenaud hails 'courageous' Alonso over Indy 15:48

    Pagenaud hails 'courageous' Alonso over Indy

    Reigning IndyCar champion Simon Pagenaud thinks Fernando Alonso's decision to compete at this year's Indianapolis 500 is…

    Indy
  16. Suzuki: COTA result crucial for development 14:18

    Suzuki: COTA result crucial for development

    Suzuki Team Manager Davide Brivio says Andrea Iannone's performance at the Circuit of the Americas will be "crucial" for the…

    MotoGP
  17. Hülkenberg hopeful over Renault race pace 11:27

    Hülkenberg hopeful over Renault race pace

    Renault's Nico Hülkenberg is hopeful that the team will be able to demonstrate improved race pace in Russia this weekend…

    F1
  18. Video: Onboard lap of Sochi Autodrom 10:22

    Video: Onboard lap of Sochi Autodrom

    Ahead of this weekend's Russian Grand Prix, ride onboard for a lap of the 5.8km Sochi Autodrom circuit.

    F1
  19. Wolff encouraged by progress of juniors 09:34

    Wolff encouraged by progress of juniors

    Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has praised the progress made by youngsters Pascal Wehrlein and Esteban Ocon in Formula 1 this season…

    F1
  20. Monger thanks supporters after accident 08:41

    Monger thanks supporters after accident

    Billy Monger has expressed gratitude for the "awesome and truly inspirational" support he has received in the wake of his…

    Misc
  21. Hildebrand to make return at Phoenix 08:24

    Hildebrand to make return at Phoenix

    J. R. Hildebrand will return to IndyCar at Phoenix this weekend, having sat out the preceding event at Barber through…

    Indy
  22. Preview: F1 field faces Olympic challenge 07:32

    Preview: F1 field faces Olympic challenge

    Formula 1 moves on to Sochi Autodrom for the fourth round of the season, where another Ferrari/Mercedes battle is anticipated.…

    F1
  23. Video of the Day: GP of Alabama cutdown 05:37

    Video of the Day: GP of Alabama cutdown

    Watch extended highlights of last weekend's Grand Prix of Alabama at the Barber Motorsports Park.

    Indy
  24. Tuesday 25 April 2017

  25. F1 to focus on 'shield' system for 2018 20:13

    F1 to focus on 'shield' system for 2018

    Formula 1 is to favour a 'shield' head protection device for the 2018 season, rather than the previously proposed 'halo' system…

    F1
  26. Pérez: Force India has taken opportunities 15:47

    Pérez: Force India has taken opportunities

    Sergio Pérez has praised Force India for taking its chances in the early rounds of the 2017 season, enough to put the team at…

    F1
  27. Sirotkin to get practice run in Russia 14:15

    Sirotkin to get practice run in Russia

    Renault reserve driver Sergey Sirotkin will make his first practice outing of the season at his home Grand Prix in Russia, the…

    F1
  28. Pirelli expecting one-stop Russian GP 13:30

    Pirelli expecting one-stop Russian GP

    Formula 1 tyre supplier Pirelli is expecting this weekend's Russian Grand Prix to be a one-stop race, given the "low-severity…

    F1
  29. Video: Michelin's all-weather FE tyres 12:04

    Video: Michelin's all-weather FE tyres

    Formula E provides an insight into the technology behind Michelin's all-weather tyres.

    FE
  30. Lorenzo: Front tyre graining hid step 11:12

    Lorenzo: Front tyre graining hid step

    Ducati's Jorge Lorenzo is adamant that he made another "step forward" at the Grand Prix of the Americas, pinning his late slump…

    MotoGP
  31. Newgarden hails 'fluid' Penske integration 09:53

    Newgarden hails 'fluid' Penske integration

    Josef Newgarden has praised Penske for its efforts to help him integrate over the off-season, after he claimed his first victory…

    Indy
  32. Video: Alonso's Alabama IndyCar visit 09:03

    Video: Alonso's Alabama IndyCar visit

    Follow Fernando Alonso as he tours the IndyCar paddock at the Barber Motorsports Park.

    F1
  33. Alonso targets two-car McLaren finish 07:32

    Alonso targets two-car McLaren finish

    Fernando Alonso hopes that McLaren-Honda will be able to record a two-car finish at this weekend's Russian Grand Prix, after a…

    F1
  34. Video of the Day: Kvyat 360° Sochi lap 05:36

    Video of the Day: Kvyat 360° Sochi lap

    Toro Rosso's Daniil Kvyat takes you on a virtual 360° lap of Sochi Autodrom ahead of the Russian GP.

    F1
  35. Monday 24 April 2017

  36. Video: Alonso press conference at Barber 16:04

    Video: Alonso press conference at Barber

    Watch as Fernando Alonso fields questions about his upcoming attempt at the Indianapolis 500.

    F1
  37. In photos: Alonso visits IndyCar paddock 12:35

    In photos: Alonso visits IndyCar paddock

    Fernando Alonso attended last weekend's Grand Prix of Alabama as part of his preparations for an assault on the Indianapolis 500…

    F1
  38. Video: Performing a perfect FE pit-stop 12:02

    Video: Performing a perfect FE pit-stop

    Venturi driver Maro Engel talks through the key elements to pull off a perfect Formula E pit-stop.

    FE
  39. Viñales vows to return 'stronger' after crash 11:12

    Viñales vows to return 'stronger' after crash

    Maverick Viñales says he will quickly put his crash at the Grand Prix of the Americas to the back of his mind and return…

    MotoGP
  40. Venturi calls up Dillmann for Paris ePrix 10:20

    Venturi calls up Dillmann for Paris ePrix

    Tom Dillmann will make his Formula E debut with Venturi in next month's Paris ePrix. Dillmann, who won the Formula V8 3.5…

    FE
  41. Rossi's 2017 title lead 'a great surprise' 10:02

    Rossi's 2017 title lead 'a great surprise'

    Valentino Rossi says it comes as "a great surprise" to himself and Yamaha that he leads the MotoGP title race after the first…

    MotoGP
  42. Video: IndyCar GP of Alabama highlights 09:32

    Video: IndyCar GP of Alabama highlights

    Watch highlights of Sunday's IndyCar Grand Prix of Alabama at the Barber Motorsports Park.

    Indy
  43. Márquez 'back' in title race with Austin win 09:16

    Márquez 'back' in title race with Austin win

    Repsol Honda rider Marc Márquez says he is "back in the championship" fight after his victory at the Grand Prix of the Americas…

    MotoGP
  44. Video of the Day: Prema's 'Guess the song' 05:24

    Video of the Day: Prema's 'Guess the song'

    Prema Formula 2 drivers Charles Leclerc and Antonio Fuoco, along with Formula 4 pair Juri Vips and Juan Manuel Correa, challenge…

    F2
more news