The difference between strategies of different teams wasn't much at this year's Spanish Grand Prix, all drivers chose three stops apart from Hamilton. The hard tyres were the fastest on Sunday due to lower track temperature(32C); they have lower working temperature range than soft tyres. This season, it is all about managing your tyres well, timing your pitstops, and using the right tyre at the right time. In this article, we'll cover two important strategies - 1) Maldonado doing an undercut to regain race lead and win his first GP, 2) Hamilton's two stop strategy that took him to 8th place after starting from back of the grid.
Maldonado uses undercut
After starting from pole position following Hamilton's penalty, Maldonado lost a place to Alonso at turn 1. However, he ensured that the Spaniard didn't run away from him and rest of the field as the gap between them stayed less than two seconds. Maldonado then tried the undercut on his second stop, he pitted two laps earlier than Alonso who made his pit stop on lap 26. By setting a quick out lap and a flying lap on fresh tyres, he was ahead of Alonso after the latter made his pit stop. He then went on to increase the lead to 7 seconds by lap 31.
Alonso didn't give up and was within a second of Maldonado as he desperately tried to pass the Venezuelan. However, Maldonado used his KERS to nullify Alonso's DRS. This continued till Alonso's tyres started to degrade and the gap increased to over 3 seconds at Chequered flag.
Thus, Maldonado executed a brilliant strategy to win his first ever race, and first win for Williams since Brazil 2004.
Hamilton executes a brilliant two stop strategy
After putting a storming lap in qualifying to score pole position , Hamilton's dream of winning his first race of the season faded when he was forced to start from back of grid as he didn't had enough fuel to go back to pits, and was thus penalized. Team principal Martin Whitmarsh admitted that he was aware that he didn't have enough fuel in his car and that he regrets his decision of not to tell him to abandon his flying lap and return to pits. Had he done so, his previous timed lap would have helped him start from 6th place.
Hamilton was the only one to do a stop strategy as he managed to finish in 8th place after starting from 24th. He started the race on option tyres and had gained 4 places at the start, and ran as high as 4th when he made his first stop for hard tyres on lap 14. He came out in 14th place, but lost time behind Felipe Massa. He managed to get ahead of Massa when the Brazilian took his drive through penalty on lap 29.
He managed a 31 lap long stint on hard tyres, despite being famous for his aggressive driving style. He only lost one place to Vettel, who's tyres were 7 laps newer. He was at the back of Rosberg on final lap, but failed to make the cut as he finished the race in 8th place.