Spanish Grand Prix 2016

19 May 2016

Round 5 – 66 Laps – 4.655km per lap – 307.104km race distance – medium tyre wear

Spanish GP F1 Strategy Report Podcast – featuring Matt Clayton from Red Bull Australia’s Motorsports site

Formula 1 returned to the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, a track the paddock knows very well, in style with a dramatic, unexpected and surprising Spanish Grand Prix. Few could have expected the result, as Max Verstappen drove to victory on his debut for the Red Bull team, becoming the sport’s youngest ever race winner. As always, there were plenty of strategic elements for us to sink our teeth into, here are the main headlines:

Three stop fails to pay off

The choice between a two and a three stop strategy ended up deciding the podium places. Red Bull and Ferrari both opted to split strategies with their cars, with Kimi Raikkonen and Verstappen stopping twice and Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo planning to pit three times.

It was brilliant to see four drivers battling it out and the tension continued to build as the laps counted down, as the strategies started to take shape. Pirelli actually predicted before the race that a three stop would be the quickest, but that fails to take into account how difficult it is to pass at the Barcelona track.

Plus, both Vettel and Ricciardo failed to make significant inroads into Verstappen and Raikkonen’s advantage in the final laps, not helped by traffic. Ricciardo then picked up a puncture and had to pit again, which dropped him to fifth, but he bounced back to fourth. Vettel had to settle for third, with the three stop failing to work out.

Two stop the way to go

So a two-stop race proved to be the winning strategy. Both Verstappen and Raikkonen stopped on lap 12, with the Red Bull then pitting one lap before Raikkonen. The undercut was very important in Spain and this helped Verstappen to keep the gap to the Ferrari at a comfortable level as the final stint began.

Tyre degradation wasn’t as high as expected at the circuit, some thought Verstappen and Raikkonen would lose life in their Pirelli mediums late on but that wasn’t the case. They were able to keep up a decent pace throughout the final laps, which helped them to stay ahead of the chasing Vettel and Ricciardo.

So it appears the three stop was the wrong choice and both Red Bull and Ferrari shot themselves in the foot by splitting strategies, it cost Vettel and Ricciardo the chance to properly challenge for the win, having looked so strong early on. Of course, this was all helped by the two Mercedes drivers taking each other out…

Avoiding the hard tyre

The hard Pirelli compound made its debut appearance in Spain but it was rarely used throughout the weekend. Some drivers struggled to get temperature into their tyres, especially in the cooler conditions earlier on in the on-track action, and the long life of the mediums meant they got much more use on Sunday.

Just two stints were completed in the whole race on the orange-marked tyres, with both Jolyon Palmer and Kevin Magnussen completing laps on the compound. But Magnussen couldn’t get the tyres to work and failed to reach the end of the race, having to stop again. Palmer made it to reach the chequered flag but the pace was pretty underwhelming, which goes to prove why it didn’t get much action.

Haas likes the soft compound

The Haas F1 team once again tried something different with more running on the soft tyre compound. Both Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutierrez brought eight sets of the softs, unlike most of their rivals. Gutierrez completed two stints on the softs to elevate him to 11th overall, while Grosjean retired, but had been on course for a three-stop strategy, with three soft tyre stints and one unusually short one on the mediums mid-race.

Jack Leslie @JackLeslieF1

Longest Stints

Hard: Palmer (32 laps)
Medium: Guitierrez (35 laps)
Soft: Grosjean (19 laps)

Most Stops

Ricciardo (4 – including drive-throughs)

All the Data

Thanks to Pirelli Motorsport for the detailed infographics



Stints by Driver


SCSafety Car


Redbull3. Ricciardo
Start P3
Used Soft 11 lap Pit 21.738
Medium 17 laps Pit 22.104
Used Soft 15 laps Pit 21.683
Medium 22 laps Pit 23.133
Used Soft 1 laps
Finished P4 (-1)


Ferrari5. Vettel
Start P6
Used Soft 15 laps Pit 21.643
Medium 14 laps Pit 22.617
Used Soft 8 laps Pit 21.603
Medium 29 laps
Finished P3 (+3)


Merc6. Rosberg
Start P2
Retired Lap 1 (DNF)


Ferrari7. Raikkonen
Start P5
Used Soft 15 laps Pit 23.187
User Soft 14 laps Pit 22.844
Medium 8 laps Pit 34.832
Used Soft 19 laps
Finished P2 (+3)


Redbull8. Grosjean
Start P14
Soft 15 laps Pit 23.187
Used Soft 14 laps Pit 22.844
Medium 8 laps Pit 34.832
Used Soft 19 laps
Retired Lap 56 (DNF)


Sauber9. Ericsson
Start P19
Used Soft 9 laps Pit 22.84
Soft 15 laps Pit 23.122
Medium 16 laps Pit 22.897
Medium 25 laps
Finished P12 (+7)


FI11. Perez
Start P9
Used Soft 9 lap Pit 22.679
Medium 26 laps Pit 21.918
Medium 31 laps
Finished P7 (+2)


Sauber12. Nasr
Start P20
Soft 12 laps Pit 22.976
Medium 24 laps Pit 23.09
Medium 29 laps
Finished P14 (+6)


Merc14. Alonso
Start P10
Used Soft 11 laps Pit 21.795
Medium 28 laps Pit 22.987
Medium 6 laps
Retired Lap 45 (DNF)


Williams19. Massa
Start P18
Soft 8 Laps Pit 21.384
Medium 27 laps Pit 22.568
Soft 16 laps Pit 21.831
Medium 25 laps
Finished P8 (+10)


Toro20. Magnussen
Start P15
Soft 10 laps Pit 22.843
Medium 20 laps Pit 23.165
Hard 25 laps Pit 22.122
Used Soft 10 laps
Finished P15 (+0)
Toro21. Guttierrez
Start P16
Soft 16 lap Pit 23.206
Used Soft 14 laps Pit 22.43
Medium 35 laps
Finished P11 (+5)


McLaren22. Button
Start P12
Soft 10 laps Pit 22.28
Medium 26 laps Pit 22/59
Medium 29 laps
Finished P9 (+3)


Redbull26. Kvyat
Start P13
Used Soft 9 lap Pit 23.277
Medium 16 laps Pit 22.234
Medium 26 laps Pit 22.769
Soft 14 laps
Finished P10 (+3)


FI27. Hulkenberg
Start P11
Soft 10 laps Pit 22.176
Medium 10 laps
Retired Lap 20 (DNF)


Toro30. Palmer
Start P17
Soft 11 laps Pit 23.283
Medium 22 laps Pit 22.397
Hard 32 laps
Finished P13 (+4)


Toro33. Verstappen
Start P3
Used Soft 12 laps Pit 22.369
Medium 22 laps Pit 22.348
Medium 32 laps
Finished P1 (+2)


Merc44. Hamilton
Start P1
Retired Lap 1 (DNF)


Toro55. Sainz
Start P8
Used Soft 10 laps Pit 22.874
Medium 28 laps Pit 22.937
Medium 28 laps
Finished P6 (+2)


Redbull77. Bottas
Start P7
Used Soft 12 laps Pit 21.856
Medium 27 laps Pit 22.443
Medium 27 laps
Finished P5 (+2)


Toro88. Haryanto
Start P22
Medium 22 laps Pit 28.753
Medium 26 laps Pit 26.186
Soft 17 laps
Finished P17 (+5)


Toro94. Wehrlein
Start P21
Soft 11 laps Pit 24.554
Medium 22 laps Pit 24.387
Medium 32 laps
Finished P16 (+5)