2021 Spanish Grand Prix Tyre Performance Analysis: Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton won a strategic tyre battle in Spain, stopping twice with a soft-medium-medium run to overhaul Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who initially tried to hold him off with just one stop, from P Zero Red soft to P Zero Yellow medium.
Once Hamilton was past him, Verstappen made a second stop to take the soft tyres and claim the extra championship point for fastest lap. The soft-medium-soft strategy was used by all the finishers from second place to eighth place.
Alpine’s Esteban Ocon, who finished ninth, was one of just two drivers to stop only once, going from soft to medium. The other driver was Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen, who did the opposite by going from medium to soft.
The only other drivers to adopt the same strategy as Hamilton were George Russell (Williams) and the two Haas drivers. The other Williams of Nicholas Latifi was the sole driver to stop three times.
Track temperatures were around 10 degrees cooler during the race compared to qualifying, at around 32 degrees centigrade (with 26 degrees ambient).
How Each Tyre Performed
- HARD C1: Not used at all during the race, with the cooler temperatures prompting more use of the softer compounds available.
- MEDIUM C2: Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen was the only driver to start the race on the medium, running it for 37 laps before switching to the soft tyre (the only driver to run this strategy). Verstappen also ran this compound for 36 laps in the second half of the race. Alpine drivers completed the longest stints on this compound (Fernando Alonso for 40 laps and Ocon for 42 laps)
- SOFT C3: Used by all the drivers at the start of the race apart from Raikkonen. Hamilton and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc ran it for longest during the opening stint before their first stops: 28 laps in total.
Mario Isola: Pirelli Head of F1 and Motorsport
“This was an intense strategic battle, so it’s perhaps surprising that in the end the top four finished exactly as they started on the grid, despite plenty of movement and pit stops during the race. The cooler temperatures today prompted extensive use of the soft and medium tyres, which as we expected also led to nearly all the drivers making two pit stops. With most drivers moving from the soft to the medium after the start of the race, they had some flexibility on strategy. However, it soon became apparent that two stops were necessary here due to the abrasive nature and high-energy demands of this track, which makes the performance of the soft tyre as a key element to the race all the more commendable.”