2012 Formula One Pirelli Tyre Analysis

tooncheese

Hans Heyer
Contributor
Welcome to the Tyre Analysis for the 2012 European Grand Prix. The Valencia Street Circuit has an unfortunate reputation for hosting processional races, but the 2012 version was a real spectacle. Once again the track temperature was very important, at times it was 50°C (122°F), and never stayed the same for long. At first glance it would appear a two-stopper was the only viable option, and as it turned out 10 of the top 12 chose to do so, with Di Resta and Senna choosing a single stop strategy, although Senna had a drive-through.

For any newcomers, the spreadsheet works by collecting data from the raw lap times, and figures predicting fuel burning and fuel effect. It also takes into account tyre age, and condition at the start of the stint. Unusual lap times due to close proximity to other cars or errors are filtered out.

Once again Valencia will see the Medium tyre as the Prime and the Soft tyre as the Option.
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Looking at the option tyre, it immediately is clear just how close everyone is; many of the curves are very close together. One that stands out is Sergio Perez who went more than a third further than anyone else. He was losing lots of time at the end of the Grand Prix, with Schumacher, Rosberg, Button, and Webber passing him in the last 5 laps. It is worth noting how much more his teammate Kobayashi struggled he was as slow 16 laps into a soft tyre stint as Perez was after 24 laps.

Another point of interest is Schumacher faring much better than Rosberg. From around the 14th lap onwards Rosberg’s wear starts to accelerate whilst Schumacher is able to keep the tyres working well up to the point where he pitted/finished the race.

Amongst the front runners, Alonso and Räikkönen have very similar wear trends. Vettel does not have the characteristic of the tyres taking a few laps to reach optimum working temperature, but more linear curve. It seems that the Red Bull can heat it’s tyres up quick, but not maintain them as well as the other top teams. I will have a closer look at Hamilton and Button later.
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For the White Prime tyre, again the performance is very similar - a trait seen in second qualifying. The longest spent on the Prime was Bruno Senna who spent 37 laps on the tyre, although aided by the Safety Car. Yet again Alonso and Räikkönen are matching each other for degradation, and Hamilton is also able to match them despite suffering much more on the Option tyre.

Felipe Massa added another reason not to keep him for 2013, as you can see his curve is no-where near as competitive as Alonso’s. The collision with Kobayashi is not wholly to blame for his poor race.

Also well done to Vitaly Petrov who was as good as Jean-Eric Vergne with tyres and if not for the other Toro Rosso driving into Petrov and 10th or 11th was well within reach.
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I thought I would have a look at the bottom end of the grid to see what the new teams need to do to mix with the midfield. Clearly the HRT with its minimal downforce is sliding its tyres a hurting the lap times, and the curves disappear off the top of the graph. The Prime tyre curve is at 9.000 after 26 laps, but there is no point in resizing the graph just to embarrass HRT.

Caterham however are on the verge of catching up with Toro Rosso. Their curves are not too dissimilar, and Caterham are suffering nothing like the problems that HRT have with preserving tyres.
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For the large number of people keen to see how the McLaren drivers are doing in their intra-team battle, here is a graph detailing their exploits. It looks to me as though Button has closed the gap from the last two rounds when he was all over the show. Whatever they did to Jenson’s setup it seems to have been a step towards solving the problem.

If you want something looked at more closely than just say and I'll fetch the graphs.
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A quick look at the strategy shows that a two-stopper was definitely the better option, and if not for the safety car I doubt di Resta or Senna would have scored points with their risky strategy. Di Resta may have finished very near Hülkenberg.
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Once again Pirelli’s tyres behaved perfectly, and the Option was initially faster before losing out as the stints wore on.

Compare that to last year where it looks like Pirelli just brought some tyres that were not very close to each other, and left the teams with little choice with strategy.

In two weeks time, at Silverstone, the Soft and Hard tyre will be used. Hopefully it can spice up the action a little bit.

Thanks for reading.

tooncheese, jez101, sushifiesta
 

tooncheese

Hans Heyer
Contributor
Welcome to the Tyre Analysis for the 2012 British Grand Prix. The Silverstone Circuit is one of the fastest of year, with several high-speed corners. Following the Saturday drenching, the track was green on Sunday and so the track evolved much more than would normally be expected. All of the drivers except Pedro de la Rosa chose two stops, with two stints on the favourable Hard tyre. Due to the lack of dry running, the only stint in the race on used tyres was Webber’s final one.

For any newcomers, the spreadsheet works by collecting data from the raw lap times, and figures predicting fuel burning and fuel effect. It also takes into account tyre age, and condition at the start of the stint. Unusual lap times due to close proximity to other cars or errors are filtered out.

Silverstone will see the Hard tyre as the Prime and the Soft tyre as the Option.

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In the BBC coverage Gary Anderson remarked that this was the first time that he had seen graining on the Pirelli tyres, and it really shows on the graphs. Whereas usually the curves accelerate skywards after a short time, this time they return for a ‘second wind’. Eventually they will wear normally and the curve would look like a form of f(x)=x^3, with two stationary points, although no-one stayed on the tyre long enough for that to be seen. The graining is due to the tyre being overworked before it is up to temperature, and rubber rolls off. When the tyre is up to temperature, the graining ceases. This will be seen a lot more if tyre blankets are banned.

Remarkably most of the drivers have similar wear patterns, although early pit stops interrupting the curves disguise the matter a little. Once again Button looks to be the exception to the trend. His gentle driving style appears to have spared him from any graining, but whatever is wrong with his setup is still eating away at the rubber, and if not for a late error from Hulkenberg he would have no points again.

It was 11 laps into Alonso’s final stint that Webber passed him, at which point his tyres were at their worst, and they never recovered to a good enough state for him to fight back. In Webber’s Option stint he manages the graining much better, and so was closer through their similarly matched middle stint to take the win at the end.
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There isn’t much to see on the Prime tyre, it shows the sort of wear we would expect of Pirelli’s hardest compound. For the two-stopper to be effective most drivers spent about 20 laps on the Prime tyre, and as you can see none of the established teams have any major problems.

Maldonado did a credible job of maintaining his tyres for 40 laps after his collision with Perez ruined his race. He was the only driver from the top 9 teams a lap down, and around a minutes and a half away from 15th placed Rosberg.
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This is just a closer look at the Webber/Alonso battle, and more clearly you can see how they were closely matched on the hard tyre, but Webber won the race with his Option stint.

If you want a closer look at any other battles just say and I will bring up the graphs.
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This didn’t go to plan did it? At no point in the length of stints drivers were doing was the Soft tyre better to be on. The completely green track really took its toll on the Soft tyre.

Thanks to last year’s rain there is no 2011 data to compare with.

Here is the link to the current spreadsheet if you are interested, with a bit of patchwork thanks to the bizarre Silverstone pit entrance. (10MB) https://docs.google.com/open?id=0Bwi0psuVk49qZXdXR253bjUxMjQ

Soft and Medium tyre will be present at the next two rounds before the summer break, at the Hockenheimring, and the Hungaroring.

Thanks for reading.

tooncheese, jez101, sushifiesta
 

tooncheese

Hans Heyer
Contributor
Welcome to the Tyre Analysis for the 2012 Hungarian Grand Prix. Apologies for the missed race, I was on holiday (having a great time too). The Hungaroring is often compared to Monaco with its few passing opportunities, and one small straight. Long corners means downforce and tyre wear is high. The drivers were split between two and three stops, the latter requiring overtakes on the two-stoppers which proved a challenge.

For any newcomers, the spreadsheet works by collecting data from the raw lap times, and figures predicting fuel burning and fuel effect. It also takes into account tyre age, and condition at the start of the stint. Unusual lap times due to close proximity to other cars or errors are filtered out.

The Hungarian Grand Prix saw the White Medium, and Yellow Soft tyres being used.

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The Option tyre was far less favoured, and consequently of the front runners on two-stoppers only Lotus chose to run it twice. Räikkönen had good wear in his two stints, his second lasted 25 laps which is as long as anyone except Kobayashi. Grosjean on the other hand had higher degradation, possibly due to pushing harder whilst chasing down Hamilton. Räikkönen however was content to nurse his tyres behind a slower rival and jump them in the pit stops.

Whilst Kobayashi had a good long final stint despite having a hydraulic leak, the wear curve was starting to point skywards and probably would be unmanageable in about 5 laps after he retired. Perez however, whose poor tyre wear can only be partially attributed to di Resta’s presence, is notably higher. Considering there were rumours of a one-stop from Perez pre-race, it is suprising his tyres wore quicker than Kobayashi’s.
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I don’t think Red Bull’s tyre issues can be put down the engine mapping clarification, as Vettel has good wear on the Soft tyre, so being stuck in other cars wake probably exaggerated any issues, as can be seen very clearly with Webber’s poor degradation. Most of his race was spent in the queue of cars behind Alonso.

I’ve left most of the curves in the Prime graph in the hope of finding something interesting, but all down the field it was behaving very predictably. Vergne stands out a lot, however his slowing down was caused by debris in the sidepod.

Kobayashi interestingly drove a similar length stint to that on the Option, but has higher degradation by the end. The two Force India’s (whose curves are indistinguishable) have high wear despite being on the Harder compound.
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A closer look at the Sauber’s shows they were not as separate as first appeared, but Perez definitely has higher degradation.
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For the McLaren drivers Button performs better on the Option, and Hamilton on the Prime. It seems he is closing the gap after the mid-season slump.
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With overtaking being easier on the Hungaroring track, we could have seen an interesting fight between two and three stoppers, but ultimately track position won on the day.
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Another factor that should have given us a mix of strategies is the crossover of the compounds, but lap 19 was probably too late for it to be crucial in deciding tea strategy.

Due to last year’s rain there is no 2011 data to compare with.

Pirelli have not announced which tyres will be used at Spa, but I expect to see the same combination of Medium and Soft.

Thanks for reading.

tooncheese, jez101, sushifiesta

The (10mb) spreadsheet can be downloaded here:
https://docs.google.com/open?id=0Bwi0psuVk49qTzl2UFFSV3ZfbTQ
 

tooncheese

Hans Heyer
Contributor
Welcome to the Tyre Analysis for the 2012 Belgian Grand Prix. Spa-Francorchamps is the second fastest circuit on the calendar, and includes challenging high speed corners the put high lateral loads on the tyres. This lead to a split between the drivers who chose either high, or low-downforce set-ups. Race strategy was all about 2-stops, with a one-stop being marginal.

For any newcomers, the spreadsheet works by collecting data from the raw lap times, and figures predicting fuel burning and fuel effect. It also takes into account tyre age, and condition at the start of the stint. Unusual lap times due to close proximity to other cars or errors are filtered out.

The Belgian Grand Prix saw the White Medium, and Silver Hard tyres being used.

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The Medium tyre was out of place as the option this week, its pace was not too dissimilar to the hard, and even its wear was about the same. The drivers I have picked out are generally getting quicker as the stint progresses before times start to drop again. The most likely cause for this is the drop in tyre temperature after the safety car (during which all but two drivers used this tyre). There isn’t much else to say about the option.
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It’s a similar story for the Prime tyre; everyone is having a predictable time on the tyres, which is probably why there have been none of the surprise results that we had in the earlier races of the season.
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Comparing one-stopper Button, and failed one-stopper Senna, you can see what the difference was. For both tyres Senna has steeper degradation, by a large factor for the option. This may be due to Button being able to drive his own race and Senna having to push and race drivers around him.

At this point I was hoping to compare the McLaren driver’s set-ups, or a one and two-stopper from the same team. However Grosjean and multiple bad lap times for Webber and Pic put pay to that. If there is something you would like investigated I can pull up the graphs.
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It was a 2-stop all the way today, giving on average 10.2 seconds on the overall race time. 3 and 1-stops had very similar race times, although no-one opted for the three-stop.
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Here you can see clearly my earlier point about the tyres being close together. Wear and pace are almost identical.

Compare it to last year where there was a gap of about 0.75 seconds and the Option had a steeper gradient of wear.

I can’t understand why, but Monza will feature the same combination of tyres, which will in no way help the racing at a track where one-stops are the norm.

You can find the spreadsheet here (10mb): https://docs.google.com/file/d/0Bwi0psuVk49qRkRDc3dBbGExTFk/edit

Thanks for reading.

tooncheese, jez101, sushifiesta
 
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