The risk and reward teams faced in the Turkish GP tyre switch

Last weekend in Turkey saw Valtteri Bottas score his first Formula 1 victory in over a year with a dominant display for Mercedes, controlling the race to win ahead of Max Verstappen.

But it was a more difficult weekend for Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton. Hamilton started 11th after an engine penalty, and although he fought his way back up as high as third in the race, he ended up fifth after frustration over Mercedes’ strategy, leading to some tense moments on the radio.

So why did Mercedes not pit sooner or try and keep him out all the way to the end? And why were the conditions so hard to predict?

Light drizzle fell throughout the day at Istanbul Park, meaning all drivers took intermediates for the start of the race to best tackle the damp conditions.

Some teams believed the track would dry out within 20 laps, but light rain continued to come down, meaning it was hard for drivers to find a drying line. Most pinned their hopes on running long enough for the track to dry out for slicks, causing them to wear down their intermediates and create big bald bands on the rubber - aka, ’slicktermediates’.

Daniel Ricciardo was the first driver to roll the dice on a fresh set of tyres, coming in at the end of lap 21. He switched to another set of intermediates, figuring he had nothing to lose as he was out of the points for McLaren. But his initial lap times proved it was not yet the right time to make the switch.

Most of the field came in between lap 34 and 39 for a second set of intermediates. The track was nowhere near dry enough for slick tyres, best proved by Sebastian Vettel’s brave experiment to fit mediums that lasted a single spin-filled lap before he came back in again for inters.

Red Bull hoped to cut the gap to Bottas by pitting Verstappen first on lap 36, but Mercedes reacted one lap later, ensuring the lead remained safe. It meant Bottas stayed in control and, thanks to his pace advantage, comfortably pulled clear of Verstappen.

But not everyone thought it was time to pit, with the two notable exceptions being Hamilton and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc. Leclerc now found himself leading after keeping up with Bottas and Verstappen in the opening stint. Ferrari was aiming to go the whole race without making a pit stop.

It was the same tactic Mercedes considered for Hamilton. He was now up to fourth place, and told Mercedes over the radio that he did not want to pit as his pace still felt OK. The team agreed to keep him out longer, giving itself more thinking time and the chance to potentially save a pit stop if the track dried out for slicks in the closing stages.

shares
comments
FIA explains why Perez wasn’t investigated over Turkey F1 bollard breach
Previous article

FIA explains why Perez wasn’t investigated over Turkey F1 bollard breach

Next article

Brawn rebuffs suggestions F1 rules revolution is not needed

Brawn rebuffs suggestions F1 rules revolution is not needed
Load comments
The humbling changes Ricciardo made to deliver the goods for McLaren Prime

The humbling changes Ricciardo made to deliver the goods for McLaren

From being lapped by his own teammate in Monaco to winning at Monza, it’s been a tumultuous first season at McLaren for Daniel Ricciardo. But, as he tells STUART CODLING, there’s more to the story of his turnaround than having a lovely summer holiday during Formula 1's summer break...

The potential benefits of losing the F1 constructors' title Prime

The potential benefits of losing the F1 constructors' title

As the battle continues to rage over the F1 2021 drivers' championship, teams up and down the grid are turning their attentions to the prize money attributed to each position in the constructors' standings. But F1's sliding scale rules governing wind tunnel and CFD use will soften the blow for those who miss out on the top places

Formula 1
Nov 25, 2021
The invisible enemy that's made Hamilton's title charge tougher Prime

The invisible enemy that's made Hamilton's title charge tougher

After winning his past few Formula 1 titles as a canter, Lewis Hamilton currently trails Max Verstappen by eight points heading into the final double-header of 2021. Although Red Bull has been his biggest on-track challenge, Hamilton feels that he has just as much to grapple with away from the circuit

Formula 1
Nov 24, 2021
Why F1's inconvenient penalties have to stay Prime

Why F1's inconvenient penalties have to stay

OPINION: Quibbles over the length of time taken by Formula 1's stewards over decisions are entirely valid. But however inconvenient it is, there can be no questioning the importance of having clearly defined rules that everyone understands and can stick to. Recent events have shown that ambiguity could have big consequences

Formula 1
Nov 23, 2021
The mistakes Red Bull cannot afford to repeat in F1 2021's title fight climax Prime

The mistakes Red Bull cannot afford to repeat in F1 2021's title fight climax

OPINION: Red Bull has had Formula 1’s fastest package for most of 2021, but in several of the title run-in events it has wasted the RB16B’s potential. It cannot afford to do so again with Lewis Hamilton motoring back towards Max Verstappen in the drivers’ standings with two rounds remaining

Formula 1
Nov 23, 2021
Qatar Grand Prix driver ratings Prime

Qatar Grand Prix driver ratings

Qatar was a virtual unknown for most as Formula 1 made its inaugural visit to the Gulf state, and tyre management quickly emerged as an even more critical factor than normal. Perhaps then it should come as no surprise that two of the championship's elder statesmen produced standout drives

Formula 1
Nov 22, 2021
How Hamilton dominated in Qatar despite missing a key Mercedes advantage Prime

How Hamilton dominated in Qatar despite missing a key Mercedes advantage

There was simply no stopping Lewis Hamilton on Formula 1's first visit to Qatar. The Mercedes driver eased to pole position and led every lap to secure an utterly dominant victory - even without a key Mercedes weapon in his arsenal to increase the heat on Red Bull heading into the final two races of the gripping 2021 title race

Formula 1
Nov 22, 2021
Qatar's long-term plans for a "World Cup every single year" Prime

Qatar's long-term plans for a "World Cup every single year"

Qatar is preparing to host the football World Cup next year, but will be thrown into the sporting spotlight this weekend as Formula 1 prepares to race in the country. Ahead of a 10-year deal to hold a grand prix from 2023 onwards, it's a much-needed opportunity to highlight reforms in the country

Formula 1
Nov 20, 2021