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 factors that could negate Red Bull's practice gap to Mercedes Prime

The factors that could negate Red Bull's practice gap to Mercedes

Mercedes led the way in practice for Formula 1’s first race in Jeddah, where Red Bull was off the pace on both single-lap and long runs. But, if Max Verstappen can reverse the results on Saturday, factors familiar in motorsport’s main electric single-seater category could be decisive in another close battle with Lewis Hamilton...

Formula 1
Dec 4, 2021
Why Norris doesn’t expect Mr Nice Guy praise for much longer Prime

Why Norris doesn’t expect Mr Nice Guy praise for much longer

Earning praise from rivals has been a welcome sign that Lando Norris is becoming established among Formula 1's elite. But the McLaren driver is confident that his team's upward curve can put him in the mix to contend for titles in the future, when he's hoping the compliments will be replaced by being deemed an equal adversary

Formula 1
Dec 2, 2021
What Ferrari still needs to improve to return to F1 title contention Prime

What Ferrari still needs to improve to return to F1 title contention

After a disastrous 2020 in which it slumped to sixth in the F1 constructors' standings, Ferrari has rebounded strongly and is on course to finish third - despite regulations that forced it to carryover much of its forgettable SF1000 machine. Yet while it can be pleased with its improvement, there are still steps it must make if 2022 is to yield a return to winning ways

Formula 1
Dec 2, 2021
How F1 teams and personnel react in pressurised situations Prime

How F1 teams and personnel react in pressurised situations

OPINION: The pressure is firmly on Red Bull and Mercedes as Formula 1 2021 embarks on its final double-header. How the respective teams deal with that will be a crucial factor in deciding the outcome of the drivers' and constructors' championships, as Motorsport.com's technical consultant and ex-McLaren F1 engineer Tim Wright explains.

Formula 1
Dec 1, 2021
How getting sacked from Benetton made Mercedes' Allison Prime

How getting sacked from Benetton made Mercedes' Allison

He’s had a hand in world championship-winning Formula 1 cars for Benetton, Renault and Mercedes, and was also a cog in the Schumacher-Ferrari axis. Having recently ‘moved upstairs’ as Mercedes chief technical officer, James Allison tells Stuart Codling about his career path and why being axed by Benetton was one of the best things that ever happened to him.

Formula 1
Nov 28, 2021
The remarkable qualities that propelled Kubica’s F1 comeback Prime

The remarkable qualities that propelled Kubica’s F1 comeback

It’s easy to look at Robert Kubica’s second Formula 1 career and feel a sense of sadness that he didn’t reach the heights for which he seemed destined. But as Ben Anderson discovered, performance and results are almost meaningless in this context – something more fundamental and incredible happened…

Formula 1
Nov 27, 2021
The humbling changes Ricciardo made to deliver for McLaren Prime

The humbling changes Ricciardo made to deliver 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...

Formula 1
Nov 26, 2021
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