Hembery admits four stop race was not the plan

Pirelli’s Motorsport Director Paul Hembery has admitted that they were not planning a four stop race, with tyre degradation being higher than predicted.World © Octane Photographic Ltd.

Sunday’s race saw drivers struggling to maintain the life of their tyres, with most drivers having to resort to a four stop strategy when three was the original plan. Hembery admitted that they got it wrong and revealed that changes will be made prior to the British Grand Prix.

Speaking in a post-race press release, he said that strategy was the deciding factor yet again during the race and that came down to the characteristics of the track. “Strategy was again at the forefront of the Spanish Grand Prix, which as usual was very demanding on the tyres because of the unique characteristics of this circuit.”

He cited this for the reason why degradation was higher than predicted but he has reassured teams that this should not be the case for the remainder of the season and that their two and three stop strategy aim was off the mark. “This is why we saw high levels of degradation, which should not be seen again to this extent for the rest of the year. Our aim is to have between two and three stops at every race, so it’s clear that four is too many: in fact, it’s only happened once before, in Turkey during our first year in the sport.”

The firm will be looking to make changes for the coming races, “We’ll be looking to make some changes, in time for Silverstone, to make sure that we maintain our target and solve any issues rapidly.” Those changes will no doubt split opinion, some are happy with the job Pirelli have done and feels it is down to the teams to figure them out.

Others feel that the tyres need to become more durable so drivers have a greater opportunity to push hard and showcase the cars speed and the drivers talent. Hembery congratulated race winner Alonso on his drive in Spain and praised him for making the strategy work. “Congratulations to Fernando Alonso and Ferrari who pushed hard from start to finish to make the four-stop strategy work for them and seal a very popular result here. They planned their strategy from the start of the weekend, using the tyres wisely during qualifying, and then made it count with some fantastic overtaking moves.”

Ferrari chose their four stop strategy prior to the race which meant that Alonso was able to push during all five of his stints. He gained time as others faltered due to most teams switching from a three to four stop strategy mid-race.

There were 77 pit stops during the Spanish Grand Prix, one of the biggest tally for quite some time. Whatever Pirelli do, they will never please everyone. Whilst Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel have recently complained about the rubber and want changes to be made, Lotus Team Principal Eric Boullier admitted after the Spanish Grand Prix that teams simply need to figure them out and that changes are not necessary.

Talking to AUTOSPORT he said “The question is not the tyres: it is because we did something that allowed our car to [look after the tyres.] It is the same for everybody. There was some slight change for here [to the hard compound] which was to please the most complaining team.”

He added “But I don’t think Pirelli is going to change anything. They were asked to build tyres lasting 20 laps and they did it. So that is it.”

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