For the 2016 Spanish grand prix Pirelli nominated the hard (orange), medium (white), and soft (yellow) compound tyres.
The circuit de Catalunya in Spain has always dictated that track position is king. It was no different in 2016 as the two stop strategy of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen beat the the three-stopping Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel and the Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo.
On the face of it, a three-stop strategy appears the quicker option as it allows a driver to keep his pace high without having to be too worried about tyre life. But the off-set of this wasn’t enough to overcome the deficit of having to make an extra stop.
Verstappen and Raikkonen mirrored each other’s strategies and made their final stop, for medium tyres, on lap 34 and 35 respectively. Though there was some concern over the tyre’s ability to last for the duration of the stint both Verstappen and Raikkonen were easily able to reach the chequered flag. Though Raikkonen spent most of the closing laps just half a second behind Verstappen he was unable to overtake the Red Bull.
It was here in 2012 that then Williams driver Pastor Maldonado held of Fernando Alonso to secure his only F1 win. Though Alonso was in the faster car in 2012 as Raikkonen was in 2016 neither were able to overtake.
Sebastian Vettel’s short middle stint on the soft tyre, and subsequent early stop, allowed him to jump Daniel Ricciardo for third. Although Ricciardo pitted later and challenged Vettel for third on fresher tyres he was unable to make it stick. Riccardo was forced into a fourth stop as his left-rear tyre let go with one lap remaining. But such was the pace of the front four that the Australian was able to limp back to the pits, make a stop, and still rejoin ahead of fifth-placed Valtteri Bottas.
Renault’s Jolyon Palmer and Kevin Magnussen were the only two drivers to run the orange-walled hard tyre in the hopes of gaining position while others around them made more stops. Palmer ultimately finished thirteenth while Magnussen followed in fourteenth.
Here is a look at all the driver’s tyre strategies: