Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton dominated the Chinese Grand Prix to take his third consecutive victory of the F1 season with less tyre wear and better fuel consumption than his rivals.
A number of different tyre strategy options were available before the Chinese Grand Prix, but the very strong performance of the medium tyre in the second stint allowed the top 15 to complete two stops only.
With some very long corners and high g-forces, the Shanghai circuit is one of the most demanding of the year and exerted unique demands on the front-left tyre in particular. But the additional durability of the 2014-specification P Zero tyres allowed Hamilton to take his third consecutive victory from four races, with just two pit stops, as opposed to three stops that formed the winning strategy in China last year.
Hamilton built his victory from pole by making the set of soft tyres that he started the race with last for longer than his direct rivals. He then completed a long second stint on the medium tyre, which was essential to his two-stop strategy, and that of the other drivers. As a result Hamilton could finish the race on the medium tyre again after just one more pit stop, to win by 18.6 seconds.
The cool temperatures, constantly below 20 degrees ambient, and very demanding nature of the track meant that three stops were a strong possibility, with many teams keeping their options open. But the increased durability of this year’s Pirelli tyres made two stops the norm, thanks to versatile strategies from the teams.
Paul Hembery, motorsport director for Pirelli tyres, said: “After a wet qualifying session yesterday, all the drivers had their full allocation of slick tyres for the race. From the beginning the strategies were open: it was going to be either a two or three stop race, with the performance of the soft tyre in the first stint as well as the medium tyre in the second stint holding the key to each driver’s potential.
“Once it was clear that a slight increase in track temperature today wasn’t going to have a significant effect in terms of graining on the soft tyre, the teams concentrated on the main race tyre: the medium.
“Temperatures generally throughout this weekend have been low – among the lowest we have seen during a race weekend over the last three years – and as a result we did see some graining on the soft tyre in particular, which also caused a few marbles on the back straight. That’s not something we like to see, but under the circumstances, it was to be expected.
“Degradation on the medium tyre was less than a tenth of a second per lap here, while degradation on the soft was just over two-tenths of a second.”
Denna Bowman, Head Office