Pirelli Motorsport boss Mario Isola said that the deployment of a Safety Car forced the majority of drivers into making two stops in Sunday’s Formula 1 Spanish Grand Prix.
An incident on lap 44 out of the 66-lap race at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya between the McLaren F1 Team‘s Lando Norris and Racing Point F1 Team driver Lance Stroll at Turn 2 triggered a lengthy Safety Car period, with the Renault F1 Team‘s Nico Hülkenberg the only driver not to change tyres.
Mercedes AMG Motorsport‘s Lewis Hamilton won the race starting on soft tyres, before making his first stop for medium tyres on lap 27 and then an unscheduled second stop on lap 46 for a 21-lap sprint on used softs.
The top five drivers saw four different strategies on show, with Red Bull Racing‘s Max Verstappen and Scuderia Ferrari‘s Sebastian Vettel the only ones out of the quintet to commit to a two-stop strategy before the Safety Car.
Vettel’s hand was forced by a flat spotted front-right tyre picked up at the first corner on the opening lap when trying to take the lead while Hamilton and polesitter team-mate Valtteri Bottas squabbled.
“The safety car close to the end was the pivotal moment in the race when it came to tyre strategy,” said Isola.
“[It] effectively ensured that everyone did a two-stopper, and reset the gaps so that there was a short sprint to the finish.
“From the start of the race, it seemed likely we would see a variety of one and two stop strategies, with all three compounds in play.”
Isola reflected that a one-stop strategy may not have been viable due to the high-loading nature of the Barcelona track.
Due to the thinner tyre tread, first introduced for this race last year, no graining issues were reported but Hamilton’s right rear tyre – in his medium stint – looked to be heavily blistered close to the outside wall.
Pirelli has a two-day test at Barcelona on Tuesday and Wednesday, with all the teams present, to evaluate the current-spec tyres and work on the 2020 prototype compounds; both Ferrari and Racing Point will lend their hand to helping that process.
“In the end, it probably would have been quite tricky to one-stop, as there was some degree of wear on the soft and medium, at this very severe circuit in terms of energy loadings,” Isola added.
“Now we remain in Barcelona for the in-season test on Tuesday and Wednesday, when Ferrari and Racing Point will be fielding an additional car for us to test 2020 prototype tyres.”