Bold tyre choices help drivers to success
An inspired tyre strategy helped Barwa Addax driver Jonny Cecotto to a win in the GP2 feature race from 18th on the grid, as well as Trident’s Stephane Richelmi to a debut podium from 22nd in the GP2 feature race on Saturday at Hockenheim.
All the drivers started the race on the blue-marked wet tyres apart from Cecotto and Richelmi, Cecotto chose to start on the P Zero slick medium tyres, which were nominated for GP2 in Hockenheim together with the soft tyres. Conditions started off with a damp circuit, which dried rapidly, but within five laps the surface reached the crossover point where it was quicker to switch to slick tyres – as shown by some fastest laps from Cecotto.
After six laps the Venezuelan took the lead as the majority of drivers switched to slicks. Cecotto made his own stop with 14 laps to go, and was able to save time by changing just two rear wheels as opposed to his rivals who had to change all four tyres from wets to slicks. Richelmi was the only other driver to start on slick tyres – this time the soft compound – and after a change of rear tyres on lap 23 he was able to go from 22nd on the grid to a spectacular third at the finish.
The Sprint Race was claimed by Lotus GP driver James Calado who started from pole after finishing eighth in race one and used the medium tyres from start to finish without making a pit stop. The same strategy was adopted by the rest of the top three, which consisted of Caterham’s Giedo van der Garde (who qualified on pole for race one) and DAMS driver Felipe Nasr. Cecotto adopted a different strategy, running the soft tyre for the whole 27-lap race to finish sixth and make the most of a tactical weekend where tyre strategy was at the forefront.
Pirelli’s racing manager Mario Isola commented: “The tyre strategy was the key to two great results from Cecotto and Richelmi on Saturday, who took a calculated gamble and made it work. They were able to anticipate how the track would dry and this made the difference after a rain-affected qualifying. During the sprint races on Sunday it was a question of looking after the tyres as much as possible, with none of the frontrunners choosing to make a pit stop, although the new regulations now allow them to. Correct tyre management really made a big difference once more: Calado set his fastest lap three laps from the end of the race, which he won, while Cecotto was able to use the softer compound from start to finish and still make up places.”
Pirelli Press Release