THE ROSS & MICHAEL SHOW
There was a time when tires were
potentially fertile ground for a smart
Formula 1 race engineer looking for a
strategic edge. But in years to come,
it’s unlikely that many will look back to
the 2015 season as an example.
Sole supplier Pirelli predicted a
return to a more aggressive approach
this year after a relatively quiet 2014,
but Ferrari’s attempt to run a one-stop
strategy with Sebastian Vettel at Spa
ended with the German’s right-rear
disintegrating as he was exiting Raidillon
while running third on the penultimate
lap. Vettel blamed it on Pirelli; Pirelli
surmized debris or excessive curb riding
for the failure. (See SPIN, page 15)
Indeed, using that same race as an
example, all of the top four were on an
almost identical strategy: start on used
softs, switch to new mediums, bolt on
new softs for the final stint. (Romain
Grosjean, third for Lotus, used the new
softs for his middle stint instead).
But if the strategy window has been
narrowed, then the penalty for missing
that window has become all the
greater: McLaren’s poor tire choice in
Canada in 2013 ended a 64-race run
of consecutive point-scoring finishes.
WALKING THE COLORED LINE
AND JIM CLARK
FORMULA 1 TIRE STRATEGY
Combined for one
of racing’s most
hands-off on that
side of things and
letting Clark dictate
terms in the car.
Tactical acumen and
ace drivers put his
Ford GT40s and
Porsche 917s ahead
of the factory cars.
“I never controlled him when he was
racing, all I did was give him the maximum
amount of information, and let him run
the race,” wrote the Lotus founder.
“I believe that the driver is the only man
qualified to make the decisions. It is
absolutely futile for any team manager
Brawn and Schumacher – along with
many others – would disagree. But all
dominated their eras and disciplines by
knowing what worked best for them.
Pirelli has a rainbow of color codes to
distinguish its various compounds, but
there appears little strategic wiggle room
when it comes to deciding how to use them.
Leads from pole early
on, but a gearbox failure
on lap 21 leaves him
stuck in fifth gear. Brawn
tells him to stay out,
Schumacher adjusts his
pitstop and all, and
drags the Benetton
home in second place.
switches Schumacher to
a three-stop strategy to
leapfrog the McLarens.
But to make it work,
Schumacher needs to
find 25sec in 19 laps.
response: “OK.” And he
executes to perfection.
short pitlane, and
Schumacher’s pace on
in- and out-laps, Ferrari
opts for a four-stopper
to beat Renault’s
Brawn later credits the
call to race engineer
Brawn’s ability to mentally unpack a
race led to some of Schumacher’s most
memorable wins. But a having a driver
of Michael’s caliber in the car was
central to making those strategies work.