Raikkonen, Lotus ‘understand’ Pirelli tyres best to win in Australia
With much of the grid employing different tyre strategies at the season-opening Australian grand prix, Pirelli’s Motorsport director Paul Hembery believes that the winning drive by Lotus’ Kimi Raikkonen displayed the best understanding of the “deliberately bold” selection of rubber. Raikkonen won the Australian Grand Prix using a two stop strategy, having started the race on the P Zero Red supersoft tyre and then completing two stints on the P Zero White medium tyre. Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, the Finnish driver’s closest rival used a three-stop strategy, as did the rest of the top six.
Hembery said: “We took the deliberately bold decision to come here with the supersoft tyre in order to spice up the action. We believe that this worked very well, with a variety of different two and three stop strategies just as we expected and seven different leaders.
“Kimi Raikkonen and Lotus understood the tyres perfectly, making a two-stop strategy work when many of their rivals couldn’t. It was a true masterclass in tyre management. Although they were often in different places on the track, Raikkonen and Lotus were effectively racing Ferrari and Alonso throughout the second half of the race, who were on a three-stop ‘sprint’ strategy. Seeing how those different approaches played out at the end was the intriguing part of the strategy, which led to a spectacular finish and three very deserving world champions on the podium.
“It’s also worth pointing out that Raikkonen drove the fastest lap of the race on lap 56: the penultimate lap, on medium tyres that were 22 laps old. We are very happy with the performance and durability of both compounds, particularly as both track and ambient temperatures were very low, causing a bit of graining. The conditions next weekend in Malaysia will be very different however!”
Only four drivers started on the medium tyre: Adrian Sutil (Force India), Daniel Ricciardo (Toro Rosso), Sergio Perez (McLaren) and Pastor Maldonado (Williams).