Pirelli said that its pre-season data has been backed up by lap times around two seconds quicker than 2014 at the season-opening Australian grand prix. Reigning champion Lewis Hamilton beat his Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg from pole, with both drivers utilising cool conditions and low degradation to perform very similar one-stop strategies.
Pirelli will bring its softest tyre compounds yet to the Circuit of the Americas in Texas when it hosts its third Formula One grand prix. The soft compound replaces the hard, with the medium present in both 2012 and 2013. The compounds are designed to cope with the varying demands of the track, which takes in three long straights, but also a number of more technical corners.
Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton used a three-stop strategy to win in Singapore. After three stints on the P Zero Red supersoft, Hamilton completed the race on the P Zero Yellow soft. Hamilton was challenged by Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel, running a two-stop strategy from fourth on the grid. Vettel did two opening stints on the supersoft and then a final stint on the soft at the end of the grand prix, when the car was at its lightest on low fuel. His team-mate Daniel Ricciardo followed the same strategy to finish third in front of the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso.
The Spanish grand prix at Barcelona allowed Pirelli to showcase the solidity of its 2014 Formula One rubber, supporting the manufacturer’s assertion that its tyres would not repeat the 2013 specification’s well-publicised problems. As one of the season’s most demanding tracks, the 2013 Barcelona grand prix was won on a four-stop strategy; in 2014, eight of the top 10 finishers completed the 66 laps with two.
Following the conclusion of Formula Ones three preseason tests in Bahrain, Pirelli has stated that the characteristics of the 2014 P Zero tyre range were in line with expectations, maintaining similar performance to last year but with less degradation. Pirelli said there had been no blistering and very little graining, while also claiming a reduction in tread wear levels. The results of the final test also showed an increased performance gap between both the hard and the medium compound, and the medium and the soft compound: the two combinations of tyres that will be used at the first four races. Pirelli said this would give plenty of scope for the teams to formulate interesting strategies to boost their race prospects.
Entering the final preseason test at Bahrain, commentary from Formula One drivers about the 2014 range of Pirelli tyres has been most noticeable for its comparative scarcity. When drivers have spoken up, their verdicts have been generally indecisive or cautious. Sauber driver Adrian Sutil praised Pirelli’s 2014 Formula One tyres for showing “greater consistency” on the first day of the final test, but has previously been quoted by motorsport news sources bemoaning the tyres’ harder compounds and stiffer constructions.
Tirendo is raffling the chance for a meet and greet with four-time F1 world champion Sebastian Vettel. The face-to-face meeting is set to take place during a Formula 1 event in 2014. According to the company, it will offer the winner and one friend the unique opportunity to meet the professional racer and get to know him from a completely private side.
Pirelli is taking its softest specification P Zero Formula One tyre to Singapore’s street circuit, but in a slight change of tack from 2012 the Italian tyre supplier has opted to take the P Zero White medium compound tyre as the second option. Motorsport director Paul Hembery said the decision was based on the evolving conditions particular to this, the only race to be run at night under street lamps on F1’s calendar, as well as the circuit’s stop-start nature and the fact that it is one of the year’s longest races, leading to heavier fuel loads.
Sebastian Vettel won a 32nd career victory at the Italian Grand Prix in uncomplicated fashion, using only two sets of Pirelli’s tyres in the exclusive supplier’s home race. Fernando Alonso, with whom Vettel shares that career wins total, also used a one-stop strategy in his Ferrari to get second place, having started from fifth on the grid, meaning that he limited Vettel’s championship lead to 53 points – likely too much to make up already.
Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel seems to be moving inexorably towards the 2013 Formula One Drivers’ Championship, taking his 31st career victory at the Belgian Grand Prix using a two-stop strategy. Vettel’s Red Bull set the fastest lap of the race on the hard tyre, claiming the lead from second on the grid and extending his championship advantage to 46 points over Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso. His win means that he draws level with Nigel Mansell in terms of overall victories.
Nico Rosberg won his first race for Mercedes this year, ahead of Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel, who extended his championship lead. The German was in front from start to finish, starting on the P Zero Red supersoft tyre and then switching to the P Zero Yellow soft during a safety car period. An accident on lap 45 brought out the red flag and under the current rules the drivers were allowed to change tyres during the stoppage. Rosberg completed the race on the supersoft tyre, following yet another safety car period with 15 laps to go. Pirelli had predicted a one-stop strategy, and this proved to be the case for most of the field, excluding the re-start. Monaco is generally one of the easiest races on the tyres, partially as a result of well rubberised roads and lower speeds than specialist track races.
Lotus driver and 2007 Drivers’ Champion, Kimi Raikkonen sealed the first victory of his Formula One comeback with Pirelli in Abu Dhabi; the 19th of his career. The Finn used a one-stop strategy, fast becoming the favoured method of negotiating a Grand Prix on Pirelli’s second season tyres, stopping on lap 31 to move from the P Zero Yellow soft to the P Zero White medium tyres. Having started fourth on the grid, he took the lead following the retirement of McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton on lap 19, holding it to the finish. Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso used an identical strategy to Raikkonen, stopping three laps earlier, reducing his gap to the lead of the Drivers’ Championship to 10 points with two races to go. He would have closed the gap even more had it not been for the current leader, Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel, who started from the pit lane after having his qualifying times disallowed.
Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel completed a perfect win to consolidate his lead in the Formula One Drivers’ Championship in India, using the low levels of degradation experienced with both of Pirelli’s P Zero compounds to finish at the head of a grid that mostly emulated his one-stop strategy. Vettel was fastest in every session to claim his fourth race victory in a row, achieving a similar feat to last year’s visit to the Buddh circuit – Pirelli points out that no other driver has ever led a lap there.
McLaren’s Jenson Button completed a dominant weekend to win the Belgian Grand Prix. Only second-placed Sebastian Vettel could match the Briton’s ability to look after his tyres, using an almost identical one-stop strategy – medium compound P Zero White tyres, changed to hard compound P Zero Silvers just before the midway point – to finish 13 seconds behind Button, who led from start to finish. This was the first race at which a driver has achieved this in 2012 While Button’s imperious drive would have taken some beating, Vettel’s ascent from tenth on the grid was aided by a spectacular smash involving Championship leader Fernando Alonso and McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton at the first corner, over which Lotus’s Romain Grosjean has been handed a one-race ban.
McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton claimed a dominant victory at the Hungarian Grand Prix, having been quickest during free practice and qualifying. Hamilton’s qualifying pace had allowed the driver to preserve a set of soft compound Pirelli P Zero Yellow tyres for racing on the Sunday; the McLaren built a lead in the first part of the race, before using the particularly narrow Hungaroring’s lack of overtaking opportunities to defend from the Lotus team in the rest of the race. Hamilton’s two-stop strategy was enough to claim victory by one second heading into the mid-season break. Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso, leading the championship with great recent form finished fifth after qualifying sixth, thus increasing his lead of the drivers’ championship to 40 points, as his nearest rivals at Red Bull were only able to finish fourth (Sebastian Vettel) and eighth (Mark Webber). Nine races remain, with Alonso 40 points ahead of a chasing pack of four – Webber, Vettel, Hamilton and Lotus’ Kimi Raikkonen.