Two-time world champion Fernando Alonso won his home grand prix using a four-stop sprint strategy, something that was rather unexpected for the Italian tyre supplier who anticipated a three stopper as the best choice.
Alonso also set a new record by becoming the only driver to win the Spanish Grand Prix from a far down as fifth on the grid, demonstrating how tyre strategy can be used to gain track position. Raikkonen – who used a completely different strategy to Alonso with one stop less – nonetheless ran him close, finishing the race just 10 seconds behind the winner. Raikkonen was the only driver to complete three opening stints on the P Zero White medium before one final stint on the P Zero Orange hard.
The 4 stop strategy proved the best choice for most cars out there today due to the high degradation of the tyres. Pirelli themselves were quite surprised by this, with their motorsport director saying changes will be made to make sure this doesn't repeat itself in the near future.
“Strategy was again at the forefront of the Spanish Grand Prix", Paul Hembery said, "which as usual was very demanding on the tyres because of the unique characteristics of this circuit. This is why we saw high levels of degradation, which should not be seen again to this extent for the rest of the year. Our aim is to have between two and three stops at every race, so it’s clear that four is too many: in fact, it’s only happened once before, in Turkey during our first year in the sport. We’ll be looking to make some changes, in time for Silverstone, to make sure that we maintain our target and solve any issues rapidly."
"Congratulations to Fernando Alonso and Ferrari who pushed hard from start to finish to make the four-stop strategy work for them and seal a very popular result here. They planned their strategy from the start of the weekend, using the tyres wisely during qualifying, and then made it count with some fantastic overtaking moves.”
All the drivers started on the P Zero White medium tyre with the exception of the two Marussias and the Caterham of Charles Pic, who elected to start on the P Zero Orange hard. An early stop for Ferrari allowed Alonso to get past the Red Bull of Sebastian Vettel and from then on the Spaniard was able to plan his strategy perfectly in order not to lose track position.