British Grand Prix 2016

15 Jul 2016

Race 10 – 52 Laps – 5.891km per lap – 306.198km race distance – medium tyre wear

British GP F1 Strategy Report Podcast – our host Michael Lamonato is joined by Luke Smith from NBC Sports.

Formula 1 returned to the historic Silverstone circuit for the British Grand Prix, with Lewis Hamilton dominating to claim his fourth victory at the track and of the 2016 season so far. There was controversy in the fight for second, with Nico Rosberg being demoted to third behind Max Verstappen after a penalty for breaching radio rules.

Drying conditions after early rain shook up the British GP strategy, but the evolving track environment and deployment of the Virtual Safety Car played a crucial role in deciding the final finishing positions. Here are the major strategy stories to hit the headlines at Silverstone.

Starting behind the safety car

The wet weather Pirelli tyre has gone through several improvements over the years, so it was frustrating to see the British GP start behind the safety car after an earlier rain shower on the grid. With the sun out and warm conditions, Silverstone gradually dried out but had to wait until the end of lap five for the race to properly begin.

We’ve seen this caution from the FIA before. Drivers complained of aquaplaning in the opening one or two laps but by lap three or four, conditions seemed to be ready to race. In fact, several drivers dived into the pitlane as soon as the safety car went in to change onto the intermediate tyres.

When to change

One of the best elements in terms of strategy in a wet-to-dry race is the element of unknown. Drivers each have different comfort levels on a drying track and feel the conditions differently. It’s fascinating to see the change to a drier tyre play out and is always one of the most interesting strategy features in these races.

Some opted to make a move right as the safety car retreated to the pits while others opted to stay out one lap, or even more. Those who stayed out on the intermediates benefitted from the deployment of the Virtual Safety Car for Pascal Wehrlein’s stranded Manor, while the change to dry tyres later on was treacherous – off the racing line, conditions were still tricky and we saw plenty of spins and incidents because of this.

VSC winners and losers

The deployment of the VSC was a big boost for Hamilton, Rosberg, Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Felipe Nasr, who all gained time and were elevated positions due to the decrease in the differing speeds of the cars on track compared to those in the pits. It hit Daniel Ricciardo hard in his fight for a podium, Nico Hulkenberg lost time too alongside several others.

Pirelli’s lap guides

After qualifying Pirelli shared in their post-race press release a set of lap number guides for each tyre, if things were to remain dry. Silverstone is a tough track for the tyres and with problems there in the past, as well as fairly high tyre degradation in practice, it was clear they wanted to give an estimate of what each tyre was capable of. It wasn’t necessarily a ‘you can’t do any more laps than this’ statement but more a piece of advice.

The wet start meant most of this information wasn’t really necessary but typically the teams still did more laps than advised, especially the medium compound. Felipe Massa did the most laps on the soft tyre with 13, below Pirelli’s guide, but a whole host of drivers did over 30 laps on the medium.

Medium tyre works well

As expected, the medium tyre was the preferred race tyre, with strong performance while still holding up well on long stints. It also had good performance in the slippery conditions, warming up fairly quickly and not producing too much degradation or wear. This is why we saw so many drivers go right to the end on the white-marked tyre after switching from the intermediates.

Of course, a few drivers struggled out there with tyre degradation, particularly the Williams drivers. The car lacks downforce and that’s not something you want at Silverstone. Massa had to stop again for a set of softs, while Fernando Alonso and Kevin Magnussen also had to pit for a third time.

Mercedes unstoppable again

Well, Hamilton was. The three-time world champion looked in a league of his own all race, he excels in wet weather (we saw this at Silverstone in 2008) and is obviously just as quick in the dry. His superiority in the wet looked even greater in the early laps before the switch to intermediates, where he scampered off into the distance as team-mate Rosberg struggled.

Rosberg hasn’t typically gone well in the wet while driving for Mercedes, perhaps due to a characteristic in the car, set-up or he just doesn’t feel as confident in those conditions. While Hamilton was well clear out front, Rosberg had to fend off Verstappen and he ended up finishing ahead of him, only to be demoted by the radio penalty. Red Bull were best of the rest, the Silverstone track clearly suiting the RB12.

But the gap to Rosberg behind did mean Mercedes were able to double-stack their cars in the pitstops, which really helped them maximise the strategy and the conditions. They even snatched the quickest stop award away from Williams, breaking the team’s nine-race run!

What if it had been dry?

It’s always interesting to think what could’ve happened if the race had been dry throughout. The predicted quickest strategy was a two-stop with two soft tyre stints and one on the mediums, but a dry race would’ve opened up more strategy options and we could’ve seen a very different race outcome. It was quite warm on Sunday and the higher temperatures would have likely produced higher tyre wear and a few more three-stop races.

Jack Leslie @JackLeslieF1

Longest Stints

Wet: Rosberg, Ericsson, Perez, Nasr, Verstappen, Hamilton (7 laps)
Intermediate: Alonso, Magnussen, Gutierrez, Hulkenberg, Sainz (12 laps)
Medium: Vettel (37 laps)
Soft: Massa (13 laps)

Most Stops

Palmer, Massa, Alonso, Magnussen (3 – including drive-throughs)

All the Data

Thanks to Pirelli Motorsport for the detailed infographics



Stints by Driver

SCSafety Car
Physical Lap 1 – 5
Virtual Lap 7-8


RedAss-Black-top3. Ricciardo
Start P4
Wet  6 laps Pit 30.198
Intermediate 11 laps Pit 28.813
Medium 35 laps
Finished P4 (+0)


Stallion-Black-top5. Vettel
Start P11
Wet 5 laps Pit 29.163
Intermediate 10 laps Pit 31.381
Medium 37 laps
Finished P9 (+2)


Mercury-Black-top6. Rosberg
Start P2
Wet 7 laps Pit 21.890
Intermediate 10 laps 29.715
Medium 35 laps
Finished P3 (-1)


Stallion-Black-top7. Raikkonen
Start P5
Wet 5 laps Pit 29.578
Intermediate 11 laps Pit 30.462
Medium 36 laps
Finished P5 (+0)


Hars-Black-top8. Grosjean
Start P13
Wet 5 laps Pit 31.632
Intermediate 11 laps Pit 30.862
Medium 1 laps
Retired L17 (DNF)


Saucer-Black-top9. Ericsson
Start P22
Used Wet 7 laps Pit 35.393
Intermediate 4 laps
Retired L11 (DNF)


RageR-Black-top11. Perez
Start P10
Wet 7 laps Pit 29.475
Intermediate 10 laps 28.915
Used Medium 35 laps
Finished P6 (+4)


Saucer-Black-top12. Nasr
Start P21
Wet 7 laps Pit 30.981
Intermediate 9 laps Pit 30.143
Medium 35 laps
Finished P15 (+6)


McLaren-Black-top14. Alonso
Start P9
Wet 5 laps Pit 32.374
Intermediate 12 laps Pit 28.799
Medium 22 laps Pit 28.936
Medium 12 laps
Finished P13 (-4)


Franks-Black-top19. Massa
Start P12
Wet 6 laps Pit 29.243
Intermediate 10 laps Pit 29.403
Medium 22 laps Pit 29.346
Soft 13 laps
Finished P11 (+1)


Renboat-Black-top20. Magnussen
Start P16
Wet 5 laps Pit 30.804
Intermediate 12 laps Pit 29.201
Medium 23 laps Pit 28.450
Soft 9 laps
Finished P17 (-1)
Hars-Black-top21. Guttierrez
Start P14
Wet 5 laps Pit 41.508
Intermediate 12 laps Pit 29.884
Medium 34 laps
Finished P16 (-2)


McLaren-Black-top22. Button
Start P17
Wet 6 laps Pit 30.093
Intermediate 11 laps Pit 29.588
Medium 34 laps
Finished P12 (+5)


Burro-Black-top26. Kvyat
Start P15
Wet 6 laps Pit 30.315
Intermediate 10 laps Pit 30.327
Medium 36 laps
Finished P10 (+5)


RageR-Black-top27. Hulkenberg
Start P8
Wet 5 laps Pit 30.747
Intermediate 12 laps Pit 29.867
Used Medium 35 laps
Finished P7 (+1)


Renboat-Black-top30. Palmer
Start P18
Wet 6 laps Pit 29.784
Intermediate 10 laps Pit 55.697
Medium 3 laps Pit 41.486
Used Medium 18 laps
Retired L37 (DNF)


RedAss-Black-top33. Verstappen
Start P3
Wet 7 laps Pit 31.995
Intermediate 11 laps Pit 29.429
Medium 34 laps
Finished P2 (+1)


Mercury-Black-top44. Hamilton
Start P1
Wet 7 laps Pit 30.343
Intermediate 10 laps Pit 28.728
Medium 35 laps
Finished P1 (+0)


Burro-Black-top55. Sainz
Start P7
Wet 5 laps Pit 30.786
Intermediate 12 laps Pit 29.895
Medium 35 laps
Finished P8 (-1)


Franks-Black-top77. Bottas
Start P6
Wet 5 laps Pit 29.808
Intermediate 11 laps Pit 29.282
Medium 36 laps
Finished P14 (-8)


Manner-Black-top88. Haryanto
Start P19
Wet 6 laps Pit 29.998
Intermediate 11 laps Pit 30.135
Medium 7 laps
Retired L24 (DNF)


Manner-Black-top94. Wehrlein
Start P20
Wet 5 laps Pit 31.812
Intermediate 1 lap
Soft 47 laps
Retired L6 (DNF)


NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND – JULY 10: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (33) Red Bull Racing Red Bull-TAG Heuer RB12 TAG Heuer leads Nico Rosberg of Germany driving the (6) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes F1 WO7 Mercedes PU106C Hybrid turbo on track during the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone on July 10, 2016 in Northampton, England. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)