With the prospect of serious civil disturbances hovering over the event because of ongoing political turmoil within the country, this past weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix was run without incident as Sebastian Vettel netted his first victory of the year on the Pirelli-supplied international circuit.
Tire management proved to be crucial as Vettel selected a three-stop strategy to seal his 22nd career win after claiming pole position in qualifying. At the end of four races, four different teams have claimed a race win, and Vettel has become the fourth different points-leader in the season’s overall drivers’ championship competition.
Vettel started off using the P Zero Yellow soft tire. He then moved onto the P Zero White medium after 11 laps before completing his final stints on the P Zero Yellow soft, followed by the P Zero White medium.
Bahrain is one of the most demanding circuits of the year in terms of tire degradation because of a “frequently dirty track” and several low- to medium-speed corners “that ask a lot from the rear tires in terms of traction,” according to motorsports director Paul Hembery.
As a result, knowing how to manage the tires and contain thermal degradation was a vital skill throughout the 57-lap race, although the grand prix started under comparatively cool conditions amid gusting winds, he recounts.
Most drivers selected a three-stop strategy, but Paul di Resta opted for a two-stop plan, making his final set of medium tires last for 24 laps before ending up in sixth place; he started from 10th on the grid after not completing a qualifying run in order to save tires.