McLaren’s decision to put Lando Norris on hard tyres during the British Grand Prix was influenced by various factors, according to team principal Andrea Stella. Initially, a virtual safety car was triggered by Kevin Magnussen’s stranded Haas, leading the leaders to head for the pits. At that time, Norris was about nine seconds behind race leader Max Verstappen, and McLaren believed that opting for the safer choice of hard tyres would be better than taking unnecessary risks with soft tyres.
However, when race control changed the virtual safety car to a full safety car period, the situation changed. Norris now had the opportunity to challenge Verstappen for the win, but he also had to protect his position during the restart. These factors made it more logical for McLaren to switch to soft tyres.
Unfortunately, the timing of the safety car call coincided with Norris entering the pits, where the hard tyres were already prepared. This meant that McLaren couldn’t switch to soft tyres as it would have caused operational problems. Stella explained that if they had decided on soft tyres, the pitstop crew would have had to rush to retrieve the tyres from the garage, remove the blankets, and bring them back, potentially causing delays and leaving Norris vulnerable to being overtaken by other drivers.
Although McLaren acknowledged that warm-up with the hard tyres would be more challenging than with soft tyres, the characteristics of the high-speed Silverstone circuit minimized the difference between the two compounds compared to low-energy tracks. Thus, McLaren stuck to its original decision to use hard tyres instead of attempting a last-minute change.
Stella emphasized that the hard tyres at Silverstone didn’t have a significant warm-up disadvantage compared to the soft tyres. As long as Norris could manage the first four corners and reach corner nine, where the tyres would generate sufficient temperature, McLaren believed that the decision to stick with hard tyres was the simplest and most sensible choice.
In the end, McLaren accepted that their decision might have cost them a position at the restart but considered it the most practical approach, as changing the tyre allocation during the pitstop could have resulted in significant delays.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about tyre selection
Why did McLaren choose to put Lando Norris on hard tyres during the British GP?
McLaren made the decision to put Lando Norris on hard tyres due to a combination of factors. Initially, with a virtual safety car in place, they opted for the safer choice to avoid unnecessary risks. However, when the virtual safety car turned into a full safety car, the potential for Norris to fight for the win emerged, leading McLaren to consider switching to soft tyres. Unfortunately, the timing of the safety car call and the readiness of the hard tyres at the pitstop made it operationally difficult to switch to softs. The team believed that the warm-up difference between hard and soft tyres at the high-speed Silverstone circuit was minimal, making the decision to stick with hard tyres the most sensible option.