Red Bull Racing continued its clean sweep of the free practice sessions in Mexico by claiming pole in cool conditions on the hypersoft with Daniel Ricciardo. The top six on the grid set their fastest times in Q2 on ultrasoft, which will be their start tyres for tomorrow’s race. The ultrasoft benefits from greater durability compared to the hypersoft, which has shown extra pace but also high degradation, so should allow a longer first stint. However, tomorrow’s 71-lap race looks set to be held in very different conditions to today, with warmer weather expected. A two-stopper is theoretically the quickest strategy, but a one-stop is possible as well with a high degree of tyre management.
MARIO ISOLA – HEAD OF CAR RACING: “With damp conditions earlier today, the circuit effectively reset itself, providing a new challenge. The key strategic element was the tyre choice for Q2, determining the start tyres for tomorrow. With no real advantage in starting on the hypersoft, given the expected levels of degradation, the top six drivers all qualified on the ultrasoft. A wide mixture of strategies are available for the race, with a two-stopper fastest but a one-stopper just about possible too, if the hypersoft is carefully managed. Nonetheless, with the variable conditions we have seen so far posing a few open questions, it could be helpful to keep the strategy plans flexible. All three compounds have a role to play; it was interesting to see the supersoft even in Q2, as two drivers tried to see if they could qualify on it in the top 10”.
POSSIBLE RACE STRATEGIES With the amount of tyre degradation expected for as dry race, the thoretical quickest pit-stop strategies predicted by Pirelli are as follows:
THE TWO QUICKEST
TWO-STOPPER: 1 stint on ultrasoft for 9 laps + 2 stints on supersoft (31+31 laps)
TWO-STOPPER: 1 stint on hypersoft for 5 laps + 2 stints on supersoft (33+33 laps)
ONE-STOPPER: 1 stint on ultrasoft for 15-18 laps + 1 stint on supersoft to the flag (plenty of management needed)