With high tyre degradation, also provoked by the thin air at high altitude that deprived cars of downforce and caused some degree of sliding, there was a mixture of one and two stop strategies, and even a three-stopper for the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas in fifth – who set the fastest lap of the grand prix.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen won the race with a two-stop strategy, but fourth place for Lewis Hamilton – on a different two-stopper – was enough for the Mercedes driver to claim his fifth driver’s title. Five of the top 10 finishers used just one-stop: including three drivers who began the race on the hypersoft tyre, and then completed a very long final stint on the supersoft. Kimi Raikkonen was another driver to complete an extremely long 54-lap stint on supersoft to the flag, having instead started on ultrasoft. In total, there were six different strategies in the top 10. Pirelli now remains in Mexico for a final 2019 development test on Tuesday with Antonio Giovinazzi driving for Sauber, following which Colombian driver Tatiana Calderon will make her Formula 1 debut in a demonstration run.
MARIO ISOLA – HEAD OF CAR RACING: “From the point of view of tyre management it was a tricky race, with a two-stopper confirmed as the winning strategy, but also with many drivers opting to stop just once. From the beginning, the teams had to manage tyres, degradation and also graining, with a number of different approaches seen. In fact, neither of the top three teams used identical strategies with both of their cars: a sign of how difficult it was to call. As expected, the teams also had to react to race circumstances as they happened, with virtual safety cars adding to the strategic complexity. Congratulations to Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes for a well-deserved driver’s championship after a dominant season.”
THE WINNING STRATEGY
As Pirelli expected, a two-stopper proved to be the quickest strategy. Max Verstappen went for the theoretically fastest strategy that we predicted: an initial stint on ultrasoft followed by two stints on supersoft. Verstappen made his first stop in the 71-lap race on lap 13 and his second stop on lap 48.