MERCEDES DRIVER LEWIS HAMILTON WINS JAPANESE GRAND PRIX WITH A ONE-STOP SUPERSOFT-SOFT STRATEGY IN WARM CONDITIONS
ALTERNATIVE STRATEGY USED BY HIS TEAM MATE VALTTERI BOTTAS TO FINISH JUST OFF THE PODIUM AFTER A GRID PENALTY
NEARLY ALL DRIVERS STOP JUST ONCE ON ONE OF THE MOST DEMANDING CIRCUITS FOR TYRES OF THE ENTIRE SEASON
This was the same tactic adopted by the majority of the field, but one notable exception was Hamilton’s team mate Valtteri Bottas, who chose to start on the soft and run a longer first stint after being hit by a grid penalty. The same applied to Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, while the longest opening stint on the soft was carried out by both Renaults: the last cars to pit.
Thanks to its long and high-speed series of corners, Suzuka is one of the most demanding circuits for tyres. However, an early safety car and virtual safety car reduced the amount of degradation slightly, lengthening the opening stint.
MARIO ISOLA - HEAD OF CAR RACING
“Both compounds performed in line with our expectations, although track and air temperatures were a lot higher than they had been previously during the weekend. Combined with the shortage of running in free practice due to weather and red flags, this meant that teams were slightly lacking in information about the conditions and strategy heading into this race. Despite this, and the fact that we brought a softer compound than previous years, the majority of drivers were able to complete the grand prix with just one pit stop – while the drivers who started out of position on the grid were able to use the alternative soft-supersoft strategy to make up some places.”
BEST TIME BY COMPOUND
LONGEST STINT OF THE RACE
Lewis Hamilton won the race using one pit stop, going from supersoft to soft on lap 22. He stopped just after Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who finished second, and made a similar tyre change one lap beforehand to try to ‘undercut’ the Mercedes.
We predicted that a one-stopper would be effective in cooler conditions, but this strategy proved to be equally strong in warmer weather, thanks to the perfect consistency of both compounds and the early safety car periods (both real and virtual).