The disrupted weekend in Montreal, with technical difficulties during FP1 and rain affecting Saturday’s sessions, has introduced more uncertainties regarding teams’ strategies.
However, these circumstances have also provided teams with greater flexibility in managing their tyre choices throughout the event, as they don’t need to preserve race sets as much as they would in a typical race.
As the tyre choices of the leading teams were revealed on Sunday morning, it was interesting to observe that Mercedes, along with Ferrari, has decided to allocate only one set of hard tyres to each of their drivers for the race.
Among the top six runners, Max Verstappen, Nico Hulkenberg, and Esteban Ocon have two sets of new hard tyres and two sets of new medium tyres available. Meanwhile, Fernando Alonso possesses two sets of hard tyres and just one set of medium tyres.
Starting on the second row, Lewis Hamilton and George Russell have one set of new hard tyres at their disposal, along with two sets of medium tyres.
It is understood that Mercedes made their tyre allocation after FP3, anticipating that the track might dry out enough during qualifying to require slick tyres. Having extra soft tyres for such conditions could have provided a significant advantage.
This decision is particularly intriguing because Mario Isola, Pirelli’s head of F1, has stated that their prediction remains a two-stop race strategy, beginning with mediums and then proceeding with two stints on the hard compound.
Isola mentioned, “Based on the simulations and data collected on Friday, we believe that the strategies we predicted prior to the event are still valid. That is, starting on the medium compound, transitioning to the hard compound, and finally using a second set of hard tyres.”
However, Mercedes will not have the option of pursuing the two-stop approach, as they are limited to only one stint on the hard tyres.
Consequently, they must either opt for a one-stop strategy, possibly starting with mediums and then switching to hard tyres, or consider a two-stop strategy that involves returning to mediums for the final stint.
Isola added, “Another alternative strategy, perhaps for those starting from the back of the grid, is starting on the hard compound and switching to mediums after around 45 laps. This would be with a lighter car since we experienced some graining with the mediums during practice. This scenario is still possible, especially after Saturday, where we had a completely green track with no rubber laid down. Dry conditions could lead to graining on the mediums, while the hard compound is more consistent.”
“Another option is a two-stop strategy. If teams don’t have a second set of hard tyres, they could start on mediums, switch to hards for the second stint, and then return to mediums for the final stint. The soft compound is not ideal for the race, as we have seen from last year.”
While Mercedes is restricted to only one stint on the hard compound, Verstappen’s tyre choice ultimately provides them with more freedom to determine their approach. This flexibility could prove advantageous as they assess the performance of the medium tyres in the early stages of the race.
If the medium tyres suffer from severe graining and prove unsuitable for racing, Mercedes can opt for a double stint on the hard compound.
However, if the medium tyres demonstrate durability and consistency, Mercedes can choose to run them after the hard compound for a strong push towards the checkered flag.
Alonso’s tyre choice implies that if he opts for a two-stop strategy, his final stint will have to be on the hard compound.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about strategy outlier
What was the disrupted weekend in Montreal?
The disrupted weekend in Montreal refers to the Formula 1 Grand Prix weekend held in Montreal, Canada, which experienced technical difficulties during the first practice session (FP1) and rainfall affecting Saturday’s running.
Why did teams have more uncertainties on strategy?
Teams had more uncertainties on strategy due to the disrupted weekend. FP1 was effectively wiped out by technical issues, and rain impacted Saturday’s sessions, making it challenging for teams to gather sufficient data and make informed decisions regarding their race strategies.
What was the impact on tyre choice management?
The disrupted weekend resulted in greater freedom for teams in managing their tyre choices throughout the event. Since they did not need to preserve race sets as much as they would in a normal event, teams had more flexibility in selecting their tyre compounds for different stages of the race.
Why did Mercedes and Ferrari choose only one set of hards?
Mercedes and Ferrari both opted to allocate only one set of hard tyres to each of their drivers for the race. This decision was likely influenced by the specific track conditions and their assessment of the best strategy to maximize performance based on the available tyre options.
What were the tyre choices for the top six runners?
Among the top six runners, Max Verstappen, Nico Hulkenberg, and Esteban Ocon had two sets of new hard tyres and two sets of new medium tyres available. Fernando Alonso had two sets of hard tyres and one set of medium tyres. Lewis Hamilton and George Russell had one set of hard tyres and two sets of medium tyres.
What were the possible race strategies?
Teams had a few possible race strategies based on the tyre choices and conditions. They could consider a one-stop strategy, starting on mediums and switching to hard tyres, or a two-stop strategy involving starting on mediums, switching to hards for the second stint, and returning to mediums for the final stint.
How did Mercedes’ tyre allocation affect their strategy?
Mercedes’ tyre allocation limited them to only one stint on the hard compound, which meant they had to decide between a one-stop or a two-stop strategy. This restriction posed strategic challenges for Mercedes compared to other teams who had more flexibility with their tyre options.
What were the advantages of Mercedes’ strategy?
Mercedes’ strategy, although unconventional, provided them with the potential advantage of flexibility. Depending on how the medium tyres held up in the race, they could adjust their approach, either opting for a double hard stint if the medium tyres suffered from graining or choosing to run the mediums after the hard compound for a strong finish.
What was the expected best approach to the race according to Pirelli?
Pirelli’s prediction for the best approach to the race was a two-stop strategy, starting on medium tyres and then using two stints on the hard compound. However, this approach was not available to Mercedes due to their tyre allocation, forcing them to explore alternative strategies.