F1’s sole tyre manufacturer Pirreli was delighted with the behaviour of its tyres during the qualifying session for the American Grand Prix which took place in perfect weather conditions. Tyre strategy is still undecided as different strategy options arose over the course of the weekend.
Pirelli brought the trio of medium-soft-supersoft compounds to the high-speed circuit of Austin. Every driver has to complete at least one stint on the mediums or the softs.
Compounds have showed different behaviour over the weekend so far. Supersofts were hard to control in the latter part of quick laps as they overheated after the first two sectors. However, they were the favoured qualifying tyres due to their grip advantage.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and the Mercedes drivers Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton set their fastest lap in Q2 on the softs which mean they can start the race on the more preferred compound. This could be a bit of a hinder at the start because of the grip difference compared to the supersofts, but they are thought to last longer in the first stint.
Softs are expected to be the favoured race tyres as the track evolution means its durability gets longer which could put the mediums in the background. From the frontrunners, Ricciardo, Vettel and Räikkönen have the most fresh sets of softs available.
Asked for comment, Pirelli’s motorsport chief Paul Hembery was delighted to see the race strategy war starting in qualifying.
“We had perfect conditions for qualifying, in which we saw the race tactics begin already. With both Mercedes starting on the soft tyre, plus Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, there’s a fundamental strategic variation that is likely to hold the key to the race tomorrow.”
“Once again track temperatures were considerably higher this afternoon than the morning, and we’d expect similar conditions for the race tomorrow. We’ve seen in the past that strategy can help boost starting positions, so we can expect an eventful race tomorrow,” concluded the Briton.
Two-stop strategy and the usage of the soft compound are expected to dominate today’s race. It is, however, unsure in which order teams run the different compounds as no strategy stands out as the quickest.