Formula One tyre supplier Pirelli has noted that the degradation of the tyres at Abu Dhabi is low enough to expect only a single stop strategy. All top 10 drivers will also stop on the same ultra soft tyres they used in qualifying, so strategy looks to be reasonably similar across everyone.
Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas claimed the final pole position of the 2017 season, around 2.5 seconds faster than last year’s pole time, using the same P Zero Purple ultrasoft compound choice as one year ago.
The ultrasoft was the tyre used by all the drivers from start to finish of the session, which began in daylight and then ended under the lights as the sun set. As usual here, track temperatures fell progressively during the session.
A one-stop strategy is what Pirelli expects to be the quickest way to run tomorrow’s race, especially with Yas Marina not being the easiest circuit to overtake on.
“Qualifying went exactly as we expected", said Mario Isola, Pirelli's Head of Racing.
"There wasn’t a huge degree of track evolution and the lap record dropped further, with ultrasofts used from start to finish. The ultrasofts were in fact capable of more than one flying lap, which is why we saw some drivers alternating push laps with cool-down laps. We should see a one-stop ultrasoft-supersoft strategy for most drivers, but the low degradation also means that the pit stop window is pretty wide, so drivers should be able to make their stop more or less when they want to.”
Free practices showed around 8 tenths of a second gap between the ultrasoft and supersoft, so drivers are expected to maximise their stint lengths on the softer tyre. The soft Pirellis meanwhile are not expected to be used during the race, due to the decreasing temperatures in the evening working against that hardest option.