Definitely one-stop strategy for Mexico, says Pirelli

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Mexico, Autódromo Hermanos Rodriguezmx

Formula One’s sole tyre manufacturer Pirelli is sure that the one-stop strategy will be the fastest way to complete today’s 71-lap Mexico City Grand Prix.

Following the strategy-dictated thrilling United States Grand Prix at Austin, the Formula One community made a trip to Mexico City for Round 18 of the 2021 FIA Formula One World Championship. The tyres in the middle of the range have been selected for this race: C2 as the P Zero White hard, C3 as the P Zero Yellow medium, and C4 as the P Zero Red soft. This is the same selection as was made in 2019, when the race was held few days earlier, but a step harder than in 2018 (when it was noticed that the C5 soft tyre was too aggressive a choice for Mexico).

At around 2285 metres, the Autodromo Hermanos Rodríguez sits at the highest altitude of any track on the calendar (by more than 1000 metres). This means that the air is very thin, so although the cars run high levels of downforce to try and generate aerodynamic grip through corners, in reality the downforce effect is extremely minimised, which can lead to some sliding.

The top three in 2019 all ran a one-stop medium-hard strategy (with some long stints seen on the hard) although Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc finished fourth with a two-stopper that featured two medium stints.

As for today’s inaugural Mexican City Grand Prix, Pirelli thinks that the fastest way to approach the 71-lap race is definitely a one-stopper, as there’s quite a high time loss in the pit lane (around 22 seconds on top of the actual stop) and it’s hard to overtake on this circuit.

What the optimal tactic is concerned, the best way is to start on the P Zero Yellow medium C3 followed by P Zero White hard, which is why so many drivers wanted to get through Q2 on the yellow tyre. This also allows for quite a wide pit stop window.

P Zero Red soft C4 followed by the hard is also feasible (although slower) but there’s not so much flexibility, as the soft tyre will need to be managed over a shorter first stint compared to the medium runners.

The best two-stopper would actually be medium-hard-medium but this is slower than a one-stopper. As always, track temperature will be a key factor, with warm conditions expected for tomorrow’s race. With more rubber now laid down on the circuit, there should be less sliding than was seen on Friday.

Commenting on the qualifying session, Pirelli’s Head of F1 and Car Racing Mario Isola said: “Practically all the drivers tried to get through Q2 with the medium tyre in order to run the fastest strategy tomorrow, which is definitely a medium-hard one stopper, as there’s quite a significant time loss in the pit-lane and it’s difficult to overtake.

„This option also gives a lot of flexibility around the strategy. As expected with more rubber laid down, the soft tyre showed a very solid performance in qualifying and so it could play a role in the final stint of the race tomorrow,” the Italian concluded.