Drivers’ tyre choices for Bahrain announced

2016 Bahrain Grand Prix

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The drivers’ tyre choices for the second round of the season have been announced by Pirelli.

The super-soft tyre is again the most widely preferred choice with most teams selecting six or seven sets of the softest rubber.

Melbourne front-runners Mercedes and Ferrari are taking six sets for each of their drivers but have differed over their selection of medium tyres. The harder rubber was used by Mercedes to great effect in Australia to take a one-two finish but their have only chosen a single set for this weekend whereas Ferrari has opted for three.

Last year all bar one of the top ten finishers in the Bahrain Grand Prix ran two stints on soft tyres and one on mediums.

Here are the drivers’ tyre choices in full for the Bahrain Grand Prix:

Lewis HamiltonMercedes
Nico RosbergMercedes
Sebastian VettelFerrari
Kimi RaikkonenFerrari
Valtteri BottasWilliams
Felipe MassaWilliams
Daniel RicciardoRed Bull
Daniil KvyatRed Bull
Nico HulkenbergForce India
Sergio PerezForce India
Kevin MagnussenRenault
Jolyon PalmerRenault
Max VerstappenToro Rosso
Carlos Sainz JnrToro Rosso
Fernando AlonsoMcLaren
Jenson ButtonMcLaren
Marcus EricssonSauber
Felipe NasrSauber
Pascal WehrleinManor
Rio HaryantoManor
Romain GrosjeanHaas
Esteban GutierrezHaas

2016 Bahrain Grand Prix

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    Keith Collantine
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    54 comments on “Drivers’ tyre choices for Bahrain announced”

    1. I can see it being a 2 stop with either one of these strategies used
      SS, Soft, Soft
      SS, Soft, Medium
      depending on tyre wear and just how good of a race tyre the medium could possibly be

      1. @bezza695

        Considering this track is pretty hard on the rear tyres, I don’t think a 2-stopper will be that easy to achieve, especially not for the Top-10.
        It will be interesting to see for how long the SS is going to last. I’m expecting 8-10 laps for this tyre till the 1st stop.

        SS-M-M should be the quickest strategy for the front runners IMO (except Mercedes, because they can’t do that now).
        The Medium worked really well last year, when Kimi was lapping faster than the Top-3 and they were on Softs. It also worked well for the Mercs in Australia. That’s why I’m surprised they only went for 1 set of Mediums.

        Another possible strategy (for Mercs and Ferraris) would be to go for the Softs in Q2, to be able to extend the 1st stint and the do an even longer stint on the Mediums, for a possible attack in the final stint on the Softs.

        1. Is it actually that hard on tyres? I mean, that was my thought too initially, but then I thought about the track layout and there’s not a huge number of high-speed corners.

          1. There is more than fast corners that affect tyre wear. Temperature and kind of asphalt to begin with.

            1. The macro is rougher than some, but not on the levels of, say, Catalunya or Silverstone. Also the temperature isn’t as hot as it used to be with it being a night race.

            2. altitude2k, the track surface isn’t necessarily the most abrasive out there, but it is still towards the higher end of the scale.

              What tends to make it harder on tyre wear is the fact that there are a number of corners where the tyres are subjected to a combination of lateral and longitudinal loads – the classic example is Turns 9 to 10 – which tends to cause the cars to slide across the surface of the track. Another aspect is the fact that the circuit has something of a stop-start nature so the drivers are often having to accelerate hard out of corners, tending in turn to place a higher strain on the rear tyres.

        2. ColdFly F1 (@)
          22nd March 2016, 16:31

          (The Medium) worked well for the Mercs in Australia. That’s why I’m surprised they only went for 1 set of Mediums.

          but probably less so knowing that they chose their Bahrein tyres before racing in Melbourne, @srga91.

          1. As others have said, the medium tyre has proven to be a fairly decent race tyre in the past couple of years, particularly in the latter stages of the race when the ambient conditions are at their coolest (given that the operating temperature window for the medium tyres are lower than the soft tyres).

            Based on the 2015 race, you might have expected Mercedes to have gone for the strategy that Ferrari appear to be leaning towards (using the medium tyre as the preferred race tyre). It may be that Mercedes are confident they can manage the tyres, but it would seem to push them towards having to do a reasonably long first stint on the supersoft tyre (assuming they use it in Q2) to balance the lengths of the stints if going for a two stop race.

        3. Last year Kimi was fast on the mediums, but even faster on the softs. The soft tire was the preferred race tire, as it was in 2014, so possibly the supersoft tire will actually be quite good in the race.

        4. Apex Assassin
          1st April 2016, 2:23

          those are super softs not ultra softs so should last a bit longer than that.

    2. Sorry guys, probably being stupid here, does anybody know what the mandatory race tyre is?

      1. I think the drivers have to run at least one of either Medium or Soft, like in Australia.
        Assuming everyone does their qualifying on SS, then either of these tyre combinations are OK;
        SS, M, M or SS, S, S, S
        A simple “rule of thumb” would be that the hardest 2 tyre types will be the mandatory race tyres (of which only ONE need actually be used).

      2. From what I can find out the mandatory tyres are the soft and medium tyres must be available during the race and the super soft for Q3…

      3. any two of the allocated compounds

      4. Archit (@architjain07)
        2nd April 2016, 8:15

        Drivers can use any two type of tires during the race! For Bahrain it can be either SS and Softs or SS and Mediums or Soft and Mediums!

    3. To me, the choice of only 1 set of medium tyres implies that you never intend to use it at all (at least one set is mandatory).
      Surely you need a 2nd set to use in practice in order to evaluate the tyre properly, otherwise using it in the race is a straight up gamble?
      I firmly believe that Hamilton took a gamble in Australia and that others only followed because of the red flag.

      1. He did. And he was correct.

        Looks like Mercedes used all avaliable Mediums in winter testing?

        1. That’s not how it works, its their choice that they are not going for mediums.

        2. @jureo

          Looks like Mercedes used all available Mediums in winter testing?

          No, the fact they used a lot of medium compound tyres in testing doesn’t prevent them from being able to pick more for the races.

          1. Doesnt picking one set render them unable to use it in free practice?

            1. They’d certainly be unwise to. But they obviously have zero intention of using the medium at all and will have it around just in case some unusual circumstance comes up and they’re forced to go for a different strategy, like in Melbourne.

            2. I think they can use it in the first 40 mins of free practice1 and they get a set returned don’t they?

      2. With Toro Rosso and Haas I would suspect one diver doing the medium long run and the other the soft long runs (at Bahrein you only have FP2 to do all the work because of the temperatures).

    4. I think that this track is “rough” on the tyres for a couple of reasons, temperature not being quite the factor it used to be now that it’s a full night race. However IIRC the track surface itself has a bit more “tooth” than many of the others, as well as the fact that there will be, at least initially until the cars sweep it cleaner, a lot of grit/sand on it which not only will make it slippy at first but will only aid the already rough Tarmac in acting as a sandpaper on the rubber. For those teams whose cars aren’t particularly adept at warming the harder rubbers (ie Ferrari, and at least last season Williams and McLaren had trouble getting harder types to build temp) I suspect we will hear complaints of graining when trying to get the mediums to work as the surface will tend to smear the harder rubber.
      What will be interesting to see, at least to me, is how well the Scuderia can lean on the soft, and still get life out of it. Obviously the super soft is going to be the faster tyre but I don’t see any one team being able to get them to last appreciably longer than any other team so I suspect it will come down to, at least with the teams with a legit chance at challenging for a podium spot, who can get the most out of the soft.
      Barring a mech/tech problem from Merc or Ferrari I don’t see anyone taking it to them in this round, with the only two “outside” chances (and IMO, only with help from a tech/mech issue for Fer or Merc) coming from Williams, which showed impressive pace at this track last season and generally favors tracks where huge amounts of mech grip aren’t a factor, and (surprise!) Torro Rosso. I pick them over Red Bull, who might normally be my outside shot pick simply based on their historic ability to challenge even when down on power, because the TR has shown a propensity for taking care of it’s tyres, will have a HP advantage over RB and has proven that it’s chassis, even without the budget for aero development RB may have over them, is quite sound and at tracks that aren’t particularly tight or technical has the balance and outright speed to beat it’s big brother team. The development that they’ve been able to do has been concentrated in the right places for tracks like these. Come Singapore and monoco and the like, perhaps a different tale but I have had a feeling since the middle of last season, more so once it was clear RB were going to be behind the curve while they hashed out their PU situation, that STR would likely put the screws to RBR this season and if they don’t end up finishing higher in the Constructors this season it will surprise me to some extent.

    5. Mercedes would have probably chosen more mediums if they had foreseen winter testing and the race in Australia. But because they had to choose last December, they might have gotten it wrong.

      1. Or circumstance led to them using them in Australia and they won with this and the red flag. Imagine if Ferrari did not use the medium in Australia where in hindsight they should have then use it in Bahrain when they should not have and Merc used it when should have and did not when should not have. 2 race wins for Merc but reverse the tyre strategies and could have been 2 race wins for Ferrari. These tyre rules are quite good and will have a huge impact on the season, especially the 1st few races where teams had to pick their tyres having never used them.

    6. Watching Australian Grand Prix, it was unclear to me what the two different M tire icons stand for. Could anyone explain?

      1. The icons with the black background stand for used tyres. The one with black letters and red, yellow, white (depending on the tyre-colour) stand for new tyres.

        1. Thank you! that was bugging me all weekend.

      2. I’m guessing that one represented the allocated Pirelli medium tyre for the race, but I’m not sure which icon that was.

      3. One was new tyres and one was used. I forget which was which. The FOM overlay had a key for it at the start of the race.

    7. I hope it doesn’t rain in Bahrain. Ferrari’s allocation seems good enough for a normal race in the desert heat. Surprising to see Mercs choose more softs considering their testing regimen was fully comprised of Mediums.

      1. We can be like 99.9 % sure rain won’t hit Bahrain during the race weekend as every single session since the inaugural weekend back in 2004 has been run entirely in dry weather conditions, so basically rain in places like Bahrain, and Abu Dhabi is as likely as winning a lottery.

        1. Jerejj, a few years ago it did actually rain at the very start of the first practise session in Abu Dhabi – though it is, as you say, exceptionally unlikely to happen again.

          1. @anon I don’t remember rain during any session of any Abu Dhabi GP weekend, so which year?

      2. The tyre choices were made before winter testing.

        1. I understand that. But considering that Mercedes did the whole test on Mediums, I would expect their allocations to reflect the same. i.e. I have made my choice for the race as mediums and I shall run them the most during the test to get most information about it.

          That is why the choice or their testing regimen seems puzzling. Anyway, 1 more week and it will all be clear.

    8. What is the first race for which allocations will have been chosen after the Australian Grand Prix? It will be interesting to see if things change.

      1. I think the tyres for the first 4 “fly-away” races have already been chosen, so I would guess it would be the 5th race (Spanish GP).

      2. Whichever race is eight weeks after the Australian Grand Prix.

    9. I think it is becoming clearer why Mercedes ran so much of medium during testing. They probably know it so well now that they can put it on during the race and just know how it will behave, no matter what track, what temperature. Hence, they are confident taking just 1 set.

      In practice, they will probably run the SS and S to understand the right mix for the race.

      I think SS-S-M might be the most preferred strategy for Bahrain as the mediums would work best in the cooler night temperatures. If there is a rightly timed safety car period, some may go for SS-S-S.

      But can I just have a shout out and say well done to FIA over this high tyre choice freedom. A rule change well implemented with sufficient notice given to teams and it looks like teams are choosing vastly different strategies now. Some teams have just 3 sets of softs while others have 7. The intrigue of the races increases even more because of this. And all this even before we have seen a race with the ultrasofts. This strategy element of racing is going to get even better as the season progresses.

    10. I am wondering if the drivers have to start with used SS, whether a 3 stopper is the way to go, if you don’t have say 2 Mediums handy.
      SS-S-S-S, or SS-S-S-SS (new)
      What do people think? Isn’t the Pit lane lost actually quite small for this track (~19 seconds)?

      1. Actually, in 2014 there were many 3-stop strategies with softs and mediums, so with softs and supersofts I expect the 3-stopper to be the normal strategy. Last year the soft tires lasted at least 15 laps, so 3 stints on softs and a shorter stint on supersofts should be possible. With those long straights, overtaking should not be a problem, so therefore the strategic risk is limited.

    11. Good. This rule to mix up strategies by adding third compound seems to be working. Lots of differing choices and lots of potential for different teams to get it wrong. Combine it with a circuit where overtaking is very much possible and I’m really looking forward to this one

    12. The teams had to choose these before the pre-season tests began, right?

      Anyway, I wonder how well a Soft-Medium strategy would work. From the top teams, maybe Red Bull or Force India will go for it.

      1. they will be using super softs to start if in the top 8 dont forget. so maybe a ss, s, medium strat is the way to go? or not

        1. They have to start on the Q2 tire, right?

        2. This is a power track, if I remember correctly. Besides Mercedes and Ferrari, I think Williams are pretty much locked into Q3. Then I guess Force India, and Toro Rosso should be stronger than Red Bull. I’d even expect Haas to show good pace.

          So Red Bull may find themselves out of Q3 (at least 1 car) which might force them into alternative strategies (even more so when they’ll have trouble overtaking). Thus, a one stopper.

          As for Force India, it wouldn’t be surprising if at least one car missed Q3, so again, they could go for something different.

          Just a bit of pre-race speculation. Maybe the teams will find out that the Supersoft only lasts 5 laps.

          1. Is Q3 back to 10 cars again?
            I wish the Stupid Points-Scoring Strategy Cartel would take this opportunity to improve qualifying by dropping the rule about starting on your qualifying tyres, but that would be too much to hope for.

    13. odd, Ferrari were deathly scared of the medium in Australia yet Vettel has 3 times the sets Merc have for this race? wow, interesting!

    14. nice chart on tyre choice, simple and clear

    15. We must not forget that every team must give back to pirelli 6 sets of tires before Qualy and that it is mandate to have at least 1 set of of the 3 compounds for the race. Also every team that expects to be in Q3 should have at least 4 sets of SS. Thus we can easily predict that Merc, Ferrari, RBR, TR, Williams and FI (not so sure if they want to be in Q3) will have one of these 2 allocations of tires (1 M, 2 S, 4 SS or 1M, 1 S, 5SS) after FP3.

      I think that RBR and Ferrari have already understand that they need to do something different and they need to take risks. Merc is the fastest car but they almost lost in Albert Part. Also Ferrari hid their secret weapon (which is their starting procedure and launch of the starting line) with the second formation lap. This is what LH was talking about (an ace up their sleeve he called it). If they can be in the front they can control the race and with a different strategy they can win. Lets wait and see in 10 days time…… but in the meanwhile……

      Spoiler Alert:
      This means that FP will be very interesting because the teams will use different tires in every session. We can predict the strategy if the race is straightforward without any incidents . So Mec will make a 2stopper (SS (12)-S(23)-S(25)). Ferrari will split strategies. Vettel will do a 2 stopper (SS (13)-S(29)-SS(15)) and Kimi a thrilling 1stopper (SS(19)-M(38)). RBR will try the same daring strategy with Ferrari. TR, FI and Williams will opt for a mix of the 3 compounds (SS(10)-M(29)-S(18)).

      1. @babis1980
        What? The only teams with a split strategy are Torro Rosso, Haas and Sauber unless I’m mistaken.

        Besides I have no doubt strategies will vary on race weekend. I don’t understand how you think the tyre strategy is fully predictable in any sense at all. There’s a lot of tyres to choose to use between FP1 and the race. You make very big assumptions.

    16. Why take more than one set of mediums?

      Noone will do two medium stints, and obviously not needed in quali either.

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