Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Circuit of the Americas, 2017

Red Bull’s super-soft pace could threaten Mercedes

2017 United States Grand Prix Friday practice analysis

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Mercedes’ biggest threat at the Circuit of the Americas could come from Red Bull rather than Ferrari.

Lewis Hamilton set the pace on the ultra-soft tyres in the second practice session. But the super-soft tyre is likely to be the more significant compound for the race – and Red Bull were quicker on that tyre.

Brendon Hartley, Toro Rosso, Circuit of the Americas, 2017
2017 United States GP practice in pictures
Daniel Ricciardo set the fastest time on the super-soft, two-tenths inside Hamilton’s fastest time. All year long Mercedes haven’t been as strong on this tyre as their closest rivals.

Hamilton said his car “was feeling good” but admitted “there are lots of areas we can improve on”. He can expect to pick up more pace than Red Bull on Saturday thanks to Mercedes’ qualifying engine modes, but the race will be a different matter.

Red Bull will be hoping the weather forecasts continue to tip in their favour. Rain was expected into Sunday morning and some forecasts now indicate it will last past noon. The race starts at 2pm local time, and the more moisture the better as far as Red Bull is concerned.

Ricciardo expects to find bigger gains from his car tomorrow after being out-paced by Max Verstappen on the softest tyre.

“The grip on the circuit was really low for what we were expecting with lap times,” he said. “It’s humid so the tyres were getting really hot and then you struggle to generate the desirable grip on the car.”

“We have a few things we can obviously try for tomorrow, now that we understand a bit more from these sessions. We didn’t really have the ideal set-up but I think with all those things considered we’re not a million miles off the pace and if we can get it right tomorrow we can still be up there.”

Ferrari’s pace is something of a mystery. Sebastian Vettel said he made a mistake on his fastest run. He has now had to change chassis due to the problem he noticed in second practice. However competitive they may be, this disruption to their preparations won’t have helped.

Longest stint comparison – second practice

This chart shows all the drivers’ lap times (in seconds) during their longest unbroken stint. Very slow laps omitted. Scroll to zoom, drag to pan, right-click to reset:

Combined practice times

PosDriverCarFP1FP2Total laps
1Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’36.3351’34.66844
2Max VerstappenRed Bull-TAG Heuer1’37.3391’35.06551
3Sebastian VettelFerrari1’36.9281’35.19231
4Valtteri BottasMercedes1’36.9791’35.27949
5Daniel RicciardoRed Bull-TAG Heuer1’39.3661’35.46338
6Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1’37.5981’35.51449
7Fernando AlonsoMcLaren-Honda1’36.30432
8Felipe MassaWilliams-Mercedes1’37.5701’36.46053
9Sergio PerezForce India-Mercedes1’37.8611’36.48148
10Esteban OconForce India-Mercedes1’37.8081’36.49059
11Carlos Sainz JnrRenault1’38.0931’36.52954
12Nico HulkenbergRenault1’38.9041’36.53437
13Daniil KvyatToro Rosso-Renault1’36.76140
14Kevin MagnussenHaas-Ferrari1’38.4081’37.28533
15Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren-Honda1’37.3521’37.46357
16Lance StrollWilliams-Mercedes1’38.5341’37.78852
17Brendon HartleyToro Rosso-Renault1’39.2671’37.98769
18Pascal WehrleinSauber-Ferrari1’38.16535
19Marcus EricssonSauber-Ferrari1’40.4481’38.26241
20Romain GrosjeanHaas-Ferrari1’39.3361’38.38743
21Sean GelaelToro Rosso-Renault1’40.40625
22Charles LeclercSauber-Ferrari1’40.82825

Best times by tyre

DriverTeamUltra-soft bestSuper-soft bestSoft best
Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’34.6681’36.3351’36.534
Valtteri BottasMercedes1’35.2791’36.817None
Daniel RicciardoRed Bull1’35.4631’36.116None
Max VerstappenRed Bull1’35.0651’37.3391’36.328
Sebastian VettelFerrari1’35.1921’36.9282’01.634
Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1’35.5141’36.667None
Sergio PerezForce India1’36.4811’37.0341’37.861
Esteban OconForce India1’36.4901’37.5091’37.808
Felipe MassaWilliams1’36.4602’15.3791’38.340
Lance StrollWilliams1’37.7881’38.534None
Fernando AlonsoMcLaren1’36.304None1’37.666
Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren1’37.3521’37.535None
Daniil KvyatToro Rosso1’36.761None1’38.119
Brendon HartleyToro Rosso1’37.9871’39.188None
Romain GrosjeanHaas1’38.7491’38.387None
Kevin MagnussenHaas1’37.2851’38.4081’44.062
Nico HulkenbergRenault1’36.5341’38.9041’38.246
Carlos Sainz JnrRenault1’36.5291’38.093None
Marcus EricssonSauber1’38.2621’39.203None
Pascal WehrleinSauber1’38.165None1’39.465
Charles LeclercSauberNone1’40.828None
Sean GelaelToro Rosso1’40.406NoneNone

2017 United States Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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8 comments on “Red Bull’s super-soft pace could threaten Mercedes”

  1. Does anyone know why Red Bull aren’t sporting the coat hanger this weekend? Not that I’m complaining

    1. I heard a few races back that they had improved their airflow enough that they didn’t really require the clothes hanger.

  2. The track record from last year(1:34.999) has already broken! There is any track where this new cars din’t broke some time records? Except Monza.It’s gonna be interesting when this season end what has left to be broke.Only in they first year! Amazing !

  3. Well, no. Verstappen will take an engine penalty. Must be nice being Ricciardo and having that magical ability.

    1. Dr. Marko said that they wanted to analyse the gains of the Renault engine in Hartley and Hülkenberg their cars before making a final decision about planting the new Renault ICE into Verstappen his car.

  4. Good to see Hartley on the long run pace – fast adjusting to single seater again. Great pilot.

  5. Pretty spurious comparison of SS pace – different sessions and when Hamilton did it he was half a second quicker than anyone else.

  6. I don’t think Merc will run the Super Soft in the race at all. Their times on the Soft were pretty impressive – just as fast and will obviously support a longer stint.

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