Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Silverstone, 2018

Teams likely to run one-stop strategies without hard tyres

2018 British Grand Prix Friday practice analysis

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After the first day of running at an unusually hot Silverstone the expectation is we are in for another one-stop strategy race, but one slightly different to those we have seen recently.

Pirelli has allocated the hard tyre for the first and so far only time this year. Teams haven’t brought many examples of it and may be unwilling to use it in the race.

That will push them towards using the soft and medium tyre. In recent races some of the quicker teams have avoided using the softest available tyre in Q2, to allow them to start the race on a more strategically advantageous tyre. But as the medium is around a second slower than the soft – higher than Pirelli expected – they may not be able to get away with doing that here.

There is a caveat, however. The new DRS zone added between Club and Village, which runs through Abbey and Farm, is exaggerating the performance difference between the ‘big three’ teams and the rest. While the likes of Mercedes and Red Bull have taken it flat-out, midfield leaders Haas and Renault cannot.

As a result the quickest midfielder – which today was Fernando Alonso’s McLaren – is almost two seconds off the quickest time of the day. That opens up the possibility for the leaders to consider using the medium in qualifying.


However that is unlikely to make the difference between a one- and two-stop race: Pirelli expect most drivers to favour a single stop.

[There’s] a bit of degradation, especially on the soft,” Pirelli sporting director Mario Isola told media including RaceFans after practice. “But we know that during the race they manage the pace so I’m expecting the level of degradation will decrease during the race.”

“If they manage the degradation it should be a one-stop race,” he added. “The one-stop strategy is the quickest with soft and medium.”

However a question mark remains over exactly how the hard tyre will perform in the race. “The high temperature is something that’s in favour of the hard compound. It is slower by roughly one second compared to the data but we don’t have a lot of comparison.”

Keep an eye out for anyone who gets involved in a first-lap incident, opts to pit, and puts on the hards. If their lap times turn out to be good one of the front-runners may take note, and opt to gamble on an aggressively early pit stop. The surprisingly high track temperatures at Silverstone – over 50C today – might just make it possible.

The heat will also play a big role in shaping the competitive order. We saw this in Austria, when surprisingly high race-day temperatures brought Red Bull into contention, and we saw it again in practice today. The track was 20C hotted in the afternoon and suddenly Ferrari eclipsed Mercedes, who couldn’t replicate their morning lap times.

Despite their awesome performance through Abbey, where they were flat-out with RS open from the word go, Red Bull look to be out of the fight at least as far as qualifying goes. Part of their problem is rising downforce levels have made several corners flat-out, which effectively extends the straights, amplifying their top speed disadvantage.

Although the McLaren is unchanged from the configurant it ran in France and Austria, the car was surprisingly quick on Friday, seeming to thrive on Silverstone’s high-speed corners. A strong home showing appears to be on the cards after another difficult week off-track for the team.

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:

Complete practice times

PosDriverCarFP1FP2Total laps
1Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’27.4871’27.73956
2Sebastian VettelFerrari1’27.9981’27.55257
3Valtteri BottasMercedes1’27.8541’27.90956
4Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1’28.2181’28.04558
5Daniel RicciardoRed Bull-TAG Heuer1’28.1441’28.40861
6Max VerstappenRed Bull-TAG Heuer1’28.32526
7Fernando AlonsoMcLaren-Renault1’30.3221’29.30650
8Romain GrosjeanHaas-Ferrari1’29.35212
9Nico HulkenbergRenault1’30.7011’29.35453
10Esteban OconForce India-Mercedes1’29.8151’29.46757
11Sergio PerezForce India-Mercedes1’29.8121’29.52255
12Charles LeclercSauber-Ferrari1’30.0271’29.55757
13Carlos Sainz JnrRenault1’30.3581’29.56358
14Kevin MagnussenHaas-Ferrari1’30.0651’29.61753
15Pierre GaslyToro Rosso-Honda1’30.0041’29.83147
16Lance StrollWilliams-Mercedes1’29.8781’30.06959
17Marcus EricssonSauber-Ferrari1’29.9421’30.04657
18Sergey SirotkinWilliams-Mercedes1’31.0171’30.10358
19Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren-Renault1’30.4161’30.12156
20Brendon HartleyToro Rosso-Honda1’30.7491’30.40466

Quotes: Dieter Rencken

2018 British 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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    7 comments on “Teams likely to run one-stop strategies without hard tyres”

    1. Gemma St. Ivans
      6th July 2018, 21:38

      I am surprised at the gap between Alonso and Stoff. But who knows what program and fuel loads they were doing

      1. There is an issue with the current car that doesn’t show during simulations, so the engineers want validation.
        McLaren split the work between the drivers on Friday: Alo is doing setup work for the raceweekend, Stoffel is doing validation runs to compare the on track data with the simulation data.

    2. So harder tires will never be used?

    3. If teams are on the limit with grip at turn 1 with the DRS open, would using the harder tyres force them to lift and thus lose a lot more time compared to a lap using the softer tyre?

      1. @fer-no65
        I doubt it, for two reasons:
        – Firstly, even though this article draws a connection between the large gap after the top 6 and DRS usage, using DRS all the way to turn 3 doesn’t offer a significant lap time advantage. It’s a relatively short run with a high entry speed, so the potential for improvement is minimal. I’d be amazed if it’s significantly larger than a tenth of a second.
        – Secondly, the top 6 have been using DRS through turns 1 and 2 on medium tyres in Free Practice already, no problems.

    4. Take pole, survive the start, lead the first stint, pit and go onto the Hard tyres and keep the lead, let the others run in your wake on their shiny fast Mediums until they boil, and finish the race in the slowest possible way while managing everything.

      My recipe for success this weekend!

    5. ”hotted” and ”RS” I think you mean ‘hotter’ and ‘DRS’ respectively, LOL.

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