Drivers, Ferrari, Silverstone, 2019

Why the British GP could be the battle of the two-stop strategies

2019 British Grand Prix pre-race analysis

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As in Austria two weeks ago, Ferrari has gambled on starting the British Grand Prix on soft tyres, while rivals Mercedes and Red Bull have opted for mediums.

But the overall picture of the race is somewhat different to two weeks ago at the Red Bull Ring. First, there is neither the heat not altitude for Mercedes to be concerned about the engine cooling which forced them to back off so much in Austria.

Tyre strategy at Silverstone looks likely to be dictated by tyre wear – rather than degradation or graining – due to the high cornering speeds at the resurfaced, super-fast track. Pirelli expect teams will be forced to make two pit stops to ensure the tyres last.

This wouldn’t come as a total shock after last year, when Sebastian Vettel won with a two-stopper. However changes in the track surface could still change the picture. Between qualifying and the race there are two F2 races, an F3 race and other support races which give a chance for the track to rubber-in further. As the track started the weekend in such a green state, the track evolution effect could be strong.

Pirelli believe a soft/soft/hard strategy is the quickest way to the end of the race, providing teams have suitable tyres available. For those starting on medium tyres, including the Mercedes pair on the front row, a medium/soft/hard mix is the way to go. But could they be tempted to eke out that first stint on mediums, then go to the end on hards? The hard tyre performance will be key to this, so keep an eye on whoever is first to run that tyre in the race.

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The other key difference to Austria is that Ferrari has not been able to take pole position. Their highest car is third-placed Charles Leclerc, who has two medium-shod Mercedes in front of him to deal with. If he can get past them at the start of the race – wielding his softer rubber, Ferrari’s excellent straight-line speed and the knowledge the Mercedes drivers are racing with an eye on the championship – that could be the making of his race.

Home favourite Lewis Hamilton missed pole position by the tiniest of margins – a mere six-thousandths of a second – but his car ran superbly over a long run on Friday and he’s been keen not to mess with the formula. “The race trim is still good,” he said after qualifying. “I didn’t want to move from the set-up I had, too far away, because it worked so well on the long run yesterday.”

Red Bull, meanwhile, look in good shape too. Max Verstappen was surprisingly close to the one-lap pace of the Mercedes, and if he’s as quick over a race stint as he was last time out, we could have a corking British Grand Prix on our hands.

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Qualifying times in full


Q2 (vs Q1)

Q3 (vs Q2)
1Valtteri BottasMercedes1’25.7501’25.672 (-0.078)1’25.093 (-0.579)
2Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’25.5131’25.840 (+0.327)1’25.099 (-0.741)
3Charles LeclercFerrari1’25.5331’25.546 (+0.013)1’25.172 (-0.374)
4Max VerstappenRed Bull1’25.7001’25.848 (+0.148)1’25.276 (-0.572)
5Pierre GaslyRed Bull1’26.2731’26.038 (-0.235)1’25.590 (-0.448)
6Sebastian VettelFerrari1’25.8981’26.023 (+0.125)1’25.787 (-0.236)
7Daniel RicciardoRenault1’26.4281’26.283 (-0.145)1’26.182 (-0.101)
8Lando NorrisMcLaren1’26.0791’26.385 (+0.306)1’26.224 (-0.161)
9Alexander AlbonToro Rosso1’26.4821’26.403 (-0.079)1’26.345 (-0.058)
10Nico HulkenbergRenault1’26.5681’26.397 (-0.171)1’26.386 (-0.011)
11Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo1’26.4491’26.519 (+0.070)
12Kimi RaikkonenAlfa Romeo1’26.5581’26.546 (-0.012)
13Carlos Sainz JnrMcLaren1’26.2031’26.578 (+0.375)
14Romain GrosjeanHaas1’26.3471’26.757 (+0.410)
15Sergio PerezRacing Point1’26.6491’26.928 (+0.279)
16Kevin MagnussenHaas1’26.662
17Daniil KvyatToro Rosso1’26.721
18Lance StrollRacing Point1’26.762
19George RussellWilliams1’27.789
20Robert KubicaWilliams1’28.257

Sector times

DriverSector 1Sector 2Sector 3
Valtteri Bottas27.466 (3)34.408 (1)23.171 (2)
Lewis Hamilton27.449 (2)34.486 (2)23.070 (1)
Charles Leclerc27.366 (1)34.487 (3)23.284 (4)
Max Verstappen27.507 (5)34.516 (4)23.253 (3)
Pierre Gasly27.550 (7)34.652 (5)23.294 (5)
Sebastian Vettel27.546 (6)34.748 (6)23.390 (7)
Daniel Ricciardo27.571 (8)35.051 (11)23.523 (12)
Lando Norris27.756 (13)34.932 (8)23.349 (6)
Alexander Albon27.734 (12)34.987 (10)23.506 (11)
Nico Hulkenberg27.495 (4)35.115 (13)23.599 (15)
Antonio Giovinazzi27.780 (14)35.143 (14)23.452 (9)
Kimi Raikkonen27.662 (9)35.180 (16)23.594 (14)
Carlos Sainz Jnr27.718 (11)34.960 (9)23.423 (8)
Romain Grosjean27.836 (16)34.851 (7)23.492 (10)
Sergio Perez27.788 (15)35.067 (12)23.754 (18)
Kevin Magnussen27.892 (18)35.157 (15)23.531 (13)
Daniil Kvyat27.847 (17)35.181 (17)23.632 (16)
Lance Stroll27.678 (10)35.246 (18)23.690 (17)
George Russell28.154 (19)35.725 (19)23.886 (19)
Robert Kubica28.268 (20)35.894 (20)23.996 (20)

Speed trap

PosDriverCarEngineSpeed (kph/mph)Gap
1Daniel RicciardoRenaultRenault337.0 (209.4)
2Nico HulkenbergRenaultRenault336.7 (209.2)-0.3
3Antonio GiovinazziAlfa RomeoFerrari333.3 (207.1)-3.7
4Charles LeclercFerrariFerrari332.5 (206.6)-4.5
5Lance StrollRacing PointMercedes332.2 (206.4)-4.8
6Daniil KvyatToro RossoHonda331.3 (205.9)-5.7
7Kimi RaikkonenAlfa RomeoFerrari331.3 (205.9)-5.7
8Lando NorrisMcLarenRenault331.1 (205.7)-5.9
9Sebastian VettelFerrariFerrari330.6 (205.4)-6.4
10Carlos Sainz JnrMcLarenRenault330.1 (205.1)-6.9
11Sergio PerezRacing PointMercedes329.8 (204.9)-7.2
12Alexander AlbonToro RossoHonda329.4 (204.7)-7.6
13Lewis HamiltonMercedesMercedes328.7 (204.2)-8.3
14Robert KubicaWilliamsMercedes328.2 (203.9)-8.8
15Valtteri BottasMercedesMercedes328.2 (203.9)-8.8
16Max VerstappenRed BullHonda328.2 (203.9)-8.8
17George RussellWilliamsMercedes328.1 (203.9)-8.9
18Pierre GaslyRed BullHonda327.8 (203.7)-9.2
19Romain GrosjeanHaasFerrari327.6 (203.6)-9.4
20Kevin MagnussenHaasFerrari325.0 (201.9)-12.0

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Over to you

Will it be a battle of the Mercedes at Silverstone? Or will Ferrari or Red Bull get in the mix?

Share your views on the British Grand Prix in the comments.

2019 British Grand Prix

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Author information

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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19 comments on “Why the British GP could be the battle of the two-stop strategies”

  1. What is going on with Vettel? Last race and now this race as well, he is way off Lec. Also his body language isnt all that great like it used to be.
    Is he loosing the hunger the motivation? Is the romance with Ferrari over?
    On the other hand Lec has cut down the mistakes and starting to really deliver strong results. Sincerely hope he gets at least one win this season.

    1. Panagiotis Papatheodorou (@panagiotism-papatheodorou)
      14th July 2019, 5:40

      Well last race he had engine issues. Yeah he was like 0.2s behind him until Q1 (started having issues in Q2, so count it out) so we can’t judge quali pace fully. As for the race, he was on par and sometimes better than Charles especially in the end of their first stint.

      Silverstone has never been his best track. He was outqualified 3-1 by Kimi in their common Ferrari years and Webber mostly had the upper hand here as well.

      As for today, he had issues with the DRS in Q1 and Q2 (correct me if I am wrong for Q2). Couldn’t put the sector times together in his final run, not good but happens sometimes. In France he also had some issues with the gearbox in his first Q3 run. I suppose all these issues coupled with the defeat at Canada hasn’t been too kind to his confidence.

  2. Another factor is that Silverstone has one of the slowest pitlanes on the calendar, so it costs the driver 24-26s to make a pitstop. So being able to do 1 less stop counts for more here.

    1. Is that really true? The pit-lane entry bypasses a part of the circuit. Schumacher was once given a stop-and-go penalty rather than a drive-through penalty because the stewards argued that a drive-through penalty would be too lenient. When looking at the lap-time data it seems a pit-stop costs slightly less than 20 seconds, which is about average.

      1. In Dutch commentary they said it Silverstone is the longest pitlane of the season in terms of duration: 29 seconds total pitlane time, incl. the stop.

        So, even if you lose 2 seconds per lap by staying out on old tires you still have 14 laps to come out ahead by driving like a grandma. Besides, if you do go for fresh tires you have to take traffic into account.

  3. I agree but i cant remember last time Vettel spoke like this.

    Vettel said of his session, “I’ve had worse ones… at least I took part. I don’t know, I didn’t have the speed.

    “I didn’t have a good feeling for the car. I think he [Charles Leclerc] did a good job. For me I don’t have an answer now it’s fairly evenly spread”

    He seems to be lost finding balance and setup in a car which is good enough for pole position. Charles missed pole by less than a tenth.

    1. We all know Vettel wouldn’t have been a world champion if Alonso, Hamilton or even Rosberg were his teammates rather than Mark Webber, during his RedBull days.

      Leclerc, despite his young age and inexperience, is looking like he’s well above Webber’s level. So, is it really a surprise Vettel can’t keep up?

  4. Will it be a battle of the Mercedes at Silverstone? – Only on lap one.
    Or will Ferrari or Red Bull get in the mix? – Hopefully.

  5. British weather can spice things up a bit!

  6. For those starting on medium tyres, including the Mercedes pair on the front row, a medium/soft/hard mix is the way to go.

    It makes perfect sense indeed to start on mediums to just switch back to softs…
    Mercedes and Red Bull will be trying to make a medium-hard strategy work, whereas Ferrari will go for soft-soft-medium or soft-medium-medium, depending on tire wear, which could be interesting.

    1. @f1infigures
      Leclerc doesn’t have any fresh mediums left though and Vettel has got one fresh set.

      I’ve just taken a look a Pirelli’s twitter and according to them a 1-stopper isn’t even on the cards, which I found quite interesting. It seems they are expecting quite high tyre wear.

      But I agree with you. Mercedes and Red Bull will try to make a 1-stopper work and I assume Ferrari will go for soft-hard-soft (for Leclerc) and probably soft-medium-soft for Vettel.

      1. @srga91
        If that set of mediums was only used in qualifying it shouldn’t make much of a difference, but perhaps Leclerc will only do one stint on the medium tire (soft-soft-medium or maybe even soft-medium-hard).
        It seems the situation is very much like in Barcelona, another high-tire-load circuit, when the tire degradation wasn’t very high, but the physical wear was, which forced most drivers to pit twice. I believe Hülkenberg was the only exception and he did quite well, only to be caught out by the virtual safety car. I guess Ferrari must be hoping for a virtual safety car.

        1. Yeah I think Leclerc used that set in Q1 only, so it should be good for the race if he needs them.

  7. Wasn’t Leclerc on the mediums? Or did he improve on the softs in Q2?

    1. F1oSaurus (@)
      14th July 2019, 12:34

      @hahostolze He went out again on softs and completed the (faster) lap. Really odd. In the poirst race interview he claimed everything was according to plan.

      Perhaps Ferrari were trying to sell Mercedes and Red Bull the dummy and they feel this strategy to start on softs is a brilliant move. We’ll see soon I guess.

      1. I think Ferrari did want to fool the competition because they believe a two stop is quicker. However, with the long pitlane at Silverstone Merc & RB can lose 2 seconds per lap by driving slowly for 15 laps straights and still be in front of the Ferrari’s….

        I’m afraid Ferrari shot themselves in the foot again. They should have at least split the strategy I think.

  8. “heat not altitude”


  9. Anyone knows why Q2 times fell for most of the drivers ?

    1. Could be track temps. The sun was moving in and out from behind the clouds all session.

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