Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Sochi Autodrom, 2019

Ferrari surprised by Mercedes tyre tactics for race

2019 Russian Grand Prix

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Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto says he is surprised Mercedes chose to start both their cars on harder tyres in tomorrow’s Russian Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas both used the medium compound rubber for their flying laps in Q2, which locks them in to starting the race on that rubber. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, who took pole position, and third-placed Sebastian Vettel will line up on the soft compound.

Binotto said Ferrari had considered a similar approach to Mercedes but rejected it. “That’s surprising to us, their choice,” he told Sky. “That’s something we were considering to be honest. I think we need to try to understand why they did that choice.

“Certainly we believe that the soft tyre’s got a grip advantage at the start. The start will be key tomorrow. But maybe that’s the right they did. Different strategies may do something interesting for the race for the fans to see.”

Binotto praised Leclerc who took his sixth pole position of the year and fourth in a row since the summer break.

“He surprised me how fast he is at first,” said Binotto. “I think he’s really very fast and that’s something which is important for a team when you can count on a driver who is so fast. That’s the most you may have.

“Certainly in the races where maybe we are not our best he can somehow try to compensate. And then in the races he’s learning. He’s learning very fast how to manage the tyres, how to manage the entire race distance. And I think since the start of the year his speed improved quite a lot.”

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Keith Collantine
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14 comments on “Ferrari surprised by Mercedes tyre tactics for race”

  1. That was quite surprising given both Mercs are on dirty side of track.

    1. Well what is the worst going to happen they more than likely going to be 3rd and 4th after the first corner anyway. The f1.5 wount be a problem overtaking if they fall behind on the first lap they will still be faster on mediums. Mercs only chance is something different giving them the delta to be close so if they have 20 laps at the end on softs may be more of a chance to overtake or they can go for a nice risk and pit after like 25 laps it would be along way to go to the end on the softs but more than doable Merc could have a huge undercut, it will catch ferrari off guard.

      Whatever Merc do they should pit first tommorow even though they will start on a harder tyre than Ferrari it is there best chance of a win as i feel Hamilton will probably be the best car in race trim.

  2. So if they considered, they must understand what the reasoning was behind it.

    Although I guess Ferrari understand better how something like this can go wrong, since they picked the wrong tyres for the start in Austria and ultimately lost that race because of it.

    1. And i hope Ferrari not gonna ruin Leclerc’s race strategy, like what happen in Singapore. Leclerc wants a win from pole. Leclerc will be a great WDC in future.

  3. I think Mercedes feared that Ferrari will not pushing for maximum lap time in first half of the race – like Singapore – but likely unable to pass them due to straightline speed deficit. So they might as well queueing in behind them with harder tyres, and unleash the soft for maximum delta in the second half of the race.

    1. +1. I also think so.

    2. +2 Makes sense.

  4. Don’t get excited, pals! Please wait Toto to explain their rocket science after the race.

  5. I see it this way. Mercedes went out on the medium, had ferrari done so, mercedes would have reverted to the soft.
    Considering Ferrari didn’t, this choice by merc means they’ll have a set of softs and good tyre for the in-lap, the medium.

    Scenario 1- Ham follows closely to lec on the pit window, overtakes in the pit stop.
    Scenario 2- Jumps Lec on the start.
    Scenario 3- Ferrari pace is slow, overcuts or vsc, sc.
    Scenario 4- Merc might choose to sacrifice bottas, pit him as early as possible for the soft tyre, force Ferrari to respond or at least goad them to.

    The undercut is the better strategy, the tyre doesn’t matter in this. The 2nd stint tyre might be the hard as track position should suffice, only desperation might account for something different.

    1. I suspect Leclerc will be ahead enough for undercut not to work, Mercedes will need to try overcut due to them having the harder tyre of the two teams and that won’t work either! We’ll see tomorrow, if it’s wet Hamilton wins, if dry then Leclerc.

  6. I think Mercedes should have split strategies but we’ll see. It’s possible on the Medium that Ferrari can simply drive into the distance so they won’t have to worry about the undercut or overcut, they can just pit around the optimum lap and have a gap to the end. Mercedes can’t overtake here due to the Ferrari straight line speed advantages, I suppose a late SC will help them though if Ferrrari do suffer from wear.

    1. I mean Mercedes on Medium vs Ferrari on softs.

  7. Interesting tyre strategy indeed. If Ferrari pit first to get rid of the soft tyres, then surely their new mediums will be faster than the older same compound tyre on the Mercs. By running much longer Mercedes will have an advantage at the end of the race, but I can’t see them having much chance of overtaking.

  8. If the grip of track increase as normally, soft tyres at the later period of the race may be more durable and fast as a result.
    I think mercs did the right call this time, by going opposite direction to Ferrari. At the end they have nothing to lose.

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