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Mexican GP: Pirelli Qualifying Review


By Courtesy of Pirelli
October 27 2019

 
 Pirelli Mexican GP Qualifying Review
 
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Red Bull driver Max Verstappen wrapped up his second pole position this year, after a tricky qualifying session. Verstappen set the pole time on the soft tyre but will start the race on the medium tyre – used by six of the top 10 to set their best Q2 times. Verstappen received his Pirelli Pole Position Award from Mexican F1 legend Jo Ramirez: a well-known team manager who was a close friend of Ayrton Senna, among many other top drivers. Verstappen’s fastest lap in Q3 also beat the existing track record – by just one thousandth of a second!

POSSIBLE RACE STRATEGIES
This is actually one of the hardest strategies of the year to call, due to the multiplicity of tactical options as well as the particular weather conditions this weekend.

A two-stopper would appear to be the optimal approach on paper, and as no driver has more than one set of White hard tyres available, the best way would be to start on the Yellow medium for 20 to 23 laps, then do an identical medium stint for another 20 to 23 laps, before finishing on the hard.

The second-fastest way is another two-stopper, but this time starting on the Red soft for nine to 13 laps, before going onto the medium for 22 to 26 laps and then a final hard stint to the end.

The slowest approach would be a one-stopper, but it’s a big ask to run such long stints here. The best way to attempt it would be medium for 26 to 30 laps, then hard to the end.

None of these strategies are set in stone though, and any permutation of the above strategies is possible, using the compounds in any order. A three-stopper could also turn out to be just as quick as a two-stopper, using any of the three compounds available, although there’s always the certainty of dealing with traffic. It’s all going to come down to what the track conditions turn out to be like on race day.

 
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KEEP AN EYE ON
* Strategy. With high degradation likely on the soft, the medium tyre was the one to take in Q2, in order to run the first stint on this during the race. Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull have locked out the top six on the medium tyre, McLaren and Toro Rosso round out the top 10 on the soft.
* Weather. Track temperatures will be influenced hugely by the weather. Conditions warmed up slightly for qualifying, with track temperatures around 41 degrees centigrade, but conditions for the race are still uncertain.
* Pit stops. Two pit stops are to be expected, but three pit stops are a distinct possibility as well: especially for those using the soft tyre.
* Toro Rosso. The team has been consistently in the top 10 throughout the weekend and starts with two cars at the sharp end of the grid tomorrow.
* Wear and degradation. Managing this will be key to the race, especially if conditions are cool and the cars are sliding, which can cause graining.

MARIO ISOLA - HEAD OF F1 AND CAR RACING
“Track conditions have been very difficult all weekend, with cool temperatures and the cars sliding quite a lot. We had more overnight rain, which reset the track for FP3, which was run mostly on intermediate tyres. As a result, we saw a lot of track evolution during qualifying, with the fastest times coming at the very end of each session. Under these circumstances, it was no real surprise to see the top three teams opt to start the race on the medium tyre, which should allow for a longer and more consistent opening stint. But despite the complex driving conditions and a tyre nomination that was a step harder than last year, Verstappen’s lap time on his final Q3 run was actually faster than the overall track record set last year by the smallest possible fraction: a sign of just how close the margins are around this circuit”
 
FREE PRACTICE 3 – TOP 3 TIMES
DRIVER		TIME		COMPOUND
Leclerc		1m16.145s	SOFT C4 NEW
Vettel		1m16.172s	SOFT C4 NEW
Bottas		1m16.259s	SOFT C4 NEW

QUALIFYING TOP 10
DRIVER		TIME		COMPOUND
Verstappen	1m14.758s	SOFT C4 NEW
Leclerc		1m15.024s	SOFT C4 NEW
Vettel		1m15.170s	SOFT C4 NEW
Hamilton	1m15.262s	SOFT C4 NEW
Albon		1m15.336s	SOFT C4 NEW
Bottas		1m15.338s	SOFT C4 NEW
Sainz		1m16.014s	SOFT C4 NEW
Norris		1m16.322s	SOFT C4 NEW
Kvyat		1m16.469s	SOFT C4 NEW
Gasly		1m16.586s	SOFT C4 NEW

MOST LAPS BY COMPOUND SO FAR
COMPOUND	DRIVER		LAPS
HARD C2		Kvyat		25
MEDIUM C3	Vettel		25
SOFT C4		Giovinazzi	22
INTERMEDIATE	Albon		11
BEST TIME BY COMPOUND SO FAR
COMPOUND	DRIVER		TIME
HARD C2		Bottas		1m18.667s
MEDIUM C3	Hamilton	1m15.721s
SOFT C4		Verstappen	1m14.758s
INTERMEDIATE	Verstappen	1m26.118s
 
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