Saturday, 11 April 2015

Pirelli Chinese Grand Prix Qualifying review - Hamilton leads Mercedes front row lock-out

(Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team)

Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team’s Lewis Hamilton put the Pirelli P-Zero yellow walled Soft compound tyre to good use at the Shanghai International Circuit on Saturday to claim pole position for tomorrow’s Chinese Grand Prix.

The reigning world champion claimed his third pole position in a row. The track temperatures were unseasonably high for the time of year and Hamilton led home an all Mercedes front row with a frustrated Nico Rosberg in second place. Scuderia Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel will start the race from the second row of the grid in third place alongside Williams Martini Racing Team’s Felipe Massa.

The Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team and Scuderia Ferrari are the only two teams in the top ten to have a new set of the Soft compound tyre for Sunday’s race.

Pirelli predict that on paper a three stop strategy is fastest way to go however most teams are likely to opt for a two stop strategy. However, for those who do decide on a three stop race, the fastest is to start on the Soft change to the Soft on lap 10, Soft again on lap 25 before making a final stop for the white walled Medium compound tyre on lap 43.

The best two stop strategy is to start the race on the Soft compound tyre and then stop on lap 12 for another set of the Soft tyre and then the Medium tyre on lap 27. Speaking about qualifying, Pirelli Motorsport Director Paul Hembery stated:

We’re expecting similar weather conditions for the race as we have seen today, so this should open up a number of strategic options with the increased performance of the soft tyre. However, we’ve also seen quite a few differences in tyre performances within the teams, so this provides an interesting variable. With the tyres of course being identical for everybody, it’s down to every team to make the most of the package they have and this will be the focus of the data analysis tonight. We would expect two pit stops for most drivers, but there is scope to do something different: China has often produced close and unpredictable racing in the past.

© Ben Johnston 2015

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