Lewis Hamilton takes pole in Mexico on supersoft with fastest lap ever of current track
Track evolution and temperature fluctuation complicate qualifying strategy: mixed tactics among frontrunners
Mercedes and Ferrari to start race on soft tire after using it to set their best times in Q2: one stop could be an option
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton has claimed pole position for the Mexican Grand Prix with the supersoft tire. Hamilton’s pole lap in Mexico City was the fastest ever seen on the current circuit.
Track temperatures were much warmer than they had been in every session held so far, approaching 37 degrees centigrade at the start of qualifying, with 18 degrees ambient.
This helped to swing performance back towards the supersoft tire, although the correct tire warm-up still held a key to unlocking optimal performance.
All the drivers completed Q1 using the supersoft tire, with three different teams in the top three. Many drivers then went onto the soft for the first run in Q2, with a view to seeing whether or not this was the best option to get through the session and start the race. Both Mercedes and Ferraris will start the grand prix on the soft tire, whereas Red Bull has committed to starting on the supersoft.
Two pit stops look set to be the most likely scenario for most competitors, but with times closely matched there are a number of different strategy permutations on the table: which will depend also on the weather conditions for the race. Some drivers could aim for a single stop strategy. Rapid track evolution continued to be a hallmark of the Mexico City track today, and this will remain a factor for the rest of the weekend, again affecting strategies.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director: “With the high degree of track and temperature evolution that we have seen, conditions could continue to change and perhaps come back towards the softer compounds in the race. Last year nearly all the drivers completed the race with two stops, just after a late safety car. Tomorrow some could try a single stop, especially if starting on softs. In any case, there are a number of options still open when it comes to strategy.”
How the tires behaved today:
Medium: An interesting option for the race if it’s cool.
Soft: Many drivers tried to get through Q2 on this compound, with only four succeeding.
Supersoft: Suffered from less degradation in the warmer conditions and set pole.
FREE PRACTICE 3 – TOP 3 TIMES
QUALIFYING TOP 10
MOST LAPS BY COMPOUND SO FAR
BEST TIME BY COMPOUND SO FAR
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