A one-stop supersoft-soft tire strategy as expected for all the frontrunners on the grid

Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel uses alternative soft-supersoft tire strategy to finish fourth from the back

Some very long stints seen at the last Sepang race: force India’s Esteban Ocon stopped only once on lap three

The final Malaysian Grand Prix was won by Red Bull’sFormula 1 driver Max Verstappen from the second row of the grid, after stopping justonce to change to Pirelli’s soft tires from supersoft tires. This was the strategy that wasadopted by all the frontrunners of the race, with the notable exception of Ferrari driverSebastian Vettel, who staged a brilliant fightback from last place to finish fourth.

The German Formula 1 driver chose to start the race on the soft tires to try and gaintrack position before switching to the faster supersoft tires. This was on the same lapthat Verstappen pitted from the lead to change from supersoft to soft tires.

Vettel was then able to use the extra speed of the supersoft tire to make his way into thetop four drivers.

MARIO ISOLA – PIRELLI’S HEAD OF CAR RACING
“After practice was interrupted by weather and a red flag, the teams still had to fullycalculate degradation rates over long runs, which was the main challenge today. In theend, track temperatures were relatively cool by Malaysia standards – around 104degrees fahrenheit – and degradation was low on both tire compounds, so the stintswere able to be stretched out. With all the frontrunners selecting similar one-stopsupersoft-soft tire strategies, one of the highlights of the race was Vettel’s charge up thefield from last, helped by an alternative strategy by starting on the soft tire. Force India’sEsteban Ocon was forced to stop early following a puncture caused by contact withanother car: he then ran all the way to the end on the soft tire after pitting on lap three.”

BEST TIME BY TIRE COMPOUND

LONGEST STINT OF THE RACE

TIRE COMPOUND DRIVER LAPS
MEDIUM - -
SOFT Ocon 53
SUPERSOFT Perez 30

TRUTHOMETER
Verstappen was the winner of the 56-lap race with a one-stop strategy as we expected, changing from the Pirelli supersoft tire to the soft tire on lap 28 – later than we had anticipated owing to lower levels of tire degradation. This was incidentally the same lap that Vettel switched from the soft tire to the supersoft tire.

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