Lewis Hamilton claims pole for Mercedes smashing Suzuka all-time lap record on Pirelli supersoft tire
Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen and Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas will start tomorrow’s race on the Pirelli soft tire compound
A two pit stop strategy expected for most drivers in the 53-lap race tomorrow if it remains dry and warm
Mercedes Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton demolished the Suzuka all-time lap record in today’s qualifying session on the Pirelli supersoft tire to claim pole position for tomorrow’s Japanese Grand Prix race.
Hamilton and Ferrari’s Formula 1 driver Sebastian Vettel were the only two drivers to get through Qualifying 1 on the soft tires only, while their team mates, Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen, adopted an alternative strategy for Qualifying 2. Both set their fastest Qualifying 2 times on the Pirelli soft tire, which they will begin the race on tomorrow. However, Bottas and Raikkonen are among several drivers to have collected grid penalties, so they will start further back tomorrow.
With today’s dry weather expected to remain tomorrow, two pit stops should be the optimal strategy. However, there is always the possibility of a safety car to disrupt the strategy in Suzuka, with red flags seen in free practice as well as during Qualifying 1.
MARIO ISOLA – PIRELLI’S HEAD OF CAR RACING
“Hamilton’s remarkable lap, which obliterates the previous all-time Suzuka record, has underlined the pace of the latest-generation Formula 1 car and tires, even though preparation for the race has been interrupted by weather and red flags up until now. Pole this year was in fact 3.3 seconds faster than 2016, with the tires performing perfectly. We would expect two pit stops for most drivers in the race tomorrow, as this is one of the circuits that takes the most energy out of the tires in the entire year. Already we’ve seen some tactics in qualifying, with two of the drivers carrying grid penalties opting to start on the soft tires. This should allow them to gain track position by running a longer first stint than their direct rivals. Last weekend in Malaysia proved that with the right strategy, it’s still possible to get a good result even when starting from the back of the grid.”
HOW THE TIRES BEHAVED TODAY
|All the drivers in the top 10
grid positions will start on
this tire, except for Bottas.
|Bottas and Raikkonen
were the only drivers to
use this tire in Qualifying 2.
|Seen only at the beginning
of Free Practice 3 today for
FREE PRACTICE 3 – TOP 3 TIMES
QUALIFYING TOP 10
MOST LAPS BY TIRE COMPOUND SO FAR
|MEDIUM||Alonso, Grosjean, Magnussen||3|
BEST TIME BY TIRE COMPOUND SO FAR
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