Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton wins Japanese Grand Prix with a one-stop supersoft-soft tire strategy

Hamilton’s team mate Valtteri Vottas used an alternative strategy to finish fourth after a grid penalty

Most drivers stopped just once on one of the Formula 1 season’s most demanding circuits for tires

Mercedes Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton won the Japanese Grand Prix from pole, using a one-stop supersoft-soft tire strategy on a track that experienced temperatures of over 104 degrees Fahrenheit, a notable contrast to the cooler conditions earlier in the weekend.

This one stop tire strategy was the same tactic adopted by the majority of the field. One notable exception was Hamilton’s Mercedes team mate Valtteri Bottas, who chose to start on the Pirelli soft tire and run a longer first stint on it after receiving a grid penalty. The same applied to Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen. The longest opening stint on the soft tire was carried out by both Renault Formula 1 drivers, which were the last cars to pit.

Thanks to its series of long and high-speed corners, Suzuka is one of the most demanding circuits for tires. However, an early safety car and virtual safety car reduced the amount of degradation slightly, lengthening the opening stint.

MARIO ISOLA – PIRELLI’S HEAD OF CAR RACING
“Both tire compounds performed in line with our expectations, although track and air temperatures were a lot higher than they had been previously during the weekend. Combined with the short run time in free practice due to weather and red flags, this meant that teams were slightly lacking in information about the conditions and tire strategy heading into this race. However, given that we brought a softer tire compound than in previous years, the majority of drivers were able to complete the grand prix with just one pit stop – while drivers who started out of position on the grid were able to use the alternative soft-supersoft strategy to make up some places.”

BEST TIME BY TIRE COMPOUND

LONGEST STINT OF THE RACE

TIRE COMPOUND DRIVER LAPS
MEDIUM - -
SOFT Palmer 39
SUPERSOFT Alonso, Raikkonen, Ricciardo 25

TRUTHOMETER
Lewis Hamilton won the race using one pit stop, going from Pirelli’s supersoft tire to the soft tire on lap 22. He stopped just after Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who finished second, and made a similar tire change one lap beforehand to try to ‘undercut’ the Mercedes driver. We predicted that a one-stopper would be effective in cooler conditions, but this strategy proved to be equally strong in warmer weather, thanks to the perfect consistency of both tire compounds and the early safety car periods (both real and virtual).

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