Rain, Safety Car Track Position – Key For Strategy Selection

Yes, we are in the Media Centre of the 2018 Spanish Grand Prix. It is good to be back in the Formula 1 Paddock after three-odd years. We’ve had the opportunity to meet lots of drivers and team members and interview them. Do look out for these interviews in the next week. They will be available in text and audio.
Tyres have been up for a major discussion this weekend. Pirelli have made some changes to their existing compounds, which is standard practice for them, but this does seem to have tilted the form slightly in favour of Mercedes. However, the new compounds will be in use for the next three races, so let’s see which way this pendulum swings.

In this pre-race video, Mithila and I share our stories from the Paddock. We also discuss the various race strategies for today’s race. After heavy overnight downpour and an overcast morning, the sun seems to be out and it might just be that we have a dry race. Although, this is the start of the European summer, so a spit of rain can never be too far away. For the Spanish fans doing their rain dance, their prayers might just be answered.

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We saw Ferrari use the soft tyre in Q3 of qualifying, while everyone else use the super-softs. The time difference between the two compounds isn’t as large as Pirelli and the drivers would like for it to be. However, since everyone is starting the race on the softs, there’s a high chance of a one-stopping race, unless the rain of a Safety Car period gets added in the mix – which it mostly will. The junior series have had multiple SC and VSC interventions in the races, so that’s a cue to have and most team strategists almost account for a Safety Car period here while figuring their race strategy.
The two stopping strategy (super soft-soft-super soft) is a little over 10 seconds slower than the one-stopper (soft-medium / super soft – medium), so let’s see which way it eventually swings. Fernando Alonso is the only driver (in the top-10) starting on the super softs, so let’s see if Mclaren have something different planned for him. As the previous races have indicated, overtaking is always difficult here, so track position will be of prime importance when choosing a strategy.

Kunal Shah is an FIA-accredited Formula 1 journalist who has been reporting on Formula 1 for nearly two decades. He worked with the Force India Formula 1 Team for 6 seasons in Marketing, Sponsorship and Commercial roles. As a former single-seater racer, he was responsible for Force India's grassroots talent program, One from a Billion Hunt. Presently, he co-writes a regular Formula 1 column for Firstpost, speaks on Inside Line F1 Podcast & Pits to Podium and produces broadcast/OTT content for NENT Group (Viasport & Viaplay).

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