Drivers, Ferrari, Silverstone, 2019

Why the British GP could be the battle of the two-stop strategies

2019 British Grand Prix pre-race analysis

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As in Austria two weeks ago, Ferrari has gambled on starting the British Grand Prix on soft tyres, while rivals Mercedes and Red Bull have opted for mediums.

But the overall picture of the race is somewhat different to two weeks ago at the Red Bull Ring. First, there is neither the heat not altitude for Mercedes to be concerned about the engine cooling which forced them to back off so much in Austria.

Tyre strategy at Silverstone looks likely to be dictated by tyre wear – rather than degradation or graining – due to the high cornering speeds at the resurfaced, super-fast track. Pirelli expect teams will be forced to make two pit stops to ensure the tyres last.

This wouldn’t come as a total shock after last year, when Sebastian Vettel won with a two-stopper. However changes in the track surface could still change the picture. Between qualifying and the race there are two F2 races, an F3 race and other support races which give a chance for the track to rubber-in further. As the track started the weekend in such a green state, the track evolution effect could be strong.

Pirelli believe a soft/soft/hard strategy is the quickest way to the end of the race, providing teams have suitable tyres available. For those starting on medium tyres, including the Mercedes pair on the front row, a medium/soft/hard mix is the way to go. But could they be tempted to eke out that first stint on mediums, then go to the end on hards? The hard tyre performance will be key to this, so keep an eye on whoever is first to run that tyre in the race.

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The other key difference to Austria is that Ferrari has not been able to take pole position. Their highest car is third-placed Charles Leclerc, who has two medium-shod Mercedes in front of him to deal with. If he can get past them at the start of the race – wielding his softer rubber, Ferrari’s excellent straight-line speed and the knowledge the Mercedes drivers are racing with an eye on the championship – that could be the making of his race.

Home favourite Lewis Hamilton missed pole position by the tiniest of margins – a mere six-thousandths of a second – but his car ran superbly over a long run on Friday and he’s been keen not to mess with the formula. “The race trim is still good,” he said after qualifying. “I didn’t want to move from the set-up I had, too far away, because it worked so well on the long run yesterday.”

Red Bull, meanwhile, look in good shape too. Max Verstappen was surprisingly close to the one-lap pace of the Mercedes, and if he’s as quick over a race stint as he was last time out, we could have a corking British Grand Prix on our hands.

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Qualifying times in full

Driver Car Q1

Q2 (vs Q1)

Q3 (vs Q2)
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1’25.750 1’25.672 (-0.078) 1’25.093 (-0.579)
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1’25.513 1’25.840 (+0.327) 1’25.099 (-0.741)
3 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1’25.533 1’25.546 (+0.013) 1’25.172 (-0.374)
4 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1’25.700 1’25.848 (+0.148) 1’25.276 (-0.572)
5 Pierre Gasly Red Bull 1’26.273 1’26.038 (-0.235) 1’25.590 (-0.448)
6 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1’25.898 1’26.023 (+0.125) 1’25.787 (-0.236)
7 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1’26.428 1’26.283 (-0.145) 1’26.182 (-0.101)
8 Lando Norris McLaren 1’26.079 1’26.385 (+0.306) 1’26.224 (-0.161)
9 Alexander Albon Toro Rosso 1’26.482 1’26.403 (-0.079) 1’26.345 (-0.058)
10 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1’26.568 1’26.397 (-0.171) 1’26.386 (-0.011)
11 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo 1’26.449 1’26.519 (+0.070)
12 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo 1’26.558 1’26.546 (-0.012)
13 Carlos Sainz Jnr McLaren 1’26.203 1’26.578 (+0.375)
14 Romain Grosjean Haas 1’26.347 1’26.757 (+0.410)
15 Sergio Perez Racing Point 1’26.649 1’26.928 (+0.279)
16 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1’26.662
17 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1’26.721
18 Lance Stroll Racing Point 1’26.762
19 George Russell Williams 1’27.789
20 Robert Kubica Williams 1’28.257

Sector times

Driver Sector 1 Sector 2 Sector 3
Valtteri Bottas 27.466 (3) 34.408 (1) 23.171 (2)
Lewis Hamilton 27.449 (2) 34.486 (2) 23.070 (1)
Charles Leclerc 27.366 (1) 34.487 (3) 23.284 (4)
Max Verstappen 27.507 (5) 34.516 (4) 23.253 (3)
Pierre Gasly 27.550 (7) 34.652 (5) 23.294 (5)
Sebastian Vettel 27.546 (6) 34.748 (6) 23.390 (7)
Daniel Ricciardo 27.571 (8) 35.051 (11) 23.523 (12)
Lando Norris 27.756 (13) 34.932 (8) 23.349 (6)
Alexander Albon 27.734 (12) 34.987 (10) 23.506 (11)
Nico Hulkenberg 27.495 (4) 35.115 (13) 23.599 (15)
Antonio Giovinazzi 27.780 (14) 35.143 (14) 23.452 (9)
Kimi Raikkonen 27.662 (9) 35.180 (16) 23.594 (14)
Carlos Sainz Jnr 27.718 (11) 34.960 (9) 23.423 (8)
Romain Grosjean 27.836 (16) 34.851 (7) 23.492 (10)
Sergio Perez 27.788 (15) 35.067 (12) 23.754 (18)
Kevin Magnussen 27.892 (18) 35.157 (15) 23.531 (13)
Daniil Kvyat 27.847 (17) 35.181 (17) 23.632 (16)
Lance Stroll 27.678 (10) 35.246 (18) 23.690 (17)
George Russell 28.154 (19) 35.725 (19) 23.886 (19)
Robert Kubica 28.268 (20) 35.894 (20) 23.996 (20)

Speed trap

Pos Driver Car Engine Speed (kph/mph) Gap
1 Daniel Ricciardo Renault Renault 337.0 (209.4)
2 Nico Hulkenberg Renault Renault 336.7 (209.2) -0.3
3 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Ferrari 333.3 (207.1) -3.7
4 Charles Leclerc Ferrari Ferrari 332.5 (206.6) -4.5
5 Lance Stroll Racing Point Mercedes 332.2 (206.4) -4.8
6 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso Honda 331.3 (205.9) -5.7
7 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo Ferrari 331.3 (205.9) -5.7
8 Lando Norris McLaren Renault 331.1 (205.7) -5.9
9 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari Ferrari 330.6 (205.4) -6.4
10 Carlos Sainz Jnr McLaren Renault 330.1 (205.1) -6.9
11 Sergio Perez Racing Point Mercedes 329.8 (204.9) -7.2
12 Alexander Albon Toro Rosso Honda 329.4 (204.7) -7.6
13 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes Mercedes 328.7 (204.2) -8.3
14 Robert Kubica Williams Mercedes 328.2 (203.9) -8.8
15 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes Mercedes 328.2 (203.9) -8.8
16 Max Verstappen Red Bull Honda 328.2 (203.9) -8.8
17 George Russell Williams Mercedes 328.1 (203.9) -8.9
18 Pierre Gasly Red Bull Honda 327.8 (203.7) -9.2
19 Romain Grosjean Haas Ferrari 327.6 (203.6) -9.4
20 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 325.0 (201.9) -12.0

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Over to you

Will it be a battle of the Mercedes at Silverstone? Or will Ferrari or Red Bull get in the mix?

Share your views on the British Grand Prix in the comments.

2019 British Grand Prix

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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19 comments on “Why the British GP could be the battle of the two-stop strategies”

  1. What is going on with Vettel? Last race and now this race as well, he is way off Lec. Also his body language isnt all that great like it used to be.
    Is he loosing the hunger the motivation? Is the romance with Ferrari over?
    On the other hand Lec has cut down the mistakes and starting to really deliver strong results. Sincerely hope he gets at least one win this season.

    1. Panagiotis Papatheodorou (@panagiotism-papatheodorou)
      14th July 2019, 5:40

      Well last race he had engine issues. Yeah he was like 0.2s behind him until Q1 (started having issues in Q2, so count it out) so we can’t judge quali pace fully. As for the race, he was on par and sometimes better than Charles especially in the end of their first stint.

      Silverstone has never been his best track. He was outqualified 3-1 by Kimi in their common Ferrari years and Webber mostly had the upper hand here as well.

      As for today, he had issues with the DRS in Q1 and Q2 (correct me if I am wrong for Q2). Couldn’t put the sector times together in his final run, not good but happens sometimes. In France he also had some issues with the gearbox in his first Q3 run. I suppose all these issues coupled with the defeat at Canada hasn’t been too kind to his confidence.

  2. Another factor is that Silverstone has one of the slowest pitlanes on the calendar, so it costs the driver 24-26s to make a pitstop. So being able to do 1 less stop counts for more here.

    1. Is that really true? The pit-lane entry bypasses a part of the circuit. Schumacher was once given a stop-and-go penalty rather than a drive-through penalty because the stewards argued that a drive-through penalty would be too lenient. When looking at the lap-time data it seems a pit-stop costs slightly less than 20 seconds, which is about average.

      1. In Dutch commentary they said it Silverstone is the longest pitlane of the season in terms of duration: 29 seconds total pitlane time, incl. the stop.

        So, even if you lose 2 seconds per lap by staying out on old tires you still have 14 laps to come out ahead by driving like a grandma. Besides, if you do go for fresh tires you have to take traffic into account.

  3. I agree but i cant remember last time Vettel spoke like this.

    Vettel said of his session, “I’ve had worse ones… at least I took part. I don’t know, I didn’t have the speed.

    “I didn’t have a good feeling for the car. I think he [Charles Leclerc] did a good job. For me I don’t have an answer now it’s fairly evenly spread”

    He seems to be lost finding balance and setup in a car which is good enough for pole position. Charles missed pole by less than a tenth.

    1. We all know Vettel wouldn’t have been a world champion if Alonso, Hamilton or even Rosberg were his teammates rather than Mark Webber, during his RedBull days.

      Leclerc, despite his young age and inexperience, is looking like he’s well above Webber’s level. So, is it really a surprise Vettel can’t keep up?

  4. Will it be a battle of the Mercedes at Silverstone? – Only on lap one.
    Or will Ferrari or Red Bull get in the mix? – Hopefully.

  5. British weather can spice things up a bit!

  6. For those starting on medium tyres, including the Mercedes pair on the front row, a medium/soft/hard mix is the way to go.

    It makes perfect sense indeed to start on mediums to just switch back to softs…
    Mercedes and Red Bull will be trying to make a medium-hard strategy work, whereas Ferrari will go for soft-soft-medium or soft-medium-medium, depending on tire wear, which could be interesting.

    1. @f1infigures
      Leclerc doesn’t have any fresh mediums left though and Vettel has got one fresh set.

      I’ve just taken a look a Pirelli’s twitter and according to them a 1-stopper isn’t even on the cards, which I found quite interesting. It seems they are expecting quite high tyre wear.

      But I agree with you. Mercedes and Red Bull will try to make a 1-stopper work and I assume Ferrari will go for soft-hard-soft (for Leclerc) and probably soft-medium-soft for Vettel.

      1. @srga91
        If that set of mediums was only used in qualifying it shouldn’t make much of a difference, but perhaps Leclerc will only do one stint on the medium tire (soft-soft-medium or maybe even soft-medium-hard).
        It seems the situation is very much like in Barcelona, another high-tire-load circuit, when the tire degradation wasn’t very high, but the physical wear was, which forced most drivers to pit twice. I believe Hülkenberg was the only exception and he did quite well, only to be caught out by the virtual safety car. I guess Ferrari must be hoping for a virtual safety car.

        1. Yeah I think Leclerc used that set in Q1 only, so it should be good for the race if he needs them.

  7. Wasn’t Leclerc on the mediums? Or did he improve on the softs in Q2?

    1. @hahostolze He went out again on softs and completed the (faster) lap. Really odd. In the poirst race interview he claimed everything was according to plan.

      Perhaps Ferrari were trying to sell Mercedes and Red Bull the dummy and they feel this strategy to start on softs is a brilliant move. We’ll see soon I guess.

      1. I think Ferrari did want to fool the competition because they believe a two stop is quicker. However, with the long pitlane at Silverstone Merc & RB can lose 2 seconds per lap by driving slowly for 15 laps straights and still be in front of the Ferrari’s….

        I’m afraid Ferrari shot themselves in the foot again. They should have at least split the strategy I think.

  8. “heat not altitude”


  9. Anyone knows why Q2 times fell for most of the drivers ?

    1. Could be track temps. The sun was moving in and out from behind the clouds all session.

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