Qualifying - Russian GP report: Pirelli
Nico Rosberg has set the fastest lap ever of Sochi to claim pole on the P Zero Red supersoft, comprehensively beating the previous record of 1m37.113s set in qualifying last year. With every driver using the supersoft in Q2 as well, this is the tyre that the top 10 on the grid will start on tomorrow. As conditions were cool in Russia today, drivers had to concentrate carefully on warming up the tyres. Similar conditions are expected for tomorrow’s race as well.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director: “Russia is by no means a typical track as it features low grip that keeps wear and degradation at very low levels and also enables long stints. For this reason we saw drivers complete multi-lap runs during qualifying, with consistent performance from the tyres. We expect a one-stop strategy to be the preferred choice for most contenders tomorrow, and it’s unlikely that the medium tyre will be used.”
How the tyres behaved today:
Medium Not seen at all during qualifying and unlikely be used during the race.
Soft The frontrunners are expected to finish the race on this tyre: key to the strategy.
Supersoft Just under a second faster than the soft and capable of long runs as well.
A one-stopper should be the favoured tactic on the smooth asphalt of Russia for the 53-lap race. Starting on soft or supersoft makes little difference to the overall race time. Starting on supersoft, the fastest way is to change to soft on lap 18. Starting on soft, it’s best to change to supersoft on lap 35. Some teams may gamble on a two-stopper, which is theoretically the fastest way to do the race but risks traffic. In which case: start on supersoft, change to soft on lap 12, then soft again on lap 32.