Pirelli have released the individual tyre choices for each driver ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix, and once again the two Mercedes drivers have gone for slightly different options on the strategy front.
The three tyre compounds nominated by the Italian tyre manufacturer for the Chinese Grand Prix weekend, are again the white walled medium, yellow walled soft and red walled super soft. Under the new rules for 2016, Pirelli allocate three sets of tyres to each driver, but the remaining ten sets are then chosen by the drivers themselves, which makes for some interesting strategies during the race, even between team-mates. Compared to some recent changes that have not gone down well with teams and fans alike, this amendment has so far proven very successful in the first two rounds of the season, mixing up the results and making for more interesting viewing.
Below are the individual driver tyre choices for the Chinese Grand Prix:
As can be seen from the table above, Mercedes man Nico Rosberg has opted for an extra set of soft tyres over team-mate Lewis Hamilton for Shanghai, with five to the current World champion’s four, whilst the Brit has gone more reserved with an extra set of the medium compound. Both have opted for five sets of the super soft tyre compound. Could the extra set of white walled tyres allow Hamilton the luxury of one less pit stop during the race?
Ferrari have again gone in a different direction to their main rivals for the Chinese Grand Prix weekend, opting for six sets of the red walled super soft tyre, alongside four sets of soft, and three sets of the medium compound. This will hopefully lead to some interesting battles between the Maranello based squad and the German marque, providing Ferrari do not suffer any further technical issues.
After proving a positive way to go for the Haas F1 team in Bahrain, Romain Grosjean has chosen the most aggressive selection, picking 7 sets of the Supersoft compound, with five sets of soft and one set of medium. It was that extra set of super soft tyres available in Bahrain, that allowed the Frenchman to do an extra stint on the red walled tyre and secure his well-earned fifth position – the former Lotus man could be one to watch yet again! Team-mate Esteban Gutierrez has gone for one extra set of the medium tyre and one less of the soft option.
Williams felt they had gone a little too conservative at the Sakhir track on Sunday which cost them positions, and so it is no surprise that their drivers have gone to the other end of the scale for China. Felipe Massa has made identical choices to Grosjean, whilst team-mate Valtteri Bottas has also gone with seven sets of Supersoft, but opted for two sets of medium and four sets of the soft tyre compound instead. McLaren drivers Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso (who may still be deemed unfit to race in Shanghai) have made the same selections, which also match that of the Finn.
The Red Bull and Force India drivers have all selected two sets of medium, five sets of soft and six sets of super soft, as has Kevin Magnussen in the Renault, with team-mate Jolyon Palmer taking a slightly different tack, favouring three sets of the medium tyre and four soft.
The Manor Racing team, who have been suffering with tyre degradation so far this season, have (possibly due to those issues) chosen four sets of the medium compound, with five sets of the soft tyre, and four sets of the super soft option.
The Sauber F1 team, have gone for the most amount of medium tyres with five sets selected, and only four sets of both the soft and super soft compound after struggling in Bahrain, whilst Toro Rosso Driver Carlos Sainz has selected more soft compound tyres than anyone else, including his team-mate Max Verstappen who has favoured an extra set of mediums.
With a good mix of tyre options between the drivers, we should again see some interesting strategies being played out during the course of the race. This finally appears to be something the FIA have got right, let’s hope they do not mess about with it, in the same way as they have done with qualifying!