Scuderia Ferrari have opted for an aggressive tyre strategy for the 2018 Azerbaijan Grand Prix, choosing ten sets of Pirelli‘s Ultrasofts for both Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel.
Only Alfa Romeo Sauber and Stoffel Vandoorne have taken the option to run so many of Pirelli’s softest tyre. Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport, Sahara Force India F1 Team, Haas F1 Team and Fernando Alonso have opted for nine sets whereas Aston Martin Red Bull Racing, Williams Martini Racing and Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda have chosen eight.
Renault Sport F1 Team have gone for a unique strategy, with just seven sets of the Ultrasofts for the Baku street race.
Among the expected front-runners in Baku, the team’s tyre choices show various strategies with the harder Supersoft compound also. Raikkonen has just one set for the entire weekend. His team-mate Vettel and rival Lewis Hamilton each have two while bothe Red Bull drivers have three.
Again, Renault have gone it alone with four sets of Supersofts for both Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz Jr.
Tyre strategy is likely to once again play a key part in this weekend’s race and the team’s will have the added challenge of the race in Baku taking place two months earlier than in the previous two years.
“Baku is a bit strange,” Pirelli F1 boss Mario Isola told Motorsport.com. “Because it’s a street circuit, but with a very high speed straight.
“You have some sectors that are very, very fast, but also you have some parts of the track under the sun, and some parts in shadow. So you have parts of the track with a certain temperature, and parts of the track with a different temperature. Last year it was in June, so it will clearly be different.”
Isola expects the three tyre compounds will be able to do more laps than in China: “I believe the ultrasoft in Baku is a less aggressive choice compared to Shanghai – the severity of the circuit is lower, and also the tarmac roughness. I believe the delta between the compounds will be in the range of half a second.”
Isola was keen to praise Pirelli’s contribution to the competitiveness of the previous race in China, in which Daniel Ricciardo used all three compounds en route to his stunning victory.
“We saw the top teams qualifying on a different compound in Q2, to try to start the race on it. They made different tactics, and that’s good. Obviously the safety car changed the strategies, but Red Bull made a very good move, fitting the soft for the last 26 laps, and they were very fast at end.
“I was happy to see that Ricciardo won using all the three compounds. It’s good that everybody was able to choose any of the three compounds. The ultrasoft was not bad, warmer conditions helped to reduce the graining.”