Pirelli Motorsport boss Mario Isola says that there will be different strategy options open to the teams and drivers at this weekend’s United States Grand Prix.
Most races in the 2018 season have been one-stop affairs, prompting further criticisms of the structure and characteristics of the P Zero tyres, with drivers turning to nursing the compounds until the end of a stint.
But, Isola expects the America race, held for a seventh time at the Texan-based Circuit of the Americas, to provide a different challenge in terms of strategy. Last year saw Lewis Hamilton win on a one-stop programme for Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport, while Scuderia Ferrari‘s Sebastian Vettel claimed second with two stops.
“As was the case last year, we expect a few different strategies to be possible at Austin,” Isola speculated.
“But due to the frequently variable weather and wide range of track characteristics, this is always quite a hard race to predict.”
Isola noted that the original asphalt that debuted in the circuit’s inaugural race in 2012 has “stabilised”, but still requires the teams to pay close attention to their running in the three Free Practice sessions available, particularly Free Practice 2, held close to the normal race start time.
“In recent years, the asphalt that made its debut in 2012 has stabilised, but it will be particularly important for the teams to get a comprehensive read on the latest conditions in free practice to prepare an optimal strategy,” he added.
“This isn’t always obvious in Austin, although there are several opportunities to overtake on track as well, as we saw last year.”
CoTA offers reasonable lateral stress through the Esses in first sector and the triple-right-hander in the final sector, as well as demanding good rear grip at the hairpins of Turns 11 and 16.
Pirelli have brought the same tyre nomination as last year’s race in Austin – with the ultra-soft, super-soft and soft compounds all available for the first time since the Austrian Grand Prix.
Furthermore, the race is a landmark occasion for Pirelli, as the Italian tyre giants are operating as the title sponsor.
“In 2018, this race is of particular importance to us, as Pirelli is the grand prix title sponsor,” Isola explained.
“This underlines the significance of the United States to our company, with the very first P Zero World store being opened in Los Angeles two years ago.”