Though the choices were made upwards of three months ago, based on last weekend’s evidence, Ferrari‘s strategy will hardly fill Sebastian Vettel with confidence as he seeks to close a 40-point deficit to Lewis Hamilton.
Vettel takes one set of the yellow-banded rubber to Sochi, as do the Bulls, Stroll, Sainz, Gasly, Grosjean and Leclerc.
The Sochi track surface is smooth and as a result, with limited demands on tyres, degradation levels are among the lowest seen all season.
Turns 2 and 13 are the heaviest braking zones, with the resultant risk of flat-spotting tyres, while the final sector is all about traction and braking, stop-go, similar to Abu Dhabi.
The track is not used extensively outside of the Grand Prix, so it will be ‘green’ at first and while the most demanding corner is Turn 3, a multi-apex left-hander similar to Istanbul’s Turn 8, the front-right tyre is worked hardest.
For the last two years, the Sochi event has been held in Spring, while in the first two years it was held in October. Last year the compounds available were soft, supersoft and ultras, while in 2016 it was medium, softs and supers.
Bottas won last year’s race on a one-stop strategy, starting on the ultras before switching to supersofts. The same strategy was used by the first thirteen finishers, only Felipe Massa making an extra stop for a second set of ultras on his way to ninth.