Ferrari‘s aggressive stance in terms of tyre strategy continues, when, having taken nine sets of the softest available compound to Singapore, and again this weekend in Russia, the Italian team takes the full complement of ten sets to Japan in just over a weeks’ time.
The Mercedes pair take four sets, as does Ricciardo, Hulkenberg, Hartley, Magnussen and Ericsson.
Clearly taking a very conservative approach to the legendary Japanese track, the McLaren pair both take four sets of the mediums, while the Ferraris, Bulls, Stroll, Hulkenberg, Hartley, Magnussen and Ericsson rely on just one.
The Suzuka circuit is widely regarded as one of the biggest challenges for tyres on the calendar, thanks to its high-energy loads, yet as in 2017 Pirelli isn’t bringing the hardest tyre in its range.
Instead the medium, soft, and supersoft compounds will have to cope with long and fast corners such as 130R – providing the longest continuous g-force loading of the year – and Spoon, which put the tyres under constant stress throughout the lap.
Lateral forces through the corners are the main feature, rather than traction and braking, with teams normally running high downforce aero.
Weather, and therefore track temperatures, are unpredictable at this time of year, and while generally, there are high levels of wear and degradation, track evolution is hard to predict, while safety cars can provide another variable.
Last year’s race was won by Lewis Hamilton, who ran a one-stop strategy, starting on supersofts before switching to softs, a strategy used by nine of the first twelve finishers, thirteenth-placed Pierre Gasly being the highest finisher to make two stops.