McLaren remains conservative for COTA

With Twitter and Facebook alleged to be banning conservatives, McLaren‘s tyre strategy for the forthcoming United States Grand Prix at COTA could see the popular Woking outfit banned from social media.

As in Japan, McLaren is taking the least amount of the softest compound available, in this case the ultrasoft.

Red Bull is only slightly less conservative, Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo both taking six sets of the purple-banded rubber.

Force India, Williams and Sauber all opt for nine sets of ultras, while Mercedes, Kimi Raikkonen, Renault and Toro Rosso opt for eight.

Pierre Gasly leads the way in terms of the supersofts, the Frenchman taking five sets, while the Red Bull duo, Brendon Hartley and Romain Grosjean take four.

Fernando Alonso takes six sets of the softest compound available, while Sergey Sirotkin, Gasly, Grosjean and Charles Leclerc take just one set apiece.

The same three compounds were used at COTA last year, though readers will be aware by now that all Pirelli’s 2018 compounds are actually a step softer than their 2017 counterparts.

The Circuit of the Americas borrows elements of other famous venues in its layout, making it universally popular among the drivers. Contrary to most circuits, it also runs anti-clockwise.

Turn 1 forms a unique challenge: an uphill then downhill hairpin, where braking is hard to judge. There are a number of overtaking opportunities, which means that race strategy options to gain track position are quite open.

There are three long straights, which have the effect of cooling the tyres on each lap, while the weather can be quite variable, ranging from bright sunshine to heavy rain.

Last year’s race was won by Lewis Hamilton on a (groan) one stop strategy. Starting on the supersofts, the Briton subsequently switched to softs.

However, three of the leading five were on two-stop strategies, one of whom, Sebastian Vettel, finished second, albeit 10s down on the winner.