The race was preceded by the Sprint test on Saturday afternoon, where everything was very clear about how the car and tires behaved, and the doubts that might have been very small, had nothing to do with the other tests in that. he went blind. A clear two-stop race, centered in the middle, that the soft is out of the equation and that will allow the hard to put in a session. Strategy, pace, and management, all at once, coordinated for a great race
You can see the previous race plan here
These are the characteristics of racing tires:
The tires have the same behavior as seen last season, with a soft more damaged, and the medium and hard center of the race. The soft was only used by two drivers, both from AlphaTauri, in their attempt to get the fastest lap, but it caused Ricciardo to lose a lot of time in this test. The medium is the protagonist of the race, which is in 31 runs compared to 21 in the hard and can accumulate 150 more laps than the hard. Up to lap 16 it had a good performance, but from then on it started to lose speed quickly, while the tire was more stable throughout its length, holding up to 25 laps without There are many problems.
Here are the strategies followed by the teams and the stop window throughout the race:
Until the last laps of the race, the track was very stable, with almost no change in speed, always at the same level, and it was seen how the time fell due to the consumption of the cars. The tires confirmed the predictions, by excluding the soft from the race and making it possible to ride only medium and hard ones. Almost all teams tried to make two rounds with medium, and only one with hard. McLaren with Norris and the two Alfa Romeos were the only ones looking for something different but without great results in terms of speed. The moment where the hard is placed is a little irrelevant, some try it in the middle like Russell, Tsunoda, or Williams, and many at the end, to reach the end of the race. Beyond this, we can only see the one-stop test of Leclerc, which did not work, and the fast lap test of Ricciardo and Tsunoda.
This is the situation with the teams at the pit stop:
McLaren was fastest in the pit lane, but with Ferrari very close, a tenth behind. Without Piastri due to his departure, they were the three fastest cars and shared four of the ten fastest laps and three of the fastest tire changes. Four-tenths behind were Red Bull, which had no problems with both of its cars, just a few tenths off Verstappen’s second chance. Alpine, Mercedes, and Aston Martin remained within two-tenths, very close, and completed the group of 24 Williams. Alfa Romeo and Haas had less time given in the pit lane, but it was no problem.
This is the evolution of race distances:
SCENARIO 1 – STRATEGIC TRIPLE THREAT FOR VICTORY
Verstappen and Red Bull saw this race as a challenging test, far from the ease with which they have won some races in the past. Verstappen didn’t even start from pole after losing the fastest lap due to Track Limits, although without them he wouldn’t have been first, and there are up to four teams that could be called for victory, in the case of McLaren, Mercedes, and Ferrari.
Norris started the race very fast and managed to get to the front and open space, the same situation as the Mercedes. The Ferraris proved that their one-lap speed did not carry over into the race and they dropped positions, ending the session behind Verstappen, who was chasing the two red cars. Verstappen stopped early, before everyone else, and in the distance, he made an important undercut on Hamilton and Norris. Norris could defend him by stopping a couple of laps early, but Hamilton couldn’t, so he chose to take a long time, doubting a stop or two. The Ferraris were out of rhythm in the lead, a situation similar to Pérez. So the race between Norris, Verstappen, and Hamilton, with strategy as a central factor.
Norris stopped first, knowing he could put on the hard tire to get to the end, as Verstappen had already overtaken him. But the Dutchman gave up later and ended up defending his position. Hamilton should try to last longer, and take advantage of the difference between the medium tire and the hard one installed by Verstappen. Lap by lap he was better than the Dutchman, he was still second, but when he got to his position he couldn’t catch up and finished the race behind.
WHAT IS BEHIND SINGLE STOP
One of the key elements provided by this race is the attempt by Ferrari and Mercedes to search for a one-stop test. Three drivers tried, such as Leclerc, Hamilton, and Russell, but only the Monegasque made it to the end. The introduction of this route is simple, to avoid passing through pits. But the counterpart is the additional time and damage that happens to their tires, mainly because they cannot improve the hours they have already done or do the “step down” included in the new tire. The results of this route were not the best and he ended up being overtaken by Pérez and Sainz, losing more time than he gained. They could have expected this at Mercedes and saw that making an extra step in the pits would give them a better performance, especially by extending Hamilton’s stop, even if with Russell it was too late.
RHYTHM IS THE BEST STRATEGIC WEAPON
Aston Martin has a very complicated race ahead of them, especially based on what they showed on Friday and Saturday, which lacked speed. Because of this, they prefer to start from the Pit-Lane and change the configuration of their cars. Fortunately for them, they saw this change as a significant step forward, and based on the pace, they developed a strategy that would bring them back to the eighth position, where they belong. To do this they use the most powerful strategic tool, rhythm. Zhou, the first to stop, launched a quick move, to which many of his opponents responded. This took Williams, Magnussen, and Bottas out of the scene and left Alonso and Stroll to open up space. They dropped back behind some of them, but because they were faster on the used tires than the new ones, it didn’t take long for them to regain their position and stay just behind Tsunoda and Gasly. Only the beginning of the race prevented Stroll from overtaking Gasly; without his problems, Alonso would not have taken long to achieve it, thus finishing the last three points position.
After the United States race, the championship looked like this:
Verstappen continues to widen his lead in the championship, which he has already won but is close to doubling the points even in second place, which he is now with. Hamilton was third, 18 ahead of Alonso, who started to join the group of Sainz, Norris, Leclerc, and Russell, if he wasn’t there. Gasly, Stroll, and Ocon continued to fight for the unrelated last tenth place. In the teams Red Bull and their championship, the second is in the fight between Mercedes and Ferrari, and in the fourth McLaren has overtaken Aston Martin, who will have a very difficult time avoiding this position for the rest of the championship, as well as Alpine who left in sixth place. Williams is also close in seventh position and the battle continues to avoid being the last between Alfa Romo, Haas, and Alpha Tauri
These are the main strategic notes left by the GP of the United States, an important race and a great fight between three teams that can open the door to a change in the cycle of the rest of the championship. We will see if it remains in Mexico or if it is only the product of a local and temporary mirage.