We continue with the Grand Prix with the Sprint format, this time on a long route of deterioration due to the fact that Pirelli uses C2, C3, and C4 tires but also on a circuit where overtaking is possible. In this way, the choice of tires for the Sprint is very focused on the use of medium tires, which only Carlos Sainz has soft.
The Sprint is a good introduction and data for the race, seeing that the soft will not be able to last more than 5 competitive laps and how the teams will treat the medium tires on Sunday. So let’s see how it compares between the sprint and each stage of the race, which is approximately 20 laps, the same duration as Saturday’s test.
The comparison that takes into account the overall rhythm of the sprint and the race is as follows:
The pace of the race was slower than the pace of the Sprint on this occasion, due to the fact that running with a high fuel load was more damaging in the first two runs, until reaching the end of the race, as we can see in late.
The race was 1.15 seconds slower than the sprint on average, leaving the drivers with 4 tenths of a second in the first two sections and 0.3 seconds in the final sector. Sargeant was able to ride faster in the race than in the sprint because he didn’t have a great performance on Saturday, the same as Stroll, who finished in the points on Sunday from Pit Lane. Aston Martin, Haas, and Alfa Romeo left each other by less than 7 tenths of a second on Sunday, although they were drivers who had problems achieving points. Meanwhile, among the favorite drivers, Verstappen and Leclerc lost 1.8 seconds per lap, 4 tenths ahead of Hamilton and 6 ahead of Norris. An important difference is that of the Ferrari drivers, because Sainz made the Sprint with soft and Leclerc with medium, and on Sunday, Carlos had the best strategy to go to the two stops and Charles went to one with less speed to come up to. In the end, Charles left himself 1 second longer in the race than Sainz.
Now we will see how the evolution of the race is due to its phases of about 20 laps each, with a duration similar to the sprint. This is the comparison of steps if we consider the first phase of the race:
The start of the race was obviously the slowest because the drivers were full of fuel in their cars. In managing this part of the test, 2.3 seconds were left in relation to the Sprint pace, where the slowest were Ocon, Albon, Leclerc, Hamilton, and the Red Bull drivers, who left more than 2.5 seconds in terms of their rhythm in the Sprint, because in this part of the race the strategies were outlined where Mercedes and Leclerc chose to stop, although Mercedes changed their strategy in the second phase.
On the opposite side, we have Alfa Romeo, Sargeant, Magnussen, and Piastri, very similar to what was seen in the overall race versus the sprint. The Aston Martin drivers dropped under 1.9 seconds in the Sunday race, with a better performance than the Sprint, but found themselves blocked in the first 12 laps of the race.
Continuing the evolution of the race, we study the second phase in relation to the sprint:
The second round of the race has rhythms more similar to the sprint, despite the fact that on Sunday the drivers continue to run with more fuel. This part of the race is 0.9 seconds slower than the sprint, leaving the time in the first and second sectors, while the third is more equal. The Aston Martin drivers were faster in this part of the race than in the Sprint, as they changed their setup after proving that they were not competitive either in a lap or in the race.
As for the other drivers, only Albon lost 2 seconds per lap, but Verstappen, Hamilton, Norris, and Leclerc were among those who lost more time in the race compared to their sprint pace. Leclerc had to manage his difficult tires to reach the end of the race; Norris and Hamilton lost 1.4 seconds per lap, and Verstappen left 1.8 seconds.
Finally, studying the last part of the race, the fastest, we have the following comparison of the sprint pace:
The last part of the race is 2 tenths of a second faster than the sprint, with a very similar first and second sector and achieved all the time in the final stretch, where tire grip is most necessary for the right traction.
Walking was the driver who gained the most time, 1.7 seconds per lap, to end the fight for eighth place after starting last and exiting the pit lane. Russell was also one of the drivers who gained the most time in the last part of the race, gaining almost an advantage because in the sprint he was blocked behind the slow pace of Sainz. The slowest were Verstappen and Albon, this time losing more than 8 tenths of a second per lap, but Norris and Zhou also left themselves a lot of time. Gasly, Hamilton, and Perez are at the same pace.
The US GP Sprint is faster than the previous Sprints we have seen because it is possible to overtake and it is well marked in the rhythms and the handling of the tires to complete it without stopping, but the race has a greater degradation, having to make two stops to complete the race in three phases, therefore doing the same laps per phase as the Sprint.
Finally, the effect of the weight of the cars has been proven, and the Sprint is very similar to the pace of the last part of the race with a track with rubber in both sessions and the same amount of fuel in the cars.