STRATEGY GUIDE: What are the possible racing strategies for the 2022 Mexico City Grand Prix? – Formula 1 | CarTailz

This weekend the grid in Mexico looks a little different and the riders face difficult conditions, although the altitude will keep it dry and sunny. So here are some of the different options available to teams on race day in Mexico City…

What’s the fastest strategy?

In what is often the recipe for an exciting strategic race, two options that are closely timed and have different numbers of pit stops stand out. But the fastest is the one available to the top three teams, which is a two-stop strategy.

READ MORE: Verstappen fends off Mercedes pair for first poles in Mexico City

The key to this strategy is having two sets of mid-size tires available – something Red Bull, Mercedes, Ferrari, Williams and Haas all have – which allows them to do two stints on this compound as it is considered the best racing tires apply.

A run of over 800 meters from pole position to the braking zone for Turn 1 makes starting from the line particularly important and it’s likely that many of the above teams will opt for the soft compound to try and either theirs to defend position or to gain places.

The first pit window would then be between lap 16 and lap 22, switching to medium until between lap 42 and 48, and then another set of medium until the end of the race.

Crucial to this strategy is how the soft tires hold up in the first stint, requiring some pace management to protect them from too much wear. Grain wasn’t a major issue but could be a factor if there is cloud cover that lowers track temperatures but at the same time still makes the soft tire the better for warming up.


How about another option for the top 10?

For those who don’t have two sets of medium – Valtteri Bottas in sixth is the top-placed rider – then a one-stop isn’t much slower than the two stops above.

The downside is that you start out on the mediums, giving up some power off the line compared to the softs, but then you can run a much longer opening stint and not worry about hitting traffic early.

READ MORE: Mercedes on the hunt and Bottas between the Ferraris – What to watch out for at the Mexico City GP

The medium tire was consistent and almost a second per lap faster than the hard compound (although this delta often decreases in race trim when drivers aren’t always flat out), so the goal will be a first stint of at least 28 laps.

If the pit stop comes before lap 35, the hard compound is the more likely option for the second part of the race, especially for teams capable of fitting the tyre. The hard tire is still a consistent tyre, but it lacks power in the mid sector with rapid changes of direction and can be difficult to warm up.


Tires available for Race MEXICO.jpg

If a driver can extend that first stint on the medium tire to lap 40, then it’s possible to run the final part of the race on the soft tyre. That would give a big pace advantage over the hard compound in the same stint, but would require more management in the first part of the race.

Also, if it’s hotter than expected, the soft compound might degrade a bit too quickly to make such a long stint feasible, but teams will have that data from those starting with the softest compound.

FACTS AND STATISTICS: Verstappen starts P1, but no polesitter has finished on the podium here since 2016

These one-stop strategies are particularly attractive given the high probability of a safety car based on previous races, as a timely stoppage for a driver who is yet to pit could give him multiple positions, as Charles Leclerc did at the start Media last week in Austin.


Tire Balancing MEXICO.jpg

What are the options for the lower half of the field?

There’s also a two-stop strategy that can be considered by teams that don’t have two sets of media, but traffic will be the primary concern. Starting on the soft, a first stint reflecting the fastest strategy – as close to 22 laps as possible – would then be followed by a switch to the middle for the middle part of the race.

Some management would be required here, but the consistency of the medium should allow drivers to aim for a stint of around 30 laps and then return to the soft side for the latter part of the race when the car is at its lightest and the track is even more rubbery is. as the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez often sees a high level of track development even during the race itself.

READ MORE: Mexico City polesitter Verstappen expects a ‘good fight’ for victory as local hero Perez grapples with a costly problem in qualifying

The hard tire is not a suitable tire for the first part of the race as it offers too much of a disadvantage off the line compared to the softer compounds and also makes it difficult to change for riders with lots of fuel on the grippy surface.

Low tire temperatures combined with the lower downforce due to altitude is a recipe for skidding that is slow and will damage the tires.


Pit Lane Downtime MEXICO.jpg

Wait, but how’s the weather?

The weather is actually quite difficult to pin down this weekend due to a trend seen so far throughout the Mexico City event. When the sun is out it has been warm and temperatures rose to over 50C but cloud cover has reduced this significantly.

In the afternoon it rained on both Thursday and Friday, while a 60 per cent risk of showers never materialized during qualifying and the session instead took place in sunlight which kept temperatures high.

HIGHLIGHTS: Watch qualifying as Verstappen storms to pole position in Mexico City

The forecast is currently for similar conditions for race day, with sunshine leading to warm temperatures early in the race but cloud cover likely to build up during the race and the risk of rain increasing.

The overall chance of rain remains quite low at 40%, but even a change in track temperature can have a significant impact on tire behavior in Mexico.

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