Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton have new issue to overcome in US Grand Prix
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Pirelli believe that the hot temperatures in Austin will lead to drivers and teams opting for a two-stop strategy during Sunday’s United States Grand Prix, compared to 2019 that saw a mixture of one and two stops across the race, including Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes who opted for just one.
On Saturday, Pirelli reported temperatures reaching 31 degrees ambient and 40 on track ahead of qualifying, with Max Verstappen leading the championship by six points heading to the Circuit of the Americas.
Head of F1 and Car Racing at Formula 1’s sole tyre supplier Mario Isola admits the heat will cause a few headaches for teams.
“Despite the circuit having been resurfaced for around 40% of its total length, there’s not a huge difference in terms of abrasion compared to our last visit in 2019, and it’s also even more bumpy,” Mario Isola said on the website of Pirelli.
“The biggest difference has instead been the weather, with both track and ambient temperatures considerably warmer than the cool conditions experienced a couple of years ago.
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“As expected in today’s warm temperatures, there was a bit of overheating on the soft C4 compound rear tire, which is quite stressed given the severe traction demands of this circuit in the final sector especially.”
“Managing the soft tire looks to be key, and this is something that the teams will be looking at in more detail tomorrow, with some likely to try and get through Q2 on the medium tire in order to start with it on Sunday and open up a wider range of strategic possibilities for the race.
“However, with a bigger performance gap compared to the soft than we saw this morning, the soft certainly has its advantages too: especially with a two-stopper looking likely.”
The championship battle continues on Sunday, with Verstappen leading the way by six points, however, questions were raised concerning Hamilton’s engine as his team-mate Valtteri Bottas was forced to take a sixth internal combustion engine.
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Bottas will be hit with just a five-place grid penalty rather than 10 for the race as the Finn picks up another engine, exceeding the three permitted engines at the start of the season.
Despite the 31-year-old not being in championship contention, sitting 85.5 points behind Hamilton, yet another engine change raises further concerns that Mercedes also have an issue with their engines.
The British-based German outfit had already been forced to take a grid penalty for the seven-time world champion, as Hamilton picked up a fourth ICE ahead of the Turkish Grand Prix, with the team not wanting to risk a mechanical failure ahead of the race with just six remaining.
Sunday’s United States Grand Prix gets underway at 8pm in Austin.
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