Two-stop strategy most likely: three-stop sprint strategy Is also possible.
Abu Dhabi, November 22, 2014 – Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg has claimed pole position for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix from his team mate Lewis Hamilton, using the P Zero Red supersoft tyre, which is just over a second faster than the P Zero Yellow soft tyre that has also been nominated for the final race of the season.
Statistically, in five races held so far at Abu Dhabi, the pole position sitter has only gone on to win the grand prix once (Sebastian Vettel in 2010) while second place on the grid has won three times. Mercedes now equals the world record of 12 front-row lockouts in one season.
We’re still looking at two stops for the race, with a possibility of three for some competitors.
Conditions remained dry and warm, as has been the case all weekend, with the final Q3 session starting just after 5:40pm with a track temperature of 31 degrees centigrade and ambient of 27 degrees centigrade. Track temperatures fell over the course of the session, which altered the usual pattern of track evolution and made it hard to know at which point in each session the circuit was fastest.
Williams’ Valtteri Bottas was the only driver to complete Q1 using only the soft tyre, with all the others using the supersoft. With the soft expected to be the main race tyre, teams generally used the faster supersoft in qualifying.
In both Q1 and Q2, the Mercedes drivers used just one set of supersofts in each session, together with Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo. The pole position contenders all completed two runs on the supersoft tyre in Q3, with Rosberg going fastest in the first run after Hamilton made a small mistake. Hamilton chose to run last for the final part of Q3 but could not beat his team mate, while Bottas qualified third.
After Hamilton went quickest in the two free practice sessions yesterday, Rosberg was fastest in the warm conditions of FP3 this afternoon, using the supersoft tyre.
Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery said: “With so much at stake, it was an exciting qualifying session that as usual went down to the very final seconds. Tyre performance was in line with our expectations, and the first stint in particular tomorrow on the supersoft tyre will be crucial in determining the stint length for the rest of the grand prix. We’re still looking at two stops for the race, with a possibility of three for some competitors.”
The Pirelli strategy predictor
A two-stop strategy is theoretically fastest for the 55-lap race. The quickest strategy goes: start on supersoft, change onto soft on lap eight, then soft again on lap 31. A three-stop sprint strategy is also feasible, but carries risks in terms of traffic.
The fastest three-stop strategy is: start on supersoft, change to soft on lap seven, soft again on lap 23 and soft once more on lap 39. As long as there are not too many hold ups with traffic, this strategy is in theory less than two seconds slower over the cumulative 305.355-kilometre race distance. With only a 40% safety car probability, this is not historically a key factor in the strategy.