Avoiding hypersoft would be "big advantage" in Monaco GP
Formula 1 teams that can avoid using the new hypersoft tyre compound in the Monaco Grand Prix will be at a "big advantage" in the race, according to Force India technical director Andy Green.
While the hypersoft, making its race weekend debut in Monaco, proved a second a lap faster in Thursday practice, doubts about its longevity – with some cars suffering more than others – make starting on a more conservative tyre an attractive option.
That would allow drivers to run much longer from the start of the race, wait for a favourable safety car before changing tyres, and potentially run with an ultrasoft/supersoft combination without using the hypersoft at all.
For the top teams, however, getting through Q2 on a harder compound - which will then be the starting tyre - may be complicated given the one-second delta between the hypersoft and the ultrasoft.
"The hypersoft seemed quite aggressive," said Green. "It is almost a proper qualifying tyre which should be good for the show, I think.
"Everyone will try to do one stop – some of the bigger teams will look to try to qualify on something other than the hyper, which may be they have the margin to do. It is a risky strategy around here.
"But if they can qualify on the ultrasoft, it would be a big advantage to be able to do that."
Renault technical director Nick Chester conceded the hypersoft would be difficult to manage in race trim, and said the tyre seemed like it was "a good two steps" softer than the ultrasoft.
"It [the hypersoft] is quite tricky because the front tyres can grain, particularly if you've got a bit of understeer in the car," Chester said. "At the same time you're loading the rears with traction and they want to go away as well. It will take a bit of management to get a decent stint out of them.
"It seems like a good two steps. It is a good chunk quicker than the other compounds."
Tyre supplier Pirelli believes using ultrasofts in Q2 is likely to be a tall order for any team, but does not rule out such a strategy.
"Degradation was quite high," said Pirelli F1 boss Mario Isola after Thursday's running. "It's not a surprise, because the hypersoft is really a soft compound.
"We saw all the teams working on the set-up of the car to try to reduce front left graining, but also the track evolution is playing a big role. We expect to have less graining on Saturday and Sunday when we have more rubber down.
"Considering the big delta that we have between hypersoft and ultrasoft I don't think that anybody is going to try to qualify on the ultrasoft, unless there's somebody that's really struggling with the graining, and they don't find a solution for that.
"This is the only situation in which I can imagine that somebody will try to go through Q2 to Q3 with the ultra, and have a race on ultra and super.
"In my opinion, it will be quite difficult, but let's see what happens on Saturday morning in FP3 when they will try to understand the track evolution and prepare for qualifying."
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