Alternative tyre strategy helps Vettel to 4th at Malaysian grand prix

While all the frontrunners at the final Malaysian Grand Prix used a similar single-stop tyre strategy, changing from Pirelli P Zero Red supersoft to Yellow soft tyres, Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari reversed the order to support his bid for points from the back of the grid. The German chose to start the race on the soft tyres to try and gain track position, switching to the faster supersoft tyres on the same lap that Red Bull’s Max Verstappen pitted from the lead to change from supersoft to soft. Verstappen won the race from the second row of the grid.

Mario Isola, Pirelli head of car racing, stated: “After practice was interrupted by weather and a red flag, the teams still had to fully calculate degradation rates over long runs, which was the main challenge today. In the end, track temperatures were relatively cool by Malaysia standards – around 40 degrees centigrade – and degradation was low on both compounds, so the stints were able to be stretched out.

“With all the frontrunners selecting similar one-stop supersoft-soft strategies, one of the highlights of the race was Vettel’s charge up the field from last, helped by an alternative strategy by starting on the soft. Force India’s Esteban Ocon was forced into an early stop following a puncture caused by contact with another car: he then ran all the way to the end on the soft tyre after pitting on lap three.”

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