The second race of the season came down to a thrilling cat and mouse game between Ferrari and Mercedes.
Ferrari Formula 1 driver Sebastian Vettel held off the Mercedes team of Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton at the finish on a set of Pirelli P Zero soft tires that lasted for 39 laps, while both his rivals were on fresher P Zero medium tires.
Strategy was at the heart of the race, with Hamilton being the only driver in the top 10 on the grid to start on soft tires. Like his team mate Valtteri Bottas, he switched to the medium tire on a one-stop strategy. Vettel however, was on a supersoft-soft tire strategy, doing an unprecedentedly long final stint on the soft tire in a tense finish as Bottas closed in during the final laps.
There was a very wide variety of different strategies at work, with the top eight all adopting several different patterns of tire usage, and many drivers using strategy to score some of their best results, such as Pierre Gasly in fourth (Toro Rosso) and Marcus Ericsson in ninth (Sauber). Several drivers also used all three tire compounds available during the race.
MARIO ISOLA – PIRELLI’S HEAD OF CAR RACING
“This was an absolutely thrilling and absorbing race, which delivered exactly what we hoped with this latest generation of tires: many different strategies, close racing and an exciting finish with some of the best drivers in the world battling each other down to the final corner. Tire management was absolutely key to Vettel’s victory, with the Ferrari driver making a new set of soft tires last for 39 laps, which we never saw before here during the weekend. Mercedes also made a one-stop strategy work by putting two cars on the podium when a two-stopper was theoretically quicker: this decision altered the entire character of the race and made for a thrilling conclusion. Congratulations also to Pierre Gasly and Toro Rosso, and our best wishes for a speedy recovery to the Ferrari mechanic who was injured during their pit stop.”