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Pirelli Report: Russian Grand Prix

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The breaking news from Sochi is that Pirelli has concluded a commercial deal to remain in Formula One for the 2017-2019 period.

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton has won an eventful Russian Grand Prix with a one-stop strategy. The Englishman started on the supersoft and then switched to the soft on lap 32, meaning that he spent more of the race on the supersoft tire than the soft after starting from second on the grid.

This was made possible by two safety car periods in the first part of the race. It was Hamilton’s 42nd win, equalling the recent total of Sebastian Vettel, and puts him close to another driver’s title at the next race. As has been the case all weekend in Russia, conditions were quite cool with low track temperatures that made tire warm-up an essential part of the race strategy.

All the drivers used the supersoft tires at the race start apart from Pastor Maldonado (Lotus), Felipe Massa (Williams), Marcus Ericsson (Sauber) and Fernando Alonso (McLaren).

A number of drivers – but not the leaders – took advantage of the second of two safety cars (from lap 11 onwards) to make a pit stop, with Force India’s Sergio Perez emerging as the top contender of those who stopped under the second safety car. In the end, the Mexican finished third from seventh on the grid, having managed his tires very effectively all the way to the finish.

The Toro Rosso of Carlos Sainz was forced to start from the back as the Spaniard missed qualifying due to his accident in FP3. Using a clever one-stop strategy allied with a strong race pace, he was able to climb into a points-scoring seventh place before retiring as a result of mechanical issues with six laps to go.

The low wear and degradation meant that the majority of drivers adopted a one-stop strategy: the default tactics in Russia because of the smooth asphalt surface. The two safety cars also increased stint lengths.

Before the start of the race, the news emerged that Pirelli has concluded a commercial deal to remain in Formula One for the 2017-2019 period. More details will follow as per the procedure laid down by the FIA: the governing body of world motorsport.

Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director: “First and foremost, we’re delighted to confirm that we reached a commercial agreement with Bernie Ecclestone to remain in Formula One for the 2017-2019 period. The process to the formal FIA official nomination will follow with its procedure. Looking at the race, with very little practice time and therefore tire information, the drivers and strategists had to think on their feet, reading the race carefully in order to react to changing situations in real time. It’s a testimony to the high level at which Formula One operates that they all rose to this unique challenge with no real issues. We saw a variety of different strategies, and some very effective tire management that helped many drivers move up the field in an action-packed race.”

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