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Teams go soft for Suzuka

NEWS STORY
02/10/2019

Not for the first time, five-time world champion Mercedes is slightly out of step with its rivals.

While the majority of teams take nine, or even ten in the case of Renault and Haas, Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas will take just 8 sets of the C3 softs to Suzuka next week for the Japanese Grand Prix.

Pirelli is taking the hardest tyres in its range to Japan, the C3, C2 and C1, the same combination used previously in Bahrain, Spain, Britain and Belgium.

On the other hand the Silver Arrows takes four sets of the medium, while most take two or three, and Nico Hulkenberg just one.

With the exception of Hulkenberg, George Russell and the Racing Points, who all take two sets, the teams take just one set of the C1 hard.

Last year's race was won by Hamilton, who, like the first other thirteen finishers, was on a one-stop strategy. Starting on softs, the Briton subsequently switched to mediums, as did his teammate who finished second. Third-placed Max Verstappen started on supersofts before switching to softs.

The notoriously high-energy demands of Suzuka, with its long and sweeping corners such as 130R and Spoon, mean the cars are almost constantly cornering, with a relentless flow that makes the circuit one of the most-loved on the entire calendar.

The rhythm of the circuit, with its legendary fast corners, means that Suzuka is all about lateral forces, rather than traction and braking.

Wear and degradation is traditionally high since some of the biggest energy loads of the year are put through the tyres.

Teams tend to run high downforce, pushing down on the tyres, in order to maximise grip, which means that the tyres are subjected to multi-directional forces at the same time.

In addition, the weather is often unpredictable at this time of year, with frequent rain: one of the factors that make track evolution hard to forecast.

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