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SOCHI, October 11. /TASS/. Formula One teams could use a strategy of one pit-stop at Russia’s first-ever F1 GP in Sochi as the newly built track in the country’s coastal city on the Black Sea is less demanding to degradation of tyres comparing with other F1 circuits round the globe, the official F1 tyre supplier Pirelli said in its statement on Saturday after the qualification session.
British racer Lewis Hamilton from team Mercedes conquered Russia’s Sochi racing circuit track with the result of 1 minute 38.513 seconds in the third attempt of the official qualification on Saturday to secure the pole position for Sunday’s Sochi GP.
“Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton has claimed pole position for the first Russian Grand Prix using the P Zero Yellow soft tyre, nominated along with the P Zero White medium tyre at Sochi,” Pirelli said in its statement adding that Hamilton’s teammate Nico Rosberg followed up him for “the ninth Mercedes one-two in qualifying this season.”
Pirelli said earlier in the week, days before the launch of the racing weekend in Russia, that taking into account the weather, and the condition and surface of Russia’s track constructed for the much-awaited race, two sets of tyres should be used before the boost-off of the noble racing weekend and the type of tyres proposed by the the-called ‘shoe company for F1 cars’ were medium and soft brands.
The second best result at the Sochi GP qualification was showed by Hamilton’s German teammate Rosberg of Germany as he completed the racing track in 1 minute 39.713 seconds. Rosberg was followed by Finnish racer Valtteri Botas from team Williams with the result of 1 minute 38.920 seconds.
“The performance gap between the two P Zero compounds has come down compared to yesterday, from 1.5 seconds to 1.2 seconds,” the statement from the F1 official tyre supplier continued. “This difference still leaves plenty of strategy options open, with the possibility that some teams might try stopping only for once on account of the low wear and degradation [of tyres].”
The possibility of the one-time pit stop was also emphasized in regard to FIA (International Autosport Federation) safety marshals’ decision on Friday to cut the speed limit in the pit-lane area of the Sochi GP to 60 kph (37.2 mph).
“A one-stop strategy has become even more likely with the news that the pit lane speed limit has been reduced to 60 kph for safety reasons,” Pirelli’s statement said. “This will increase the total pit stop time to approximately 24 seconds, meaning that teams will aim to reduce the amount of time spent in the pits during the race.”
FIA stewards working in Sochi fined on Friday team McLaren 700 euros (over $880) for its racer Jenson Button speeding his bolide at 87 kmh in the pit area during the training sessions. Shortly before midnight on Friday FIA issued a statement saying that the speed limit in the pits zone of the Russian GP must not exceed the mark of 60 kph.
“The stewards have received a recommendation from the F1 Safety Delegate for the speed limit in the pit lane to be reduced to 60 km/h for the remainder of the event,” FIA statement said.
Describing the qualification session on Saturday on the whole, Pirelli said that “no team felt confident enough to attempt to get through Q1 (first of three qualification’s sessions) using the medium tyres only, with the soft tyre dominating qualifying, held in warm and dry conditions with ambient temperatures of 25 degrees centigrade.”
Following the qualification on Saturday both Mercedes pilots Hamilton and Rosberg praised the Russian racing track saying that besides the sunny weather with mild temperatures of some 20 Celsius, the circuit was smooth and very merciful for the tyres of F1 bolides.
“The track surface is smooth and has a lot of grip,” Hamilton said adding that he was on the whole impressed with the city of Sochi. “It’s great coming here, the place is amazing and the weather was great. It’s quite an incredible place.”
Germany’s Rosberg said that racing in Sochi was very pleasant comparing with other international tracks this year.
“It’s very unique here. The track is smooth with tyres and it is much better than what we saw this year. I hope it will be a great race tomorrow,” said Rosberg, who is currently in the second place behind Hamilton in overall pilots standings after 15 GPs.
The new track in Russia’s Sochi is the third longest in distance this year after Belgium’s Spa GP and Britain’s Silverstone GP, and the racing event is held at the track located near the Olympic Village in the coastal area of Sochi.
In February and March, Sochi hosted the Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, which, according to international sports officials, athletes and visitors, were organized at the highest level possible and provided up-to-date infrastructure at all levels.
According to the statistics from the racing event organizers, Sochi AutoDrom, a total of some 50,000 tickets available were sold out for the Russian F1 event in Sochi with 5,000 tickets out of the mentioned-above figure purchased by foreign guests.