Williams technical director Pat Symonds firmly believes that tyre strategy will be the defining factor between the Martini liveried outfit and 4th place contenders Force India.
The Williams/Force India battle for 4th has been one of the highlights of 2016 so far. All four cars have been competitive from the off, but Sergio Perez has been the pick of the quartet in terms of performance and nailing tyre strategy, so Williams will be desperate to pull off some strategic tyre alternatives of their own in the remaining nine races of this season.
The 2017 regulation overhaul has caused all teams to shift focus to next year’s challenger, meaning that the current running order is likely to become fairly static. This means that teams will look to race strategy to eke out more performance. Symonds said,
“I believe that in terms of the relative strengths of the teams, things will be more static from now. The problem is that not many of us are really on top of these tyres. We are in a situation where, when we get it right with the tyres, we have a good weekend, but the next weekend the result is quite different and another team is doing well.
We will continue to see these ups and downs. We are now making these choices with more experience and so probably the trend is that the choices will be increasingly similar.”
– Pat Symonds
The trend in tyre choice between Williams and Force India ahead of this weekend’s race in Spa is split. Williams have opted to take an extra-pair of the red super-soft compound whilst Force India take an extra set of the yellow Soft compound tyres. Whilst tyre strategy will be different between these two teams, Williams probably didn’t have much choice.
The Williams FW-38 has really struggled to generate the right temperatures for the harder compounds all season, so two stints on the super-soft for the race seems like the quickest, most fail safe strategy for the Grove-based outfit. Meanwhile, Force India have been great at switching on their tyres and will probably get their super-soft stint out of the way in the race. Perez is a true master of managing his tyres and stretching out stints. The Mexican will definitely aim to take less pit-stops than both Williams cars, and this might give Force India the strategic edge at Spa.