Chief Strategist James Vowles answers your questions about last weekend's F1 action in Japan...
Lim Ming Xian @mingxian2393 - Instagram
- What was the deciding factor on whether to send both cars out on slicks or inters in Q3?
James Vowles: "In Qualifying 3, the rain came in and out and there were strong winds in between that was drying the track. But, just because the SuperSoft worked at that point, around about two minutes before then, you would've really struggled to do a lap on a dry tyre.
"It was Inter conditions. And so much so, that we did swing backwards and forwards between an Inter and a SuperSoft up until about 90 seconds before the cars left the garage, where we committed to SuperSoft. There are a couple of triggers behind that.
"We have very good weather forecasting on the pit wall that allows us to understand that there was a very strong chance of rain coming about eight minutes into the session.
"And simply, if you left to do another run on Inter, you would be so heavily compromised and potentially in wet conditions that it wasn't worth it.
"These were the best conditions, it was ready for dry tyres and ultimately, we fitted SuperSoft and it worked out very well."
Randelle Escaros @rje.96 - Instagram
- How come you started the race with the Soft tyres and not SuperSoft like the others?
JV: "We knew that Sunday was going to be very, very warm, the temperatures were going to be the warmest we had experienced that weekend and blistering was going to be a problem.
"The Soft tyre was the fastest tyre, we knew that, our competitors knew that as well. So, ultimately, whatever strategy you did would revolve around the Soft somewhere. The question therefore became do you want to run the Medium or the SuperSoft.
"With the warmer temperatures, we felt the Medium would provide more protection against blistering and furthermore you tend to want to run your fastest tyre on the first stint of the race.
"In this case, the Soft tyre. Irrespective of that though, what we chose to do is to run the Soft first in Q2, we are always intending to run the SuperSoft second. And we can always finish the lap, do a faster lap time on the SuperSoft and then move back towards that as a starting tyre.
"It's very difficult to run the SuperSoft first and then run a Soft second. Ultimately, though, rain in Qualifying 2 curtailed any further running that we could do. The track was just too slow, and we were very happy ultimately starting the race on the Soft."
Tim Coulter - Facebook
- Were your strategists ever at all concerned by Max & Daniel's pace? Or were you just looking after the tyres?
JV: "The answer is yes, we saw on Friday, especially with Daniel Ricciardo, that his pace was very strong on the Soft tyre. They were running a little bit more rear wing than we were, a little bit more downforce and we could see the car was working very well.
"As we went into the race, it was quite clear that we weren't shaking them. They were a very competitive car and they would become a risk at certain points in the race.
"What it meant is we just had to drive correctly and defensively, and ensure that we didn't run out of tyres at the wrong point in the race. Both Lewis and Valtteri did that perfectly.
"With Valtteri on the second stint of the race, he was really just managing that gap to the Red Bulls, as they came back into what we call our Safety Car window, we knew there was no point in carrying on pushing at the level we are.
"We'll just let them come in towards us and just manage the gap relative to them, which Valtteri did very, very well."
Scott Dean - Facebook
- Why was Bottas pitted first? Isn't the car with track position, Hamilton, priority?
JV: "In this particular circumstance, Valtteri was quite a few seconds behind Lewis, he wasn't really in a situation where he'd undercut him and furthermore when Verstappen had stopped, there was a risk to Valtteri before it gets to Lewis of an undercut there.
"So, we wanted to cover that risk off and the fastest race for Lewis was actually to stretch that Soft tyre, the very competitive Soft tyre, and minimise the stint on Medium.
"So, for both of those reasons, we stopped Valtteri first, we knew the undercut wouldn't happen, and Lewis came in shortly afterwards."
Glenn Dovey @glenndovey - Twitter
- Was Valtteri struggling for pace on his Medium tyres towards the end of the race allowing Max to catch him? Or was he just conserving the engine and had it covered?
JV: "No, he was OK, he was comfortable. He was managing the gap relative to Red Bull. We have what we call a Safety Car gap, which is an amount of time behind the car where we know that if the Safety Car was to be deployed, we would end up either ahead of behind of another car.
"Red Bull were well and truly within Valtteri's Safety Car window. What that means is there is no point going flat-out to the end of the race. And in fact, we should just let Red Bull close back into Valtteri, use up their Soft tyre because it will make the situation easier come the end.
"Valtteri did a great job, Verstappen closed back and within DRS distance sometimes, but Valtteri was able to build that gap back up to over two seconds whenever we asked him to. Frequently, in fact, what closed that closing of the gap was backmarker traffic, for example Hulkenberg.
"And often the second of the two cars gets an easier ride through simply because the backmarker has already moved out of the way.
"Therefore, you get Verstappen back into DRS. But, Valtteri was very comfortable, spoke after the race and said he was really just managing that gap."
Kai Tan - Facebook
- Were you guys worried about the hesitations happening on Lewis's car and after having that issue for two races in a row is there anything you can do to prevent it?
JV: "We are pushing the boundaries on all performance systems including the Power Unit in order to win races. You have to, that's Formula One and Ferrari are doing the same.
"The result of that is every now and again you push certain elements of it over the limit. The problems we experienced in Suzuka weren't anything to do with the problems we experienced in Sochi, those were fixed.
"But, equally they are problems that we understand and are confident that will be resolved for Austin. They didn't cost him a significant amount of performance.
"They are a worry, it's a sound or a hesitation but ultimately there was very little lap time in it. We understand entirely what they were and they are all resolved."