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Red Bull plays safe with French GP tyre choice

Pirelli tyres atmosphere
©WRI2

Red Bull has opted to take a slightly harder and more durable line-up of Pirelli tyres for the French Grand Prix than any of its rivals.

Pirelli are providing the ultrasoft, supersoft and soft compounds at Circuit Paul Ricard later this month. That's the same line-up as Melbourne and Baku. Drivers get one set of each by default, and then a choice of how they make up the remaining 10 sets.

Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen are taking just seven sets of the purple-walled ultras to France. That's less than anyone else. Instead, they'll make up their consignment with three sets each of soft and supersoft tyres.

It's a surprise tactic considering that the RB14 was kinder to the hypersoft tyres in Monaco and Montreal than its rivals, and could make them run longer.

By comparison, Mercedes and Ferrari are both taking nine sets of ultras - two more than Red Bull - for all their drivers for the next race.

Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel are backing that up with three sets of supersofts, and just the one default set of ultras; their team mates Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen are taking two of each compound.

Renault's Carlos Sainz and Nico Hulkenberg, and Sauber's Charles Leclerc and Marcus Ericsson have also also decided on nine sets of ultrasofts, as has McLaren's Stoffel Vandoorne.

However Vandoorne's team mate Fernando Alonso has opted for just eight ultras, augmented with two sets of supersofts and three soft tyres for his MCL33.

Both Force India drivers Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon, as well as Toro Rosso duo Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley and Haas pair Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen are also packing eight sets of ultras.

Gasly and Magnussen are also taking four sets of supersofts, the biggest number of the red-marked tyres any driver will be using in France.

Meanwhile Williams have gone all-in and ordered ten sets of ultrasoft tyres for Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin.

The tyres that teams will be using at Circuit Paul Ricard are slightly different to normal. The tread has being reduced by by 0.4mm, in order to prevent the compounds from overheating on the new asphalt that has been laid on the circuit.

The revised specification was also used at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya last month, and will be seen again at Silverstone next month.

Teams have little information as to how the tyres will fare in the first French Grand Prix in a decade. The race was held in 2008 at Magny-Cours, which was won by Rubens Barrichello for Ferrari.

Formula 1 hasn't raced at the Circuit Paul Ricard since 1990, when Alain Prost was victorious.

Pirelli infographic showing driver tyre selections for the 2018 French Grand Prix at the Circuit Paul Ricard.

@copy; Pirelli

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