SHANGHAI, China -- Romain Grosjean believes there might be value in qualifying outside the top 10 in China to avoid being locked in with your starting tyre for Sunday's race.
The consensus around the paddock after Friday practice in Shanghai is that the ultra-soft tyre, while quick over one lap, is unlikely to last many laps in race conditions and that starting the grand prix on the soft compound could be the better strategy.
Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull all appear to have enough pace in hand to reach Q3 on the soft compound but for the likes of the midfield teams they would likely need to make the switch onto the ultra-soft tyre in order to advance.
"You can only do about one lap," Grosjean said of the ultra-soft tyre before explaining the difficulty the teams face ahead of qualifying. "The big teams can probably go through on softs in Q2 and that's probably the best strategy. For us it would be a bit of a challenge because McLaren, Renault, Toro Rosso, Force India [and Haas] are in a tight battle so you need to get everything right to get into Q3.
"It could be one of those races where you prefer to be 11th rather than 9th or 10th."
By qualifying outside the top 10 you have the freedom to start the race on your preferred tyre and there could be enormous benefit on it being the soft where you'd likely be able to run a far longer first stint.
Nevertheless, Grosjean hasn't ruled out the role the ultra-soft tyre can play in China, noting how quickly things can turn in Formula One.
"In Bahrain we thought the medium was really a bad tyre for the race and at the end it was a good tyre but the temperature didn't change that much. Things turn around quickly for a couple of degrees or track rubber.