Wolff said: “I think that Charles starting on the soft is a risky strategy. Because it is either a two-stop if things go bad tomorrow, or you’re very compromised towards the end of your first stint.
Mercedes drivers Bottas and Hamilton echoed their team boss’s comments.
They hope that by avoiding the soft tyre, which did not hold up well in Friday practice, they will be able to overturn Leclerc’s early advantage.
“There could be a small disadvantage at the race start but then I think being on the medium opens up more opportunities for us,” said Bottas.
“We will have the opportunity to go a bit longer or a stop sooner if we wanted.”
Red Bull driver Verstappen will start from second, his best grid position of the season.
“Ferrari generate their lap time differently, they go slower round the corners and faster down the straights, so they might feel confident that they can make that work, because they don’t put as much heat into the tyres in the corners.”
Leclerc said Ferrari’s decision was made simply on the basis of its analysis after the long runs in FP2.
“The soft looked pretty good so we are pretty happy with our strategy,” said Leclerc. “It’s definitely different than Red Bull and Mercedes but only [the race] will tell who was right, but I’m happy with it.”
Photo by: Glenn DuNBAr / LAT Images