After seeing the cars complete qualifying and all practice sessions, and with both tyre compounds closely matched in terms of performance, Pirelli expects the Japanese Grand Prix to be a two stop strategy.
Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery said: “It’s been an action-packed day at Suzuka, which is a sign of just how challenging this circuit is. There has been quite a high degree of track evolution over the weekend so far and we’d expect to see two pit stops in the normal course of events tomorrow.
"There’s a much smaller lap time difference between the two nominated compounds than we’ve had in the previous two races, which clearly had an effect on the strategy as it made it easier for the frontrunners to get through Q1 using the hard compounds, as we saw with Grosjean’s impressive run through Q1. This opens up different strategic possibilities for the race tomorrow, with a number of options potentially paying off. The times are actually very close, so there’s an opportunity for strategy to really make a difference.
"Although this is a very demanding track for tyres, with the highest lateral energy loads of the year, wear and degradation is where we expect it to be: we saw in qualifying that times didn’t drop off significantly even with used tyres.”
Two stops are theoretically the quickest way to complete the 53-lap Japanese Grand Prix. The fastest strategy should be to start on the medium, change to medium again on lap 20 and then change to the hard on lap 37.
An alternative could be a start on the medium, switch to hard on lap 20, and hard tyre again on lap 37.