Pirelli recommends two-stop strategy

By on

F1’s sole tyre supplier Pirelli suggested after the qualifying session that the two-stop strategy could be the best way to approach the scorching race of the Malaysian GP weekend. However, rain-showers can make all the tyre information gained so far during the weekend useless.

Pirelli brought the trio of the hard, medium and soft compound to Malaysia. The heat of the Asian country and the high-speed nature of the Sepang circuit are usually rather demanding for tyres, but this year's very hard tyres of Pirelli mean that even the soft compound has showed good durability so far.

The Italian tyre manufacturer made the hard compound compulsory for the race which has been questioned over the weekend after the reliable performance of the soft and medium compound over the long runs. It means, every driver has to use the hard compound for at least one stint.

Because of the relatively low wear and grip-advantage of the soft compound, the compulsory stint on hards means that the medium compound could make rare appearance during the race.

The Milan-based company recommends a maximum of 17 laps on softs, 23 laps on mediums and 28 laps on hards.

Pirelli’s motorsport chief Paul Hembery was impressed by the time improvement compared to last year. He explained that with the new surface of the Sepang International Circuit and the fact that the Italian tyre manufacturer supplied the soft compound.

“The new track surface has clearly benefitted grip and traction, enabling one of the fastest-ever laps of Malaysia to be run today – more than six seconds faster than last year’s pole – using our soft tyre. We had falling track temperatures throughout the session, which presented a bit of a moving target for the teams, but they quickly got on top of that.”

Hembery expects interesting strategies and close battles due to the similar long run pace showed by the front runners on Friday.

“There’s still something of a question mark over the weather but with all the top 10 starting on the soft tyre, we should see some interesting strategies at the front end of the field as the long runs seem closely matched,” said the Briton.

Pirelli announced how many sets of hards, mediums and softs drivers saved for the tomorrow's race.

The Ferrari drivers and Max Verstappen are the ‘poorest’ from the front-runners as they all attempted to use the medium compound to get into the second qualifying session, but failed to do so.

The Ferrari duo set lap times on the soft compound while Max Verstappen abandoned his lap when he was informed that his previous lap time was enough to get into the next session. In hindsight, it was also unnecessary for Kimi Räikkönen and Sebastian Vettel to do any running on another set of tyre as they could have squeezed themselves into Q2 with the lap time set on the medium compound.

Fernando Alonso is the driver with the most new sets as the Spaniard only completed one stint in qualifying to set a lap time under the 107 per cent benchmark following the penalties triggered by his multiple engine changes of the weekend.