According to the calculations of Formula One’s tyre supplier Pirelli, the one-stopper strategy is the fastest way to complete the entire race distance of 308.706km in today’s Singapore Grand Prix.
Planning the best strategy for a race in Singapore often turns to be a waste of time. Since the inaugural race at Singapore in 2008, the safety car has made an appearance on 18 occasions, forcing teams’ strategists to make sudden decisions and quick reactions to the unexpected scenarios. Due to this fact, this is one of the hardest races of the year to predict a strategy for.
Pirelli’s head of car racing, Mario Isola thinks that drivers starting from further back on the grid also could have a good chance given the possibility of unexpected happenings, safety car periods during the 61-lap race.
“In theory, starting on the soft tyre forms the beginning of the optimal race strategy tomorrow, but in practice we’ve seen in the past that absolutely anything can happen in Singapore. So it’s definitely a very tough race where drivers can do well even starting further down the grid order.”
Theoretically, the fastest strategy for today’s long and demanding race is a one-stopper. To do that, the best way is to start on the soft for 16 to 20 laps and then switch to the medium. An alternative strategy (for those starting outside the top 10), which is very closely matched on time, is to start on the medium tyre for 28 to 32 laps, and then go to hard. The slowest one-stopper is soft to hard, changing after 14 to 18 laps.
On paper, a two-stopper is definitely slower, but the way to do it would be two stints on the soft of 12 to 14 laps each, and a final run to the flag on medium.
Interestingly, the only drivers who haven’t got fresh sets of Pirelli’s C4 medium compound are Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas. Both Mercedes drivers used one set of yellow-banded tyres in the first qualifying segment to complete a single hot lap on them. As times were quickly improving, both drivers had to go out on to the track for another time to avoid the possibility of being knocked out in Q1. It meant that Hamilton and Bottas used another set of fresh tyres, that time it was the C5 soft compound. It was either an error or miscalculation from Mercedes or they knew beforehand that they won’t use the medium compound at all in the race.