Wide variety of strategies possible, says Pirelli

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Tuscany Ferrari 1000, Autodromo Internazionale di Mugelloit

Formula One’s sole tyre manufacturer Pirelli is unsure over the best possible race strategy for today’s Tuscan Grand Prix with different variations being on the table.

To cope with a combination of fast corners and abrasive asphalt, Pirelli brought their hardest compounds to Mugello, with the C1, C2 and C3 on offer. This selection was also to shield against the potential for thermal degradation exacerbated by very hot weather.

The three compounds have showed a good performance so far, and Pirelli’s selection of its three hardest compounds proved to be a good choice as the hot weather conditions and the fast bends of the Mugello circuit have indeed put a great stress on the tyres.

The red-walled C3 soft compound provided its best grip for a single hot lap, losing a significant level of its performance on the second flying lap. When it came to the long-run performance, the Friday practice sessions showed that drivers need to nurse the tyres in order to extend the stint length.

The thermal degradation has not been extremely big over the race simulation, but it has been significant enough to leave teams and the Milan-based tyre supplier ponder over the best strategy for today’s 59-lap Tuscan Grand Prix.

According to Pirelli’s estimations, both a one and a two-stop strategy are possible, but as always, the teams are expected to try to complete the race with just one stop: especially those in the top 10 of the grid.

Based on Friday’s data, a two-stopper is actually slightly quicker for the 59-lap race. The fastest two-stopper consists of two stints of 19 laps on the soft tyre plus a 21-lap stint on the Yellow medium. The second-fastest two-stopper uses just one stint on the soft of 16 laps, then two stints on the medium of 21 and 22 laps respectively.

The one-stopper is slightly slower but very marginal on wear: starting on the soft tyre and then switching to the White hard on lap 22. This is the strategy that the top 10 on the grid seem likely to go for. The slowest – but more flexible – one-stopper will be a medium-hard strategy, switching tyres on lap 26.

Pirelli’s Head of F1 and car racing Mario Isola thinks that the tyre degradation experienced in the first stint will define whether drivers will ultimately complete today’s race with a single stop or opt for a two-stop strategy.

“It was another warm day at Mugello with the tyres providing good performance. Already in Q1 yesterday’s new track record was broken, before being lowered further in the final session. All the drivers in the top 10 of the grid have chosen to start the race on the soft tyres, which obviously has an effect on the race strategy.

„Controlling degradation on the soft at the beginning of the race will be crucial, and this will help to decide if it’s a one or a two stop race, with several different strategies possible. The soft tyres were used from start to finish of qualifying today, but the harder compounds will definitely come into their own tomorrow, especially for the drivers contemplating a one-stop strategy,” Isola concluded.