Strategy guide for the French Grand Prix

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F1 Grand Prix, GP France, Circuit Paul Ricardfr

On paper, it all looks plain and simple: a two-stop strategy is the way to approach today’s French Grand Prix. However, the elongated speed limit zone and potential traffic problems could cause headaches to the teams' chief strategists at Round 12 of the 2022 FIA Formula One World Championship. F1Technical’s Balázs Szabó analyses the possible race scenarios regarding the key strategy decisions.

The long Paul Ricard track is a quite well-balanced circuit, where there is a bit of everything: fast corners and flat-out straights as well as slower and more technical sections. All of that is placing medium-severity energy loads on the tyres, which is why it makes a good test track. At 12 metres wide, there are plenty of options when it comes to lines and overtaking: all providing an interesting challenge for the drivers.

Tyre degradation always plays a big factor at the Circuit Paul Ricard. The long corner in Sector 3 put high loads on the front tyres, making the circuit a front-limited track. Considering the heat wave that defines currently the weather conditions in Europe, today’s race will be a very difficult one for the strategists to manage.

On paper, the hot conditions are likely to point the teams towards a two-stopper, although a one-stopper isn’t out of the question. The reason is that the time loss during a pit stop is significant which has been made even bigger after FIA race director Eduardo Freitas had elongated the speed limit zone on Thursday.

Pirelli thinks that the best two-stop strategy would be to start on the medium tyre which gives most options, as this could be followed by two stints on the hard, or a central stint on the hard followed by a final stint on the medium again.

The main factor deciding the strategy will obviously be the individual compounds that each driver has left in his race allocation.

A one-stopper might not be impossible but it is harder to achieve with more management required. In which case, it would be medium to hard – or alternatively, hard to medium with a long first stint.

Pirelli’s Motorsport Director Mario Isola commented: “On paper, a one-stopper from medium to hard is actually theoretically fastest, but I still think that most teams will be aiming for a two stopper, most likely using the medium and the hard tyres.

„It’s interesting to note that of the frontrunners, Leclerc is the only one to have one set of hards and two sets of medium tyres left for the race: his direct rivals mostly have two sets of hards and just one set of mediums. So it’s likely that we will see some different strategies, in conditions that are going to be perhaps hotter than today,” the Italian concluded.