Strategy guide for today’s Dutch Grand Prix
Formula One tyre manufacturer Pirelli expects that the two-stop strategy is the fastest way to tackle today’s Dutch Grand Prix, but several teams might try an alternative way. F1Technical’s Balázs Szabó analyses the possible race strategies for Round 15 of the 2022 FIA Formula One Championship.
With some high-energy corners, Formula One’s sole tyre manufacturer Pirelli brought the three hardest compounds for Zandvoort: C1 as the P Zero White hard, C2 as the P Zero Yellow medium, and C3 as the P Zero Red soft.
The circuit that measures 4.259 kilometres is a unique track in various aspects. Zandvoort is located in an area of sand dunes near the beach, with the wind sometimes blowing sand onto the track and affecting grip; an issue normally associated with places like Bahrain.
If sand were not enough of a challenge, Zandvoort generates some big g forces all around the 4.2-kilometre track: braking into Turns 1 and 11 is a deceleration of about 5g, while Turn 7 also provides lateral forces of around 5g.
The track climbs and drops significantly and several sections are crowd favourites. This nature of the layout makes the circuit a very challenging location where the tiniest mistakes are punished as the run off zones are old-school gravel traps.
Another aspect to determine the best strategy for the race is the fact that overtaking is at a premium at Zandvoort. The track has extremely narrow asphalt strips and features a twisty layout, which means that overtaking is far from easy. However, it is also true that with this year’s generation of cars and tyres helping to overtake, track position might not be the priority that it was before.
On paper, it looks quite simple: stopping twice is the fastest way to complete today’s Dutch Grand Prix. However, the Milan-based tyre supplier does not exclude the possibility of a one-stop strategy given several challenging factors.
Degradation and wear have been quite low so far over the weekend, but thermal degradation might cause problems if drivers overstress the tyres in the high-speed sections of the Zandvoort circuit. Furthermore, the hardest compound, the C1 tyre offers significantly less grip than the C2 and C3 compound even if the difference has been smaller than Pirelli had anticipated before the action got underway on Friday.
One more point that complicates the work of the teams' strategists: at 60kph, the pit lane speed limit is lower here than at most other tracks, meaning that it takes a bit longer to make a pit stop.
Pirelli thinks that there are lots of options and permutations in terms of tyre compounds. If going for a two-stopper, starting on the soft is a good idea given the benefits it gives drivers at the start. This could then be followed by two stints on the P Zero Yellow medium or one stint on the medium with a final stint on the soft again. This would see drivers avoid the use of the C1 Hard compound that has provided significantly less grip so far this weekend.
However, a one-stopper might also work even if it requires a higher degree of tyre management. If going for a one stopper, starting on the medium and change to the hard could work finely, but it is also possible to start on soft before ending the race on a set of hard compound. Another variation is the soft-medium one-stopper is also possible, but it’s marginal for wear life, with a lot of pace management required.