Strategy guide for the Austrian Grand Prix

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Following the sole practice session on Friday, Pirelli’s data suggests that drivers will pursue a two-stop strategy today. F1Technical’s senior journalist Balázs Szabó analyses the possible race strategies for today’s Austrian Grand Prix.

Teams have familiar compounds to work with at the Red Bull Ring as Pirelli provided them with the three softest compounds in their range. The C3 compound has served as the P Zero White hard, C4 as the P Zero Yellow medium and C5 as the P Zero Red soft at the Austrian Grand Prix.

The Red Bull Ring has only 10 corners, with the shortest lap time of any track on the championship. In terms of elevation changes, the Red Bull Ring stands out with only Spa-Francorchamps featuring greater elevation. There’s a change of more than 60 metres between the lowest point on the track – just before Turn 1 – and the highest point, after Turn 2.

The asphalt has a fairly high micro and macro roughness while grip is high at the start of the lap. Lateral forces, braking and the overall tyre stress are all moderate which prompted Pirelli to bring the trio of three softest compounds.

The Milan-based outfit set the minimum starting pressure of 23.0 psi for the fronts and 20.0 psi for the rears while the camber limit will be -3.25° for the fronts and -1.75° for the rears.

In terms of strategy, the recent Austrian Grands Prix have seen drivers complete the 71-lap Spielberg race with two stops. It was not different last year when most drivers made two stops, starting on the medium ahead of two stints on the hard.

With the weather set to remain dry throughout the 71-lap race, the Milan-based tyre supplier thinks that the fastest projected strategy for today’s Austrian Grand Prix will be a two-stopper.

There are two variations for a two-stopper. The faster option prompts drivers start on the medium compound before switching to the hards between Lap 18 and 24. After a longer stint on the white-walled tyres, drivers should switch back to the medium compound for a 20-lap stint.

The other two-stop strategy would see drivers start on the same C4 medium compound, but rack up fewer lap before two stints on the C3 hard rubber.

The available tyres could be decisive when deciding about the final strategy. Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez, Charles Leclerc, Carlos Sainz, George Russell and Lewis Hamilton have all at least two new sets of yellow-banded tyres, but they have only one set of fresh hards which could drive them towards the medium-hard-medium variation.

A one-stop strategy is also viable, but it would force drivers to look after their starting medium tyres before swap them to the hard compound for a long stint.