Formula One's sole tyre supplier Pirelli estimates that teams and drivers will be able to choose from a host of different one- and two-stop strategies in today's Nevada F1 round. that F1Technical's senior writer Balázs Szabó analyses the possible race strategies for the Las Vegas Grand Prix,
The brand-new Las Vegas street circuit consists of 17 corners and three straights, with two DRS zones. The lap is 6.12 kilometres long, with an estimated top speed of 342kph. The finish line is on the corner of Harmon Avenue and Koval Lane, with the layout stretching from Las Vegas Boulevard to Sands Avenue and a race distance of 50 laps.
At Las Vegas, the unusual schedule and the temperatures have posed a great challenge that teams have to quickly find a solution for. The race starts on Saturday at 22:00 which means that no sudden drop in temperatures is expected for the main session of the race weekend. The weather has been consistent and a bit warmer than expected, with similar conditions predicted for the 50-lap race.
Considering the layout and the low ambient temperatures, it is no surprise that Pirelli has selected the softest selection of tyres in the range for the Nevada F1 round: driver have C3 as P Zero White hard, C4 as P Zero Yellow medium and C5 as P Zero Red soft at their disposal.
As for the strategy, Pirelli estimates that there are a number of strategy options on the table of which teams and drivers can choose. Tyre wear has not been an issue so fa this weekend, although drivers suffered from graining, especially on the soft tyres which was down to the low track temperatures. Three years ago, when F1 visited the Nurburgring during the Covid-19 pandemic, teams had to get around similar issues with graining induced by low track temperatures.
Based on the long runs completed in Free Practice 2, the soft tyre does not appear to be a viable race compound, which leaves the yellow-banded medium and the white-walled hard tyres as the preferred race tyres.
It is expected that the one-stop strategy should get top billing in the 50-lap race. The medium compound appears to be the best compound to start the race on as it provides more grip at the start and on the opening lap. After a stint of 18-24 laps, drivers, who commit themselves for a one-stop strategy, should come in for their only pit stop, dropping the medium compound for the hard tyres.
However, things are far from obvious as the two-stop strategy looks similarly fast to the one-stop approach. Drivers who opt for two pit stops should start on the medium compound and complete the medium stint on the hard tyre before racking up the final laps either on the hard, soft or medium tyre depending on the sets that they have saved for race day.