STRATEGY: One stop if it's dry, two stops if it's wet at Silverstone

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Great Britain, Silverstone Circuitgb

Although the weather conditions remain unpredictable for today's British Grand Prix, Pirelli thinks that the one-stop strategy will be the fastest way to complete the race distance at Silverstone if conditions remain dry. F1Technical’s senior writer Balazs Szabo delivers his strategy guide.

At the end of a thrilling and dramatic qualifying session, George Russell came out on top with a time of 1’25”819, beating his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton (1’25”990) while Lando Norris was third for McLaren in 1’26”030.

This was Russell’s third Formula 1 pole after those in Interlagos in 2022 and Montreal this year. It is pole number 139 for Mercedes, the team’s eleventh at the British Grand Prix. Today's race will mark the 84th time there’s been an all-Silver Arrows front row in Formula 1.

As for the conditions, yesterday's third free practice session was one of the coldest since 2011 when Pirelli took on the role of Formula 1’s sole tyre supplier, with air temperature at 11 °C and the track at 13 °C.

The record for low temperature goes to the 2020 Turkish Grand Prix (air 10°C, track 11 °C). Rain and wind characterised the 60 minutes of track time, with all drivers using one set of Intermediates each. In these conditions, the tyres struggled a bit in the initial warm-up phase, but after that they performed well, even over quite long stints.

Conditions improved for qualifying with ambient temperatures having risen up to 14 °C and track temperatures to 21°C. The qualifying session also provided an opportunity to check the crossover time from ideal conditions for the Intermediates to the point when slicks could be used.

In the first part of Q1 all the drivers used one set of new Intermediates before switching to the C3, the one exception being Hulkenberg who used the same set as in FP3.

Expanding on yesterday's qualifying session, Pirelli's Motorsport Director Mario Isola said: “It was a very exciting qualifying and provided a crowd-pleasing result with three British drivers in the top three places.

"In conditions pretty similar to those experienced in last year’s qualifying here, we saw that times have come down by around one second, confirming how much car development has moved on from one year to the next, given that the tyres are completely identical to those used at Silverstone in 2023.

"Then, when one considers that the grip level on the track surface was definitely not at its best after so much rain had fallen during the day, one can surmise that the cars might have been even quicker!”

The Porsche SuperCup race was red-flagged an hour ago, but the rain has stopped and with the sun beating down, the track is rapidly drying up. However, there is a 60% chance of rainfall for the race which makes things rather complicated for the strategists.

Should it remain dry, the Milan-based tyre manufacturer thinks that the one-stop strategy will be the fastest way to cover the race distance at Silverstone. Pirelli bases its calculation on the degradation that drivers experienced during their race run simulations on Friday which suggested that even the soft compound can display a good durability.

Interestingly, Pirelli thinks that the best compound to start the race on will be the red-walled soft tyres. It should give an advantage of 3.92m until drivers reach 150kph compared to the medium compound and an advantage of 6.23s over the hard compound.

Following the soft-tyre opening stint, drivers can chose between the medium and the hard compound with very little difference between the two. Should someone opt for the mediums, he needs to extend his opening stint by 3-4 laps to be able to manage the mediums on the longer second stint.

Should someone elect to complete the race distance on the hards, he can come in earlier for the second set of tyres and gain a slight advantage of the undercut strategy.

Pirelli thinks that the reverse strategy of both aforementioned variations might be possible, particularly for those who start from behind. Those who elect to start on the mediums or on the hards, can complete a longer opening stint and wait for a possible rainshower or SC/VSC interruption.

Isola noted: “Tomorrow, the great unknown will be the weather. If, as forecast, it should rain and the track is wet throughout as was the case in FP3, all the teams have sufficient sets of Intermediates and Wets to run a two-stop race.

"However, if it’s dry, then a one-stop is quickest on paper, with all three compounds being viable. The C3/C2 strategy is slightly quicker than going from the C3 to the C1, while a strategy without the Soft gives greater flexibility.”