What is the fastest strategy?
Last time in Austria a single stop seemed to be the quickest way to race in clear weather, but that plan was hampered by overnight rain that left a green track, then Ferrari pushed the pace to force Red Bull to pounce on two. -stopper.
And this week we have a similar scenario where one stop is the fastest in theory – but it’s far from perfect.
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High levels of wear mean that some tire management will be required, but the main point that made the Single Catch a solid choice at this point was the pit lane. The exit point has been extended by about 90 metres, which means that drivers are on the lane limiter longer and therefore take longer to pass potholes, and this increases the speed limit drop to 60kph, which adds more time.
So stopping in the green flag pit now costs drivers about 27 seconds and means they want to avoid twice stopping if possible, so the fastest way to the finish on average is one stop off starting from the middle tyre. The soft compound isn’t a particularly useful tire in the opening period, but the medium allows drivers to run into the pit window between lap 18 and lap 27 before switching to hard and sprinting to the finish.
There will be some tire management due to the high temperatures expected for the track, but difficult is a compound that should see the teams through to the end of the race if they choose that strategy and don’t suffer from excessive deterioration.
How about a different option for the top 10?
As we last saw at the Red Bull Ring, sometimes the speed from a chasing car can force the driver to take out more of its tyres, or the team may be struggling to take care of the Pirellis a bit more overall, so there are certainly two-stop options that can play a role.
There are two potential strategies that will likely come to the fore for teams unable to make the single stopper, and both involve starting with the middle frame and running a similar number of laps before the first stop. With the pit window open between lap 13 and 20, there is plenty of variety to allow the drivers a solid first job if needed, then on both strategies move onto the hard compound for the medium mission.
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But this is where the two options diverge, and it all depends on which tire compounds the driver left available for racing.
For any driver who has two sets of modes available – Charles Leclerc, Carlos Sainz, Alex Albon and Nicolas Latifi – the middle task needs to get them to at least lap 34 (but ideally closer to lap 40) before they can get back to period modes. final. Doing so also opens up the possibility of extending that second mission until the end of the race as long as the opening period isn’t too short.
For the rest of the drivers with two sets of hard tires available – Red Bull, Mercedes, Alpine, Alfa Romeo, Haas and Lando Norris – you might have guessed the final task would be in the hard compound. This leaves them with a hole window between lap 31 and 37 to do the second leg, although it could be wider given the age of the solid tire.
What options are available for the lower half of the field?
If you do some combination, you will notice that not every driver in the above scenarios is included. That’s because Daniel Ricciardo, Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll only have one set of medium tires and one set of hard tyres.
This automatically limits their racing options, but there is a different way to operate the previously mentioned single stopper. To try to take advantage of potential opportunities, a solid tire can be used for the first long time. Since Paul Ricard’s steel frame is Pirelli’s C2 compound, he doesn’t have any issues with warming up in the higher temperatures but can still be managed for a long time.
Facts and stats: Leclerc is ahead of Massa and is third on Ferrari’s list to look after the pole.
The pit window will be between lap 28 and lap 35 – with the focus on trying to go as long as possible – before switching to the medium tires until the end of the race.
However, if any of these three drivers (or anyone else who wants to try this strategy) struggles in the closing stages, a short run of about 10 laps on the soft tire can be considered as the track cools down later in the afternoon and the fuel burns out, but it represents Risky as this compound has been prone to overheating this weekend and needs cooling laps.
Wait, but what does the weather do?
It’s a very clear weather forecast for the racing teams, and it’s also familiar as the Grand Prix is set to see very similar conditions for qualifying. This means higher temperatures – in the low to mid-30s in terms of degrees Celsius – and no risk of precipitation.
The sun heats up the track quickly as well, and the runway could touch 60°C early on, which would play a role in having to prevent tires from overheating, all but to rule out the soft compound for the first mission.
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While a soft tire can still deliver fast lap times if cooled down between thrust laps, drivers don’t have that luxury to drop their pace significantly in a racing scenario.
A straight back tailwind in chicane and when running into Signes will make the DRS effect less noticeable and overtaking more difficult, although it will make braking more difficult.
That’s the direction the winds are expected to come from, but the flip side is that it will make it a headwind into Turn 1 and the DRS can help this part of that track, as well as increase the slip effect and provide opportunities here.
WATCH: Get on board for a pole-winning Charles Leclerc lap at Circuit Paul Ricard