Pirelli are predicting a two or three stop Indian Grand Prix. Last year’s race was won with a one stop strategy but the more aggressive tyre nominations for the 2013 round – the medium and soft compounds – will see drivers stop at least twice.
With the Buddh International Circuit evolving throughout the qualifying hour, a range of tyre strategies were used to decide the grid for Sunday’s race. Four drivers opted to use the medium compound rubber in the top 10 shoot-out to give them a longer first stint – Mark Webber, Fernando Alonso, Sergio Perez and Jenson Button.
F1′s sole tyre supplier predicts that a two stop strategy will be the fastest way to complete the 60-lap Indian Grand Prix, although the difference is marginal. They believe the optimal two-stopper will be to start on the soft compound tyre, switch to the medium Pirelli rubber on lap two and then pit for a fresh set of the prime tyre on lap 28.
Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery explained the strategies used in qualifying, saying: “With a difference of around a second between the two compounds, strategy was going to be very important from the outset of qualifying. However, drivers had to balance the extra speed of the soft compound against the extra durability of the medium compound in the race, when it came to planning the overall strategy.
“Compared to yesterday the track has evolved still further, with more rubber being laid down, which adds an extra element to the calculations. In Q3 we saw a wide variety of tactics adopted, with many teams splitting their strategies in order to cover all the possibilities.”
Looking ahead to the race, he shared his expectations on the tyre life that the medium and soft compound will have: “With the soft tyre expected to last a maximum of 15 laps and the medium tyre for 30 to 35 laps, we’re expecting between two to three pit stops, with the drivers starting on the medium tyre obviously aiming to make the most of a longer first stint. According to our calculations, it should be very close as it has been all year, showcasing all the different possibilities that tyre strategy can offer when it comes to adding another dimension to races.”
Image courtesy of Pirelli Media