Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery is expecting the majority of drivers to complete a one-stop strategy during tomorrow’s 55-lap Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, although he feels strategy options are “open”.
This is due to the soft compound tyre lasting longer in comparison to how it performed last time out in India, where it was also used alongside the medium compound. Despite this, he believes some teams may try something different due to a range of strategies being available.
Looking ahead to the race, he said: “We’re expecting a one-stop race tomorrow for most drivers, but some may try something different. With the wear and degradation rates that we can see so far, the options are open. While the soft tyre has a significant performance advantage, it’s also capable of consistent performance over a longer run. We’ve got the same tyre nomination as India but the situation at this race is a lot less clear-cut, which means that strategy can make a real difference tomorrow.”
Hembery also commented on qualifying, where Mark Webber powered to his 13th career pole position. “Two key factors shaped the strategy during qualifying: the big lap time difference between the two compounds and the high degree of track evolution, which meant that the fastest times were usually set at the end of each session once the most rubber had been laid down on the surface,” he admitted.
“As an extra factor, track temperature was consistently falling with the sun going down during qualifying, which adds another challenge from a tyre engineering perspective.”
Pirelli predict that the fastest way to complete the race is on a one-stop race, pitting for the only time on lap 12 if the driver starts on the option tyre or 43 if the first stint is on the prime compound. Alternatively, the best two-stop strategy is to stop after nine laps on the soft tyre, complete the second stint on the medium compound and then pit for a fresh set of primes on lap 32.
The soft tyre will be used by the top 10 drivers on the grid in the first stint after they all set their fastest Q3 time on the option Pirelli compound.
Image courtesy of Octane Photographic