Pirelli predicts two-stop strategies at Suzuka

Pirelli is predicting a two-stop race in the Japanese Grand Prix, something that will ensure more strategic variety – and potentially more excitement around the pitstops – than most dry races have seen in 2017.

Pirelli predicts two-stop strategies at Suzuka
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB13
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-Benz F1 W08
Pirelli engineer and Pirelli tyres
Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing RB13
Jolyon Palmer, Renault Sport F1 Team RS17 sparks
Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF70H
Marcus Ericsson, Sauber C36
Lance Stroll, Williams FW40
 Mario Isola, Racing Manager, Pirelli Motorsport
McLaremn mechanic with Pirelli tyres

Although rain in FP2 mean that there is little information on degradation, Pirelli's simulations suggests that a one-stop will be too much of stretch for the supersofts on which the top 10 drivers are likely to start the race.

The preparation of the teams was also compromised by the loss of FP2, and there is still a threat of rain for FP3.

Although they knew the rain was coming and did some extra work in the morning, teams will head into a potentially dry qualifying and race having done a lot less homework than they hoped to, a situation that usually makes for a less predictable Sunday afternoon.

"We have no numbers on degradation, we are waiting for FP3, if it is dry, maybe we can collect some numbers to have a better idea of degradation," said Pirelli motorsport boss Mario Isola.

"If I just look at the simulations, no real data coming from the track, we believe that it is a two-stop race, because one-stop is marginal.

"One stop means a very long stint, they should target a stint on supersofts that is at least 18-20 laps, and the rest on softs, and it is marginal for one stop.

"We think we have some degradation on the supersofts, and it is probably not an advantage to keep the supersofts for a long stint like that.

"If the qualy is dry and they start on used supersofts, it means you have a tyre that at the end of the stint has 22 laps. That is a bit too much here in Suzuka.

"Twenty laps for us is probably the limit at Suzuka, and 30-35 is the limitation for the soft. Here the pit stop loss without the change is around 18s, so they don't lose a lot of time in the pit stop. That's why a two-stop is possible."

One intriguing aspect is that the soft front tyres are taking some time to get up to temperature, which could be an issue on out laps from the pits if it's cold on race day – potentially making it harder for a driver to perform an undercut, as they can't take instant full advantage of their new tyres.

"This morning it was a difficult to warm up the soft compound, conditions were quite cold, while with the supersoft we had no issues. If we have on Sunday a dry conditions with a temperature like we had now, this could be an issue on the out-lap."

Isola says that there are no graining issues for the teams to contend with.

"This is a circuit where where we have one of the highest lateral loads. Last year, when we had some graining we we were limited by the front right. This morning we just had a bit of abrasion on the front tyres, and also on the rear tyres, but very, very light.

"This abrasion is not generating and graining or accelerated wear. That means this year it is probably more balance front and rear. It is difficult to identify a corner which is the limiting corner."

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