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Pirelli's One-Stop Strategy Teeters Without Safety Car

Pirelli’s One-Stop Strategy Teeters Without Safety Car

23/04/2024

At the Chinese Grand Prix, Pirelli’s gamble on a one-stop strategy proved risky without Safety Car interventions, despite a general lack of tire graining, highlighting strategic challenges.

Pirelli reviewed the Chinese F1 Grand Prix, where the manufacturer returned hoping to have made the right tire choices. Mario Isola, the director of Pirelli Motorsport, praised Max Verstappen and Red Bull for their victory.

The tire maker notes that Carlos Sainz was the driver who made the longest stint of the race, with 39 laps on hard tires. Kevin Magnussen came close to 30 laps on medium tires, while the race was neutralized for a total of 17 minutes. These neutralizations were the reason why one-stop strategies worked.

“I tip my hat to yet another demonstration of strength by Max Verstappen, who secured two wins during this season’s first Sprint weekend. Nonetheless, it was a very interesting race because behind the three-time world champion, there was a tight race filled with surprises, overtakes, and emotion,” noted Isola.

“In fact, there was also great excitement among the Chinese fans who were focused on local hero Guanyu Zhou throughout the weekend, and he showed his emotion in acknowledging their support after the race.”

“From a purely technical standpoint, the race confirmed that the three compounds were suitable for use in terms of stints. Obviously, the lengthy Safety Car periods influenced the race’s progress, allowing those considering a single stop to make it work.”

“However, given the obvious level of degradation, it would have really been borderline to execute a one-stop strategy without the safety car, as the performance cost would have been too high compared to those who would have been faster with fresher tires in the latter part of the race.”

Pirelli's One-Stop Strategy Teeters Without Safety Car

Fernando Alonso did 20 laps on soft tires, as Isola recalls: “Indeed, this was demonstrated by Alonso, who put on new mediums at lap 43 while in seventh place, and then managed to regain the five positions lost during the pit stop in his last stint.”

Reassuringly, Pirelli’s worst fear did not materialize: “Finally, it’s worth noting that none of the three compounds suffered from graining, further proof that they performed well on this unusual track under very particular conditions.”

Pirelli’s One-Stop Strategy Teeters Without Safety Car. Pirelli’s One-Stop Strategy Teeters Without Safety Car

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