Off Season: Let’s do the Pirelli two stop…

The final series of private Pirelli tyre tests have come to an end in Abu Dhabi. After 140,000 litres of water-soaked the track in order for valuable wet-track data could be collected, the reports have been positive. Pedro de la Rosa completed the testing in a Toyota TF109 for the new tyre supplier, and has said it will certainly make Formula One more interesting. Which is good for the fans, right?

De la Rosa and the Toyota TF109 (IOL/Pirelli)

Since refuelling was banned after the 2009 season, in-race strategy hasn’t had quite the impact it once did, although Vettel’s pit-stop during the last race was a champion made. With a few notable exceptions, qualifying has had a huge impact on the Sunday results.

The over-reliance on qualifying has left many races as a procession of (admittedly gorgeous) cars. And yes, it has sometimes been the fault of the track design as well, but generally the single pit stop has left the audience begging for more. In around 50 laps, the single pit stop (if done right) requires about 20 seconds, and without refuelling the car can be stationary for as little as 3.3 seconds.

Red Bull pit stop in London (Sean Calvert/Red Bull)

However the resilience of the Bridgestone tyre forced the introduction of a mandatory pit stop, as Sauber’s Kobayashi proved in Valencia. A seriously late tyre change (and some ballsy manoeuvres) at the European GP saw him leap from P18 into a very respectable P7. But he could have managed the whole race without incident.

So what have Pirelli got up their sleeves?

Pirelli have made it clear that they are determined to manufacture a ‘racier’ tyre, aiming for at least a 2 stop strategy. This bold move comes after calls for the new supplier to ensure their product is less durable than the previous Bridgestones. Pirelli’s motorsport director, Paul Hembery, confirmed that the Italian company is willing to reduce the durability of the rubber to get the ‘2 stop’ race they promised.

Paul Hembery (Pirelli)

“We want to try to create more of a show…But we have to be realistic.” Hembery said, hedging his bets. There are no guarantees of course, and they have admitted they are unable to test at all circuits, so the upcoming season should be very interesting indeed. Without this vital testing and data retrieval, each race will have to be taken as it comes. Tyre degradation could be so bad at some circuits we could stray into the realm of 3+ stops just to stay on the track.

Like with most changes, this will affect the smaller teams more, top teams will have the extra revenue to dump into adjusting the car to fit the tyres. Teams lower down the standings will have to get creative in the way they approach the unknown compounds.

With Pirelli’s main goal being higher tyre degradation, the need for a mandatory pit stop is surely irrelevant for the 2011 season. Teams will of course be required to use both available sets of rubber and in an effort to make strategy even more accessible for the viewing public, the various tyres will be colour coded. Now begins the arduous choice to avoid the inevitable ‘team colour bias’ argument.

We’re over half way through the point where we can call Sebastian Vettel the ‘defending world champion’, see Red Bull return as the team to beat and watch with bated breath and wonder if the tyres will stick together long enough to get back to the pit lane…

Late rookies!

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Hanan Zedozil and rookief1, rookief1. rookief1 said: New Blog Post: Let's do the Pirelli 2-stop… > #F1 […]

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