Formula 1 tyre supplier Pirelli has suggested that a one-stop strategy will be the fastest way to complete the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, but admits the lack of data makes it difficult to predict.
As well as it being F1’s first trip to Imola since 2006, just a single 90-minute practice session preceded qualifying in which teams attempted to gather information.
Front-runners Mercedes and the Red Bull of Max Verstappen will take the start on the Medium compound, having progressed through to Q3 on that tyre.
Every other driver starting inside the top 10 will use the Soft compound for the start, while those from 11th to 20th will have free choice.
Pirelli states that the fastest way to tackle Sunday’s 63-lap race is to use the Softs for 28 to 30 laps and the Mediums for 33 to 35 laps, or the other way around.
It also believes a slightly slower time would be achieved by switching from the Soft tyre onto the Hard, which would see the opening stint shortened to between 24 and 27 laps.
Although a strategy of starting on the Mediums and running for 26 to 35 laps before swapping in the Hards widens the strategy window, Pirelli has identified it as the third-fastest way to complete the race.
A two-stop strategy will be slower according to the Italian marque, but two stints on the Softs of 18 laps, plus one stint on Mediums of 27 laps, would be the quickest way to navigate it.
“The teams were able to capture most of the tyre data they needed from the single 90-minute practice session, sometimes by splitting the tyre assessment programmes over their two cars,” said Mario Isola, Pirelli’s Head of F1 and Car Racing.
“There is still considerably less tyre data than there would be from a ‘conventional’ weekend, which leaves some question marks over strategy heading into the race and opens up some more options, especially with the track evolving all the time.
“As for the tyres, we had a little bit of graining during the early part of the day, but the situation improved as expected with more running.
“All three compounds look set to play an important role in the race and we are satisfied with their performance.”