Formula 1 tyre supplier Pirelli expects a two-stop strategy to be favoured by teams at the Bahrain Grand Prix.
The championship’s arrival at the Bahrain International Circuit has come eight months later than usual due to a reshuffled 2020 calendar thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Pirelli has brought the C2, C3 and C4 compounds to the desert venue, one step softer than last year’s choice, and teams have overwhelmingly favoured the Medium over the Soft as a race tyre for the first stint.
All those who made it through to Q3 did so on the Medium tyre and therefore will take on the yellow-banded compound for the start.
Those who did not make it through to Q3 will have a free choice of starting tyres for the 57-lap Grand Prix.
A dry race is expected, given the circuit’s location, but there remains a slim risk of a shower, with rain having fallen in Bahrain’s capital city Manama through the weekend.
Pirelli’s data currently suggests the fastest route to victory is a two-stopper, which involves one stint on the Mediums for 21 laps and two 18-lap spells on the Soft compound.
The second-quickest strategy will be to run two stints of 21 laps on the Mediums with a 15-lap run on the red-marked Softs.
A one-stop is also possible by running 27 laps on the Mediums against a 30-lap stint on the white-marked Hard compound. The slowest strategy would be to run two 18-lap stints on the Mediums with a 21-lap run on the Hards.
A three-stop strategy is thought unlikely due to the time loss in the pit lane.
“The strategy for this race really began in Q2, with nearly all the drivers coming out on medium tyres, before a red flag stoppage with nine minutes remaining meant that there was only one run left to make it count,” said Mario Isola, Head of F1 and Car Racing.
“With the top 10 all starting on the Medium tyre, they have some options as to which compound to run during the second stint.
“We saw in qualifying that the pace of the Soft and the Medium is closely matched, however the Medium is easier to manage in terms of rear overheating, which is why it was selected in Q2.
“We also saw that [Lewis] Hamilton was able to break the track record not once but twice, on two different compounds, which confirms the ever-increasing speed of the current Formula 1 cars.”