F1 teams could choose aggressive strategies for Chinese Grand Prix qualifying and race because track conditions could lead to heavy degradation of the super-soft tyre that has not been used in Shanghai International circuit before, Mercedes technical head Paddy Lowe said on Monday.
“The Shanghai circuit places an entirely different duty on tyres relative to Melbourne and Bahrain. However, we have the same three compounds available, so it will be interesting to see how the competitive order plays out.” Lowe said.
“It’s the first time we’ll see the SuperSoft compound used at this track, thanks to the new regulations, and that will likely create a more extreme example of what we saw in Bahrain, where the best qualifying tyre is unlikely to be a great race tyre.”
“Every team is bound to want to qualify on the SuperSoft – but if it grains in the race, we could see cars stopping in the first five laps. There will be plenty of analysis to do on Friday and we could see some interesting calls on qualifying and race strategy.” he added in a Mercedes team preview.
“What makes this all the more difficult for the teams is the unpredictability of the conditions. It can be quite warm in Shanghai – but it can also be as cool as Belgium. That variability can make life tricky in terms of both setup and strategy work, so it’s always a challenging weekend. We like going to Shanghai, however. It’s an interesting city and traditionally one of our stronger circuits, with four poles and three wins from the last four races. We look forward to another good battle between our drivers and with Ferrari once again.”
MORE FROM PIRELLI – THE CIRCUIT FROM A TYRE POINT OF VIEW:
Weather conditions are nearly always unpredictable, which have a big effect on tyre behaviour.
As a result, graining is sometimes an issue when it’s cool: especially in the early sessions.
Around 80% of the lap is spent cornering, meaning that lateral loads are a crucial factor.
The track is front limited, because of all the turns and high-energy corners.
The crucial corners are Turn 1, which is almost a full circle, and Turn 13, which is banked.
Drivers also have to avoid wheelspin out of the corners, in order to minimise rear degradation.
THE THREE NOMINATED COMPOUNDS:
White medium: a low working range compound that is one of the most versatile in the range.
Yellow soft: a high working range compound with the accent on performance.
Red supersoft: a low working range compound that is rapid but with a limited overall life.
HOW IT WAS A YEAR AGO:
Winner: Hamilton (two stops: started on soft, changed to soft on lap 14, medium on lap 33).
Best-placed alternative strategy: Massa, fifth (also stopping twice, but starting on soft, changing to medium on lap 13, then medium again on lap 34).
Most drivers stopped twice, but a few drivers also tried a three-stopper. The race strategy was affected by a late safety car, which extended tyre life.
PAUL HEMBERY, PIRELLI MOTORSPORT DIRECTOR:
“China is a very different type of circuit to the two that we’ve visited up to now this year, yet the tyre nomination is the same, which underlines the adaptability of our product under a wide range of circumstances. Shanghai is also likely to be quite a cool race, although the nature of the place means that anything is possible, so teams will have to keep an open mind on strategy and carefully correlate the data captured in practice to the eventual race conditions.”
“The three compounds selected have led to a number of different tactical permutations up to now, and we expect an ample variety of strategies once more in China.”
Qualifying: the former system will now return. This will not affect tyre allocations.
Different thinking from teams on tyre selection: Haas, McLaren and Williams have made the most aggressive choice by taking a maximum seven sets of supersoft.