Formula One tyre supplier Pirelli has outlined that a one-stop strategy is likely to be the quickest option at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Pirelli has brought the Ultrasoft, Supersoft and Soft compounds for the event at the Baku City Circuit, effectively two steps softer than 2017’s choice.
With teams wary of the durability of the Ultrasoft tyre, all six representatives from the top three squads used the Supersoft compound in order to negotiate Q2, the session that determines their starting tyres. All bar Kimi Raikkonen safely negotiated the session on the red-banded compound, meaning they will run the first stint on that tyre, while the Scuderia Ferrari Finnish driver is set to start from sixth on the Ultrasoft. Both Force India and Renault drivers will start on the purple-ringed compound, assuming dry conditions prevail, while the remaining racers have free choice.
Pirelli believes a Supersoft / Soft strategy, with a pit stop on lap 20 of the 51-race, will be the quickest option. For those starting on the Ultrasofts, Pirelli has advised that discarding them for Softs after 10 laps will be the best strategy. Pirelli has also outlined that an Ultrasoft / Supersoft / Soft approach, running one 10-lap stint followed by a 20-lap and 21-lap stint, is the ideal two-stopper.
The company has also warned that Safety Cars or red flags could influence the strategic outcome, and suggests those with “opportunism” could thrive. Last year’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix was disrupted by a few Safety Car periods and a mid-race red-flag period, with the majority of drivers using the race stoppage to take on fresh rubber, which they ran through to the chequered flag.