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Qatar Grand Prix 2023

How FIA-Pirelli safety changes will create a strategy headache

The mandated stint length will have a big impact on how strategy will play out in the Qatar Grand Prix.

Start Qatar 2023
To news overview © XPBimages

Teams have been effectively forced into a three-stop strategy by the FIA following intervention over the safety of the tyres.

It has been a talking point throughout the weekend after Pirelli found "microscopic" cuts were forming due to excessive running over aggressive 'pyramid' kerbs at high speed.

Track limit measures were put in place between Turns 12 and 13, but further measures have been introduced which sees a maximum stint length of 18 laps per tyre imposed over the course of the 57-lap race.

The FIA and Pirelli have published the remaining sets available for each driver in the race, along with the amount of laps they can do on each.

Crucially a handful of drivers in the top ten will have the use of a new set of Soft tyres to use at the beginning of the race, while some will need to start on the Mediums.

The FIA noted: "Laps to the grid, formation laps and laps following the chequered flag for the Sprint and Race will not be counted. For the used sets effective number of laps considered from previous sessions will be the total amount, reduced by two laps."

This means drivers that have completed three laps on a set of Mediums, will only be able to run them for 15 laps before being forced to pit.

Advantage for those with new Softs?

Although the Soft tyre did not hold up for the 19 lap Sprint, it enabled drivers to gain a lot of places at the start versus those on the Mediums.

Lewis Hamilton, who starts third on the grid, is one of the only drivers inside the top ten with new sets of each tyre including the Soft, while the majority have new sets of the Medium tyre.

Theoretically, he could run each set until the end of the mandated stint length, giving him around two laps of margin.

Alternatively, the fastest option could be to run the Soft tyre for 10 laps before switching to the Medium, then to the Hard around Lap 28 before running the Medium until the end.

Those starting on Medium tyres, likely to include polesitter Max Verstappen, George Russell, and Charles Leclerc, would likely stop first around lap 15, before switching to the Hard on lap 33, then to the Medium after lap 42.

Those starting outside of the top ten with two new sets of Medium and a new set of Hard tyres, could have the possibility of running a four-stop. This would mean running a used set of Softs in the opening stages, switching to the Medium lap 4 at the earliest, the Hard on lap 22, and then two sets of Mediums for the rest of the race.

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F1 2023 Qatar Grand Prix RN365 News dossier

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