Strategy is likely to play a major role in the outcome of the French Grand Prix as F1 title rivals Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen bid for a crucial victory.
According to Pirelli, the ideal approach to the race on paper is a one-stop strategy, starting on Mediums and swapping to Hards between Lap 18-27 of 53.
However, just as quick – in theory – is a two-stop plan, starting on the Mediums, swapping to Hards and then returning to Mediums for the final stint.
Finally, a "very close" third option for consideration would be to set off on the Medium compound before completing two stints on Hards.
Pirelli feel that the ongoing hot conditions – with the air temperature in the mid-30s (Celcius) and the track temperature surpassing 50 degrees throughout the weekend – could "point the teams towards a two-stopper".
Starting on Mediums would offer the "most options", as drivers would be able to follow this up with two stints on the Hard, or a central stint on the Hard and a final stint on the Medium.
F1's sole tyre supplier add that "it will all come down to degradation rates on race day, which of course vary from car to car".
Does Leclerc have a tyre advantage?
The other factor deciding the strategy will be the individual compounds that each driver has left in their race allocation.
Leclerc has saved two sets of Medium tyres, meaning the Ferrari man could complete the optimal one- or two-stop strategies with fresh rubber during each stint.
Meanwhile, Red Bull pair Verstappen and Sergio Perez only have one set of Mediums each, with more Hards in the bank – potentially sending them in a different direction if two stops are completed.
It is also important to note that stops at Paul Ricard will take longer this season due to the pit lane exit being extended and the speed limit being reduced.
Pirelli's Motorsport Director, Mario Isola, pointed to the fine margins involved in Sunday's strategic decisions and the various factors at play.
"On paper, a one-stopper from Medium to Hard is actually theoretically fastest, but I still think that most teams will be aiming for a two-stopper, most likely using the Medium and the Hard tyres," he said.
"It's interesting to note that of the front-runners, Leclerc is the only one to have one set of Hards and two sets of Medium tyres left for the race: his direct rivals mostly have two sets of Hards and just one set of Mediums.
"So it's likely that we will see some different strategies, in conditions that are going to be perhaps hotter."
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