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Pirelli

Pirelli offers intriguing strategy dilemma for Bahrain GP

The C1, C2, C3 tyres are in use in Bahrain - as Pirelli's motorsport boss Mario Isola lays out potential strategies.

Bahrain cars in pitlane
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To news overview © XPBimages

Pirelli believes the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix is a toss-up between a two or three-stop race owing to tyre degradation.

The Sakhir International Circuit is renowned as a tough track on tyres owing to the abrasive track surface that has not been relaid since the track was built in 2004 and the big traction zones that punish the tyres.

As a result, Pirelli normally brings the hardest compounds in its range to the circuit, with the Hard tyres being the C1, Mediums the C2 whilst the Sof tyre is the C3 compound.

Throughout practice, teams seldom ran the Medium C2 discounting it as a race tyre, with a mixture of Soft and Hard stints the preferred way around the 57-lap race.

Owing to the high rates of tyre wear, Bahrain is often a race featuring a high number of pit-stops, with Pirelli's motorsport boss Mario Isola believing there is a fine-line between the two and three-stop strategies.

Pirelli's prediction

"The three-stop on paper is not far from the two-stop, it is very close and I will say the same total race time," Isola told media including RacingNews365.

"Obviously nobody wants the one-stop and taking the risk of having an issue with a pit-stop, but the total race time of the three-stop and two-stop is very, very close whilst the one-stop is not convenient because it is seven-eight seconds slower than the two-stopper.

"Clearly, you don't want to plan a strategy where if you make a mistake in calculating the degradation, it is even slower than the three-stop.

"If they decided for a three-stop strategy, I believe that Soft-Hard-Soft-Soft is [the best strategy] because with a lighter car, it is better for managing the rear degradation - and during the race, we will have track evolution.

"So if you use the Soft at the end of the race, with a lighter car and the track in better conditions, it is better to manage the degradation.

"The delta between the Soft and the Medium was 1.2, and Medium to Hard was 0.3s so that means you have 1.5s between Hard and Soft - this is a lot.

"If you start with the Hard and you are in-front, there are some possibilities for overtaking, but then you start losing track position.

"It is an option for people starting at the back because you start with a slower compound but is more consistent, and maybe you can find a way to avoid the traffic, but starting at the front with the Hards is not the right approach in my opinion."

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