One stop strategy most likely in Melbourne say Bridgestone

by David Bean

Bridgestone are expecting most teams to make just one stop in tomorrow’s Australian Grand Prix – provided drivers can look after their tyres correctly.

Data reveals that the soft or option tyre is about half a second faster per lap than the hard or prime tyre, and it was the option compound that Vettel and Webber were using today as they claimed their front row grid slots.

Vettel also set a new lap record of 1m 23.919 secs as he took pole position in qualifying.

Hirohide Hamashima, the Bridgestone Director of Motorsport Tyre Development said that the potential for bad weather had mixed up qualifying strategies today, and the interesting grid order should make tomorrow’s race interesting. “Qualifying was a good battle with very close times and Sebastian Vettel did a very good job to take pole. There is an interesting line-up in the top ten so there is good potential for tomorrow's race. The temperatures today were a lot cooler than yesterday, which presented a challenge for drivers, especially in qualifying. Qualifying was interesting as different strategies were used because of the threat of rain.”

When asked about prospects for tomorrow’s race, Hamashima said that weather and track conditions will have big influence on tyre choice and tyre wear, but is expecting most drivers to make just one stop. “Track condition will play a large part. The track was quite green at the start of today, because of the rain last night. If there is rain before tomorrow's race we will face quite a difficult track, and those starting on the soft tyre will have the concern of graining on the left tyres, either front, rear, or both depending on the car and set-up. If a driver can protect their tyres then a one stop strategy should be possible, and the lower pit lane speed limit we have here also plays to this approach.

“The soft tyre is around 0.5 seconds faster for its fastest lap than the harder tyre, but we really don't have sufficient data to know how long it will last here. This, and the variable of the Melbourne weather, will be the biggest unknowns for tomorrow's race.”

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