Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Red Bull Ring, 2019

How Pirelli is trying to create more two-stop races

2019 F1 season

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Formula 1’s official tyre supplier Pirelli is considering how to encourage teams to use more varied strategies in races.

Pirelli is keen to see drivers making more than the minimum single stop to change to a different tyre compound during a race. Motorsport director Mario Isola said changes are being considered to their “target letter” which stipulates how F1 tyres compound should perform, as this may be encouraging teams to use conservative strategies.

“Maybe with the numbers that we have in the target letter it is quite normal that [a] one-stop strategy is the quickest,” he said.

“On the paper it’s not the quickest. If you look at the numbers and you try to make a simulation you have numbers that are making the one stop, two-stop and three-stop very similar. [But] what we learned is that if you have one, two and three stop [strategies] that are very similar everybody will target one stop because it’s less risky: No overtaking, no traffic and so on.

“So we tried last year to select compounds with a target to have a two-stop strategy that was five seconds quicker than a one-stop. We learned that five seconds is not enough because with five seconds they still target the one-stop. So now we are trying to understand which is the right difference. That is probably between eight and 10 seconds.”

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However Isola pointed out there are other complications to consider.

“We’re making simulations when you change the tyre because the last pit stop is the one that is defining your final position in the classification. So it’s not just the mathematical calculation of the total race time, it’s a bit more complicated, considering that after the last pit stop you need a number of laps to gain your track position.

“So it is more complicated and we are working together with them to try to find numbers that are giving us this result.”

Pirelli has come under pressure from a group of teams who are lobbying for a return to last year’s tyre specification, claiming it would produce more exciting races. Isola argued against the move, which was rejected in a vote between the teams at the last race, saying it would be an “overreaction”.

“It is not easy and we are working hard to try to achieve a better result for the show,” he stressed. “And this is a good system. What I told [them] is that for me is not a good system to overreact to a situation, changing the specification if there is no issue.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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  • 30 comments on “How Pirelli is trying to create more two-stop races”

    1. Until it becomes easier to pass, folk will stay conservative. If you pit again, you commit to overtaking. Even on newer and softer tyres, if you get stuck behind someone for a few too many laps, the tyres will overheat and go off.

      Pirelli need to improve the working range and make the tyres better for following before people will risk an extra stop.

      Also, F1 tracks should look where they can at shortening the pit lane time loss. Obviously not possible everywhere, but if the pit lane entry/exit can bypass a chicane, then you’re only losing 15s instead of 20s by pitting again.

      1. Doesn’t matter. If you can lose 20 seconds on the track, and avoid a 21 second pit-stop that might go horribly wrong, the teams will choose the 20 seconds on the track, every time.

        I’ve said it before. I’ll keep saying it. You want more stops, bring back refueling.

        Refueling with the three tire choice and two mandatory compounds should lead to varied strategies.

        1. @grat – I would also like to see refueling return but varied strategies will likely be shortlived. There is usually a quickest way to the checkers and nearly every team will go that route. We could see some variation in races where one car is using one compound better than the others (say Mercs on softs and Ferrari on mediums), but in most instances I still think strategies tend to converge.

          Why I want refueling is for faster speeds (also remove or raise the fuel flow limit) and at least the possibility of the oddball strategy crap shoot you mention above. If someone wants to try a couple of qualifying stints to get ahead, they can try it. With the current system, they cannot unless they’ve spent 20-30 laps behind the safety car.

    2. I maybe asking for the earth (or just being stupid) but you need a tyre that a team can push like hell on and run out of rubber thus pitting again, or allow a team to nurse the tyre keeping rubber intact and going longer.

      1. Isn’t that the kind of tyre they have right now? Teams have figured out that it makes more sense to nurse a tyre instead of going flat out.

      2. I maybe asking for the earth (or just being stupid) but you need a tyre that a team can push like hell on and run out of rubber thus pitting again, or allow a team to nurse the tyre keeping rubber intact and going longer.

        Which is what we have now … which leads to one stop races.

        The problem isn’t really the tyres. The tyres we have would be fine if pitting and then overtaking another car was actually a viable strategy. That is the core problem.

    3. Make it mandatory to use 3 compounds in a dry race. And then make better tires, without this designed to degrade formula.

      1. that would put them in the same strategy, as they are now, only difference with one more pitstop

        if anything rules of tyre usage should be tossed out of the window, they are ridiculous, as are the tyres if we are being honest here

        1. if anything rules of tyre usage should be tossed out of the window, they are ridiculous

          I completely agree.

          Playing with the tyres like this, and forcing a pitstop with the 2 compound rule, is only trying to mask the symptoms of other problems in the sport. They should be working on fixing issues like the difficulty in following and overtaking (without DRS).

          This brings me back to my solution again, which is to have the engineers solve it by forcing them to overtake. The engineers in F1 could make their cars better at overtaking (and easier to overtake) if it gave them an advantage to do so. They’re smart guys with a great understanding of aerodynamics, but right now it’s not in their interest to do so.

          One possibility would be making (part of) qualifying a reverse-championship-order-grid sprint race. The top teams would have to overtake to get a good grid slot on Sunday, so would both optimise their cars for overtaking and lobby for rules which reduced the amount and/or effect of dirty air, making cars easier to overtake. IMHO it would also be more interesting to watch than current qually (which I really enjoy watching anyway), so it’d be a win-win.

          If cars became easier to follow and overtake, more teams would use different strategies. We would no longer need the 2-compounds rule as the quickest strategy would normally be more stops, but this would allow a team to try a no-stop strategy if they wanted.

    4. For so long as track position is key, Pirelli’s hands will be tied. If cars can’t pass on track, the ideal strategy will always be to try to eek out the tyres life so you can do as few stops as possible.

      1. @geemac

        Completely agree. Which is why I found their 5 seconds quicker on 2 stops simulation redundant. I’m fairly certain their simulation didn’t take in to account the fact that a driver could get slowed down by more than 5 seconds while trying to overtake another driver…and that some tracks (Monaco) are impossible to overtake on… nor did they take in to account the tyre degradation while following another car.

        If they were trying to make multiple stops attractive to teams, they should have had a higher delta … maybe 12 – 15 seconds + to entice teams and drivers to take it on.

    5. The only way to promote different strategies is to allow refueling.

      When everyone starts with the same amount of fuel/respectively weight, the quickest strategy is always the same. Then everyone will try to follow it no matter how hard you should nurse the tires or how much you have to lift and coast.

      1. Even when they had refueling everyone did the same strategy most of the time.

        The only difference was that teams were locked into a strategy on Saturday with no room to alter/adapt it on the fly during the race. Strategy without refeuling is & always has been better because it’s more reactive with far more factors & far more freedom to change it on the fly.

      2. @ivokbg But it was detrimental to on-track overtaking, and as @PeterG pointed out, locks teams into a specific strategy without any room to alter it in the heat of the moment. With tyres it’s possible to try and stretch them for as long as possible beyond the initially scheduled pit stop lap, but the same isn’t the case with refuelling. If you have enough fuel for ten laps, then you have to pit on lap ten at the very latest, not any later than that for an obvious reason.

        1. When we had refueling without parc ferme rules saying the quali fuel was used for the race it was better. I rewatched a 1999 race where Schumacher duped McLaren into thinking he was two stopping by having more fuel but pitting slightly early and won it. When the teams didnt know what fuel other teams were running as it was added before the race there was much more variability in strategy and uncertanty. It wasnt refueling that ruined strategy it was parc ferme.

    6. Recently I rewatched the 2011 Chinese Grand Prix which was spectacular thanks to the different tyre strategies. The race was very entertaining even though there was no safty car, many crashes/incidents, retirements or rain… no, it were the tyres that made the race as great as it was (rated 9.24/10 by RaceFans users). Until 5 laps from the end nobody knew if a 2- or 3-stop was the better strategy.. We need races like that, and Pirelli needs to make it happen.

      1. Well Pirelli could start by a push to ditch the mandatory use of compounds. It makes strategies more onesided and it gives position 7-10 + Gasly a serious disadvantage vs starting 11-15. More than once, it was a bane for a midfielder to get to Q3.

        About China 2011… I found it very artificial with the cliff. That was inexperience with Pirelli after using proper race tires for decades. After that, drivers got slower and slower not to upset the tire. That includes following closely and overtaking as that will kill the tire in no time.

        1. i found a lot of the races back then to be really artificial with the tyres and drs which was very powerful that first year.

          the thing i remember about china 2011 is how mark webber came from the back and after the race commented about how unsatisfying the racing was as he was breezing by guys easily with drs and breezing by them just as easily when on fresh tyres. he said that it was really unsatisfying to be breezing by everyone so easily with no fight and that he wanted to be racing these guys rather than breezing by them with gimmicks.

        2. @Señor Sjon I agree. I also wouldn’t be against if the rule mandating the Q3-runners to start the races with the same tyre set they used for their PB Q2 lap, i.e., give everyone a free choice of the race-starting tyres, not just the other half of the grid.

    7. A few things that F1 can do to improve racing spectacle:
      > Bring back tyre war or let teams have free option of tyres from the entire range (not just the three compounds selected for the race). Only safety and size specs of the tyres should be governed. I think Tyre war would be the way to go as the tyre manufacturers and team manufacturers can work together to achieve a target plus so many other variables.
      > Fuel: either bring back refueling or remove restrictions on maximum fuel usage. Fuel flow rate is anyway restricted, so i don’t see how maximum available fuel makes a difference- carry more fuel and pay the price for being too heavy or carry less fuel and sacrifice power. Refueling is again a better choice, provided safer refueling equipment are used to avoid mishaps of the past.

      i know the FIA/FOM have done a lot of research before opting for the current regulations, but i still recall the real “RACING” of the late 90s and early 00s. so many variables and so much of excitement.

    8. Yes, that’s it, keep contriving races with gimmicky tyres. Such a joke

    9. If you want to force two stops, you need to go back to tyres with a hard performance cliff in the 115-130km range.

    10. To be honest it is more about the tracks than the tyres. The track dictates how much time you lose out on for doing a stop. This is the most important factor. Zandvoort is making an effort to have the shortest time difference between doing a start-finish pass and a stop on the calendar. (Sadly this will be the only exciting feature of the track.)

      “The other big change to enhance overtaking will be the pit entry,” added Lammers. “That will be made quicker. So we will have pitstops of maximum elapsed time 14 seconds. If we do that we hope that we can create three-pitstop strategies.”

      1. “The other big change to enhance overtaking will be the pit entry,” added Lammers. “That will be made quicker. So we will have pitstops of maximum elapsed time 14 seconds.

        Interesting, I wonder if that would make it close enough that you could overtake someone under VSC by using the pitlane?

        1. Lol, remember when Senna set the fastest lap of the race going through the pit lane (without stopping) in Donnington.

          Back in those days there was no speed limit in the pit lane though.

    11. There should not be a push for 1-2 or 3 stops, It should just be left upto the teams & drivers IF they want to make a stop & how many. No mandatory stops, No cheese tyres.

      We also need to move away from the belief that more pit stops make racing better because I don’t think it automatically does. I mean back when 2 stop races were more common you had just as many complaints about the races been dull as you see now with just the 1.

      I think the only reason people believe that more stops is better is because that’s what everyone got used to after 1994, Same reason the fans who got into F1 after 1994 constantly push to bring back refueling, It’s just what they were used to.

      I began watching F1 at a time when there were no scheduled pit stops at all & that cars only came into the pits if they had a technical problem & at that time nobody was complaining, Nobody was pushing for pit stops & more importantly the racing was far better with far more overtaking than ever occurred when pit stops & pit strategy began to get more commonplace.

      The only thing pit stops/strategy did was remove the incentive to race/overtake on track and moved that into the pit lane. I think the increasing use of pit stops/strategy did more harm to the on-track product than anything else.

      I mean look at Indycar, You often see everyone running close yet as they cycle through the pit stops everyone gets really strung out & the same is true in F1 often. They are a detriment to the on track racing & not a positive.

    12. LOL, the only way to get better racing is to reduce the whole duration of a pit stop to 5s delay wrt the others on track, which is done by changing pit entry and exit, ie coming into the pits earlier on the track, like half the track would be missed in order to get to or from the pits.
      This nullifies totally the cost of a pit stop.

    13. Maybe my memory is fuzzy, but I remember in F2 the tyres are producing quite a difference in strategies and results. Drivers on daring strategies winning (or losing), Drivers on conservative strategies winning (or losing).

      Is there a real difference in the tyre specs between F1 and F2?

    14. What if Pirelli showed up at a race with the “soft” tire having a greater lap time delta over the next hardest and …. it could be leaned on hard for 30+ laps.? Yes, that’s right, provide what pretty much everyone wants.
      Make it the de-facto preferred tire. Then there might be a bigger difference between the Q3 runners and those with a free tire choice. You want different strategies, try making it easier for the teams to actually implement them, not just penalize them for being clever.
      Before anyone jumps on me for supporting the two compound rule, I hate it and think the whole tire charade is a waste of money, team resources and my interest as a fan.
      Not sure why Pirelli perseveres with this fiasco as it isn’t doing their commercial tyre business any flavors.

    15. The main problem is that the lap-time-delta between the compounds is too little.
      The medium tyre has been the best choice in most of the races thus far, because it’s just slightly slower than the soft with much better wear and faster than the hard with similar wear.
      This meant that teams wanted to run the majority of the time on them.

      There hasn’t been much variation in strategy, because in most cases only one strategy worked (Soft-Medium or Medium-Hard).

      In order to create more variation in strategy and thus create more overtaking, there needs to be bigger differences in performance and wear between the compounds.

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