• Chinese Grand Prix

Pirelli predicts two-stop race

ESPNF1 Staff
April 15, 2011 « Ferrari rues hydraulic problems | »
The Pirelli tyres are not degrading as quickly in China © Sutton Images

Pirelli is predicting a two-stop race and fewer marbles at this weekend's Chinese Grand Prix.

The Malaysian Grand Prix one week ago resulted in a mix of two-, three-, and four-stop strategies as the tyres degraded quickly in the hot temperatures. However, Pirelli is expecting strategies to mirror those at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix this weekend.

"We've been very encouraged by our first day of running in China, which like nearly every one of the circuits this year is entirely new to us," said Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery. "Although today has been warm, degradation is a lot less than we saw in Malaysia, so I'm expecting to have two pit stops per car on race day, similar to Australia."

A side-effect of the higher degradation levels manufactured in to the Pirellis this year are chunks of rubber, known as marbles, coming off the tyres. A number of drivers flagged the issue in Malaysia after losing grip when they ran over the marbles, but Hembery said the situation is less severe in China.

"We've also seen a lot fewer 'marbles' - deposits of rubber, with the shape and consistency of toffee, left by the tyres on the track as they degrade - and that should be the case during the race too as we are expecting fewer pit stops in the normal course of events."

Hembery also revealed that the hard tyres are lasting roughly half a dozen laps longer than the soft tyres which the top ten are expected to use if Q3 is dry on Saturday.

"In terms of wear rate, there's a good five to six lap difference between the soft and the hard, which opens up various different possibilities in terms of strategy," he added. "The weather seems uncertain tomorrow, which is sure to add another level of intrigue to what is already shaping up to be a thrilling weekend."