• European Grand Prix

Teams face strategy challenge - Hembery

Chris Medland
June 26, 2011 « Options available to Heidfeld | »
The difference between the two compounds has been close to 2 seconds for some teams © Sutton Images

Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery says the teams will be faced with challenging strategies due to the heat in today's European Grand Prix.

Pirelli has brought the medium and soft compound tyre to Valencia, and with the difference between the two being more than 1.5s on average, it is the soft tyre that will be favoured during the race. Track temperatures during the race are expected to reach 46C, and in an exclusive interview with ESPNF1 Hembery said that the teams will have to react to how long they can make the soft tyre last during the opening laps.

"We've already run the soft tyre in these extreme conditions and heat," Hembery said. "We've run in Malaysia which is an extremely aggressive track, a very hot track, and that's a high speed track as well - so we don't have any concerns. It's more likely to be for the teams to develop their strategy, because they didn't do any long runs on the soft tyre [in the heat] because they were concentrating on qualifying.

"I think you'll find that when there's been four more support races and track temperatures at 45 or 46 degrees, it's going to be a big challenge for the teams and they'll be monitoring very closely that first stint when they start the race."

Hembery said he expected teams to opt for a three-stop strategy to get the most track time on the soft tyre, but that a variety of options were available.

"If we were looking at just pure wear levels it's probably going to be two, but I think you'll find that with a performance difference of 1.5-2 seconds that teams will try to maximise the use of the soft tyre as much as they can and will do a three stop strategy."

Hembery also admitted that the gap in performance was bigger than Pirelli had wanted, but that it was mainly down to the hotter than expected track conditions and trying to find the best compounds to fit each circuit.

"It's probably 15 degrees hotter (than Friday) on the track and that's changed certainly some of the performance. The soft tyre in qualifying with such high heat has been giving huge amounts of compound grip, and the medium tyre from that point of view has been a little bit slower than we would have liked. We were aiming actually for something between 1-1.5 seconds peak performance difference and we've seen in some occasions that it's got up to nearly two."

"The temperatures are certainly one aspect of it. In reality the medium we brought here - because we wanted to get some race experience with it before we go to Silverstone - is a compound that we probably wouldn't have brought here, under normal circumstances we would have come here with the super-soft compound which is what we use for street circuits. Having said that the super-soft at 46 degrees track temperature would be right at its limits of durability, so it's one of those challenges where there's probably not the perfect solution when you've only got four compounds to choose from."