By Alex Kapadia
Tyres strategy will play a key role in the Singapore Grand Prix this weekend, with the only night race of the season throwing up a number of tough challenges for the teams.
The task of collecting data on both the P Zero Yellow soft and P Zero Red supersoft tyres took place tonight during the first two free practice sessions ahead of the race.
The Grand Prix, deemed to be one of the most specialised and tough encounters of the year, will see the cars start the race with the heaviest fuel load of the year – up to 160 kilogrammes – and keep going for nearly two hours, meaning that the balance of the car alters drastically over the course of the race.
This has a big effect on the way that each car uses its tyres, so today was all about running for as long as possible on Pirelli’s two softest (and fastest) compounds, nominated for this weekend.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli’s motorsport director, commented: “As always, Singapore has got off to a spectacular start, with the complexity of this race being added to by a damp surface at the beginning of the first free practice session.
“Nonetheless we saw a lot of running over the course of the evening, with plenty of data accumulated on a wide variety of fuel loads.
“From what we can see so far we would expect between two and three pit stops during the race, but a lot will depend on safety cars, which have traditionally been a factor in Singapore, as well as driving styles.
“The time difference between the soft and supersoft is around 1.5 seconds per lap, while the degradation per lap is around 0.3 seconds for the supersoft and 0.1 seconds for the soft. This opens up lots of different possibilities in terms of strategy.
“We’ve also seen a number of upgrades from teams here, which will only add to the closeness of the competition.
“Some teams might try something different when it comes to strategy such as starting on the harder tyre, for example, in order to run a longer first stint on heavy fuel.
“Already, we’ve seen lots of different programmes during free practice, which suggests that the teams are keeping a very open mind when it comes to their tactics.”