Tires could be critical part of Chinese GP

With 13 sets of tires over a weekend, you’d think the teams would be set for a relatively straightforward strategy call for the Chinese Grand Prix but that isn’t what Mercedes is saying in the lead up to this weekend’s grand prix. The compounds on offer are Super Soft, Soft and Medium and the circuit has never use the SS compounds before.

“It’s the first time we’ll see the supersoft compound used at this track … and that will likely create a more extreme example of what we saw in Bahrain, where the best qualifying tyre is unlikely to be a great race tyre,” technical boss Paddy Lowe said.

“Every team is bound to want to qualify on the supersoft, but if it grains (wears) in the race, we could see cars stopping in the first five laps.

“There will be plenty of analysis to do on Friday and we could see some interesting calls on qualifying and race strategy,”

We have been discussing if the new tire regulation was working and most fans agreed that it is adding something to the tactical element of F1 and that, unlike the failed qualifying revamp, it seems to not be having a negative impact on the sport. Just how positive it is could be up for debate.

The idea of giving teams more options as far as compounds go is a good thing but it is a lot of work for Pirelli to bring all those compounds to a race. It seems like a concept that is there or thereabouts to me for some reason. I feel like it’s nearly there but deep inside, I tend to think that giving the teams the options and letting them choose their tire strategies without forcing a two-compound requirement might be better. I could see where that may lessen the strategy in a race but I also tend to think it would make teams more effective in getting or losing the right performance strategy for their particular chassis.

I know I am missing some key issues in my thinking here as I am not on the pit wall making the calls and not being inside the team to know the nuance of the strategy most likely makes my concept daft but it does seem somewhat logical to me. In reality, with all the constructs in play (fuel, DRS, HD tires), my concept wouldn’t work very well but perhaps I am just trying to find ways to get rid of the constructs.

Regardless, let’s see what happens in China and perhaps it will be a very interesting situation to watch.