Ugh. Pirelli is bringing the Hard tyres to Barcelona. As Force India’s Perez said, the only thing that the Hard tyres will be good for is for photos. Luckily they are also bringing the Mediums and Softs, so we’ll see the teams practice, qualify and race on those.
As a quick flashback, you’ll remember that the teams did their preseason tests on this track. It should be a bit warmer this weekend than it was in testing, and warmer temperatures usually mean higher tyre degradation, all else being equal.
But despite being later in the season, most people think that the Hards should be swapped for Supersofts for the weekend. Count Ricciardo among them. “Hopefully for Barcelona’s sake it’s hot and therefore these harder tyres work,” he said, “The tyres are already hard enough so the harder compounds are just way too hard.”
Mercedes did a lot of testing on the Softs and the Ferraris looked great on the Ultrasofts and Supersofts. Does that mean that Mercedes will be favoured in the tight race between those constructors? We’ll see.
This is the first time that we’ll see the Hard tyres in action this season. Well, as noted above, we probably won’t see them “in action” per se. This is the last race where the teams are automatically assigned a set number of each tyre — 7 of the Softs, 4 of the Mediums, 2 of the Hards. That effectively means that the teams are down to 11 sets for the entire weekend, but with low degradation expected from the 2017 compounds, I’m sure they’ll find a way to do it.
On the 2016 spec tyres last year, the winners made two stops. They started on the Softs that they qualified on and ran about 10 to 15 laps. Then they ran on Mediums for the next two stints at 20 to 25 laps per. It wouldn’t be outlandish to see someone try an alternate strategy of one stop this year. We’ll see when the lights go out.