Pirelli has been reading this column!
Silverstone has a lot of high speed corners that are tough on tyres. Last year Pirelli offered the Hard, Medium and Soft compounds. But any reader of The F1 Newsletter knows that the tyres are much more robust in 2017 and, as a result, Pirelli should be offering softer compounds. Well, it appears Pirelli got the message.
This year, teams chose between the Medium, Soft and Supersofts. Finally, compounds soft enough that we might see some interesting tyre strategy rather than a boring one-stopper.
Last year the race started on a wet track and when the teams finally switched to the slicks, they all went onto Mediums and ran them for 30+ laps. It should be different this year.
The teams have opted for noticeably different strategies. Let’s get something out of the way first: almost everyone has opted for the bare minimum of the hardest tyre, the Medium. Where is gets interesting is how they allocated the remaining sets between the Softs and Supersofts. Continuing recent trends, McLaren has gone very aggressive, bringing 10 sets of Supersofts and only 2 sets of Softs. Ferrari is not that far behind with 9 Supersofts and 3 Softs. Mercedes (and Williams) are almost at the other end of the spectrum, splitting their tyres evenly between the Soft and Supersoft.
The Mercedes allocation might reflect the fact that their cars have difficulty “turning on” the Supersofts by getting them to the right temperature. Or it may indicate the intention to run a more conservative strategy on Sunday. Your columnist won’t hazard any guesses as to how long these tyres will last or what the dominant strategy will be, so we’ll just have to wait until the lights go out!