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British GP strategy guide: A rare, but genuine, dilemma

SILVERSTONE, U.K. — For the first time in a long time, teams face a genuine dilemma between a one-stop strategy and a two-stop at the British Grand Prix.

The new track surface at Silverstone has resulted in excessive wear on the tyres and, based on Friday’s long-run data, Pirelli says a two-stop strategy will be necessary. However, those starting on the mediums clearly have a one-stop in mind and with more rubber going down on the track since Friday, it should help those looking to extend the life of their tyres.

That’s great news for the battle at the front, as Mercedes and Red Bull start on the mediums looking to one-stop and the Ferraris start on the softs with a likely two-stop in mind.

In theory, the two-stop strategy — soft, soft, hard – is the quickest way to complete the 52 laps, with the first pit stop between lap nine and 17 and the second between lap 22 and 30. Because the pit lane cuts out the final two corners, the overall time loss of a pit stop is relatively small at just 19 seconds in racing conditions and 11 seconds under a Safety Car. However, by taking on a two-stop strategy, drivers run the risk of rejoining the track in traffic and losing crucial race time as they are forced to battle their way past one-stoppers.

Those starting on medium tyres are expected to attempt a one-stop — eliminating some of the risk of being in traffic and the inherent risk of making another pit stop — and will look to switch to the mediums between lap 14 and 22. If tyre wear on the medium proves worse than expected in the first stint, a bailout two-stop strategy is possible, with a switch to hards between lap 11 and 19 and a second stop to softs between lap 34 and 42. Keep an eye on the tyres on the left-hand side of the car to see if the Mercedes and Red Bulls will be forced down this route.

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