The Value of Two and Three Stop Races

As Pirelli and Michelin prepare to do battle to become F1’s tyre supplier for 2017 and beyond, after submitting their respective tender’s, FIA President Jean Todt has acknowledged that two and three stop races, promoting dynamic strategy and adding an element of unpredictability to races, are essential as F1 looks to regain the element of blockbuster entertainment.

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Certainly, fans have let out a collective groan whenever strategists have calculated a one-stop strategy to be the most effective, and this season, these one-stop races have been a reoccurring feature of the campaign – a contributory factor to what many consider to have been an underwhelming season so far.

Often, the spark for a classic race in the past has come as a result of the tyres. Pirelli entered F1 with a mandate to make tyres which degraded and at the time, this was a much needed introduction. It was in 2012 – their second season as F1 suppliers – when Pirelli made a serious mark on the sport, producing tyre compounds which contributed to the unpredictable nature of that season. Unquestionably, the inconsistencies and track specific nature of the tyres helped make 2012 a vintage year for Formula 1.

The bounce was somewhat removed from Pirelli’s bungee in 2013, as a spate of tyre failures as a result of the steel belt caused the Italian manufacturer to switch to a Kevlar construction mid-season. Unquestionably, the events of 2013 and the British Grand Prix in particular, did cause Pirelli to adopt a more conservative approach to the sport and it is this conservative approach that we see today.

However, the trials and tribulations of 2013 have not served to dampen Pirelli’s appetite for F1, and as such, the FIA are currently considering a tyre tender application from the manufacturer to supply tyres for 2017 and beyond. Michelin have also made an application, despite their own F1 drama’s of yesteryear, and it appears that the two will battle for the contract. A key factor influencing the governing body’s decision regarding the supplier will be what they can deliver to enhance the product, to which entertainment and therefore two or three stop races, is critical.

“The improvement on the tyre use, for me, is probably easy to say, but we should have a bit of co-ordination to say ‘OK, we would like two or three pitstops’ and then be sure they are able to react to what is asked of them,” Todt stated.

“Clearly to create some uncertainty due to tyre changes and tyre wear is something I feel we could still improve.”

Image Credit: "Pirelli at the New York International Auto Show"
By Joseph Brent (via Flickr) [CC-BY-SA-2.0]
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