Pirelli expects the Chinese Grand Prix to be a more normal race in terms of tire strategy than last weekend's Malaysian event, with a one-stop on the cards judging by Friday running.
After the incident-packed race at Sepang, which witnessed the highest number of pit stops for a totally dry race in F1 history, Pirelli says the evidence from Friday practice is of a much more straightforward event at Shanghai.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli's director of motorsport, said that strategy standout team Sauber would almost certainly try a one-stop on Sunday, with only the fastest of outfits contemplating a three-stopper.
"From what we've seen here the wear rates are much lower compared to Sepang," said Hembery about what he had learned from Friday running. "The hard tire is probably about 20 laps on Friday, and the soft is 13. That even would suggest in the race that if you are doing 20 laps on a Friday then some people might even be thinking of doing a one-stop here – an aggressive one-stop strategy.
"They have to use the soft, and it depends how far they can take it. [Sergio] Perez I am sure is going to get me in trouble with Bernie [Ecclestone] again and do a one-stop or something crazy like that. Two stops is going to be the most likely strategy I've seen. The only question I have is that maybe the quicker teams can maybe afford to do a three-stop because of the performance advantage."
One of the criticisms of the Malaysia event was that there was not much variation in strategy, because the quickest soft tire was lasting an almost identical distance to the hard so it was a no-brainer to use it over a stint. However, Hembery reckons that with the hard tire running much longer here, then there was a chance of teams mixing it up more.
"We have much bigger delta on the wear levels – about 13 vs. 20, which will create a difference in strategy. Sepang was so dominated by the aggressive surface, which was consuming the tires, that the compound wasn't having much to do with it. Distance was being dominated by the surface and we had very similar wear rates. We have the delta we would ordinarily see here."
Although pre-event predictions had been for China to witness degradation somewhere between the low levels of Melbourne and the extreme of Malaysia, Hembery now reckons a Melbourne scenario more likely, especially with Red Bull Racing looking so good on its tires.
"We've seen one or two cars running here with very low degradation. I need to understand what they were up to and what they were doing, but certainly [Sebastian] Vettel looked to have done a very long run in the second session and looked to have very, very, very low degradation. He was very consistent."