Formula 1 fans could be treated to a German Grand Prix that is decided in the closing stages, says Pirelli, which believes that drivers could opt to make last-minute changes to the medium-compound tires.
With current data suggesting that there is a 1.5sec lap time difference between the soft- and the medium-compound tires, the strategy prediction is pointing toward an unusual approach to the races. Pirelli's director of motorsport Paul Hembery suspects that if it stays dry, then drivers could try and get through as much of the race as possible with two sets of soft tires, before stopping as late as possible for the slower medium tire.
"We had a pre-race prediction for 20 laps with the soft, but now some teams are looking at 30 laps," he told AUTOSPORT. "That means it will likely be one or two stops.
"One strategy we would actually like to see is for drivers to run the softs right until the end, and then they make a mad dash to the pits for the last three or four laps to run the hard. Some, however, will try and stretch the first set of soft tires for as long as possible and then stick the medium on to try out a one-stop."
Hembery says that degradation on the medium tire is almost non-existent, with the track surface and corner characteristics not punishing the rubber too much.
"It's wearing very little," he said. "Our current lap prediction is for 100 laps, so it could do two races. At the start of the season everyone said we weren't able to do that, but we always said that we were.
"It's cold here, the track is not particularly severe, and the teams are clearly learning how to use the tires very well, either by driving style or setup. All the teams have increased their return on each set of tires.
"So, we're in a strange situation where at Turkey everyone was worrying that we were going toward four stops, and we're actually now worrying we're becoming too conservative and could end up going back to one stop. It's become a moving target with the teams, car development and weather scenarios."