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STRATEGIC GUIDE: What are the possible race strategies for the 2022 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix?

The first Sprint weekend of the season saw a different schedule over the first two days of racing at Imola, and only the familiar Grand Prix challenge remains, so let’s take a look at the options available for the Autodromo Enzo and Dino Ferrari teams…

What is the fastest strategy?

Single stop is definitely the way to go at Imola, even more so than at many other venues where teams tend to prefer to make as few stops as possible, as loss time in the pit lane is one of the most important of the season, with it took almost 30 seconds to enter the pits, change tires and reach the track.

Although DRS played a big part in the Sprint, it was clear that overtaking is not straightforward if the cars are close in terms of performance, so teams will want to minimize opportunities to lose track position in the pits. . to start the race with the medium compound tire, opening up two main possibilities.

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The first – and most likely – will see an initial stint of around 30 laps (although the pit window is quite wide) on medium before moving to hard tires for the rest of the race.

Starting on the middle also means soft can come into play if that opening stint can be extended to lap 40, perhaps aided by a safety car when the tires can be preserved for a while.

How about a different option for the top ten?

If one of the leading runners wants to try something else early in the race to compensate for their strategy, then the soft compound has potential, as it can provide a grip advantage off the line and enough performance gain to maintain its position early. on.

The difficulty will be dealing with the graining as seen on Saturday – especially if it rains overnight and reduces the level of grip – although the lower working range of the soft tire will be a little more suitable for the cooler temperatures expected s it stays dry.

READ MORE: Who gained the most positions – and grid places in the Emilia-Romagna GP – in the Sprint?

The opening stint should be around 18 laps with full tanks before the riders start to suffer degradation and have to stop, but the hard compound tire should be manageable from that point to the end of the lap. race as the fuel load runs out, but that will involve giving up track position earlier than those starting on the mediums.

Rain isn’t a bad thing for softs either, as it’s the best slick compound to use if there are a few spots that impact track conditions but don’t require switching to intermediates. . this could be a consideration for teams.

IMOLA tires available for Race.jpg

What are the options for the bottom half of the field?

Although this is likely a one-stage race, all three tire compounds have the potential to be used at the start, especially for teams at the back. Alex Albon put in a standout performance on Compound C2 in Melbourne – the same compound as this one. hard weekend tires – to run most of the race before stopping at the end of the penultimate lap.

The pace displayed by Albon will encourage Williams to do the same at Imola, and given the starting positions of 18th for Albon and 19th for team-mate Nicholas Latifi, they are the likeliest candidates for such a strategy.

HIGHLIGHTS: Watch the Sprint action as Verstappen beats Leclerc at Imola

Starting on hard would allow for a long stint which would open up flexibility, either to switch into the mediums when the right gap opens up (or there is a safety car), or run as long as possible hoping for an interruption before pass on the softs for the last 20 rounds.

If it’s also raining later in the race, that could mean only having to make one pit stop for the rain tyres.

Cumulative curves of IMOLA tyres.jpg

Double-stopping isn’t completely out of the question either, depending on the tire allocations left to different riders. For this to work, the hard tire probably won’t be used at any stage, with a fastest combination of medium and soft tires. journey to the end.

Starting on mediums with the intention of moving to hards could evolve into two stops with two 15-lap stints on the softs – especially if a safety car allows a much quicker change than in green flag conditions – or a intermediate stint on the soft before returning to the medium tire with anything up to 30 laps remaining. However, track position and clear air will be crucial to any two-stop considerations.

READ MORE: ‘If we can fix it, we can fight for victory’ – Leclerc reveals key struggle after losing Imola Sprint to Verstappen

Wait, what’s the weather like?

It hasn’t been the hottest weekend in Imola, with heavy rain on Thursday and Friday and cool temperatures making things difficult. Saturday got a lot better, but even so the temperature barely topped 20C and Sunday shouldn’t be that hot.

As highlighted above, the risk of heavy showers and thunderstorms is currently between 40% and 60% according to the latest data, which is described as “unstable” and with limited accuracy at this stage of the weekend.

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The threat of rain currently increases around three hours before the race and persists through the afternoon into the evening, with temperatures reaching 21C at best but likely to be a few degrees lower.

This forces the teams to take into account the heating and graining phases of the tyres, the hard set being particularly delicate when exiting the pits and requiring a lot of work on the front tyres, in particular to generate the temperature necessary for their performance. .

They will also need to be ready to react to what could be potentially heavy downpours, although they have crossover point data from Friday’s qualifying which saw the intermediates used in a session that started dry enough for the slicks. .

READ MORE: ‘There’s nothing I can do’ – Hamilton dejected after losing Imola Sprint position

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