Jeddah GP: Single-Stop Strategy Dominates

The Saudi Arabian Grand Prix witnessed a predominant single-stop strategy, despite an early incident disrupting the race. Pirelli’s mid-range compounds were put to the test, with most drivers opting for a lengthy stint on the Hard tires after a safety car intervention.

Between the lines

  • At the Jeddah Street Circuit, 18 out of 20 drivers started on Medium tires, with a single-stop strategy largely favored post a safety car appearance.
  • Pirelli’s selection of C2, C3, and C4 compounds for the race provided a balance between durability and performance, influencing strategic choices.
  • Charles Leclerc secured the fastest lap on 43-lap old Hard tires, showcasing their longevity and performance.
  • The safety car period played a pivotal role in strategy, with many drivers pitting for Hard tires to complete a long final stint.
  • Valtteri Bottas was an outlier with a two-stop strategy, but this did not yield a significant advantage.

Go deeper
Pirelli’s decision to bring their mid-range tire compounds to the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix proved to be a critical factor in the race’s strategic narrative. The C2, C3, and C4 tires were subjected to the high-speed demands of the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, with the majority of drivers committing to a single-stop strategy after the safety car period initiated by Lance Stroll’s crash.

The early safety car allowed teams to pit and switch to the Hard compound, which many drivers then used to complete the race. This strategic move was facilitated by the Hard tire’s ability to maintain performance over a long stint, a fact underscored by the impressive lap times set on worn tires, including Leclerc’s fastest lap.

While the single-stop strategy was nearly universal, the timing of the pit stops varied, with drivers like Zhou Guanyu stretching their first stint on Mediums to an impressive 41 laps. The late stoppers aimed to gain track position and capitalize on fresher tires towards the end of the race, though overtaking proved challenging.

Bottas’s decision to start on Softs and execute a two-stop strategy was a deviation from the norm, but it did not significantly alter his race outcome. This highlighted the efficiency and effectiveness of the single-stop strategy under the prevailing conditions.

In conclusion, the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix served as a testament to the strategic importance of tire selection and management in Formula 1. The ability to adapt to race incidents, like the early safety car, and to extract the maximum from the chosen compounds, was crucial for a successful race outcome.