Pirelli Motorsport director Paul Hembery has admitted that F1 races with multiple pit-stops are likely to be the norm as teams continue to come to grips with the new tyres being used for the 2011 season.
There had been concern ahead of the season that drivers could be forced to make up to five stops due to the increased degradation of the Pirelli rubber, although Sergio Perez then completed the Australian GP using just one stop.
Two of three stops has become more regular in the races that have followed, and Hembery said he expected that to remain the same throughout the season, with it unlikely that drivers and teams would manage to complete races on a single stop.
“I think that Australia was exceptional and will be exceptional for the season,” he told the official F1 website. “Maybe on some of the street circuits we will need to think about what might happen there because there is low loading on the tyres. But yes, people may have been a little alarmist at the start of the season, but now they have settled into a two- to three-stop strategy at the majority of the races, which is exactly what we've been asked to do.
“I think a one-stop strategy will be quite rare. But that depends a lot on the teams - if they decide that they can gain more by doing one stop less. But the pit stops are quite short - something in the range of 23 seconds is lost - so from that point of view, when they are spending 2.5 seconds on tyre changes, they are not losing a huge amount of time. It would penalise them more trying to reduce the number of stops. In Istanbul the greater advantage lay in doing more pit stops to get fresh rubber.”
Hembery added that the new tyres had already stood up to the challenge of two of the circuits it felt would be most challenging as it makes a return to F1.
“Sepang was one of them, actually,” he said. “It's an aggressive circuit, but we only saw the extreme temperatures on one day - on Friday afternoon - with 52 degrees Celsius on the track. Monza will be another one because of the straights there; Spa going through Eau Rouge because it puts around 1,000 kilos of load on the tyres; and then, of course, the street circuits as I explained before because we will only learn what they are like when we get there. But we have got through the Istanbul weekend and we've done Sepang and that means that we are a good way down the road!”