F1 teams will have a choice of medium and soft compound tyres when they arrive at the Buddh International Circuit
for this weekend's Indian Grand Prix, tyre manufacturer Pirelli announced on Tuesday.
“We've decided to go for the P Zero White medium and P Zero Yellow soft tyres in India this year, which we think will be the best combination for the Buddh circuit and lead to closer racing," said the company's director of motorsport, Paul Hembery.
The last time that teams had medium/soft tyres on hand was in July in Budapest for the Hungarian Grand Prix
and reflects a change to the previous practice of selecting the harder P Zero Orange as the prime tyre for the event.
"For the last two years running we've actually gone for the hard and soft compounds, which might have been slightly on the conservative side, so this year we've gone for a softer and slightly more aggressive choice," agreed Hembery.
"As a result, just like the last race in Japan, we're not expecting to see a particularly big variation in lap times between the two compounds," he pointed out. "The strategy made a very big difference in Japan and this should be the same in India.
"We only had one pit stop per car in India last year, but this year we would expect two – which also provides the drivers and teams with more opportunities to make up places," he continued.
"With varying elevations and a wide variety of corners India provides the tyres with quite a test, as there are forces coming from all directions, so tyre management will once again prove to be important," Hembery added. "As usual, it should be very warm in India, which increases thermal degradation as well.
"This looks set to be a decisive race for the championship so we hope that our tyre choice will help to make it a memorable contest with high-quality racing."
The pit lane in India is one of the longest on the current calendar at around 600 metres, which makes for a long time spent on each pit stop and explains why all the finishers in 2012 went for a single-stop strategy at around lap 30. Most drivers started on the softer compound before switching to the prime at the midway point, although some of those further down on the grid tried to gain advantage with a counter strategy.
The track surface in India has not proved particularly abrasive to date, although with Buddh being such a young track - it only staged its first Grand Prix two years ago - the asphalt is still evolving and in general gets rougher over time as the bitumen on the surface gets worn away and leaves the stones that make up the asphalt exposed which increases abrasion and has a knock-on impact on tyre wear.