Mercedes technical executive director Paddy Lowe says due to the heavy duty stress placed on tyres by the Shanghai International Circuit and the first-time use of the super-softs in China teams may be forced to pit within the first five laps.
Due to the new tyre regulations for 2016 teams and drivers have been given more freedom on tyre selection and with the red-banded super-softs set to be run in Q3 for qualifying the cars at the front may go into the race on tyres with an incredibly short life expectancy.
With the extreme workload placed on tyres due to the circuit layout and predicted weather conditions, Lowe believes cars starting on super-softs may have to pit very early in the race which is set to further complicate the already diverse race strategies seen in Australia and Bahrain.
“The Shanghai circuit places an entirely different duty on tyres relative to Melbourne and Bahrain,” Lowe explained. “However, we have the same three compounds available, so it will be interesting to see how the competitive order plays out.
“It's the first time we'll see the super-soft compound used at this track, thanks to the new regulations, and that will likely create a more extreme example of what we saw in Bahrain, where the best qualifying tyre is unlikely to be a great race tyre.
“Every team is bound to want to qualify on the super-soft - but if it grains in the race, we could see cars stopping in the first five laps.”
As a result of this prediction, Lowe says Mercedes is set to complete simulation runs on Friday on each compound with emphasis on the super-soft tyre life to make a decision for qualifying and race strategy.
“What makes this all the more difficult for the teams is the unpredictability of the conditions,” he added. “It can be quite warm in Shanghai - but it can also be as cool as Belgium. That variability can make life tricky in terms of both setup and strategy work, so it's always a challenging weekend.”
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