Mercedes chief strategist James Vowles is certain Pirelli’s 2018 tyre compounds will open up Formula 1 races and create more overtaking opportunities despite not seeing the new cars in action yet.

Pirelli has introduced two new tyres for the new F1 season with the addition of the Superhard and Hypersoft to its current options while all the dry tyre compound constructions have been altered to make degradation more extreme.

The changes have been installed to encourage more pit stops and faster racing, after the majority of 2017 F1 races passing with each car needing just one stop, while the performance difference dictated by tyre life is predicted to increase overtaking this season.

Having only seen the finalised 2018 tyres in action at last November’s post-season Abu Dhabi tyre test, Mercedes strategy boss Vowles is confident Pirelli’s new tyres will ensure most races are completed with two pit stops with cars around a second per lap faster compared to last year.

Vowles is also reporting the new tyres will encourage overtaking in F1 this year thanks to more intense degradation scales.

“These tyres are softer, which means more degradation, more lap time drop and more stops required,” Vowles said. “But, also, last year when you caught another competitor, they wouldn't have a huge amount of lap time drop from the tyres.

“So, in the areas where you need to overtake - the braking zones and traction - there wasn't a big enough differentiator. In 2018 we will have more differentiators and it will generate more overtakes. We don't know how much at this point in time.

“My personal opinion is we will see more pit stops, a little bit more overtaking than last year and cars dropping a lot of performance trying to hang onto a tyre.”

Vowles is eager to assess his predictions at the F1 pre-season tests at Circuit de Catalunya to gauge the performance variation of Pirelli’s new rubber at the Spanish track in colder conditions compared to the Abu Dhabi test.

Speaking to Crash.net last month, Pirelli chief Mario Isola explained its 2017 tyres were made conservatively in order to provide a smooth debut of the F1 technical regulations overhaul and confirmed this year's tyres will have a quicker performance life drop off.

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