The stage is set for a variety of complex strategy permutations and intra-team rivalries in the 2016 season-opening Formula 1® Rolex Australian Grand Prix following Pirelli’s publication of the teams’ official tyre selections for the race weekend.
New rules this year have ushered in more choice with some teams taking advantage and giving their drivers a chance to exploit ‘split’ differing selections.
In the most notable example, constructors’ world champions Mercedes’ have given three-time drivers’ world champion, Lewis Hamilton, just one set of medium tyres and six sets of soft and super-soft tyres -- while team-mate and main rival Nico Rosberg has two, five and six sets respectively.
Although the differing choices suggest the drivers may have chosen to go in different directions, a spokesman said the split strategy had been a team decision. “We’re just covering all our bases, in terms of our Friday programme, to evaluate the available compounds,” he said.
The Sauber and Haas teams have also chosen selections that permit the drivers’ to have differing supplies of tyres, but the other eight outfits have been uniform in their choice.
The changes follow a revision of the regulations for tyres as supplied by Pirelli.
A total of 13 sets of dry-weather tyres are now available for the race weekend and the drivers have three different compounds to choose from -- in previous years it was only two.
This, in turn, means there is more scope for differing selections across all 11 teams and within each team.
Pirelli’s announcement revealed that the Williams, Red Bull, Renault, Toro Rosso, McLaren and Haas teams have all chosen to take seven sets of the super-soft while Mercedes and Ferrari have taken only six.
This guarantees that there will be very different strategies used by the teams.
The Manor Racing team, this year powered by Mercedes, made the most ‘different’ choice in picking to go with four sets of mediums – two more than any other team -- four sets of soft and five of super-soft.
Under the new regulations, three – instead of two – of Pirelli’s five compounds of dry-weather tyres are available, but there are restrictions.
One of the compounds – the softest -- can only be used in the Q3 part of qualifying while one of the other two must be chosen and used for the race.