F1 drivers discuss mandatory two-stop races
F1 drivers shares their thoughts on the topic of mandatory two-stops in an effort to liven up races.
F1 races of late have had one commonality; a rule that most races, bar the second one at Silverstone, and the red-flagged races at Monza and Mugello, have followed. Most are completed on a one-stop strategy.
This hasn't always been the case. In the early 2010s, three sets of tyres were regularly used, and prior to this, refueling often dictated that pit stops be frequent, and in many cases, tyre changes were performed as part of these stops.
In 2020, however, without reactive tyre compounds to ensure that teams have to use more complex strategies, a one-stop strategy is the norm, albeit an undesired one for the FIA and F1. For you see, the more pit stops you have, the more room there is for vast strategic variation, which is a sure way to inject life into a boring Grand Prix.
Among media and grid members, there are those that support the idea. Such proponents include Lewis Hamilton, who labelled the idea a 'neat' one, and his teammate at Mercedes, Valtteri Bottas, who said he saw no negatives. There are, however, drivers who oppose the idea, most notably among these the Red Bull F1 drivers.
Here's what some of the grid's drivers had to say about the proposal:
Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes): "I don’t have the facts so I don’t think it would be worse than what we have which is just using two compounds and doing one stop which for me is generally less exciting than doing two. But I think that could be kind of neat and kind of cool. Then you get people dividing them up differently through the stints so I definitely think it would make it more exciting because in general you see those races, like at Spa, for example, if Max had stopped it would have been more exciting to see him come out on a fresh set of tyres to see if he could have caught up but we are not forced to do those things so we can back off and bring the car home which is not so exciting."
Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes): "I can’t really see any negatives if everyone has to do two stops. What I think personally is it is always nice when there is a race that is mixed. Like some people can’t do one stop, have to do two stop and that mixes up the race, but normally when everyone does one stop for the viewers especially I am sure it is more predictable and less exciting. Around the pitstops is when we try to make the difference so it would be welcomed by me."
Max Verstappen (Red Bull): "It means at least a two-stop. But sometimes you don't want to be on the softest or the hardest compound. I think Alex had a good experience with that in Barcelona, you don't want to be in the hottest compound? If the tyres would be a bit closer together in terms of degradation, then maybe yes, but I think, no, you shouldn't enforce something like that. I don't think using all three F1 components is good. Sometimes you go to like Silverstone, you don't want to be running on the softest compound. And then you go to Barcelona, you don't want to be running on the hardest compound. So no, I don't see that happening."
Alexander Albon (Red Bull): "I would say when you start doing that, you just add more let's say fake things to make it a bit more interesting. There might be some races where we would end up trying to do as little laps as we could on a set of tyres. Like say on the hard do one lap and box again and then go mediums, just because maybe some tyres don't work compared to others. I think what we have is pretty good. I wouldn't want to change too much more."
Sergio Perez (Racing Point): "I think it will make things very unpredictable. Going through a race with three different compounds you can get one of them wrong with the set-up and have some issues. So I think for the spectators the worst thing you can have is to have a one-stop race without much interaction. It's a very thin line, that you don't want to disturb too much the race, but at the same time doing a one-stop race tends to be pretty difficult, a lot of management that's required to make sure you complete that strategy. So I think if we change it a bit we can try and see how it goes."
Lance Stroll (Racing Point): "I don't think these one-stop races are very exciting. So I think we need to start introducing maybe multiple compounds. We need to mix it up. We can't keep having these one-stop strategies that are so predictable. And then as soon as there's a safety car like there was in Spa, everyone pits and then goes to the end on that tyre, it's just not very exciting for the fans."
Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo): "It could make some races more interesting, some F1 races maybe it doesn’t make an awful lot of difference. Obviously the more pitstops you put in the races, it’s going to have more chances to do different things than maybe the guy in front of you or behind you, so it could help, but I don’t know. In the big picture, if you take the whole season, it wouldn’t make a big difference. I think the end results end of the season, it’s probably not going to make an awful lot of difference."
Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo): "Some F1 races maybe can be OK but in the end I think it will not change much. In the end the overtake will be in the pits, so I think same things would transpire in the end I would say."
Pierre Gasly (Alpha Tauri): "Why not? I think it could be quite interesting. Obviously now I think we're really trying to make things mandatory to improve the racing. Obviously I guess the main focus should be on the F1 cars, and just find a way to make the performance of all the cars closer, you know. I think if you look at the midfield the battles we are having from Renault, McLaren, Racing Point, AlphaTauri, I think is great and I'm really enjoying and the pace of the cars, we are all within three tenths, I would say. You can really fight there, so no, I think that will be the main focus. The strategy thing could be something to try I think for for races. Yeah, could be interesting."
Daniil Kvyat (Alpha Tauri): "I think it could be something interesting. I guess it will be studied quite well before going in regulations and if it's the case... I never thought about. If you ask me now and I give you straightaway answer I think it could be a good idea. Then it's always has to be tried, no? And then we will see, of course. I don't know, maybe refueling also could be interesting idea, I don't know. But to make a variety for strategies, you know, if we really want to spice things up... But again, it needs to be studying. If you just think about it in one second it's hard to give a straight answer."
[This story was written by me for FormulaRapida and edited by Darshan Chokhani]