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Australian Grand Prix strategy guide

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MELBOURNE, Australia -- In theory, the quickest strategy for the 58-lap Australian Grand Prix is a two stopper: two stints on the soft tyre of 21 laps each, followed by a shorter 16-lap final stint on the medium. In practice, the teams are more likely to adopt a one-stopper, which is extremely close in terms of overall pace and carries less risk, especially as Albert Park is not so easy to overtake on.

The optimal one-stop strategy (from the information we have so far) is to start on the soft tyre for 27 laps, then run 31 laps on the medium tyre to the end. Very close to that is an alternative one stopper: start on the soft tyre for 24 laps, then go for 34 laps on the hard to the flag.

However, you may see some drivers outside the top ten start on the medium tyre, which will suffer less degradation than the softs. As early as lap four or five the degradation on the softs is likely to see the medium tyre become the faster option, so if a driver can gain or hold position early on, they should be able to take advantage of better tyre performance around the pit stops. The likely pit window for a driver starting on the mediums is lap 30 to 40 and they will then benefit from running the faster soft tyre on lower fuel, which should help ward off degradation.

Last year the Virtual Safety Car played a big part in the result as Sebastian Vettel took advantage of the slower pace to reduce the time lost in the pit lane. A standard pit stop will cost a driver 23 seconds compared to his rivals at normal racing speed, but under the VSC the loss is only eight seconds. With a 64 percent chance of a Safety Car or VSC at some point of the race (based on historic averages), reacting quickly to the action on track will be key to making progress through the field on Sunday.