BAKU, Azerbaijan -- Without a Safety Car, the Azerbaijan Grand Prix has the potential to be a dull affair as tyre strategy looks set to boil down to a simple one-stop. But as pole position winner Valtteri Bottas pointed out after qualifying, all bets are off when it comes to racing on the streets of Baku.
"Starting from pole, in some races it might feel like 50 percent of the job is done, but here it's nowhere near 50 per cent. Anything can happen here," he said.
Assuming the race runs without too many hitches, a one-stop strategy is the clear choice over 51 laps. Two options are closely matched: either going from soft to medium or medium to soft, with pit stops coming around lap 25 or lap 26.
However, low levels of degradation means there's a very wide pit stop window: effectively from lap 15 onwards, so those numbers can be considered only as a guide. As we've already seen this weekend in Formula 2, strategy can be heavily influenced by Safety Cars, but on paper a two-stopper is slower.
The danger of a Safety Car in Baku is that it breeds more Safety Cars. Almost all teams have struggled to build tyre temperature this weekend and at the low speeds experienced behind a Safety Car, those temperatures will drop through the floor. That could leave drivers without the grip they want when the racing gets back underway.