Strategy appears unusually open for this Grand Prix, with a much greater likelihood than normal that it will be a two-stop. And Mercedes, in particular, are going into the race with much less tyre data than normal, as they spent much all of Friday concentrating on learning what turned out to be the rather unpopular 2021 tyres, the debate over which you can read about here.
McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl said on Saturday evening: “It will be an interesting race, with many challenges, with two stops or more.”
The likely strategy is to use two sets of mediums and one set of hard compound tyres over the race in whatever order. Some might be tempted to do a one-stop, but those who tried that last year fell away, and the tyre selection is one grade softer this year.
The soft is likely to be eschewed by most, as it has very high degradation and would last only something like 10 laps at the start of the race. It might be tempting, though, for anyone who needs to try to make up track position with a burst of speed, or after a late safety car period.
A pit stop costs about 23 seconds in racing conditions. The official weather forecast has a 40% chance of rain, but the teams think it is highly likely to be dry.