Pirelli expecting 2-3 stops per car in Melbourne

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After taking criticism for its tire degradation woes last season, Pirelli is hopeful that their new 2014 tires will be up to the many challenges that will come with the new regulation changes.

Formula One’s tire maker has chosen their medium (white) and soft (yellow) compounds for this weekend’s season-opening Australian Grand Prix, and Pirelli motorsports director Paul Hembery (pictured) has now said he does not expect to see more than two to three stops per car during the event in Melbourne.

“Pre-season testing has shown just what a big challenge these new rules are for everybody, but we have worked very hard throughout last year and the winter to come up with an entirely fresh range of tires specifically designed for these latest-generation cars – featuring new compounds and constructions that actually cut down on degradation while maintaining the same level of performance,” he said in a release.

“As a result, we’re still expecting between two to three pit stops per car in Melbourne, although we’ll be able to make some more exact predictions after we see the cars run in free practice. The first race of the season is always unpredictable but this will be the case more than ever in 2014.”

Last year, Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen utilized a two-stop strategy to win Down Under for Lotus.

With new regulations allowing teams to work with Pirelli on an official basis this season, the tire maker has released an in-season test schedule. Each F1 squad will use one day from each test to help Pirelli continue development on the 2014 compounds.

The Aussie GP weekend officially begins with Thursday night’s opening practice at 9:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra. Coverage starts at 9 p.m. ET on NBCSN with the Countdown to F1 season preview show.

A full weekend schedule can be found here.

F1 Paddock Pass: United States Grand Prix post-race (VIDEO)

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As Lewis Hamilton took another step towards his fourth Formula 1 World Championship Sunday at the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas, plenty of other topics of discussion emerged in the wake of Round 17 of the season from Austin.

Hamilton’s win came as his Mercedes AMG Petronas team claimed its fourth consecutive Constructor’s Championship, Scuderia Ferrari came up short once again despite a valiant effort in second and third, and Max Verstappen’s penalty after the race was the major talking point.

Elsewhere Valtteri Bottas struggled again, the Sahara Force India twins continued to pick up points, Carlos Sainz Jr. made a major positive impact in his first start with Renault, Brendon Hartley impressed on debut at Toro Rosso and Romain Grosjean and Haas F1 Team endured a tough weekend on Haas’ home soil.

Check out all the recap from the latest USGP in the latest post-race edition of the NBC Sports Group original digital series Paddock Pass with NBCSN pit reporter and insider Will Buxton, below.