Formula One’s tyre supplier Pirelli revealed that it expects a one-stop strategy if the track will be dry in the race, but the key for that strategy is a very good management of the ultrasoft compound in the opening stint of the race.
Mixed conditions dominated yesterday’s qualifying day after scorching weather during Friday practice sessions. In FP3, drivers hardly made any appearance on the very wet circuit to save their cars and wet-weather tyres. For the qualifying session, the weather made a significant improvement, and the track was dry enough for the slick tyres right from the beginning of Q1.
The softest compound, the ultrasoft was the favourite choice for drivers in qualifying. Based on the higher degradation of the ultrasoft compound on Friday, Max Verstappen tried to qualify on the soft compound, but his speed was not enough to do that even before the red flag came out because of Marcus Ericsson’s trip through the gravel trap. It means every driver who made it through into Q3 will start today’s race on the ultrasoft compound.
It is worth noting that Sebastian Vettel pole time of 1:11.212 was more than three seconds faster than the 2016 best time, but it is not that surprising given that drivers used narrower tyres back then.
Pirelli’s F1 boss Mario Isola said that teams might chase the one-stop strategy, but that will heavily depend on how they can manage the ultrasoft tyres in the first race stint.
“All the drivers embarked on today’s qualifying session without the benefit of the representative data that is usually collected in FP3 on Saturday morning, due to the very wet conditions. Even though qualifying took place on drying asphalt, the top cars were still immediately on a pace that was faster than Friday’s FP2 session, thanks also to asphalt temperatures that were more than 20 degrees cooler than yesterday. The Purple ultrasoft tyres worked perfectly, resulting in a pole position time that was more than three seconds faster than the last pole at Hockenheim set two years ago.
“Strategy tomorrow will depend somewhat on the degradation of the ultrasoft in the specific weather conditions for the race, but it should be a one-stopper for everyone. In any case, all three compounds look to be viable options for the grand prix,” concluded the Italian.
Some interesting data provided by Pirelli: