Pirelli expects a one-stop strategy for today

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Formula One’s sole tyre supplier Pirelli expects a one-stop strategy to turn out to be the fastest approach to the season-opening Austrian Grand Prix around the Red Bull Ring.

For the season-opener at Spielberg, Pirelli brought the trio of C2, C3 and C4 compounds that build the middle section of its 5-compound range. The stress on the tyres around the Red Bull Ring is deemed to be moderate, but high track temperatures can increase the strain on the tyres.

The fastest strategy for the 71-lap Austrian Grand Prix is a one-stopper. The quickest way is to start on the P Zero red soft tyre for 24 to 28 laps, before switching to the P Zero White hard until the flag. Alternatively, start on the P Zero Yellow medium tyre for 27 to 32 laps, before finishing the race on hard. The tyre manufacturer indicated that these two strategies have more or less identical total race time.
The second-quickest strategy is to start on the soft for 30 to 34 laps, then go on medium to the end.

Pirelli indicated that a two-stop strategy is the slower option, but it is still possible considering that ambient and track temperatures could be higher than seen at any point during the weekend. Should someone opt for a two-stopper, then the way to execute that would be like this: stints on the soft tyre of 16 to 18 laps each, then finish the race on either the medium or the hard compound.

While Charles Leclerc set a time of 1m03.003 in last year’s qualifying session for the Austrian Grand Prix to secure the pole position, Valtteri Bottas usurped the all-time track record around the Red Bull Ring yesterday on his way to the pole position. Pirelli’s motorsport boss Mario Isola stressed that the lap time improvement is down to the evolution of cars as the Pirelli-based tyre manufacturer brought the very same tyres for this year as last season.

“Bottas’s pole position time set the all-time track record at the Red Bull Ring today, underlining that the cars have evolved while this year’s P Zero tyre range stays the same as 2019.”

Max Verstappen was the only driver to secure a place for the last qualifying segment on the C3 compound that is the medium one this weekend. Isola indicated that it could pay dividends in the race for the Dutchman assuming that he can extend his opening stint compared to his rivals Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton.

„The most interesting strategic moment from qualifying was Verstappen’s decision to start the race on the medium tyre, which should allow him to plan a more flexible strategy – with potentially a longer first stint than his rivals. This could be crucial to the race outcome.”

Apart from Verstappen’s attempt in Q2, every driver used the soft compound over the course of the qualifying session as gaps were extremely tight across the whole field.

„As expected with a short lap and tightly-matched field, we saw mostly the soft tyre used from start to finish of qualifying. Each team needed to be sure to get the most out of their cars, given how close the margins were. But in the race tomorrow, all three compounds should have an important role to play,” Isola concluded.