Sainz sets new track record – Pirelli’s race report

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Pirelli's tyree compounds brought to the Styrian Grand Prix passed the exam perfectly during the inaugural Styrian Grand Prix, showing very good durability at the Red Bull Ring.

When the field returned to action for the Red Bull Ring for the second consecutive weekend, Pirelli supplied teams with the same trio of compounds that were seen during the season-opener. The C2, C3 and C4 compounds enabled good flexibility and durability for the drivers in the 71-lap race on Sunday.

Following torrential rain during Saturday's qualifying session, the Styrian sunshine returned to the Red Bull Ring, albeit the temperatures were lower than on Friday or at last weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix. Of the 17 drivers who completed the entire race distance, 16 racers opted for one-stop strategy with only Pierre Gasly going for two stops.

Although Carlos Sainz and Max Verstappen visited the pit lane twice, their very late tyre change was purely for achieving the fastest race lap. In the end, it was the Spaniard who set the best race lap with a lap time of 1m05.619 and grabbed the additional championship point for that on the red-walled soft Pirelli tyres. Sainz’s achievement has become the fastest ever race lap around the Red Bull Ring, beating the track record that was previously held by Kimi Räikkönen.

Interestingly, the Dutchman failed to have the upper hand over Sainz with his faster Red Bull RB16, although both of them were on the same C4 soft compound. However, Verstappen suffered front wing damages that significantly affected the aerodynamic behaviour of his car.

Assessing the tyre performance during the race, Pirelli’s head of racing Mario Isola said that the strategies chosen by the majority of drivers were in line with the expectations and recommendation of the Milan-based company.

“We had dry conditions for the first time since Friday, although as expected the ambient and track temperatures were lower than those seen during the race last week, making it a comfortable one-stopper even with the two softer compounds. Although there was a free choice of tyres for all drivers at the start this week due to the wet qualifying, the majority still chose to start on the soft, confirming the consistent performance shown by this compound here last weekend.

Although some drivers opted for a late tyre change, that was mainly because they pursued the one-point gain for the fastest race lap. „Some drivers stopped twice today to go for the extra point for fastest lap, which was claimed by Carlos Sainz setting a new track record: an indication of the progress that these cars make not only from year to year, but also week to week. We’re satisfied with the performance of all the tyres throughout both Austrian race weekends, during which we saw a huge variety of conditions that ranged from torrential rain to track temperatures in excess of 50 degrees," added Isola.

Underlining the durability of the tyres, Lando Norris covered 54 per cent of the race distance on the same soft C4 compound while Verstappen, Hamilton and Räikkönen notched up 44 laps on the same medium C3 compound that equalled to 62 per cent of the 306km race distance.