Despite the high loads through the quick corners and the hot weather conditions, most of the drivers experienced better tyre durability at yesterday’s Tuscan Grand Prix than expected based on the Friday analysis.
The Mugello circuit that hosted the inaugural Tuscan Grand Prix last weekend was expected to test the tyres. The 5.245km track features 15 corners in total that are predominantly fast bends with drivers not using a lower gear than fourth during the lap. To cope with a combination of fast corners and abrasive asphalt, Pirelli brought their hardest compounds to Mugello, with the C1, C2 and C3 on offer. This selection was also to shield against the potential for thermal degradation exacerbated by very hot weather.
The quick nature of the track and the hot weather conditions were believed to propell drivers towards a two-stop strategy with the red-walled soft compound expected to suffer on the track located at Scarperia.
The analysis of tyre performance and durability is quite complicated due to the interruption at two points of the grand prix at Mugello. Seven drivers used the white-walled C1 hard compound during the race with Charles Leclerc covering the longest distance on this compound. The Monegasque experienced excessive tyre wear during his opening stint which forced him into the pits to take new tyres. The two-time race winner completed a total of 16 laps, the highest number of laps on the C1 rubber.
The C2 medium rubber was used by all drivers at some point of the race. Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton covered the longest distance on that compound – he logged in 24 laps during his second stint. The best lap on that compound was registered by Red Bull’s Alexander Albon who posted a time of 1m21.756. The London-born Thai driver achieved this lap time during his third stint that was a later phase of the race compared to the time when the Mercedes drivers used the yellow-walled tyre.
Overwriting the expectiations, the red-walled C3 soft compound was the most-favored compound. While Ferrari suffered from significant degradation on that compound, most of the cars handled well the softest rubber selected for Mugello despite the fast bends and hot weather conditions. Alexander Albon completed the longest stint on that compound with notching up a total of 24 laps. The quickest lap was posted by Lewis Hamilton who set a time of 1m18.833 to clinch the additional point for the fastest lap of the race.
Pirelli’s Head of F1 and car racing Mario Isola said: “The inaugural Mugello Grand Prix is one that people will remember for a very long time, with three starts in total, the same number of safety cars, all the tyres used, and exciting action from start to finish."
Pirelli expected teams to choose between the one-stop and two-stop stratgegies depending on the actual tyre degradation. However, the two red flag periods meant that teams had the chance of swapping the old tyres for new boots which influenced the strategies.
„On a track that was extremely demanding on tyres, run in hot conditions, Mercedes dominated from start to finish, but the strategies were clearly influenced by the extraordinary turn of events. The high number of accidents also left a lot of carbon fibre debris on the track. Managing the re-starts was crucial, as well as taking care of the tyres throughout a very long afternoon. All drivers did a fantastic job under immense pressure, delivering an unpredictably thrilling spectacle in Italy for the second weekend in a row,” he said.