Pirelli’s verdict on Friday’s running

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Teams and drivers were welcomed by cooler temperatures than those they experienced at the end of last year, but tyres performed quite consistently according to the Milan-based tyre supplier.

Formula One returned to the legendary Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari at Imola which hosts the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, the second round of the 2021 FIA Formula One World Championship. The opening day saw Mercedes drivers dictate the pace around the 4.909km race course, showing significant improvements thanks to their aerodynamic updates.

Conditions were slightly cooler than last year but similar from FP1 to FP2, with air temperatures around 15 degrees centigrade and track temperature that peaked at 25 degrees.

According to Pirelli’s initial analysis it looks like the P Zero White hard is around 0.5 seconds per lap slower than the P Zero Yellow medium, while the P Zero Red soft tyre is about 0.7 seconds per lap faster than the medium.

The performance gaps between all three compounds are different to initial estimates. The gap between hard and medium is smaller than expected because the hard, although requiring a longer warm-up time, is then able to work well and provide a good level of grip. Between the soft and the medium the gap is instead bigger – because we were expecting lower track temperatures and general graining on the C4: not only on the long runs.

On the Hard C2 compound, it was George Russell who completed the most laps with the same set, racking up a total of 21 laps. Carlos Sainz notched up the same number of laps on a single set of Soft C4 compound while Lewis Hamilton, Esteban Ocon, Sergio Perez and Sebastian Vettel completed the highest mileage on the same set of C3 Medium set by recording 20 laps.

Drivers used a total of 20 sets of Hard, 22 sets of Medium and 37 sets of Soft compound, equivalent to 1217kms, 1379kms and 1875kms respectively.

The minimum starting pressure for the front tyres is 21.0psi and 19.0psi for the rears.

Pirelli's Head of F1 and Car Racing, Mario Isola said that the cooler temperatures have made it difficult for drivers to get the tyres into their optimal operating window.

“The conditions we had at Imola today were actually a little bit cooler than those we experienced six months ago in November. The tyres themselves performed well overall. We saw some graining during long runs on the soft C4 compound throughout both sessions. Imola is a medium severity track that doesn’t put a lot of energy through the tyres, so in low track temperatures it’s difficult to warm them up: especially the medium and hard compounds.

“By the afternoon, the track was already in quite good condition, despite there being very few support races. The gap between the compounds is lower than expected between hard and medium and higher than expected between medium and soft, although the difference can vary from team to team. This will naturally influence strategies," he said.