Formula One's Milan-based tyre supplier Pirelli expects the one-stop strategy to be chosen by the majority of the drivers at today's British Grand Prix despite heavy graining on the yellow-banded medium compound in yesterday's inaugural sprint qualifying .
The F1 Sprint made its debut yesterday, producing some brilliant overtaking manoeuvres and battles with the field's two Spanish drivers Fernando Alonso and Carlos Sainz getting involved in a series of fierce fights during the 17-lap competition. Starting the sprint 'race' on a new set of softs, the two-time world champion jumped to P5 at the start, making up six places. With his car not matching the speed of the likes of McLaren or Aston Martin, Alonso was unable to maintain that position, but he still ended up seventh, improving his starting position by four places.
At the front, Verstappen made the jump on Lewis Hamilton at the start and won the very first sprint qualifying race in Formula 1 history, using medium C2 tyres from start to finish. As a result, he claims pole for the British Grand Prix today and scores an extra three championship points.
Looking at the tyre selections in yesterday's F1 Sprint, nearly all the drivers used the medium tyre throughout the 17-lap race, run over half an hour with no pit stops. Only four drivers selected the soft: Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes), Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo) and both Alpine drivers.
Ambient temperatures were 28 degrees centigrade at the start of the race with track temperatures of 46 degrees.
FIA has also made a tweak to the sporting regulation for this special weekend that features a new format. While drivers are obliged to start on the tyres with which they set their fastest Q2 in traditional weekends, that is not the case this time with the field enjoying an entirely free choice, which means that all the drivers can simply follow the theoretically quickest strategy.
Pirelli estimates that the one-stop strategy is definitely the better one for today's 52-lap British Grand Prix: starting on the P Zero Yellow medium C2 tyres and then moving onto the P Zero White hard C1 until the end. An alternative strategy is to start on the P Zero Red soft and then switch to the hard earlier – but starting on the medium offers more flexibility in terms of pit stop timing and requires less tyre management. With more freedom in the tyre choice, the opposite could come into play too: starting on a harder tyre before switching to a softer compound.
Although a two-stop is definitely slower, the best way for those who opt for two pit visits today is to use two sets of soft C3s and one set of C2 mediums.
Commenting on yesterday's inaugural F1 Sprint, Pirelli's Head of F1 and Car Racing Mario Isola said: “Today was a chance to try something different with the first sprint qualifying, and although it was a short race, we already saw some different tactics on the grid with four drivers going against the trend and selecting the soft tyre – including Bottas who started and finished third.
"Keeping the soft tyre alive in a race where the drivers pushed at maximum from start to finish in warm conditions was clearly a challenge, but Fernando Alonso made up six places from his start position initially on the softs, before eventually finishing with a four-place gain. The medium C2 coped well with the rapid corners and heavy loads of Silverstone, which is why we expect it to be the most popular choice to start the race tomorrow. Temperatures are forecasted to be even higher for the grand prix, so tyre management will be a factor, as we also saw today during sprint qualifying where there was some blistering as the teams pushed to the limit," the Italian concluded.