Formula One’s tyre supplier Pirelli expects teams to focus on executing a one-stop strategy at today’s 63-lap Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, although the possible rain showers could change the entire picture of the race.
The fourth round of the 2022 F1 championship saw the sprint weekend format make its first appearance this year. This special schedule meant that qualifying was held on Friday after a single practice session with a second practice taking place on Saturday afternoon. The Sprint race then defined the starting order for today’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
Reigning world champion Max Verstappen converted his pole position into sprint victory on P Zero Red soft tyres, having overtaken Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc, who got past him at the start, with three laps to go.
Pirelli nominated the C2, C3 and C4 tyres for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix as P Zero White hard, P Zero Yellow medium and P Zero Red soft respectively. This is the same nomination as was made for Imola last year, although the compounds are of course different with the latest generation of 18-inch tyres.
Although there is limited information available, the gap between the soft and medium compounds seems to be around 0.4 seconds, with the difference between medium and P Zero White hard estimated at approximately one second.
If it stays dry today, Pirelli thinks that team should be looking at a one-stopper as it’s not especially easy to overtake at Imola and there’s a big time loss of 28 seconds, which is the longest of the season. So prioritising track position is likely to be the main consideration. The most versatile way is to start on the medium. This leaves the most options open as there’s a wide pit stop window on this tyre, giving the possibility to then switch to the hard tyre at the right moment.
The Milan-based manufacturer thinks that it is also possible to start the race on the soft compound and then switch to the hard, but it is less flexible should a virtual of normal safety car period deployed which has a high chance within the tight confines of the Imola race circuit. Pirelli’s Motorsport Director Mario Isola commented: “Free practice today was the first session throughout the whole weekend so far when we saw some running on the slicks, with everyone concentrating on the medium and soft.
„The soft tyre actually performed better than many people expected, and this is why it was selected by the majority of drivers for the sprint. That came as something of a surprised: personally, I would have expected more drivers to gravitate towards the ‘classic’ choice of a medium for the sprint race.
„There was a bit of graining observed on the soft but no more than would have been ordinarily expected under these circumstances, with a ‘green’ track after yesterday’s rain and reasonably cool weather. So I think we can see now that there are a few interesting strategy options on the table tomorrow for the grand prix, assuming of course that it stays dry – which is not guaranteed,” he concluded.