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Spanish GP: Qualifying team notes - Pirelli

NEWS STORY
15/08/2020

All the drivers used the soft tyre to get through Q2, meaning that the top 10 is guaranteed to start on this compound tomorrow, almost certainly leading to a two-stop strategy for most.

Track temperatures peaked at nearly 50 degrees today and similarly warm conditions are expected tomorrow, making thermal degradation a factor.

Sebastian Vettel qualified P11 and as such will be the first driver to have a free choice of tyres tomorrow: he may choose to do something different.

With two or more stops expected, there's a wide variety of potential strategies. All the stints are interchangeable: so those outside the top 10 could start on a tyre that's not the soft and vary the order in which they use the tyres, depending on how the race pans out.

A one-stop race is going to be marginal on wear, whichever combination of tyres is used, so the best way is definitely a two-stopper for the 66-lap grand prix. The fastest way on paper is two 19-lap stints on the soft compound plus a 28-lap run on the mediums, probably using the medium for the second stint (so soft-medium-soft).

The second-fastest approach would be a three-stopper: three stints on soft of 15 laps each plus 21 laps on the medium - again probably running the medium for the second of those stints (soft-medium-soft-soft). There is always a risk in making several pit stops, so some teams may want to avoid this.

Finally, the third-fastest way at the moment is another two-stopper, and this will come into its own if temperatures are higher or degradation on the soft is a bit more than expected. That is starting on the soft for 16 laps and then doing two 25-lap stints on the medium (soft-medium-medium).

All these strategies are just theoretical of course, as they naturally depend on the individual circumstances of the race and each car - as well as the tyre sets that each driver has available to them.

Mario Isola: "All the drivers concentrated on the soft in qualifying, which was a slight surprise, perhaps because of the established performance gap to the medium and the pace of the frontrunners. This means that we can almost certainly expect two stops during the race tomorrow, and we're unlikely to see much use of the hard, as there's a big gap to the medium too. Key to tomorrow's race in these very warm conditions will be managing wear and degradation on the soft. There's plenty of scope for those starting lower down the grid to try something a bit different, so hopefully we'll see another interesting race tomorrow with lots of variations in strategy."

Check out our Saturday gallery from Barcelona, here.

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