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Styria GP: Qualifying team notes - Pirelli

NEWS STORY
26/06/2021

Red Bull's Max Verstappen, who went quickest in both free practice sessions yesterday, was fastest again in qualifying: one week after claiming pole in France. Verstappen was the only driver to get into the 1m03s window, on his first Q3 attempt with the P Zero Red soft C4.

At the beginning of the Q2 session, both Mercedes drivers, as well as Verstappen and Alfa Romeo's Antonio Giovinazzi went out on the Yellow medium tyre. Verstappen and the Mercedes drivers set their best times on the medium and will start on this compound tomorrow.

Although the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas qualified runner-up, he has a three-place grid penalty: promoting his team mate Lewis Hamilton to second, McLaren's Lando Norris to third and Red Bull's Sergio Perez to fourth.

Despite predictions of uncertain weather, conditions were warm and dry today with 31 degrees ambient and a track temperature peak of 52 degrees in Q2.

Possible Race Strategies

The 71-lap Styrian Grand Prix has a high lap count owing to the short length of the circuit, but it should still be a one-stopper: especially with this weekend's tyre selection of C2, C3, and C4.

The most favoured one-stop strategy for the bulk of the top 10 is likely to be P Zero Red soft to P Zero White hard. Otherwise, P Zero Yellow medium to hard is set to be what Red Bull's Max Verstappen and the two Mercedes drivers opt for: which is also a possibility for other drivers outside the top 10 on the grid. Soft to medium (or vice versa) is feasible too, but more difficult to achieve without careful tyre management.

As usual, there's also the possibility to do the opposite - beginning on the harder compound before switching to a softer one. This makes sense for those starting close to the back and hoping to run a longer first stint to gain track position. There are a few good overtaking opportunities over the course of the lap (also considering the three DRS zones) so track position isn't quite as essential at the Red Bull Ring as it is at some over circuits.

Naturally, all of this depends on the weather - with the forecast still looking variable. Track temperatures though will certainly influence the tyre life - especially on the soft - and therefore the strategy.

Mario Isola: "In qualifying, we experienced the warmest temperatures of the weekend so far, but some very close margins as well as some variations in strategy, which means that the top two and Bottas will start on the medium tyre, with the rest of the top 10 on the soft. This will make for a lively start tomorrow, and it will be also interesting to see if Red Bull is able to take advantage of a split strategy with their two cars. There are forecasts of storms for tomorrow, which could have a decisive impact on the action. Otherwise, we're expecting a one-stop race, with a few different potential ways to approach it".

Check out our Saturday gallery from Spielberg, here.

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