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Austrian GP: Qualifying team notes - Pirelli

NEWS STORY
03/07/2021

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen is on pole position for the third consecutive time and the second race on the trot at the Red Bull Ring. Verstappen set the fastest lap of the weekend so far on his pole lap using the P Zero Red soft C5, which is one step softer than the red tyre nominated last weekend.

Verstappen, along with five other drivers, used the P Zero Yellow medium tyre to set his fastest lap in Q2, which means that he will start the race on this tyre tomorrow. In total, six of the top 10 qualifiers will begin the grand prix on the medium tyre: both Red Bulls, both Mercedes, McLaren driver Lando Norris and Williams driver George Russell.

Temperatures were extremely warm at the beginning of qualifying, with 30 degrees centigrade ambient and a 51-degree peak of track temperature. However, conditions are expected to be cooler and more unsettled tomorrow, with a risk of rain as well.

Following FP1 and FP2, most drivers had another run in FP3 this morning on the unmarked prototype tyres, with a different rear structure, to assess their performance in today's conditions. In total more than 470 laps have been run on the prototype tyres, so around 23 laps per driver.

Possible Strategies

Even with a softer tyre nomination in comparison to last weekend, the fastest strategy for the 71-lap Austrian Grand Prix (the same distance as the Styrian race a week ago) should still be a one-stopper.

The frontrunners opted for the Yellow medium tyre to get through Q2 and start the race, which means that the medium followed by the White hard is probably the strategy that they will target - likely to be echoed by many of the other drivers starting on the same compound.

Otherwise, a two-stopper, with two stints on the soft plus a medium or hard stint (which could be the middle stint) or using all the three compounds is a good option: this could provide an interesting 'sprint' alternative.

Ultimately, a lot of the strategy will be influenced by track temperature - and the weather around the Red Bull Ring remains quite unpredictable after some showers during the weekend.

Mario Isola: "The new and softer selection of compounds for this race has already had an effect on the strategy for this weekend, with several drivers aiming to get through Q2 on the medium tyre and six of the top 10 starting on it tomorrow. This adds a bit of flexibility to the strategy, but it wasn't easy to guarantee in qualifying, as the soft tyre still conferred a speed advantage that was hard to beat. Temperatures were extremely warm today but this is far from certain for the grand prix tomorrow, adding another interesting variable to what is already a strategically complex race after qualifying, with both one and two stops expected."

Check out our Saturday gallery from Spielberg, here.

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