British GP: Sprint team notes - Pirelli


The very first sprint qualifying race in Formula 1 history was won by Red Bull driver Max Verstappen from second on the grid, using medium C2 tyres from start to finish. As a result, he claims pole for the British Grand Prix tomorrow and scores an extra three championship points.

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.

The drivers had a final chance to prepare for sprint qualifying during FP2 at midday. With the cars under parc fermé conditions, the teams concentrated on longer runs in preparation for tomorrow's race. Verstappen went fastest on the medium compound - likely to be the favoured starting tyre for the British Grand Prix tomorrow.

The strategy for the 52-lap British Grand Prix is slightly more straightforward than usual because of the sprint qualifying, which has led to different tyre rules. One of them is that drivers are no longer obliged to start on the tyres with which they set their fastest Q2 Friday qualifying times: instead there is an entirely free choice, which means that all the drivers can simply follow the theoretically quickest strategy.

That's going to be a one-stopper: 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.

What's certain is that a two-stop is definitely slower, but the best option in this scenario would be to use two sets of soft C3s and one set of C2 mediums.

Mario Isola: "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."

Check out our Saturday gallery from Silverstone, here.

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Published: 17/07/2021
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