Pirelli’s Head of Car Racing Mario Isola, believes the soft and super-soft tyre compounds brought along by the Italian manufacturer for the Japanese Grand Prix race weekend, performed as planned, despite them experiencing much higher temperatures than they had previously been used to at the Suzuka International Racing Course.
The lack of running during Free Practice 2 on Friday due to rain, meant teams were unable to collect much in the way of data ahead of Sunday’s race, and that was set to be more of an issue for the softest compound, having not been used in Japan in previous years.
“Both compounds performed in line with our expectations, although track and air temperatures were a lot higher than they had been previously during the weekend.
“Combined with the shortage of running in free practice due to weather and red flags, this meant that teams were slightly lacking in information about the conditions and strategy heading into this race.
That lack of information did not hold teams back however, with the majority still going ahead with the fastest route of a super-soft / soft one stop strategy, whilst those starting lower down the order having received grid penalties, were able to take advantage of an alternative soft / super-soft tyre combination.
“Despite this, and the fact that we brought a softer compound than previous years, the majority of drivers were able to complete the grand prix with just one pit stop – while the drivers who started out of position on the grid were able to use the alternative soft-super soft strategy to make up some places.”
As predicted, Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team driver Lewis Hamilton won the Japanese Grand Prix with the optimum tyre strategy, whilst team-mate Valtteri Bottas was the top finisher on the alternative option, in fourth.
Isola also believes that an early safety car period followed later by a Virtual Safety Car period, allowed drivers to manage their tyres much more efficiently, lengthening their first stints, and making it easier for them to complete the one pit stop route.