Pirelli‘s head of motorsport, Mario Isola, says that the German Grand Prix is an “unknown quantity” in terms of tyre performance heading into this weekend’s event.
After a year’s absence, the Hockenheimring returns to the Formula 1 calendar and marks the first time that the modern-era cars – and tyre compounds – visit the circuit.
Pirelli have opted to bring the ultra-soft, soft and medium compounds to Germany – copying their thinking for the Chinese Grand Prix earlier in the season by missing out one compound, in this case the super-soft. Isola’s reasoning for this is “to provide a roughly equal performance gap” between the compounds and therefore make strategy an important element on a track that provides limited overtaking opportunities.
“Germany is a bit of an unknown quantity, with no grand prix having taken place there since 2016,” Isola said.
“In the meantime, a lot has changed on the cars as well as of course the tyre range, while the Hockenheimring itself is substantially unaltered.
“Once again, we’ve decided to incorporate a step in the tyres that we’ve nominated in order to provide a roughly equal performance gap between the chosen compounds. This contributed to a great race in China, with some interesting repercussions on strategy, so hopefully it will be the same again.”
In 2016, Lewis Hamilton utilised a three-stop strategy – on the soft and super-soft compounds – to take victory. However, with the 2018 tyre structure and formula boasting increased durability, a one or two-stop race is projected. Due to its resurfacing, Hockenheim is not predicted to cause heavy wear or degradation; but heavy traction zones may cause problems for the rear tyres.
Pirelli have highlighted the full-throttle sweeping left of Turn 5, part of the back “straight”, as the corner that will put the most energy through the tyres. Additionally, Isola emphasised the importance of Free Practice to the teams this weekend, as they “re-acquaint themselves with the circuit”.
“The data collected in free practice will be especially important as teams re-acquaint themselves with the circuit,” he added.
“[They can] also work out how best to use the tyre nomination to their advantage.”