Pirelli Motorsport‘s Mario Isola says that the tyres brought to this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix are “a little softer” than their 2018 counterparts, despite being the same compound.
Pirelli has brought the hardest dry tyre combination to the Bahrain International Circuit, the C1, C2 and C3 compounds, with Isola noting that the Bahrain track is the “roughest” surface of the year.
Isola predicts another enthralling tactical battle during the race, as seen last year with Scuderia Ferrari‘s Sebastian Vettel winning the 57-lap race on a one-stop strategy, opposed to several drivers choosing to stop twice.
Vettel held off Mercedes AMG Motorsport‘s Valtteri Bottas in the late stages of the race, even with older tyres.
“We have seen some exciting tactical battles previously in Bahrain, notably last year, and hopefully there is even more potential for that this year,” said Isola.
“The C1 and C2 compounds that are the hard and medium choices this weekend are actually a little softer than the hard and medium tyres last year, which should make them even more well suited to the track.”
Despite Free Practice 1 and 3 falling in unrepresentative afternoon conditions and in fierce heat, Isola said that few teams have chosen to take an extra set of the C1 tyres, with the focus on more sets of the C3s.
Due to this, Isola highlighted the importance of keeping rear tyre temperatures under control, with the Bahrain layout having a large demand for rear traction with a number of slow corners.
The lower rear tyre blanket temperatures could work to the drivers’ benefit, with the Australian Grand Prix seeing an extension to warm-up times.
“Although the key to Bahrain is managing the rear tyres, not many teams have chosen an extra set of the hard compound,” Isola added.
“As always, the challenge consists of dealing with the traction demands on a variable track with falling temperatures, as well as the roughest asphalt of the year.”