Timing of Bottas’s fastest lap an indicator of Pirelli’s progress – Isola

by James Eagles
Valtteri Bottas & Lewis Hamilton - Formula 1 - 2019 Australian GP

Pirelli Motorsport‘s Mario Isola believes that Valtteri Bottas‘s fastest lap at the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix, set on lap 57 of the 58-lap race, shows that Pirelli has hit its intended targets.

Race winner Bottas was one of three drivers pushing for the extra point awarded for the fastest lap of the race, courtesy of a sporting regulation change for the 2019 F1 season.

The Finn’s second-placed Mercedes AMG Motorsport team-mate Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull Racing‘s Max Verstappen – who was in close proximity to Hamilton – all stated their want to set the fastest lap of the race.

Bottas eventually won the battle on the penultimate lap, with a lap time of a 1:25.580, to take the maximum 26 points on offer over the season-opening weekend at Albert Park.

Isola said that Pirelli has been pushing to deliver a tyre that allows the drivers to push for a whole stint, while creating an exciting strategical battle.

Our aim this year was to provide compounds that enabled drivers to push from start to finish of every stint,” said Isola.

“The fact that Bottas set the fastest race lap of Albert Park right at the end of the grand prix, in a close fight for the extra point with Verstappen, highlights how this objective has been achieved.”

Bottas chose to extend his first stint on the soft compound tyres by a couple of laps, having suffered no drop-out in performance towards the end of the projected tyre life.

Alfa Romeo Racing tried a similar strategy with Antonio Giovinazzi, in order to benefit the Italian’s team-mate Kimi Räikkönen, but the 25-year-old struggled for grip on the soft tyres when holding off a large train of cars that included Lando Norris, Romain Grosjean and Sergio Pérez.

Scuderia Toro Rosso rookie Alexander Albon expressed his surprise in being able to drive at “95%” throughout the race after graduating from the FIA Formula 2 championship – a series with a notorious emphasis on tyre management.

Isola said that the Australian weekend went to plan for Pirelli, with the new-for-2019 tyres standing up to the unique characteristics of the Albert Park circuit and the compound selection opening up a number of different and race-defining strategies.

“All three compounds stood up well to the particular demands of Albert Park and they were all used extensively,” Isola added.

“We saw an interesting variation in strategy, with drivers using different tyres for different stint lengths, and – for those further down the grid – alternative strategies to make their way up the field.”

Pirelli has announced its tyre selection for the Bahrain Grand Prix in two weeks’ time, with the C1 tyres making a first appearance of the season alongside the mid-range C2 and C3 options.

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