Pirelli Motorsport‘s Mario Isola says that tyre strategies for the inaugural Eifel Grand Prix are surrounded by ‘a number of question marks’ after only two of the four planned sessions leading up to the race went ahead.
Heavy fog on Friday prevented both Free Practice One and Free Practice Two from being completed, as the FIA explained the medical helicopter could not fly in such conditions. Because of this, all ten teams and twenty drivers were forced to abort vital practice programs – including race-runs.
Although most cars did eventually manage to fit in some race practice in the sole running practice session on Saturday morning, teams will have nowhere near as much data in preparation for the grand prix, and as it’s the first visit to the Nürburgring in seven years that will put them on the backfoot for Sunday.
Pirelli say the most likely strategy for the 60-lap race is a two-stopper, but with the track not having been used for Formula 1 since 2013 and with no running on Friday, strategy is something of a question mark for all the teams. Adding to the tactical complexity is the fact that Sunday could be wet – and it will certainly be cold – making it even harder to accurately predict tyre behaviour.
Pirelli’s head of F1 and car racing Mario Isola seems very excited for the inaugural grand prix, citing that it should be ‘quite unpredictable’. Isola mentioned just how many unknowns there still are going into Sunday’s race and how tricky it will be for teams and drivers to manage their rubber in the ‘uncertain weather’.
“Finally we saw some action at the Nürburgring, with the drivers heading into qualifying with just one hour of preparation. As a result, there are a number of question marks heading into [the] grand prix, as Formula 1 hasn’t raced here since 2013 and the teams have very little data to go on.
As well as strategy, one of those question marks surrounds the weather, which is set to be even colder and possibly wet [on Sunday]. If it stays dry all the top 10 on the grid will start on the soft tyre, which removes one variable, but what happens after that very much remains to be seen.
In these extremely cold temperatures, we saw some light graining in the morning as expected but as more rubber was laid down on the track and the cars adapted their set-up, the situation improved. Looking after the tyres will still be crucial, in what should be quite an unpredictable grand prix with uncertain weather.”