Mario Isola believes the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix would have seen primarily one-stop strategies on Sunday but for the late safety car period that livened up the conclusion of the race.
When Max Verstappen’s tyre exploded on the run to turn five, the safety car was deployed to recover his stranded car from the gravel trap and was then extended further when George Russell crashed out.
Isola, the Head of F1 and Car Racing at Pirelli Motorsport, said the tyres held up well at the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari, particularly the medium and hard compounds, and up until the safety car, it looked as though drivers would make it to the end by pitting only once.
“The safety car late in the race influenced the strategy heavily: up until then it was looking like one stop for the majority of drivers; also because there is a big pit stop time loss at Imola,” said Isola.
“Due to some graining seen on the soft, the previously envisaged strategies involving the soft then largely changed in favour of a medium to hard strategy. The medium tyre was chosen by the top two to start the race on, and showed minimal degradation even over very long stints. The hard tyre was also run by many drivers in excess of 40 laps.”
Isola says they will need to look into the reasons why Verstappen’s race came to a sudden end in the gravel trap with an exploded tyre, although he believes debris was the cause of the problem as it was the only tyre issue throughout the sixty-lap race.
“Obviously we need to look at the medium tyre that had completed 32 laps with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen to understand exactly what happened; it seems that some debris on the track could have caused a puncture,” said Isola.
Isola also took the time to congratulate the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team for clinching their seventh consecutive Constructors’ Championship after finishing first and second at Imola. It was Lewis Hamilton’s ninety-third career victory after he jumped both team-mate Valtteri Bottas and Verstappen when he pitted under a brief Virtual Safety Car period.
The result also means it will either be Mercedes’ Hamilton or Bottas who will win the Drivers’ title as Verstappen’s retirement rules him out of the running.
“Congratulations to Mercedes for clinching their record seventh consecutive manufacturers’ championship: once more after an intensely strategic race, where Hamilton was able to take perfect advantage of the virtual safety car,” concluded Isola.