Formula 1

“The drivers had to think about managing their tyres” – Mario Isola, Head of F1 Pirelli

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The Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi has never traditionally been a circuit known for high levels of tyre wear, a stark contrast to the abrasive surface of Bahrain however, this year was slightly different, similar to the British Grand Prix situation, an early safety car caused most to pit onto the hard compound of tyres. Due to the early nature of the safety car, most drivers had to manage their tyres and extend their stints longer than they would have liked.

The hard tyre was the C3 Compound, the medium tyre was the C4 Compound and finally, the soft tyre was the C5 Compound – these are the softest tyres in the Pirelli range, used to try and encourage more exciting strategy.

The hard tyre (C3) was fundamental for the race and was used by most for the majority of the race. Four drivers started on the hard tyre, whilst 9 drivers ran the hard tyres for 45 laps, overall the tyre demonstrated a very low level of degradation and held a consistent performance throughout the race and the weekend.

The medium tyre (C4) was the most popular tyre used at the start of the race, with a total of 11 drivers starting on the tyre, however, the early safety car limited the running on the medium tyres, with most drivers choosing to pit and have a longer stint on the hard tyres. Daniel Ricciardo set the fastest lap of the race on the medium tyre.

The soft tyre (C5): During the race, the soft tyre wasn’t used very extensively with only five drivers choosing to start on this compound, Pietro Fittipaldi was the only driver to use the tyre at any other point in the race, using the soft tyre in his last stint. Naturally, the soft tyre had more degradation than the medium and hard compounds.

Fastest lap times set on each compound

Hard TyreMedium Tyre. Soft Tyre
Max Verstappen : 1:40.958Daniel Ricciardo : 1:40.926Pietro Fittipaldi : 1:41.707
Valterri Bottas : 1:41.131Sebastian Vettel : 1:41.475Alexander Albon : 1:42.885

The longest stint on the soft tyre was : 10 laps, the longest stint on the medium tyre was 27 laps and finally the longest stint on the hard tyre was 45 laps.

Speaking after the race Mario Isola – the head of Formula One and Car Racing at Pirelli stated: “The race strategy was influenced heavily by the safety car, which prompted nearly everyone to anticipate their planned stops in order to lose less time in the pits.

This favoured the hard tyre, which was key to the race. As a result, the drivers had to think about managing their tyres towards the race finish, but in the end the hard compound stood up extremely well to the challenge of 45 laps of running. Nonetheless, the teams generally adopted the strategies that we predicted and we saw all three compounds in action at the start.

Congratulations to Max Verstappen for a dominant weekend and to Formula 1 above all for staging a fantastic 17-race calendar under extremely difficult circumstances. Now we remain in Abu Dhabi for a one-day Young Driver test on Tuesday, where we will run the 2020 tyres for the final time.

This is most likely to be the final time that the current Pirelli tyres are going to be run, however, there is still the possibility that we will see these tyres for the 2021 season as well, with multiple world champions Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton voicing their displeasure of the current 2021 prototype tyres.

Image Credit : Peter Fox/Getty Images
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