The performance of the Pirelli tyres at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix was different to the initial estimates made by the Italian manufacturer because of the cooler conditions at the track on Friday. The cooler temperatures made it harder for the drivers to warm up the tyres initially. There was graining of the tyres during the long runs because of the lower temperatures.
The two Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team drivers topped the time sheets in both practice sessions. Valtteri Bottas set his fastest time on the yellow-striped medium compound tyres (C3) in the second free practice session. Team-mate Lewis Hamilton was just 0.010 seconds behind, but the time was set on the red-striped soft compound tyres (C4).
The Mercedes team did not find major performance gains when they bolted on the soft compound tyres for the simulation runs. The performance gaps between the three different compound tyres was skewed by the cooler than expected conditions at the track.
The air temperatures was 15 degrees C and track temperatures at 25 degrees.C on Friday. Both practice sessions had similar conditions. In the afternoon session, the track had better grip as it rubbered in. The performance gap between the different compounds did not match the initial estimates.
The gap between hard and medium compound tyres is smaller than expected and between the soft and the medium compound tyres the gap is larger because of these conditions. All the three compound tyres are durable. It is harder to warm up the tyres and the soft compound tyres experienced graining in the cooler conditions.
Mario Isola, the Head of Pirelli F1 and Car Racing, said: “The conditions we had at Imola today were actually a little bit cooler than those we experienced six months ago in November. The tyres themselves performed well overall. We saw some graining during long runs on the soft C4 compound throughout both sessions.
“Imola is a medium severity track that doesn’t put a lot of energy through the tyres, so in low track temperatures it’s difficult to warm them up: especially the medium and hard compounds. By the afternoon, the track was already in quite good condition, despite there being very few support races. The gap between the compounds is lower than expected between hard and medium and higher than expected between medium and soft, although the difference can vary from team to team. This will naturally influence strategies”.
On a track which is hard to overtake on, the qualifying positions will be crucial to race results. So the one lap pace on the soft compound tyres in qualification is critical for all the teams.