Mario Isola says Max Verstappen’s pit stop to switch from the intermediate to dry tyres during last weekend’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix was timed to perfection, with the Dutchman going on to claim his first victory of the season as a result.
The Red Bull Racing driver pitted on lap twenty-seven to switch to the medium compound, a lap ahead of main rival Lewis Hamilton, but it was Verstappen who came out in front when the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team racer exited the pit lane.
Isola, the Head of F1 and Car Racing at Pirelli Motorsport, says it was up to the teams to work out when it was best to switch away from the wet weather tyres at the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari, and Red Bull managed to get it right.
“We had a red flag that split the race into two distinct parts following an incident that underlined the difficulty of Imola, which was made even more complicated by the uncertain and cool weather,” said Isola.
“With no previous running on the intermediate and wet tyres over the weekend, teams had to work out the crossover points as they went along. But a clear dry line emerged, with Verstappen and Red Bull timing their stop perfectly to move ahead of Lewis Hamilton in the pits.”
Isola says both the medium and soft compounds worked well after the red flag period in Imola, with the race having been halted by a heavy crash involving Valtteri Bottas and George Russell heading into Tamburello.
Hamilton recovered from finding himself in the gravel trap to climb to second on the medium compound, while Lando Norris took his second career podium in third for the McLaren F1 Team after gambling on the soft compound, a tyre that enabled him to pass Charles Leclerc at the restart.
“Once the race was re-started after the red flag, most of the drivers used the medium tyres, which provided a good balance between performance and durability throughout the significant portion of the race that was dry,” said Isola.
“However, a number of the frontrunners – including Norris on the podium – switched to the soft for the re-start, which also performed strongly in the final run to the finish of a memorable race, where we were honoured to be title sponsor”.