Mario Isola says this year’s Portuguese Grand Prix weekend could see drivers experience a different challenge to what they did last year, with the weather expected to be different and the track having possible evolved.
Last year’s event was run in October in relatively cool conditions and saw a new track surface in play, but it did not prevent Lewis Hamilton from breaking the record for race victories in Formula 1, with the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team racer taking win number ninety-two.
The temperatures are expected to be warmer this time around, and Isola, the Head of F1 and Car Racing at Pirelli Motorsport, says the challenges could be very different to how they were last year this weekend.
The race at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve will see the hardest compounds Pirelli has to offer on show, and Isola says this is to cope with the ‘unique’ demands of the Portimão circuit.
“Tyre management – and getting the harder compounds into their working windows – was an important theme of the Portimão race last year, for a number of reasons,” said Isola. “But this year, with the possibility of different weather conditions and a track surface that might have evolved, it could be another challenge entirely.
“The new tyre construction has performed well during the first two races of 2021 and now the hardest compound in the range makes its debut. This range has been selected to cope with the unique demands that this circuit puts through the tyre, exacerbated in the event of warmer weather.
“Last year all three compounds were used during the race, with a variety of strategies and usage. Conditions were cool and windy, with occasional light rain, while track conditions changed throughout the weekend. The new surface was the key factor determining low grip while in terms of tyre performance, warm-up and graining were two other relevant factors.”