Pirelli Motorsport says there are a few strategy options in play for Saturday’s first-ever Sprint Qualifying race at Silverstone, but teams will need to keep one eye on their tyre allocations ahead of Sunday’s full-length British Grand Prix.
Mario Isola, the Head of F1 and Car Racing at Pirelli, says the weekend format introduced for the first time at Silverstone, ensured most teams used all three tyre compounds during Friday’s first practice session as they prepared themselves for an earlier than normal Qualifying session on Friday evening.
The teams will all have one further hour of practice on Saturday morning to prepare themselves for Saturday’s Sprint Qualifying race, before the main event on Sunday afternoon.
And it is with Sunday’s race in mind that Isola feels teams will have to work out their strategies around to ensure they have the right tyres available to them to survive the fifty-two laps on Sunday.
“There was a lot for the teams to get used to with the new format, influencing the way in which they used their tyres, bearing in mind the half-hour sprint qualifying race tomorrow that the teams will want to run without pit stops,” said Isola.
“Considering the severity of this circuit, there’s an important decision to be made about whether to run on the medium – which should be the most popular choice – or soft tyre tomorrow, keeping in mind also the mandatory tyres that will be needed for the grand prix on Sunday.
“As a result, there is quite a complex set of parameters for the teams to take into account with no previous experience to fall back on. And this is why many teams ran all three compounds in FP1 to gather as much information on them as possible.”
Isola says Friday’s Qualifying session at Silverstone was more straightforward than normal, with all teams able to run the soft compound throughout to get the maximum out of their cars.
Ultimately, pole position went the way of Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team’s Lewis Hamilton by 0.075 seconds ahead of Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen.
“Qualifying was obviously much straightforward than usual with all the drivers running on the soft from start to finish, culminating in a fight for the fastest time that was extremely closely-fought at one of the most demanding tracks for tyres of the year,” said Isola.