Mario Isola admits Friday’s running at the Sochi Autodrom was influenced by the weather forecast for Saturday, with teams eager to find out as much as they could from each of the three compounds of tyre.
Friday’s free practice sessions are expected to be the only ones held in dry conditions, with heavy rain forecasted for Saturday, which could disrupt both final practice and Qualifying.
Isola, the Head of F1 and Car Racing at Pirelli Motorsport, says all ten teams were eager to learn more about how the soft, medium and hard compounds work around Sochi as they look to find the best strategy options for Sunday’s race, which is expected to be held in dryer conditions than what is expected on Saturday.
Valtteri Bottas showed strong pace on each compound, with his best lap of 1:33.593 being set on the red-walled soft compound, but the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team driver also set the fastest time on the medium compound. McLaren F1 Team’s Lando Norris was the quickest driver on the hard compound.
“Tomorrow’s expected weather influenced free practice today, with the drivers concentrating more on collecting plenty of data over all three compounds as well as setting a lap time just in case FP2 has an influence on the grid positions for the race, with a strong chance that tomorrow will see wet conditions all day,” said Isola.
“The circuit actually offered quite good grip and, as expected, plenty of track evolution, although the rain tomorrow is likely to reset the asphalt, which adds to the question marks.
“Under these circumstances, the red flag in FP2 was unfortunate, with the teams likely to head into Sunday’s race with a distinct lack of dry running.”