Pirelli boss Mario Isola has revealed that it seemed as though teams would run Sprint Qualifying on mediums. However, after looking at tire degradation in FP1 teams may just decide to run on softs.
Isola, at first, admitted that before the weekend he had assumed that teams would be comfortable starting Sprint Qualifying on medium tires. Since free practice 1, however, he had pointed out that there was a chance of a more aggressive strategy where teams would start on soft tires. He explained that tire degradation in the longer stints was not as strong as expected and could allow some of the cars to go on longer stints without losing as much pace or tires.
“Honestly, before coming here, I was more or less convinced that everybody was trying to run the sprint qualifying on the medium compound. But today if you’re asking me, I’m not so sure. And probably we can see a mix of soft and medium compound for Sprint Qualifying.
“If it happens, obviously, it is very interesting, because with this new format, everybody was thinking that the sprint qualifying is with the same compound for everybody. Maybe it’s not.”
He believed that the main reason for this was that the soft compound for this weekend was the medium compound for the second race at Silverstone in 2020.
“It’s difficult to predict if the teams are going to use just the medium for the sprint qualifying or also the soft,” Isola said.
“Because if you look back at the second race for example that we had in Silverstone last year, where the soft compound that we have this week was the medium compound, we had some drivers that were able to run stints longer than the sprint qualifying on the soft without high degradation.”
He added that last year’s track conditions and tire degradation would be a fair simulation of what would play out in either of the races, given that the conditions have been very similar.
“We had for example Ocon, Leclerc, Stroll, Raikkonen and Giovinazzi. They were all running long stints on the C3 compound. So I believe that considering that last year, we had similar conditions in terms of temperature, that’s a good indication of what they can choose.”
Besides the four drivers mentioned above, it would be interesting to see drivers like Perez, Alonso, and Russell on the alternative strategy and starting Sprint Qualifying on softs. Perez is known for his tire management skills which would allow him to preserve his tires and unleash his pace when it is needed, maybe even start at pole position. This could even allow Russell to start in the top 6.