F1 drivers face Austrian GP soft-tyre questions in Austrian GP

Formula 1 drivers face a step into the unknown in the Austrian Grand Prix, with Pirelli predicting the little-used soft tyres could be the best compound choice

F1 drivers face Austrian GP soft-tyre questions in Austrian GP

Teams' initial impressions were that the low-grip nature of the Spielberg circuit would make Pirelli's softest compounds the best options, meaning most drivers only had one or two sets available in Austria.

While 13 drivers have at least run the softs briefly, seven, including front-row starters Valtteri Bottas and Sebastian Vettel, have not having taken only one set to Austria.

A smaller performance gap than expected between the tyre compounds is the result of higher temperatures and increased grip from the track surface.

"The delta we expected has, in reality, reduced," said Pirelli's F1 racing manager Mario Isola.

"We were expecting something in the range of half a second between compounds. But the gap between ultra-soft and super-soft is 0.3 seconds, and the gap between the super-soft and the soft is more difficult to understand.

"The track surface has been quite hot, and the soft is the only compound that is high working range, because the super and the ultra are low working range. This means the soft works well, the level of grip is good and the degradation is close to zero.

"This means the soft could be a choice for the race because, with the small delta and pace management, there is less difference between compounds. So the soft could become an interesting choice."

HAMILTON COULD HAVE BEST STRATEGY

Pirelli believes a one-stop race is best and that drivers starting on the super-soft and ultra-soft would be best served by switching to the soft.

The indicated quickest strategy route, which Lewis Hamilton could take, is a 26-lap run on the super-soft before a switch to the softs.

The second-quickest option is only slightly slower, starting with an 18-lap stint on the ultra-softs and then a switch to softs.

The unknown for the teams is whether the zero degradation of the soft will be worth any performance deficit compared to the ultra-soft in a likely 50-lap stint, which has not been proven from practice data.

"The soft is giving you more guarantees than the super-soft," said Isola. "Of course you can take the risk to run longer with the super-soft, but at some point the degradation is not linear so you start losing lap time.

"In this case, if you have a tyre that is more consistent like the soft and you know is giving you more guarantees, then you are not losing in terms of lap time and the degradation, so it makes sense to consider the soft."

Not every team is convinced that the soft will become the right choice for the race.

Force India's technical director Andy Green believes the degradation of the super-soft was low enough to be convinced it would be right.

Asked about Pirelli's view on the soft being a safer bet, he said: "It depends how safe you want to be.

"If you want to be able to do three race distances then yes it is very safe - but we only want to do one. The super-soft is fine for us."

Pirelli's predicted strategy will not be applicable if there is rainfall, with forecasts suggesting there is an 80% chance of showers during the race.

shares
comments
Lowe: Williams slump like Mercedes in 2015 Singapore Grand Prix
Previous article

Lowe: Williams slump like Mercedes in 2015 Singapore Grand Prix

Next article

One-time Stefan GP boss Zoran Stefanovic plans F1 team for 2019

One-time Stefan GP boss Zoran Stefanovic plans F1 team for 2019
How Tyrrell became a racing Rubik’s cube as it faded out of F1 Plus

How Tyrrell became a racing Rubik’s cube as it faded out of F1

Formula 1’s transformation into a global sport meant the gradual extinction for a small team determined to stay true to its low-budget roots. But Tyrrell would eventually be reborn as a world-beating outfit again, explains MAURICE HAMILTON, albeit in different colours…

Assessing Hamilton's remarkable decade as a Mercedes F1 driver Plus

Assessing Hamilton's remarkable decade as a Mercedes F1 driver

Many doubted Lewis Hamilton’s move from McLaren to Mercedes for the 2013 Formula 1 season. But the journey he’s been on since has taken the Briton to new heights - and to a further six world championship titles

Formula 1
Feb 2, 2023
Why new look Haas is a litmus test for Formula 1’s new era Plus

Why new look Haas is a litmus test for Formula 1’s new era

OPINION: With teams outside the top three having struggled in Formula 1 in recent seasons, the rules changes introduced in 2022 should have more of an impact this season. How well Haas does, as the poster child for the kind of team that F1 wanted to be able to challenge at the front, is crucial

Formula 1
Feb 2, 2023
The Mercedes F1 pressure changes under 10 years of Toto Wolff Plus

The Mercedes F1 pressure changes under 10 years of Toto Wolff

OPINION: Although the central building blocks for Mercedes’ recent, long-lasting Formula 1 success were installed before he joined the team, Toto Wolff has been instrumental in ensuring it maximised its finally-realised potential after years of underachievement. The 10-year anniversary of Wolff joining Mercedes marks the perfect time to assess his work

Formula 1
Feb 1, 2023
The all-French F1 partnership that Ocon and Gasly hope to emulate Plus

The all-French F1 partnership that Ocon and Gasly hope to emulate

Alpine’s signing of Pierre Gasly alongside Esteban Ocon revives memories of a famous all-French line-up, albeit in the red of Ferrari, for BEN EDWARDS. Can the former AlphaTauri man's arrival help the French team on its path back to winning ways in a tribute act to the Prancing Horse's title-winning 1983?

Formula 1
Jan 31, 2023
How do the best races of F1 2022 stack up to 2021? Plus

How do the best races of F1 2022 stack up to 2021?

OPINION: A system to score all the grands prix from the past two seasons produces some interesting results and sets a standard that 2023 should surely exceed

Formula 1
Jan 31, 2023
Who were the fastest drivers in F1 2022? Plus

Who were the fastest drivers in F1 2022?

Who was the fastest driver in 2022? Everyone has an opinion, but what does the stopwatch say? Obviously, differing car performance has an effect on ultimate laptime – but it’s the relative speed of each car/driver package that’s fascinating and enlightening says ALEX KALINAUCKAS

Formula 1
Jan 30, 2023
Why F1's nearly man is refreshed and ready for his return Plus

Why F1's nearly man is refreshed and ready for his return

He has more starts without a podium than anyone else in Formula 1 world championship history, but Nico Hulkenberg is back for one more shot with Haas. After spending three years on the sidelines, the revitalised German is aiming to prove to his new team what the F1 grid has been missing

Formula 1
Jan 29, 2023