How have Pirelli 18 inch tyres performed over 3 Rounds- break-down of data on F1 Saudi Arabia Grand Prix

How have Pirelli 18 inch tyres performed over 3 Rounds- break-down of data on F1 Saudi Arabia Grand Prix

How have Pirelli 18 inch tyres performed over 3 Rounds in the new era of Formula One racing? In part 2 of 3, the following analysis of data provided by Pirelli post Friday Free Practice, Saturday’s FP3 and Qualifying and Sunday’s Race gives insight on tracking trends and performance of selected C2 range of tyres for Formula One Saudi Arabia Grand Prix on March 25-27.

F1 Saudi Arabia Grand Prix data from Friday Free Practice 1 and 2 Image: Pirelli

In response to track layout, asphalt surface and temperature conditions on the only 2nd race at Jeddah circuit, C2 range of Hard with white trim, C3 Medium with yellow trim and C4 Soft with red trim provided driver’s and Teams plenty to work with over course of 3 days.

Notable conditions of wind and sand on track effectively disturbed aero dynamic bottom floor of cars along with increase levels of graining with Charles Leclerc (Ferrari), Max Verstappen (Red Bull Racing) and Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) taking out best lap times in FP2. Unlike previous FP2 at Bahrain, where the same top 3 drivers ran Soft C3 tyres for FP2 and achieved exact same results in Qualifying- in the same finishing order- Verstappen and Sainz opted for C3 Medium in FP2.

Mere 200th second separated pole sitter Sergio Perez (Red Bull Racing) to 4th placed Verstappen in Qualifying with top 10 drivers all running C3 Soft tyres ahead of the main race on Sunday. Statistics on tyre durability measured similar outcome to data at F1 Bahrain GP with Hard C2 total of 1,265kms divided by 16 sets used to equal 79kms per set. Medium C3 total of 1871kms divided by 22 sets used to equal 85kms per set and Soft C4 total of 2519kms divided by 40 sets used to equal 62kms per set. Medium C3 provided longer distance of wear in comparison to Hard C2 and Soft C4.

F1 Saudi Arabia Grand Prix data on race pit-stops Image: Pirelli

Race strategies for final top 8 placed drivers all started 15-16 laps stint on C3 Mediums switching to Hard C2 for lengthy 34/35 laps to end of race. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), Kevin Magnussen (Haas) and Nico Hulkenberg (Aston Martin) all started on C2 Hard’s with Hamilton hitting longest stint of 40 laps before changing to C3 Mediums for last 10 laps- finishing the race 10th. Hard to fathom why Hamilton and Team selected C2 compound for Laps 1-40 given performance gap between Hard and Medium stood at 1.2 seconds ahead of Saturday’s Qualifying.

Where the C2 Hard came into it’s own was through near zero degradation with only one stop race for all drivers, making Charles Leclerc fastest lap time mere 2 laps from the end of the race- quite exceptional. This fact alone, gives credence to Pirelli’s objective of achieving wider window of tyre performance in F1’s new era of racing.

Next up: How have Pirelli 18 inch tyres performed over 3 Rounds- break-down of data on Formula One Australian Grand Prix. Header photo credit: Pirelli.

Words: Sharon Cox.

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