Slam Dunk- Pirelli tyres take the heat racing Formula One Miami Grand Prix

Slam Dunk- Pirelli tyres take the heat racing Formula One Miami Grand Prix

Slam dunk- Pirelli P Zero tyres take the heat at Formula One Miami Grand Prix with drivers maximizing performances from the selected White Hard C2, Yellow Medium C3 and Red Soft C4 over the course of Practice, Qualifying and Race on Sunday. For sure, the unknown factors of racing the newly laid asphalt at Miami’s International Autodrome were reliant on simulator runs for both drivers and Pirelli’s tyre selectors, with the hottest track temperatures this season adding to the unpredictability of racing on Sunday.

Formula One Miami Grand Prix FP3 and Qualifying report Image: Pirelli

From Friday’s FP1 and FP2 through to FP3 and Qualifying on Saturday, drivers selected Medium C3 and Soft C4 to test the parameters of performance on track, albeit interrupted by red flags in both sessions. Mercedes driver George Russell set blistering fastest lap time of 1.29.938 in FP2, the only driver to go below 1.30 mark with Sergio Perez and Charles Leclerc posting 1.30.150 and 1.30.644 respectively.

Heading into Saturday FP3 and Qualifying on Saturday, data collected on compounds performance highlights durability of Medium C3’s with total of 2,197 kms divided by 30 sets used equals 73.kms per set of tyres. Soft C4’s produced total of 2,089 kms divided by 44 sets used which equals durability of 47.4 kms per set and Hard C2’s producing limited runs of 135 kms divided by 2 sets to equal 67.51 kms per set.

The gap between top 3 fastest lap times closed considerably in FP3 with mere 300th second separating Sergio Perez (Red Bull Racing) on 1.30.304, Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) on 1.30.498 and Max Verstappen (Red Bull Racing) posting 1.30.649. All drivers selected Soft C4’s for FP 3 and repeated decision to run P Zero Red C4’s for Qualifying. Drivers opted for numerous short runs as explained by Pirelli’s Motorsport Director Mario Isola:

Formula One Miami Grand Prix Sunday Race pit-stops Image: Pirelli

In Qualifying, we saw the grip recovery concept come to the fore: namely, the ability of the tyres to complete a number of push laps before a cool down period, and then be able to push again with all the grip recovered and no loss of performance. Leclerc completed three runs in Q1 on the same set of tyres, while Sainz completed four. Then they did three runs each in Q2, and two runs in Q3 under the hottest temperatures we have seen this year’.

Fastest lap times between top 3 in Qualifying closed to 200th second with Charles Leclerc claiming pole on 1.28.796 and team-driver Carlos Sainz on 1.28.986 making it 1-2 Ferrari on front row. Red Bull Racing driver’s Max Verstappen and Serio Perez claiming 3-4 on 2nd row posting 1.28.991 and 1.20.036 respectively.

Racing under slightly cooler track conditions of 48 degrees, all driver’s finishing in top 10 started the 57 lap race on Medium C3’s with the exception of George Russell and Alpine driver Esteban Ocon who ran Hard C2’s up to Laps 40 and 41. Russell switched to Mediums courtesy of Safety Car being deployed while Ocon changed to Soft C4’s – both drivers gained track position with Russell moving from 12th on start grid to finish 5th and Ocon starting last to finishing 8th- bagging 4 points in the process.

Top 3 podiums of Max Verstappen, Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz pushed out the run on Medium C3’s to Laps 26, 24 and 27 respectively before switching to Hard C2’s to the finish. Fastest lap time was set by Verstappen on White Hard C2’s in Lap 54, echoing the defending Champion’s fastest lap set at Imola – 2 weeks ago- on Soft C4’s.

Header Photo: Formula One Miami Grand Prix Sunday Race Image: Pirelli

Words: Sharon Cox.

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