Located in the Styrian mountains, the teams got a taste of the changeable weather that characterizes the Red Bull Ring, with intermittent rain throughout the day. The second free practice session was dry, enabling Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton to set a time of 1m09.542s – the shortest lap time of the year – on the P Zero Red supersoft tires, which have been nominated this weekend together with the P Zero Yellow soft.
Although the rain meant that the circuit was mostly ‘green’ – washed clean of any surface rubber, which provides more grip – this tire combination seems well suited to the Red Bull Ring, which is new to the calendar this year. Wear and degradation is within the parameters expected at this stage of the weekend, with a small amount of graining experienced on the soft tire in the slippery conditions, and a little more on the supersoft: especially at the rear. This should normalize itself as the weekend goes on.
The Red Bull Ring is short and generally low-speed, meaning that not a huge amount of energy is put through the tires over one lap. As a result, the supersoft – which is so far around 0.6 seconds faster than the soft – could also be a strong race tire, as well as providing extra speed in qualifying.
Two pit stops are expected for the race, subject to data analysis, as there is no relevant historical data to fall back on. Warmer weather is anticipated for the rest of the weekend, although the possibility of localized rain remains.
Paul Hembery: “We had a very green track today but despite that, wear and degradation has been low, particularly on the soft tire. When it comes to the race, we’ll probably end up in exactly the right place with the tires: enough degradation to keep things interesting, but still with two pit stops for most drivers. So although it’s effectively a new track, we believe the tire choice here was very much the right one, similar to Canada. We’ve seen some notable differences in rear tire usage between the teams, although we expect this to reduce tomorrow, once they have looked at the data from today. We too will be analyzing the data tonight, in preparation for what should be a very close qualifying session given the shortness of the lap.”
Bob Ulrich was named Modern Tire Dealer editor in August 2000. He joined the magazine in 1985 as assistant editor, and has been responsible for gathering statistical information for MTD's "Facts Issue" since 1993.