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Did Austria dash shootout expose want for F1 tyre rule rethink?

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That’s actually the way it taken care of moist climate voided the strict tyre utilization guidelines within the Saturday shootout and allowed everybody to make use of no matter slick compound they wished to over the three classes.

That led to some frantic laps as drivers labored their means by way of the comfortable tyres that they’d entry to. However there was the bizarre sight of Nico Hulkenberg utilizing new mediums in SQ3 to safe fourth on the dash grid as others scrambled round on second-hand softs.

The entire spectacle recommended that consideration needs to be given to the unintended format that F1 stumbled throughout in Austria being utilized on the season’s remaining sprints, probably even beginning in Spa on the finish of this month.

To recap, when the principles for the standalone dash Saturday had been formulated forward of Azerbaijan, how tyres had been for use over the weekend was one of many predominant speaking factors between the FIA, the groups and Pirelli. The underside line was that the beforehand largely redundant FP2 session was being changed with a three-part qualifying session, which meant an additional demand for brand new comfortable tyres.

“The dialogue began in Baku, as a result of it was determined to alter to this new format fairly late and we already delivered the tyres to Baku,” says Pirelli F1 boss Mario Isola. “We had an allocation that was already outlined. That was the one for the dash occasion. After we had this dialogue, I mentioned the tyres are already there, or they’re arriving on the circuit. So we’d like the time to react to if you wish to modify the breakdown of the compounds.

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“And so throughout a sporting committee we had a dialogue on that. And we mentioned let’s attempt to think about learn how to do the race weekend, with the allocation that’s already outlined. And clearly you’ve extra units of mediums in comparison with what you’ve of the comfortable compound in a regular race. In a regular race, you’ve eight units of soppy, within the dash occasion you’ve six.

“The thought was if I take advantage of one set of soppy in free apply, then I’ve solely 5. I want three or 4 for the conventional qualifying, or 5 for those who want two for Q2, and then you definately run out of tyres for the dash shootout.”

Dash weekends have added a brand new factor to the F1 calendar

Photograph by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

All kinds of permutations had been kicked round, together with free utilization throughout the entire weekend, however in the long run it was determined that there needs to be a obligatory allocation for the three shootout segments, with new mediums for SQ1 and once more in SQ2, and new softs for SQ3.

“The choice tyre allocation, the one we’re going to take a look at in Budapest, is 2 laborious, two medium and two comfortable, in Q1, Q2 and Q3,” says Isola. “One thought was let’s take from this concept, let’s have a look at what we are able to do to adapt to the brand new state of affairs. The unique thought was laborious, medium, comfortable. However then we had solely two units of laborious, and 4 units of medium. So we mentioned okay, medium, medium, comfortable.”

In Baku, groups had been fast to grasp that, particularly in the event that they didn’t assume they’d make it to SQ3, there was no level in saving a set of softs that could be used extra productively in an earlier session. Certainly, AlphaTauri did that with Yuki Tsunoda, who used an additional set in FP1 to be higher ready for GP qualifying, and McLaren with Lando Norris, who used an additional set in that qualifying session. The next day the Japanese driver didn’t make SQ3 so it didn’t matter, however Norris did make it by way of.

He had no new softs left so in idea he couldn’t participate – however a gray space within the regs meant that the group was ready to run him on intermediates on a dry monitor if by doing a token lap he may acquire a grid place. Had he executed so it could have been a farcical state of affairs, however it was equally foolish that he was caught within the storage and solely 9 vehicles ran in SQ3.

Extrapolate that to a number of drivers both staying within the storage in SQ3 on the subsequent dash in Austria, or battling one another to do a dry time on inters, and it could not have been a very good look…

That’s why the FIA performed a joker constructed into the 2023 dash regs. It permits for adjustments up till the tip of July, after the third dash of the 12 months in Spa, if any anomalies or “unintended penalties” emerge, and no less than eight groups conform to any change. Earlier than Austria, groups duly supported the straightforward expedient of permitting any comfortable tyres for SQ3, not solely new units, to deal with the difficulty of vehicles not working in any respect or going out on inters.

With that information in thoughts, and a powerful suspicion that Saturday can be moist anyway, groups approached tyre utilization in another way on Friday in Austria, and particularly within the qualifying session for the principle race. On prime of that, deleted lap occasions meant that many drivers went by way of extra softs than they’d maybe deliberate.

OPINION: The simple solution to F1’s Austria track limits hullabaloo

Teams have come up with alternate strategies of when to use the soft tyres

Groups have provide you with alternate methods of when to make use of the comfortable tyres

Photograph by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Certainly, on the finish of regular qualifying the vary of what number of units of latest comfortable tyres drivers nonetheless had left heading into Saturday was stunning. Those that had none in any respect had been Carlos Sainz, Lewis Hamilton, Pierre Gasly, Valtteri Bottas, Fernando Alonso, Lance Stroll, Hulkenberg and Alex Albon.

Just a few drivers had one new set, whereas Max Verstappen’s tempo allowed him to sail by way of with two units left, and his team-mate Sergio Perez additionally had two after lacking Q3. 4 different drivers had two new units, and one way or the other Kevin Magnussen had three left.

Had the remainder of the weekend run to the conventional schedule then SQ3 would have been a struggle between those that made the highest 10 and had new softs left, and those that solely had used units. Nonetheless, rain on Saturday morning meant that the monitor was declared moist earlier than the shootout, which meant tyre utilization was free if the monitor dried.

And actually it was just about dry from the off, and thus drivers may use no matter tyres they wished over the three classes. It meant that there was extra monitor motion, and extra selection when it comes to who was working what and when, than if we simply had gone medium-medium-soft. 

Solely 4 drivers did their time on new softs in SQ3, specifically Verstappen, Charles Leclerc, Lando Norris and Esteban Ocon. All-in-all it gave the impression to be a fairly extra entertaining and busier shootout than the one in Baku, and it recommended that opening up the principles so drivers can use their tyres as they need throughout Friday and Saturday ought to no less than now be given critical consideration.

If some drivers arrive within the shootout with few or no softs for the three components, and must depend on used units, so be it. It additionally implies that those that are out in Q1 could have extra new tyres left to provide them a lift within the shootout, which will probably be a delicate type of reverse handicap.

“This can be a good level, truthfully, I agree with you,” says Isola to the suggestion that utilization needs to be free. “As a result of generally we make confusion between efficiency and put on. When you use a comfortable tyre for one lap, it does not imply that this tyre is completed. It implies that in all probability you’ve misplaced the height of grip on this tyre, that is true.

“In some {cases}, Baku for instance, we measure an excellent stage of grip restoration. That is why on some circuits they use the identical set of tyres for a number of makes an attempt in qualifying. So if we contemplate that, and if we contemplate that each one the groups, all of the drivers are in the identical state of affairs, we also needs to settle for that they will use used tyres within the dash shootout, for instance. Why not?

“And if we wish to speak about tyre discount, as a result of we’re speaking about it for sustainability causes, an thought may very well be to reuse the tyres. Clearly you introduce an impact that’s the similar as within the regular qualifying mainly, the quickest drivers which are in a position to progress utilizing just one set as an alternative of two have a bonus, however it’s the identical within the regular qualifying, they save new tyres for the race, or they save new tyres for Q3. So it is at all times a dialogue.”

Damp conditions and free choice of tyres created an exciting qualifying session

Damp circumstances and free selection of tyres created an thrilling qualifying session

Photograph by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Handily, there’s a gathering of the FIA sporting advisory committee at Silverstone right this moment [Wednesday] the place the dash format will probably be excessive on the agenda. One choice may very well be to let Spa run with the unique medium-medium-soft format simply to get one other pattern, after which contemplate a change for the ultimate three sprints of the 12 months. However why not simply open it up for the Belgian weekend and see what occurs?

“This format is new and I am certain that we are able to discover some high-quality tuning on this,” says Isola. “There may be margin for enchancment. Not enchancment, however now we have the expertise now from two weekends with sprints, and there’s the likelihood to analyse some particulars and alter them in an effort to enhance the present. [The Austrian shootout] was an ideal present for me.

“It’s one thing we are able to do with none change [to tyre allocation]. The opposite level is that for me now the tyre regulation is tremendous sophisticated. Let’s be taught from the expertise and attempt to do one thing higher with the principles in an effort to make one thing that’s much more just like a traditional, commonplace occasion.”

Will the groups help a change? That is still to be seen. Some could want a much less conservative strategy, whereas others will little doubt have explanation why they like the medium-medium-soft format to one thing somewhat extra fluid.

“I feel we’re discovering nonetheless,” says Aston Martin’s Mike Krack. “These guidelines had been made in an try to create extra spectacle. And once we wished to introduce them for Baku, there was not a lot time to develop them, you’ve seen that they’ve been refined additionally for [the Austrian] weekend. And I feel we uncover increasingly more the implications of it.

“Now, all of the strategists they let you know already upfront what can occur on this state of affairs, in that state of affairs. However I feel we have to not rush into adjustments too rapidly, possibly wait a 12 months, wait the 4 extra [sprints] that may come, and possibly then do a assessment and say the place do we have to regulate?

“However all in all, it is very intense. You probably have conditions like that with this a lot freedom, it is very, very intense for the group and for the crew.”

Will F1 change the tyre regulations around sprint shootouts before the end of the season?

Will F1 change the tyre laws round dash shootouts earlier than the tip of the season?

Photograph by: Alessio Morgese

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