Valtteri Bottas might be the trending topic following his outstanding performance in today’s qualifying session in Austria, but Max Verstappen could emerge as the real dark horse tomorrow. The Dutchman will be swimming upstream, as he will start on the Medium tyre after setting his Q2 laptime on the yellow-banded compound.
Pirelli’s Mario Isola, speaking exclusively to MotorLAT, believes that Verstappen’s gamble might pay off, in case the weather conditions in Austria remain similar to today’s.
“We know from last year that the Medium was the preferable choice for the top teams to start the race. This circuit requires a lot of rear traction and it’s stressing the rear tyre a lot” he explained.
Isola remarked that, unlike last year, teams did not experience any degradation issues, except for “light blistering”. Teams are most likely to employ a one-stop strategy, as it currently stands.
“Starting on Mediums could be an advantage, especially if it is hot. Today the temperature was much hotter than yesterday and were managing the rear and the degradation also on short stints. Tomorrow the expected weather conditions are high temperatures. In fact, track temperature is going to be around 50°C. Hence I believe that Max’s choice could be an advantage, if the weather conditions are similar to today or even hotter than today” he added.
The sort of advantage Verstappen could be endowed is more flexibility when it comes to planning the strategy. In case he does not stick to the usual pit-stop window predicted for his starting tyre, he will not lose much time.
“If I look at the different possible strategies on paper, Soft-Hard and Medium-Hard are very close. There is not a real advantage, but if you start on the Medium you have more flexibility in the planning the strategy” Isola concluded.