In the latter stages of last weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix, Yuki Tsunoda’s error saw him take too much speed around turn two, putting his AlphaTauri in the wall when exiting the pits. The subsequent safety car set the scene for a nail biting battle between Race leader Max Verstappen and Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz.
The Ferrari and Red Bull cars were closely matched on pace, with Sainz keeping within 1 second of his rival for the duration of the battle, a feat which would likely have been impossible with the previous Pirelli tyres due to their overheating issues.
Speaking with Motorsport.com, Pirelli’s Mario Isola commented that the close racing on show in Canada was evidence that Pirelli had ticked one of their boxes with the new tyre compounds introduced for this season.
“For me, what is important from this race is to see we had what they call close racing.” Isola said. “One of the targets this year was to have close racing, not pure overtaking thanks to the DRS or another system. It was to give the opportunity to the drivers to push and fight on track.
“And that's exactly what happened with Max [Verstappen] and Carlos [Sainz], but also in the back with Alpine and [Charles] Leclerc, and many other cars.
“It means that the tyres are giving this opportunity, together with the car package, and it's nice to see that this is happening.”
Isola continued to state there is still more work to do, but takes the progress so far as a positive going forward.
“Obviously for the future we know that we can improve, and we are working for next year's tyres. But I will say that the first target [of close racing] has been achieved and that was really important for us.”
He also commented on the benefit of the new generation of cars, highlighting the downforce differences between this year’s cars and the previous generation, which would lose a substantial amount of downforce when closely following another car.
“Before, the car behind would start to lose downforce, would slide and overheat the compound – so there is a big factor created by the new cars," Isola said. "And obviously keeping the downforce on both cars is helping the tyres.
“But also the new compounds, this new family of compounds, is working better. We know that sometimes the medium and the soft are degrading a little bit more, but this is necessary otherwise, if you have tyres that are behaving the same way, you don't generate any strategy.
“With a hard that is very consistent, and a medium that is manageable, maybe the soft is a bit too aggressive, we can have different strategies and a different approach.”