May 21 – After the first day of practice at Circuit the Catalunya near Barcelona the four things Pirelli learned were:
- Ferrari driver and championship leader Charles Leclerc set the fastest time of the day in FP2 (1m19.670s) ahead of Mercedes drivers George Russell and Lewis Hamilton, all on the P Zero Red soft tyre. Leclerc also went fastest in FP1, this time ahead of his team mate Carlos Sainz.
- All three tyres were used today, in a conventional run plan that focussed on the P Zero White hard followed by the soft in FP1, then the P Zero Yellow medium followed by the soft again in FP2.
- Conditions were warm and dry all day in Spain, with the FP2 session getting underway in ambient temperatures of 33 degrees and track temperatures of 45 degrees.
- At the moment, there’s an estimated performance gap of around 1.3 seconds between the hard and the medium tyre, with a 1.1-second gap between the medium and soft. Generally speaking, the rate of track evolution in Barcelona is not particularly high.
Pirelli’s Motor Sport Director Mario Isola said:
“The free practice sessions went largely according to expectations: after Bahrain, this was the first big ‘degradation’ circuit of the year and we saw track temperatures that peaked at nearly 50 degrees this afternoon, adding to the challenge: especially for the soft tyre.
The front-left tyre was the one that was most stressed and that’s going to be the limiting factor, probably leading to a two-stop race for most drivers. How that two-stop is run will be the big question, with the teams having to manage their tyre allocation very carefully tomorrow in order to end up with the tyres they want for the race, bearing in mind also that they have to keep one obligatory set of medium and one set of hard. We saw some quite big gaps here between the compounds in free practice, a bit bigger than we expected this weekend, and that will certainly influence the strategy decisions ahead as well.”
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