2021 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix Tyre Performance Analysis
The thrilling Imola race, with Pirelli as title sponsor, was interrupted by a red flag after 34 laps to clean debris off the track following an accident. The red flag allowed teams to service the cars and change tyres, meaning that the final part of the race was a 29-lap sprint.
Rain before the start of the race meant that nearly all the cars started on Cinturato Green intermediates, with just four on the Cinturato Blue full wet. There were two safety cars before the red flag, which occurred when the track was almost dry. During the second safety car period all the runners moved onto slick tyres. Everyone selected P Zero Yellow mediums once the crossover point was reached, apart from Haas, which went onto the P Zero Red softs.
Verstappen took the lead at the first corner of lap one from Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton, who had started from pole. Red Bull driver started from the head of the field following the re-start on the medium tyre and held onto his advantage until the end. He then maintained the lead after stopping before Hamilton for P Zero Yellow medium slicks.
Hamilton finished second following a fantastic fightback and claimed the extra championship point for fastest lap, despite being a lap down before the re-start after going off the track. McLaren’s Lando Norris was third, using the P Zero Red soft for the final stint.
The combination of rain, safety cars and red flags meant that strategies were a question of reacting to rapidly changing circumstances. Most drivers followed a broadly similar run plan though: starting on Cinturato Green intermediates and then switching to P Zero Yellow mediums from just before the red flag all the way to the end of the race.
How Each Tyre Performed
- HARD C2: This wasn’t used in the race, as the cool condition of 13 degrees centigrade ambient and 18 degrees on track did not play to its strengths.
- MEDIUM C3: The main tyre used in this race, with the majority of drivers coming straight off the intermediate and onto the medium with the goal of finishing the race on this tyre. The medium was also used by Verstappen to win the race and Hamilton to set the fastest lap, with both drivers using it for more than 30 laps.
- SOFT C4: Used by four drivers in the top 10 after the re-start, including both McLaren drivers, who managed its wear life impressively. This compound held up well all the way to the finish, with Norris completing a final 29-lap stint on it and finishing on the podium.
- INTERMEDIATE: Chosen by the majority of drivers to start the race, adapting itself well to the drying conditions until the crossover point was reached. A number of drivers completed up to 28 laps on the intermediate.
- WET: Used by only four drivers at the start, including AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly. The Frenchman hung onto them for longer than any other driver (14 laps) before switching to the intermediates.
Mario Isola: Pirelli Head of F1 and Motorsport
“We had a red flag that split the race into two distinct parts following an incident that underlined the difficulty of Imola, which was made even more complicated by the uncertain and cool weather. With no previous running on the intermediate and wet tyres over the weekend, teams had to work out the crossover points as they went along. But a clear dry line emerged, with Verstappen and Red Bull timing their stop perfectly to move ahead of Lewis Hamilton in the pits. Once the race was re-started after the red flag, most of the drivers used the medium tyres, which provided a good balance between performance and durability throughout the significant portion of the race that was dry. However, a number of the frontrunners – including Norris on the podium – switched to the soft for the re-start, which also performed strongly in the final run to the finish of a memorable race, where we were honoured to be title sponsor”.