2021 Portuguese Grand Prix Tyre Compounds: After two races with the same tyre nomination from the middle of the range (C2, C3, and C4) round three in Portugal introduces the hardest C1 compound as the P Zero White hard, while the C2 is the P Zero Yellow medium and the C3 is the P Zero Red soft. The same tyre nomination was made in 2020 and these tyres have been chosen to match the demanding characteristics of the Portimao circuit, which is back on the calendar at reasonably short notice this year after making its Formula 1 debut last October.
Last year, there was a specific tyre allocation for Portugal (and Turkey) with an extra set of hard tyres and one less set of softs. This year, Portugal reverts to the standard allocation used all season: eight softs, three mediums and two hards.
Weather conditions could well be quite warm at this time of year in the Algarve, with ambient temperatures in excess of 20 degrees centigrade not unusual, especially inland where the circuit is located. Last year the race was run in cool conditions and with occasional light rain.
Portimao Track Characteristics
Although it was only inaugurated in 2008, Portimao feels a bit like an old-school track, with plenty of elevation changes and an unforgiving layout. The track is quite wide though, which makes several different lines possible and also helps overtaking.
It’s quite a varied circuit, with several different types of corner – as well as a long straight – that provide a good all-round test of a car’s abilities, placing both lateral and longitudinal demands on the tyres, with heavy braking. Although it only made its race debut last year, it has been used for F1 testing in the past.
One of the most demanding turns is Portimao corner: a double apex right-hander that is similar to Acque Minerali at the previous grand prix in Imola. The majority of the corners are blind in Portimao, adding to the challenge.
The surface was brand new for the race last year and it delivered surprisingly little grip. This year, the asphalt may have matured, providing more grip.
The 2020 race was won with a one-stop medium-hard strategy, giving Lewis Hamilton a record-breaking 92nd career win. Tyre wear and degradation was sufficiently low to allow Esteban Ocon to complete 53 laps on the medium tyre.
Mario Isola – Pirelli Head of F1 and Car Racing
“Tyre management – and getting the harder compounds into their working windows – was an important theme of the Portimao race last year, for a number of reasons. But this year, with the possibility of different weather conditions and a track surface that might have evolved, it could be another challenge entirely. The new tyre construction has performed well during the first two races of 2021 and now the hardest compound in the range makes its debut. This range has been selected to cope with the unique demands that this circuit puts through the tyre, exacerbated in the event of warmer weather. Last year all three compounds were used during the race, with a variety of strategies and usage. Conditions were cool and windy, with occasional light rain, while track conditions changed throughout the weekend. The new surface was the key factor determining low grip while in terms of tyre performance, warm-up and graining were two other relevant factors.”