2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix Tyre Performance Analysis – Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton won a dramatic race characterised by two red flags, as well as extensive safety car and virtual safety car periods that interrupted the action and disrupted strategy. Hamilton changed from medium to hard tyres (on lap 10) before the first red flag period, and then maintained them until the end.
His title rival Max Verstappen, who finished second for Red Bull, swapped from the hard tyres he had selected during the first stoppage to mediums during the second red flag period, making one more change than Hamilton.
The race was red-flagged for the first time after the Haas of Mick Schumacher hit the wall. The teams were allowed to change tyres as well as carry out other maintenance. After a second red flag, Hamilton re-started on the hard, with Verstappen able to use the extra speed of the medium to get past him off the grid.
Apart from Hamilton, nine other drivers used just two sets of tyres. Seven drivers used three sets of tyres, and two drivers used four sets.
Weather conditions remained consistent with the rest of the weekend and throughout the grand prix: the almost two and a half hour race started in 29 degrees ambient and 31 degrees of track temperature.
How Each Tyre Performed
- HARD C2: This was the key to the race, showing very low levels of degradation and enabling a consistent performance over a long final stint after the second red flag period. Hamilton set the fastest lap of the race on this compound on his penultimate tour.
- MEDIUM C3: The most popular starting tyre on the (original) grid, with all but four drivers choosing it to begin the race – including nine in the top 10. This also held up well to the challenge, but required more management towards the end of the stint compared to the hard due to higher degradation.
- SOFT C4: McLaren’s Lando Norris was the only driver to start the 50-lap race on the soft rubber, which required more management and so was not suited to long stints. Alpine’s Fernando Alonso ran the soft for a final five-lap stint.
Mario Isola: Pirelli Head of F1 and Motorsport
“We witnessed an action-packed race that was filled with drama, incidents and safety cars. Under those circumstances, strategy becomes a question of reacting to rapidly changing events as quickly as possible and making the right calls under pressure, also considering the individual allocation available. With such an unpredictable situation, there were a number of unknown factors, and the track was also extremely dirty with a lot of debris from all the incidents. In the end, we saw a spectacular duel with no holds barred between the two championship protagonists, on different tyres. The hard tyre was one of the keys to the race win thanks to its low degradation level and consistent performance until the very end. Now we look forward to a thrilling championship finale at the last race for our 13-inch tyres in Abu Dhabi”.