2021 Styrian Grand Prix Tyre Performance Analysis: Max Verstappen took his second consecutive win and the fourth one on the trot for Red Bull, thanks to a one-stop medium-hard strategy from pole position in Austria. Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton, who finished runner-up, followed the same strategy before making a second stop on the penultimate lap to fit softs and gain the extra championship point for fastest lap.
The highest-classified driver to start on the P Zero Red soft tyre was Red Bull’s Sergio Perez, who finished fourth after being passed by Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas following a slow pit stop. Perez also made a second stop: this time for P Zero Yellow mediums 17 laps from the end of the race. He used this set to make up ground on Bottas, finishing just behind the Mercedes driver.
All the drivers stopped once apart from four two-stoppers: Hamilton, Perez, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc (who eventually finished seventh from the back of the field) and Williams driver Nicholas Latifi.
The drivers who had a free choice of starting tyres opted for the medium (apart from Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen) as this was the most versatile choice. However, it was obviously not an option for those who had set their best Q2 times on the soft compound.
Despite the consistent forecasts of rain for the weekend and some dark clouds towards the end of the grand prix, once again wet weather didn’t materialise throughout the 71 laps. Instead, conditions were warm and dry: 31 degrees ambient and 47 degrees on track at the start.
How Each Tyre Performed
- HARD C2: The P Zero White hard was the key tyre for the second stint, also considering the high temperatures. In fact, all the drivers apart from two used the hard tyre during the second stint, whether they started on soft or medium. Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen was the only driver to start on the hard, going for 36 laps on it before switching to medium (the same stint length as Leclerc, who switched to hards on lap one following contact).
- MEDIUM C3: Used by all three podium finishers as a starting tyre, who all stopped within three laps of each other. Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz and McLaren driver Daniel Ricciardo completed 41 laps on the medium tyre. This was the most versatile compound today with a wider pit stop window, which is what made it such a popular choice outside the top 10 of the grid.
- SOFT C4: Used by Hamilton to set the fastest lap on the final tour, as well as by seven drivers to begin the race. In today’s warm conditions, this was the compound that suffered more from overheating and degradation.
Mario Isola: Pirelli Head of F1 and Motorsport
“The medium compound was the best one to start the race with, and that’s why it was chosen by almost all the drivers outside the top 10 on the grid; with seven of the top 10 starters obliged to begin the race on the soft. This all translated into a big split of strategies at the start, and as a consequence that variation continued throughout the race, with four different strategies used in the top five at the end. For the second stint, the hard was the best option. Once again, the anticipated rain didn’t materialise and instead conditions were warm, with track temperatures up to 49 degrees, which obviously influenced tyre behaviour. Nonetheless, we saw some long stints, with more than 40 laps run on the medium and hard compounds, as well as plenty of speed on the soft compound, which allowed Hamilton to take the fastest lap right at the finish”.