2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix – Friday Tyre Analysis: Ferrari’s championship leader Charles Leclerc went fastest on the P Zero Red soft C4 tyre today thanks to a lap time of 1m30.074s in FP2. Leclerc was also quickest in FP1 on the same compound, both times preceding Max Verstappen (Red Bull) who set the second fastest time in FP1 using the P Zero White hard C2 and in FP2 using the P Zero Yellow medium C3.
FP2, which took place three hours later than FP1 in track conditions that were around 10 degrees cooler, was the most representative practice session, run in similar conditions to those expected for qualifying and the race with temperatures of 22 degrees centigrade ambient and of 29 degrees track at the slightly delayed start.
The drivers used the two hour-long free practice sessions to get to grips with new 18-inch tyres on this track, which has been slightly modified since the last visit to Jeddah four months ago. Strong to moderate gusts of wind affected the aerodynamic balance in FP1 and FP2, while dust and sand on the track reduced grip, causing some graining on the soft compound in particular.
So far, there’s an estimated performance gap of around 0.9 seconds between the hard and medium compounds, and 0.6 seconds between the medium and soft: the latter slightly higher than expected.
Mario Isola – Pirelli Motorsport Director
“It’s hard to get an exact read on tyre performance as there was plenty of track evolution today, in FP1 and also in FP2, with sand blowing onto the track and the cars sliding around, especially at the start of each session. We saw some graining throughout the day, particularly on the softer compound, due to the track layout here with big lateral loads and sand reducing the grip. That obviously increased degradation and wear; even though certain drivers were still able to control it well. The track evolution we saw today should continue, especially if the wind calms down. We’ve seen the majority of long runs on the medium tyre, which the teams probably consider to be a strong race tyre along with the hard, which showed plenty of consistency. The soft is probably less suited to this circuit as the graining will lead to increased degradation, but it’s only Friday and we’re yet to see the full picture this weekend.”