2023 Brazilian Grand Prix: Sprint Tyre Analysis – Max Verstappen won the Sprint at Interlagos, followed home by Lando Norris and Sergio Perez. It is the Dutchman’s fourth “short race” win out of the six held this season.
Having done enough in the Lusail Sprint to secure his third Drivers’ title he has now clinched the hypothetical Sprint championship, for those six races in Baku, Spielberg, Spa, Lusail, Austin and Interlagos, which this year made up all the Saturday show with the Shootout followed by the Sprint itself. Verstappen scored 45 points, 20 more than second placed Perez his team-mate in this discipline, with Carlos Sainz third on 22 points, having picked up the final point for eighth place today. As for the teams, Red Bull clearly took the top honours with 70 points ahead of Ferrari and McLaren on 36. 15 drivers and nine teams have scored points in this season’s six Saturday Sprints.
The Sprint format means the teams have more options when it comes to deciding on tyre allocation, both in terms of compounds and whether to go with new or used sets, favouring the part of the weekend where they feel they have the greatest chance of success. That was the case also today, when some teams chose not to use a set of new Softs, preferring to save it for tomorrow.
This afternoon’s choices for the Sprint were pretty much the same as those seen here last year: 18-2 was the Soft-Medium split in 2022, 17-3 today, when only Sargeant and the two Haas drivers went for the C3 compound as their Sprint choice.
The Pirelli Shootout Award, a variation on the iconic Pirelli podium cap, featuring the colours of the Brazilian flag, was presented to Verstappen by Mario Isola, Pirelli Director of Motorsport.
Mario Isola, Pirelli Director of Motorsport
“Interlagos is a track that always delivers a lot of battles and that was the case once again today, with plenty of overtaking, some of the moves being really spectacular. It was definitely a very interesting day from a tyre point of view. With temperatures around a dozen degrees or so higher than in the same session last year, one could have expected a more equal split when it came to the teams’ choices between the Soft and Medium for the Sprint. However, the figures are pretty much the same as those seen in 2022. Furthermore, while it’s true that the Soft required careful management from the drivers, the Medium suffered more with degradation, something we will now have to look at very carefully.
Data from the Sprint will be even more useful than usual in defining strategy for tomorrow afternoon’s race, when we can expect similar temperatures to today’s. The two-stop is clearly the better option, running a mix of Soft and Medium. From what we saw this afternoon, the Soft has definitely shown itself to be a valid choice, even over quite a long stint, and so the key will be to find the right balance between the length of the various sections of the race and the order in which to use the different compounds. One should not rule out a three-stop strategy, even if, on paper, it’s not the quickest, for those who want to try and push more without being too worried about tyre management on a track where overtaking is possible at several places. Finally, it’s worth remembering that the undercut can be very effective here.