F1 Sprint Qualifying: Pirelli’s tyre allocation
Following consultation and review between the FIA, Formula 1 and all ten teams, on 26 April the FIA Formula 1 Commission unanimously approved the adoption of a Sprint Qualifying at three Grands Prix during the 2021 FIA Formula One World Championship. These events will be held at two European and one non-European venue.
The aim of this new format is to increase the on-track action and engage fans in a “new and innovative way”. Formula 1 organiser Liberty Media adds that the introduction of Sprint Qualifying also “strikes the right balance of rewarding drivers and teams on merit while also giving others the chance to battle their way through the field on Saturday to increase their race chances on Sunday.”
Pirelli has provided details on tyre allocation for Sprint Qualifying. For the three Grand Prix weekends that will also host a Sprint Qualifying this year, the tyre allocation will be as follows:
A total of 12 sets of P Zero slick tyres per driver (instead of the usual 13 for the other Grands Prix) comprised of:
– Six P Zero Red soft tyres
– Four P Zero Yellow medium tyres
– Two P Zero White hard tyres
Four sets of Cinturato Green intermediates and three sets of Cinturato Blue full wets – as is the case at every race. However, each driver will be allowed an extra set of Cinturato Green intermediates if Free Practice 1, Free Practice 2, or Qualifying is held in wet conditions. A further set of Cinturato Green intermediates is also available if the Sprint Qualifying (on Saturday) is run in the wet.
The tyre maker notes that exact rules about how the tyres will be used over the weekend are still being defined, and thus additional changes may occur:
Free practice: In Free Practice 1, taking place for 60 minutes on Friday, each driver must use two sets of tyres (of any compound) and hand back one set to Pirelli at the end of the session. In Free Practice 2, taking place for 60 minutes on Saturday, each driver can use as many sets of tyres as they like within their allocation.
Qualifying: Only the P Zero Red soft tyre can be used, up to a maximum of five sets. Of these, one can only be used in Q3 (if a driver gets through). None of the drivers will be obliged to start Sunday’s grand prix on the tyre with which they set their best time in Q2. Instead, they have a free choice.
Sprint Qualifying: Each driver has a free choice of tyres. At the end of the Sprint Qualifying, they will return the set that has completed the most laps. Unlike the Grand Prix on Sunday, there is no obligatory pit stop during the Sprint Qualifying. If it takes place in wet conditions, each driver must hand back a set of Cinturato Blue wet or Cinturato Green intermediate tyres after the race. Pirelli will replace these with an extra set of Cinturato Green intermediates.
Grand Prix: After starting the race on whichever tyres they like – with no need to use the tyre that set the best time in Q2 – each driver can run their preferred strategy, but the rule obliging them to use a minimum of two compounds and make at least one pit stop remains in place. The rule that each driver must keep back two mandatory sets nominated by Pirelli for the race also still applies.