Pirelli’s Mario Isola: “It was the intermediate tyre that made the difference”

Mario Isola says Pirelli Motorsport’s medium and hard compound tyre worked extremely well during Sunday’s Russian Grand Prix, but the race was ultimately decided by the timing of the drivers’ final stop to switch to the intermediate compound when the rain came.

Rain during Qualifying meant all twenty drivers had a free choice of starting tyre on Sunday, and seven drivers opted to start on the hard tyre and thirteen on the medium compound.  Both tyres gave good longevity and performance, with a little bit of graining often coming and then going.

Fernando Alonso, Sergio Pérez and Antonio Giovinazzi all started on the hard compound and completed thirty-six laps before switching to the mediums, while Lando Norris got twenty-eight laps out of his starting set of medium tyres before pitting for the hard compound.

However, it was the decision of when to switch to the intermediate tyre when the rain began to fall that decided the race, with those who pitted slightly earlier getting the advantage on those who delayed their own stops for a lap or two more.

“After yesterday’s wet conditions, the rain held off until the final few laps – and it decided the race,” said Isola.  “Up until then, the drivers had made the most of dry conditions with maximum tyre freedom, as they could choose their starting tyres and they all had a full unused allocation of slicks.

“The ‘reset’ track following the rain led to a bit of sliding and graining at the start of the race, but this was soon overcome. The hard tyre’s resistance to abrasion proved very well suited to the conditions, with some very long stints of more than 35 laps, while the medium also did 28 laps in the hands of Lando Norris.

“Ultimately though, it was the intermediate tyre that made the difference, with the teams able to use their experience from a wet qualifying to extract the maximum performance from it when it mattered at the end.”

Credit: Pirelli Motorsport