Pirelli: Portuguese GP could be ‘new challenge entirely’

Henry Valantine
Pirelli Portuguese Grand Prix Formula 1

Pirelli have nominated their three hardest compounds for the 2021 Portuguese Grand Prix

Pirelli have allocated their C1, C2 and C3 tyres to be used at the Portuguese Grand Prix at the weekend – their three hardest compounds.

This selection matches what they took to Portimao in 2020, but the company have said that the circuit will be ‘another challenge entirely’ for the drivers and teams in 2021.

The track was resurfaced last summer and the new asphalt caused problems for the drivers when the weather conditions changed throughout the weekend in the Algarve, with a further change being made for the upcoming Grand Prix with the addition of a second DRS zone.

The surface will have had around six months to mature, but the track is still likely to remain slick – which could present a number of issues for the teams when they decide on their strategies for Sunday’s race.

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Pirelli’s head of F1 and car racing Mario Isola said: “Tyre management – and getting the harder compounds into their working windows – was an important theme of the Portimao race last year, for a number of reasons. But this year, with the possibility of different weather conditions and a track surface that might have evolved, it could be another challenge entirely.

“The new tyre construction has performed well during the first two races of 2021 and now the hardest compound in the range makes its debut. This range has been selected to cope with the unique demands that this circuit puts through the tyre, exacerbated in the event of warmer weather.

“Last year all three compounds were used during the race, with a variety of strategies and usage. Conditions were cool and windy, with occasional light rain, while track conditions changed throughout the weekend.

“The new surface was the key factor determining low grip while in terms of tyre performance, warm-up and graining were two other relevant factors.”

The 2020 edition of the race saw drivers vary greatly in how well they were able to activate their tyres, with Carlos Sainz in particular managing to jump from P7 to P1 and lead the race on the first lap, with light rain causing problems for the majority of the grid.

With different weather conditions expected at the weekend, free practice sessions will be crucial for the teams and drivers to gain understanding of how the tyres will work throughout qualifying and the race.

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