A wide variety of potential strategies predicted: Two stops most likely.
Silverstone – Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg has qualified in pole position for the British Grand Prix, using the P Zero White medium tyres, which have been nominated along with the P Zero Orange hard tyres at Silverstone this weekend. But today was mostly about the Cinturato Green intermediate tyre, which was frequently used during a qualifying session that was characterised by mixed conditions. So variable was the weather that the hard, medium, intermediate and wet tyres were all used today at some point.
Rosberg judged the constantly changing conditions to perfection, taking advantage of a drying track in the closing stages to seal pole position by the considerable margin of 1.6 seconds from Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel.
Qualifying started in the wet, following overnight rain. As a result, all the cars headed out on intermediate tyres for Q1, looking to put in a banker lap in case conditions worsened. Instead, a dry line formed meaning that all drivers switched onto the medium tyres before the rain fell again.
This set the tone for the rest of qualifying, with the drivers starting Q2 on intermediates, before moving onto mediums close to the end: a pattern that was repeated in a dramatic Q3. Even when the drivers moved onto medium tyres, the track was never completely dry, yet the medium compound enabled Rosberg to set a time that was only a second off his fastest time from yesterday – which was completely dry.
The final free practice session this morning was also held in wet and cool conditions, with the rain intensifying throughout the hour-long session. Vettel was fastest, from his team mate Daniel Ricciardo, both using intermediate tyres.
Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery said: “With mixed conditions throughout the day, it was a very complex qualifying session, in which judging the crossover point and amount of grip – which was constantly evolving – proved to be crucial. As a result, there were some surprises in the qualifying order all the way to the end. We’re still anticipating a two-stop race tomorrow, from what should be a very interesting grid.”
The Pirelli strategy predictor: For the 52-lap British Grand Prix, a two-stop strategy is theoretically fastest, although some drivers might even try a one-stopper, if they want to do something different from lower down the grid. Our prediction for the quickest strategy is medium-medium-hard, stopping on laps 23 and 45. A three-stop sprint strategy could also work (medium-medium-medium-hard) with stops on laps 18, 34 and 51. This however would leave drivers vulnerable of feeding into traffic during the closing stages of the race.