Cinturato wet and intermediate tyres seen in mixed conditions of qualifying at Spa
Spa-Francorchamps – Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg has claimed pole position at Spa using the Cinturato Green intermediate tyre, becoming the sixth different driver to sit on pole in Belgium in the last six years. He beat his team mate Lewis Hamilton in tricky conditions, with Mercedes enjoying a pace advantage of around two seconds over rival teams.
A heavy rain shower before qualifying meant that the session started with just 19 degrees of track temperature and 10 degrees ambient, on a fully wet track. There was a mixture of intermediates and full wets in Q1, with all the drivers eventually moving onto the intermediate by the end of the session.
Intermediates were once more used by all the teams in Q2. The track dried out slightly right at the end of the session enabling a number of drivers to improve their times.
The key to setting a quick time in the final Q3 shoot-out was to cross the finish line as late as possible in the session, but it was never sufficiently dry to move onto the slicks. Pole position was decided in a tense duel between the two Mercedes drivers in the very closing moments of the session.
As a result of the rain today, all the teams will have practically a full allocation of new slick tyres for the race tomorrow. Despite the dominance of Mercedes in qualifying, neither car was in the top two of FP3 this morning.
Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery said: “The teams have a tough task ahead of them because we expect a dry race following a wet qualifying, meaning that the data from today might not necessarily be relevant to tomorrow’s grand prix. As usual the challenge in qualifying was not so much dealing with the rain, but coping with the fact that the rain was inconsistent, with some parts of the circuit very wet and others parts more dry. As is always the case under those circumstances, this led to a very exciting qualifying session where the timing of the fast laps was crucial. We’re expecting two pit stops tomorrow, but it’s possible that some teams might try three if they feel there is a pace advantage, given that no slick tyres were used during qualifying and they will all have new sets of dry slicks for the race tomorrow. As a result, they all have enough new slick tyres to keep every option open.”
The Pirelli strategy predictor
The 44-lap race is likely to feature two pit stops in the normal course of events, if conditions stay dry. This also means that the teams are likely to have a complete stock of slick tyres. There is one clear fastest way to go: start on the soft tyres, change again to the soft on lap 15 and then the medium on lap 29. A one-stop or a three-stop is theoretically possible, but it’s not the quickest approach.