Track limits. Who knew that what we really needed to spice up qualifying this season was actually enforced track limits. So extreme was the result of running outside of track limits in Austria (Disintegrating cars) that the FIA decided to play it Old School this weekend and actually enforce the track limits instead by penalising drivers who did so.
Crossing the line with all four Pirellis would be met with “Zero tolerance” at Copse, Stowe and Club. These were the corners on the track deemed to give the most advantage by doing so.
We had a glimpse of the drama this would introduce when Kevin Magnussen broke the track limits in Q1. He would later have his time wiped out in the middle of Q2. McLaren & Jenson Button had hoped to gain from the Renault drivers exclusion but because Q2 had already started Button was not allowed to participate in the session and therefore unable to take advantage by more than the one position he gained.
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Oh… Not the quali I was after! Problem with the rear wing on my timed lap in Q1, the team did a great job to fix it but we didn't quite have enough time to set another laptime. Thank you for all the support guys, it means so much to me. Tomorrow I'll give it my all for you 😉👊🏽 #JB22 #silverstone #britishgp #mclarenhonda photo by @latphotographic
It would really kick off in Q3. Lewis Hamilton, Nico Hulkenberg and Fernando Alonso all became victims of the delete button. The latter two allowing Carlos Sainz Jr to take an impressive P8 on the grid. The pressure piled on to Hamilton as his original pole time vanished from our screens as Race Control deemed he’d gone too wide at Copse. With minutes to spare the Mercedes rumbled back out on trick rebooted on a set of softs as Lewis struck a hammer blow to Nico Rosberg with a 1:29.287. Over three tenths faster than his German rival.
A seemingly levitating Hamilton was pretty chuffed with himself afterwards:
“Nico knew I had that pace and it wasn’t a small little gap, it was a good gap,”
It was a case of Noah’s Ark at the front. Both Ferrari drivers line up on the 3rd row of the grid. Having recently been handed a one year extension to his contract it was Kimi who rewarded that faith by out-qualifying Seb.
Red Bull locked out the 2nd row, and for the first time Max Verstappen got the jump on Daniel Ricciardo in qualifying. An impressive performance as the Dutchman was three tenths ahead of the Honey Badger. Both drivers will be hoping for the Silver Arrows ahead to continue to show almost magnetic attraction for each other. Ricciardo clearly hoping that this time his strategy is the right one and his tyres are ready.
There was a notable absentee in qualifying. Marcus Ericsson had a heavy shunt in final practice and while he was given the all clear following routine medical checks he would not make it back in time.
Back in the paddock after checks on the hospital. Everything looks ok, just a bit sore. Thx for all the messages pic.twitter.com/V5wVcWIlpC
— Marcus Ericsson (@Ericsson_Marcus) July 9, 2016
The soft tyre was used right from the beginning of Q1 for nearly all the drivers: the softest compound available, seen for the first time at the high-energy Silverstone circuit.
A two-stop strategy is set to be the optimal choice for the race tomorrow if conditions remain dry – which is far from guaranteed, using the soft and the medium tyre. As is often the case, there are also other strategy permutations that could help to boost track position.
Hamilton already broke the absolute lap record at the end of Q2 on the soft tyre, which is the compound that the top 10 will all start with tomorrow. He wasn’t quite as quick in the final Q3 shoot-out, setting a pole time of 1m29.287, which was still a full three seconds faster than last year’s equivalent.
How the tyres behaved today:
Hard: only used in the first part of Q1 by Force India, not seen for the rest of qualifying.
Medium: Seen in FP3 and hardly at all in qualifying, but will be the favoured race tyre.
Soft: the most popular choice in qualifying used from start to finish by almost everybody.
Possible race strategies and maximum laps:
Pirelli recommends that the following numbers of laps are not exceeded on each compound:
Hard* = 26 laps
Medium = 28 laps
Soft = 15 laps
*The hard compound experienced some graining, which is why the useful life of this tyre is predicted to be less than that of the medium.
On this basis, the optimal pit-stop strategies predicted by Pirelli are as follows:
Two-stopper: two stints on soft of 12 laps each + one 28-lap stint on medium
Three-stopper: three stints on soft of 12 laps each + one 16-lap stint on medium
Two-stopper: one 12-lap stint on soft + one 14-lap stint on new soft + one 26-lap stint on hard
Two-stopper: one stint on soft of 12 laps + two 20-lap stints on medium
Different permutations of compound usage within each strategy are possible.
These indications do not represent or constitute a guaranteed minimum number of laps for each compound. It is the responsibility of each team to define its own race strategies based on its own wear data.
Free practice 3 – top three times
Hamilton 1m30.904s Soft new
Rosberg 1m30.967s Soft new
Ricciardo 1m31.488s Soft new
Qualifying top 10
Hamilton 1m29.287s Soft new
Rosberg 1m29.606s Soft new
Verstappen 1m30.313s Soft new
Ricciardo 1m30.618s Soft new
Raikkonen 1m30.881s Soft new
Vettel 1m31.490s Soft new
Bottas 1m31.557s Soft new
Hulkenberg 1m31.920s Soft new
Sainz 1m31.989s Soft new
Alonso 1m32.343s Soft new
Most laps by compound so far
Hard Perez 20 laps
Medium Palmer 34 laps
Soft Hamilton 23 laps
Intermediate Rosberg 3 laps
Wet Alonso 1 lap
Wet Bottas 1 lap
Wet Button 1 lap
Wet Ericsson 1 lap
Best time by compound so far
Hard Verstappen 1m33.202s
Medium Hamilton 1m31.654s
Soft Hamilton 1m29.243s
Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director: “A day of mixed conditions again, which is typical of Silverstone and could well be the case again tomorrow. This is why the data gathered in all these different conditions up to now is likely to be very useful. We’ve seen some absolutely stunning pace with the soft compound in particular, while the medium looks like it’s going to be the favoured race tyre, using a two-stop strategy.”