Formula 1 is set to trial its Sprint Qualifying format at three venues this season, starting at Silverstone in July. But what specific tyre rules will be in force on those three weekends?
As a reminder, drivers will qualify on Friday afternoon for the Saturday 30-minute mad dash that will determine the grid for Sunday’s Grand Prix.
Pirelli will allocate a total of 12 sets of tyres to each driver t cover the entire weekend: six sets of the Red soft tyre, four sets of the Yellow medium compound and two sets of the Hard white rubber.
Four sets of intermediates and three sets of full wets will also be available for each driver – as is currently also the case – in the event of adverse conditions.
Formula 1 is still finetuning the rules, so there could be a few tweaks to the following:
• Free practice: In Free Practice 1, taking place for 60 minutes on Friday, each driver must use two sets of tyres (of any compound) and hand back one set to Pirelli at the end of the session. In Free Practice 2, taking place for 60 minutes on Saturday, each driver can use as many sets of tyres as they like within their allocation.
• Qualifying: Only the Red soft tyre can be used, up to a maximum of five sets. Of these, one can only be used in Q3 (if a driver gets through). None of the drivers will be obliged to start Sunday’s grand prix on the tyre with which they set their best time in Q2. Instead, they have a free choice.
• Sprint Qualifying: Each driver has a free choice of tyres. At the end of the Sprint Qualifying, they will return the set that has completed the most laps. Unlike the grand prix on Sunday, there is no obligatory pit stop during the Sprint Qualifying. If it takes place in wet conditions, each driver must hand back a set of Cinturato Blue wet or Cinturato Green intermediate tyres after the race. Pirelli will replace these with an extra set of Cinturato Green intermediates.
• Grand Prix: After starting the race on whichever tyres they like – with no need to use the tyre that set the best time in Q2 – each driver can run their preferred strategy, but the rule obliging them to use a minimum of two compounds and make at least one pit stop remains in place. The rule that each driver must keep back two mandatory sets nominated by Pirelli for the race also still applies.
The bottom line? Contrary to F1’s normal weekend format, where a driver must race on the tyre used to set his fastest time in Q2, everyone will have a free choice of tyres on race day.