2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix - Sunday
Hard tyres at the forefront on the new asphalt of Baku
“From start to finish, this was an intense race. As we fully expected, nearly all the drivers chose an opening stint on the P Zero Yellow medium before moving onto the P Zero White hard: only the drivers who started from the pit lane – Alpine’s Esteban Ocon and Haas driver Nico Hulkenberg – or those at the back of the grid like AlphaTauri’s Nyck De Vries, chose to start with a long stint on the hard tyre before going onto soft in the hope of a safety car during the closing stages. With very little long run data to fall back on, which was mainly collected during yesterday’s Sprint, there were a few more unknowns than usual heading into today’s grand prix. We’re pleased that the hard tyre not only showed a good level of reliability, with some runs of 300 kilometres on it, but that it also allowed drivers to push as hard as they liked. Proof of this came from the spectacular exchange of fastest laps among the top four, all from different teams, which additionally underlines the versatility of this compound. The fact that the best time among them (1m44.232s from Verstappen) was 1.8 seconds faster than last year’s fastest race lap is significant. The medium, which everyone had a bit more information on compared to the hard, showed performance in line with expectations but suffered from less graining, probably thanks also to the extra grip offered by the new asphalt.”
THE RACE FROM A TYRE POINT OF VIEW
- Sergio Perez led a Red Bull one-two at the Baku street circuit for the second consecutive year, followed home by his team mate Max Verstappen. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, on pole for the third consecutive year following Friday’s qualifying, finished third to secure his team’s first podium of the year.
- The strategies were influenced by a safety car in the early stages of the race. The majority of drivers, including the podium finishers, swapped from medium to hard tyres between laps nine and 11. Nearly every driver took the flag on the hard tyre, setting personal best laps in the closing minutes as the tyres and times got faster, despite the long stints.
- The reliability of the hard tyre in Baku was underlined by Haas driver Nico Hulkenberg and Alpine’s Esteban Ocon. Both started from the pit lane with a new set of hards and then finished the race on the P Zero Red soft, changing tyres with just two laps and one lap to go respectively. The Frenchman completed 50 laps – practically the entire race distance – on the same set of hard tyres.
- The fastest lap on the hard tyre was set by Verstappen (1m44.232s) while the fastest time on the medium came from Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas (1m46.304s), who also completed the longest stint on this compound at 16 laps. The fastest overall race lap was set by Mercedes driver George Russell on the final lap, after switching to the soft tyre one lap earlier to hunt down an additional championship point.
- There was just one neutralisation, on lap 11, after De Vries touched the wall and brought out a safety car. Some drivers had previously tried an undercut by stopping early, including Verstappen who switched tyres just seconds before the decision to send out the safety car was made. Most teams used the safety car to make a pit stop with both drivers.
- Just three drivers selected the hard at the start: De Vries (from last on the grid) as well as Ocon and Hulkenberg. Ocon, Hulkenberg and Russell were the only drivers to run the soft in the race.
- Bottas made several visits to the pit lane. Starting on medium, he switched to hard on lap six and then stopped again for another set of hards under the safety car. With 16 laps to go he switched to the medium – the only driver to finish the race on that compound.
- Temperatures were similar to Saturday at around 25 to 28 degrees centigrade ambient, with track temperature peaking at 44 degrees shortly after the start.
Next weekend Formula 1 will be in Miami from May 5-7. This will be the first back to back race on the calendar, with a particular challenge coming from the eight-hour time difference between Azerbaijan and Florida. Miami will be the first of three American races in 2023, with F1 also visiting Austin in October and Las Vegas in November.
Founded in 1872, Pirelli is a company with deep Italian roots now recognised all over the world for its cutting-edge technology, capacity for innovation, and the quality of its products. Motorsport has always played an important part in Pirelli’s strategy, following the ‘race to road’ philosophy. The company has been engaged in motorsport for 116 years and today supplies tyres to more than 350 championships on both two and four wheels. Pirelli pays constant attention to the most efficient use of natural resources and energy, aiming to reach carbon neutrality by 2030.
Pirelli has been Global Tyre Partner of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship since 2011. The company also supplies championships including FIA Formula 2, FIA Formula 3, Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine, FIA World Rally Championship and GT World Challenge, alongside numerous national series.