The short but frantic Red Bull Ring provided some fantastic racing and plenty of action in the middle of the triple-header, a lot of which centred around tyre strategy and management. Here’s what happened at an exciting weekend in Austria from Pirelli’s perspective.


Feature Race, the winner: ART Grand Prix driver George Russell started on the supersoft before pitting for the soft under the safety car, shortly after the pit stop window opened. The same tactic was adopted by all but three drivers, meaning that Russell had to hold his nerve, manage his tyres, and fight his way back to the front, with yet another safety car appearing later in the race. There was plenty of strategic variation, with different battles all the way down the field and the final classification in doubt all the way to the chequered flag.

George Russell: “The degradation on the supersoft tyres at the start was enormous. So the first half of the race was really tricky, and after the first safety car period we ended up coming out behind three drivers who had yet to pit. That was a tricky scenario for us – whether to push to get past these guys or stay back and save the tyres. In the end, it was just a case of managing the tyres and managing the gap to the guys behind me. It wasn’t easy, but we got the 25 points.”

Feature Race, alternative strategy: Arjun Maini (Trident), Artem Markelov (Russian Time) and Sean Gelael (Prema) started the race on the soft tyre and did not stop under the first safety car. This put them into the leading group, but they were forced to run longer on the slower tyre and then pit towards the end of the race for the supersoft. Markelov made the best of this strategy, eventually finishing eighth after being the last driver to stop on lap 35 (from the lead).

Sprint Race, the winner: Renault junior Markelov won by five seconds from Russell, with the whole field on the soft tyre and no pit stops. Markelov started from pole and controlled degradation perfectly, in warm conditions, to take a commanding victory.


Feature Race, the winner: Tyre management was an important part of Ferrari junior Callum Ilott’s win from pole. He made an ideal start and was able to maintain his advantage despite a safety car. His second win in a row gave him the championship lead, after former leader Antoine Hubert dropped down the order following contact.

Sprint Race, the winner: ART driver Jake Hughes took his first win after the front row starters collided, which enabled him to build an early cushion. Hughes then had an intense fight with Trident’s Pedro Piquet, who momentarily took the lead, but then lost ground after using up his DRS allocation. With high degradation, looking after the tyres was paramount once more.


Pirelli’s head of car racing Mario Isola: “The Red Bull Ring is a circuit that might look straightforward but in reality is very challenging, especially as we nominated the softest tyres available in each category. These provided high performance but also required some degree of management, as degradation levels meant there was plenty of action. As a result we saw some exciting races and a lot of skill from the drivers in both F2 and GP3, who were able to use their tyres in the most effective way. Once again, both series underlined their reputations as the perfect stepping stones to Formula 1 this weekend.”

NEXT RACESFormula 2 and GP3 returns for the final venue of the Formula 1 triple-header, at the British Grand Prix in Silverstone from July 6-8.


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