Esteban Ocon, Renault, Mugello, 2020

Limited practice data means teams will have to be “flexible” with Mugello strategies

2020 Tuscan GP Friday practice analysis

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Mugello’s high speed corners and abrasive track surface are giving the tyres a pounding. But will it be enough to force teams to do more than the single mandatory pit stop on Sunday?

That was Pirelli’s expectation before practice on Friday. “In our preliminary simulations, we were expecting the strategy [to be] two stops,” said its head of motorsport and Formula 1 Mario Isola. “It is probably not too far from the truth.”

But a familiar phenomenon is expected on this unfamiliar circuit. A two-stop strategy may be theoretically quicker, but only if you can run in clear air. As overtaking is expected to be more difficult at this circuit than typical layouts, teams therefore have a strong incentive to treat the tyres very gently and coax them home on a one-stop strategy.

“This circuit is quite narrow and overtaking opportunities are very limited,” said Isola. “Just at the end of the straight we have only one DRS zone.

“So I believe that teams will try to plan a strategy on one stop and try to push on longer stints because otherwise they lose too much time on an additional pit stop.”

Nicholas Latifi, Williams, Mugello, 2020
Overtaking is expected to be difficult at Mugello
It’s not a foregone conclusion that this will happen. Teams have limited data on Mugello and weren’t able to build up a full picture on Friday as second practice was disrupted by two red flags.

“If the wear is too high and they start losing performance, they’ll have to plan a different strategy,” said Isola. “It’s very difficult to predict because not having data from this afternoon and not having data from the past they need to be flexible during the race, checking the wear after the first stint.”

With 15 medium-to-high speed corners, more than half of which are taken at over 200kph, the front tyres are taking the hardest hit and will give the first sign of trouble.

Teams will find it harder to make one-stop strategies work if they have to start the race on soft tyres. The soft tyre offers a performance gain of nine tenths of a second per lap, according to Pirelli, which is above their original predictions.

Based on the second practice times, and assuming the likes of McLaren and Racing Point have some performance in hand, the front runners may not find it as easy to pass through Q2 on medium tyres as they have at other tracks.

The comparison to Silverstone will inevitably prompt questions over how Mercedes will perform on their tyres. They encountered problems with their rubber in both races at the Northamptonshire track, whether it was blistering (70th Anniversary Grand Prix) or late-race failures (British Grand Prix).

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Mugello, 2020
Mercedes suffered tyre problems twice at Silverstone
Pirelli played down the prospects of such problems occuring in the race. “We didn’t experience any graining, any blistering, anything else, just a bit of abrasion,” said Isola. “That, again, is expected in the afternoon.

“In some cases, a little bit of porosity is visible. So probably during the race if we have a bit of blistering, it’s not a big surprise. We know that blistering at certain levels is not affecting the performance of the tyre. So I believe that the blistering can be manageable.”

Buthow much more grip will be found as the rubber level builds up remains unknown, and therefore so does the cars’ ultimate performance levels. Therefore the possibility remains Mugello’s first F1 race won’t run exactly to the usual 2020 form.

Quotes: Dieter Rencken

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Combined practice times

PosDriverCarFP1FP2Total laps
1Valtteri BottasMercedes1’17.8791’16.98961
2Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’18.4091’17.19657
3Max VerstappenRed Bull-Honda1’17.9271’17.23557
4Alexander AlbonRed Bull-Honda1’19.0681’17.97162
5Daniel RicciardoRenault1’19.1401’18.03957
6Esteban OconRenault1’18.8051’18.11557
7Charles LeclercFerrari1’18.1861’18.40054
8Sergio PerezRacing Point-Mercedes1’19.8401’18.19863
9Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri-Honda1’18.6761’18.24460
10Kimi RaikkonenAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’19.2191’18.38559
11Lance StrollRacing Point-Mercedes1’19.8361’18.46260
12Sebastian VettelFerrari1’19.2671’18.49866
13Carlos Sainz JnrMcLaren-Renault1’19.4571’18.65165
14Lando NorrisMcLaren-Renault1’18.9811’18.65839
15Daniil KvyatAlphaTauri-Honda1’18.8391’18.73664
16George RussellWilliams-Mercedes1’19.4781’18.84362
17Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’19.3221’18.94463
18Nicholas LatifiWilliams-Mercedes1’20.0341’18.98363
19Kevin MagnussenHaas-Ferrari1’19.5511’19.11357
20Romain GrosjeanHaas-Ferrari1’19.2241’19.25730

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Best sector times – second practice

Car numberDriverCarSector 1Sector 2Sector 3
77Valtteri BottasMercedes27.57821.19728.214
44Lewis HamiltonMercedes27.81721.28228.097
33Max VerstappenRed Bull-Honda27.74421.38428.107
23Alexander AlbonRed Bull-Honda27.87321.64528.453
3Daniel RicciardoRenault28.29621.51528.228
31Esteban OconRenault28.09821.60928.408
11Sergio PerezRacing Point-Mercedes28.20221.53428.462
10Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri-Honda28.08521.47728.545
7Kimi RaikkonenAlfa Romeo-Ferrari28.1621.62828.597
16Charles LeclercFerrari28.17721.5828.643
18Lance StrollRacing Point-Mercedes28.35421.59728.511
5Sebastian VettelFerrari28.23621.68628.576
55Carlos Sainz JnrMcLaren-Renault28.49121.54628.499
4Lando NorrisMcLaren-Renault28.46621.53828.654
26Daniil KvyatAlphaTauri-Honda28.42921.66228.645
63George RussellWilliams-Mercedes28.48321.60728.753
99Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo-Ferrari28.53621.8628.548
6Nicholas LatifiWilliams-Mercedes28.50121.55128.894
20Kevin MagnussenHaas-Ferrari28.54821.72928.788
8Romain GrosjeanHaas-Ferrari28.67121.71828.868

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2020 Tuscan Grand Prix Ferrari 1000

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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2 comments on “Limited practice data means teams will have to be “flexible” with Mugello strategies”

  1. So latifi is faster than albon in the middle sector… Say what..! Might be an interesting weekend.

  2. I am glad to see the best sector times back again as requested, thanks Keith!

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