Pirelli Applauds the ‘Unpredictability’ of New Qualifying Format Following Successful First Trial – What’s Changed?

Pirelli motorsport director Mario Isola praised the new ATA format that was trialed for the first time in Hungary. The format included an Alternation Tyre Allocation (ATA), reducing drivers’ allocated tyres from 13 to 11, and changes to qualifying, requiring drivers to use the hard, medium, and soft tyres in Q1, Q2, and Q3, respectively.

Isola found the qualifying session interesting and challenging for the drivers, leading to even closer times and more unpredictability compared to previous events. The new format resulted in seven teams being represented in the top ten, and the fastest ten qualifiers were all within six tenths of each other.

The unpredictability was attributed to the drivers’ limited time to adapt to the new tyre compounds between sessions. Isola explained that drivers had to switch from one compound to another in the three phases of qualifying, something they were not accustomed to since the rule requiring them to start the race on the same set of tyres used in Q2 was abolished.

Regarding race strategy, Isola suggested that a two-stop strategy, starting on the C4 tyre and running two further stints on the C3, is the most likely option. A one-stop strategy (hard to medium) is also possible but very much on the limit in terms of performance drop-off and tyre life. The higher temperatures and track evolution at the Hungaroring could favor the two harder compounds, the C3 and C4.

Overall, Isola anticipated a spectacular race given the grid order and the different tyre strategies that teams might employ.