Formula 1 teams opted against removing the rule that forces the top ten cars to start the race on the tire they qualified on in Q2 for 2019.
In order to ensure the top ten cars all set a lap time in Q3, they are allocated a set of the softest tires for free use in the final part of qualifying, with their Q2 tire mandatory for the start of the race. However, as Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull had a major performance advantage this season, they were often able to use a slower, more durable compound to advance, giving them an even bigger advantage in terms of race strategy.
Pirelli head of car racing Mario Isola says removal of the rule was discussed in order to aid the midfield teams that reach Q3, but the teams did not all agree on doing so.
“There was a proposal to remove the rule that obliges the top 10 to start with the tire used in qualifying but it was not approved, and at this point of the year you need unanimity to change the rules, so for next year no changes are planned,” Isola said.
“If we go a bit more conservative in the selection I think that in qualifying there is no reason to try to use the one in the middle instead of the softest because the advantage is probably [not so big], so we have a race that is more balanced in this respect.”
Pirelli announced the compound choices for the opening four races of the 2019 season this week, with the equivalent of last year’s medium, soft and ultrasoft — known as C2, C3 and C4 — picked for Australia, China and Azerbaijan, while C1, C2 and C3 — comparable to last year’s hard, medium and soft — have been selected for Bahrain.
The selections will likely lead to one-stop races, something Pirelli says it was considering to ensure drivers push harder throughout the race rather than managing their pace heavily on the softest compounds to avoid further pit stops.
Although renamed, the compounds are very similar to last season, with the supersoft dropped for being too close in performance to the soft in 2018. At each event, the hardest compound while be marked white, the middle compound in yellow and the softest compound in red.