By Alex Kapadia
Reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel claimed his first pole position of the year at the Bahrain Grand Prix using the P Zero Yellow soft tyres.
With eight different teams in the top 10, pole position hung in the balance until the closing seconds at the Sakhir circuit.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli’s motorsport director, commented: “We’ve seen a great job from Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull, who demonstrated their ability to get the most out of the tyres by extracting every last bit of performance from the softer compound.
“With the whole field having closed up considerably in terms of pure pace this year, every single advantage that any driver finds is magnified – which means that tyre strategy becomes all the more important.
“That strategy also influences qualifying, with about 18-20 laps expected for the soft tyres in race conditions and 23-25 laps for the medium tyres.
“We can expect three stops for most of the leading runners, although some may try two depending on which compound they favour.
“Degradation is more or less where we expect it to be, given track temperatures in excess of 45 degrees centigrade.
“In terms of the speed differential between the tyres, we’re still expecting 0.6-0.8 seconds between the two compounds or maybe a bit less.
“Tyre degradation is certainly going to be an important factor in the race tomorrow, but managing the tyres correctly presents another important opportunity for this extremely talented grid of drivers to demonstrate their skills.”