The Italian tyre manufacturer has only used the white-striped medium tyres as the slowest tyre thus far, but the blue-marked compound will be on show at Silverstone alongside the mediums and the softs. Silverstone is also one of the three circuits where Pirelli will bring specialised tyres with less tread due to recent track resurfacing.
Mercedes were the first to request the change after experiencing tyre issues in pre-season testing at the Circuit de Catalunya, which is also another track where the special tyres will be introduced. The final exception to the usual tyre treads is the Paul Ricard circuit, home of the French Grand Prix. The super-hard tyres now remain as the only compound not to be nominated by Pirelli this season.
At Silverstone, the third race in F1’s first ever triple-header, the soft, medium and hards will be used. With this year’s compounds a step softer than in 2017, this essentially corresponds with last year’s choice of supersoft, soft and medium. One set of mediums and one set of hards must be available for the race and one of them must be used at some point in the race, while the soft is the assigned tyre for Q3 in qualifying.
The hard was last used at Barcelona last year, and though it was scheduled to be used at subsequent races, complaints from the drivers that it was “too hard” led to Pirelli abandoning its plans: “The tyres are already hard enough so the harder compounds are just way too hard,” said Daniel Ricciardo at the time of the Spanish Grand Prix, the first (and last) appearance of the hard in 2017 – “Hopefully for Barcelona’s sake it’s hot and therefore these harder tyres work, but if it’s cold then it’s going to be a struggle for everyone.”
“We are planning to use the hard in Suzuka,” said Pirelli’s Mario Isola at the time. “The other high severity circuit was Sepang, but last year with the new surface Sepang was less abrasive.”
Last year’s British Grand Prix was won by Lewis Hamilton on a one-stop strategy, the Briton starting on used supersofts before switching to new softs. Behind the Mercedes 1-2, third and fourth placed Kimi Raikkonen and Max Verstappen adopted a two-stop strategy.