FIA Formula 3 drivers believe they are in for exciting races at the Red Bull Ring if Pirelli’s soft compound tyre is used.
Each car is allocated four sets of slick tyres and two sets of wet-weather tyres, and rain could hit Saturday’s sprint race.
Drivers used hard compound tyres (carried over from Barcelona) in practice, with some also running on softs, while in qualifying everyone used the faster compound.
Prior to practice, Van Amersfoort Racing’s Caio Collet said it was “unknown” if the softs could last a race distance, but added it would “be a nice weekend to watch”, and Hitech GP’s Sebastian Montoya conferred it would make it a “bit more interesting” although F3’s races are already “really hectic”.
Prema’s Dino Beganovic noted “we only get 45 minutes of practice and then straight into qualifying, and especially now when we have the carryovers with the hards and then just a set of softs to get used to the track, to get back the references, will be interesting”.
Beganovic went on to qualify second, between ART Grand Prix’s Gregoire Saucy and Trident’s Gabriel Bortoleto.
“We didn’t test anything [during practice] in terms of long run, but what I can imagine it would be very tough for the race because of the DRS zones,” said Bortoleto afterwards.
“It’s always a DRS train and I think it would be quite a messy race and fun for the spectators and for us as well.”
Formula Scout asked the top three qualifiers if they now had more insight on how the soft – a new compound for 2023 that debuted in Monaco – would be for the races.
“As with Gabriel in FP we didn’t do a long run, so we don’t know here how it will go during the race,” replied Saucy.
“The soft tyre, we can see in Monaco. At the start [there], we didn’t expect some degradation. And at the end, we had like massive degradation. So we need to see what it will be here.
“That will be interesting, I think, to see if some drivers will take a bit of margin at the start of the race to expect some degradation, or just pushing and see if there is no degradation.”
Beganovic agreed that Monaco “was a bit of a challenge” using soft tyres with the two pre-race ‘strategies’ of “if you’re going to go for the fastest lap in the beginning or if you’re going to try to save your tyres for the end and try to attack”.
“The race will be tough. I think both from the racing side, but also tyre management,” Beganovic added. “In qualifying the soft tyres are really amazing. Going from the hards to the soft in practice was really amazing, it was a big step. So let’s see for the race if it’ll be as fun as in qualifying.”
Bortoleto agreed with his rivals and said “it’s going to be fun and a crazy race because of the tyres”.