The Formula 2 season continues alongside Formula 1 for a tenth consecutive event in Sochi. In conjunction with the medium tyre, the 18-inch P Zero Purple supersoft tyres will make their first appearance since the season started in Austria.
Mick Schumacher – who drove his father Michael’s Ferrari F2004 on Pirelli tyres before the Tuscan Grand Prix at Mugello – heads the championship standings with three rounds to go but there are six other drivers within 39 points of the leader.
The Sochi circuit has relatively low wear and degradation levels, thanks partly to a fairly smooth surface. Pirelli says the most demanding corner for the tyres is Turn 3: a long left-hander that has multiple apexes and sustained lateral forces. During the rest of the lap, the emphasis is more on traction and braking. There is usually a high degree of track evolution over a race weekend. The circuit gets limited use over the rest of the year, so starts out very ‘green’ at the start of the weekend with limited grip on offer.
The P Zero Yellow medium and P Zero Purple supersoft tyres have been nominated for F2 in Sochi. This is the same combination – with an additional step between the compounds – that was used in Sochi last year, but now in 18-inch size with new compounds. In F2, each driver has five sets of slick tyres to use over the weekend: three medium and two supersoft. They also have three sets of wet-weather tyres. During race one, where there is a mandatory pit stop, both compounds have to be used unless it is declared a wet race. Pit stops are optional in race two.
In 2019, Nyck de Vries was crowned Formula 2 champion in Sochi, clinching the title with victory in the feature race, where he started from pole on the supersoft and then switched to the medium. A shortened sprint race – after a first-lap accident – was won by Luca Ghiotto.
“It has been an incredibly exciting season in Formula 2 so far and the title fight still looks to be wide open going into the final three rounds,” said Pirelli head of car racing, Mario Isola. “In contrast to the previous venue at Mugello, the circuit in Sochi is not especially demanding for tyres. We will take this opportunity to use the supersoft version of the 18-inch tyres alongside the medium, which should create an interesting performance differential between the two compounds, with a knock-on effect regarding tyre strategy and management. Thanks to this interesting variable, we hope to see yet more of the great wheel-to-wheel action that has characterised this season so far.”