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Pirelli drops supersofts from German GP tyre line-up

Pirelli tyres atmosphere
©WRI2

The red supersofts have been left out of the line-up of tyre compounds that Pirelli will be offering drivers for the German Grand Prix in July.

The supplier has instead decided to field a choice of the white medium tyres, yellow soft and purple ultrasofts for this year's race at the 17-turn, 4.574km Hockenheim circuit.

Drivers get one set of each compound by default, and then have a free choice of how to make up the remainder of the 13 sets available to them for the race weekend. They must keep one set each of the medium and soft tyres to use in the race, and one of the ultrasofts for use in the final round of qualifying.

It's only the second time that Pirelli have opted for a 'non-consecutive' selection of tyres. The Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai saw the same choice.

Pirelli said this week during in-season testing at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya that drivers have been asking for compounds to be 'skipped' more often, to provide more diversity in race strategy.

The German race wasn't on the calendar last year, so there is no direct comparison to any tyre line-up offered in 2017. The last time F1 raced at Hockenheim in 2016, the medium, soft and supersoft compounds provided were much harder than they are now.

Race winner Lewis Hamilton won that race on a three-stop strategy, alternating between supersofts and softs each time. Valtteri Bottas - then with Williams - was the only driver in the top ten to two-stop.

Today's supersoft tyre has become increasingly less popular among teams as the current season has gone on. Haas driver Romain Grosjean was critical of the compound after it failed to deliver the expected performance advantage over the soft version.

"The super should go faster [than the soft]," he said last week in Spain. “Obviously you expect more degradation, but it’s just a harder tyre to drive," he added. "It’s more pointy, more difficult to drive. You can’t push it as hard as you would like."

The supersoft compound has been taken to eight of the 11 races so far in 2018. It's missed just Shanghai, Silverstone and now Hockenheim. Only the soft compound had been more prevalent in the Grand Prix paddock with nine appearances.

The ultrasoft tyre has now been nominated for eight races, while the medium has been seen at five venues so far this year.

The specialist hypersoft tyre has been rolled out for Monaco and Canada, while the hard tyre will make its first and to date only appearance for the British Grand Prix.

The seventh compound designated superhard is not expected to be used in competition this year. Its purpose was always to act as a safeguard in case tyre wear and degradation proved higher than expected.

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