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Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin, 2nd position, celebrates on the podium

Changes to the Q2 Tyre Rule

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The 2022 F1 sporting regulations have finally been released. The most significant change is that the Q2 Tyre rule has been completely scrapped.

The Q2 Tyre rule is a bit like marmite. Some love it, some hate it. One thing’s for certain, it hugely impacted strategy. Now the tyre choice for the race start is completely free.

The Q2 rule was as follows:

“at the start of the race each car which qualified for Q3 must be fitted with the tyres with which the driver set his fastest time during Q2.”

This statement is from the FIA 2021 Sporting Regulations. It essentially means if a driver/car got into Q3, their race must have begun on the same exact tyres they set their fastest Q2 lap on.

This would lead to interesting strategy calls as it’s all well and good getting into Q3 on the fastest compound. But, if you’re on softs and everyone else is on hards or mediums, you might not be in the best position for the race.

Because of this, many midfield teams would take advantage of the glorious P11. Starting in P11 gives a driver a completely free tyre choice. Under 2021 regulations P11 was the highest grid-position with a free tyre choice.

Many will remember Sebastian Vettel’s glorious P2 finish in the 2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Originally, Vettel was disappointed in not making Q3 but then he realised the silver lining. That silver lining is that he’d have a completely free tyre choice.

Using Vettel as an example, he had completely fresh tyres to start on. Both Aston Martins had plans for a very long first stint but Lance Stroll suffered an unfortunate tyre blowout. Vettel looked after his tyres extremely well and a late pit-stop to softs gave him extra speed at the end.

Pierre Gasly in Bahrain, Image Credit:

Another thing that will be missed about the Q2 Tyre Rule was seeing how much drivers and teams could push the car to try and get through to Q3 on mediums. This wasn’t too hard for teams like Mercedes and RedBull but when, for example, an Alpha Tauri did it, it was pretty spectacular.

My favourite example of this was Gasly’s qualifying in Bahrain 2021. Gasly stormed the midfield competition, got into Q3 on Mediums. The ability of any car and driver to get into Q3 on mediums majorly opens up strategy for the team. Sadly Gasly’s race ended after a shunt with Ricciardo, but, his strategy could have been competitive due to the Q2 efforts.

As 2022 welcomes in a new era of F1, we must welcome a new era of qualifying. This could be great for some teams as they might be able to get higher up the grids on soft tyres (the faster compound) and not sacrifice race strategy as they will have a free tyre choice.

This will be great for less competitive teams and I know it will be exciting to watch. However, I am just a little bit sad to see the rule go, because, I did love the drama it delivered.

Feature Image: Aston Martin Media Pool

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