With the upcoming Azerbaijan Grand Prix shifting from the heat of June to its new spot on the calendar in the cooler climes of April, we're investigating what temperature changes mean for the teams.
Two temperatures play an important role in F1: air temperature and track temperature. While the two are connected, they're not the same. On a beautiful, sunny day, for example, both air and track temperatures will rise. As soon as cloud cover arrives, the air temperature will drop immediately. However, the track will retain the heat over a longer period of time and cool down slowly.
Depending on the surface materials, tracks might heat up faster or slower. If the track surface features a high level of bitumen, it will be darker - and thus absorb more sunlight and heat up quicker.
Variations in temperature impact many parts of the car, but the biggest influence is usually on the tyres. The track temperature impacts how hot the tyres will run which will in turn impact the grip level and the degradation rate.
F1 tyres have a very narrow operating window - the sweet spot being where they are at the peak of their performance in terms of grip levels. Operating below this window doesn't produce the same levels of mechanical grip or performance, while being above it can cause performance to drop and increase tyre wear. Missing the optimum tyre operating window by a few degrees can cost a tenths of a second in a lap time.