Pirelli F1 Spanish Grand Prix preview

 The Spanish Grand Prix from a tyre point of view:


For the first time this year, Pirelli has nominated the combination of P Zero Silver hard tyres and P Zero Yellow soft tyres, at the Circuit de Catalunya that will host the Spanish Grand Prix this weekend.

Barcelona is a circuit that is very well known to all the teams and Pirelli, as it is a popular testing venue. This is not only due its convenient location, but also because the circuit contains several medium to high speed corners that tests every aspect of a tyre’s performance and lead to a notable degree of both wear and degradation.

The 4.655-kilometre track contains 16 corners, mostly right-handers, putting the emphasis on the front-left tyre in particular, which does most of the work.

However, the rear tyres also have to withstand plenty of stress in order to provide the combined traction that is needed coming out of the slower corners in the final sector of the lap.

The asphalt in Barcelona is also quite abrasive. Coupled with the high ambient temperatures expected over the race weekend, this only adds to the amount of tyre wear.

Turn three is the most demanding corner of the entire lap, with a lateral force of 3.9G going through the tyres for a prolonged period of time. In the braking area for turn 10, the tyres also have to cope with a deceleration of 5.09G.

Pirelli’s motorsport director says:

Paul Hembery: “The Spanish Grand Prix weekend should present something of a contrast to the last pre-season test in Barcelona, where low ambient temperatures meant that it was difficult to get heat into the tyres! This time we’re expecting warmer weather, which only adds to the many challenges that the tyres will face here. We’ve nominated the soft and hard tyre in order to highlight performance differences that will create a different challenge for the teams, showcasing both the speed and durability of our products. There is a whole step in between our two nominations for the first time this year and this should allow the teams to come up with a number of different tyre strategies that could make a big difference to the final outcome. With many teams having expanded their knowledge of our tyre range and tested new components at Mugello, we’re expecting a closely-fought Spanish Grand Prix – and maybe even the fifth different winner in five races…”

Pirelli’s test driver says:

Jaime Alguersuari: “First of all, it is always a huge pleasure to be at my home circuit, and the fans there are really something special: this is something that all the Spanish drivers and spectators feel. Barcelona is a track that is very stressful for the tyres but that’s what makes it a great experience, where you really have to think about what you are doing. The choice of the hard and the soft compound is going to make things very exciting as degradation is likely to be high and there is a lot you can do with the strategy. Turn three is the place that takes the most out of the tyres in terms of wear. It is a very, very long right-hander that is almost flat – depending on which car you have – and it feels like it is going on forever when you drive it as you can never see the exit. I have always liked quite a stiff set-up for Barcelona, with the car as low to the ground as possible, so you get the best response from the tyres. You need reasonably high downforce but in the end it always has to be a compromise because the lap is so varied. That’s really the challenge of Barcelona: to get the most out of the car and the tyres at every point of the lap.”

Technical tyre notes:

·     The key to a quick lap time in Barcelona is finding the right compromise between aerodynamic grip and mechanical grip. Most teams run a stiff set-up at the front, to help turn-in, but go softer at the back to gain traction.

·     Changing wind direction is a factor that has an important impact on car set-up, especially during the first corner. Nine out of the last 10 races at the track have been won from pole position – with the exception being last year, Pirelli’s first season in Formula One.

·     Just under 60 per cent of the lap is spent at full throttle, with the cars at their top speed of more than 305kph for around 16 seconds on the straight. The set-up calls for a medium to high level of downforce.

Pirelli in Spain:

·     Pirelli has an extremely active presence in Spain, which dates back to 1924. Pirelli bought its first factory in Manresa, close to Barcelona, which went on to become one of the most modern logistics hubs in Europe. Currently the facility is recognised as the number one logistics service among the tyre companies in Spain, covering 27,000 square metres.

·     Pirelli has grown to become the second most prominent tyre company in Spain in terms of sales and brand recognition. Pirelli is the sales leader in Spain when it comes to motorbike tyres.

·     Spain is one of the world leaders in motorsport, hosting two Formula One grands prix, four international motorbike races and one world championship rally per year.

Other news from Pirelli:

·     Pirelli has just completed a three-day official test at Mugello: the first time that there has been a full in-season test since 2008. The teams tried out all the tyres (including the intermediates and wets) with Lotus driver Romain Grosjean going quickest on the P Zero Silver hard tyres.

·     As well as the group test at Mugello, Pirelli will also complete a private test at Jerez in the south of Spain before the Spanish Grand Prix, aimed at developing the 2013 tyres. This will mark the debut of Jaime Alguersuari as Pirelli’s tester, at the wheel of the 2010 Renault R30. Lucas di Grassi will share the driving duties with him.

·     The GP3 season – which has been supplied by Pirelli since 2010 – gets underway in Barcelona, as well alongside the latest round of the GP2 Series, which returns to Europe after the first race in Malaysia and two rounds in Bahrain. Italian driver Davide Valsecchi currently leads the GP2 standings.

·     Pirelli celebrated 21 continuous years of sponsorship of the Pirelli International Rally in Cumbria, England, last weekend. The event was won by two-time British Rally Champion (and former Pirelli Star Driver) Keith Cronin in a Pirelli-equipped Citroen DS3.

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