The FIA Formula 2 and Formula 3 championships return at the legendary Spa-Francorchamps track, following the summer break. Even though the fast and flowing Belgian circuit is completely different in nature to the last round at the Hungaroring, both categories will use the same compounds of tyre as they did in Hungary: medium and soft in F2 and medium in F3.
• Tyres get a thorough workout around a lap of Spa, with different forces created by the various types of corner. Fast corners such as Pouhon generate big lateral demands, while elevation changes such as those at Eau Rouge create significant vertical loads. There are also high braking and traction forces in and out of the slower corners, such as the chicane at the end of the lap.
• Car setup at Spa is a compromise between prioritising maximum speed along the straights and generating downforce through the corners. Cars with a low-downforce setup are more reliant on the tyres to provide mechanical grip in the twistier middle sector.
• Spa is notorious for weather that can change in an instant, and rain sometimes falls over some parts of the circuit and not others. This makes it difficult to judge which type of tyre is the best to be on at any given time. Standing water can easily form, making Spa in the wet an even bigger challenge.
The tyres and strategy
• The P Zero Yellow medium and P Zero Red soft tyres have been nominated for F2 at the Spa. The same combination was used in Hungary and Bahrain this season, and at Spa in 2018.
• In F2, each driver has five sets of slick tyres to use over the weekend: three medium and two soft. They also have three sets of wet-weather tyres. During the feature race, 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 the sprint race.
• Just one tyre is nominated for each F3 round: at Spa it’s the medium. This was previously used earlier this season at Paul Ricard and the Hungaroring.
• F3 drivers will get three new sets of the medium tyre, plus one carry-over set of medium tyres from the previous round in Hungary, which must be returned after free practice. There are two sets of wet-weather tyres as well.
What happened last year?
Nyck de Vries and Nicholas Latifi – the top two drivers in the current standings – shared the Formula 2 wins at Spa in 2018. De Vries qualified on pole before winning the feature race, which he started on the soft tyre, switching to the medium at the compulsory pit-stops. Latifi took the win in the sprint race on mediums. David Beckmann and Nikita Mazepin claimed wins in GP3, where the medium tyre was nominated.
Mario Isola, Pirelli head of F1 and car racing: “Spa is an epic circuit that always provides a massive thrill for the drivers as well as a big test for the tyres, due to the multiple forces acting on them. Overtaking is definitely possible, so we’re looking forward to some very close racing and exciting battles both in Formula 2 and Formula 3, as has already been the case very often this year. But Spa is a circuit that punishes mistakes harshly as well, so the safety car could be a factor influencing strategy too – not to mention the famously variable Belgian weather.”