GP2

Magny Cours: Bridgestone preview

The Bridgestone-supported GP2 Series heads to rural France for its fourth round where Bridgestone's medium compound GP2 Series slick Potenza tyre will be used on the smooth surfaces of Magny Cours as part of the French Grand Prix. The Circuit de...

The Bridgestone-supported GP2 Series heads to rural France for its fourth round where Bridgestone's medium compound GP2 Series slick Potenza tyre will be used on the smooth surfaces of Magny Cours as part of the French Grand Prix.

The Circuit de Nevers Magny Cours presents an interesting challenge to the aspiring Grand Prix stars of tomorrow. Drivers will find a 4.41km track featuring 16 turns of varying complexity and makeup, and getting a good set-up here is very difficult.

In addition to the challenge of the circuit itself, this will be the first time this season that the medium compound Bridgestone Potenza will be used. The hard compound was used in the opening two rounds of the year, Spain and Turkey, and the super soft was used in the last round in Monaco. Mastering the medium will be crucial, as not only is it used in Magny Cours, but it us also used for the remaining six rounds of the Series.

Compromise is the name of the game in Magny Cours, and there is an additional challenge to the layout of the circuit, and that's the climate. The track is surrounded by fields and herds of cattle, which provide a contrast from the last round which took place in Monaco. Wind across these fields can make aero balance critical. The sunlight that beams down on the track can make quite a difference too, as the dark tarmac fluctuates in temperature more than other venues. All in all, it's a difficult place to find the set-up sweet spot.

In 2007, Italian Giorgio Pantano (Campos Grand Prix) and Spaniard Javier Villa (Racing Engineering) won a race apiece here and both return to try to repeat their success in 2008.

Heading to Magny Cours, Bruno Senna (iSport) leads the drivers' championship, although Giorgio Pantano (Racing Engineering) has the same number of points, 24, in second position. Romain Grosjean (ART) is in third place on 19 points, the same tally as fourth position Alvaro Parente (Super Nova). The teams' championship is led by iSport with 35 points, from Racing Engineering on 27. Piquet Sports are in third position with 25 points.

Quote from Hirohide Hamashima - Director of Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development

"Magny Cours is a circuit which calls on many different characteristics of our medium compound Potenza slick GP2 tyre. The first sector is quite high speed and drivers require stability from their tyres. The second sector is very interesting with hard braking and good traction required at the end of the long straight, and this corner is also good for overtaking. If the drivers use the tyres well at both turns five and eight they can gain a lot in lap time. At the end of the lap we see a lot of kerb used before drivers take to the start-finish straight."

Stats & Facts
Number & Spec of tyres for Magny Cours: 760 (medium)
Pole position time 2007: 1m 21.895s - T Glock, iSport
Fastest race lap 2007: 1m 23.405s - R Rodriguez, Minardi Piquet Sports
Top three 2007 race 1: G Pantano (Campos), L di Grassi (ART), B Senna (Arden)
Top three 2007 race 2: J Villa (Racing Engineering, L Fillipi (Super Nova), G Pantano (Campos)

Bridgestone GP2 Series: Q&A with Romain Grosjean

The Bridgestone-supported GP2 Series heads to the heartland of France for the fourth round of the 2008 GP2 Series. Drivers will find a super smooth circuit at the home of the French Grand Prix, with a rich diversity of corners over the course of the 4.41km lap. Reigning GP2 Series Asia champion Romain Grosjean has a good history at the circuit and is looking forward to his GP2 Series debut at the track, racing for the ART Grand Prix team.

Q. What is your knowledge of Magny Cours?

A. I have raced six times at Magny Cours and done many test days. It is very nice to drive but in the race it is very difficult because before every straight you have a fast corner so there is no way to overtake anybody. I last raced there with Formula 3, the track had been resurfaced and there was a lot of grip. It was quite a pleasure to go as fast as possible; it was good fun.

Q. What would you say are the secrets to a fast lap at Magny Cours?

A. You have to find a good compromise between the fast corners, the quite long straight and the last two corners which are very slow. It is important to have a good feeling in the right-hand corner before the straight, and to find the balance between the fast and slow corners.

Q. How much does your GP2 Series knowledge help you in your role as a test driver for the Renault F1 team?

A. GP2 is a very good category because we are using slick tyres which are going to be used in F1. The new car is very close to the performance of Formula One, we are under five seconds slower which is not a lot, and it is very good for us to have a car that has a lot of common points with Formula One. When you step up to Formula One you are not surprised by the speed or the grip of the car.

Q. In the GP2 Series, just like in Formula One, there are pit stops to change tyres in the race. How difficult is this when you have not had to make pit stops in other race categories?

A. It's a new thing that you have to learn. It's something that is very important where you can win or lose places. For me it was good to have the GP2 Asia Series to train for these types of things, usually the rear tyres get used then you put some fresh tyres on and the car balance changes a lot. It is a very important part of the race and you have to trust your team that they are going to take a good strategy and do a good pit stop.

Q. Who has more input into the pit-stop strategy, the team or the driver?

A. It is usually more the team. If there is a lot of degradation you can call them on the radio and suggest a pit stop and they look at the time and check everything and make the final decision.

-credit: bridgestone

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About this article
Series GP2
Drivers Giorgio Pantano , Alvaro Parente , Bruno Senna , Romain Grosjean , Javier Villa
Teams ART Grand Prix , Racing Engineering