Circuit de Catalunya
WHAT’S THE STORY?
From one of the most infrequently used tracks of the season, Istanbul Park, Pirelli now heads to one of the most popular: the Circuit de Catalunya in Montmelo on the outskirts of Barcelona. The track is a popular venue for testing, with the PZero tyres having seen action there four times in the past: once last year in private testing, twice this year during the official test ‘season’, and once more as part of Pirelli’s on-going private test campaign last month. Both Pirelli and all the teams have accumulated quite a lot of data about Barcelona, which is typically chosen for testing as it contains a challenging mixture of corners and speeds – highlighting every aspect of a car’s performance – and generally good weather conditions all year round.
However, during one of Pirelli’s most recent appearances at Barcelona in March for the final official test, the weather was unseasonably bad with cool temperatures and even torrential rain. This time temperatures should be a lot warmer, providing the perfect backdrop for the race debut of Pirelli’s latest evolution of the PZero Silver (hard compound) tyre. This compound was tested by the teams during Friday’s free practice in Turkey and prior to that during private sessions in Barcelona and Turkey, using Pirelli’s Toyota TF109 test car. The new tyre offers a little more durability over a race distance and provides a wider gap between the soft and the hard compound, which gives the teams an opportunity to run more aggressive strategies. The PZero Yellow (soft) tyre, which has been used at every race so far this year alongside the PZero Silver (hard) tyre, will also be provided to the teams in Barcelona.
PIRELLI’S MOTORSPORT DIRECTOR SAYS:
The new tyre reduces degradation and improves tyre wear.
Paul Hembery: “We said from the start of the year that we would introduce evolutions of the tyres if we believed that they would benefit the sport and Barcelona marks the first occasion that we have done this. The new tyre – which we have tested extensively – reduces degradation and improves tyre wear. It’s not a huge step over the original hard tyre but it does mean that there is a bigger gap between the soft and the hard tyre, which will definitely make things even more interesting on race day and give teams the opportunity to use more creative strategies. In Barcelona, based on the data we have seen in testing, we’re probably expecting around three pit stops per car. It takes a lot longer to enter and leave the pits in Barcelona than it did in Turkey, and this is another factor that will have a definite influence on strategy.”
THE MEN BEHIND THE STEERING WHEEL SAY:
Jaime Alguersuari (Toro Rosso): “We know the Catalunya circuit very well, because of all the testing the teams do there. However, when we come to this year’s Spanish Grand Prix, the situation will be quite different in terms of tyre performance because of the increase in air and track temperature.
During winter testing the tyres were never really operating in their correct working range of temperature, so it was difficult to get them warmed up. Nevertheless, it was useful in terms of giving you some idea about tyre balance and even degradation. Sector three of the track will be the key to the lap time and the part of the circuit where tyre behaviour will play a vital role. This part of the track is tough on the tyres and then there is Turn 12, which will be quite tricky as it is very demanding and you can really feel the tyres working here. Also, the exit to the final corner is going to be interesting in terms of the tyres because of the loads they are subjected to here. In qualifying, it will be important to get the tyres working properly, as you will only want to do one lap to set a time, in order to keep the tyres as fresh as possible for the race.”
TECHNICAL NOTES AND TYRE CHOICES SO FAR:
• Barcelona puts particular stress on the front-left tyre, due to the high number of right-hand corners. There are 16 corners in total on the 4.655-kilometre track, which has hosted the Spanish Grand Prix since 1991.
• Weather conditions are expected to be dry and warm over the race weekend, with temperatures in the region of 22 degrees centigrade. Only four teams – Ferrari, McLaren, Mercedes and Williams – have experience of using Pirelli’s rain tyres in Barcelona, having nominated the wet final day of the March test to run in.
• The highest number of pit stops at the Spanish Grand Prix took place during the 1995 race. There were 59 stops in total: an average of 2.3 per driver. The fewest pit stops occurred during the 1992 race with just seven stops: only 0.3 per driver.
THE TYRE CHOICES SO FAR:
|Grand Prix||Super Soft||Soft||Medium||Hard|
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.
• 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 and four international motorbike races, enhancing Pirelli’s profile throughout the country. The Italian tyre company is also active in Spanish rallying.