WHAT’S THE STORY?
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.
We’re expecting a closely-fought Spanish Grand Prix
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.