After a rain-hit Britain, the GP2 drivers will finally get the chance to take advantage of some new tyre regulations introduced to the championship earlier this month: provided that conditions remain dry enough in Hockenheim to make use of them.
For Hockenheim, round eight of the GP2 Series, the P Zero White medium tyres and P Zero Yellow soft tyres have been nominated – just as is the case in Formula One, although the GP2 tyres have a different compound and construction.
Up to now, the rules have only given GP2 drivers three sets of the harder nominated compound and one set of the softer compound for the weekend. Now, they will have an extra set of the softer compound too (provided they return one set of the harder compound after free practice), which means that they can test the tyre during practice rather than just saving it for qualifying.
The GP2 and GP3 Series have not visited Hockenheim since 2010: Pirelli’s first year as the supplier to GP3, one year ahead of the Italian firm’s agreement to also supply GP2 and F1. This is the first time though that Pirelli will equip GP2 at Hockenheim.
The German circuit is not especially aggressive on tyres and the most important thing is to have compounds that are adaptable to a wide range of conditions, especially given the fact that weather conditions in the local area can be changeable at this time of year.
There is not expected to be a very large variation in performance between the two compounds under equal conditions, so it will be vital for the teams to understand fully the performance and degradation data to plan an effective strategy. The extra set of soft tyres should give them the additional running to capture all the information they need.
The tyre regulations for the GP3 cars, by contrast, remain unaltered since the start of the season, with the teams all receiving three sets of a single slick compound to last for the weekend. At Hockenheim, the medium GP3 tyre has been nominated – just as it was in 2010. On that occasion there was wet weather, forcing the drivers to also use the two sets of wet tyres that they are allocated for each race weekend.
On Friday 20 July at Hockenheim, the GP3 drivers will take part in one practice session while the GP2 drivers will complete a single practice and qualifying session. On Saturday 21 July, GP3 drivers will complete their qualifying session in the morning, followed by the GP2 feature race at 15:40 and the first GP3 race at 17:20. Before the German Grand Prix on Sunday 22 July, the GP3 sprint race will take place at 09:25, followed by the second GP2 race at 10:35.
During the first GP2 race, the cars have to make one compulsory pit stop to change at least two wheels, whereas in race two the strategy is now open (previously pit stops in race two were not allowed).
Pirelli’s racing manager Mario Isola said: “Hockenheim will be a new experience for us with GP2 and we need to keep an open mind as to what to expect, particularly in terms of weather conditions. The German circuit does not make any particular demands on the compound and structure in a specific area, but instead there are quite a wide range of different parameters that are tested. Traction is certainly a key issue, because of all the slow to medium speed corners, but the tyres also have to withstand sustained high speed on the long straights and heavy braking. After the weather in Silverstone meant that the GP2 drivers were not able to take advantage of the new tyre regulations, it will be very interesting to see what they can do in Germany.”