Formula One returns to Barcelona – which hosted two of the 2015 pre-season tests – but this time the weather will be much warmer, placing even greater demands on the tyres. Coupled with high-energy corners and the roughest asphalt seen all year, this makes the P Zero Orange hard and P Zero White medium the ideal choice for the Spanish Grand Prix, where the GP2 and GP3 Series will also compete on Pirelli tyres.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director: “Spain is obviously one of the more familiar venues that we go to, as there has already been plenty of data gathered during testing. One of the things we have noticed so far is that this year Barcelona will once again be a front-limited circuit, from a tyre perspective. Last year, the increase in traction and torque from the cars meant that for the first time the race became a rear-limited event, with the useful life of the rear tyres dictating the pit stop strategy. Thanks to the improvements we made to the rear tyre construction for this year, we’re back to Barcelona being a front-limited circuit again. However, we do not expect this to mean that there will necessarily be more pit stops this year: last year the majority of competitors used a two-stop strategy and that will probably be the case again. The biggest unknown factor will be the weather: in the past we have seen some very hot weather in Barcelona, but it isn’t always guaranteed. The start of the European season traditionally means that many teams bring important upgrades, and it will be very interesting to see how these interact with our 2015 tyres.”
The biggest challenges for the tyres:
Controlling wear and degradation is the biggest challenge, as Montmelo is a circuit that takes a lot out of the tyres due to long high-speed corners and several fast changes of direction. In particular, the left side of the car gets the biggest workout (the lateral forces acting on both left tyres are the second-highest of the entire season) with the front-left tyre being the most stressed.
The cars run high downforce in Barcelona in order to stay planted to the track during the fast corners and this force pushing down onto the car increases the load going through the tyres. As a result of all these factors, tread temperatures can peak at nearly 130 degrees centigrade.
Eight out of the last 10 races have been won from pole position in Spain (and only one from outside the first row of the grid). This underlines the difference that strategy could make on a circuit that the teams all know very well, where racing is always close.
Pirelli will bring tyres for GP2 and GP3 to Spain, as well as tyres for the two-day test that follows the grand prix on Tuesday and Wednesday. This means that nearly 4000 tyres will be brought to Barcelona, carried by a fleet of 14 trucks (including the trucks that make up Pirelli’s hospitality unit).
Last year’s strategy and how the race was won: Last year the top three all used a two-stop strategy, while the highest-placed three-stopper was Sebastian Vettel in fourth for Red Bull (having started from 15th on the grid). Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton won the race from his team mate Nico Rosberg, using a medium-medium-hard strategy. Rosberg tried a different type of two-stopper: medium-hard-medium.
Expected performance gap between the two compounds: 0.8 -1.2 seconds per lap.
Expected weather conditions for the race: Dry and warm, peaking at 25 degrees centigrade but dropping to 13 degrees centigrade overnight. Some overcast intervals leading up to the race, but bright and clear for race day.
The Pirelli team choose their race numbers: #6, Khaled Jnifen (F1 activation and sponsorship manager)
“My number would be 6. I was the sixth child in our family; when I played sport as a kid I always chose the number 6, and it’s stuck with me ever since.”
@jensonbutton. McLaren’s loss was the rest of the world’s gain when Jenson couldn’t start the Bahrain Grand Prix and turned to Twitter instead. He provided the sort of unique insight that’s never been seen before during a race on social media. An essential driver to follow, set for a glittering career in communications once his driving days are over.