2022 Australian Grand Prix - Preview
THE TYRES ON TRACK
- This year there’s an unusual tyre nomination for Melbourne’s famous street track, with a bigger gap than normal between the medium and softest compounds. The P Zero White hard is the C2 compound and the P Zero Yellow medium is the C3 compound, but rather than the C4, it’s the softest C5 compound as the P Zero Red soft. This will be the race debut for the softest tyre in the 2022 Pirelli range, marking a change from the aborted 2020 race and the 2019 Australian Grand Prix, when the C2, C3, and C4 compounds were selected.
- The track has undergone significant modifications for the first time since 1996, when it made its championship debut, now featuring a new layout and asphalt. Seven corners have been modified with two removed entirely, bringing the total number of turns down to just 14 and shortening the track by 28 metres. The most significant modification is the removal of the Turn 9-10 chicane, which is replaced by a long, sweeping bend. Turns 1 and 3 have been widened on the inside, as has Turn 6, which is now significantly faster. Later in the lap, what was Turn 13 (now Turn 11) has been realigned to tighten the angle. The penultimate corner (now Turn 13) is another to have been widened, and also one of several to have its camber adjusted to allow for different lines to be taken.
- As a temporary facility, Albert Park used to be quite bumpy but the new asphalt may have reduced this. This new surface should offer low grip (scoring two out of five) and reasonably contained levels of asphalt abrasion, which is set to result in moderate wear. The whole track is likely to be very ‘green’ and slippery at the start of the weekend, with a high degree of evolution expected (marked four out of five in Pirelli’s classification). Traction is important to get a good drive out of the short straights and corners, while braking and lateral forces are average. The severity of the loads is also average, with overall tyre stress again scoring three out of five.
“Compared to previous occasions, and with the drivers not having raced there for two seasons, this year there are a few unknowns to the Australian Grand Prix: first of all the circuit layout has been heavily revised to improve overtaking and, as a result, there’s also new asphalt that should be quite smooth. This means the track is likely to offer very low levels of grip at the start, with a high degree of evolution expected over the weekend and an extremely slippery surface if it rains. We will also head to Melbourne a couple of weeks later compared to previous seasons, when autumn has already started in the southern hemisphere, so conditions could be more variable. Last but not least, there is a completely new generation of cars and tyres that the drivers are still trying to learn about. All these factors mean that there will be a lot of work to do for teams and drivers in the free practice sessions. We decided to opt for the step in the compound nominations because we noticed that there was a relatively small performance gap between the C3 and C4 compounds during development testing, and we believe that Albert Park – with its new asphalt and layout – is a good place to try out this option.”
The 2022 GT World Challenge Europe, which is exclusively supplied by Pirelli with the new P Zero DHF tyre – suitable for both the GT3 and GT4 categories – got underway last weekend at Imola in Italy, with nine manufacturers represented on the grid. The Audi R8 crew of Dries Vanthoor, Kelvin van der Linde, and Charles Weerts won the three-hour race from pole.
- FERRARI CHALLENGE EUROPE
The 30th season of the Ferrari Challenge Europe Trofeo Pirelli got underway last weekend at Portimao in Portugal, featuring a 46-car entry of 488 Challenge Evo models, all equipped with P Zero tyres. There are four categories that depend on driver experience: Trofeo Pirelli and Trofeo Pirelli Am, and Coppa Shell along with Coppa Shell Am. The winners were Doriane Pin, Axel Sartingen, Ange Barde, and Alexander Nussbaumer. This weekend, the American Ferrari Challenge resumes in Daytona.
Pirelli will undertake a development test of the latest hard-compound P Zero asphalt tyres for the headlining WRC1 class in Croatia, prior to Rally Croatia (which takes place during the same weekend as the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix). Toyota’s Kalle Rovanpera will drive the Yaris WRC.