2022 Bahrain Grand Prix - Preview
THE TYRES ON TRACK
- Pirelli has selected the three hardest compounds in the new 18-inch tyre range for the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix: the C1 compound is the P Zero White hard, the C2 is the P Zero Yellow medium and the C3 is the P Zero Red soft. This nomination is one step harder than the selection made for last year’s race as the new 18-inch tyres are completely different in comparison to their 13-inch predecessors, also in terms of compounds.
- This choice has been made because of Sakhir’s layout, asphalt characteristics and temperatures. Bahrain remains among the most abrasive tracks on the calendar (scoring five out of five in Pirelli’s abrasiveness classification) thanks to a high percentage of granite within the asphalt, which leads to high levels of wear and degradation. Although asphalt abrasion is high, sand that blows in from the surrounding desert can cause a lot of sliding that affects grip – and that’s why this track scores three out of five in Pirelli’s overall grip classification.
- Sakhir is a stop-and-go track, scoring four out of five in Pirelli’s traction classification and four out of five in Pirelli’s braking classification. In terms of lateral loads the score is just three out of five, with the rear tyres worked hardest. There’s normally a high degree of track evolution over the weekend, and this year it will probably be even higher as both Formula 2 and Formula 3 will be present as support races.
- The Bahrain race gets underway just after sunset at 6pm, with track temperatures that are quite different compared to FP1 and FP3. Instead, they are more similar to FP2 and qualifying, but track temperatures can also drop throughout the course of the 57-lap race.
“We’ve opted for the hardest tyres in the range for this first grand prix given the track layout, asphalt characteristics and temperatures: also because the compounds are different compared to previous years. The teams had the chance get familiar with the 2022 18-inch tyre range, having spent a total of six days of testing with all the compounds, although not always in representative conditions. We know from the past that track temperatures can play an important role in Bahrain, affecting tyre degradation, and that’s something we noticed at the recent test as well. During the race temperatures should be milder compared to FP1 and FP3, so the teams will have to focus on their data from FP2 and qualifying. It’s still hard to predict the race strategy as, in the past, Bahrain has been a multi-stop race, but it will be interesting to see if anyone will try something different this year”.
- Formula 2, which has been racing on 18-inch tyres since 2020, begins its season in Bahrain with the P Zero White hard compound and P Zero Red soft compound. The hard compound has been revised for 2022 to offer improved resistance and increase the performance gap to the medium, with the aim of challenging the drivers and increasing strategy options. This year, F2 will race over more weekends with two races at each round: in Bahrain the sprint race (lasting 23 laps) takes place on Saturday, before the 32-lap feature race on Sunday, when drivers are required to use both nominated compounds with a compulsory pit stop.
- The Formula 3 season also begins in Bahrain for the first time, with the P Zero White hard compound as the sole nominated tyre. While the compounds are the same as before, the rear tyres have been designed to degrade faster, which should shift the balance towards oversteer and make the car more challenging, with the aim of promoting greater driver involvement and showcasing talent. Formula 3 also returns to two races per weekend this year and now has a sprint race and a feature race.
Pirelli has introduced a renewed range of specialised tyres for the 2022 World Rally Championship, as the company enters its second year as sole supplier to the series. These tyres include the Sottozero Ice for snow and ice conditions, which won the latest round in Sweden recently with Toyota driver Kalle Rovanpera, as well as P Zero tyres for asphalt and Scorpion tyres for gravel.
There’s a new tyre for GT racing as well this year, with the P Zero DHF tyre set to be used in both GT3 and GT4 this year. The drivers got a chance to sample the latest tyres at Paul Ricard last week, in an official test where Fabian Schiller went fastest for Mercedes, while Valentino Rossi made his debut with Audi.
- From race to road
Pirelli recently launched its new Scorpion tyre for SUVs: a family of tyre that dates back to 1986, when it was first developed for Lamborghini’s innovative LM002 off-roader. The new Scorpion was developed using a Pirelli-patented process derived from motorsport, to enhance the performance of the tyre for longer on different road surfaces: another example of Pirelli’s track to road philosophy.