2022 Japanese Grand Prix - Preview
“The only circuit that features a figure of eight, where demands on tyres are equally balanced”
“Ask the drivers which are their favourite circuits and Suzuka will always be high on the list: it contains demanding corners like nowhere else, such as 130R and Spoon, as well as a truly special atmosphere and history with incredible fans. There’s a roughly equal number of left and right corners in the unique figure of eight layout, which means that the circuit demands are evenly balanced. The sustained energy loads through the tyres are some of the highest we register all year, and the track layout means that we bring the three hardest compounds in our range because of the high levels of tyre duty. With the latest generation of cars being heavier than before and the limits of performance constantly being pushed, that challenge is bigger than ever now. An innovation for this year is the fact that we will be testing some 2023 prototype tyres during an extended free practice session on Friday afternoon, as we finalise the specification for next year with the end of this season approaching.”
THE TYRES ON TRACK
- The trio of hardest compounds return in Japan: C1 as the P Zero White hard, C2 as the P Zero Yellow medium, and C3 as the P Zero Red soft. This will be the final outing for the hardest C1 compound this year.
- The second free practice session in Japan has been extended to 90 minutes in order to allow 2023 prototype slick tyre testing (with the same arrangement in place for the United States Grand Prix). The Suzuka and Austin tests are there to fine-tune the compounds for 2023, with the entire FP2 session devoted to tyre testing. If a team uses a young driver for FP1, it is allowed to run its own programme for the first 30 minutes of FP2, before concentrating on the tyre test for the remainder of the session. The prototype tyres can easily be recognised as they won’t carry coloured markings on the sidewalls.
- Like Singapore that came just one week before, the Japanese Grand Prix was last held in 2019. The challenge is made even greater with the teams having to approach the circuit, weather conditions, and set-up in a completely new way with the latest generation of cars and tyres.
- Suzuka is all about lateral forces rather than traction and braking, but the loads are quite evenly balanced between the left and right hand sides of the car. The cars and tyres are subjected to some of the longest sustained g force loadings seen throughout the year. 130R, for example, is a long radius corner (of 130 degrees) but it’s taken flat-out, as if it were a straight.
Toyota driver Kalle Rovanpera won Rally New Zealand last weekend, using Pirelli Scorpion gravel tyres. At 22, Rovanpera has become the youngest champion in WRC history, beating the previous record set by Colin McRae – also on Pirelli tyres – in 1995, who won the title aged 27.
The penultimate round of the Intercontinental GT Challenge – exclusively equipped by Pirelli – takes place at Indianapolis this weekend, with Mercedes driver Jules Gounon currently leading the standings. Last weekend, the final round of this year’s GT World Challenge took place in Barcelona, with Alessio Picariello, Klaus Bachler and Matteo Cairoli winning the race for Dinamic Porsche.