Close action and tyre strategy at Silverstone in GP2 and GP3
Silverstone’s GP2 and GP3 races, which place some of the highest demands seen all year on Pirelli’s tyres, ensured close competition where tyre management was critical. In view of the high-energy loads caused by the high-speed corners, the two hardest compounds in the range were nominated for GP2: hard and medium (the same choice as for Formula One). In GP3, the new ‘superhard’ compound was introduced: an even harder version of this year’s hard tyre. Rapax driver Sergey Sirotkin won the GP2 feature race for the first time, having started from pole position. He chose to start on the hard compound tyre and then switch to the medium much later, which proved to be the most popular strategy. However, this meant that the drivers had to look after their tyres carefully in order to do a long first stint on full fuel and head off the drivers who started on the faster medium tyre and then stopped early to benefit from fresh hard tyres.
|The GP2 race was won by Sergey Sirotkin|
The top-placed driver to use the medium-hard strategy was Hilmer’s Nick Yelloly, who started from 11th on the grid and then used the strategy to move up to eighth by the finish. Racing Engineering’s Jordan King adopted the same tactics to move into the top six, but had to drive defensively to combat tyre degradation before retiring following contact with another competitor on the final lap. The top seven all started on the hard and stopped late for the medium tyre, with Sirotkin making his stop with nine laps to go. The Russian lost the lead at the race start, but then regained it at the re-start following an early safety car appearance, which affected everybody’s race strategy. Sirotkin said: “Apart from the first couple of laps it was quite under control: the tyre degradation and everything was under control, and in the last laps I decided to go for the fastest lap of the race. Normally when you are leading a race you don't risk going for a quick lap, but the car was so controllable I could push it to the limit without any danger of not finishing.” The GP2 sprint race on Sunday morning was held in much cooler track conditions, with the drivers all using the hard tyre only. This meant that they had to manage the compound carefully throughout the 21 high-speed laps. Campos Racing’s Rio Haryanto won from pole to claim his third victory of the year, also setting fastest lap. The top three were able to pull away but there was plenty of action behind them, with DAMS driver Alex Lynn battling against Racing Engineering’s Alex Rossi and Yelloly. The superhard used in GP3 is close in specification to the 2014 hard tyre, with all the GP3 compounds having generally become a step softer this year. ART Grand Prix’s Marvin Kirchhofer used them to push hard both in qualifying and the feature race, winning from pole. The German had to absorb plenty of pressure from Arden’s Emil Bernstorff, who started and finished second – extracting the most from the new superhard compound to set fastest lap during their close battle. Trident’s Luca Ghiotto also pulled off an impressive overtaking manoeuvre round the outside to seal fourth.
|Marvin Kirchhoffer triumphed in GP3|
Kirchhoffer commented: “We had a good race and showed good pace. I was looking in my mirrors and I could pull away from the others so it was pretty good. Twice Emil and I were side by side into a corner but we left each other enough room so it was nice racing.” Kevin Ceccon was the only driver not to win from pole during the weekend, when he triumphed for the first time in the GP3 sprint race on Sunday morning. The Arden driver started from second place but made a brilliant start, in cool and overcast conditions. He was challenged by ART’s Esteban Ocon, but managed his tyres perfectly to win by 1.5 seconds. Pirelli’s racing manager Mario Isola concluded: “We saw a very wide variety of weather conditions at Silverstone, from high temperatures to cloudy weather that threatened rain. Our tyres for both the GP2 and GP3 Series performed effectively in both types of weather. In the hot conditions of the GP2 feature race, starting on the hard tyre was the best strategy, although Matushita made a strong start with the opposite strategy and used the superior performance of the medium to gain an early advantage. These strategies however were affected by the safety car on lap one. The new superhard in GP3 also put the emphasis on effective tyre management to secure a strong finish.” The next rounds of the GP2 and GP3 series will take place at the Hungaroring in Hungary from July 24-26.
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