GP3 gets underway with new P Zero tyre in Spain
The 2014 GP3 Series gets underway in Barcelona this weekend, with all 27 young drivers using the 2014-specification P Zero hard compound at the demanding Montmelo circuit, in a new size for the front of the car. Barcelona also hosts round two of GP2, where the teams will have the P Zero Orange hard and P Zero Yellow soft tyres at their disposal. All of this year’s GP3 teams tested at Barcelona just over two weeks ago, trying out the hard tyre. For 2014, all of the compounds in GP3 are a step harder compared to last year. Because of the high-energy demands of Barcelona, with its long and fast corners, the most durable tyres in the range have been included in the nominations for both GP2 and GP3. Just one compound is nominated in GP3, whereas drivers now have to use both nominated compounds in the GP2 feature race, adding to the element of strategy. The soft tyre is likely to be used in GP2 qualifying, but unlike Formula One the drivers do not have to start the race using the tyres on which they qualified.
Pirelli’s racing manager says: Mario Isola: “Once more, there is a very promising field of young drivers in GP3 this year, with some exciting rookies joining the established contenders. We’ve made one important change to the GP3 tyres, with a new and larger tyre size at the front. This is intended to improve front-end grip and encourage oversteer, giving the GP3 car characteristics that are more challenging to drive. The structure of the front tyre has also changed, to accommodate the larger size, while the compounds are all a step harder this year. Coming straight off the back of a two-day test in Barcelona, the GP3 drivers should be familiar with our hard tyre, which is well-suited to the heavy demands of Montmelo. The rules in GP2 have changed to get closer to Formula One this year and we saw during the opening race in Bahrain how the requirement to run two compounds in the feature race made for some interesting and innovative strategies. We hope this will be the case again in Spain, where drivers will have to manage the soft tyre carefully to get the most out of it in the race as well as qualifying.”
The challenge for the tyres: Barcelona is extremely demanding for tyres, because of the long high-speed corners that put plenty of energy through the compound, and the high degree of asphalt roughness. The left side of the car is particularly stressed, with the front-left tyre doing the most work. Turn three is a crucial corner, putting the largest amount of energy through the tyres. Other factors to bear in mind when calculating set-up in Barcelona include the rippled asphalt and frequently changing wind direction. The GP2 drivers are seeing Barcelona for the first time this year, whereas the GP3 drivers have undertaken a two-day test. Last year, Robin Frijns (Hilmer) and Stefano Coletti (Rapax) won the GP2 races in Barcelona while Tio Ellinas (Marussia Manor) and Aaro Vainio (Koiranen) won in GP3.
The race and the rules: GP2 Every car will have five sets of dry tyres and three sets of wet weather tyres available for the GP2 race weekend. The five sets of dry tyres comprise three sets of the harder compound (hard) and two sets of the softer compound (soft). The drivers can use their tyre allocation in any way they like, but at least one set of each compound must be used in the feature race (unless it is a wet race). One set of the hard compound must be returned after free practice. Qualifying takes place at 15:55 on Friday. Race One on Saturday is run at 15:40 over 170 kilometres or one hour and each driver must complete one compulsory pit stop. This cannot take place within the first six laps. The grid for Race Two on Sunday at 10:35 is determined by the finishing order of the first race, with the top eight positions reversed. Race Two is run over 120 kilometres or 45 minutes, with no compulsory pit stops. GP3 Every car will have three sets of dry tyres and two sets of wet weather tyres available for the GP3 race weekend. Only one compound is nominated: hard in Spain. The drivers can use the tyre allocation in any way they like. All the GP3 compounds carry yellow markings. There is one practice session, one qualifying session and two races in GP3. Qualifying takes place at 09:45 on Saturday morning, after a single free practice session on Friday at 17:50. Race One starts at 17:20 on Saturday, followed by Race Two at 09:25 on Sunday. The grid for Race Two is determined by the finishing order of the first race, with the top eight positions reversed.
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