As Silverstone is one of the most demanding tracks that GP2 and GP3 will race on all year, the hardest possible tyres have been nominated: including a new ‘superhard’ compound that makes its debut in GP3.
The GP2 drivers will use the conventional P Zero Orange hard and P Zero White medium tyres, like their counterparts in Formula One, but the GP3 drivers will take to the track with the 2015 superhard for the first time. This is actually very similar in character to the 2014-specification GP3 hard tyre, as all the GP3 compounds have been made one step softer this year to encourage greater degradation and closer competition. At Silverstone, however, a tougher compound is needed to withstand the significant energy loads and forces that are constantly at work on the tyres. There is also a strong probability of hot weather over the weekend, increasing thermal degradation.
Pirelli’s racing manager says:
Mario Isola: “Silverstone is particularly demanding on tyres because of its many fast corners, meaning that there is a lot of energy going through them for sustained periods of time. This places a lot of stress both on the tyre structure and compound. With most of these corners flowing in quick succession, there is no rest for the tyres, which are constantly working hard and heating up to generate mechanical grip. As a result, we needed a compound more similar to our 2014 hard for GP3, as all the 2015 tyres are all a step softer than their predecessors. The GP3 drivers have a smaller allocation of tyres than GP2 and no pit stops during the races, which is why the superhard is a step we have introduced only for GP3. The weather is expected to be warm at Silverstone this weekend, but we know from the past that conditions can still be unpredictable, so the teams will have to be ready to adapt their strategies if necessary to changing circumstances.”
The challenge for the tyres:
As well as significant lateral loads, the GP2 and GP3 tyres at Silverstone are subjected to major vertical loads, because the teams run high downforce in order to maximise cornering speeds.
The most demanding corner at Silverstone is Turn 9 (Copse). Tyre tread temperature can exceed 100 degrees centigrade at this point for GP2, making good lateral grip essential.
Silverstone will be a home race for the reigning GP2 and GP3 champions, both of whom continue to work with Pirelli tyres in Formula One. Jolyon Palmer, who won GP2 last year, will be driving in free practice for Lotus, while reigning GP3 champion Alex Lynn is development driver for Williams and also competes in GP2.
The race and the rules:
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 (medium).
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 harder compound must be returned after free practice.
Qualifying takes place at 15:55 on Friday, after practice at 12:00. Race One on Saturday is run at 14:40 over 29 laps and each driver must complete one compulsory pit stop. This cannot take place within the first six laps. Unlike Formula One, the drivers do not have to start the race using the tyres they qualified on.
The grid for Race Two on Sunday at 09:35 is determined by the finishing order of the first race, with the top eight positions reversed. Race Two is run over 21 laps, with no compulsory pit stops.
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: superhard for this weekend. The drivers can use the tyre allocation in any way they like. All the GP3 compounds carry yellow markings.
Drivers are normally allowed to carry over one tyre set from the previous round for use in free practice only. However, as the previous round in Austria used the soft tyre, this has been replaced by an extra set of superhard – just for free practice.
There is one practice session, one qualifying session and two races in GP3. Qualifying takes place at 08:45 on Saturday morning, after a single free practice session on Friday at 17:50. Race One starts at 16:20 on Saturday and lasts for 20 laps, followed by Race Two at 08:25 on Sunday (lasting 15 laps). 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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