Longer GP3 race on Saturday puts more emphasis on tyre management
The opening round of the GP3 Series takes place in Barcelona, meaning that for the first time all year, there will be Formula One, GP2 and GP3 all racing together on one event. The GP2 cars will use the P Zero Orange hard and P Zero Yellow soft tyres, with a significant performance gap between the two compounds that will have a strong influence on race strategy. The GP3 drivers – who recently tested in Barcelona – will use the hard tyre only. While the GP3 cars are unchanged this year, there is a new front tyre profile and construction from Pirelli that was developed to optimise the wider size introduced last year, with the target of moving degradation to the rear rather than the front. The 2015 tyres now feature a new front construction and profile to benefit the car’s dynamics further. All the GP3 compounds have also been made softer, with the 2015 hard tyre similar to the 2014 medium, for example, to increase degradation. This should lead to even closer and more exciting racing, with tyre management forming an integral part of every young driver’s development. This year, Saturday’s GP3 race will be longer than the Sunday race, placing increased demands on the tyres – in terms of wear and degradation – as well as the drivers. Pirelli’s racing manager says: Mario Isola: “Barcelona is a circuit that a number of the drivers know well, but this does not make it any less of a challenge. Because of the high-energy corners, frequently warm weather, and rough asphalt, wear and degradation is high. As a result, the drivers will have to manage the tyres effectively in order to get the most out of them, especially during the GP2 feature race, which includes a mandatory pit stop. We’ve seen from the opening GP2 round in Bahrain that tyre strategy often provides the key to race victory – and of course this strategy really begins from qualifying onwards, which often sets the tone about how the drivers will use their tyres over the rest of the weekend. In GP2, the soft tyre can almost be considered to be a qualifying tyre – but it also has an important role to play in the feature race as well. In GP3, it’s going to be very interesting to see the effect of our new 2015 tyres in a race situation.” The challenge for the tyres: The cars run high downforce in Barcelona in order to ensure the best aerodynamic grip through all the fast corners. The most critical corner is turn three: a very long right-hander characterised by constant acceleration. This is also the corner that takes the most life out of the tyres, with the front-left being the most stressed tyre. The track surface is particularly rough in Barcelona, which is another factor that increases wear and degradation. There are frequent gusting winds as well, which can affect aerodynamic balance and therefore tyre performance. With practice, qualifying and the races held at very different times of day for both GP2 and GP3, it is quite hard for the teams to get an accurate read on tyre behaviour over the course of the weekend.
|GP2 returns in Spain...||...while GP3 gets underway|
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, after practice at 12:00. Race One on Saturday is run at 15:40 over 37 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 10:35 is determined by the finishing order of the first race, with the top eight positions reversed. Race Two is run over 26 laps, 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 for this weekend. The drivers can use the tyre allocation in any way they like. All the GP3 compounds carry yellow markings. Drivers are allowed to carry over one tyre set from the previous round for use in free practice only. As Spain is the opening race, the carry over will use tyres from the Barcelona test. 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 and lasts for 22 laps, followed by Race Two at 09:25 on Sunday (lasting 17 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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