|GP2 returns to action in Sochi
As is the case for Formula One, GP2 and GP3 heads to new territories with the inaugural races in Russia. It’s a step into the unknown for all the teams, with information so far coming from simulation rather than real data. Taking into account the characteristics of the track, likely weather conditions, and surface conditions, Pirelli has decided to nominate the P Zero White medium and P Zero Yellow soft tyres for GP2, along with the medium compound for GP3.
The work done in free practice will be particularly important to understand how the tyres behave on this brand new track, which has something in common with the Valencia street circuit, but with a higher average speed. As both championships are drawing towards a conclusion, the teams will be under pressure to understand the tyres and the track as quickly as possible in order to gain an advantage.
With the track being the third longest of the year, tyre management over the course of each lap will be important as well, and the performance gap between the two compounds is yet to be, which will put the emphasis on strategy.
In GP3, tyre management over the course of an entire race distance is the most important factor, with the task made even harder by the limited quantities allocated to each competitor. Despite these restrictions, the tyres on GP3 cars are subject to lateral forces in excess of 2.5G, accelerating from 0-100kph in around three seconds.
Pirelli’s racing manager says:
: “We expect the asphalt to be not particularly abrasive as this is a semi-permanent street circuit, although we’ve not actually had an asphalt sample to assess – so this will be the biggest unknown factor. While the GP2 and GP3 teams have simulators, the free practice time is extremely limited, so this will be a big test for the drivers – as they will have to understand the lines quickly and get the most out of the car before qualifying. In GP2, the teams are likely to use just the medium tyre in free practice, so this means that the qualifying run is set to be the first time that they use the soft tyre: a very big challenge. Tyre management is sure to be an important fact, as Turn 3 takes a lot of energy out of the tyres, even though the overall tyre energy demand of the track is not so high.”
The challenge for the tyres:
|GP3 is also back in Russia
Turn 3 is actually inspired by the famous turn eight in Istanbul Park. In Russia it is a very long left-hander that takes more energy out of the tyres than any other part of the lap. This is the biggest challenge, with the other specifics of the track only becoming evident over the course of the weekend.
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 (medium) 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 16:00 on Friday. Race One on Saturday is run at 16:40 over 30 laps 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 12:05 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: medium 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 the same compound (medium) was used at the last GP3 round in Monza, this will be of particular advantage in Russia as the teams get to grips with a new track.
There is one practice session, one qualifying session and two races in GP3. Qualifying takes place at 09:30 on Saturday morning, after a single free practice session on Friday at 17:00. Race One starts at 13:40 on Saturday and lasts for 17 laps, followed by Race Two at 11:00 on Sunday (also 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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