Tyre strategy and close battles throughout the GP2 and GP3 races at Silverstone
|GP2 will have Gasly capitalised on strategy for his first win in GP2...|
Just as was the case in Austria, there were four different winners in four different races when GP2 and GP3 visited Great Britain. Red Bull protégé Pierre Gasly claimed his first GP2 win for Prema in the feature race on Saturday, while ART’s Alexander Albon became the first man in GP3 to beat Charles Leclerc on a Saturday. In the mixed conditions of Sunday, Jordan King won from pole in GP2 for Racing Engineering while Trident’s Antonio Fuoco fought from the back to take another victory in GP3. GP2 Strategy was central to the GP2 feature race on Saturday. The drivers who chose to start on the soft tyre had a great chance to move up the field by making use of the compound’s extra speed: the best example being Trident’s Luca Ghiotto who went from 21st on the grid all the way to fifth on Saturday. Gasly, his team mate Antonio Giovinazzi and MP Motorsport’s Oliver Rowland were the best-placed drivers on the grid starting on soft tyres (from second, sixth and 10th respectively) before making an early switch to the hard tyre shortly after the pit stop window opened on lap six. They eventually finished the race in top-three order, underlining the validity of this soft-hard strategy, which capitalised perfectly on the pace of the soft compound as well as maximising the durability of the hard compound. King’s victory on Sunday was more straightforward, as he won from pole after using the hard tyres from start to finish. Ghiotto concluded his fantastic weekend with a second place, while another podium for Rowland means that he leads the championship by one point from Giovinazzi: helped by considered tyre management throughout the season up to now. GP3 Anglo-Thai driver Albon led home his team mate Leclerc to make it an ART one-two on Saturday’s GP3 feature race, with the series using the medium tyres exclusively. Albon led from pole, managing his tyres perfectly, and closing to within two points of his team mate for the lead of the championship by the end of the weekend.
|...and Fuoco mastered slippery conditions for his maiden GP3 victory|
Sunday’s sprint race was much more dramatic. On a slippery track, which was damp in places after an earlier shower (especially in the final sector), eventual race winner Antonio Fuoco dropped as low as ninth on the first lap, but then found the traction to pick his way through the field and move up to the race lead, with two laps to go. The race was interrupted by two safety car periods, but despite the obvious lack of grip, Fuoco was able to rely on slick medium tyres only to seal his win. The hard tyres were actually originally selected for GP3 at Silverstone, but in collaboration with the series promoter, the decision was taken to go a step softer in order to increase degradation and provide an additional dimension to tyre management. Quotes: Pirelli’s racing manager Mario Isola concluded: “Silverstone is one of the most demanding circuits that both championships visit all year and we saw some remarkable performances this weekend, with drivers managing their tyres and using strategy to boost their results considerably in relation to their starting grid positions. Gasly’s win in GP2 was even more impressive because there were no particular safety cars or incidents around the race: it was purely won on skill and strategy. As for Antonio Fuoco’s performance on Sunday, it proved that even on a slippery track our GP3 slick tyres provided enough grip for a talented driver to work his way up through the field, which provided a fantastic spectacle and epitomises everything that is great about the two official feeder series to Formula 1.” The next rounds of the GP2 and GP3 take place at the Hungaroring near Budapest from 22-24 July.
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