Tyre strategy and management proves crucial for GP2 and GP3 in Hungary
In some of the hottest track temperatures seen all year, tyre strategy played a crucial part in the outcome of the GP2 feature race in Hungary, for which the P Zero White medium and P Zero Yellow soft compounds were nominated. For GP3, which uses a single compound only, just the hard tyre was nominated. The Hungaroring is a tight and twisty track, with one corner flowing into another. Coupled with the high track temperatures in excess of 50 degrees centigrade, this demanded a lot from the tyres in terms of thermal degradation. Reigning GP3 champion Alex Lynn claimed his first GP2 win for DAMS from pole position, having started on a new medium tyre and then run a long stint before changing to used soft tyres in the closing stages of the race. Lynn pulled out a big gap when the lights went to green but had his hard work undone by a safety car. When he emerged from the pits with 14 laps to go he was third behind ART Grand Prix’s Stoffel Vandoorne and Campos driver Rio Haryanto. They both used the opposite strategy: starting on the faster soft tyre for a short opening stint before completing the race on the medium.
|Lynn took his debut GP2 win|
Lynn was able to use the speed of his newer and faster tyres to get past both of them, and he was followed by his team mate Pierre Gasly who used the same strategy. Rapax driver Sergey Sirotkin also started on mediums and switched to used softs one lap later than Gasly and two laps later than Lynn, getting past Haryanto on the final lap to secure third place. Lynn commented: “It was slightly tense, especially around the pitstops. I started to struggle a bit with tyre degradation on the medium. Then, when we came out on the soft, it was a lot of hard work to try and catch up, but the difference between the medium and soft compounds was quite staggering. We really had a lot of pace on the soft and in the end this made it quite simple. I was 100% sure that we had the wrong strategy when I came out of the pits. But a big thanks to the team because they predicted that the softs were working really well and in the last five laps we saw all the guys who pitted early for the mediums start to struggle. In the end, it a nice result, but at the time it was quite stressful. We didn’t know the softs could go for fifteen laps but it went really well.” The GP2 sprint race on Sunday morning was held in slightly cooler track conditions, with the drivers all using the harder medium tyres for the 28 laps. Rather than strategy, tyre management was the key to success. ART Grand Prix’s Nobuharu Matsushita started from pole position on the reverse grid, by virtue of having finished a remarkable eighth in race one from 21st on the grid after following the same strategy as Lynn (except with used tyres during both stints). Matsushita converted the pole into an ART one-two on Sunday, leading home his team mate Vandoorne to seal a comfortable win. Having got away cleanly, he was then able to manage his tyres effectively, which was crucial to his first victory during an impressive weekend where he showed perfect understanding of the Pirelli rubber. The hard tyre was nominated for GP3 instead of the soft last year because all the GP3 compounds are softer compared to 2014, and Saturday’s race is now longer. Championship leader Luca Ghiotto (Trident) won the feature race from pole, coming under pressure from ART’s Esteban Ocon until a safety car came out. Ghiotto maintained his advantage following the re-start, managing his hard tyres perfectly all the way to the finish after 22 laps, in order to extract the performance when he most needed it. After winning his second race of the year, Ghiotto said: “The race was all about the start. Esteban tried to attack me in the first few laps and then after that I got my pace and it was just about managing the tyres until the end. If I had pushed more near the beginning, I would have had more problems near the end. So I think it was good to keep this pace at the start. But it was also good I pushed nearer the end to build a little gap to the others. I think my strategy worked well.” Having won last time out in Silverstone, Arden’s Kevin Ceccon triumphed again in the GP3 Hungary sprint race on Sunday, largely thanks to a fast start from second on the grid. Ocon was on the attack once more, closing down the margin to Ceccon to just one second towards the end of the race. However, the Arden driver had looked after his tyres well enough to be able to react with fastest lap and seal the win.
|Ghiotto triumphed in GP3|
Pirelli’s racing manager Mario Isola concluded: “The extremely hot track temperatures at the Hungaroring provided a big challenge for our tyres, but the GP2 and GP3 compounds stood up well to the punishment. Lynn’s strategy worked perfectly, but was dependent on the durability as well as the speed of the soft tyre at the finish. The same strategy was used to even more remarkable effect by Matsushita, who made up 13 places on Saturday before winning on Sunday, underlining how tyre usage was crucial to the race outcome. In GP3, Ghiotto was able to judge his pace perfectly by not taking too much life out of the rubber at the beginning of the feature race, despite coming under pressure. This meant that he was able to benefit towards the end of the race, pulling out an advantage. All these tyre management skills that the GP2 and GP3 drivers are learning now will stand them in very good stead as their careers evolve towards the highest level of motorsport.” The next rounds of the GP2 and GP3 series will take place at Spa in Belgium from August 21-23, after a well-deserved summer break.
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