The Monaco Grand Prix weekend introduces some new tyre regulations for the GP2 series, while the rules for GP3 – which is racing together with GP2 at Monaco for the first time – remain unaltered. Both of the official Formula One feeder series use control tyres supplied by Pirelli, with the aim of giving the champions of tomorrow the opportunity to learn as much as possible about tyre management and strategy.
At the races held so far, the GP2 Series had three sets of a harder compound and one set of a softer compound available for the weekend. One new set of the harder compound had to be saved for the sprint race on Sunday morning, with pit stops only used for the feature race on Saturday.
Now, the rules have been opened up so that the GP2 drivers have two sets each of the harder and the softer tyres – which for Monaco will be soft and supersoft. This regulation applies for the Monaco weekend only. The teams also have complete freedom as to when they can use these tyres, which will encourage more race strategies – and this rule will apply for the rest of the year.
The tyre rules are unchanged for the GP3 drivers, who have three sets of a single slick compound available for the weekend. For Monaco, the GP3 soft tyre has been nominated, which is at the other end of the scale from the hard tyres used by the 26 GP3 drivers at the opening races in Barcelona two weeks ago.
Monaco however is a completely different challenge, being the slowest and most twisty circuit of the year with no run-off area – meaning that it is impossible to get away with even the smallest mistake. Another effect of this is to make overtaking very difficult, putting the emphasis on a strong qualifying performance and race strategy.
With the GP2 drivers now given the opportunity to have more running on the softer (and faster) tyre, they have greater possibilities to make up positions through the creative use of race tactics. In Monaco – as is the case at every circuit – this can make the difference between winning and losing.
For the GP3 drivers, the challenge is slightly different, as they will have to get the most out of a single set of tyres during every race. However, with the low speeds that characterize the Monaco street circuit, tyre wear is generally low – meaning that managing the compound is slightly easier than it would be at other tracks.
This will only be the second race weekend of the year for GP3, with New Zealander Mitch Evans (MW Arden) currently leading the standings from America’s Conor Daly (Lotus). In GP2, of which Monaco is round five, DAMS driver Davide Valsecchi leads from Luis Razia (Arden).
The race weekend format for Monaco is somewhat different compared to other rounds, as the street circuit is open to normal traffic for much of Friday. The GP2 practice session takes place on Thursday 24 May from 1200-1230. The drivers then qualify from 1655-1730 on the same day. Race one takes place at 1030 on Friday 25 May, lasting for 42 laps. Race two takes place on Saturday 26 May at 1610, lasting for 30 laps.
The GP3 drivers also take to the track for the first time on Thursday 24 May, with free practice at 1815 for 45 minutes. They then have qualifying for half an hour on Friday 25 May at 0740, followed by race one at 1230. Race two takes place on Saturday 26 May at 1755. Both races last for 16 laps, with the grid for race two formed of the top eight finishers in race one reversed.
Pirelli’s racing manager Mario Isola said: “The new tyre rules for GP2 are an exciting development that will introduce a bigger element of tyre strategy and management to the race weekend, making the GP2 Series even better preparation for the very pinnacle of racing. With two sets of the softer compound available to them at any point in Monaco, the GP2 drivers will need to think really carefully about when to use them, but they will end up with more experience of running on a faster compound, which needs to be wisely managed. For both the GP2 and GP3 drivers, Monaco is sure to be one of the biggest challenges that they will face all year. The key to success is staying out of trouble, so our P Zero compounds are designed to give as much control and precision to the drivers as possible. With very little aerodynamic downforce available, the cars rely mostly on mechanical grip.”