The GP2 drivers will have new opportunities to perform at their best in Britain, with Silverstone marking the first round under new GP2 regulations that allow the drivers five sets of slick Pirelli tyres for the weekend, rather than the four that they had previously.
Up to now, the rules have only given GP2 drivers three sets of the harder nominated compound and one set of the softer compound for the weekend. From Silverstone onwards, they will have an extra set of the softer compound, which means that they can test the tyre during free practice rather than just saving it for qualifying. This latest move also opens up more opportunity for different race strategies, following Pirelli’s aim in GP2, which is to prepare drivers as comprehensively as possible for the challenges they will face in Formula One.
At Silverstone, the GP2 drivers will use the P Zero medium and soft tyres. The GP3 drivers – contesting round four at Silverstone, as opposed to round seven for GP2 – will use the P Zero hard tyres, with only one compound available for each race weekend.
The GP3 cars have far less aerodynamic loading than their GP2 equivalent, so rely much more on mechanical grip through the suspension. This means that the cars have to run a harder tyre due to the well-known abrasiveness and wear rate of the Silverstone circuit, which was partially resurfaced last year.
A GP2 car, by contrast, has much more advanced aerodynamics so it can get away with a softer compound. Consequently, the medium and the soft tyres are the ideal choice for the high-speed and high-energy British circuit, which has the second-longest lap of the calendar after Spa in Belgium.
On Friday 6 July, the GP3 drivers will take part in one practice session at Silverstone while the GP2 drivers will complete a single practice and qualifying session. On Saturday 7 July, GP3 drivers will complete their qualifying session in the morning, followed by the GP2 feature race at 14:40 (29 laps) and the first GP3 race at 16:20 (14 laps). Before the British Grand Prix on Sunday 8 July, the GP3 sprint race will take place at 08:15 (14 laps), followed by the second GP2 race at 09:30 (21 laps).
During the first GP2 race, the cars have to make one compulsory pit stop to change at least two wheels, whereas in race two the strategy is now open (previously pit stops in race two were not allowed).
Pirelli’s racing manager Mario Isola said: “The latest GP2 regulations will allow the GP2 drivers to gain more experience of our tyres and how best to use them. This is a rule that will remain in place for the rest of the year. It’s going to be interesting to see which drivers and teams manage to make the most of the new regulations straight out of the box at Silverstone. The GP3 rules remain unaltered, but with Silverstone one of the most demanding tracks of the year in terms of energy going through the tyres, the GP3 drivers will have their tyre management skills tested to the utmost. The weather conditions at Silverstone can be very variable, which could clearly affect the set-up of the cars and the behaviour of the tyres from one session to the next.”
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