After the mid-season break, the GP2 and GP3 seasons get underway once more at one of the most challenging circuits of the year: Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium. Spa is the longest lap of the year at 7.004 kilometres, and the Ardennes region is also characterised by variable weather that often requires the use of rain tyres. The difficult part is predicting exactly when…
Located near Liege, Spa-Francorchamps is one of the most picturesque circuits on the international calendar. Its 19 spectacular turns, rapid changes of elevation and breath-taking scenery make racing at Spa a true test of skill for both the GP2 and GP3 drivers as well as for Pirelli’s tyres.
For GP2, the cars will be supplied with three sets of P Zero White medium tyres and two sets of P Zero Yellow soft tyres, under the latest GP2 rules introduced since Silverstone that allows the drivers an extra set of the softer tyres at each race. This opens up more opportunities for strategy and also gives drivers the chance to get used to the softer compound before qualifying. The drivers are likely to use the softer compound during qualifying, before moving onto the harder compound during the race. Pit stops are also now allowed in both GP2 races, although it is much harder to make a strategy work during the shorter sprint race on Sunday.
The GP3 Series uses just one compound for the race weekend – which for Spa is the medium compound, well-suited for the many different demands that the circuit imposes. As the penultimate round of the championship, the Spa race is crucial for all the GP3 drivers, so they will be pushing hard throughout the weekend in order to gain an advantage as the title race draws to a close. But as always, tyre management will be crucial. Unlike GP2, there are no scheduled pit stops during the GP3 races.
Pirelli’s racing manager Mario Isola said: “Our tyres are designed to be as adaptable as possible to a very wide range of conditions, and nowhere is this more in evidence than at Spa, which puts a huge amount of energy through the tyres, in terms of both lateral and longitudinal forces. As well as the fast corners and straights, there are also some huge compressions at places like Eau Rouge, which place some of the highest physical demands on the tyres that we see all year. Not only that, but there are often extremes of weather that mean it can be raining on one part of the track but completely dry on another part. This makes it crucial to get the timing of the pit stops exactly right, as well as the actual choice of tyres. With the championships so closely poised as we approach the end of the season every decision will be crucial, but as always it will come down to the skill of the drivers to make the difference. That applies to both GP2 and GP3, with the young drivers in each series all determined to make it all the way to the top.”
On Friday, the GP3 drivers will take part in one practice session in Spa while the GP2 drivers will complete practice and qualifying. On Saturday, the GP3 drivers will have their qualifying session in the morning, followed by the GP2 feature race at 15:40 and the GP3 feature race at 17:20. Before the Belgian Grand Prix on Sunday, the GP3 sprint race will take place at 09:25, followed by the GP2 sprint race at 10:35.
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