GP2 and GP3 preview: Barcelona 10-12 May 2013
As well as being round three of the GP2 Series, Barcelona marks the start of the European grand prix season and the opening round of this year’s GP3 Series. Pirelli continues to supply both of Formula One’s feeder series with tyres, underlining the Italian firm’s ladder of talent that can take promising young drivers all the way to the very top of global motorsport. For GP2, Pirelli has nominated the P Zero Orange hard and P Zero Yellow soft tyres – the same nomination that was made for the first two rounds in Malaysia and Bahrain. For GP3, there is only one compound supplied for each weekend as per the regulations: in Spain the P Zero hard has been nominated. The track characteristics of Barcelona take in high lateral energy loadings and potentially warm ambient temperatures, making this the ideal nomination.
Pirelli’s racing manager says:
Mario Isola: “We’re in for a busy weekend in Barcelona, with some significant changes for the GP3 Series this year in particular, which has a brand new car that develops 400 horsepower. This makes a significant difference to the lap times: during testing at Barcelona earlier this year, the cars were actually lapping more than four seconds a lap quicker than they had been in 2012. So we have had a re-think of the GP3 tyres this year, with some brand new compounds, which bring them closer in character to the current GP2 tyres. Barcelona is one of the tracks where this is tested to the utmost, as it is a fast and technical track that asks a lot of the tyres, particularly on the left of the car as all the most demanding corners are right-handers. For GP2, we are sticking with the same nomination that we had in Malaysia and Bahrain: in fact Barcelona has a few points in common with these two circuits when it comes to the way that the tyres are used. Degradation is reasonably high, but all the teams have plenty of historical data from Barcelona, which should be useful when it comes to planning a good race strategy. We saw a variety of different strategies at work during the first two races of the year, so we’d expect the same again this weekend.”
The challenge for the tyres:
The most demanding corner of the entire track is Turn 3: a very long right-hander that puts plenty of sustained energy through the tyre. There are 16 corners in total on the 4.655-kilometre track, which first played host to a GP2 round in the debut year of the series: 2005. Barcelona also hosted the very first GP3 race in 2010.
The asphalt in Barcelona is generally quite abrasive. Coupled with ambient temperatures in excess of 25 degrees centigrade expected over the race weekend, this only adds to the amount of tyre wear.
The rear tyres also have to withstand plenty of stress in order to provide the combined traction that is needed coming out of the slower corners in the final sector of the lap.
The race and the rules:
Every car will have five sets of dry tyres and three sets of wet weather tyres available for the
GP2 race weekend.
The five sets of dry tyres comprise three sets of the harder compound (hard) and two sets of the softer compound (soft).
The drivers can use their tyre allocation in any way they like. One set of the hard compound must be returned after free practice.
Race One on Saturday is run over 170 kilometres or one hour and each driver must complete one compulsory pit stop during which a minimum of two tyres must be changed.
The grid for Race Two on Sunday is determined by the finishing order of the first race, with the top eight positions reversed.
Race Two is run over 120 kilometres or 45 minutes, with no compulsory pit stops.
Every car will have three sets of dry tyres and two sets of wet weather tyres available for the GP3 race weekend. Only one compound is nominated. The drivers can use the tyre allocation in any way they like. All the GP3 compounds carry yellow markings.
There is one practice session, one qualifying session and two races in GP3.
Qualifying takes place at 0945 on Saturday morning followed by Race One at 1720 (which lasts 17 laps or 30 minutes). Race Two is on Sunday at 0925 (which also lasts 17 laps or 30 minutes). The grid for Race Two is determined by the finishing order of the first race, with the top eight positions reversed.
The Circuit de Catalunya was inaugurated in 1991 and hosted the Spanish Grand Prix for the first time in 1991. It has always been an incredibly popular venue, with a grandstand capacity of 107,000 people. It contains a wide variety of speeds and corners, which makes it a useful testing venue. When it comes to overtaking, Turn One is one of the favoured places. Last year, Giedo van der Garde (Caterham) and Luiz Razia (Arden) were the GP2 winners in Spain. The GP3 winners were Mitch Evans (MW Arden) – who would go on to become champion – and Conor Daly (Lotus GP).
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