GP2 preview: Monaco 22-26 May 2013
The GP2 Series resumes with round four at the jewel in the championship’s crown: Monaco. Just as is the case for Formula One, the P Zero Yellow soft and P Zero Red supersoft tyres have been nominated. For GP2, this is the first time that the supersoft compound will be used in the 2013 season.
Both compounds make a natural choice for Monaco, which is the slowest and tightest track that the GP2 cars visit all year. With strategy now a vital part of the GP2 format, key decisions will already have to be taken from qualifying onwards as to how to get the best use out of the tyre allocation.
There is a different format to the race weekend in Monaco compared to other events. In particular qualifying will once more be split into two groups in order to avoid traffic problems, with odd and even-numbered cars out on track separately.
Pirelli’s racing manager says:
Mario Isola: “The Monaco weekend is always very special for everyone and with the two softest compounds in our range available to the GP2 drivers, they will be able to exploit the maximum performance of their cars. While wear and degradation on tyres in Monaco is not particularly high, the rubber has to do a lot of work as there is very little downforce providing aerodynamic grip: just mechanical grip from the tyres. Strategy will obviously be key: time can be saved in the pits if the teams decide just to change two tyres only at the pit stops, but for this strategy to work, the two tyres changed have to be of the same compound with which the car started the race. We nominated the combination of hard and soft tyres for the first three races, so by now the drivers have a good understanding of these compounds, but now they are faced with something different. The key to success at Monaco will be quickly understanding the unique characteristics of the supersoft compound – which are the most performance orientated GP2 tyres that we produce – in order to make the best use of them in qualifying and the race. The usual rhythm of a race weekend will be different too, as unusually the feature race takes place on Friday morning, with the sprint race on Saturday afternoon. All these factors – as well as a paddock in a multi-storey car park – combine to make Monaco feel quite different from anywhere else.”
The challenge for the tyres:
Monaco is the slowest race of the year, with a track surface that evolves over the course of the weekend. With the streets open to traffic not only before the race but also during the evenings, the amount of mechanical grip is constantly changing and very hard to predict.
The supersoft is sure to be the quickest option for qualifying, thanks to its rapid warm-up time and high levels of lateral grip, but the soft is the more durable tyre over a race distance.
Overtaking at Monaco is traditionally extremely difficult, which puts an even bigger emphasis on strategy than usual to try and make up track position.
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 (soft) and two sets of the softer compound (supersoft).
The drivers can use their tyre allocation in any way they like. One set of the soft compound must be returned after free practice.
Race One on Friday is run over 42 laps 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 Saturday is determined by the finishing order of the first race, with the top eight positions reversed.
Race Two is run over 30 laps or 45 minutes, with no compulsory pit stops.
The Monaco Grand Prix circuit is made up entirely of public roads and as such has followed largely the same layout since the first race took place in 1929. It’s arguably the biggest challenge of the year for the GP2 drivers as it does not forgive mistakes: with very little run-off available any misjudgement normally ends up with an impact against the barriers. Monaco has been on the GP2 schedule since the series began in 2005, but the sprint race has only been run there in addition to the feature race since 2008. Last year, Johnny Cecotto Junior won the feature race for Barwa Addax, while Jolyon Palmer emerged victorious in the sprint race.
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