GP3 preview: Valencia 15-16 June 2013
The GP3 Series heads to Valencia this weekend for a stand-alone event at the Ricardo Tormo permanent circuit: not to be confused with the street circuit that has been used for Formula One.
The permanent track has a technical layout that contains a bit of everything, making it a favourite Formula One test venue. There is a long straight, followed by a complex infield section featuring a wide variety of corners, making up a total circuit length of 4.05 kilometres.
The tyre that has been nominated is the medium compound. Like all the compounds in GP3 it carries plain yellow P Zero markings.
The track was previously used for Pirelli’s Formula One testing before it entered the championship in 2011 but the track was resurfaced last year so the Italian firm will have limited data available ahead of the weekend. Valencia is often used for motorbike racing, as the twists and turns of the Ricardo Tormo track make it well-suited to two wheels as well as four. With no accompanying GP2 or Formula One race, GP3 – the first rung on Pirelli’s ladder of international motorsport talent – will be the sole focus of attention, giving the young drivers the perfect opportunity to showcase their talent.
Pirelli’s racing manager says:
Mario Isola: “The stand-alone Valencia GP3 event will be an extremely challenging event from a technical perspective, but also from a mental perspective as the GP3 drivers will be very much at the centre of the action, rather than a support act. Valencia tests every aspect of a tyre’s performance, which is why we have chosen the medium compound: the most versatile of the entire range. We’re expecting quite warm temperatures; with this and the varied cornering demands, the tyres have quite a lot of work to do. As a result of that, it will be very important to keep the tyres in the best possible condition. So the two races should reveal a lot about which drivers are capable of managing their tyres most effectively, which is an essential skill for their later racing careers. The GP3 drivers have just completed a mid-season test at Budapest, so it will be interesting to see if the teams are able to make use of the lessons learned during those sessions in Hungary.”
The challenge for the tyres:
The Ricardo Tormo circuit (named after a well-known Spanish motorcyclist) has 14 corners, all of which are distinctly different.
The medium tyre is acknowledged for its wide working range, which is well-suited to the track conditions in Valencia. Unusually, the GP3 cars will be racing in the middle of the day rather than first thing or last thing, which is normally the case during a grand prix weekend.
The different slow corners put a lot of stress on the rear tyres in particular, which have to provide traction without spinning the wheels. Excessive wheelspin only increases tyre wear.
The race and the rules:
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 1430 on Saturday afternoon, after a single free practice session in the morning at 0930. Race One starts at 1100 on Sunday, followed by Race Two at 1500. The grid for Race Two is determined by the finishing order of the first race, with the top eight positions reversed.
The GP3 Series has been to Valencia before, but on the Formula One street circuit rather than the permanent track: a completely different challenge. Last year, Mitch Evans (who would go on to become champion) won Race One in Valencia, having set pole position and fastest lap. Patric Niederhauser won Race Two from reverse pole.
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