Pirelli’s newly-developed PZero tyres have successfully completed the first GP2 Asia race today after making their debut as sole tyre supplier to the Series, which features a brand new car this year. The opening round of the 2011 GP2 Asia Series is taking place this weekend at the Yas Marina Circuit, with Pirelli equipping a full grid of 26 drivers with its newly developed 13-inch PZero control tyre, in medium compound specification.
Race One took place on a shortened track configuration of 4.730 kilometres, the same used during pre-season tests at the Yas Marina Circuit. Designed as a Middle Eastern version of Monaco, this circuit features 21 corners, with several long straights and tight chicanes to make it especially challenging.
With its very specific layout, Abu Dhabi is a technical and complicated track where the rubber has to face some extremely variable stresses of racing, combined with warm ambient temperatures and unpredictable conditions. For this reason Pirelli decided to equip drivers with its PZero medium compound tyre, which has proved to be extreme adaptable to a wide range of conditions.
Throughout practice and qualifying on Thursday, the PZero medium slicks performed very well and were well suited to the track conditions. Qualifying got underway at dusk on a much cooler track, with Romain Grosjean (Dams) on pole thanks to a best lap time of 1:36.041, followed by Jules Bianchi (Lotus ART) and reigning GP2 Asia Champion Davide Valsecchi (Team AirAsia).
After the Feature Race on Friday was red-flagged following a pile-up at the start, the action resumed with Fabio Lemier (Rapax) and Charles Pic (Addax) dominating the show, perfectly managing their PZero tyres for over three-quarters of the race before pitting for a fresh set. Their late pit stop brought Jules Bianchi (Lotus ART) into the lead ahead of Romain Grosjean (Dams) and Davide Valsecchi (Team AirAsia) which was the order at the finish after the race reached its maximum permitted time limit.
Notwithstanding the increase of artificial degradation required by the GP2 organisers for this year, the new Pirelli PZero tyres proved to be extremely durable even on longer stints, ensuring very good levels of grip and overall performance.
Pirelli’s Racing Manager Mario Isola commented: “We are very satisfied with the performance of our medium compound GP2 tyres. During pre-season tests, they performed very well on this demanding track. Today they held their own on their competition debut. The medium compound proved to be ideal for the race from start to finish, having shown its performance during practice and qualifying. But we obviously knew that race conditions would provide a fresh challenge, particularly for the rear tyres on this circuit, and we are delighted to have made such a positive start. We wanted a bit more degradation for this year, and we could see from the exciting performance of drivers such as Grosjean today that this was the case so far.”
The sprint race will take place on Saturday, 12 February at 17:05 GMT+4Hrs.