The FIA Formula 2 Championship and GP3 Series will race at Paul Ricard for the first time, supporting the return of the French Grand Prix. However, it’s been a well-known test venue for both series, so the drivers have some idea of what to expect in the south of France.
• The Paul Ricard track provides a varied challenge for the tyres, with a mixture of different corners. The high-speed Signes turn and long double right-hander at Le Beausset are two of the most demanding corners for the tyres.
• A new smooth surface was laid in readiness for the return of F1, which offers increased grip with reduced rates of wear and degradation.
• The F2 and GP3 teams and drivers tested at Paul Ricard in March and February respectively, so they have existing data about how the tyres will behave, but temperatures are expected to be much higher over the race weekend.
The tyres and strategy
• The P Zero White medium and P Zero Red supersoft tyres have been nominated for F2. This combination, with two steps between the two compounds, was previously used earlier this year in Baku.
• In F2, each driver has five sets of slick tyres to use over the weekend: three medium and two supersoft. They also have three sets of wet-weather tyres. During race one, where there is a mandatory pit stop, both compounds have to be used unless it is declared a wet race. Pit stops are optional in race two.
• Just one tyre is nominated for each GP3 round: in Paul Ricard it’s the medium. Drivers get three new sets of dry tyres plus one carry-over set from the Barcelona round, which must be returned after free practice. There are two sets of wet-weather tyres as well.
Mario Isola, Pirelli head of car racing: “There are a number of interesting question marks as we head to Paul Ricard: firstly about the track itself, which is all-new, and secondly about the strategic variations that will be possible thanks to the ‘step’ between tyre nominations in Formula 2. In the past we have seen that this has led teams to different tactical philosophies and unpredictable racing, so hopefully this will be the case again. Warmer weather should in theory increase thermal degradation, while by contrast the new track surface leads to very low levels of wear and degradation. So we’re set for an intriguing weekend, where anything could happen.”
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For more information on the FIA Formula 2 Championship, please visit: www.fiaformula2.com