The Pirelli PZero Yellow soft and Red supersoft tires will be used by the GP2 Series drivers in Austria, where the GP3 Series will return to action on the soft compound.
A modern take on a classic venue, the Red Bull Ring returned to the schedule in 2014 with the comeback of the Austrian Grand Prix and has played host to great racing in both GP2 and GP3. The track is fast and flowing with lots of undulation, and although it the severity for the tires is fairly low, good traction is important, particularly on the slow corners that precede long straights in the first portion of the lap. This year, the track has been resurfaced, which may have an affect on grip levels due to the oils in the new bitumen.
Pirelli’s racing manager says:
Mario Isola: “After Monaco and Baku, GP2 moves back to a more conventional circuit in Austria, although the demands on the tires at the Red Bull Ring are still fairly low. That has allowed us to nominate the two softest tires in the GP2 range, selecting the soft instead of the medium as the harder tire this year. This should mean that, as is usually the case in GP2, strategy and tire management plays a key role in the races. For GP3, since the first races with the new car at Barcelona, the teams have had the chance to test at Spielberg. That should give them an idea of what to expect, but the weather can be variable with rain a definite possibility this weekend. The new asphalt is also an interesting question mark, which we will be assessing before the race weekend.”
The challenge for the tires:
The stresses on the tires are generally quite low at the Red Bull Ring. The lack of many particularly quick corners means that the longitudinal demands – accelerating and braking – are more critical than the lateral forces.
One part of the track where there are lateral forces is the double left-hander of Turns 5 and 6, with particular stress on the tires on the right-hand side of the car.
The nature of the track, with both slow and fast corners, makes it quite hard to find a good set-up: as usual, it’s a compromise. The majority of the grip is mechanical grip from the tires, rather than aerodynamic grip from the downforce on the cars. The circuit itself offers low grip from the surface, however.
Austria is the second-shortest lap of the year after Monaco, which tends to mean that there are very small gaps in qualifying in particular. As a result, driving precision is paramount and strategy can help to make a big difference in terms of track position.
The race and the rules:
Every car will have five sets of dry tires and three sets of wet weather tires available for the GP2 race weekend. The five sets of dry tires comprise three sets of the harder compound (soft) and two sets of the softer compound (supersoft).
The drivers can use their tire allocation in any way they like, but at least one set of each compound must be used in the feature race (unless it is a wet race). One set of the harder compound must be returned after free practice.
Qualifying takes place at 15:55 on Friday, after practice at 12:00. The feature race on Saturday at 15:35 lasts 40 laps and each driver must complete one compulsory pit stop. This cannot take place within the first six laps. Unlike Formula 1, the drivers do not have to start the race using the tires they qualified on.
The grid for the sprint race on Sunday at 10:25 is determined by the finishing order of the first race, with the top eight positions reversed. It is run over 28 laps, with no compulsory pit stops.
Every car will have three sets of dry tires and two sets of wet weather tires available for the GP3 race weekend. Only one compound is nominated: soft for this weekend. The drivers can use the tire allocation in any way they like.
Drivers are allowed to carry over one tire set from the previous round for use in free practice only. This will be the hard tire from Spain.
There is one practice session, one qualifying session and two races in GP3. Qualifying takes place at 09:45 on Saturday morning, after a single free practice session on Friday at 17:50. Race One starts at 17:10 on Saturday and lasts for 24 laps, followed by Race Two at 09:15 on Sunday (lasting 18 laps). The grid for Race Two is determined by the finishing order of the first race, with the top eight positions reversed.