The epic, old-school Suzuka circuit is well-known for being one of the biggest challenges for tyres on the calendar, thanks to its high-energy loads, yet for the first time Pirelli isn’t bringing the hardest tyre: instead the nominated compounds are P Zero White medium, P Zero Yellow soft, and P Zero Red supersoft.
These will have to cope with long and fast corners such as 130R – providing the longest continuous g-force loading of the year – and Spoon, which put the tyres under constant stress throughout the lap.
With fastest race laps that have been up to five seconds faster than 2016 so far, another significant improvement is expected in Suzuka. A wide range of strategy options are available to find the best compromise between performance and durability.
The Circuit From A Tyre Point Of View
The track is quite narrow, making overtaking tricky, so strategy can make the difference. Lateral forces through corners are the main feature, rather than traction and braking.
Generally, there are high levels of wear and degradation: two stops was the winning strategy last year, with varied tactics. Track evolution is often hard to predict and safety cars can provide another variable.
Weather, and therefore track temperatures, are quite unpredictable at this time of year. The teams normally run high downforce: pushing down on the tyres to help cornering.
Mario Isola - Head Of Car Racing
“The Japanese Grand Prix continues the trend we’ve seen so far this year of bringing softer, and therefore faster, tyres to several grands prix compared to last season. In the case of Suzuka, this is particularly pertinent as it’s one of the most challenging tracks for tyres of the entire year, with a very big emphasis on lateral loads that can cause thermal degradation if the tyres are not properly managed. This is also one of the reasons why the drivers enjoy Suzuka so much; with the cars traveling a lot faster through the corners this year under the new regulations with wider tyres, it’s very possible that we will see another lap record fall and some truly impressive maximum g-force loadings”.