Pirelli Spanish Grand Prix Preview
There is a new nomination for the Spanish Grand Prix, different to the medium-soft-supersoft selection that was chosen for the first four grands prix.
For the Circuit de Catalunya, the hard, medium and soft tyres have been nominated, to cope with the large energy loads that the track generates. Most teams though have kept their hard nominations to a minimum, and focussed on the softer compounds. Pirelli is once more the title sponsor of the Spanish Grand Prix.
THE CIRCUIT FROM A TYRE POINT OF VIEW:
• This is a high-energy load circuit for tyres, especially in the long Turn 3: a big right-hander.
• Teams have plenty of relevant 2016 data, as this is where pre-season testing took place.
• The surface is quite rough; along with high-speed corners this presents a tough test for tyres.
• Wear and degradation is generally high, so we can expect multiple pit stops.
• The front-left tyre is worked hardest: Barcelona is a front-limited circuit.
• This is a high-downforce track, increasing the vertical load going through the tyres still further.
THE THREE NOMINATED COMPOUNDS:
• Orange hard: Seen for the first time this year, but no driver has chosen more than one set (then one set of hard was nominated by Pirelli as mandatory for the race).
• White medium: A versatile tyre that is a good compromise between performance and durability.
• Yellow soft: More than a second faster than the White medium in Barcelona, but unlikely to last for long.
HOW IT WAS A YEAR AGO:
• Winner: Rosberg (two stops: started on medium, medium again on lap 15, hard on lap 44).
• Best-placed alternative strategy: Hamilton, second with three stops (just the penultimate stint on the hard tyre).
• A mixture of two and three stop strategies, with most teams adopting a flexible approach.
PAUL HEMBERY, PIRELLI MOTORSPORT DIRECTOR:
“Spain always provides a very big test for the tyres due to the high energy loads that the circuit generates, and this year that will especially be the case with most teams having favored the softer compounds in their selections. Of course they will be able to rely on the data accumulated during pre-season testing, but at this time of year we expect conditions to be much warmer. As a result we should see high wear and degradation leading to several pit stops, which of course opens up a very large number of strategic variables for the grand prix.”