Pirelli Australian Grand Prix Preview
A new season, with brand new tyre rules that are among the most revolutionary in recent history. The teams get more choice, which should lead to more variation and at least two pit stops per race.
THE CIRCUIT FROM A TYRE POINT OF VIEW:
• Albert Park is a street circuit, making it especially ‘green’ and dirty at the start of the weekend.
• It’s all about acceleration and braking: the longitudinal forces are greater than the lateral ones.
• There are lots of slow corners, so the emphasis is on mechanical grip and high downforce.
• Turn 8 (a right-hander) is fast, like the long left-hander between Clark and Waite grandstands.
• The left-rear tyre is worked hardest – so that is the one the drivers have to look after.
• Weather is always unpredictable: there’s been bright sunshine and torrential rain in the past.
• The asphalt is reasonably smooth, so tyre wear and degradation is comparatively low.
THE THREE NOMINATED COMPOUNDS:
• White medium: a low working range compound that is one of the most versatile in the range.
• Yellow soft: a high working range compound with the accent on performance.
• Red supersoft: a low working range compound that is rapid but with a limited overall life.
HOW IT WAS A YEAR AGO:
• Winner: Hamilton (one stop: started on soft, changed to medium on lap 25).
• Best-placed alternative strategy: Hulkenberg (two stops: started on soft, changed to medium on lap 21, changed to soft on lap 44). Finished seventh from 14th on the grid.
• Most drivers stopped just once, with strategies affected by an early safety car.
PAUL HEMBERY, PIRELLI MOTORSPORT DIRECTOR:
• “With far reaching changes to tyre regulations compared to 2015, we expect strategy options to have extended considerably, with more possibilities open not only to each team but also every individual driver. In fact, the tactical decisions for Albert Park already began last year, as each team nominated their tyres: only recently, like a poker game, did everyone have to finally show their hand. By Sunday afternoon in Melbourne, we’ll see who made the right choices.”