Rain in Spain puts new Pirelli racing tire to the test

Jan. 1, 2020
As Pirelli announced its comeback to Formula One after a 20 year absence, the company?s 13-inch P Zero soft compound GP3 tire made its debut at the Valencia street circuit for round three of the all-new series.

As Pirelli announced its comeback to Formula One after a 20 year absence, the company’s 13-inch P Zero soft compound GP3 tire made its debut at the Valencia street circuit for round three of the all-new series.

“With the introduction of the new soft tire, we are clearly on the right road as we noticed that there was more degradation and sliding, just as we intended,” says racing manager Mario Isola. “However, it’s also clear that we can go a bit further in this direction to improve the show, and that is something we will work on for the future,” he adds.

“Despite the unique conditions of this fast street circuit, the tires were very consistent during each race and session, enabling the drivers to assimilate accurate information about setup, which is very important as the emphasis in the GP3 Series is firmly on learning,” Isola points out.

“The quick entries into tight corners meant that a number of drivers were locking up their brakes, but even so there were no major problems with flat spots and vibrations, which is very good to know,” he recounts.

The medium compound tire was used for the first two rounds in Barcelona and in Istanbul Park. For the Valencia circuit, the soft-compound tire – designed to deliberately degrade and slide – made its first appearance.

“The demanding street circuit, which runs around the famed America’s Cup harbor in Valencia, incorporates a wide variety of speeds and corners, testing the drivers and their 280-horsepower cars to the limit,” according to Isola. “The challenge was made even greater by sustained high temperatures in excess of 86 degrees Fahrenheit,” he notes.

“All 30 drivers had a chance to test their cars the week before the race in Valencia, but conditions were quite different than those experienced at race time. For a start, the test took place at Valencia’s permanent circuit, instead of the street track, and used the medium-compound rather than soft-compound tires. The test was also held in challenging weather conditions, including some rain that disrupted proceedings,” says Isola.

“However, one thing that remained constant was the pace of ART driver Esteban Gutierrez from Mexico. He topped the test times, and a few days later claimed pole position for race one on the soft-compound Pirelli tires,” he reports. “When the lights went to green he was gradually able to pull out a winning margin over the course of the half-hour race, setting fastest lap at the same time. Canada’s Robert Wickens was second (to move up to second in the championship) while Spaniard Roberto Merhi – making his GP3 debut – finished an impressive third.

The second race, held in front of all the Formula One teams and Grand Prix crowds, was won by Swiss driver Nico Muller, who started from second on the grid to claim his first victory. Merhi was second in the race while pole-sitter James Jakes was third.

In the championship points contest, Gutierrez has extended his lead while Wickens is in second place. American driver Alexander Rossi is third in the standings.

The next two races of the eight-round GP3 Series takes place July 10-11 at the British Grand Prix on the newly developed Silverstone circuit in England.

For more information, visit www.us.pirelli.com.

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