Pirelli “Delighted” With Opening GP3 Round
Pirelli’s return to open wheel racing after an almost two-decade absence got underway last weekend with the opening rounds of the inaugural GP3 series at Spain’s Circuit de Catalunya. A full grid of 30 GP3 cars lined up for the opening two races, held on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning, all fitted with Pirelli’s newly developed PZero 13-inch control tyres. Prior to each weekend’s races a soft, medium or hard compound tyre must be nominated for use by all drives, and on the weekend of May 8 and 9 – as will commonly be the case this year – the medium compound was employed.
The first race on the demanding and technical Catalunya circuit – a favoured venue for Formula 1 testing – was won by Norwegian driver Pal Varhaug, driving for Jenzer Motorsport. Race two was claimed by America’s Alexander Rossi, driving for the ART Grand Prix team. Pirelli comments that all the competing drivers took maximum advantage of the opportunity they had been handed to demonstrate their capabilities in front of the world’s Formula One and GP2 teams, and they also all gave the thumbs up to Pirelli’s new tyres, which Pirelli says proved to be both stable and reliable on their race debut.
Part of Pirelli’s brief from the GP3 series organisers was to incorporate some artificial degradation within the tyres, in order to teach the young drivers how to look after their rubber by driving smoothly: a skill that will be vital for their future careers. The specification for this year’s GP3 tyres is not set in stone and some adjustments could still be made in future, as Pirelli’s racing manager Mario Isola explains.
“We’re delighted with the way that this new adventure has started for us, but of course we are learning all the time and it could be that, together with the GP3 organisers and teams, we eventually decide to make the tyres degrade more,” said Isola. “As a beginning, we could not ask for more: the tyres have performed perfectly and the drivers have enjoyed driving on them. It’s a fantastic sight to see Pirelli’s yellow trucks back in a Grand Prix paddock after so many years and we’re really looking forward to the rest of the season now.”
The next two races of the nine-round GP3 series takes place at the Turkish Grand Prix, in Istanbul Park from May 29-30.