Pirelli, F1 teams return to Barcelona for further tests
The cancellation of the Bahrain Grand Prix has prompted the arrangement of an extra Formula One test session, and today Pirelli returns to Barcelona along with the 12 teams competing in this season’s championship. Tests will take place over a five-day period, with each team testing for a maximum of four days each. This test period will bring the teams’ total number of pre-season test days up to the agreed upon 15 days.
From a tyre perspective, testing will focus upon the P Zero compounds to be used in the opening three races in Australia, Malaysia and China – the hard tyre as the prime choice and the soft as the option. The Italian tyre maker is bringing 35 sets of tyres per team to the Spanish Grand Prix venue: a total of 1680 tyres, including five sets of intermediate tyres and three sets of wet tyres per team. This is, notes Pirelli, considerably more than the two sets of intermediate tyres and three sets of wet tyres that had been earmarked for Bahrain.
It is only some two weeks since the last round of testing in Barcelona wrapped up, yet Pirelli notes the F1 teams will be hoping for warmer conditions this time in order to more accurately replicate what they are likely to encounter over the course of the season. “Our last test in Barcelona was held in temperatures of just six degrees in the mornings, which didn’t help to rubber the track in or gather the information necessary to base strategies on over the course of the season,” explained Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery. “We’re hoping for warmer weather this week, although it’s unlikely to be as warm as the temperatures we are expecting for the first race in Australia. Having announced our compounds for the start of the year, most of the teams will concentrate on testing the hard and soft P Zero tyres. We’re expecting them to focus on long runs and race simulations, which should confirm the results we have previously extrapolated from our testing data: two or sometimes three pit stops at every race.”
Pirelli describes the hard P Zero compound as offering a good balance between performance and durability, making it an “ideal choice” of prime tyre over a long run in warm conditions. The soft P Zero compound takes less time to warm up and is quicker over a shorter period of time, but is also designed to work at its best in temperatures of more than 15 degrees centigrade: which are the ambient conditions for the vast majority of Formula One races.
A priority for the teams at this week’s test will be to complete set-up work that optimises the balance of the cars on the new P Zero rubber. The compounds are identical for both front and rear tyres, but the rears – as is the case with all rear-wheel drive cars – warm up quicker because of the traction going through them. The front tyres take longer to reach ideal temperature, provoking a change of balance, which the drivers and engineers must make the most of by adjusting the set-up.