Pirelli to debut medium F1 compound on Valencia street circuit
Pirelli will introduce its new medium compound PZero White Formula One tyre in Valencia, Spain this weekend, following a testing period during free practice in Canada two weeks ago. The tyre is not quite as durable as the hard tyre seen during the first five Grands Prix of the season, but Pirelli believes it is quicker. Pirelli will also make the PZero Yellow soft tyre, which is the option tyre in Valencia.
Pirelli tested in Valencia twice in the pre-season, but only at the permanent circuit on the outskirts of the city rather than on the 5.419-kilometre street circuit inaugurated in 2008, which runs through the ultra-modern City of Arts and Sciences made famous by the architecture of local man Santiago Calatrava. Valencia will be the third street circuit race in succession this year, following Monaco and Canada, where the outcome of the race was only settled in the very final laps.
Having said that, Pirelli says the Valencia track has little in common with other street circuits, containing a wide variety of corners and a relatively high proportion of the lap spent on full throttle, together with a smooth surface. The stop-start nature of the track and frequent changes of direction place heavy demands on the tyres under traction and braking, while there is also very little adhesion to provide lateral support in the corners. The track is only used once a year, which means that the amount of grip evolves considerably over the course of the weekend as more rubber is laid down.
Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery says: “We’ve seen some fantastic street races so far this season, with the last Grand Prix in Canada being one of the highlights of the year, so we hope that Valencia will continue this pattern, although it’s notoriously difficult to overtake there. Tyre wear on this circuit is likely to be quite high because of the track layout, the nature of the surface, and also the weather conditions, which should be very warm.
“For all these reasons, we’ve selected the medium and soft tyres, which should provide the teams with a good level of resistance, plenty of different opportunities for strategy and about a second per lap difference between the compounds. The PZero White tyres have been adjusted slightly from our original specification to make them a bit more durable, along the lines of the tweak we made to the PZero Silver hard tyre in Spain, and this was the compound that the teams tested during Friday’s free practice in Canada, giving us plenty of useful data.”
Vitantonio Liuzzi of the Hispania Racing Team told Pirelli that the circuits “long and technical lap” will make overtaking difficult: “It will be a really hard race for the tyres as well, especially the rears, as they are under quite a lot of pressure at slow speeds because of the high traction demands. It will be difficult not to overheat the rears, given the nature of the surface combined with the track temperature… Valencia will be a big challenge in terms of durability: even though they have reacted well up to now in many different conditions.”