Monday, February 18, 2013

Looking ahead to the second Formula One test in Barcelona

picutre courtesy Pirelli
Most teams would have already arrived at the venue for the second four day preseason test for 2013 and will be unpacking their trailers as I am writing this. The Circuit de Catalunya is the teams favourite location for testing due to the usually mild all year round temperatures and a technical layout that challenges every aspect of car and tyre performance. It is true that if a car can be quick around the challenging circuit of Barcelona, it can be quick in most places. The times set this week should reasonably establish the pecking order for the start of the season. With the highly abrasive nature of the Jerez track having put a question mark on the tyre performances, all teams are looking forward to gather more tyre data over the next four days.

picture courtesy Pirelli
Paul Hembery (Pirelli Motorsport Director) said, "All the teams will have their new cars in Barcelona and the entire range of 2013 P Zero tyres will be at their disposal. Barcelona is a circuit that the teams have plenty of data on already, which is useful for comparison purposes. So it should be possible for them to carry out plenty of production work to help understand how their new cars interact with our latest generation of tyres, which are generally softer and faster than last year with deliberately increased degradation. The limiting factor at the opening test in Jerez earlier this month was the abrasiveness of the track, so hopefully conditions will be more representative this time. There is always the potential for low ambient temperatures though last year we actually saw some ice on the track in the morning."

Barcelona is well known as an extremely challenging circuit for tyres, with the front left tyre in particular subjected to a lot of work. This is because of the high number of high speed right hand corners on this 4.655 km track. The long right hander at turn three puts the most energy through the front left tyre equating to a load of 3.9g. The rear tyres also have to withstand plenty of stress in order to provide the combined traction needed coming out of the slower corners.

There are a wide variety of corners in the third and final sector of the circuit and it is the most demanding part of the track on the driver. A compromise in setup is needed on this track to deal with the many different speeds and corners. But the teams will be altering many more parameters than they would during a race weekend in order to see the effects of setup changes on the cars and tyres.

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