Monday, March 11, 2013

Preview to tyre strategy for the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix

Image courtesy Pirelli - 2011 Australian Grand Prix
It has been a long time since the last grand prix of 2012 and we at F1 Asphalt can't wait for the 2013 Formula 1 season to start this Friday in Australia. Below is a preview by Pirelli on the tyres on option for this Grand Prix.

Pirelli are starting the year with a brand new combination of tyres for the Albert Park circuit. This is the first time they have nominated their P Zero White medium and P Zero Red supersoft compounds for this race. The expectation is that cars will have to make two to three pitstops on race day at this semi-permanent facility that is well known for its low levels of grip, which gradually improves over the course of the weekend as the surface rubbers in.

The tyres from the circuit point of view :

  • With all the compounds having become softer this year, the medium and the supersoft were chosen for Australia to give the teams a challenge in terms of tyre management and strategy.
  • The Medium tyre is ideal for circuits with lower ambient temperatures and not particularly aggressive asphalt, such as Melbourne. Its durability characteristics are very similar to those of last year's soft tyre, resulting in lap times that are around 0.8s quicker than the 2012 spec medium. The development of the cars mean that the difference could be higher.
  • The supersoft is designed to come up to temperature quickly and it is ideal when it comes to delivering maximum performance instantly on a twisty and slow-speed circuit. But with the low grip levels of Friday we expect drivers to complain about graining on the tyres, Graining is a phenomenon where the tyre is ruined due to aggressive driving before getting the tyre upto its optimum operating temperature, on a surface that does not have too much grip. 
  • Last year, the medium and soft compounds were chosen for the Australian Grand Prix, with the top seven drivers adopting a two stop strategy.
  • Check out this video, courtesy Pirelli, for further information regarding Albert Park and the demands it places on the tyres. 

    Image of graining on the front right tyre

    The left-rear tyre works hardest in Melbourne, with 10 right-hand corners and six left-hand corners. Since the 5.303 km Albert Park circuit is not used outside of the Australian Grand Prix, it is extremely 'green' and slippery on Friday in particular. But the faster warm-up time of Pirelli's 2013 tyres should help drivers find grip more quickly.

    This is what Jean Alesi, ex-Ferrari formula 1 driver and brand ambassador for Pirelli from this year, had to say about driving at this circuit, "You have some bits that are similar to a street circuit like Monaco and other places that are more like a permanent track such as Barcelona. So I probably wouldn't read too much into the results from Melbourne, as it is so atypical of anywhere else and also because at the start of the season the teams are still learning a lot about their new cars and tyres. The tyres this year seem very interesting and in qualifying in particular I think a really attacking driver should be able to do something quite special."

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