Tyre degradation a factor once again in China

By on Saturday, April 7, 2012

Photo credit: Pirelli & C. S.p.A.

As the Formula 1 fraternity prepares to depart to Shanghai for the Chinese Grand Prix, tyre degradation is once again a top priority for teams’ and drivers’ alike. Pirelli have nominated the P Zero Medium (White) and P Zero Soft (Yellow) tyres for round three of the Championship, the same that was nominated for the season opening race in Australia.

With the temperature in Shanghai relatively low in comparison to Malaysia, the nature of the Shanghai International Circuit will still offer the teams’ with degradation conundrums which are set to dominate the various teams’ set-ups.

Rain is also a threat throughout the Chinese Grand Prix weekend, with the type of rain differing from Malaysia. At Sepang, the rain was short and heavy, whereas in China the rain usually lingers for the majority of the afternoon, yet falls lighter. This threat could mean the Pirelli Cinturato wets could be used throughout the weekend, with Pirelli naturally bringing both the Intermediates (Green) and Full Wets (Blue) tyres for the teams’.

“China proved to be one of the most fascinating races in our first year, with tyre strategy at the heart of it, so we have a tough act to follow.” Commented Pirelli’s motor sport director, Paul Hembrey, “However, the philosophy we have adopted this year actually extends the window of peak performance on the slick tyres, which means that the drivers should be able to race harder and closer. Although ambient temperatures can be quite low in China, tyre degradation is traditionally high due to the unique track layout. So although we have the same nomination as we saw in Australia – medium and soft – our P Zeros will face a quite different challenge next week in Shanghai.”

One of the most unique aspects of the Shanghai International Circuit is the braking zone at the end of the back straight, where the cars decelerate from 320kph (198.8mph) down to only 68kph (42.2mph). This in total is a deceleration of 6G, the heaviest the Pirelli P Zero’s will face all season.

“Two corners in particular stand out, where the tyres make a real difference.” Explained Pirelli’s test driver, Jaime Alguersuari, “The key to getting the best of out them is to properly understand how the two different compounds behave: to begin with, the first corner, turn one. This right-hander feels like it is going on forever when you drive it and the radius gets tighter and tighter, until it turns back on itself completely. The tyres have to work really hard here in order to maintain the ideal line.

“The other key corner is turn 13,” Continued the Spaniard, “The long right-hander just before the main straight. It’s a fast corner, which is slightly banked, where the tyres are increasingly loaded as you accelerate towards the straight and the DRS zone. Getting good traction out of this corner is vital – particularly in qualifying – so that you can carry plenty of speed onto the straight, which is crucial to your lap time.”

With the same ingredients (rain and high tyre degradation), the Chinese Grand Prix is shaping up to be another scintillating spectacle.


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