China 2014 - GP Preview - Pirelli
The Chinese Grand Prix at Shanghai, where the P Zero White medium and P Zero Yellow soft tyres will be used, is a race that has been traditionally been dominated by strategy. Even using several different strategies, drivers have often ended the race in close formation, setting up a thrilling finish. With a smooth surface and some sweeping corners – including the banked Turn 13 – this versatile tyre combination is well suited to the varied demands of the Shanghai circuit.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director: “With this being the third race featuring the combination of medium and soft this year, coming shortly after the Bahrain test, the teams are beginning to accumulate more knowledge of how our tyres work with the complex 2014-specification cars. As a result, tyre strategy is starting to become a bigger factor in the races. China is a circuit that has showcased the effectiveness of a good tyre strategy in the past, so the teams will be hoping to put their data from the first part of the season to good use and explore some of the strategy options available with our latest-generation P Zero tyres. We’ve seen changeable weather at Shanghai before, so as always the ability to assimilate information quickly according to changing circumstances will be the key to getting the most out of them.”
Jean Alesi, Pirelli consultant: “China is not a circuit that I know well but it always seems to provide a lot of entertainment and this is the point of the year when strategy starts to get important, because the teams are beginning to explore the capabilities and potential of their cars after the first development period. For tyres this is very important, because we are seeing already that the teams are getting more and more out of them all the time, as the development accelerates. Bahrain was a fantastic race, so if we can see battles like that all the time we can look forward to a fantastic season.”
The circuit from a tyre point of view:
There are a number of fast corners that the drivers accelerate through in Shanghai, meaning that they can make the most of the extra torque this year. In particular, turns 3-4, 7-8, and 12-13 require progressive acceleration but it is also important to have the right engine map in order not to experience too much wheelspin and damage the tyres.
The high levels of downforce used in China mean high speeds through the corners, with forces that can exceed 3.8g. The softer tyres are subjected to greater cornering forces as they generate more grip. Around 80% of the lap is spent cornering.
The Shanghai circuit features a number of long straights, which have an effect on the tyres. The straights actually cool the tyres down, meaning they have to get back up temperature quickly for the corners that follow.
The P Zero White medium is a low working range compound, while the P Zero Yellow soft is a high working range compound. This pairing ensures the capability to work effectively under a wide range of conditions: one reason why the combination has proved to be so effective this year.
China is the most demanding circuit on brakes of the entire year, with the new brake by wire system also having an effect on the tyres. The tyres are subjected to braking forces in Shanghai that peak at 4.3g.
Last year, Fernando Alonso won the race for Ferrari with a three-stop strategy, starting from third on the grid with the soft tyre, then completing three stints on the medium tyre. Jenson Button finished fifth for McLaren with a two-stop strategy.
How tyres are allocated for each race:
Tyres are allocated to the teams randomly with the help of a bar code, a process carried out by the FIA: the sport’s governing body. The barcode is the tyre’s ‘passport’, which is embedded firmly into the structure during the vulcanisation process and cannot be swapped. The code contains all the details of each tyre, making it traceable throughout the race weekend with Pirelli’s RTS (Racing Tyre System) software. The FIA receives a list of the bar codes and then allocates each bar code – and therefore each tyre – to every team at random. Pirelli itself is not involved in this process at all, meaning that the Italian firm cannot influence which tyres are allocated to which teams – although a rigorous quality control process ensures that all the tyres leaving the factory are entirely identical. Once at the circuit, the tyres are then distributed to the teams in strict compliance with the list that has been previously prepared by the FIA. The bar codes allow both the FIA and Pirelli to ensure that the right teams, according to the regulations, are using the correct tyres.