The Formula 1 season returns with one of the most epic tracks on the calendar: Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium, where Pirelli will bring the C1, C2, and C3 compounds. Spa is well-known for its varying elevations and the extreme demands it places on tires, thanks to famous sections such as the Eau Rouge and Raidillon complex, where drivers experience a wide range of g forces in a short space of time.
One corner that has become increasingly challenging in this hybrid turbo era is Pouhon. Pirelli was nice enough to send me their preview of the race and provide some fun stats and information I thought you might fine interesting. Especially the highlighted, never-before-mentioned comment in “Red“.
- At just over seven kilometres, Spa is the longest track on the F1 calendar – which is why the race distance is scheduled for only 44 laps.
- Spa is also well-known for its changeable weather, and the length of the lap means that it can be raining on one section of the track while staying completely dry in another. If it rains, areas of standing water can easily form, due to the drainage characteristics of the track.
- Most drivers list Spa as one of their favourite circuits, because of the challenge and sensations that it provides them with. Exactly the same is true for the tyres, which are subjected to high forces from all directions: lateral, longitudinal, and vertical.
- Last year the medium, soft and supersoft tyres were nominated. This year’s nomination for Belgium is generally harder and more widely spaced, with the C1 and C2 a little softer than their 2018 hard and medium equivalents and the C3 close to last year’s soft.
- Last year, most drivers chose a supersoft-soft one-stopper (with the notable exception of Valtteri Bottas, who finished fourth with a two-stopper). The race, which was dry after a wet qualifying, was affected by an early safety car – and only two drivers used the hardest compound available.
MARIO ISOLA – HEAD OF F1 AND CAR RACING
“Spa is always an amazing drivers’ circuit but that is also why the tyres are put under some of the biggest stresses that they face all season. As a result, we’ve nominated the three hardest compounds in the range – a slightly different choice to last year – which should allow the drivers to push to the maximum during each stint and minimise the need for pace management. The harder choice this year at Silverstone, for example, led to a very closely-fought race and a fastest lap from Lewis Hamilton right at the end on well-used tyres. We know a lot about Spa, also from our experience of supplying the Spa 24 Hours. Last month’s race there was stopped by rain for several hours, which underlines the likelihood of mixed weather conditions, with qualifying for last year’s Belgian Grand Prix run in the wet as well. This is a track where it’s very possible to overtake, so under the right circumstances, it’s feasible to make an aggressive strategy work.”
OTHER PIRELLI NEWS
- Mercedes (along with the McLaren of Lando Norris) is the team that has chosen the least number of soft tyres for Spa, taking two more medium sets compared to Ferrari and Red Bull.
- Both Formula 2 and Formula 3, exclusively supplied by Pirelli as well, also resume in Belgium.
- Pirelli has launched a brand new P Zero Trofeo R tyre for Pagani, which has been developed in a similar way to the Formula 1 tyres: a perfect example of road to track technology transfer. The Trofeo R is a track day that’s legal for road use, and the latest example has been specifically developed for the Pagani Huayra BC roadster.
- Last weekend, Pirelli has also exclusively supplied the Suzuka 10 Hours in Japan: the fourth round of the Intercontinental GT Challenge, featuring 23 teams that represented 10 manufacturers. Audi claimed victory with Dries Vanthoor, Kelvin van der Linde and Frederic Vervisch, while two-time Formula 1 world champion Mika Hakkinen finished 22nd on his return to competition in a McLaren 720s GT3.