“GP3 Series alters tyre compounds for 2013 season”

© Alastair Staley/GP2 Series Media Service
© Alastair Staley/GP2 Series Media Service

The GP3 Series has – in conjunction with control tyre supplier Pirelli – decided to adjust the control tyre compounds for the rest of the season.

Following an opening round that saw overly excessive tyre wear early on in the Barcelona races, the series has opted for a harder tyre range for the duration of the season.

Although tyre conservation is still considered a deeply important module in a driver’s education, the series acted in order to encourage driver skill amidst hard racing. Changes to the compound allocation will begin from the next round in Valencia.

The series has introduced a new chassis and engine combination for the 2013 season, increasing power output from 280bhp to 400bhp, yet the tyre compounds have remained virtually unchanged.
Testing the new package took place in rather cold conditions, due to Europe’s never ending winter, masking the true level of drop off that come into play in warmer climes.

Indeed the new combination saw the fastest time in qualifying – set by Koiranen GP’s Kevin Korjus {note 1} – beat Antonio Felix da Costa’s 2012 effort by some 4.4 seconds.
However with wear diminishing rapidly as early as the fourth tour in both races, laptimes and speed rapidly fell away as grip became scarce, causing drivers to lift off through medium and high downforce bends.

While undesirable from a competition vantage, the severe drop off in speed through what were normally reasonably quick corners also raised the question of competitor safety.
Having pushed hard in the early running of race one in Barcelona, MW Arden racer Daniil Kvyat was lapping over 12 seconds off his initial pace at the chequered flag. Much of the rest of the order suffered a drop off of around 8-10 seconds per lap, as the cars scuttled nervously through corners.

GP3 Series CEO Bruno Michel considers the moves to the harder compounds a positive step for the championship. “We are very pleased with how Pirelli work and react to any given situation. The GP3/13 is a new car – one that’s proven to be reliable and competitive. GP3 races have always showcased drivers giving maximum attack whilst starting to learn how to manage the tyre degradation.” Michel also commented that, “After Barcelona, we analysed that we had to fine-tune our compound selection to a harder range in order to keep that balance intact. Pirelli have been quick to adapt to the situation in terms of production too.”

Mario Isola, Racing Manager with Pirelli added, “Following the first two races we analysed the data and together with the Series organizers we have decided to revise some of the initial choices, which turned out to be slightly too performance-orientated, considering some of the greatly increased forces that the brand new GP3 car is putting on the tyres.
“In pre-season testing the teams had the opportunity to run the new car on our new tyres, but due to the temperatures at that time of year, the track conditions were not completely representative and the full potential of the car-tyre package could not be exploited,” said Isola. He concluded that, “Now that we are four to five seconds per lap quicker than last year, and with a good amount of representative data from Barcelona, we have decided to make more use of the harder compounds for the GP3 races so that the drivers can push their cars closer to the limit but still learn about tyre management.”

{note 1}
Although Korjus set the quickest lap time in qualifying in Barcelona, the Estonian assumed a penalty for an infringement in free practice, dropping him to 10th. Korjus’ penalty promoted eventual race one winner Tio Ellinas to the pole position spot.

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