Following a short summer break, Formula 1 resumes at the one of the most epic drivers’ circuits of them all: Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium. The P Zero medium, soft and supersoft tyres have been nominated for the longest lap of the year at 7.004 kilometres, which places high-energy loads through the tyres. Spa-Francorchamps in fact provides a real multi-faceted challenge for the tyres, and by extension for the teams and drivers as well. The historic circuit at the foothills of the Ardennes is renowned for its changeable weather, meaning that there is a true microclimate to provide a constant additional parameter for the strategists to consider.
THE CIRCUIT FROM A TYRE POINT OF VIEW:
- Loads through the tyres are among the biggest of the year due to the long and fast corners.
- Elevation changes also create vertical forces for tyres through compressions like Eau Rouge.
- Rain is quite likely, but it frequently rains just on one part of the circuit and not on another.
- Set-up is a compromise between low drag for straights and downforce for corners: not easy.
- There are plenty of overtaking opportunities, which mean that strategy options are quite open.
- F1 returns with yet another back-to-back: after Spa it’s straight to Pirelli’s home race at Monza.
THE THREE NOMINATED COMPOUNDS:
- White medium: a mandatory set that must be available for the race, low working range.
- Yellow soft: again a mandatory set, should feature in the race but not ideal for long stints.
- Red supersoft: will be used for qualifying with a focus on performance rather than durability.
HOW IT WAS A YEAR AGO:
- Lewis Hamilton won comfortably with a two-stop strategy, changing tyres on laps 13 and 30.
- Best alternative strategy: Max Verstappen finished eighth from 18th on the grid, having adopted a three-stop strategy and passing several cars on track.
PAUL HEMBERY, PIRELLI MOTORSPORT DIRECTOR:
“Spa-Francorchamps needs no introduction as one of the most iconic circuits out there. For the tyres, it’s a demanding track with the sort of high-energy loads that make it absolutely thrilling to drive. It’s not easy to find the right set-up but with such a long lap and plenty of overtaking opportunities, there are a number of different strategy permutations possible. During the summer break we’ve started testing the 2017-size tyres, and we look forward to a busy second half of the season as we continue the testing campaign and also move straight on to our home race the weekend after Belgium.”
- There are no significant changes to the Spa-Francorchamps circuit and infrastructure this year.
- Esteban Ocon becomes a full-time Formula 1 driver, taking over from Rio Haryanto at Manor.
OTHER THINGS THAT HAVE CAUGHT OUR EYE RECENTLY:
- Pirelli was at the forefront in Spa last month with the famous 24 Hours. It was the Italian firm’s biggest-ever event with a total of 65 cars fitted and 10,724 tyres over 29,269 cumulative laps.
- The 2017 tyre tests with modified mule cars got underway at the beginning of the month, with Ferrari at Fiorano (driven by Sebastian Vettel and Esteban Gutierrez on wets) and Red Bull at Mugello (driven by Sebastien Buemi on slicks).
TYRES NOMINATED SO FAR: