F1 News: 2014 Japanese GP Preview – Pirelli

Pirelli LogoJapanese Grand Prix Preview: Suzuka, 2-5 October 2014

THE TWO HARDEST TYRES IN THE RANGE BACK IN ACTION IN JAPAN
CORNERS SUCH AS 130R AND SPOON PROVIDE SOME OF THE HIGHEST LATERAL ENERGY LOADS OF THE YEAR
COOL WEATHER EXPECTED WITH THE POSSIBILITY OF RAIN AT ONE OF THE MOST DEMANDING TRACKS ON THE CALENDAR

Milan, September 29, 2014 – Formula One’s late-season long-haul run of events now takes the teams to the epic Suzuka circuit in Japan, where the two hardest tyres in the range will be in action: the P Zero Orange hard and P Zero White medium, the same combination as was last seen in Monza. While the two circuits are very different in character, Suzuka does have some elements in common with Spa: another well-known driver’s circuit with flowing corners but even higher lateral energy demands. As a result, the nomination for Suzuka is one step harder than Spa: hard and medium rather than medium and soft.

This does not make life easier for the tyres however, as there is a non-stop series of demands to cope with. Coupled with a track surface that is relatively abrasive, this means that wear and degradation is high. Initial forecasts suggest cool weather, which is not unusual for Japan at this time of year. Heavy rain showers have been a feature of Suzuka in the past, making a wet race a distinct possibility.

Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director: “Japan is one of the highlights of the year, not just for ourselves but for the whole of Formula One. The fans are absolutely brilliant, with huge enthusiasm and knowledge of the sport, which is almost unparalleled anywhere in the world. Suzuka is a real drivers’ circuit, and because of that it is a considerable challenge for the tyres, with some of the biggest lateral energy loads of the year. As a result, it would probably be realistic to look at between two to three pit stops, with tyre management forming a key part of the race. However, we’ll obviously know more about that after free practice. It’s a track where several forces are often acting on the tyre at once, and the increased torque but decreased downforce of this year’s cars will only place more demands on mechanical grip. If a tyre can perform well in Suzuka, it can perform well almost everywhere.”

Jean Alesi, Pirelli consultant: “Suzuka is just an amazing track from a driver’s perspective. It’s very technical, with each bit of the circuit very different from the others. I would say that 130R is one of the most demanding corners of the entire year, which requires the right set-up and a car that is absolutely planted to the ground. The esses are also extremely demanding: if you make just one mistake here that will disrupt the whole sequence and you lose a lot of time. We’ve raced many times at Suzuka in the rain: in those situations, visibility is extremely low. We also tend to see a lot of track evolution over the course of the weekend. So we start off with a surface that is very abrasive and ‘green’ but the driver has to pay a lot of attention to how the situation changes over the weekend and how in turn that affects the tyres.”

The circuit from a tyre point of view:
Japan is characterised by high lateral energy loads, combined with some of the lowest longitudinal demands seen all year. Turn 15, known as 130R, is taken entirely flat at speeds in excess of 300kph. This puts a sustained load onto the tyres, subjecting them (and the driver) to massive g-forces. The front-left tyre is worked hardest at Suzuka.
The medium tyre is a low working range compound, capable of achieving optimal performance even at a wide range of low temperatures. The hard tyre by contrast is a high working range compound, suitable for higher temperatures. Cool temperatures are expected for this year’s Japanese Grand Prix, with a threat of rain.

The asphalt in Suzuka is quite abrasive, but there is a high degree of track evolution. Getting the right set-up is essential, to be able to stick to the optimal racing line. There can be a risk of graining: especially during the early stages of the weekend when the track is at its most green.

The winning strategy last year was a two-stopper, with Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel stopping on laps 14 and 37. The German started on the medium and completed his final two stints on the hard tyre.

The tyre choices so far:
P Zero Red P Zero Yellow P Zero White P Zero Orange
Australia Soft Medium
Malaysia Medium Hard
Bahrain Soft Medium
China Soft Medium
Spain Medium Hard
Monaco Supersoft Soft
Canada Supersoft Soft
Austria Supersoft Soft
Great Britain Medium Hard
Germany Supersoft Soft
Hungary Soft Medium
Belgium Soft Medium
Italy Medium Hard
Singapore Supersoft Soft
Japan Medium Hard

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