Pirelli: The Japanese Grand Prix from a tyre point of view
By Berthold Bouman
This time Pirelli will bring the Hard (silver marked) and the Soft (yellow marked) tyre compounds to round 15 of the FIA Formula One World Championship: the Japanese Grand Prix at the classic Suzuka circuit. Pirelli, however, noted that both compounds are in general a bit softer compared to the ones used last year.
The Suzuka circuit is fast and challenging, and together with Barcelona a circuit that is very demanding for the tyres, mainly due to the very fast 130R and Spoon curves. The 130R corner is the fastest of the year, cars reach speeds of 310km/h which is extremely demanding for the tyres.
Pirelli Motorsport Director Paul Hembery, “It is the layout of the track that delivers the technical challenge: Suzuka is a classic drivers’ circuit, a bit like Spa or Monza, with some of the most awesome corners that we see all year and very little margin for error.”
But the Pirelli tyres are ready for the challenge he said, “Despite the increased demands that this places on the compound and structure, they are still more than capable of withstanding the immense forces to which they are subjected lap after lap.”
There is again one step between compounds, Pirelli hopes to bring some extra excitement to the Japanese Grand Prix, and Hembery reckons the tyre choice provides plenty of room for different tyre strategies, “This should also open up the opportunity for lots of different strategies, which as we have seen already this year can form the foundation of a memorable victory, or boost drivers to a top result even if they have started from lower down on the grid.
“Last year the drivers’ championship was actually decided in Japan, but this year has been so competitive that we are still a long way from seeing the titles settled — and that is great news for all the fans!”
Pirelli’s Technical notes:
• While the non-stop series of corners puts plenty of energy through the tyres, the flowing nature of the track means that it has the lowest traction demand of the year. The only place where the tyres have to provide full traction is coming out of the hairpin (Turn 11) and the downhill final chicane. Braking effort is also comparatively low.
• The front-right tyre has a particularly tough task in Japan: through 130R, for example, it has the equivalent of 800 kilogrammes of downforce going through it — while cornering at maximum speed.
• High levels of stress on tyres can cause blistering if the car is not set up properly. This phenomenon is the result of localised heat build-up, particularly in the shoulder of the tyre, as it flexes. If not dealt with by reducing the demands on the tyre, this can cause parts of the tread pattern to break away and affect performance.
Suzuka 3D Track Experience – Video by Pirelli