Pirelli Racing Director Mario Isola thinks that Formula One teams may face inconsistent running conditions in the first few days of pre-season testing due to Barcelona’s resurfacing. The Circuit de Catalunya is currently carrying out an extensive resurfacing of its track following a demand from MotoGP which threatened to drop the venue from its calendar if its required changes – which also include an extension of Turn 13’s run-off area – were not implemented.
Pre-season testing for F1 will begin on February 26, but Pirelli will send several engineers to Barcelona next week in order to gauge the track’s surface and gather data: “They [circuit officials] told me that the target is to make a Tarmac that is similar in terms of roughness to the old one.” – Mario Isola said, as reported by Motorsport.com – “It is clear that it is not possible to have a new Tarmac that is exactly the same, but that was the target. Usually we measure the Tarmac roughness on Wednesday before each event. The idea is that next week we send a couple of engineers to measure the Tarmac to compare the old one with the new one. I know the circuit is planning to run many cars between when they finish the work and the start of the pre-season test to try to stabilise it as you have a lot of track evolution at the beginning because you have some oil, some bitumen and so on. There are some treatments you can do, like high-pressure water, and there are some machines that you can clean a little bit the first layer that is greasy. It is probably true that the first day of testing, or maybe couple of days, there will be a lot of evolution but then we should have consistent conditions.” – the Pirelli racing manager added.
Pirelli has not yet announced the three tyre compounds that are to be allocated to teams for this year’s Spanish Grand Prix, which takes place in May. Barcelona’s resurfacing will most likely complicate the manufacturer’s choice as Mario Isola confirms: “The problem is that maybe we need to reconsider the allocation because we select three compounds on each event depending on the Tarmac roughness, layout and the energy that’s going through. We have a database and we can select compounds based on all this information. Obviously if you have a complete change of Tarmac, like Sepang [in 2016] – they resurfaced the circuit and it was completely different from the past. Sepang was one of the most aggressive circuits and we had the opportunity to go one step softer after resurfacing. Jerez was the same, last year they resurfaced in October and we went there in October with F2 and GP3. Before the race we sent the engineers to measure the roughness, completely different, much smoother. We moved the allocation one step softer and it was not enough. Tarmac can make a big difference.” – Pirelli Racing Director Mario Isola concluded.