History is both made and celebrated this weekend, as Formula 1 embarks on its first-ever triple-header with the revival of a legendary venue: Le Castellet in France, rapidly followed by Austria and Great Britain in successive weeks. For this return to the Paul Ricard track, Pirelli has selected the P Zero Yellow soft, P Zero Red supersoft and P Zero Purple ultrasoft compounds. As the French Grand Prix at Paul Ricard was last run in 1990, this is essentially a brand new circuit for the teams and drivers – although it is well-known as a testing venue thanks to its warm weather and state-of-the-art facilities.
The Paul Ricard from a tyre point of view:
- the track has been completely resurfaced in preparation for the French Grand Prix, resulting in smooth yet high-grip asphalt that is similar in character to Barcelona. These characteristics mean that the tyres used this weekend will have a tread reduced by 0.4 millimetres, as was the case in Spain and as will be the case again in Silverstone at the beginning of July. All three circuits feature new asphalt.
- weather conditions in the south of France at this time of year are expected to be very warm, which should increase wear and degradation rates.
- to prepare for the French Grand Prix, Pirelli’s engineers have taken recent asphalt samples to come up with an appropriate tyre nomination.
- at 5.8 kilometres, Paul Ricard is one of the longest laps of the year, with a number of overtaking opportunities designed into the layout
Mario Isola, Pirelli Sporting Director, comments on the race in France from the tyre management point of view: “Paul Ricard is effectively an entirely new circuit for everyone, but we have some idea of what to expect not only from Formula 1 testing, but also through our experience of GT racing, with the track having recently hosted the latest round of the Blancpain GT Series. From this, we can expect high grip but low degradation, similar to Barcelona. One other factor could be the weather though, as high track temperatures are possible over the weekend, which would increase thermal degradation. With the teams being not so familiar with the new grand prix track layout, free practice will be even more important than usual to get an accurate read on tyre behaviour. Only after then will we have a better idea of what the most likely strategies might be.” – he explained, as reported by Pirelli’s official website.
- most things are new: as well as the new surface, there’s new paddock infrastructure and new grandstands. The track has also been widened in certain
places (such as the S de la Verrerie) to promote overtaking.
- to celebrate the return of Paul Ricard to the calendar, Pirelli is undertaking a number of promotional activities that also go beyond Formula 1. Keep your eyes open for some special guests
- having missed the last round in Canada, Formula 2 and GP3 also returns in France.