August 20th, 2013 (F1plus/ R Baillie).- Pirelli’s Paul Hembery has commented that Spa is one of the biggest challenges on the calendar for the Pirelli rubber.
He praised Spa Francorchamps, a real fan and driver favourite which has been on the calendar since 1950, calling the circuit “epic”.
Epic as it may be, the circuit poses a real challenge for the Italian tyre manufacturer, “Spa is not only an epic circuit, but also one of the biggest challenges for our tyres all year.” Hembrey said.
“Mostly this is because of the very high-energy loads that go all the way through the tyres, both vertically – due to the big compressions such as Eau Rouge – and also laterally at fast corners like Blanchimont.”
Eau Rouge works the front tyres hard, subjecting them to a 1000kg vertical load, the highest of the season.
Hembery went on to talk about strategy, saying, “looking after the tyres is very important, particularly as it’s such a long lap. This means that there are a very wide variety of possible strategies available at Spa as well, with plenty of time to be won and lost if the right tactics are chosen.”.
Strategy is very important at Spa, but teams always need a good contingency plan incase of rain. Spa Francorchamps is the longest circuit on the calendar at just over 7 km long, which means one part of the circuit could be completely dry while another part may be ready for full wets.
Last years winner Jenson Button and runner up Sebastian Vettel pulled off a one-stop strategy, while Kimi Raikkonen who finished in third place used a two-stop strategy.
Pirelli are taking the hard (orange) and medium (white) tyres to the Belgian Grand Prix, along with the intermediates (green) and full wet (blue) tyres, which are likely to make an appearance over the weekend.
It’s expected that the performance gap between the hard and medium tyres will be more than a second a lap.