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ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE 2023 SPANISH GRAND PRIX

Asymmetrical Tire Wear and Track Characteristics

 

The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya poses unique challenges in terms of tire wear and track characteristics. Most of the track's low-speed turns are left-handers, while the right-handers are taken at high speeds. This asymmetry in corner types allows teams to use slightly different car setups on the left and right sides. It also results in quicker wear on the left tires and lower temperatures on the right tires. The track's layout and characteristics heavily influence tire performance and management throughout the race.

Barcelona has one of the longest runs from pole position to the braking zone at the first corner, measuring 613 metres.

Revised Layout and Its Implications

 

For this year's race, the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya has undergone a revised layout, removing the slow final chicane and returning to its original configuration of 4.657km. The new layout is 18 meters shorter than the previous version, and it introduces additional challenges for the drivers. This key change to the final sector will make it more flowing and less severe for the tyres in terms of traction. The modifications have also increased the demand on the left-hand tires, as there are now only three left-hand corners, all of which are low-speed. Other improvements concern the first corner, with a wider escape road and new barriers.

Testing and Evaluation Capabilities of the Circuit

 

The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya has long been known as an ideal track for testing and evaluating Formula 1 cars. Its diverse range of corner types and speeds, along with its long straights, provides teams with a comprehensive testing environment. Slow-speed corners such as Turn 10 focus on assessing mechanical grip, while high-speed sections like Turns 3, 9, and the new T13-14 sequence test the aerodynamic grip of the cars.

Barcelona tends to be a higher-downforce track in terms of car set-up and wing level, so maximum speeds are towards the lower end of the list.

2022 Spanish Grand Prix Pole Lap Telemetry2022 Spanish Grand Prix Pole Lap Telemetry2022 Spanish Grand Prix Pole Lap Telemetry
2022 Spanish Grand Prix Pole Lap Telemetry2022 Spanish Grand Prix Pole Lap Telemetry
2022 Spanish Grand Prix Pole Lap Telemetry2022 Spanish Grand Prix Pole Lap Telemetry
2022 Spanish Grand Prix Pole Lap Telemetry

Introduction of New Pirelli Tire Specification

 

During the Spanish Grand Prix weekend, teams will have the opportunity to test a new Pirelli tire specification. This specification contains materials that have already been developed for the 2024 tires, providing teams with a glimpse into the future. The tire manufacturer has aimed to make the tires more resistant to the increasing speeds and downforce generated by current Formula 1 cars. The new tires will come into use starting from the British Grand Prix. In Barcelona, teams will be given two extra sets per car to be used during FP1 and FP2, allowing them to gather valuable data on the new specification.

The teams will have the C1 as P Zero White hard, C2 as P Zero Yellow medium, and C3 as P Zero Red soft at their disposal in Barcelona.

Last year, Red Bull’s race winner Max Verstappen used a three-stop strategy like most of his rivals, alternating between soft and medium. With the introduction of the new hard tyre, this now adds another strategic factor into the mix.

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Expect a mix of strategies given high tyre degradation. Adding to the unknowns, teams aren't as familiar with the circuit given it's got a new layout in Sector Three, and the circuit didn't hold pre-season testing in 2023.

Key Factors: Pole Position Advantage and Race Interruptions

 

Historically, the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya has showcased the significance of qualifying and starting from pole position. Out of the 31 races held at the circuit, 23 have been won by the driver starting from pole. This statistic highlights the importance of securing a strong starting position to maximize the chances of victory.

Race interruptions are relatively rare at this circuit. In the hybrid era since 2014, there have been only four Safety Car deployments and two Virtual Safety Car deployments. With an average of just three retirements per race, caution-free running is common at Barcelona, allowing for uninterrupted racing.

Weather Outlook and Its Impact

 

The weather at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya can be variable, with changing wind conditions throughout the day. Typically, there is a tailwind on the main straight in the morning, which transitions into a headwind in the high-speed turns. This wind pattern enhances car stability. It then tends to rotate in the opposite direction in the afternoon making balance more challenging. During FP2 and the race, gusts of up to 20km/h are possible, adding an additional challenge for the drivers to contend with. Thunderstorms are a slight possibility on Friday afternoon, with a small risk of showers on Saturday and an even smaller chance of rain on Sunday afternoon.

Unique Corner Challenges: Turn 5 and Load Distribution

 

Turn 5 presents a unique challenge for drivers as their approach to the corner differs depending on the session. The camber of the road drops at the apex, unloading the inside-front tire and increasing the risk of lockups. In qualifying, drivers opt for a tighter line to shorten the distance, but during a race stint, lockups can lead to vibrations and tire damage. To mitigate this risk, drivers take a wider line, relieving the load on the inside-front tire and reducing the potential for lockups.

The revised layout of the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya adds another challenge concerning tire load distribution. With the addition of another quick right-hander and a faster T14, the new layout places additional duty on the left-hand tires. As there are now only three left-hand corners, all of which are low-speed, the loading on the tires becomes extremely asymmetrical. Teams will need to carefully manage tire wear and degradation to optimize their race strategy.

Overtaking Opportunities

 

Not easy, but there are opportunities given high tyre degradation, which means there should be pace differences between cars on different strategies. The long DRS zone on the main straight and the opening turns are where drivers will attempt to make their moves, or down the DRS straight on the run to Turn 10.

Almost 80% of passes take place at Turn 1, while 77% of all passes at Barcelona use DRS.

Significance of Qualifying and Historical Statistics

 

Qualifying performance plays a vital role in determining the outcome of the race at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. Historical data shows that only two drivers have won a Grand Prix at this track after starting from fourth position or worse.

Over the course of 32 Grands Prix held at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, there have been 16 different winners.

This year, Fernando Alonso will become the first driver to take part in 20 Spanish Grand Prix. He is also the only current driver to race on the original track layout too.