PIRELLI SUPPLIES SOFT TYRES FOR F3 DECIDER IN RUSSIA
MEDIUM AND SUPERSOFT FOR F2
The inaugural winner of the Pirelli-supported FIA Formula 3 Championship will be decided at the final round in Sochi, with Robert Shwartzman defending a lead of 33 points over Prema team-mate Jehan Daruvala. The Formula 2 title could also be settled during its penultimate round, to which Nyck de Vries takes a 59-point advantage over nearest rival Nicholas Latifi.
• Wear and degradation levels are generally low around the Sochi circuit, thanks in part to a quite smooth surface as well as the relatively easy track layout.
• There’s one exception: Turn 3 is the most demanding corner for the tyres: a long left-hander with multiple apexes and sustained lateral forces. During the rest of the lap, the emphasis is more on traction and braking.
• The track gets limited use over the rest of the year, so starts out very ‘green’ at the start of the weekend with limited grip on offer.
• The weather can be extremely varied at this time of year in Sochi, with quite a strong chance of rain as well.
The tyres and strategy
• The P Zero Yellow medium and P Zero Purple supersoft tyres have been nominated for F2 in Sochi. The same combination – with two steps between the available compounds – was previously seen in Baku earlier this season. It’s a change from last year, when the soft and supersoft tyres were nominated.
• In F2, each driver has five sets of slick tyres to use over the weekend: three medium and two supersoft. They also have three sets of wet-weather tyres. During race one, where there is a mandatory pit stop, both compounds have to be used unless it is declared a wet race. Pit stops are optional in race two.
• Just one tyre is nominated for each F3 round: at Sochi it’s the soft, as previously supplied in Austria and Italy. Usually, drivers get three new sets of dry tyres plus one carry-over set from the previous round for use in practice, but at Sochi teams will get a fourth new set of the hard compound. There are two sets of wet-weather tyres as well.
What happened last year?
Alex Albon, now racing for Red Bull in Formula 1, won the F2 feature race in Sochi after getting ahead of Nyck de Vries when they pitted to switch from the soft to supersoft tyres early on. George Russell won the sprint race, taking the lead on lap five from fifth on the grid, and pitting for wet tyres at the right moment after rain began to fall. Leonardo Pulcini and Nikita Mazepin took the GP3 wins on the soft tyres.
Mario Isola, Pirelli head of F1 and car racing: “Russia started off as a very smooth track when it was first built, but over the years the surface has matured to offer more grip. The surface is still quite smooth, which means that together with the track layout, Sochi is not especially demanding on tyres. As a result there are a number of strategic options open in Formula 2, while in Formula 3 the drivers should be able to push hard as they fight for the title after a thrilling season.”