By Alex Kapadia
Pirelli will be taking its P Zero Yellow soft and P Zero Red supersoft tyres to the Korean Grand Prix – making it one of the toughest tracks that the softest tyre in the range has to cope with.
The Yeongam circuit takes in a very wide variety of speeds and corners and every aspect of the tyres performances will be tested thoroughly.
The circuit is used very infrequently, meaning that there is a high degree of track evolution over the course of the weekend as the racing line rubbers in, despite a relatively abrasive surface.
The most demanding part of the circuit for the tyres is the section from turns 10 to 17, which is a continuous sequence of corners with rapid direction changes. Being one of the few anti-clockwise circuits of the year, the front-right tyre is the most stressed as it has to provide all the mechanical grip needed to negotiate the corners, with the supersoft compound proving particularly effective in generating high levels of adhesion.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli’s motorsport director, said: “We’re bringing the same tyre nominations to Korea as we did last year, which at the time was seen as quite a bold choice because Korea has the highest lateral energy loadings of all the circuits where we use the supersoft tyre.
“In the end, we saw the supersoft lasting for 10 laps or more and the soft lasting for 20 laps or more, enabling a two-stop strategy for the majority of the drivers.
“This year, however, all our Formula One tyres are softer apart from the supersoft, which has remained the same. We should see another two-stop race this year, which in theory should be even faster.
“This year though, there have been some changes to the aerodynamic regulations, which have generally slowed lap times down over the course of the season.
“Strategy played a key role in last year’s race but there was also a safety car and some rain at the start of the weekend.
“So Korea is the sort of circuit where anything can happen, and as always the teams with the most data and the ability to adapt that information to rapidly changing circumstances will be the most successful.”