The Formula One teams will be putting Pirelli’s P Zero supersoft tyres through their toughest test yet at the Korean Grand Prix this weekend.
Coming hot on the heels of Japan, it is the second long-haul back-to-back race of the season, following Malaysia and China at the start of the year.
The tight confines of the Yeongam circuit located in Mokpo, 400 kilometres to the south of Seoul, present a stark contrast to the flowing profile of Suzuka.
Yet despite the severity of the circuit, Pirelli is bringing one of its most bold tyre choices yet: P Zero Yellow soft and P Zero Red supersoft.
These tyres will face an exceptionally tough challenge at the Korean circuit, which was new to the Formula One calendar last year. There are several low-speed and technical corners, as well as some faster bends, which require the tyres and the car set-up to be extremely versatile.
In its second year of use, the surface asphalt in Korea is also likely to have worn away, exposing the aggregate in its full sharpness before the stones have worn down. This will lead to an abrasive surface, which accelerates tyre wear – particularly as there are a number of places on the track that require optimal traction.
The fast corners mean that Korea has the highest lateral loading of all the circuits where the soft and supersoft combination has been used: Monaco, Hungary, Canada and Singapore.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli’s motorsport director, said: “Korea presents the supersoft tyres in particular with their toughest test of the year, but with the championship decided this is a valuable opportunity for us to try out some alternative nominations in order to have some more information for next year.
“Because of the abrasive surface and comparatively high lateral loading in Korea we might expect a higher number of pit stops than usual from the drivers basing their strategies around the softer tyre.
“Some may prefer to concentrate on the harder compound, so it’s going to be another very interesting race tactically. But all this speculation could come to nothing if it rains, which is quite possible too.
“Whatever happens, historically it will be an important event for us as it’s the first race we come to with a Pirelli-equipped Formula One world champion for more than 50 years.”
Alex Kapadia, Operations Team