By Alex Kapadia
Pirelli has selected for its soft and medium tyres for the third consecutive street circuit on this year’s Formula One calendar, the Grand Prix of Europe.
The tyres face a testing time on the Valencia circuit, which features the highest number of corners of any track all year (25) and is likely to be run in high temperatures.
The soft and medium combination highlights both the durability and performance of the tyres, on a circuit where overtaking is notoriously difficult.
Just like Monaco, qualifying will be crucial, and the speed of the soft tyre will be vital when it comes to boosting drivers up the start order. In the race, the strength and consistency of the medium tyre will form an essential part of the strategy.
Last year, the frontrunners all adopted the same strategy: starting on the soft tyre and stopping three times before completing a final stint on the medium tyre. With the cars more closely matched than ever, the right tactics will be even more important this time.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli’s motorsport director, said: “Valencia could not present a bigger contrast to the street circuits that have come before it: the track is faster and the temperatures higher, with plenty of energy going through the tyres.
“What it has in common with the others is the difficulty of overtaking, which will put the emphasis on qualifying. So we are expecting a fairly straightforward race, with either two or three stops depending on which tactics the teams use – although one team tried a one-stopper last year as well.
“The weather should be consistently warm throughout the weekend, which should lead to fewer variables in terms of temperature, so there probably won’t be many big surprises to emerge.
“We’ve used the combination of soft and medium tyres more than any other line-up so far this year, as it has shown itself to be a perfect compromise between performance and durability, allowing drivers to show their speed when they need to but also benefit from longer stints in the race.”