2023 Spanish Grand Prix – Friday Tyre Analysis: During today’s two practice sessions, the teams tested two extra sets of C1 tyres with the new construction due to be introduced on all the Pirelli P Zero range, starting with the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. The teams tried the prototype tyres right from the very first runs in FP1, before switching to the P Zero Yellow medium and P Zero Red soft.
The Red Bull duo was quickest on the Softs in the first session. Max Verstappen stopped the clocks in 1m 14.606s and Sergio Perez posted a 1m15.374s. Esteban Ocon (Alpine) was third in 1m15.418s.
In FP2, Max Verstappen was again fastest, improving on his morning time by almost seven tenths. His best lap of all was a 1m13.907s. At his home race, Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin) was second quickest in 1m14.077s, while Nico Hulkenberg was third for Haas with a time of 1m14.177s. During this session, only the Alpine drivers tried the P Zero White hard on their first run. All the other teams continued with the prototype tyre, Medium and Soft.
The best time on the test C1 was set by Max Verstappen in FP2, while when it came to the C1 available for this Grand Prix, Alpine was the only team to use it and Esteban Ocon’s best time was 1m15.999s. Verstappen was also quickest on the Mediums in 1m14.968s.
As was to be expected, the softest compound available here, the C3, showed some signs of graining especially on the outside edge.
Clouds only began to gather above the Barcelona-Catalunya Circuit towards the end of the second free practice session, so track temperature was lower than in the morning. In fact it went from a maximum of 45.1°C in FP1 to 38.1°C in FP2. Air temperature varied between 23 and 27°C over the course of the day.
Lap times are substantially quicker than last year, which is down to the cars being faster, combined with the removal of the final chicane. In 2022, the best FP2 time on Softs was 1m.19.670s set by Charles Leclerc in the Ferrari, which is 5.7 slower than today’s best time.
Simone Berra – Pirelli Chief Engineer
“It was a very busy Friday at the Barcelona-Catalunya Circuit. Apart from the usual programme, with teams evaluating the three compounds available for the Grand Prix, they also tried two sets of C1 tyres, with a new construction, which will be used as from the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. The increased work load made for a busy time on track throughout the two hours. As for the new construction, the initial analysis of the data gathered suggests that it matches our predictions in terms of its behaviour. Namely, that it delivers similar performance compared to the current construction. Therefore, it is interesting to note that some teams used one of the two available sets to do longer runs on this Hard compound to gather data for Sunday’s race. In fact, over the two hours of free practice, only one team used the white-banded tyre.
The C1 introduced this year was actually based on the experience of last year’s Spanish Grand Prix when the Hard, the tyre now called C0, was hardly used in the Race as its performance was unsuitable, whereas the current C1 now looks one of the most likely race tyres, which is why some drivers have two sets available for Sunday.
Finally, it is worth noting that today’s quickest lap time is already almost as quick as simulations for pole position suggested and that, here on a permanent race track and despite the unknowns relating to what each team is doing, the times are very close with seventeen drivers within less than a second of each other in FP2.”