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Japan GP: Preview - Pirelli

NEWS STORY
07/10/2019

Suzuka is one of the most popular circuits on the calendar thanks to its well-known corners, some of them quite extreme, that provide big emotions for both drivers and fans. To cope with these incredible loads, Pirelli has nominated the hardest combination of tyres in its range: C1 as the White hard compound, C2 as the Yellow medium, and C3 as the Red soft.

The compounds nominated this year are a step harder than the medium, soft and supersoft tyres that were chosen last year. This should enable drivers to push to the maximum during every stint, rather than resort to pace management to make a one-stopper work.

Lateral demands are the defining characteristic of Suzuka (rather than longitudinal forces) thanks to long and fast corners such as 130R and Spoon. There is a distinct flow to the track that is all about carrying momentum: the braking demands, for example, are relatively low.

The asphalt at Suzuka is among the roughest and most abrasive of the year, which increases tyre wear and degradation.

Last year the race was won by Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton with one stop, going from soft to medium. The same strategy was adopted by his team made Valtteri Bottas in second, while third-placed Max Verstappen went from supersoft to soft.

Suzuka is well-known for its variable weather, with typhoons possible at this time of year. Overnight rain often has the effect of 'resetting' the track by washing away any rubber laid down: last year quite a lot of track evolution was noted.

By coincidence, Suzuka is extremely similar to Sochi in terms of overall lap length and time, but the nature and character of the two tracks is very different.

Pirelli is completing the final validation test for the 2020 Formula 1 slick tyres today and tomorrow at Barcelona. Three teams are taking part: Esteban Ocon drives for Mercedes, Sebastian Vettel takes part for Ferrari, and Alex Albon is at the wheel for Red Bull.

Mario Isola: "Japan is always one of the most exciting and unpredictable races of the year, with Suzuka being an old-school track that rewards bravery and commitment. Because of the considerable cornering demands that it places on tyres, we have selected the hardest possible combination in our range, which should help drivers push to the maximum even with a one-stop strategy. This is what the teams nearly always aim for, and most drivers chose at Suzuka last year.

"In 2017 we also saw a new overall lap record in qualifying, and with the emphasis on cornering speeds on the current generation of cars, it will be interesting to see if that is broken this weekend. Suzuka is also well-known for its variable weather, so it wouldn't be surprising to see the wet weather tyres appear on this famously demanding circuit."

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