The final four-day pre-season Formula One test takes place in Barcelona from Thursday to Sunday, and brings the total number of testing days before the season starts in Australia next month up to the permitted 12.
The Circuit de Catalunya was also the venue for the test last week, which will allow the teams to make use of prior data as they assess tyre performance and degradation combined with a variety of different set-ups and fuel loads on their new cars.
"The last test at Barcelona was affected by bad weather," said Paul Hembery, "which meant that we experienced more degradation than usual due to the tyres not being able to operate within their intended working range. Hopefully this time we will find conditions that are slightly more representative, which will allow the teams to collect more relevant data. The fact that we're going back to Barcelona gives them all an excellent known baseline from which to operate.
"These 2013 tyres are quite different to their predecessors, both in terms of compound and construction, which makes the work that will be carried out over the next few days even more essential. At this stage of testing it is always difficult for the teams and drivers to know what to expect from the first race as conditions are not always representative. Past experience from the last two years shows a big reduction in tyre degradation over the course of the season: roughly half the degradation seen in winter testing. This year, we think that degradation will be higher than it was in 2012, and we estimate a degradation rate of around 0.15 to 0.18 seconds per lap in race conditions for the hard compound in Barcelona."
Each car will have a maximum of 35 sets of Pirelli's new P Zero supersoft, soft, medium and hard compounds available in Barcelona, including the Cinturato intermediate and wet tyres if needed. In total, each team is allowed 100 sets of tyres per car for testing purposes over the course of a season. Pirelli will pick 20 of the sets that will be tested per car, while the teams are free to pick 15 more that they would like to try. Any sets of tyres not used at the previous test in Barcelona may be carried forward to this test.
Barcelona provides plenty of opportunity to test a wide range of parameters and see how they work with the tyres. Just under 60 per cent of thelap is spent at full throttle, with the cars at top speed for around 16 seconds on the straight. The set-up calls for a medium to high level of downforce, while brake and tyre wear tends to be high: not helped by a track surface that is moderately abrasive.
The data from race simulations during the previous test session at the 4.655-kilometre Montmelo circuit indicates that the objective of two to three pit stops per race, requested by the teams, the governing body and the promoter, is on target. Even though the data collection process was hampered by cold weather, all the initial indications point to this conclusion.
Facts and Figures
Compound Amount provided per car * Fastest time in 2012 (per compound)
Supersoft 1 set 1:22.155 (Day 3)
Soft 5 sets 1:22.030 (Day 4)
Medium 5 sets 1:22.721 (Day 4)
Hard 6 sets 1:22.708 (Day 4)
Intermediate 2 sets 1:43.343 (Day 3)
Wet 1 set 1:48.596 (Day 3)
* Choice made by Pirelli in agreement with the teams. Each team may choose further 15 sets for this test.