This weekend’s German Grand Prix at Hockenheim will see sole tyre manufacturer Pirelli provide the two softest compounds of tyre – the Red-banded P-Zero Supersoft and the Yellow-banded P-Zero Soft. They have been picked due to the key aspects of the track being traction out of slow corners and braking.
Pirelli Motorsport Director Paul Hembery admits the tyre manufacturer go into the Hockenheim weekend unsure just how the Soft and Supersoft choice of tyre will play out due to the circuit only being used every two years. He is expecting the teams to have to work out on Friday during practice the number of pit stops likely to take place on Sunday during the race.
“It’s a pleasure to go back to Hockenheim after two years away, but this increases the workload for ourselves and the teams as the only concrete F1 data we currently have is two years old – when the cars and the tyres were very different,” said Hembery. “So we expect the Friday free practice sessions to be extremely important, as the teams use the time to assimilate as much relevant information as they can.
“We’ve never been to Hockenheim with the supersoft before, but now that we have collected more data on the compounds this year, we think it should be well-suited to the varying demands of Hockenheim, which used to be one of the fastest circuits in the world, before it was modified in 2002. By Friday afternoon, we should have a clearer idea of how many pit stops we might expect.
“Germany has always been at the heart of not just Formula One but the automotive industry as a whole, so we’re looking forward once more to showcasing our products in front of the extremely enthusiastic and knowledgeable German fans.”
Pirelli Consultant Jean Alesi, who raced at the old Hockenheim between 1989 and 2001 with a best result of second for Benetton in 1996, believes keeping the tyres in good condition, especially in the traction areas, is key to having a good weekend in Germany.
“The new Hockenheimring is a very nice track,” said Alesi. “It was also great a few years ago: in fact it was epic, with some flat-out straights that went on forever, together with the twisty Motodrom. Back then you used to have to go either one way or the other with the set-up: there was no room to meet in the middle.
“Now, with straights that are shorter, finding a compromise set-up is easier – and overtaking isn’t as difficult too. The track surface is very smooth, and the key to good tyre management is looking after the rears: there’s lots of acceleration out of slow corners, so keeping those rear tyres in good condition is absolutely crucial to a competitive performance.
“And let’s not forget the weather: we’ve seen both torrential rain and bright sunshine at Hockenheim in the past. That always introduces an element of unpredictability, both for qualifying and the race.”