Why FP2 is 30 minutes longer today

Why FP2 is 30 minutes longer today
Why FP2 is 30 minutes longer today

There is a little special feature hidden in the schedule of the weekend in Suzuka. Instead of the usual 60 minutes, the second free practice session this afternoon (local time) will last 90 minutes. That doesn’t mean teams have more free practice time, however. Because the 30 extra minutes go back to a tire test by Pirelli.

During this time, the top class tire manufacturer is testing the rubber prototypes for the coming season. The test in Japan is only the first of two planned attempts. At the US GP in Austin, the second practice session of the Formula 1 weekend will also be extended by 30 minutes to test tires.

FP2 in Japan: Pirelli tests Formula 1 tires for 2023

The background to the issue is that Pirelli is adapting the tire construction for the coming season. Formula 1 plans to gradually say goodbye to tire covers. This season, the electric blankets in the pit lane are allowed to preheat the temperature of the tires to 70 degrees (front and rear), in 2023 the permissible temperature will be reduced to 50 degrees. In 2024, the premier class wants to say goodbye to the ceilings completely.

Pirelli’s Formula 1 boss Mario Isola already explained in August at the Belgian GP how these test drives will be carried out during practice. “Each car will have a different run plan with different prototype tires but with the same number of laps. Because we don’t want to give anyone an advantage,” says Isola.

“In terms of track time it will be similar to a normal FP2 because obviously we cannot increase the mileage of the engines,” revealed Isola. The problem with the test drives as part of a training course is of course that the teams have their normal engines in the car and with the limitation of the PU components every additional kilometer is a sporting cost factor.

On the other hand, of course, there is the time factor for the racing teams in the already busy calendar. “The idea of ​​using FP2 is good because you don’t oblige the teams to travel somewhere else and you don’t oblige them to stay at the track until Tuesday or Wednesday,” said Isola.

Suzuka: Rain threatens tire test

Even if this idea of ​​tests is now being tested within a Formula 1 session, Pirelli wants to continue to use normal tests in the future – for example in the tests for the 2024 season. Because these allow better planning and are strongly linked to the fragile elements of weather and reliability.

Exactly the weather could throw a spanner in the works for Pirelli’s tire test in Formula 1 practice in Japan. Because rain showers are forecast all day for Friday, also for FP2. However, a replacement has already been mentioned: If the precipitation in Suzuka actually makes a usable dry tire test impossible, a replacement is already planned. The Mexican Grand Prix (October 28-30) is available as an alternative location for the Pirelli test and thus an extended FP2.

The article is in German

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