It’s race week once again which means looking at the tyres for the third round of the 2022 season.
The nomination for the tyres is rather unusual for Melbourne’s track, with a bigger than normal between the medium and softest compounds. C2 (Hard), C3 (Medium), C5 (Soft). This will be the race, the softest tyre debuts in 2022 Pirelli range, marking a change from the aborted 2020 race and the 2019 Australian Grand Prix when the C2, C3 and C4 tyres were selected.
As a temporary facility, Albert Park used to be quite bumpy but the new asphalt may reduce this. The new surface should offer low grip and reasonably contained levels of asphalt abrasion, which is set to result in moderate wear.
The track underwent significant modifications for the first time since 1996 when it made its championship debut.
Seven corners have been modified with two removed entirely, bringing the total of turns down to just 14 and shortening the track by 28 metres. The most significant modification is the removal of the Turn 9-10 chicane, which is been replaced by a long sweeping bend.
Turns 1 and 3 have been widened on the inside as has Turn 6, which is now significantly faster. Later in the lap, what was Turn 13 (now turn 11) has been realigned to tighten the angle. The penultimate corner (now Turn 13) is another to have been widened and also one of several to have its camber adjusted to allow for different lines to be taken.
Compared to previous occasions, and with the drivers not having raced there for two seasons, this year there are a few unknowns to the Australian Grand Prix: first of all the circuit layout has been heavily revised to improve overtaking and, as a result, there’s also new asphalt that should be quite smooth. This means the track is likely to offer very low levels of grip at the start, with a high degree of evolution expected over the weekend and an extremely slippery surface if it rains. We will also head to Melbourne a couple of weeks later compared to previous seasons, when autumn has already started in the southern hemisphere, so conditions could be more variable. Last but not least, there is a completely new generation of cars and tyres that the drivers are still trying to learn about. All these factors mean that there will be a lot of work to do for teams and drivers in the free practice sessions. We decided to opt for the step in the compound nominations because we noticed that there was a relatively small performance gap between the C3 and C4 compounds during development testing, and we believe that Albert Park – with its new asphalt and layout – is a good place to try out this option.Mario Isla, Head of Pirelli Motorsport.