THE CIRCUIT FROM A TYRE POINT OF VIEW:
• Track temperatures can vary massively, from very warm weather to cold and wet conditions.
• Teams tend to run a high downforce set-up to maximise speed through the fast corners.
• Plenty of energy goes through tyres because many corners are very long, maximising loads. The famous 130R, for example, contains the highest continuous g-force loading of the year.
• There are few longitudinal forces: instead Suzuka is all about lateral loads through corners.
• These factors tend to lead to high levels of wear and degradation, with more than one pit stop.
• Track evolution can be hard to predict: strategy also needs to remain flexible because of the possibility of safety cars and relative difficulty of overtaking at Suzuka.
THE THREE NOMINATED COMPOUNDS:
• Orange hard: will definitely be used for the race, as it is nominated twice as an obligatory set.
• White medium: drivers have selected between one and four sets of these, with different ideas.
• Yellow soft: this is the first time that the soft has been seen in Japan; will be quick in qualifying.
HOW IT WAS A YEAR AGO:
• Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton won with a two-stop strategy, starting on medium, switching to medium again on lap 16, then hard on lap 31. The 53-lap race was dry after a wet Friday.
• Best alternative strategy: the big majority of drivers adopted a two-stop strategy, but a medium-hard-hard run allowed Nico Rosberg to undercut his key rivals and move up to second.
PAUL HEMBERY, PIRELLI MOTORSPORT DIRECTOR:
“Suzuka is a race that everybody looks forward to coming to: there’s little left to say that hasn’t been said already about the amazing welcome we receive each year from the Japanese fans and the depth of their enthusiasm and knowledge. For the first time we bring the soft tyre to Suzuka, which should provide a different aspect to the strategy, so we may have some tactical thinking right from qualifying on Saturday. Whatever happens, we’ll be seeing the hard tyre used during the race, as was the case in Malaysia, and also high wear and degradation: which always additionally provides varied strategic opportunities.”
• There are no major changes to the infrastructure or track in Japan this year.
• The race takes place one week later than it did last year, returning to its 2014 calendar slot.
• The FIA has confirmed that drivers will have the same allocation of tyres for next year’s first five races rather than choosing: two sets of the hardest compound available, four sets of the medium compound available, and seven sets of the softest compound available.
OTHER THINGS THAT HAVE CAUGHT OUR EYE RECENTLY:
• Ferrari has gone for the most aggressive tyre choice with nine sets of the soft. In particular, Sebastian Vettel is the only driver to have selected just one set of medium tyres in Japan.
• Pirelli was appointed as the exclusive tyre supplier to the Macau F3 Grand Prix this year.
• Pirelli was also revealed as the exclusive tyre partner of the newly launched Electric GT Championship in Ibiza: a new European series that will use Tesla racing cars next year.
TYRES NOMINATED THIS YEAR:
Purple Red Yellow White Orange
Australia Supersoft Soft Medium
Bahrain Supersoft Soft Medium
China Supersoft Soft Medium
Russia Supersoft Soft Medium
Spain Soft Medium Hard
Monaco Ultrasoft Supersoft Soft
Canada Ultrasoft Supersoft Soft
Azerbaijan Supersoft Soft Medium
Austria Ultrasoft Supersoft Soft
Great Britain Soft Medium Hard
Hungary Supersoft Soft Medium
Germany Supersoft Soft Medium
Belgium Supersoft Soft Medium
Italy Supersoft Soft Medium
Singapore Ultrasoft Supersoft Soft
Malaysia Soft Medium Hard
Japan Soft Medium Hard
United States Supersoft Soft Medium
Mexico Supersoft Soft Medium
Brazil Soft Medium Hard
Abu Dhabi Ultrasoft Supersoft Soft