This week's second F1 group test of 2013 will see the eleven competing teams get the chance to try each of Pirelli's four dry-weather tyre compounds together for the first time.
Having spent four days in southern Spain running the soft, medium and hard options, Pirelli will introduce the supersoft it deemed unsuitable for the abrasive surface at Jerez. The Circuit de Catalunya, meanwhile, is more indicative of the circuits that the teams will face throughout the year and, with mild temperatures and a technical layout, the results are expected to reveal more about the performance of each car than the first test could.
Each car will have a maximum of 35 sets of tyres available to it during the four days, with the teams able to choose how its splits its allocation beyond the first 20 sets, which will be determined by Pirelli. Additionally, any sets of tyres not used at the previous test at Jerez may be carried forward to this week.
“All the teams will have their new cars in Barcelona and the entire range of 2013 P Zero tyres will be at their disposal,” motorsport director Paul Hembery confirmed, “Barcelona is a circuit that the teams have plenty of data on already, which is useful for comparison purposes, so it should be possible for them to carry out plenty of productive work to help understand how their new cars interact with our latest generation of tyres, which are generally softer and faster than last year with deliberately increased degradation.
“The limiting factor at the opening test in Jerez earlier this month was the abrasiveness of the track, so hopefully conditions will be more representative this time. There is always the potential for low ambient temperatures though - last year, we actually saw some ice on the track in the morning!”
A compromise set-up will usually be the call in Barcelona, as the teams attempt to deal with the many different speeds and corners that feature on the 4.6km layout. However, there will also be more altering of parameters than would occur during a race weekend in order to gauge the effects of set-up changes on the cars and tyres.
Barcelona is well known as an extremely challenging circuit for rubber, with the front-left tyre in particular subjected to a lot of work because of the high number of right-hand corners. Turn three puts the most energy through the front-left tyre, equating to a load of 3.9g, while the rear tyres also have to withstand plenty of stress in order to provide the combined traction needed coming out of the slower corners.
However, it is the third sector of the circuit, with its wide variety of corners, that is the most demanding.
The fastest time set during the equivalent test at the Circuit de Catalunya
last season was a 1min 22.312secs effort by Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi, running on the soft tyre on day four of four.