The GP2 Series organisers have confirmed a change to the rules governing tyre use, which will see Pirelli supply five sets of tyres to teams over race weekends starting with the next event at Silverstone.
Previously teams have had to work with just four sets of tyres to see them through practice, qualifying and both the feature and sprint races. That was to put a premium on tyre management skills by the drivers, as well as being a cost-cutting measure to keep the championship affordable. However, it did have its drawbacks.
"With just one set of the soft tyres available to them up to now, the drivers have tended to use these just for qualifying, without the opportunity to test them in free practice first," pointed out Pirelli Racing Manager Mario Isola.
With immediate effect, teams will now receive three sets of harder prime tyres and two sets of the softer option tyres. One set of prime tyres will be used in practice and returned to Pirelli after the session, leaving the teams with four sets, two of each specification, for the remainder of the weekend.
Previously the teams had to work with three sets of prime tyres and only one of the options, although a one-off change at Monaco made it an even split of two sets for that event.
"Adding a fifth set of tyres is a fantastic opportunity for our teams and drivers to work on some new and exciting strategies," said GP2 Series CEO Bruno Michel. "It will allow drivers to maximise their track time during Free Practice on Friday."
"By adding an extra set of softer tyres to the weekend allocation in GP2, we are giving the drivers more options in terms of strategy and more experience of the tyres," explained Isola. "Now they will have the chance to run on [the options] in free practice as well, while saving a new set for qualifying. This will allow them to have more information with which to plan a strategy over the course of the weekend."
The overarching aim of the change is to bring GP2 even closer in line with F1 and make the feeder series an even better springboard for future Grand prix drivers to show their abilities.
"Our main goal in GP2 is to prepare our drivers for the next step and getting close to the strategy used in F1," pointed out Michel. "We always try to keep in line with F1 practices," he said, adding that aim of the new tyre rules was that "as in F1 it will entice the teams to use two different compounds in Saturday's race."
"Our aim with GP2 is to replicate as closely as possible the conditions that the young drivers will encounter in F1," agreed Isola. "With more opportunities to show their skills in every area, we look forward to helping the next generation of champions emerge from GP2, as well equipped as possible to go all the way to the very top of international motorsport."