The second round of Formula One’s feeder series – GP2 and GP3 – took place over the weekend at the Circuit de Catalunya, with Pirelli’s P Zero hard slicks forming the centrepiece of some exciting racing, alongside the Spanish Grand Prix.

Pirelli’s Racing Manager Mario Isola explained: “Because of the complex layout of the track and the hot and dry weather conditions, we decided to equip both series with our P Zero hard slicks in order to provide drivers with a resistant tyre that offers a high degree of durability.”

“In Barcelona over the weekend, Pirelli’s GP2 and GP3 tyres showed excellent levels of grip and appropriate levels of tyre wear, as requested by the organisers for this year. All the teams have been working hard to adjust their car set-ups and find a good balance with the new rubber. This is the challenge for the 2011 season and I’m glad to see that, race after race, drivers are getting better and better in getting the most out of their tyres.”

Friday May 20, 2011
Dry and hot weather conditions were the backdrop to Friday’s action, with track temperatures ranging from 20 to 36 degrees centigrade. As always, the GP3 drivers hit the track first, completing their morning practice session with Valtteri Bottas (Lotus ART) setting the fastest time of 1m38.726s. Afterwards it was the turn of the GP2 drivers for free practice, which was dominated by Romain Grosjean (DAMS) who topped the timesheets thanks to a lap time of 1m30.559s.

With all of the teams having already tested in Barcelona this year, these sessions were largely used to fine-tune their set-ups for the weekend and develop a good understanding of the behaviour of Pirelli’s hard tyres under hotter track conditions.

After the second Formula One free practice session, the GP2 drivers were back on track for their qualifying session in the mid-afternoon. Jules Bianchi (Lotus ART) put himself on top early in the session but was then penalised, handing runner-up Giedo Van der Garde (Barwa Addax Team) pole position thanks to his second-best time of 1m30.473s. The day came to an end with Nico Müller (Jenzer Motorsport) going quickest during GP3’s second practice session with a time of 1m39.791s.

Jules Bianchi (Lotus ART) commented: “During both practice and qualifying I had a good feeling with Pirelli’s hard slicks, which performed very well on this complex track. This time I had more grip compared to the pre-season tests in Barcelona when the track was slightly cooler and much cleaner.”

Saturday May 21, 2011
On Saturday morning, GP3 qualifying kicked off the action with Mitch Evans (MW Arden) beating Andrea Caldarelli (Tech 1 Racing) by just 0.001seconds and clinching pole with a time of 1m38.498s set at the very end of the session.

After Formula One qualifying, the main GP2 race took place in the afternoon with Pirelli’s hard slicks performing faultlessly for 33 laps on a track that had a temperature of 42 degrees centigrade. The pit stops formed a crucial part of the action, with most of the drivers changing their rear tyres only once, between lap 12 and 22.

Although the race was delayed by two safety car periods, the action never stopped: particularly at the very front. The race came to an end with a one-two result for the Barwa Addax Team: Charles Pic in first, followed by his teammate Giedo Van der Garde who set a fastest lap of 1m33.959s.

Charles Pic (Barwa Addax Team) commented: “I have put a lot of effort into improving my skills when it comes to managing tyre degradation recently. Today, I was focused on doing my best to look after the rubber without compromising my pace. It wasn’t easy but I adopted exactly the right strategy and took advantage of a fast pit stop to leap from third to first and win the race.”

The first GP3 race of the weekend got underway straight afterwards, with pole sitter Mitch Evans (MW Arden) taking the lead straight away to seal his first win of the season.

Mitch Evans (MW Arden) commented: “This year it’s all about saving the tyres and finding a good balance between car set-up, driving style and tyre degradation: which is a new experience for everyone. It’s a difficult tyre to manage but it’s just a matter of practice.”

Sunday May 22, 2011
On Sunday morning, the GP3 and GP2 races were the opening events of the day, with Pirelli’s hard slicks ready to rubber in the track for the afternoon’s F1 race.

GP3 driver Tamás Pál Kiss (Tech 1 Racing) led the second GP3 race from pole giving his team its first victory in an incident filled race.

Shortly afterwards, the GP2 drivers took the track for their sprint race equipped with a fresh set of Pirelli’s hard slicks. Pole-sitter Fabio Leimer (Rapax) dominated the action taking the win in an incredible 26-lap adventure, only slowed down by the safety car in the initial laps.

Fabio Leimer (Rapax) commented: “It was quite an easy race for me today because I was leading from the front, although I had to drive carefully in order to look after the rubber all the way to the finish. My tyres proved to be very consistent during this 26-lap race and thanks to a perfect car set-up and an improved driving style, I had no real problems from start to finish.”

Pirelli’s Racing Manager Mario Isola added: “We are very satisfied with the performance of our P Zero hard compound tyres for GP2 and GP3, which behaved very well on Barcelona’s hot and abrasive track. Now we head to Monaco where we will bring our GP2 supersoft compound: a tyre that has not yet been seen in action. We’re sure that it’s going to provide some interesting racing.”

Pirelli’s P Zero GP2 tyres will next be seen in Monaco: the third round of the series from 26-28 May.

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