Formula One teams are set to complete a fully-packed practice day in Suzuka as they will test a new tyre at the Japanese Grand Prix in preparation for next season.
After the tight and narrow streets of Singapore, Formula 1 return to a more traditional track, the Suzuka International Circuit. The fast and flowing circuit is a demanding one not only for drivers, but for cars as well. Suzuka requires high downforce. While it features a hairpin and a low-speed chicane, but the 5.8km track mainly consists of high-speed corners and swift changes of direction.
Next to the high-speed corners, there is another important factor that affects tyre wear and degradation. The asphalt at Suzuka features some of the highest levels of roughness and abrasion seen all season which usually has an important effect on tyre management.
It is therefore no surprise that teams will have three compounds from the harder end of Pirelli's tyre range available at Suzuka. The C1 will serve as P Zero White hard, C2 as P Zero Yellow medium and C3 as P Zero Red soft.
The track belongs to the group of longer circuits of the calendar with its length of 5.807km. Drivers will need to rack up a total of 53 laps to complete the total race distance of 307.471km. The current lap record belongs to Lewis Hamilton who clocked in a 1m30.983s in the 2019 Japanese Grand Prix.
Tyre stress is one of the highest achieved during the season. Pirelli therefore nominated quite high minimum starting pressures. The minimum will be set at 25.0psi for the front tyres and 23.0psi for the rears. Camber limits are -2.75° for the fronts and -1.5° for the rears.
Weather conditions have often heavily influenced the Japanese Grand Prix. On four occasions (2004, 2009, 2010, and 2019) qualifying has been held on Sunday morning due to torrential rain or the threat of a typhoon. However, last week was marked by the high temperatures with highs of up to 33 degrees centigrade with warm weather expected for this weekend as well. If ambient temperatures continue to stay so high, tyre degradation could become an important factor.
Moreover, Formula 1 teams will have the opportunity to test a new C2 compound for 2024 during the Japanese Grand Prix practice sessions at Suzuka.
Pirelli's Motorsport Director Mario Isola commented: “The Japanese Grand Prix takes place on one of the most fascinating and demanding tracks in Formula 1 history: Suzuka, with its unique figure of eight layout. This historic venue is a drivers’ favourite, being absolutely thrilling to drive in today’s ultra-competitive single-seaters. With its very significant lateral and vertical loads, Suzuka is as demanding on tyres as it is on drivers.
"These demands are equally distributed across all four wheels, with 10 right-handers and eight left-handers throughout the six-kilometre lap. As a result of these challenging characteristics, we bring some of the hardest tyres in the 2023 range to Japan: C1, C2, and C3. This is only nominally the same as last year's selection on account of the new C1 compound, which was introduced this season to slot in between the C2 and former C1 (now called C0). On Friday, all the teams will get the chance to test a new version of the C2 compound, with a view to homologating it for next season.
"This latest evolution should provide more grip than the current C2, and so fit in more coherently between the C1 and C3. For the first two free practice sessions, each driver will have two additional sets of tyres, compared to the usual 13 sets per weekend. This test is part of a development programme that was recently defined for 2024 and will continue with a new C4 compound to be tested on track during the Mexican Grand Prix weekend.”