Hardest compounds and extremely high minimum pressures for Barcelona - tyre preview

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Formula One's sole tyre supplier Pirelli has nominated the hardest compounds for this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix and has mandated very high minimum starting pressures for the high-speed Catalan track.

The tenth round of the season is a “hard” event for Formula 1. As usual, the Spanish Grand Prix takes place at the Barcelona-Catalunya Circuit, which is one of the most technically demanding tracks for the cars and also for the tyres.

Therefore, it’s no surprise that once again for this event, Pirelli has chosen its three hardest 2024 dry tyre compounds – C1 as Hard, C2 as Medium and C3 as Soft, the same three selected for the opening round of the year in Bahrain.

The track is one of the most complete of any circuit in the world, not just those on the Formula 1 calendar, in terms of the challenges it presents. Apart from its straights, it boasts every possible type of corner, with some of them, such as turn 3 and the combination of 13 and 14 which lead onto the main straight, taken at very high speeds.

The lateral forces exerted on the tyres, especially on the lefthand side of the car are particularly high, partly because nine of the 14 turns are to the right.

The role of the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya

For many years, this circuit was home to winter testing for the teams and also marked the start of the European part of the season, which also signified the arrival of the first major upgrades of the year.

Recently, changes to pre-season testing and the calendar mean this is no longer the case, but Barcelona is still a probing test, met with trepidation by all the teams because – and in this case the cliché is true – if a car is competitive here, it should be quick at all types of track.

In 2023, the original configuration, used since 1991 when this track first appeared on the Formula 1 calendar, was reinstated. It was changed in 2007 with the insertion of a chicane before the final corner, with the aim of creating another overtaking opportunity, but this did not materialise.

In fact, the removal of the chicane, combined with the aerodynamic configuration of the current cars has seen an increase in overtaking here so that last year this track went from being midrange in terms of passing opportunities to one of the top four.


In terms of strategy, a two-stop should be the quickest option with all compounds possibly coming into play. If degradation is higher, then even a three-stop might be feasible, especially as last year’s race proved that overtaking is easier than in the past.

This year’s race takes place three weeks later than in 2023 so it could be hotter and that could add another factor to tyre management. This thermal issue could put the C3 at a disadvantage, whereas last year that compound had been quite competitive even in the race, chosen by 16 of the 20 drivers for the first stint.

Another consideration at the Barcelona-Catalunya Circuit is the importance of qualifying. In no fewer than 24 races here, the pole sitter has gone on to be first past the chequered flag and adding to the importance of this statistic is that on four other occasions the driver who was quickest in qualifying retired from the race.