Pirelli has no concerns about a challenging weekend of mixed weather conditions at the Total 24 Hours of Spa, according to its circuit technical manager Matteo Braga.
Record heat early in the weekend, that saw ambient temperatures above 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit), is set to be replaced by heavy rain for most of the race on Saturday and Sunday.
Nevertheless, Braga says Pirelli has no major worries about the difficult conditions faced by teams, both in the unusual heat at this stage of the weekend and the lack of wet running heading into the race.
“The product is well-known and teams already tested it in cold conditions and hot conditions like Suzuka, because it’s the same product as we used in Suzuka,” he told Sportscar365.
“During the test, it was cooler but not so cold, and [earlier in] the season they also had the chance to test it in very warm conditions.
“We know that Spa, in particular, the performance is affected by heat but other than that, no concerns.
“We have seen [on Thursday] morning there was quite some interesting lap times. Not big degradation like some were expecting but it’s a big question mark.”
Current forecasts are predicting highs of 23 degrees Celsius (73 degrees Fahrenheit) during the race, with fairly consistent rain and possible storms, making a considerable change compared to the record-breaking heat on Wednesday through Friday.
“[The tires are] wet-tested and the teams know how to manage,” Braga said. “The optimal performance is probably on a different range of temperatures.
“The only problem I see for the teams is that maybe today they are working to prevent some phenomenon that they won’t find during the race because the race will be cold and wet.”
Logistical Challenge for Pirelli’s Biggest Race of the Year
Braga also explained the other major challenge of the week for the Italian tire manufacturer: the sheer size of its commitment to the 24-hour race and its support series.
Pirelli has around 15,000 tires on-site at Spa, in contrast to just 1,800 for this weekend’s Formula 1 German Grand Prix at Hockenheim. It’s an outlay that includes over 30 trucks and 110 members of staff.
“We cannot park all of [the trucks] in the area because there are still some of them coming, with the wets,” Braga said.
“That was backup stock that was kept at home to wait and see what the weather forecast looks like. The race will be mainly wet, now, so we should have everything.
“Not having only the 24 Hours but also having the Lamborghini Super Trofeo, GT4, British GT, Formula 3, GT Sports Club. They are big numbers.
“In the mean time, we are also shipping tires for Suzuka, for the 10 Hours. The last three or four weeks were very busy for our company, logistically.
“It’s bigger [than last year] because, at the 24, we have roughly ten cars more compared to last year. For a Sprint race, it’s not a big difference but in a 24-hour race, ten cars more is a big percentage.”