Pirelli confirm tire choices for Belgium, Italy and Singapore

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Pirelli has confirmed the tire compounds that it will be bringing to the Belgian, Italian and Singapore Grands Prix in the next few months.

The Italian manufacturer has endured a difficult season so far, initially battling criticism from the teams for producing a tire that had too short an operating window thus preventing drivers from pushing for more than a few laps. After trying to remedy this problem, the British Grand Prix saw five tire failures cause many to question the safety of the tires. Therefore, a more conservative stance has been takien for the coming few races.

For the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa Francorchamps, the hard and medium tires will be used. “Spa is the circuit that puts the highest vertical load on the front tires all season, mainly due to Eau Rouge corner. Consequently, the two hardest tires from Pirelli’s Formula One range are the most suitable,” a statement from Pirelli reads.

The same compounds will be offered to teams at the Italian GP due to the heavy braking zones at the fastest track on the F1 calendar. “Whereas Spa is characterized by a lot of fast corners, Monza is all about high-speed straights. Here, the tires are subjected to very high longitudinal forces and blistering can be an issue due to the stress put on the tires under braking,” Pirelli explained.

For Singapore though, the medium and supersoft tires will be used, again marking a change from the compounds used last season (soft/supersoft). Being a street circuit, the tires are not subjected to as much wear, and “the tight and twisty corners make the supersoft the ideal tire to generate traction and grip, while the medium tire adds extra durability into the strategy mix,” according to Pirelli.

This weekend will also see the first use of the 2012 tire constructions, introduced on safety grounds.

Teammates James Hinchcliffe and Robert Wickens earn top-fives at Barber

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For the first time this season, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports teammates James Hinchcilffe and Robert Wickens earned top-five finishes in the same race at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala.

Hinchcliffe finished third in the Grand Prix of Alabama; Wickens was one spot behind in fourth.

Wickens had one previous podium at Phoenix with his second-place finish. Hinchcliffe’s best result was a fourth in the season-opener in St Petersburg, Fla., so this marked his first podium of the year.

Both drivers needed a little help from the rain.

As precipitation began to fall in the closing stages of the race, Hinchliffe asked his team on a couple of occasions if it was wet enough to pit for rain tires. He was told twice to stay out and was then called into to the pits at the optimal time.

“Solid weekend for us after coming here before – not a great test,” Hinchcliffe said. “Two cars in the top 10 qualifying; two cars, top five in the race. Pretty proud of these boys, everybody on the Arrow car.”

The rain helped Wickens’ race strategy come together.

“I was having to save a lot of fuel in that second stint,” Wickens said. “So once (Scott) Dixon starting getting close to me I was thinking ‘Oh God, I’m going to actually have to give this one up.’ And then the rain came, so the fuel mileage happened naturally. So, yeah, it saved us a bit.”

And while both were pleased with their top-five finishes, drivers are rarely satisfied unless they are standing on the top step of the podium.

Wickens’ top-five finish was hard-fought. After winning the pole at St Petersburg and starting sixth at Phoenix, he failed to advance to the Fast 6 in back-to-back races at Long Beach and Barber – qualifying 10th both times.

“I was a little gutted that we came out in a big bunch of traffic,” Wickens continued. “It made the race fun, but a little frustrating as well because of people off sequence and whatnot. We lost a lot of track position there. Both of us could have been fighting for higher steps on the podium, but we need to do a little better job in qualifying. “