Both FIA Formula 3 races at Spa-Francorchamps have been shortened, days after last weekend’s feature race at the Hungaroring was shortened over tyre wear concerns.
As at the Hungaroring, Pirelli has nominated its medium compound tyre for use. It is softer than 2022’s medium compound, and was first raced in last Saturday’s sprint race. After excessive tyre wear in that, five laps were cut from the feature race.
At Spa, Saturday’s sprint race has been shortened from 15 to 12 laps, and Sunday’s feature race from 18 to 15 laps. But rain may make concerns about the medium compound’s durability redundant if wet-weather tyres get used.
Formula Scout asked the top three in the standings for their expectations if the races are dry.
“The degradation is a very important thing that we need to look for,” reckoned Gabriel Bortoleto.
“At the same time, the race can be very fun because you can manage the tyre degradation. Sometimes you can get in trouble by not doing the right things during the race, and then you end up with hotter tyres at the end of the race.
“They have shortened the amount of laps in the feature, and I think this is the right decision because there was a chance of tyre exploding probably. If we did more races, or finishing with four tyres [i.e pitstop-free], then it’s not nice when you explode your tyre at 250kph in a corner. There is good and bad points about Pirelli’s new compounds for the season, but I would say I’m quite happy to be racing with this compound this weekend with less laps.”
Zak O’Sullivan thought “the degradation will probably be worse if it’s dry than in Hungary”.
“Lower downforce here, and also the track surface punishes tyres a bit more,” he explained. “It’s not ideal having to manage a massive amount in the race, but at the same time it does create opportunities, especially in Hungary. There was a bit more overtaking than normal. And drivers who maybe didn’t manage the tyres, or drivers who saved early on. I quite enjoy it. It’s a different challenge, but it’s probably the right decision to shorten the races.”
Pepe Marti agreed, but thought “it’s quite sad” that the issue has reached a point where races are shortened.
“At Spa especially, where most of the track is straights, apart from sector two, it’s a bit of a shame. Also, I didn’t have as much problems as the rest of the grid degradation-wise in Hungary. I think I managed it really well and I think I wouldn’t have had any issues doing 19 laps around here instead of 15.
“So for me it’s a bit of a shame, but the challenge will be the same. Degradation will still play a key factor, even during 12 and 15-lap races.”
“We’re talking about Formula 4 race distance rather than F3, so it’s going to be a bit of a challenge anyways to see how much you can push without killing the tyre, and still make the best of it.”