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Will a dry race actually be harder for F3 drivers than a wet one today?

by Ida Wood

Photo: Red Bull Content Pool

There has been a lot of attention on the challenges of races being wet at Spa-Francorchamps this weekend, but a dry Formula 3 race today is also a concern.

Due to practice and qualifying on Friday running in the wet, FIA F3 drivers are yet to experience Spa in the dry on Pirelli’s new medium compound tyre. Saturday’s sprint race and Sunday’s longer feature race have been shortened to address tyre durability concerns, and those concerns could come to the fore this morning if the sprint race is dry.

“It will be tricky. We’ve basically had no experience, no running prior to tomorrow if the race were to be dry,” said Campos Racing’s Pepe Marti after qualifying.

“It’s going to be something that’s going to be quite difficult to manage. But at the same time, we’re having the race shortened to 12 laps. It’s pretty much I’d say a sprint, a Formula 4 sprint. So it will definitely be a little bit difficult to understand how much you can push or where you can push.

“It’s going to be so hard to stay in first if you’re the guy in first. So it’s going to be a question of whoever manages tyres best, most efficiently, and is able to stay in front.”

Marti reckons “tyre conservation and being nice with the tyre is something that naturally I’ve always done pretty decently”.

Hitech GP’s Gabriele Mini echoed Marti’s dry-weather comments. “The race being 12 laps, it should be a bit better. The only thing is that we know Spa compared to Hungaroring is a really high-energy track, so we will stress quite a lot the tyre.”

“If it will be dry tomorrow, it will all be about managing tyres, because we know [you can lose] up to six or seven seconds around the whole lap, which is a huge amount of time lost. And of course this will also add more mistakes from the drivers because the car being so hard to drive, it’s much, much easier to do mistakes. You don’t need much to overstep the limit.

“So it’s really easy to just miss the braking by one or two metres, and just miss the corner. I think it will open a lot of opportunities, so I think it will be really a bit more than pace-wise, a really strategical race if it’s going to be dry. It’s really about who saves the tyres the most. And if you don’t get any safety car and you can use the pace on your tyres, that would make a lot of difference.”

With plenty of simulator running around a dry Spa, Trident’s Leonardo Fornaroli does not expect “the dry conditions are going to be a big issue”. But tyre management “will be very tricky”.

“Here at Spa especially with the long fast corners and deep brakings, the tyres will degrade quite a lot. The race tomorrow is only 12 laps, so it will be less difficult. But it will still be quite tricky.”