The session will also be the first real test of a new hard compound that falls between the current C1 and C2.
All 10 teams run with two cars each, one for drivers and one reserved for novice drivers who have made less than two starts.
Only the 2023 tires will be used, meaning the youngsters – some of whom will graduate next season to become racing chairs themselves – are expected to play an important role.
The teams participated in tire testing in FP2 in 2023 in both Austin and Mexico City. However, those sessions were ‘blind’, and while some drivers used the same tires that will be used in Abu Dhabi, others used experimental versions that didn’t make it.
For Abu Dhabi, the tires will be prepared as agreed with the teams and the FIA for 2023, with two hours of pre-heating at 70 degrees.
The tire distribution between the drivers and rookies is different, with the former getting more sets and thus possibly covering more kilometers per day. The assignments are as follows:
Drivers – 10 sets: 1 C1, 1 C2, 3 C3, 3 C4, 2 C5.
Rookie Drivers – 8 sets: 2 C3, 4 C4, 2 C5.
“The allocation has been determined together with the FIA,” said Pirelli chief engineer Simone Berra when asked about the choices by UKTN.
“So we will only take one set of the hardest range, C1 and C2, and of course some sets of C3, C4 and C5, because those are more suitable for this track.
“The idea is that the young drivers can work more on the softer range and just protect their confidence in the car.”
McLaren Pirelli tires and wheels
Photo by: Steven Tee/Motorsport Images
For 2023, the five existing slick compounds are unchanged from this year, and the main novelty for next season is construction.
“The 2023 specification is different in structure on both the front and rear axles, mainly on the front,” said Berra. “We worked a lot on the structure to improve the integrity of the front axle and to lower the front axle weight a little bit from what we have now.”
Berra confirmed that there will be an additional sixth connection choice in 2023, with the current C1 becoming the C0 and introducing a new C1 to fill a perceived gap between the current C1 and C2.
The new tire was ridden by some drivers in Austin.
“We have a new version of the C1. So the C1 is no longer the current C1, it’s a new one that has to offer more grip compared to the old one, which had less grip. We got feedback that the grip was a little bit lacking on the C1.
“The current C1 will be the C0 for next year. So next year we will have six connections, C0, which is the current C1, the new C1, and then the others that will remain exactly the same connection on the new structure.
“The C0 will be used on the most stressful circuits, probably Silverstone, Suzuka and Qatar next year.”
On the decision to go from the planned 50 degrees to 70 degrees Celsius, Berra said: “We focused a lot on the structure, because that was the main goal for this year’s development. And we don’t have a lot of different connections, and so we didn’t meet the target of the 50 degrees.
“So for us, when we asked the drivers for their feedback, asked the FIA then what kind of saving was for energy consumption, there wasn’t much saving in terms of overall energy, it was decided that the best solution was to reduce the maintain 70 degrees.”
Photo by: Erik Junius
Pirelli will also do some winter running with 2022 cars, before the 2023 machines are ready.
The focus will be on wet running at Paul Ricard and Fiorano, with slick work – for 2024 – at Portimao. Ferrari, Aston Martin and AlphaTauri have been confirmed to participate so far, while Mercedes have expressed interest in helping.
“There will be some tests, not with all teams,” said Berra. “We asked them for availability, and some of them answered.
“We will mainly work on the intermediate and wet roads, because for us this is the best period of the test in cold temperatures and in representative conditions. And then we will have a few tests on the slicks for the new 2024 specification.”