There is a general feeling of satisfaction with last weekend’s first Pirelli F1 test in Abu Dhabi, with teams reporting that the tyres are at a good level already and Pirelli themselves saying that the data and feedback from teams correlates well with the learnings from the test programme using the 2009 Toyota. It’s impressive to think that they only started testing in August this year.
Another feature which came out of the two day test was that the tyre degradation was quite high and did not reach a point of stabilisation. We’ve got so used to everlasting tyres with Bridgstones – the tyres were just too good, too durable. Bridgestone are a more conservative company than Pirelli.
Of course this is something Pirelli may well change over the winter before the next tests in February. But if they do not for any reason, it will mean that drivers will not be able to pit on lap one and do the whole race on hard tyres as we saw many times this year, including memorably in Abu Dhabi with Petrov and Rosberg.
It is likely to lead to more stops, more variable and unpredictable racing. Of course Pirelli are not going to want their tyres to be seen to be falling apart on worldwide TV, or a repeat of Canada this year where the tyres were not suited to the conditions, but at the same time, the current development path looks like a trend to be welcomed from a racing point of view.
The one slighty shocking thing from the test was that the Red Bull car suffered two rear tyre failures, one on each day. The feedback I’m hearing is that this is not something Pirelli or the other teams are worrying about. It’s being analysed now and is possibly to do with the design of the Red Bull, either its rear suspension geometry or some rubbing somewhere.
Although they tested with 2010 specification cars they are all working towards 2011 tyres, which will need to work with the new fixed weight distribution,higher weight, KERS and different downforce levels, due to the banning of the double diffuser.