Pirelli has announced that it will supply the hard and soft tyres from its range for the opening four rounds of the 2011 season. It has made the announcement now, with two official tests still to come, in order for the teams to work on dialling their cars in to the selected tyres.
The drop off in performance has been pretty steep in the first two tests and the revised soft tyre will likely be a notch harder and more durable. Certainly the requirements of the opening four circuits, Bahrain, Melbourne (where it can be unexpectedly cold sometimes) Malaysia and China are quite different. But with so little time for Pirelli to develop their tyres, chosing the hard and soft from the range – the ones which have been most developed – is the safest route to go. The degradation on the hard tyre has been quite high too.
There is no doubt that the tyres are going to be a big talking point in the early races – they are the polar opposite of what we had last season with drivers able to pit on lap one for the hard tyre and go to the end of the race.
Pirelli says that it wants to promote exciting racing, putting the onus on the teams’ tacticians to come up with the best strategy, “Pirelli’s aim is to have two pit stops at every race, helping to increase the spectacle,” said its statement. It looks likely to achieve that goal, judging from testing.
With a combination of a large step in performance between hard and soft (although that may come down a little with the revised soft next week) and the high degradation rates, the conditions are potentially a perfect storm for creating unpredictable races. The best teams (with the best tyre model in its simulator) and most adaptable drivers will find the best way as always.
“This decision has been made in accordance with the track characteristics in the Middle and Far East, which offer high grip and a wide variety of speeds and corners, as well as ambient and track temperatures that are likely to be high,” said Pirelli.