Pirelli motorsport boss Paul Hambery has said that Pirelli did the right thing in bringing conservative tyre choices for the start of 2014, but says that they may relax this as the year goes on and predicts that the 2014 cars will soon be faster than 2013 cars in many venues.
At this stage last year Pirelli were at the centre of the story in F1, with some tyre failures which culminated in the multiple failures at Silverstone and the change of tyre specification mid season.
This year it’s been quiet on the tyre front as the focus has been on the new hybrid turbo engines, the noise they make and their effect on the racing, which is only just being evaluated now.
The four compounds are set for the year. Hembery has said this week that while the tyres have generally performed robustly, with one stop less at most venues than last season and two stops less in Spain, the company is open to bringing less conservative tyres at future races. Many teams would welcome this as they are struggling to get optimum grip from the tyres at the moment.
“Maybe sometimes we will see during the season – as the cars improve – that probably some of our choices are a bit conservative, because as they reduce the amount of wheel spin and the amount of sliding, that means that there is less problem from the tyre overheating,” he told the official Formula1.com site.
“And maybe we have to review our choices for the season going forward once we understand the effects of the rate of development of the cars.”
Many teams have struggled to get grip in races like Spain.
After the dramas of past seasons, Pirelli has been very conservative this year. They were concerned that the higher torque of the 2014 engines would cause significant problems with the high degradation family of tyres they were using in F1, so in Hembery’s words they “took a step back” this year.
The 2014 Pirelli was designed and produced without ever running on the car it was designated to be used by, a strange phenomenon caused by the radical rule change for this year.
With teams focussed at the start of the year on sorting out the hugely complex new hybrid turbo power units, it has taken time for them to be able to focus on getting the most from the tyres. Hembery says that some teams are now getting stuck into that work,
“We have already seen today that teams are starting to work to maximize tyre performance,” he said. “At the start of the season they clearly had other challenges. Now starts the detailed work with the teams that we’ve seen in previous years.
“My guess is that at the end of the season we will see cars lapping quicker than we have seen last year.”
A combination of the conservative tyres and a significant reduction in downforce with the banning of exhaust blowing led to the pole time in Spain being set 4.5 seconds slower than 2013 and back marker times being comparable with GP2.
This week four teams took part in testing development tyres with some work carried out on 2015 ideas. Sauber and Toro Rosso tested on the first day, with Force India and McLaren running test tyres on day two.
In the days following the Silverstone test, Ferrari, Lotus, Red Bull and Marussia will test for Pirelli.