Pirelli has launched the 2012 range of F1 tyres promising that they will create more exciting racing and more variation in race strategies. Although still targeting a minimum of two stops per race, Pirelli says the tyres will be more consistent in the way they degrade and be slightly more durable than last season’s, which led to four pit stops at some races.
One of the objectives for Pirelli this year is to achieve a crossover point, where the performance of the harder tyre is close enough to the soft that it’s extra durability makes it worth using, rather than merely a few laps at the end of the race to fulfil the obligation to use it. This is done by the step between the tyres being 0.8secs, rather than the larger margins we saw last year of up to 2 seconds a lap. The harder tyre was often too slow, even being used for just a single lap at the end of the race on occasions.
This will lead to wider options for race strategies and strategies are set to assume even greater importance as a result.
“Last year we made it too easy for the teams by using soft compounds at each weekend, so they based their weekends around that. This year we want to mix it up more,” said Pirelli’s motorsport boss Paul Hembery.
As predicted Pirelli have gone for slightly softer compounds than in their first season last year, which will give greater grip and ease tyre warm up issues, which is welcome news for Ferrari, who suffered badly from not being able to get the harder compounds working straight away. Both driver lost positions due to this, but Fernando Alonso lost a possible win in Germany and podiums elsewhere.
Lotus Renault evictee Vitaly Petrov has been attending the Pirelli media event in Abu Dhabi, leading to speculation that he may be poised to replace Lucas di Grassi as Pirelli’s test driver. The Italian company is keen to do more track testing to improve and evaluate new compounds and constructions for its third year in F1.
But Petrov remains a candidate for Jarno Trulli’s seat at Caterham. With testing due to get underway 12 days time, that situation is likely to be resolved soon. If he doesn’t get the seat, he may well take up the Pirelli opportunity.