- Australian Grand Prix
Super-soft behaving like qualifying tyre - Pirelli
Pirelli is confident its super-soft compound will force teams on to two- or three-stop strategies in Sunday's race at the Australian Grand Prix.
Pirelli has brought its super-soft and medium tyres to this race and after the first day of running motorsport director Paul Hembery said they were both reacting as he had expected. The super-soft tyres were seeing quite rapid degradation - to the point that Hembery said there could be pit stops as early as lap five of the race - but the mediums were holding out for much longer.
Pirelli is hoping the contrasting performance of the two tyres will make for interesting racing and said that any other compound choice for this circuit would likely result in a one-stop race.
"We were very pleased," Hembery said. "It was pretty close to what we anticipated in terms of our pre-race simulation. Certainly after the winter test in Barcelona, which we felt was not representative at all of what is going to happen this season, we wanted the super-soft to be almost like a qualifying tyre and we knew that would then force the teams into a two or maybe three stop strategy.
"If we'd come with any other compound we probably would have had a one-stop race. It might sound bizarre why we brought the super-soft, but we knew it wouldn't last long enough to push people into a one-stop and would last such a small amount of time that they would question whether they would do two or three stops."
Hembery said the early data suggested the teams with the worst degradation could have to change from the super-softs used for qualifying to the much more durable medium as early as lap five of the race. Although he did add that the team's will refine their set-up and get longer lasting performance from the tyre as the weekend progresses.
"Looking at the data we're looking at 0.7s-1.0s difference in peak performance [between the compounds] and the degradation levels are 0.25s-0.3s on the super-soft, meaning a crossover after eight to nine laps and suggesting you'll probably be stopping after five laps of the race. But we knew we had to do that because simulations with the soft tyre and the hard tyre showed they could have gone for 25 laps and we thought, with the evolution we've seen in previous years and the second compound having to be used, that that would have taken us very close to everyone trying for a one-stop.
"So it might sound a little bit bizarre, but why not? It's a different approach for this race and we won't do it every time. It is a street circuit and it's tough to overtake on, so to add some variety in we thought this was a different approach. The reality is matching what we want."
Hembery said the teams that were experiencing less degradation would be at a distinct advantage in the race.
"When I say five laps [before the first pit stop], from the data we've seen some teams don't have 0.25s-0.3s degradation, they have a lot less. I'm not going to tell you who it is because they will be working on their strategy and have a big advantage. That is also fascinating and teams will improve tomorrow, because Friday was the first time any of the teams have been on track with the tyres in proper operating conditions. There were a few teams that didn't have the set-up they wanted, and you could tell by the way the tyres were being used, and they will be able to improve and modify that overnight and probably have a much better P3 session before they go to qualifying."