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Lotus backs Pirelli's 2013 tyres
Lotus technical director James Allison says the changes to this year's tyres are not as dramatic as some teams are making out and he is keen for Pirelli to stick with its 'aggressive' compound choices further into the year.
After one-stop races became the norm towards the end of 2012, Pirelli opted to create softer compounds for this season to increase degradation and changed the construction - ostensibly to help with tyre warm-up. However, after a three-stop race for most teams in Australia and the rain making Malaysia a four-stop for the majority of cars, some members of the paddock have suggested Pirelli has made tyres that degrade too quickly.
Lotus has built a car that is easier on its tyres, giving it a competitive advantage, and just as teams like Red Bull have complained because of high levels of degradation, it is in Allison's interests to continue with high levels of degradation.
Asked if he agreed with the criticism of the 2013 tyres, he said: "Not really; they're just one step softer all round than last year and the new construction makes it harder to access the rubber on the inner corner of the tyre. In other words, the available rubber is reduced as it's very tricky to get the entire width of the tyre in contact with the road.
"Certain teams are keen for a switch back to last year's rubber, but teams will always push for what's in their best interest. We feel the current tyres makes for entertaining racing, but then we would say that as our car tends to prosper when the tyres are tender."
Allison said a new exhaust system on the Lotus, first used by Kimi Raikkonen in Malaysia but set to feature on both cars in China, would help even more with rear tyre wear.
"One of the benefits gained from the new exhaust package is an increase in rear downforce through corners where the ratio of exhaust speed to car speed is high, which tend to be the lower speed corners. This is a good step forward which we hope will aid us in protecting the tyres at this kind of circuit."
However, Allison admitted a weakness of the E21 was getting temperature into the tyres in wet conditions.
"I have to be completely candid and say that wet weather is not our forte," he explained. "We struggle to get the intermediate tyres warm enough to grip the road, and our current rear wing configuration - whilst aerodynamically stable in wet conditions - does not generate the sort of downforce levels required for a wet track. Unfortunately we will be fighting an uphill battle with this until we bring a new, higher downforce rear wing to the track."