• Spanish Grand Prix - FP2

Pirelli defends new hard compound

ESPNF1 Staff
May 20, 2011 « 'Lots of problems' for Massa | »
Pirelli says some teams had more problems than others with the new tyres © Getty Images

Pirelli has jumped to the defence of its new hard compound tyre after Lewis Hamilton branded it a disaster on Friday at the Spanish Grand Prix.

The new compound is designed to offer an extra 10 laps of life over the one used at the first four races, but after second practice Hamilton said it made the car slide too much, which in turn caused degradation. Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery revealed that different teams had experienced different levels of degradation and that the tyre would in fact open up strategy options come Sunday's race.

"It is slow - it has less grip, I don't deny that," Autosport quoted Hembery as saying. "But you have to look at the positives. We were asked to make a differentiation between the soft and the hard. If you go back to Istanbul where the hard tyre was basically lasting one or two laps longer than the soft and having a performance disadvantage, it didn't come into strategic play.

"What we've now seen, and there are variations between teams - some vast variation between teams - we are seeing between 10 and 14 laps difference between the soft and the hard in terms of estimated life. Some teams have a very high estimated lifespan - I don't want to say who they are because that will be very important for their strategy come race day."

Hembery revealed that the hard tyre degrades at a slower rate than the softs and as a result would come into play for the teams that could extract the extra life from it.

"In terms of performance, we have seen two seconds [between hard and soft when new], which is more than we saw in testing. But the degradation levels between the hard and the sort are high. The soft is degrading about two tenths per lap, and the hard about one tenth per lap - so there is going to be a cross-over point. And it means the hard tyre will actually come into play for once in terms of strategy, which it hasn't done before."

Despite Rubens Barrichello and Fernando Alonso expecting four-stop races, Hembery is adamant that the new compound lasts significantly longer than the old compound and said some of the teams experiencing less degradation might even try a one-stop race.

"We need to look at the data tonight, but I have to say that somebody might look at that. For Q2 people, it is getting there. It is not so far out. I could certainly imagine someone having a go with two, I have heard some say it is going to be four-stopper again, that would really surprise me based on the initial data I have seen, as they have to use the hard. Degradation is one tenth - I have seen a 20 laps analysis from one team and it was less than one tenth."

He said he could not understand why the drivers were complaining now when they had the opportunity to test the tyres during Friday practice in Malaysia and Turkey.

"I can understand that it is different, very different, but why didn't they say those comments when they tested them in Malaysia or in Istanbul? We didn't have those comments - maybe they didn't test them correctly, didn't take it seriously enough. I can imagine that it has changed the balance of the car, I can appreciate that, so it is an extra technical challenge and that is something that we will get through in our debrief tonight. The only information I can give you at the moment is that there is definitely a significant increase in tyre life and a significant increase in degradation between hard and soft."