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Friday, January 25, 2013

Pirelli's 2013 degradation factor a complete unknown

I was listening to the Pirelli webcast presentation of their new tyres earlier in the week, while going about my own work at the same time, and having listened to what they had to say I was looking forward to the Q&A when I could ask them a question.  Unfortunately work intervened in the form of a phone call and 15 minutes later, when I checked back in the Q&A was over - I had missed my opportunity.

Luckily, in the twitter age, direct access is available so I could ask @Pirelli_Media after the fact.

 what compounds were tested in Brazil and did the data collected at FP mean any changes were made?

  1. To which they responded:

 It was the hard tyre with its new construction but not yet new compound. Feedback was good - no major changes made.

So, the teams have absolutely no data on degradation levels going into Jerez?  I asked the question:

 So teams know the feel, weight, & impact of the 2013 tyre but have absolutely no idea of degradation levels until Jerez?

To which they responded:

 Yes It's true. Our 2013 range of tyres mixes up the cards once more.

Understanding the tyres was a critical part of the 2012 pre-season testing, but the data would have been difficult to process as it must have impacted upon the teams' understanding of their new cars
Courtesy: Pirelli F1, © FOTO ERCOLE COLOMBO
The presentation made clear the fact that degradation levels were going to be higher on the new compounds and that the tyres degradation levels would rule out one stop pit strategies, so, the teams will, just as last year, have only the tests at Jerez and Barcelona to get to grips (pardon the pun) with the new tyre compounds and their degradation levels.

And, just as last year, they will be testing them in European late Winter/early Spring conditions.  I'm going to assume that this will once again lead to a lottery in Australian, Malaysian, Chinese and Bahrain weather conditions which are likely to see temperatures significantly higher than the teams experience in their February pre-season testing.

The usual suspects were on the podium in Melbourne last year but the races were anything but predictable
Copyright: Pirelli F1
Continuity of design might have occurred which should have led to closer racing amongst the top 5 and the midfield, but lack of continuity in the tyre compounds may well mean that, for the second season running we don't see the best cars battling it out at the front as tyre strategies are likely to determine the early race outcomes once again.

It might suit Checo at McLaren and it might suit the Lotus cars, all of whom showed they were good at dialling the tyres in, but for sheer speed it should suit the Red Bull's, McLaren's, Ferrari's and, hopefully the Williams as the tyres are designed to reach optimal temperature more quickly than last years.

Williams showed the car was a good overall package by winning in Barcelona, a very technical track where the majority of tests take place.  Pre DRS, KERS, and Tyres the intimate knowledge the teams had of the track and it's make-up tended  to mean that the races were not particularly exciting unless it rained.
Copyright: Pirelli F1
Anyone with a good underfloor aero package, that can give good mid-corner downforce should also benefit as Pirelli say that the Tyre's construction lends itself to increased mid-corner grip which allows the drivers to get on the power earlier on exit.