Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery has played down complaints about this year's F1 tyre supply, claiming that the drivers' dissatisfaction is no different to the past two seasons.
The Italian manufacturer has been charged with bringing a little excitement to the top flight, with the basis for thinking over the past couple of years being based on the 2011 Canadian Grand Prix, where the chosen compounds made for more overtaking than normal. However, day one of the Malaysian Grand Prix was rife with comments that the current compounds – which are generally softer than their predecessors - were having too much effect on proceedings, with Red Bull team-mates Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel particularly vocal in their complaints.
Hembery, however, insists that the negative comments are no different to previous seasons, and will ease as the teams gradually get to grips with the new rubber.
"The teams have
got a challenge," he told journalists at Sepang, "but you could take the quotes from the last two seasons and those from the first few races would be exactly the same. As the season progresses, it becomes more about the cars and drivers - as it should be. It's a 19-race season. It's a long, long season, and [the change of tyres] adds something different to the start of the year. If you look at the last couple of years, it takes until the eighth or ninth race for things to calm down, and then it tends to be about other things, rather than tyres."
While Webber and Vettel were the most vocal in their complaints, noting that they were not able to use the full potential of their cars due to the levels of degradation, Red Bull team boss Christian Horner admitted that is was still too early to be critical.
"We have had one race as a reference, so let's see how this race pans out and we'll start to get a clearer picture," he was quoted by the BBC
, "For sure, the tyres are quite fragile and you only have to look at some of the slow-motion shots to see the amount of rubber coming off them, which is quite surprising. But then it's the same tyre for everyone.
"I think what we want to avoid is drivers cruising around under the performance of their car, unable to follow another car closely, otherwise it's not racing. But it's still early days, so let's see a sample of two or three races and then be able to gauge from there."
Hembery pointed out that different teams were able to make the tyres last to varying degrees, but none were suffering beyond what had been expected by the tyre supplier.
“The teams experienced high ambient temperatures for the first time this year with our tyres, which was extremely useful as these are also the conditions that we would anticipate for the rest of the weekend,” he noted, “As we expected, we saw quite a high wear rate today, due to the more extreme nature of our 2013 tyres – which put the accent firmly on performance – as well as the high temperatures and abrasive track surface.
“Nonetheless, degradation stayed within our anticipated parameters. We have seen differences in the way that individual teams use the compounds, with the hard compound lasting 15 laps for some teams and 21 laps or more for others. We'll be looking at all the data tonight to establish a more precise picture for qualifying and the race.”