Pirelli has confirmed that it will be supplying an extra set of tyres for Friday's two free practice sessions from Barcelona onwards, but said that there would be no stipulation for teams to use them to run drivers with no F1 race experience.
The announcement, which accompanied details of the tyre compounds on offer at this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix, had been widely pre-empted within the F1 paddock, which appeared split over the question of running 'rookies' in order to gain the additional rubber and increase the amount of track action for spectators during the notoriously quiet early stages of an F1 weekend.
While some teams were keen to take advantage of Pirelli's offer to blood up-and-coming talent, there was the fear that others would use more experienced drivers who fitted the 'never having started a grand prix' framework of the proposal to get bigger gains from the extra set of tyres.
Instead, Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery has revealed that there will be another set of tyres available for the teams to use as they saw fit, but with the directive of increasing the amount of track action.
“As permitted by the current regulations, we'll be supplying an extra set of prototype hard compound tyres for free practice, which will hopefully ensure that all the cars run throughout these sessions,” Hembery confirmed, “It's something we wanted to do to encourage all the teams to run as much as possible right from the start, especially with the rookie drivers, to give fans the spectacle they deserve to see.”
Already dubbed as 'conservative' by Lotus technical director James Allison, Pirelli's choice of tyres for the Circuit de Catalunya
consists of the hard and medium compounds, although the orange-ringed 'hard' has evolved, with the objective of opening up even more possibilities for strategy. These tyres will not be the same as the prototype on offer as the additional set in free practice, with the specially-created compound not carry any distinguishing colour markings.
“We're introducing a revised version of our hard [race] tyre in Spain, which is closer in characteristics to the 2012 tyre,” Hembery explained, “This new tyre gives us a wider working temperature window - although it delivers a little bit less in terms of pure performance - but it should allow the teams to envisage an even wider variety of race strategies than before in combination with the other compounds, which remain unchanged this year.
“This is a decision that we've come to having looked at the data from the first four races, with the aim of further improving the spectacle. In fact, this is almost a tradition with us now, as we also introduced a revised version of the hard tyre for the Spanish Grand Prix
in 2011, which was our first year in the sport. We'd expect the medium tyre to still be significantly faster and this is the one that the teams are likely to qualify on, whereas the hard is likely to be the preferred race tyre.”