26 February 2016
Barcelona F1 Pre-season Test : Pirelli avoids 'cliff' with 2016 F1 tyres
There will be no sudden surprises when it comes to tyre life in F1 2016, as Pirelli confirms that it expects more gradual degradation of its re-constructed race rubber.
Despite suggesting that it would try to re-introduce the dreaded 'cliff' when it came to the degradation of its 2016 F1 tyres, Pirelli admitted during this week's four-day pre-season test in Barcelona that it expects wear rates to be more gradual.
Data from the test, which saw all eleven teams in action and ten with 2016-spec machinery, confirmed that the Italian manufacturer had produced a preferable effect in its bid to add a little spice to the racing, with drivers expected to get more warning of degradation rather than being plunged into an adverse situation with little chance of avoidance.
" There is a loss of grip, but it is not a 'cliff'," F1 racing manager Mario Isola underlined, "It is quite gradual, and it is much better not to have a complete and sudden loss of grip. We will investigate his aspect better with some analysis during the next few days but, at the moment, the signals seem to be good."
Under pressure to inject a little unpredictability back into the sport via a redesign of its tyres, Pirelli has added a harder compound beneath the main tread, which it hopes will lead to a slowing of pace rather than the complete drop-off seen with the so-called 'cliff' in recent years.
"This information we need to analyse better because, of course, when [the teams] are testing, they are using different fuel loads, different set-ups," Isola reasoned, "We need to pay attention so that, when we construct a number, it is the correct one. But, if you look at a run, you don't see a linear degradation and then, suddenly, a 'cliff', so you have a curve that is much smaller."
Having completed 1600km of testing across the four days, Mercedes got plenty of experience of the new rubber - which this year includes an 'ultrasoft' variant for the first time - and reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton confirmed that there had been no shocks.
" There's not much of a cliff to be honest," the Briton reported, "[The tyres] behave very similarly to last year. There is a little bit more deg maybe on the left-front tyre but, generally, it's nothing exciting or nothing new that will make a difference. Nothing exciting there."
Pirelli and the teams will get a second chance to run through the tyre range as testing resumes - and concludes - with another four-day session at the Circuit de Catalunya next week, prior to then cars being shipped off to Melbourne for the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in three weeks' time.
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