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Pirelli: 'supersofts succeeded in their task'
18 March 2013
Another year, and another generation of F1 tyre compounds made its bow at the F1 Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on Sunday. While the medium prime tyres were greeted with praise by the teams, there were a few complaints about the supersoft tyres which had an exceptionally short lifespan on the Albert Park.
Tyre manufacturers Pirelli weren't worried, however, and said that the option tyres had done precisely the job that they'd been designed for.
"We took the deliberately bold decision to come here with the supersoft tyre in order to spice up the action," said Pirelli's motorsport director Paul Hembery.
He said that the intention had been to deliver a 'qualifier' compound that would force the teams to make at least one quick pit stop, and that's exactly what had transpired.
"We believe that this worked very well, with a variety of different two and three stop strategies just as we expected and seven different leaders," said Hembery. "Seeing how those different approaches played out at the end was the intriguing part of the strategy, which led to a spectacular finish and three very deserving world champions on the podium."
There was no hiding just how impressed Hembery and the Pirelli crew were with how well Lotus had managed to be so light-footed on its tyres during the race on Sunday.
"Kimi Raikkonen and Lotus understood the tyres perfectly, making a two-stop strategy work when many of their rivals couldn't," he said. "It was a true masterclass in tyre management."
The Pirelli advice to teams before the race had been for a change from supersoft to medium tyres on lap 14, with a second stop for medium tyres on lap 36. Few teams could actually make this optimal strategy work in practice, but Raikkonen came very close - making his first stop on lap 9 and his second stop on lap 34 - and was duly rewarded with the first win of the 2013 F1 season.
After worries in unseasonably cold pre-season testing in Spain a few weeks ago that raised fears about excessive tyre degradation on Pirelli's other 2013 tyre compounds, Hembery was a happy and relieved man to be vindicated with the performance of the medium compound tyres during the race on the tricky Albert Park street circuit.
"We are very happy with the performance and durability of both compounds, particularly as both track and ambient temperatures were very low, causing a bit of graining," he said. It's worth pointing out that Raikkonen drove the fastest lap of the race on lap 56, the penultimate lap, on medium tyres that were 22 laps old."
But Hembery knows that Australia is just the first step in a long 19-race march in the world championship, and that it's all change this coming weekend for the second Grand Prix of the season.
"The conditions next weekend in Malaysia will be very different," he agreed. Temperatures will be much hotter at the Sepang International Circuit, and there's also heavy rain forecast for three days while the F1 roadshow is in town.
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