Pirelli happy with new slicks, working on new wets

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F1 Test, Barcelona, Circuit de Catalunyaes

The first four days of pre-season Formula 1 testing concluded on Thursday at the Spanish circuit of Montmelò. A total of 3185 laps were covered, that means 14.826 kms. From Monday to Wednesday, the drivers tested the new wider slick tyres on 2017 cars for the first time. Today they also tried the wet-weather tyres on an artificially-dampened circuit, using both the full wet and intermediate.

Pirelli's decision to wet the track on Thursday was contested though, and not a lot of drivers were very eager to give it a go in the damp conditions. Lewis Hamilton for instance was very vocal about his lack of interest before encountering an electrical issue on his car that left him sidelined on Thursday morning anyway.

More durability

Mario Isola, Pirelli Racing Manager: “We’re satisfied with the results of these four days. From what we can see up to now, the new product is in line with our expectations. For the 2017 season, the sport asked us to develop tyres with less degradation, which allow drivers to push to the maximum. That’s what we’ve seen during these four days of testing so far, and what we’ll continue to see in the second four-day session next week."

The first signs are indeed promising, with simulations showing that even the soft tyre, usually too soft for the Spanish track, were very consistent and durable.

Wets 'not optimal'

The wet weather tyres on the other hand were less convincing, with most drivers unimpressed about their performance following a call to improve them after several years of struggles, especially with the full wet tyres. According to Pirelli's Isola, water dispersion improved.

"The combination of new dimensions and a new tread pattern means that the water expulsion capacity of the Cinturato Blue full wet tyre has gone up from 65 to 85 litres of water per second, per tyre, at 300kph. The Cinturato Green intermediate also has an increase: from 25 to 30 litres of water per second dispersed."

Pirelli's Paul Hembery however said the tyre manufacturer is already working on different solutions for the wet tyres.

"We have to change the working range of the compounds," said Hembery.

"We were going to do that on the full rain tyre, anyway. It was something we had been working on, particularly knowing we have got the standing start [after safety cars]. Plus some of the comments from last season were that the drivers can't switch them on when they come through.

"We have been working on that and what we saw today was that the intermediate was also struggling. That is an effect of the width of the tyre, because the inter was the one the drivers said, 'don't touch, don't change because we're very happy with it "Now we know we probably need to alter as well to match it."

Already faster than 2016

During the first session, the lap times have already been lowered considerably. The target was for lap times that were five seconds faster compared to Barcelona in 2015. Yesterday, Valtteri Bottas set a best time of 1m19.705s on ultrasoft tyres. Considering that the pole time in 2015 at Barcelona was 1m24.681s, Pirelli said its target was met.

Results

DriverTeamCompoundTimeDay
BottasMercedes AMGULTRASOFT01:19,705DAY 3
VettelFerrariSOFT01:19,952DAY 3
RaikkonenFerrariSOFT01:20,960DAY 2
HamiltonMercedes AMGSUPERSOFT01:20,983DAY 2
RicciardoRed Bull RacingSOFT01:21,153DAY 3
PalmerRenaultSOFT01:21,396DAY 3
VerstappenRed Bull RacingSOFT01:21,769DAY 4
HulkenbergRenaultSOFT01:21,791DAY 3
EricssonSauberSUPERSOFT01:21,824DAY 3
MassaWilliamsSOFT01:22,076DAY 1
GrosjeanHaasSUPERSOFT01:22,118DAY 3
MagnussenHaasSUPERSOFT01:22,204DAY 2
StrollWilliamsSOFT01:22,351DAY 3
GiovinazziSauberULTRASOFT01:22,401DAY 4
OconForce IndiaSUPERSOFT01:22,509DAY 2
PerezForce IndiaSUPERSOFT01:22,534DAY 4
VandoorneMcLarenULTRASOFT01:22,576DAY 4
AlonsoMcLarenULTRASOFT01:22,598DAY 3
KvyatToro RossoSOFT01:22,956DAY 2
Sainz JToro RossoMEDIUM01:23,540DAY 3
CelisForce IndiaULTRASOFT01:23,568DAY 3