Drivers concerned by “extreme” tyre degradation

2013 F1 seasonPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Circuit de Catalunya, 2013F1 drivers were surprised by the high levels of tyre degradation seen in testing at the Circuit de Catalunya.

McLaren’s Sergio Perez described the rate of drop-off on Pirelli’s new tyrs as “extreme”.

“It’s very difficult the degradation,” he said. “It’s a big surprise. Normally in winter testing always we see a lot of degradation but never this much.”

“The tyre is difficult to do two or three laps with,” he added. “So while you do a lap you start fighting the degradation so it’s pretty difficult to learn anything from your car and from the balance.”

“I definitely hope it changes because if we have this situation in Melbourne we’re going to see something like seven, ten stops to manage the race!

“Sure, we always see a lot of degradation in winter testing. But obviously all the teams are learning from the tyres, especially us, we have to learn a bit more about the tyres.”

Perez said he felt there was little a driver could do to manage the degradation once it sets in:

“I think as a driver obviously you can help the tyres to last a bit longer but at the moment we are learning from the tyre and it’s the tyre is so easy to… it’s basically very weak and it’s very little the driver can do now to help the degradation.

“It’s a big concern at the moment but as I say we’re still learning about the tyres.”

Nico Hulkenberg echoed Perez’s view, saying it was “quite challenging to make them last and get some proper testing underway”.

“[They’re] degrading pretty quickly and then the continuity and the consistency hasn’t been there today and that makes testing very hard,” he added.

Hulkenberg said there was only “a lap or two” when the driver could get a feel for the car before the tyres went off.

But he stressed the situation may change between now and the first race of the year: “Today this test is difficult, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the same in Melbourne.”

“But come Melbourne if it is the case then yeah, maybe it can be more of a lottery or the one who uses them better or really hits the sweet spot can do better.”

Ricciardo described the new tyres as “challenging”, saying: “I’m not sure if they’re doing what they thought they would.”

“Some of the working ranges for the tyres have changed this year, I think they all have actually. Maybe we’re just not reaching the working range to really see what the tyres are supposed to do.

“It’s still early but let’s say, for example, today was quite a challenge. Quite a bit of marbles and stuff as well, particularly some guys on long runs I came behind it looks like they’re shooting rubber pellets at me.”

Asked whether it was realistic to use the super-soft tyres for the first race of the year at Melbourne, Ricciardo said: “I think last year they went conservative with some races so it’s good they’re changing that approach.

“I think it’s nice to have a few pit stops for the mechanics, it’s god to get them involved. It creates sometimes more opportunities and changes to strategies.

“I’m not going to criticise their approach for now. It could be good but… I don’t think Melbourne’s going to be as cool this year so I’m sure the tyres will probably work differently.

“I don’t think it’ll be a one-stopper at this stage, I think we’ll be in the pits a little bit!”

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