Pirelli motorsport boss Paul Hembery believes the lack of rain-tire testing opportunities has contributed to Formula 1 cars struggling more in wet conditions.
While drivers backed the FIA’s call to delay Q3 at Interlagos by 40 minutes on Saturday, several suggested that the performance of the Pirelli wets was not perfect .
Lotus driver Heikki Kovalainen said that the wet tire “can take a little bit of standing water but can’t take as much as earlier on in my career on some other tires,” a view echoed elsewhere in the pitlane, although drivers stopped short of heavily criticizing the tires.
Pirelli has already made dramatic improvements to its wet rubber for 2014 but Hembery stressed that progress is limited by the lack of testing possibilites. Asked about wet tire performance, Hembery replied: “How many testing sessions are we allowed to do?
“We have made some changes for next year but at the end of the day wet tires are developed doing wet track testing and we have had minimal ability to go developing wet tires. We don’t deny that we can always improve and next year, with the full wets, we are looking to improve the aquaplaning and the crossover point with the intermediate tire.
“With the changes to the cars next year, you would love to get hold of a 2014 car and go to Paul Ricard and do three or four sessions but it’s never going to happen.”
Williams chief race engineer Xevi Pujolar believes that a tire war situation, such as existed in F1 between Michelin and Bridgestone as recently as 2006, would accelerate wet tire development. But he accepts that the cost implications of this mean it is more logical simply to allow delays on the occasions when rain hits. He added that even once the cars are no longer bottoming out, the tires can also aquaplane, meaning it is not only car specification that contributes.
“I think we need to do some development with the wet tires, but that costs money,” Pujolar said. “If there was a tire war, you would need to do it because if the other tire can do it, you need to do it. But now you can say wait 10 minutes and it will be fine.
If you are bottoming on the plank, there is a point where you are too low but once the plank is not touching, it’s just aquaplaning on the tires.”