Lewis Hamilton described the new hypersoft tire compound as the “best tire that Pirelli have produced” in Formula 1.
All ten F1 teams are taking part in a two-day tire test at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi, giving them an opportunity to run the 2018 compounds. Next year’s options include two new additions at each end of the range – the superhard and the hypersoft – and after running the softest of those compounds on Tuesday, Hamilton was happy with his first impressions.
“I’m not really the biggest fan of testing, but it’s been a positive first day of running with these new tires,” Hamilton said. “We managed to complete plenty of laps and collected lots of data and feedback to ensure we head in the right direction over the winter. We’ve got a good early understanding of these 2018 Pirelli tires.
“On early impression, the new Hypersoft is the best tire that Pirelli have produced since returning to F1. I found that the other compounds are still a bit too hard for my liking but we’re moving in the right direction. It’s a nice way to wrap up the season, with one last day in the W08. I’m definitely ready to take a break now, though!”
Hamilton ended the day with the third-quickest time – 0.8s slower than pace-setter Kimi Raikkonen and half a second off Daniel Ricciardo – and his tally of 136 laps was only bettered by Romain Grosjean, who completed 137. Raikkonen echoed Hamilton’s thoughts, saying he enjoyed the grip offered by the hypersoft.
“It was good. Obviously they gave good grip around here, and it was for sure a faster tire,” Raikkonen said. “We tried some new tires but obviously it’s hard to say how they are going to be because there will be differences in the cars. We’ll see.
“I don’t think there’s a big difference [between 2017 and 2018 tires], it’s a small difference but, you know, like I said today it didn’t feel like a lot of difference.”
Aside from Robert Kubica’s first test for Williams in a 2017 car – ending up ninth fastest and completing 100 laps – the most notable incident saw Fernando Alonso hit the barrier at Turn 19 in the morning.
“Today’s been a very positive day,” Alonso said afterward. “It’s been very useful for us to have a read on the 2018 tires. They felt good, I felt the performance was there and the degradation was under control, so generally I had a good feeling.
“I had a small kiss with the wall this morning and we lost some track time, but the mechanics did an amazing job to fix the car so we could go out again before lunch, which meant we could complete the full program.”