Pirelli believes lap times could improve by up to 1.5 seconds per lap at the start of 2018 due to the combination of car developments and its new tires.
The tire manufacturer was accused of providing compounds that were too hard in 2017, with the latter part of the season often seeing the softest three compounds – soft, supersoft and ultrasoft – used. An even softer compound known as the hypersoft has been introduced for this year while every compound is a step softer, which should help deliver even quicker lap times.
“If you talk about performance there is the natural development of the cars because there are no big changes in terms of technical regulations,” Pirelli motorsport boss Mario Isola told RACER. “The estimates from the teams are roughly one second per lap as an average from the end of last season to the beginning of this season.
“On top of that you should consider we are going softer to most of the events I believe. Probably more in the first half of the season than in the second half because last year we changed the approach from Silverstone onwards. Spa was already aggressive, Suzuka was an aggressive choice, but in the first half of the season we will probably have the biggest difference compared to last year.
“In terms of performance I believe 1 or 1.5 seconds is a reasonable number.”
And Isola says the hypersoft is likely to be used only on a small number of street circuits having opted against introducing it for the first time at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
“The biggest changes are the compounds. Last year we were quite conservative, we moved all the compounds one step softer and we added the hypersoft. The hypersoft is really, really soft. It’s a bit extreme but we wanted to have a compound like that.
“We are now trying to understand where to use it. We would need a bit more data on this. Probably Monaco will be the first race where we consider the hypersoft.”