Pirelli has been benefiting from having race drivers conduct testing on its 2018 Formula 1 tires rather than less experienced reserves, says its motorsport boss Mario Isola.
Tire testing has increased in recent years as Pirelli has been keen on developing its product on track with more up-to-date cars, with all teams taking part in a testing program last year to work on the 2018 compounds. That testing program culminated in a two-day test in Abu Dhabi after the final race of the season that saw all 20 race drivers on the grid this year – including rookies Sergey Sirotkin and Charles Leclerc – take part, and Isola has explained the advantages of using more experienced drivers.
“First of all I’m happy that the race drivers understand how important it is to test the tire,” Isola told RACER. “Also, for them to understand what is new on the tire. Race drivers are always able to give you more comparisons compared to young drivers or test drivers.
“We had in the past some young drivers or test drivers who did a very good job but they can only give you an opinion compared to the baseline they have during the test. So you have a baseline, then you use a prototype, then you have another baseline to try and understand if there is a track evolution, and the young drivers or the drivers without experience can give you feedback based on that. A straight comparison.
“If you have a race driver, he has in mind this season or the previous seasons and he can give you more complete feedback. This is obviously an added value. Then you also have telemetry, you have sensors, you have a lot of data coming from each car and you can compare data with the comments. But obviously if the comments are more complete or consider a comparison with other situations, it’s much better.”
Isola says a similarly thorough testing program will “absolutely” be carried out this season, with all 10 teams involved once again.
“Testing was very, very important to develop an even better tire for next year and to develop compounds that are more centered to the expectation of Formula 1. So we want to continue this approach.
“We made a plan together with the teams. It’s good because with this plan and considering that all the teams want to contribute to tire testing, we will have one session allocated to each team. We have one two-day session for each team.
“Plus, we have some days allocated to wet testing. In that case, a few teams were available to run some wet testing and it was not difficult to allocate the wet testing. But it’s good for fairness of the sporting side because we are not testing with one or two teams, but we are planning one session with each one.”