Pirelli expects the Formula 1 teams to face a steep learning curve with its new tires during the first half of the 2018 season.
The tire manufacturer has made a number of changes to the compounds this year, including making them all a step softer to try and encourage higher levels of degradation and more pit stops. The aim is to open up the opportunity for different strategies, and with the first pre-season test having been heavily affected by cold weather, Pirelli motorsport boss Mario Isola believes there is the chance of a few surprises as teams learn more about the tires in the opening races.
“I am sure there are some details we do not know because the compounds are more or less all new, except for the medium – that is the soft coming from last year,” Isola said. “We already designed the soft, supersoft, ultrasoft… and the hypersoft is completely new.
“We had a test last year in Abu Dhabi, we had a test [in Barcelona] but you cannot say that you know any detail of any compound with two tests. The hypersoft is a compound that we need to understand where we use it.
“Also it was very important to confirm the delta lap time [during pre-season] because in Abu Dhabi we had completely different conditions, different circuit layout and different circuit roughness. So we have to understand and collect more data. I think that we will start to really know the compounds by mid-season, not before. Before mid-season the learning process is quite a steep curve.”
While Isola noted a number of differences between the way certain cars use the tires during pre-season testing, he says a clear picture is hard to gain even for Pirelli because teams were experimenting with ways of using the new compounds.
“We saw also a lot of differences inside the same team working on the car in a different way,” he said. “It’s all part of the learning process. Also for us, the car and tire, and how the two are meshing. The cars are different. They look similar but they are very different. The way in which they use the tire is very different. This is all good information for us.”
The soft, supersoft and ultrasoft tires will be used during the first race of the season in Melbourne next weekend.