Pirelli have been compiling vast amounts of data on their new tyre compounds during the pre-season testing programme, particularly at the session completed on Monday in Barcelona, and have been reflecting on their preparations for the new season.
The temperatures at the Circuit de Catalunya were generally low throughout the Monday to Friday test, with overnight rain frequently making the track damp in the morning. These conditions meant it was hard for the track to rubber in, but it did allow the teams to sample a wide range of compounds: supersoft, soft, medium and hard dry weather tyres, and the intermediate tyre.
The overnight rain was particularly useful to the teams as, not only did it allow them to test the intermediate tyre, but it also let them assess the crossover point: the zone during which the lap time improves by switching from intermediate tyres to slicks.
Each team had a total of 30 sets of tyres at their disposal over the four days, split between these different compounds. Overall, Pirelli rubber was used for 4001 laps over the four days – thats 18,624.65 kilometres. Add this total to all of the other testing, including private sessions with a 2009 Toyota F1 car and the Italian tyre company have a grand total of 75,000 kilometres of testing, equivalent to 250 grand prix.
“After 11 days of official tests so far this year, the teams have understood a bit more about the characteristics of our tyres and we have been able to gather an increased amount of data across the board,” explains Paul Hembery, Pirelli’s motorsport director. “We’ve seen quite a few of the teams heading out for long runs here in Barcelona, which has allowed them to assess our tyres over a race distance and formulate a few ideas about strategy.
“Ambient temperatures were once again not what we hoped to see: we started off with six degrees centigrade in the morning here, whereas nearly all of the races we are going to this year start off with temperatures of at least 15 degrees. That has resulted in some characteristics that have not matched up with what we previously found when we tested in Barcelona with much warmer conditions.
“One thing that everybody seems to agree on is that tyres will be central to the action this year, offering new opportunities for overtaking – which I think everybody wants to see. Barcelona is a circuit that puts a lot of stress on the front-left tyre in particular, so I’m very pleased with the integrity of the tyre construction.”
The final pre-season test will be in Barcelona from 8-11 March, after which Pirelli will be making final preparations for the first race of the season, the 2011 Australian Grand Prix. At this race, and the following two events (Malaysia and China), the teams will be provided with the hard compound as the prime tyre, and the soft compound as the option tyre.