McLaren-Honda F1 Team driver Fernando Alonso is amongst a number of drivers that have tested out the new specification 2017 tyres in simulators ahead of their introduction next year, however the Spaniard is being cautious on how well he feels they will perform.
Although Alonso confirmed the initial experience was positive, he is reticent to get too over excited about how the new rubber will actually work out on track, with degradation still very much an unknown quantity.
Speaking to motorsport.com recently the Spaniard expressed his opinion on the potential of next year’s regulatory developments.
“Obviously the car is faster.
It has more grip coming from the aerodynamic improvements, coming from the tyres, but everything is a guess at the moment – especially with the tyres. And more so for our team because we didn’t even try the tyres.
“So I think we need to be very calm about the prospects of next year, and try to arrive at the test, and see how the tyres perform – which is probably the biggest question mark.
“[It’s] because this year, in Q2 or Q3, you put the super-soft tyre on, with five kilos of fuel and you go out there and it is a fantastic feeling in the first sector.
“But then on lap two, you are three seconds slower – and that is what we don’t like in a way.
“For next year, it will not matter, or I don’t care, if we are five seconds quicker in the first lap and then three seconds slower in the second lap because we will be doing the lap times we are doing now.
“So I think we need to wait and see what is the final 2017 feeling.”
The double world champion also believes that McLaren will be at a disadvantage from the get-go next season, as they chose not to take part in Pirelli’s 2017 tyre test programme, whilst top teams Scuderia Ferrari, Red Bull Racing and the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team all took up the chance to trial the rubber.
The programme also includes a concluding test after the 2016 season finale in Abu Dhabi, and even though the three teams are running a “mule” car, essentially a 2015 model built to take the wider 2017 rubber, Alonso believes there is still plenty of information to be garnered on the characteristics of the tyres.
“There is always something to learn, there is always the feeling you have with the tyres.
“Even if they are old cars, I am sure the teams are learning how the tyre behaves, how the air flows off the tyres.
“These are things that they don’t say because they are taking an advantage, but they are taking an advantage!”
McLaren Racing Director Eric Boullier confirmed back in August that as the Woking based squad already had an extremely busy work load, with their attentions fixed firmly on sorting out their current below par performance, it would not be worth their time and money to take on the extra distraction of running a test car.