Formula 1 teams have initially reacted to the new 2019 tyre compounds with “positive” feedback according to Pirelli Motorsport boss Mario Isola.
A two day post-season test at the Yas Marina Circuit, conducted on Tuesday and Wednesday, gave the teams and drivers their first chance to test the slick compounds for the 2019 Formula 1 season.
Charles Leclerc set the fastest time over the course of the two days, on his first outing as a full-time Scuderia Ferrari driver, recording a 1 minute 36.450 on the new hyper-softs, known as compound 5. The Monégasque’s time stood 1.6 seconds adrift of Lewis Hamilton‘s track record set in qualifying last weekend.
Leclerc’s team-mate Sebastian Vettel topped Tuesday’s timing screens, four-tenths behind on the ’18 hyper-softs.
Due to numerous circumstances regarding differing programmes and decreased engine performance, Isola ceded that forming immediate conclusions is not easy. Pirelli are required to announce the three slick compounds they will bring to March’s Australian Grand Prix in less than a week’s time.
“The teams were able to get a useful initial read on the 2019 tyres during the two days of testing, with the entire range available, as well as all the 2018 tyres for comparison,” Isola said.
“All the teams were able to define their own run plans and mostly choose whichever tyres they wanted to test, so it’s not been easy to draw any immediate conclusions on track.
“We collected a lot of data, which we are just starting to go through now, and we will need to analyse this quickly because the compounds for Australia have to be decided in a week.
“At this time, we also aim to decide the compounds for the first five races of 2019.”
In a bid to improve tyre performance, Pirelli have aimed to keep the pace of the hyper-softs intact while reducing the amount of graining seen. Last month’s Mexican Grand Prix was a prime example of the problems the Italian brand face. Isola believes that Pirelli have managed to achieve their targets, but says that the Abu Dhabi layout does not cause heavy lateral stress on the tyres and that their first true indication is yet to come.
“Initial feedback from the 2019 range is positive,” Isola added.
“In particular, the first important information we had from day one of the test was that the new compound 5 is working as expected: similar to the 2018 hyper-soft but with reduced graining from what we can see so far.
“However, Abu Dhabi is not a circuit that features particularly high speed corners, so this is an important factor also to consider.”
Isola expressed his wishes to make the compounds on show at the test “the definitive 2019 tyres”, with the deadline for any adjustments falling tomorrow.
“So far, we’re happy with what we’ve seen, and our intention is for these to be the definitive 2019 tyres.
“In theory we can still make some adjustments before the final homologation deadline on 1 December, but we hope not to do that. In the meantime, we’ll be studying the data carefully.”