Pirelli Motorsport boss Mario Isola says the graining reported by teams over the course of the first week of Formula 1 testing will not be an issue in the season proper.
This week marked the first time the 2019-specification P-Zero tyres were subjected to on-track tests on all 10 of the new-for-2019 cars, two-and-a-half months after the initial post-Abu Dhabi Grand Prix test with the 2018 cars.
Temperatures at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya were kinder and more stable in comparison to the icy track and ambient temperatures that disrupted the first week of 2018 winter testing, making comparisons between the two years difficult.
Reflecting on the week, Isola said that the tyres are performing as expected, with a delta of “0.6 to 0.7 seconds” between each of the compounds.
Pirelli has restructured its tyre line-up for 2019, with the compound marked from the harder C1s to the softer C5s.
“It’s still early days, but so far the tyres seem to be performing largely as we expected, with a performance gap of around 0.6 to 0.7 seconds between each compound”, said Isola.
“In more detail, it’s something around 0.6 seconds between C2 and C3 so far, and roughly the same gap between C3 and C4, which were the most used tyres in this session.
“Due to the cool conditions this week, there was a bit of graining as expected, which should disappear when temperatures become warmer during the actual season.”
Problems with tyre temperatures were still relevant, with Lewis Hamilton admitting that he struggled to maintain core heat in the morning sessions.
Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Räikkönen, Romain Grosjean and Lando Norris were just some of the drivers to suffer low-speed offs early in their runs.
This was apportioned to a regulation drop in rear tyre blankets from 100°C to 80°C at Pirelli’s request, but did not work well with cooler track temperatures.
Prior to 2018, the Barcelona track was resurfaced and made for overheating issues through a lack of grip and a lack of relevant tyre data.
Isola said that the surface has “matured” since then, bringing more grip and surprisingly quick lap times despite early projections suggesting that 2019 F1 cars could be up to 2s a lap slower than their predecessors.
“As far as testing goes, there are many variables that need to be taken into account when it comes to making comparisons with previous years here,” he added.
“There are new 2019 regulations with different aerodynamics and heavier cars, and we’ve also noted that the track surface in Barcelona has matured since last year, becoming more abrasive and offering more mechanical grip.
“Having said that, we’ve seen a very impressive level of reliability and performance from the cars so far, helped by generally favourable weather.
“As usual, the emphasis during the first test tends to be on reliability and validation: next week we should see the teams focus more on performance and explore the full capabilities of the 2019 range.”