The faster times seen during the first week of pre-season testing at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya came as a result of the natural evolution of the cars, according to Pirelli Motorsport’s Mario Isola.
For 2020, Pirelli are using the same compounds as were used in 2019 following a veto by the teams to run updated tyres for the new season. This meant that all ten teams were able to come into the test with prior knowledge of the tyres, enabling them to focus solely on running and learning about their new cars.
Isola, the Head of F1 and Car Racing at Pirelli, said there was an impressive reliability from all teams across the first three days of testing, with day one seeing all ten teams exceed one hundred laps of the Spanish track.
“We had good weather conditions and a low number of red flags, which enabled plenty of running, thanks also to an impressive level of reliability from all the cars,” said Isola. “The fastest times were considerably faster than the equivalent first test last year, which shows the natural evolution of the cars, as the tyres are the same this year.
“This means there is one less unknown quantity for the teams to deal with as they dial themselves into their new cars.”
‘Not that much Running with the Softest Compounds’ due to Track Characteristics
With the Spanish circuit being renowned for its rough surface, Isola says the harder end of Pirelli’s tyre range was always going to be preferred by the teams, with very little running taking place on the softer compounds.
Isola says there is little point in comparing lap times as no-one knows what set-up or fuel level anyone else is running, and with a shortened testing programme in 2020 – there are only six days of testing compared to the usual eight – longer runs were more evident than usual.
“Everything went as expected from our side apart from some abrasion in the cool conditions of the morning, which is normal under those circumstances,” said Isola. “As always, it is hard to read a lot into the comparative lap times: every team is testing with different car specifications, fuel loads, set-ups and tyre compounds.
“The characteristics of Barcelona suit the harder end of the P Zero range, also because of the increased roughness now due to the natural ageing of the relatively new asphalt. As a result, there was not that much running with the softest compounds.
“Because there are fewer test days compared to last year, we’ve also seen longer runs with more intense programmes than previous seasons, which additionally influenced tyre choice.”