Pirelli are confident in their new tyres for the 2017 season, despite not being able to test their new rubber in hot weather conditions.
“We’re pretty confident that we’ve made a good step and we believe it’s going to be a very interesting year for the history of Formula One,” Pirelli’s Motorsport Director Paul Hembery told Formula Spy at the Autosport Show.
Hot weather testing in Bahrain was considered an appropriate trial for the new rubber, but teams wanted to keep the entirety of pre-season testing in Barcelona to cut costs; which Hembery still believes is not the correct decision.
“I understand the reason why the majority of teams didn’t want to go [to Bahrain]. Purely from a tyre point of view it would have been far better.”
Formula One is currently pursuing lap times five seconds quicker than they currently are, and Pirelli have been asked to provide a tyre twenty-five per cent wider, to increase mechanical grip, and that allows drivers to push harder for longer.
“It’s such a big change. Downforce increasing by thirty per cent, tyre widths changing and we’re unable to have a truly representative car. There is a huge challenge involved in that.
“Having said that the data we’ve been provided by the teams has enabled us to do substantial simulation work. We’ve been able to simulate the loads that are going through the tyre, to do our own indoor bench testing, looking at the integrity, structure and performance of the tyres. Then running with the three ‘mock-up’ 2017 cars has allowed us to do some screening on technology.
“Of course we’re still five seconds a lap slower than what we envisage seeing during the season, I’m not going to say Barcelona because I’m not really sure yet what sandbagging will go on there.
“There’s maybe a little question mark on the compounds, will they work as we believe they will, have we maybe been a little too conservative, and will the cars physically match the data we’ve been given up to now? That’s all to uncover in the next few weeks.”
As testing of the tyres took place before any 2017 designs were finalised, Pirelli lacks any data with bulletproof accuracy.
“The reality is we need to have the actual data coming from the cars in Melbourne. The Friday session in Melbourne will be very important to us. Melbourne is a bit of an anomaly; a half-street circuit, it’s when you get to China or Bahrain in particular when we’ll get a much clearer indication.”
The first chance Pirelli will get to properly test their new tyres will be the first pre-season test at Barcelona, currently scheduled for February 27.