Bringing the medium and soft combination to India was a bold move by Pirelli, effectively two steps softer than last year's choice. The evidence of Friday suggests that this has been enough to tip the option tyre into marginal territory - but marginal only becomes critical on the car with the most downforce, i.e. the Red Bull.
Both Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber struggled with huge wear of the front-right, with Vettel returning after three laps, Webber after four, each with that tyre in shreds. On the harder tyre, the RB9s were very fast, although even then there was a graining period to get through before the tyre stabilised.
Other teams, running cars with so much less downforce, were managing to make the softs last just fine, with a bit of careful management from the drivers. Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, for example, completed a 14-lap run on the option tyre at the end of which he was lapping very competitively. The graining period lasted for around five laps, during which time he was losing around 1.5s per lap, but thereafter he was consistently very quick.
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