Pirelli defends hard tyre performance

Pirelli insists that its new hard tyre is far from being the 'disaster' that Lewis Hamilton has suggested - as it believes it will come into its own in Sunday's race

Pirelli defends hard tyre performance

Hamilton joined a number of drivers in complaining that the new harder compound tyre, designed to be more consistent and last longer than its predecessor, offered less grip and was too slow.

Pirelli's director of motorsport Paul Hembery concedes that the tyre does not perform as well as the old one, but reckons that the tyre will show its benefits in Sunday's race by offering teams a strategic option.

"It is slow - it has less grip, I don't deny that," said Hembery, when asked by AUTOSPORT about his response to Hamilton's comments. "But you have to look at the positives.

"We were asked to make a differentiation between the soft and the hard. If you go back to Istanbul where the hard tyre was basically lasting one or two laps longer than the soft and having a performance disadvantage, it didn't come into strategic play.

"What we've now seen, and there are variations between teams - some vast variation between teams - we are seeing between 10 and 14 laps difference between the soft and the hard in terms of estimated life.

"Some teams have a very high estimated lifespan - I don't want to say who they are because that will be very important for their strategy come race day."

Hembery admits that the two-second per laptime difference between the soft and the hard tyre is bigger than he had wanted to see - but still thinks the hard tyre will be of use to the teams.

"In terms of performance, we have seen two seconds, which is more than we saw in testing. But the degradation levels between the hard and the sort are high. The soft is degrading about two tenths per lap, and the hard about one tenth per lap - so there is going to be a cross-over point.

"And it means the hard tyre will actually come into play for once in terms of strategy, which it hasn't done before.

"If you saw what was happening in Istanbul it was a direction that would have been replicated here. We would have had a four stop strategy with everyone going soft and then using the hard right at the end probably, so from that point of view it will come into play in terms of strategy."

Hembery also suggested that if drivers are so unhappy with the tyres they should have complained about the rubber when it was tested in Malaysia and Turkey.

"I can understand that it is different, very different, but why didn't they say those comments when they tested them in Malaysia or in Istanbul? We didn't have those comments - maybe they didn't test them correctly, didn't take it seriously enough.

"I can imagine that it has changed the balance of the car, I can appreciate that, so it is an extra technical challenge and that is something that we will get through in our debrief tonight.

"The only information I can give you at the moment is that there is definitely a significant increase in tyre life and a significant increase in degradation between hard and soft."

When asked if the one-stop was a possibility, Hembery said: "We need to look at the data tonight, but I have to say that somebody might look at that. For Q2 people? It is getting there. It is getting there. It is not so far out.

"I could certainly imagine someone having a go with two, I have heard some say it is going to be four stopper again, that would really surprise me based on the initial data I have seen, as they have to use the hard.

"Degradation is one tenth - I have seen a 20 laps analysis from one team and it was less than one tenth."

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