Last week's test in Barcelona garnered a caution and concern from McLaren's Sergio Perez. The Mexican driver had issues with the "extreme" level of degradation that the new Pirelli tires had during the sessions. Perez suggested that if the tires were going to degrade at this pace, the first race in Australia would be littered with multiple pit stops by all the teams.
Advanced degradation is nothing new for Pirelli as the sport of Formula One mandated that they, as a sole supplier, provide a tire that rapidly degrades to add excitement to the racing. It is antithetical to the very nature of a tire company and Pirelli should be applauded for their efforts.
Each year, however, seems to bring a pattern. The year starts with a new compound, the teams struggle to find the optimum heat window for maximum performance and then the remaining few races see a conservative compound brought to the series to avoid impacting the championship.
For 2013, Pirelli said they were going to bring something new and a big surprise. Is this high degradation rate that Perez speaks of the "surprise"? Pirelli says it isn't':
"The teams experienced quite high degradation in Barcelona, and that was really down to the weather," said Hembery.ADVERTISEMENT
"The conditions we had in Barcelona are far from typical of the rest of the season, with much cooler ambient and track temperatures than we would normally race in, and even some rain on the final day. This put the tyres outside of their usual working ranges, which led to problems such as graining.
"The conditions were particularly unsuited to the supersoft tyre, due to the circuit layout and the roughness of the surface in addition to the cold temperatures. Coupled with the fact that teams are still making big set-up adjustments to their new cars and trying out our complete range of our tyres to optimise the package, we saw levels of degradation that are not typical.
"Once we get to Melbourne the tyres should be much more within their intended working range, which will eliminate the unusual amount of degradation that some teams have experienced."
That certainly seems feasible but I would remind everyone of the cool temperatures in Austin in 2012 and suggest that Pirelli, if they use the same tires they had in testing, will face serious degradation in the penultimate race of the season and that is counter to their past theory of being conservative in the final races as to not taint the world championship.
Time will tell if Pirelli tweak the compounds or if they went a bridge too far but as of now, it's that pesky weather and cool temps.