Mixed reactions to new Pirelli tyres but mood is positive after Silverstone test

Pirelli tyre technician at wrk during Silverstone test

Red Bull mechanic at work with Pirelli tyres during Silverstone test

After three days of Pirelli tyre evaluations, interspersed with the Formula 1 Young Drivers Test at Silverstone, the consensus from the regular drivers was that the new tyres are more consistent, but to what extent remains debatable and will only be trully revealed at the Hungarian GP weekend.

On the final day, after setting the fastest time of the three day test in his Red Bull RB9, Sebastian Vettel was lukewarm in his assessment of the new offerings from the Italian tyre manufacturer.

“Not that much of a difference,” declared the triple world champion. “We had three days, different drivers in all the different cars and no failures – that’s good – in conditions that were probably worse than at the grand prix, probably even hotter. But no big surprise. Obviously we weren’t allowed to rebalance the car and try different things.”

Felipe Massa was another of the more experienced campaigners to test on the final day. He was a victim of a blowout on his Ferrari during the British Grand Prix weekend earlier in the month.

“It seems to me these tyres work better, at least compared to what we saw in the race here. Over the three days, no one had any problems and from the safety aspect, this is the most important thing,” said the Brazilian.

Felipe Massa testing for Ferrari on the final day at Silverstone

Felipe Massa testing for Ferrari on the final day at Silverstone

“The prototype Hard [compound] seemed maybe too hard to race on. I think that in the coming grands prix we could head towards a choice of the softer compounds, because they can work at lower temperatures and last longer,” explained Massa. “Let’s see what happens in Hungary, where we can expect hotter conditions.”

Also in action on the third day was Adrian Sutil in the Force India, he ended the final day second quickest and summed up his findings, “It was interesting to see how the new tyres react. They are a bit easier to handle so the drop-off won’t be as dramatic as we saw in a few races. Silverstone is a good circuit for testing because it’s tough on the tyres and we’ve been able to get all the information we needed this week.”

Jean-Eric Vergne shared the Toro Rosso cockpit with Russian teenager Daniil Kvyat on the final day and his evaluation was positive, “The new Pirelli tyres, … behaved well over the three days, as indeed we had expected, with none of the problems myself and others experienced at this track, during the British Grand Prix. That is a positive thing for the rest of the season.”

Nicolas Prost on duty for Lotus at Silverstone

Nicolas Prost on duty for Lotus at Silverstone

On day two Nico Hulkenberg was on duty for Sauber after which he told media, “The work on the Pirelli tyres was quite successful. I have a good feeling on them. I now I look forward to going to Budapest to see how competitive we are.”

Pastor Maldonado got to grips with the new Pirelli tyres and concluded, “We completed all of the planned programme for Pirelli. The tyres feel quite different but we need to see how we compare against other cars on the track with the same compounds. We didn’t get performance from the car with them so we need more time in Hungary as we couldn’t make any set-up changes.”

Both Caterham drivers, Charles Pic and Giedo van der garde, were on duty on the final day.

Van der Garde ended the day 10 fastest and reported, “The main thing for me was finding out how much more consistent the tyre drop off was on the new sets Pirelli brought to Silverstone. I think that will help everyone a bit as it should mean we can push harder in the races, but until we get to run them in a full race weekend it’s still too early to tell completely how they’re going to behave.”

Pic echoed his teammate, “I was quite pleased with how consistent the [tyre] sets we used today (Friday) have been, the degradation levels are certainly lower than the tyres we’ve used so far this year and that should help us.”

Adrian Sutil was second quckest on the final day in the Force India

Adrian Sutil was second quckest on the final day in the Force India

Pirelli motorsport boss Paul Hembery was positive in his assessment of the three days of testing. He said, “We think that everybody achieved their objectives from these three days of running at Silverstone. From our point of view, we made the most of this opportunity to gather data that will help us best meet the needs of the Formula 1 teams in the future.”

“The tyres all ran reliably throughout the three days of the test, although of course you cannot compare the times to those seen in the British Grand Prix because the track conditions and other car parameters were different. The established performance of the 2012 structure, consolidated with the speed of the current compounds, is set to provide an interesting mix of strategies for the races ahead.”

“The teams already have a lot of information about the shape and deformation of this tyre from the previous season, and the three days at Silverstone was useful to assess the effect that this will have on the 2013 cars, with positive results.”

Hembery added, “While modern-day simulation is extremely advanced, there are some things that you can still only find out from running on a track with a representative car, so we would like to thanks all the teams and the governing body for their cooperation in helping us to achieve this.”

Sebastian Vettel was fastest of all during the course of three days testing at Silverstone

Sebastian Vettel was fastest of all during the course of three days testing at Silverstone

Silverstone Testing Facts:

  • The teams are usually allocated 100 sets of tyres per year for testing purposes (although an additional 12 sets were granted for Silverstone) with all the compounds in the range available to test. It is up to the teams to choose the number of sets and compounds they would like to evaluate per test.
  • In addition to this, a new prototype hard compound was available for testing in Silverstone, for use by the current race drivers only. This harder version of the hard compound was tried out during free practice for the Spanish and British Grands Prix.

Testing numbers:

Total number of sets brought to Silverstone: 344 sets which equals 1,376 tyres
- of which soft tyres: 29 sets
- of which medium tyres: 105 sets
- of which hard tyres: 139 sets
- of which proto hard tyres: 25 sets
- of which intermediate tyres: 30 sets
- of which wet tyres: 16 sets

Total amount of sets used: 224
- of which soft tyres: 18 sets
- of which medium tyres: 84 sets
- of which hard tyres: 107 sets
- of which prototype hard tyres: 15 sets
- of which intermediate tyres: 0 sets
- of which wet tyres: 0 sets

Longest run: 17 laps on the hard compound
18 laps of the prototype hard compound
16 laps on the medium compound

11 laps on the soft compound
Lowest / highest ambient temperature over three days: 19 °C (Day 2) / 28 °C (Day 1)
Lowest / highest track temperature over three days: 27 °C (Day 2/3) / 45 °C (Day 1/3)

Silverstone Testing Times Summary:

Day 1
1. Kevin Magnussen (McLaren) 1m33.602s Medium New
2. Paul Di Resta (Force India) 1m33.774s Prototype Hard New
3. Antonio Felix Da Costa (Red Bull) 1m33.821s Hard New

Day 2
1. Daniel Ricciardo (Toro Rosso) 1m32.972s Medium Used
2. Carlos Sainz Jr. (Toro Rosso) 1m33.016s Soft New
3. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) 1m33.187s Hard New

Day 3
1. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) 1m32.894s Medium New
2. Adrian Sutil (Force India) 1m33.242s Medium New
3. Nicolas Prost (Lotus) 1m33.256s Medium New

(GP247)