Conditions for the Formula One pre-season tyre tests are hotting up, literally. The second four-day official test of the year is taking place in Bahrain this week and the warm ambient conditions of around 20C and above are expected to provide a marked contrast to the first test of the year in Jerez, marked with low temperatures and rain.
All the teams are expected to be present at the Bahrain tyres test, which will also be the venue for the third and final pre-season test later this month. They will continue to optimise the interaction between their radical new cars – with 1.6-litre turbocharged engines and advanced energy recuperation systems – and the latest generation of Pirelli tyres, which feature new compounds and constructions this year.
The track contains a wide variety of speeds and corners with high longitudinal demands that address most aspects of a tyres behaviour, making it an ideal test venue.
Paul Hembery, motorsport director for Pirelli tyres, explained: “The first test of the year in Jerez was all about the teams getting their first taste of a very different set of technical regulations, so as expected running was limited and evaluating tyres was not a priority. On top of that, winter conditions in Europe – even in southern Spain – are not representative of the race conditions we will generally encounter throughout the rest of the season.
“In Bahrain, we’re expecting better weather and more running, which will allow ourselves and the teams to assimilate more data and knowledge of the tyres.”
The teams are allowed to test an overall maximum of 135 sets of Pirelli tyres this year, including the in-season tests, with the maximum total for the three pre-season tests fixed at 85 sets of tyres: 25 sets for Jerez and 30 each for the two Bahrain tests.
The teams will be able to test three slick compounds in Bahrain: hard, medium and soft. They will also be able to test the ‘winter’ hard compound, which Pirelli tyres has created to ensure a rapid warm-up even at low temperatures. Although this tyre was designed for Jerez, the teams requested the chance to also put it through its paces in Bahrain so they can assess how it performs in higher ambient temperatures. The ‘winter” version is recognisable by the fact that it has no markings, whereas the ‘standard’ 2014 hard compound carries orange markings.
Pirelli is also bringing an extra set of medium tyres per team to Bahrain, with 2014 construction and compound, although these are actually considered to be ‘prototypes’ as their purpose is to test tyre behaviour without warming blankets, which will be banned from 2015 onwards.
Of the 30 sets at each team’s disposal, 22 sets of the four slick tyres (hard, ‘winter’ hard, medium, and soft) are selected by Pirelli in accordance with the teams. The remaining eight sets are chosen by the teams in advance, to suit their individual run plans.
Denna Bowman, Head Office