By Alex Kapadia
The Formula One teams are getting to grips with Pirelli’s new tyres for the first time this year, as the 2012 season gets underway at Jerez in Spain this week.
During the four-day test at the Andalusian circuit, which runs until Friday, each car will have 25 sets of the Italian tyres manufacturer’s new soft, medium and hard compounds available, along with the wet tyres if needed.
Teams are allowed a maximum of 100 sets of tyres per car each year for testing purposes, and they are permitted to choose the compounds they would like to test within their allowance.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli’s Motorsport Director, said: “After a successful first season in 2011, we are determined to help provide an even better spectacle this year, which is why the entire tyre range has been renewed.
“At this early point, the emphasis for the teams is expected to be on learning the new tyres and it will be interesting to see which approach they take to that process.
“Last year, it didn’t take the teams long at all to understand the characteristics of our tyres, and while we are sure that this will be the case again, there will be less of an element of surprise this year, as to some extent the teams know what to expect from our products.
“This rapid pace of development and reaction is what makes Formula One our ultimate research tool, enhancing Pirelli’s status as the world leader in the Ultra High Performance sector.”
Experimental compounds for the 2012 tyres were tried out during some of the free practice sessions last year, as well as at the young driver test following the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
However, the regular drivers now have the opportunity to test the new compounds together with the new profiles for the tyres, which this year are much ‘squarer’ in order to provide a greater contact patch and deliver a longer period of peak performance, while maintaining an overall lifespan in the region of 100 kilometres.