There was a lot of speculation about the degradation of the Pirelli tyres before the start of the Formula One season yesterday.
Which is why nobody could believe it when Sauber driver Sergio Pérez raced the entire Australian Grand Prix with just one change of tyres!
The rookie racer had just one pit stop and tyre change over the 58 laps, while the rest of the drivers came in two, three and even four times, leading Perez to finish in seventh.
Paul Hembery, director of motorsport for Pirelli, said: “We were looking and we all thought, ‘He must come in. He’s got to come in. What’s he doing?’
“We thought the data men must be wrong and he must have had a stop and no one saw it. We checked. We asked, are you sure? And we were told, ‘Yes, he’s done just one stop’. It was quite a surprise and very exciting.
“His driving style was also a factor and also the vehicle. It was an exceptional drive. I would be surprised if it happened often again. And if it does we would have to look at what we’re doing. What do we need to do – put qualifying tyres out for races?”
However, his efforts could have been for nothing, because Perez and his team-mate, Kamui Kobayashi, were disqualified over a technical infringement – although Sauber have said they will appeal.
Alex Kapadia, Operations Team