By Alex Kapadia
Pirelli were forced to put paid to rumours and speculation about the mystery unmarked tyres that appeared during tests at the Circuit de Catalunya on Thursday.
All the tyres are normally distinguished by coloured markings to indicate which compound is being used.
Yet, with just two weeks before the start of the season in Australia, it was rumoured that some teams had requested the blank tyres in order to hide their test programmes from their rivals.
However, Paul Hembery, motorsport director for Pirelli, was reported to have told France’s Auto Plus magazine that the blank tyres were in fact “prototypes”.
They had been manufactured not at Pirelli’s usual F1 factory in Turkey, but elsewhere, in the event that a natural disaster forced the tyre supplier to change its plans at the last minute.
Hembery also answered the criticism that, after Pirelli’s initial 2011 tyres spiced up the racing early last year, the new generation might not be aggressive enough.
“We need data from the races to judge that,” he insisted. “It’s far too early.”