No cause for concern over 2013 tires, say Pirelli

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Pirelli do not believe the high levels of tire degradation seen in testing will be repeated in the races.

F1’s official tire supplier has produced a softer range of compounds for the 2013 season. During testing some drivers have reported only being able to turn one quick lap before the rubber starts to degrade.

But Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery said this was a common problem in testing due to track temperatures being lower than they are during race weekends:

“The last test at Barcelona was affected by bad weather, which meant that we experienced more degradation than usual due to the tires not being able to operate within their intended working range.

“Hopefully this time we will find conditions that are slightly more representative, which will allow the teams to collect more relevant data.”

The final four-day test begins at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain, tomorrow. Teams will have access to Pirelli’s full range of tires including the four dry weather compounds: hard, medium, soft and super-soft.

The medium, soft and super-soft tires retain the same colorings as last year: white, yellow and red respectively. The new hard tire has orange markings.

As well as producing softer tires  Pirelli are choosing softer tires from their range for some of the races. For the season-opener at Melbourne drivers will have the medium and super-soft tires  That’s a stage softer than Pirelli supplied for the same race on its return to F1 two years ago, when the hard and soft tires were used.

Pirelli expect most races will feature two or three pit stops per driver in 2013.

Keith Collantine is the editor of Formula One blog F1 Fanatic. Follow F1 Fanatic on Twitter.

Neuville wins Rally Australia; Ogier takes FIA WRC title

Sebastien Ogier. Photo: Getty Images
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COFFS HARBOUR, Australia (AP) Belgium’s Thierry Neuville won Rally Australia by 22.5 seconds on Sunday as torrential rain added drama to the last day of the last race of the World Rally Championship season.

Neuville entered the final day with an almost 20 second advantage after inheriting the rally lead Saturday when his Hyundai teammate, defending champion Andreas Mikkelsen crashed and was forced to retire for the day.

His lead was halved by Jari-Matti Latvala early Sunday as monsoon-like rain made conditions treacherous on muddy forest stages on the New South Wales coast. The rain stopped on the short Wedding Bells stage where Neuville was almost 5 seconds quicker than his rivals, stretching his lead to 14.7 seconds entering the last stage.

COFFS HARBOUR, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 17: Thierry Neuville of Belgium and Nicolas Gilsoul of Belgium compete in their Hyundai Motorsport WRT Hyundai i20 coupe WRC during Day One of the WRC Australia on November 17, 2017 in COFFS HARBOUR, Australia. (Photo by Massimo Bettiol/Getty Images)

That stage was full of incident. The driver’s door on Neuville’s Hyundai i20 coupe swung open in the middle of the stage and Neuville had to slam it closed as he approached a corner.

Latvala’s Toyota then crashed seconds from the end of the stage, allowing Estonia’s Ott Tanak, in a Ford, to take second place overall and New Zealalnd’s Haydon Paddon, in a Hyundai, to sneak into third.

Sebastian Ogier was fourth after winning the final, power stage but the Frenchman had already clinched his fifth world title before Rally Australia began. Neuville’s win was his fourth of the season, two more than Ogier, and was enough to give him second place in world drivers’ standings for the third time in five years.

Ogier owed his drivers’ title to his consistency: he retired only once and finished no worse than fifth all season.

Neuville admitted the last day was touch and go as the rain made some stages perilous, forcing the cancellation of the second to last stage.

“That was a hell of a ride,” Neuville said. “Really, really tricky conditions.

“I kept the car on the road but it was close sometimes. I knew I could make a difference but I had to be clever. You lose grip, you lose control and the car doesn’t respond to your input.”