Formula One looks set for a repeat of last year’s start to the season as teams struggle to get to grips with the latest generation of F1 tires.
Pirelli, the official F1 tire supplier, has produced a softer range of compounds this year in a bid to increase the teams’ strategic options during the races.
After 12 days of testing, much of which was conducted in conditions that are far cooler than is typically seen in races, teams are still scratching their heads over the tires.
“All the teams, ourselves included, will still have a lot to learn about the tires in Melbourne,” said Ferrari technical director Pay Fry. “The performance and the degradation of the tires will be the determining factor in establishing how competitive everyone is.”
Toro Rosso’s head of vehicle performance Laurent Mekies added: “Getting a full understanding of how the new rubber works is something that will take longer than we had expected.”
Last year seven different drivers won the first seven races as teams found tire performance hard to predict. While drivers doubt a repeat of that situation is on the cards, the tires are expected to add some unpredictability to what looks like a very closely-matched field.
Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery said they expect to hit their target for increasing the number of pit stops at each race:
“As this was the final test session, it was useful for the teams to have the opportunity to run through every tire in the range as they complete their preparations.
“Now we’re looking forward to getting to Australia, where our tires will be able to function properly within their working range, and we hope to see an exciting race with between two and three pit stops per car.”