Pirelli unsurprised by high tire wear in Malaysia

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Pirelli’s F1 chief Paul Hembery has revealed that the high tire wear in Malaysia is what he was expecting, despite many teams querying the newly designed compounds.

In 2013, the tires have been designed to wear more aggressively, and this caught many of the teams out in Australia as they struggled towards the end of the race. Following practice, Sebastian Vettel questioned whether he would have enough sets of tires to complete the race on Sunday, but Hembery has dismissed this comment.

“Degradation stayed within our anticipated parameters. As we expected, we saw quite a high wear rate today, due to the more extreme nature of our 2013 tires – which put the accent firmly on performance – as well as the high temperatures and abrasive track surface.”

Hembery also acknowledged the differing wear rates between teams. This was particularly clear in Melbourne as Kimi Raikkonen managed to stop just twice, making his tires go the distance to finish ahead of his three-stopping rivals.

“We have also seen differences in the way that individual teams use the compounds, with the hard compound lasting 15 laps for some teams and 21 laps or more for others. We’ll be looking at all the data tonight to establish a more precise picture for qualifying and the race.”

The management of the Pirelli tires is quickly becoming pivotal in the battle for the early-season advantage, and questions still surround Raikkonen’s victory in Australia: was it due to raw pace or good tire management? Either way, if he can repeat the result in Malaysia, he will be in good shape to challenge for the championship. Should the forecast rain arrive in Malaysia though, the teams will have to wait until the Chinese Grand Prix in three weeks’ time before they truly understand the dry Pirelli compounds.

Hamilton: Abu Dhabi ‘the last race with good-looking cars’ in F1

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Lewis Hamilton believes that this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be remembered as the last race with good-looking Formula 1 cars ahead of the introduction of the ‘Halo’ cockpit protection for next year.

Officials from the FIA and F1 Strategy Group confirmed earlier this year that the Halo would be fitted to all cars from the 2018 season in a bid to improve safety standards, with the deaths of Justin Wilson and Jules Bianchi putting head protection high on the agenda for the series’ chiefs.

Hamilton has long made his opposition to the Halo clear, believing it will ruin the look of F1 cars, and echoed his thoughts ahead of the final Halo-less race in Abu Dhabi this weekend.

“It’s the last year of looking good I think in the cars. It’s the last race where the cars will look good,” Hamilton said.

“I think next year, it’s all downhill from there in terms of how they look.

“But safety will go up at least, and maybe it could be successful in some way.”

Hamilton’s F1 title rival Sebastian Vettel was less bothered about the change, believing the field will adjust and move on.

“The cars will look different next year. Everything I’ve seen so far looks different, but on the other hand it is something we all get used to,” Vettel said.

“But no doubt the cars look better now, but we’ll get used to it, and we’ll work on the aesthetics so it can be better. It is less of a big deal.”

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo shared Vettel’s view, saying: “I don’t think it’s gonna be as dramatic as most people make it out to be.”