Pirelli not planning to change tire design

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Despite being criticized by Red Bull Racing following the opening two races, Pirelli have rejected all ideas of re-designing their 2013 tires.

Both the Australian and Malaysian Grands Prix saw teams having to carefully manage their tires, with most drivers pitting four times during last weekend’s race. Red Bull, who have been struggling to get to grips with the new compounds, called on Pirelli to re-design the tires in order to improve the standard of racing, but the supplier’s F1 chief Paul Hembery has rejected the idea.

“If we did, and we ended up favoring one team, we could have the championship over by Monza,” Hembery told AS Newspaper.

“This is F1. Everyone trying to gain advantage over the others. If you have the whole paddock against you, then you have to take action.”

However, Ferrari and Lotus have been quick to defend Pirelli, comparing the situation to the beginning of the 2012 season which also saw an over-reaction to the standard of tires compared to that of 2011.

Hembery believes that Red Bull are getting good performance out of the tires despite their protests.

“They [Red Bull] have good performance. Perhaps they would like to have more, but I’m sure that’s the same for other teams too.”

The problem for Pirelli may not be the tire wear, but instead their choice of compounds for the race weekends so far. In Malaysia, the wet conditions made meaningful data unobtainable, whilst the use of the super-soft tire in Australia was widely criticized. However, Pirelli will be keen to make the right move as they seek a contract renewal for 2014.

Hartley happy with ‘big progression’ on first day with Toro Rosso

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With 69 laps completed (28 in free practice one and 41 in free practice two) and respectable lap times in both sessions, Brendon Hartley quickly acclimated to a modern day Formula 1 chassis in his first run with Scuderia Toro Rosso in Friday practice for the United States Grand Prix.

The Porsche factory driver has been drafted into the team following a convoluted series of musical chairs that sees Daniil Kvyat back after a two-race absence, Carlos Sainz Jr. now at Renault and Pierre Gasly racing at the Super Formula season finale in Suzuka.

Over the time in the car today, Hartley experienced changeable conditions in FP1 before a more normal FP2, and discovered the new F1 cockpit after a day learning in the garage yesterday.

“A steep learning curve today! It all went pretty smoothly and I kept the car on track without making too many mistakes, so I’m quite happy,” the New Zealander reflected at day’s end.

“I didn’t really know what to expect from today because I just had so much to learn! I think I made quite a big progression throughout the day.

“The biggest difference from what I’m used to is the high-speed grip, it’s incredible here in Formula 1…it was quite an eye-opener! Another challenge are the tires, which are also quite different to what I’m used to. On the other hand, the long-run looks quite positive and I did a good job managing the tires there – the biggest thing I need to work on now is the new tire pace, and I’ll get another crack at it tomorrow morning before qualifying.

“All in all, I’d say it’s all coming together. We’ll now work hard and go through plenty of data tonight and hopefully I’ll make another step forward tomorrow.”

His best lap was 1.1 seconds up on Friday driver Sean Gelael, the Indonesian Formula 2 driver, in FP1 (1:39.267 to 1:40.406, good enough for 14th) and 1.1 seconds off the returning Kvyat in FP2 (1:37.987 to 1:36.761, good enough for 17th). Interestingly, the Gelael/Hartley combination in FP1 marked the second time in three races that Toro Rosso had a pair of drivers in its cars without a single Grand Prix start between them – Gasly’s debut at Malaysia was the other, when he and Gelael were in in FP1.

Coming into Friday’s running, Hartley said he was more ready for this opportunity now than he had been as a teenager. He admitted he’d called Red Bull’s Helmut Marko in the wake of Porsche’s LMP1 withdrawal news earlier this year to say he was game for any chance that might come.

“I’m a lot stronger than I was back then, basically. I wasn’t ready at 18 years old. I like to think I’m ready now,” he said.

“I haven’t driven a single-seater since 2012, but I like to think that Porsche LMP1 has hopefully prepared me well.”

As for the rest of his weekend, it’s been made more complicated by Hartley being assessed a 25-spot grid penalty, even though Hartley had done nothing to accrue the penalties.

The roundabout sequence of driver changes at Toro Rosso saw Gasly replace Kvyat, Kvyat replace Sainz, and now Hartley replace Gasly, as is outlined by NBCSN pit reporter Will Buxton below.