Valsecchi: Tires slower, but last longer

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Lotus reserve driver Davide Valsecchi believes that there is a noticeable difference in the new Pirelli tires after testing them at Silverstone this week.

The verdict on the new tires has been largely split so far. Sebastian Vettel claims that he has not noticed much of a change, whilst Pastor Maldonado reckons there is a big difference. For Valsecchi though, his conclusions are only based on half a day of testing during pre-season.

“It wasn’t easy giving comparative feedback as I only ran for half a day in Barcelona using the original specification 2013 tyres,” Valsecchi explained on Lotus’ official website.

However, the Italian driver believes that the tires may be slower but longer-lasting.

“The data suggests that maybe the newer tyres are a little slower, but to be sure of that we would need one of the race drivers with the car in qualifying configuration. We weren’t in qualifying configuration and it was Davide Valsecchi and not Kimi or Romain today! My thoughts are that maybe they’re a little slower, but last a little longer; the engineers will be able to give you a better answer.”

Valsecchi will continue in the test driver role for Lotus for the foreseeable future, completing work on their simulator to aid Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean’s efforts on-track this season.

Hartley to make F1 debut from back of grid after penalty

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Brendon Hartley’s hopes of a points finish on his Formula 1 debut took a hit on Friday after the FIA confirmed the Toro Rosso driver will start the United States Grand Prix from the back of the grid due to an engine penalty.

Porsche factory driver and 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Hartley was drafted in by Toro Rosso as a surprise replacement for Pierre Gasly in Austin, with the Frenchman tied up with Super Formula duties at Suzuka this weekend.

Hartley took to the track in an official grand prix session for the first time on Friday in Austin, marking his first run-out in an F1 car since a test with Mercedes in 20120.

However, FIA technical delegate Jo Bauer confirmed in his pre-race report that changes had been made to the power unit on Hartley’s Toro Rosso car since the last race in Japan, triggering a grid penalty.

Toro Rosso elected to take a new internal combustion engine, MGU-H, energy store and control electronics on Hartley’s Renault power unit, totaling a 25-place grid drop that will be applied after qualifying. Confirmation of the penalty is set to follow later today.

The penalty comes as a setback for Hartley, but was necessary as Toro Rosso found itself short on engine elements to get to the end of the season.

Hartley is not the only driver to have a penalty confirmed, with Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg and McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne also taking new engine elements, also confirmed in Bauer’s report.

A new ICE, turbocharger and MGU-H for Hulkenberg will see him drop 20 places on the grid, while an eighth ICE of the year for Vandoorne will trigger a five-place drop.