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.”
Benny Bloss will race for the factory Beta Motorcycles team in 2024 as that manufacturer joins SuperMotocross as the ninth brand to compete in the series. Beta Motorcycles will make their debut in the Monster Energy Supercross opener at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California in January.
“The wait is over and we can finally share everything we have been working towards,” said Carlen Gardner, Race Team Manager in a press release. “It has been a great experience being a part of this development and seeing the progression. The only missing part was finding a rider that would mesh well with our Beta Family.
“After a one phone call with Benny, we knew it would be a good fit for him, and for us. We are happy to have him on board for the next two years and can’t wait to see everyone at Anaheim in January.”
Bloss has a pair of top-10 rankings in the division with a sixth-place finish in the Pro Motocross Championship in 2016 and a seventh in 2018. His best Supercross season ended 15th in the standings in 2018.
“I’m extremely excited to join the Beta Factory Racing team,” Bloss said. “It’s cool to see a brand with such a rich history in off-road racing to come into the US Supercross and Motocross space. I know this team will be capable of great things as we build and go racing in 2024.”
Bloss is currently 22nd in the SuperMotocross rankings and has not raced in the first two rounds of the Motocross season.
Testing for Beta Motorcycles is scheduled to begin in August and the team expects to announce a second rider at that time.
The family-owned brand adds to the international flare of the sport. The company was founded in Florence, Italy in 1905 as Società Giuseppe Bianchi as they built handmade bicycles, The transition to motorcycle production in the late 1940s.
Beta Motorcycles competed and won in motocross competition in the late 1970s and early 1980s with Jim Pomeroy and other riders.