Pirelli bringing in special “winter” hard tires for Jerez test

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On the eve of Formula One’s preseason testing, Pirelli has announced that teams will get to use a “winter” version of their hard compound tires for this week’s session at Jerez de la Frontera, Spain.

All of the teams are coming to grips with their new turbocharged V-6 engines and other technical changes, so one assumes they don’t want to lose any bit of track time because of cold weather in Jerez. With that in mind, Pirelli has brought in the one-off “winter” tires that are optimized to perform in low ambient temperatures with a reduced risk of graining.

“Last year, the teams lost some preseason running due to excessively cold conditions in Spain: We even saw some ice on the track at one point,” Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery said in a statement.

“In order to combat this, we have developed a special ‘winter’ version of the hard compound. This will be used for the Jerez test only and it is designed to work effectively even in cold conditions.”

Additionally, Pirelli has announced an arrangement to have the Jerez circuit watered down for Friday, the final day of the four-day test. This is occurring because the new 2014 regulations state that one of the 12 days of preseason testing must be devoted to wet-weather tire testing.

Thus, in addition to all four of Pirelli’s slick tire compounds, their intermediate and full wet compounds are also coming along for the Jerez test.

Pirelli also revealed some notes regarding their new 2014 tires. In addition to new compounds and constructions, each rear tire now weighs 250 grams more and each front tire weighs 200 grams more than the 2013 tires. Also:

  • The front tires have a new profile, while the rear profile remains largely unaltered.
  • The new compounds are generally slightly harder than their 2013 equivalents to optimize grip.
  • The full wet tire has a new rear tread pattern in order to reduce aquaplaning by increasing how much water can be dispersed at full speed. It also has a new compound that is able to work well in damp and/or drying conditions, in order to increase the crossover point to the intermediates.

Marvin Musquin’s Indy win may have come too late

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Marvin Musquin answered one question at Indianapolis last week, but the biggest one may well plague him for the next six weeks.

Musquin has won a battle, but can he win the war?

After standing on the podium in eight of the first 10 races, Musquin finally showed the field he was capable of winning in Indy when he grabbed the holeshot and led every lap on the way to Victory Lane. He was never seriously challenged and it was the Musquin that Supercross fans expected to see all season.

It was a long time coming. Musquin must have felt like victory was just around the corner after finishing second in the overall standings in Anaheim II’s Triple Crown race. He was third in the first Main that night and second in the last two Mains.

As it turned out, that single race defined his season until last week. Musquin stood on the podium all night, but he finished two spots behind Cooper Webb in the first Main and was one spot back in the second. It was only as time ran out that he was able to beat Webb by a single spot in the third Main. If Musquin had won either of the first two Mains, he would have had the overall victory – denying Webb his first career win in the process.

Webb’s Anaheim win revitalized the rider and gave him the confidence to rattle off four more wins in the next seven races.

Meanwhile, Musquin scored podium finishes in the next seven races, making him almost perfect. In another season, a record like that would have been enough to give him a comfortable points lead. In 2019, he sit 14 markers out of first, which is the points’ equivalent of the difference between first and 11th in one race. In other words, Webb cannot lose the points lead at Seattle unless he finishes outside the top 10 while his teammate wins.

Looking at the numbers another way the scenario is not quite as hopeless. Musquin needs to shave only 2.3 points off Webb’s lead each week to win the championship. Three points separate first and second. Five points differentiates first from third, which is where Webb finished in Indianapolis. Webb is vulnerable as his 10th-place finish at Glendale and an eighth at San Diego attest.

Those bobbles came early and Webb seems to have forgotten how to make a mistake.

A third-place is Webb’s worst finish in the last six weeks and since Anaheim II when Musquin started his impressive string of podium finishes, Webb has recorded an average finish of 2.2. That came with a worst finish of eighth on an extremely muddy and heavy track in San Diego. Musquin has a worst finish of only sixth, but his average of 2.8 still lags behind Webb.

Worse still, since Anaheim II Musquin has finished behind Webb in every race except for the outlier of San Diego.

It is no longer a question of keeping pressure on Webb. Musquin cannot expect his teammate to make a mistake; he has to find a way to pass him on the track. If Webb adds only two points to his lead at Seattle, Musquin’s fate would no longer be in his hands. He would need to gain 3.2 points per race. With that scenario, Webb could finish one spot behind Musquin every week and still win the championship.