Pirelli reveals tire allocations for first four races

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Pirelli has confirmed the tires that will be on offer for teams in the first four grands prix of the 2014 F1 season.

The Italian tire manufacturer endured a difficult 2013 season after it was firstly lynched for producing a tire that degraded too quickly, but the problem then escalated into a safety concern after a series of tire failures at the British Grand Prix. Nevertheless, Pirelli has remained in the sport, and has unsurprisingly elected for a more conservative allocation for the first four races.

Tire allocation for the first four grands prix

AustraliaSoft (option); Medium (prime).
Malaysia: Medium (option); Hard (prime).
Bahrain: Soft (option); Medium (prime).
China: Soft (option); Medium (prime).

“The information gained over all three pre-season tests has helped us to come up with the tire choices for the start of the season, having run with the new 2014 tires in all conditions now, ranging from rain in Jerez to ambient temperatures exceeding 25 degrees centigrade in Bahrain,” Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery explained. “The conclusion we can draw so far is that the 2014 tres are more consistent and wear less than their predecessors, without compromising performance.”

For Hembery, altering the tire allocations from 2013 for the Australian and Bahrain Grands Prix should alleviate some of the problems that we saw last year, with the race in Melbourne being particularly problematic in terms of tire management.

“The medium and soft compounds are well matched to the expected race conditions in Australia, Bahrain and China, providing what we expect to be the right balance between performance and strategy with two to three pit stops per car. The more abrasive and hotter conditions of Malaysia have led us to nominate the hard and medium compounds there, as we did last year.”

As per 2013, Pirelli has the choice of super-soft, soft, medium and hard dry tire compounds to give to teams in 2014, whilst the intermediate and wet compounds will be used for rain-affected races.

Mercedes power: Hamilton, Bottas fastest during 1st French GP practice

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LE CASTELLET, France (AP) — Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas posted the top two times during the opening practice for Formula One’s French Grand Prix on Friday.

Defending champion Hamilton clocked the best lap time at 0.140 seconds faster than Bottas.

Red Bulls’ Daniel Ricciardo had the third best effort, followed by Ferrari pair Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel.

Vettel leads Hamilton by one point atop the standings after seven of 21 races.

The session had one red flag near the end when Marcus Ericsson spun out of control and slammed into the barrier on Turn 11. The right rear of his Sauber burst into flame before the Swede got out. Sauber said he was unharmed.

Hamilton also had a scare when forced to swerve off course to avoid ramming a slow-going Stoffel Vandoorne and slalomed around two rows of bollards before returning to the flow. Hamilton said on his team radio the McLaren driver was going “dangerously slow” when he came upon him.

Later, Hamilton complained his Mercedes was having trouble turning. After coming back out, the four-time world champion quickly went to the top of the timesheet.

This was the first chance drivers had to run on the 5.8-kilometer (3.6-mile) Paul Ricard Circuit, as F1 makes its return to France for the first time in a decade.

The track resting in wooded hills just inland from the Cote d’Azur was basked in the Mediterranean sun and subject to moments of gusting winds.

Raikkonen, Brendon Hartley (Toro Rosso), Esteban Ocon (Force India) and Vandoorne all spun their cars onto the blue-striped run-off areas at Turn Six because of a tricky tailwind but managed to stop before hitting the barrier.

Charles Leclerc (Sauber) twice spun to a brief stop, while Max Verstappen drove wide on consecutive corners and had a near-miss with Sergio Perez of Force India.

Vettel took the lead in the standings two weeks ago in Montreal where he won the Canadian GP after starting from pole position. That victory erased a 14-point lead held by Hamilton after he could manage only a fifth-place finish.

There will be two more practices on Friday and on Saturday before qualifying for Sunday’s race.

The last time a F1 race was held here at Le Castellet was in 1990 when Alain Prost won for Ferrari.