Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery believes that the new construction of tires being used in Formula 1 this year could aid teams in breaking some of the existing lap records.
The Italian manufacturer embarks its fifth season supplying all ten F1 teams with their tires, and has refined its compounds for 2015 in a bid to help the cars go faster and produce better racing.
The majority of existing lap records set in F1 came during the 2004 season when the regulations favored all-out speed using V10 engines.
Since then, a gradual increase in lap times has occurred, leading many to question the direction that the sport has been taking. The V6 turbo engines in 2014 faced a backlash from much of the sport’s establishment, but it now appears that a reversal of fortunes is taking place.
In data published by Pirelli today, cars in this year’s Australian Grand Prix were an average of two seconds per lap quicker than they were in 2014, with part of the pace improvement being thanks to Pirelli’s change in rear tire construction.
“These figures underline what we expected to see following pre-season testing: a significant reduction in lap times, with cars that will only get faster as the year goes on,” Hembery said.
“We could even see some new lap records on certain circuits. With this in mind, we have introduced evolutions to the rear structure of all our 2015 tires this year, in order to give them greater capability in handling the extreme demands placed on them.”
One criticism that does remain concerns the conservative nature of Pirelli’s tires. The season-opening Australian Grand Prix was far from being the most exhilarating race in recent years as a one-stop strategy was utilized by much of the field, given that the compounds were long-lasting at the Albert Park circuit.
In spite of the improvement in lap times, Lewis Hamilton’s fastest from the race on Sunday in Australia (1:29.557) was still a full 5.4 seconds down on Michael Schumacher’s lap record at the circuit, which was set in the 2004 race.