Performance gap of 1.0-1.2s between Hard and Medium tyres so far
This year’s Formula One tyres faced extreme conditions during today’s two free practice sessions for the Malaysian Grand Prix: track temperatures that peaked at 49 degrees centigrade and very abrasive asphalt. Tyre wear and thermal degradation were in line with expectations and the top seven in FP2 were covered by four-tenths of a second, setting the scene for a closely fought race.
The P Zero Orange hard tyre, completely revised from last year’s version, took to the track for the first time this year. The performance gap between the hard and the medium tyre, also nominated for Sepang, was between 1.0 and 1.2s today, opening up several strategy options.
Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery said: “As was the case in Australia we’ve seen fewer marbles out on track, but what was surprising was the amount of pick-up that we found on the circuit during FP1, with plenty of non-F1 rubber already laid down on the track. The surface cleaned considerably for FP2, which allowed us to have a more representative read of the track conditions. We’ve seen a performance gap of between 1.0 and 1.2 seconds between the hard and medium compounds, which should remain consistent if temperatures stay high. If temperatures drop slightly, we would expect the medium tyre to come more into its own. But we’re still at an early point in the cycle of car development, so for everyone it’s going to be a question of very carefully analysing the data that was obtained today when it comes to formulating a strategy. It can rain at any point in Malaysia, and that’s another factor to consider in preparing for the race.”