Pirelli’s new-for-2018 Formula 1 tyres will not be fully understood until mid-season, according to the Italian company’s racing manager Mario Isola.
The introduction of the new pink-walled hypersoft as the softest tyre has taken Pirelli’s range of slick F1 tyres to seven, while it has also brought in new specifications of the ultrasoft, supersoft, soft and hard compounds.
Asked by Motorsport.com what impact this would have on teams’ understanding of the new tyres in the early races, Isola said: “I am sure there are some details we don't know.
“The compounds are more or less all new, except for the medium – that is the soft coming from last year.
“We tested last year, we had a test in Abu Dhabi, we have a test [in Barcelona], but you cannot say that you know [every] detail of any compound with two tests.
“So, the hypersoft is a compound that we need to understand where we can use it, and all the rest also.
“I think that we start to know, really know the compounds, mid-season, not before. Before mid-season, the learning process is quite a steep curve.”
Teams committed to their early-race allocations some time ago, then found the usability of certain compounds ruined by cold weather during pre-season testing at Barcelona.
Sauber team principal Frederic Vasseur said that would make this weekend’s season-opening Australian Grand Prix, and first few races that follow, “a bit of a blind situation”.
“It’s a tricky situation but it’s tricky for everybody,” he said. “We have a lot of compounds – if we have eight days to test that could make sense, with four days when you have to do race simulations and so on, it’s difficult to understand each compound.
“As we had to do the selection a couple of months ago, now it’s a bit a blind situation for the first races.
“I don’t think it will jeopardise the racing but it’s tricky to manage.”
Haas team boss Gunther Steiner said that even with a perfect run through pre-season testing “I wouldn’t be brave enough to say we would have a perfect understanding of the tyres”.
He added: “They are pretty difficult to understand. As we see all the time, one of the biggest things is to get a car’s tyres into the working range.
“You don’t get a script: I do this, this and this and it works. You have to work every weekend to do that."