Formula 1 drivers will experience a gradual loss of performance – rather than drop off a laptime 'cliff' – when their tyres wear too much this year, reckon Pirelli based on the experience from the first test.
The Italian tyre manufacturer has tweaked its tyre design this year to add a harder compound - which will be slower - underneath the main tread for when it gets worn away.
The hope is that this will discourage drivers from extending their stints too far and bring back some of the race unpredictability that delivered excitement in Pirelli's first years back in the sport.
But while there was talk last season that Pirelli wanted the return of a 'cliff', its F1 racing manager Mario Isola says that the situation will actually be much more favourable for the drivers.
"There is a loss of grip that is not a cliff, but quite gradual," he explained. "It is much better, not to have a sudden loss of grip.
"We will investigate better this aspect with some analysis during the next days, but at the moment the signal seems to be good."
When asked how much time loss there would be each lap when drivers hit this phase of the tyre's life, Isola said: "This is the information we need to look better.
"When they are testing they have different fuel loads, different set-ups, so we need to pay attention when we construct a number that is a correct one.
"But if you look at a run you don't see a linear degradation and then a cliff, you have a curve that is much more small."
As well as examining the new tyre concept this season, Pirelli also got valuable data at Barcelona this week about the new ultrasoft tyres – which a number of drivers tried out.
Although Barcelona is not the best circuit for the aggressive rubber, Isola said early impressions were encouraging.
"Here it seems it is working. The feedback is good," he said. "This is not the best track to test the ultra soft, but at least we have an indication.
"Don't forget that next week teams have to make their selection for Montreal, and we will be there with the ultra soft, and this is the first selection that involves the ultra soft."
0.8 seconds faster
Isola reckoned that the performance step of the ultrasoft over the supersoft was around 0.8 seconds, which was in line with what Pirelli had hoped for.
"If you look at the Ferrari result, it was 0.8 seconds per lap – but I think it is a bit over-estimated. In Abu Dhabi we found a bit less – 0.5-0.8 seconds. That is the target we had in mind.
"This year with three compounds it is good if you have a delta lap time between compounds that is between 0.5 – 1 secs. Hopefully we are in this target."