Paul Hembery said: “Degradation has not been excessive on the medium compound..."
Shanghai – The drivers got to grips with the 5.451-kilometre Shanghai circuit for the first time during the two free practice sessions today, with Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg going fastest on the P Zero White medium tyre in the morning and the Ferrari of Felipe Massa quickest on the P Zero Yellow soft tyre in the afternoon.
The drivers all used only the medium tyre in in FP1, with Red Bull’s Mark Webber the first to switch to the soft tyres half an hour into FP2. Massa’s fastest time in FP2 was already close to the pole time from last year.
Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery said: “Degradation has not been excessive on the medium compound, which at 0.2 seconds per lap is in line with our expectations.
Rosberg’s fastest time in FP1, for example, was set on an old set of medium tyres that had already covered 10 laps and Massa also completed quite a long run on the soft tyres in FP2. In total, we’d expect the soft tyre to last between 11 to 12 laps in the race and the medium tyre for about 18 laps.
This would suggest a maximum of three pit stops but it’s also possible that we’ll see two stops if the track keeps on evolving at this rate. We experienced some graining on the front left, particularly with the soft tyre, which has resulted in higher levels of degradation than we would like although we are confident that this will come down as the weekend goes on.
The performance gap between the two compounds is around 1.5s, which is a little higher than we initially expected but it’s still early days here.”