Formula 1's wild fluctuations in form this season could be the result of Pirelli's tires being so sensitive to track temperatures, reckons Ferrari technical director Pat Fry.
Ahead of a Monaco Grand Prix that could deliver a sixth different winner in the first six races of the campaign for the first time in history, teams have been left in no doubt that extracting performance from the tires in 2012 is the key to success. Fry suggests the situation is complicated for teams because the performance of the Pirelli tires appears to be so linked to weather conditions.
"It is certainly unpredictable," Fry said of the tire situation. "It varies, and small changes in track temperature have a large effect on tire performance. I think it was China where that showed up the most."
Fry thinks that the nature of the tires, with their high degradation, is putting a premium on drivers looking after their rubber in the races.
"They are also quite sensitive to the way the drivers drive them," he said. "In a normal three-stop race, if you are very, very careful on the rear tires then you might be able to get them to last for a two-stop race. But you cannot drive hard on the tires otherwise they degrade. It is also a little bit that when you try and push the tires, you tend to damage them a little bit. When you fight in traffic, you take more out of the tires than if you are running in clear air."