Lewis Hamilton has labeled Pirelli's new hard tires as "a disaster" following Friday practice for the Spanish Grand Prix.
Pirelli's new, harder compound is making its racing debut this weekend after having been trialed during the Turkish Grand Prix weekend. The Italian manufacturer is hoping the harder tire will allow teams to choose from a wider variety of strategies, as the gap between that and the soft rubber is now bigger.
McLaren driver Hamilton, however, slated the tires on Friday and is expecting most drivers to use the soft one a lot more. "The super-hard tire is a disaster, so that wasn't nice to drive," said Hamilton after practice.
When asked what he meant by a disaster, he added: "A disaster, to drive. A two-second difference, and they don't last that long. I don't know why they brought that tire, because I thought the other one was pretty good. It looks pretty difficult to switch it on and then to last.
"I think we are about two and a half seconds off the pace with that tire. Then we switch to the normal soft and it's fantastic. I think you will see most people with that tire during the weekend."
Teammate Jenson Button agreed, saying the performance of the tires came as a shock to him.
"It's hard, seriously hard," he said. "It was the first time I've run it I think, at the other races we didn't run it because we tried to put mileage on the actual hard tire we had. So it was a bit of a shock.
"I don't know if other people are struggling on it or not. We've all got to work with the same tire so we've got to make the best out of it. At the moment we're struggling on it, so you've got to do your best. I don't think you'd want to run more than one stint on it."
Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso said he did not expect anyone to be able to use only the harder tires now in the first qualifying segment tomorrow, as he reckons the gap is just too big.
"Hopefully someone tries," he said. "I think it's a bit different. There was already a big difference in the first four races, and for whatever reason they decided to change the hard tire and bring a slower tire.
"And now it's difficult to think about going in Q1 with the hard tire, so I think 95 percent of the people will try to use one soft, unfortunately, in Q1. We'll see if anyone takes the risk. I don't know how much margin Red Bull had today."
Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali conceded the situation was difficult, but he claimed there is nothing to do but to cope with it.
"I don't know what Lewis said – they are the tires we have to race so that is the situation," Domenicali said. "For sure the lack of grip today was a problem but I was saying to our drivers and team, we need to maximize what we have. In this moment the situation is not great in that respect, that is the tires we have here and we need to make sure the drivers and the team will use it in the best way.
"Nothing will change at least in the short term and we need to maximize it, because for sure for qualifying and the race it will be very difficult. It will be another challenge for the drivers and the teams."
Red Bull driver Mark Webber, quickest today, admitted it was hard to extract the best from the new rubber.
"It did go a little bit longer than the old hard would have done here. My first set was pretty decent and we had a pretty good run, but in the second set there was a bit of mystery. We didn't get the performance out of those that we would have liked.
"I think Pirelli is still learning as we go along. The tires are a huge factor, you can gain and lose a lot of time when you get them right and wrong, and Pirelli is still learning as well."