Pirelli's aggressive choice of tire compounds this year will open up the possibility of more varied strategies from Formula 1 teams, reckons Lotus trackside operations director Alan Permane.
With Pirelli's range of tires being much closer together in performance this year, there is less chance of teams all opting for the same tactics, as happened on numerous occasions in 2011. Also, the 2012-specification tires are very sensitive to how they are treated in the early stages of their life, with degradation being much higher if the tire is pushed very hard on its first lap.
Permane thinks that those characteristics will make for better racing, because teams will have more opportunity to use clever strategy.
"We have a nicer situation this year where we have tires that are not as far apart lap time wise," Permane said. "In degradation terms, whereas last year we had tires that were very wide apart on lap time and with the same degradation, these are closer and the hard tends to degrade less. So you have probably got an opportunity to use them strategically, whereas last year you had to put softs on and then use the hard one right at the end."
Permane says teams have paid careful attention to the degradation levels of the tires – and how they react to being over-used early in a stint.
"You can see in testing people went out doing race distances and for the first two, three or four laps the times were very similar, but then they [the tires] started going away," he said. "But when people put on new tires to do setup work, the tires seemed to go away very quickly when you really try and hit the first lap. So, if you do that in the race, you will kill them for sure. You would just get a huge step in degradation, but there is no doubt that no matter how much you look after them, you can only make them consistent for two or three laps and then they take a step."
Permane thinks that the nature of the tires means teams will have to concentrate much more on ensuring their race setup is spot on, rather than focusing on eking out performance for a single lap.
"If you qualify well, you tend to race with the pack you are with. But having said that, with high degradation you absolutely want a good racecar, so at the moment if I had to put my money on it I would say concentrate on the race, and maybe sacrifice a qualifying position."