Pirelli has defended its conservative tire choice for the the United States Grand Prix amid fears that an aggressive selection could have interfered with the Formula 1 World Championship battle.
Early running at Austin suggests a one-stop race, with drivers experiencing very little tire degradation on the new and slippery surface. That has left a number of drivers convinced that Pirelli should have brought softer compounds for the race, something the Italian tire maker has conceded would have been the correct choice.
However, Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery has stood by the decision his company made. Asked what the downside of bringing soft tires to the race would have been, Hembery said: "It would be a few more pit stops. But you have to bear in mind that we are at the business end of the season and we have to make decisions based on that as well, and we're making the choices two months prior to getting to these races.
"If there was anything we were unsure about, it was about continuing to be aggressive at the business end of the season, because we didn't want the media coming here and asking us if we were deciding the championship. You have to find a delicate balance. We were correct in what we did at the time with the knowledge that we had.
"But, going forward for next season, knowing what we have got, we know the circuits very well, we know where the cars are going, we feel we can be more aggressive and make that communication much earlier so as not be accused of influencing the title fight."
Hembery said that based on Pirelli's current experience, he would have brought the super-soft and soft tires to Austin, but that it would have been hard to commit to a decision without any knowledge of the Austin track surface.
"We do what we think is correct for Pirelli as a company, and we make our analysis of the track," he said. "Of course like everybody we saw that the layout was interesting and a very stimulating drive for the drivers.
"The surface itself was a little bit of a question mark, as that was put down very late, and you never know with surfaces if what you measure initially is what you will see on race day. Obviously, with the first cars going around here, they haven't had races here in the past, it was one of those situations where we're going into the unknown."