Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery expects Formula 1 teams to make big strides toward understanding the 2012 tires during the Mugello test, which starts tomorrow.
The 2012 season has been defined by how well teams have got on top of the Pirelli rubber during the opening four races, with seven-times world champion Michael Schumacher criticizing the tires after the Bahrain Grand Prix. But Hembery expects most to have taken a step forward in time for the Spanish Grand Prix as the teams get on top of the rubber.
"In Mugello, I suspect that the teams will spend a fair bit of time working on this, certainly the ones that feel that they have more to learn," Hembery said. "From Barcelona on, you will start to see a slightly different and more measured approach.
"The engineers are the best you will ever find in the automotive world. They are exceptional and in two or three races they will have understood the challenge that they have in front of them and we won't be having this type of conversation [about tires].
"Bahrain was a more extreme race because of the temperature. The majority of the races in the European season will be in the mid-range and people will be wondering what the fuss is about."
Hembery added that limited testing and the need to master the tires on grand prix weekends has played its part in the struggles that some teams have faced. By mid-season, he has no doubts that things will become more settled, partly because by then teams will also have a comprehensive understanding of their machinery.
"At the start of the season, it's a new challenge and the focus will be more on the tires," said Hembery. "Come Silverstone, it will be something that I'm quite sure will be in the background and teams will be on top of the challenge.
"It's more about the teams getting used to their new chassis, as well as the tires, which have changed slightly. They have very little and have one eye on the race and one on qualifying in changeable conditions during race weekends, so it's hard to get ideas on setups.
"The medium this year is a very close relation to the soft of 2011 and that tire was the pre dominant one in 18 races. People have forgotten that the cars have changed a lot this year. There are other factors at play."