Formula 1 teams will face a major challenge with tire strategies in Korea, reckons Pirelli motorsport boss Paul Hembery, as he revealed that his company had taken a bold approach to the final races of the 2011 season.
Tire graining was an issue for Bridgestone at last year's inaugural Korean Grand Prix, though the Sunday rain meant there was no chance to see how the problem might have played out in the race. Despite this, Pirelli has selected its soft and super-soft compounds for its first Korean GP, and Hembery admitted that with the championship decided, Pirelli had made a conscious decision to give the teams a challenge
"We are not making it easy for them in any way or form, and they are right at the limit," he said. "That is the only way they can do it, because if you give them too much margin they will fly off in the distance and go back to norm.
"So, that is what we are trying to understand for next year. We are trying to see where we are. If this race had happened after race two or three, then you would definitely be here with the hard and medium, you wouldn't possibly come here as we did. But we felt that we wanted to understand the limits really.
"There were a few people in my team who would probably not have made the choice that we did, and Korea is a very aggressive choice, super-soft and soft, but what we find with those guys is that they need challenges."
Hembery admitted that the Korea tire choice was likely to provoke plenty of discussion during the weekend, but thinks the teams will ultimately find solutions.
"They will moan but they adapt to it," he said. "They have all got the same to deal with, and it gives them an extra challenge or from a strategy or statistics point of view. A lot of them enjoy it and if you talk to some of the engineers, they really get excited by it because they have a lot to think about and work about, and some like a pain in the a** and something extra to worry about but the public seems to like it a lot, which is the main thing for everybody.
"As long as they all start the same it is a challenge for drivers and engineers. I don't feel it falsifies it because everybody has got the same. It is how they manage what they've got."
Hembery expects four-stop strategies to be a possibility in Korea.
"We had rain last year and there was a lot of graining of the tires, which suggests that it needs some grip from the compound, so that is the plan," he said. "We might be on a four stop in Korea."
He added that Pirelli's choice for India was also likely to make teams work hard.
"The championship has been won now, so we wanted to experiment a bit. Same in India," Hembery said. "We are doing hard and soft there, the hard generally won't have a place for next year but you need something for a back-up for the circuit.
"The actual surface and layout suggests it could be a tough circuit, but we are giving them a lot of soft tires to work with on the Friday so there will be some extra sets as well so they have running time and also we hope that will help rubber the track in a bit and clear it up."