Pirelli has rejected Lewis Hamilton's accusation that its soft tire is an inappropriate choice for the Chinese Grand Prix weekend.
Second practice for this weekend's Chinese Grand Prix was littered with radio complaints about tire graining, with the soft option particularly lambasted. Hamilton was one of several drivers to criticize the tires in the aftermath of the session.
"The life of the [soft] tire, it's the worst I've ever experienced with bits flying off all over the place," Hamilton said. "The soft is hardcore. It doesn't feel like the right tire for this circuit. I did a couple of laps and the tires just disintegrated."
Hamilton's former McLaren teammate Jenson Button, who had to pit with a delaminated left-front tire following a lock-up into the hairpin, was similarly critical.
"I think there was a lot of complaining about the tires at the last race, but it is even more extreme here," Button said. "The option tire just transforms the car completely; on one lap there is just so much more grip. So it feels really good for one lap, and then it grains front and rear and you lose one second every lap.
"It's very tricky and I don't think you will see many quick laps in the race; I think we're all going to be given a time to go to and that's it."
However, Pirelli motorsport chief Paul Hembery said the soft tire was doing exactly what it was supposed to.
"If the medium did the same then I'd be concerned, but it doesn't," he said. "It's a qualifying tire. It'll be a bit like Melbourne, I guess, where the top teams are going to be forced to qualify on the softer tire because it's such a performance advantage and within the first 10 laps they are going to have to pit.
"Some of the Q2 teams might opt to start on the medium tire and try and gain some track position while the first 10 cars drop in. It's looking like some can be looking at a two-stop race – and, worst case, three – so pretty much in line with what we are looking for."