Pirelli plans to test a new hard compound tire in practice at the British Grand Prix, which will be easier for teams to work with. However, the tire maker has admitted it is wary of introducing it for races because of fears it could have an impact on the tight World Championship battle.
F1 teams are in agreement this year that getting the tires in to the right operational window is a key element to performance, because cars are now so similar in terms of their speed. However, many teams have struggled to unlock the secrets of Pirelli's 2012 rubber – especially when it comes to extracting pace from it in both low fuel conditions for qualifying and then for the race.
To help that situation, Pirelli is looking at a new hard compound that will have a wider operational range, and should therefore be a help to teams who are struggling to get into the right temperature window. But despite plans to test it, Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery says his company is seriously concerned about making any change to the tires because it could change the competitive situation in F1.
"There is a big point to make that if we make a change, particularly with the way the championship has been played this year so close, we don't want to risk creating an advantage for a particular team," he said. "So if you imagine, suddenly, for races 10, 11 and 12 one team starts running away, then we're going to come under all the criticism.
"We'll test because we want to understand the effect and impact, but it's not necessarily going to happen that we bring it to the races. We've got to be very careful because there's a big difference with the teams on where they are with the tires at the moment.
"We talk to the technicians, so then they're trying to find the success of finding that key of keeping the performance at the highest level for as long as possible. They would be rather upset, I think, if suddenly it was a little bit easier, and the people that have worked so hard felt that they were getting there, and another team then gets there. You need to be careful with things like that, because it changes during the championship."
With a wider temperature range, the new hard compound would be particularly well-suited to warmer conditions, where many teams have struggled to find the right car setup.