Pirelli is confident that its new Formula 1 tires are in good shape for the new season following its first testing with 2011 cars in Valencia this week.
Although cold weather and the unique characteristics of the Valencia circuit meant there were high levels of tire degradation, Pirelli thinks its plans to be aggressive with its tire choice this year are on course.
The Italian tire manufacturer's motorsport boss Paul Hembery has said that the test went to plan, and that degradation was to be expected considering Pirelli's plans to make tires more on edge this year.
"When it is too cold the tires are slipping, and it is also a track that is hardly representative as well," Hembery explained. "All tires degrade – and that is something people seem to have forgotten over the last few days. We have been using the medium compound, primarily, and we are very happy with how that is going."
Hembery was keen to point out that the initial degradation after a few laps was nothing to be worried about, because the performance of the tires appeared to be very stable after the initial drop-off.
"It is two levels – degradation and wear," he said. "Wear is the way the compound is consumed on the tire, which is different from degradation. There you move from a peak of performance to a stabilized performance, and that is in line with what we see and we understand."
Pirelli plans to finalize its final 2011 compound choice for 2011 after the forthcoming Barcelona test, with minor modifications to the tires currently being finalized. Hembery also said he was slightly surprised that drivers had been openly remarking about the high levels of oversteer experienced on the tires, because that was exactly what the F1 teams had been asking for.
"Last year they were all talking about understeer and they didn't like that, so it is a moving target," he said. "It will suit some people's driving style more than others.
"They asked very clearly for us to have a more robust stronger front tire – which is what we delivered – and by its nature if you make the front tires stronger then you change the balance. So, if they want a stronger rear tire then that is something we will do for 2012 – and then they will probably complain it is understeering. You have to try to balance the requirements with 12 different chassis.
"It is different when you work with one team and you can do a lot of work to make your product ideal for that application, which is what you do in a single chassis series like GP2 or GP3. But there are 12 different teams and, despite them all looking very similar from a distance, in reality they all have their own peculiarities and different ideas, so to favor one over the other would be wrong."