Nico Rosberg doubts the new Pirelli tires will do anything to ease the difficulties Mercedes suffered with front-tire grip on the 2010 Bridgestones, after the Formula 1 teams tried the 2011 rubber for the first time in Abu Dhabi today.
Mercedes had struggled to adapt to the performance of the front Bridgestones this season, and this issue was cited as a major factor in Michael Schumacher's disappointing comeback. Asked how the feeling from the Pirellis compared, Rosberg replied: "It's worse." He said the front tire felt "weaker" than the Bridgestone had been.
"So that's not a good thing for me. I'll cope with it – I've adapted in the past years, so I'll manage," said Rosberg. "They are at least similar [to the Bridgestones] or worse."
The German said the lap times looked set to be slower on Pirellis.
"The general impressions are that they are slower, for one. Quite significantly slower," Rosberg said. "After that, they were not easy to come to terms with on the setup. In the big picture, they are pretty similar in the end to the Bridgestones, but if you are then looking for the fine-tuning to extract the performance there is some way to go on adapting the setup.
"At the moment, we have done the small things that you can do at the track but there are the bigger things that you need to take care of with the car development. That's going to be one of the areas that are very important for success for next year."
Rosberg also described the degradation rate as "quite heavy," but added that despite his comments about tire wear and pace, he felt the Pirellis could still be very good for the racing.
"If that's what they want and it's the same for everybody, then OK," he said. "Tires like that always give more exciting racing as well. So it's not necessarily a bad thing."