Pirelli have said that their new super-soft tyre – set to make its debut in Monaco next weekend – will degrade rapidly in the manner of a qualifying tyre.
“The peak of performance is definitely one lap. It will have that characteristic of a qualifying tyre so you will want to put in your best lap straight away and it will be a fast-wearing tyre,” said Paul Hembery, head of Pirelli’s F1 department.
“That is part of the plan, but I have to wait and see what it does in Monaco as I don’t want to make a prediction because we have never been there with it. It is not going to be a 15-20 lap tyre for sure.”
Hembery’s comments come in the wake of a Spanish Grand Prix characterised by soft tyres with rapid degradation, which led to a number of strategies being deployed and an entertaining race.
Drivers will again be forced to choose between the slower, harder compound or the faster but quick to fall-off-“the cliff” rubber, as well as what to use in qualifying to optimise their chances in the race.
When asked whether the spectre of drivers deliberately missing Q3 – in order to save themselves a set of tyres for the race and much in the manner Michael Schumacher did in Spain – would again raise its head, Hembery said it was unlikely.
“I think that won’t happen because they will be qualifying on the tyre they have [fewer] sets on, so that changes around. The faster tyre has been the soft one so they want to preserve as many as possible as they have one set left. Now with the advent of the new hard tyre that we see here, the new PZero, initial indications are it degrades less and it gives more laps than soft tyre so it takes away that disadvantage where hard didn’t give big difference in terms of wear. So you can consider one pitstop left.”
Laying himself open to the distinct charge that he had no idea what was going to happen, Hembery insisted that the drivers and their engineers would work everything out in spite of the tyres in free practice.
“In FP, that is where they will working out permutations, it is in the hands of the engineers, they all have the same opportunity and if that enables us to see Monaco having a bit more interest and dramas that will be great, as Monaco is the most glamorous but one of the most boring from that point of view,” he added.