F-1 Notes: New Tires Stump Drivers & Crews

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VALENCIA, Spain — The consistency of the Pirelli tires at the Valencia test left drivers and engineers bewildered. For example, Nico Rosberg attempted to do a back-to-back chassis set-up comparison.

“Last year [with the Bridgestones] I always knew exactly what it did,” he said, “and we were expecting the same thing this time and just didn’t do it.

“We were hoping that it would be a good step, and then the Pirelli guy said it was because I did not do the ‘compare’ on new tires. He said because the degradation is so big on the tires, that although the two different sets of tires had the same amount of laps on them, if they degrade in a different way because you are pushing one harder than the other, or for whatever reason, it is going to make it extremely difficult to make a comparison.”

The drivers also discovered that the “drop off” in the tires’ grip level happens much sooner than the Bridgestones that gave the same performance for many laps. Pirelli says it was asked to make tires that did not last the entire race, thus creating more action and more pit stops.

– The government of the state of Victoria has pledged its full support to the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne despite the doubts raised by the city’s Lord Mayor Robert Doyle.

“The government has supported the grand prix because it is a significant international event which provides branding and tourism value for Victoria,” Victoria’s state Tourism Minister Louise Asher told the AAP. “In terms of the [Victorian] government, we are committed to the grand prix.”

This year’s race will again start at 5 p.m. despite drivers complaining that the encroaching dusk made it unsafe because of the lack of visibility.

– As photographers crowded around the car during the official unveiling of the Toro Rosso in Valencia, a guy wearing a Williams team uniform slithered on the ground and began taking photos of the car’s rear diffuser. A Toro Rosso team member told him loudly and in no uncertain terms where to go.

– The Valencia test marked the first time Lewis Hamilton had driven a F-1 car since the Abu Dhabi GP last year. On his first lap past the pits he let out a cheer over the radio. “He’s obviously missed it!” a McLaren team member commented.