Pirelli's motorsports boss, Mario Isola has reported that the Formula 1 teams have initially reacted to the 2019 tyre compounds with positive feedback. The teams and drivers had a chance to test next year’s new slick compounds during a 2-day post-season test at Yas Marina Circuit on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The fastest time was set by Ferrari’s new driver Charles Leclerc on the 2019 hyper soft achieving 1.36.450 which was 1.6 seconds slower Hamilton’s 2018 qualifying time. Vettel topped the times on Tuesday, but Isola confirmed that the different engine performances and programmes made immediate conclusions difficult to form.
“The teams were able to get a useful initial read on the 2019 tyres during the two days of testing, with the entire range available, as well as all the 2018 tyres for comparison,” Isola said. “All the teams were able to define their own run plans and mostly choose whichever tyres they wanted to test, so it’s not been easy to draw any immediate conclusions on track.
“We collected a lot of data, which we are just starting to go through now, and we will need to analyse this quickly because the compounds for Australia have to be decided in a week. At this time, we also aim to decide the compounds for the first five races of 2019.”
Pirelli is aiming to improve tyre performance, including reducing the graining while keeping the pace of the hyper soft but the lack of long fast corners at the Yas Marina Circuit does not cause heavy lateral stress on the tyres so may not be fully indicative of what is yet to come.
Isola continued: "Initial feedback from the 2019 range is positive. In particular, the first important information we had from day one of the test was that the new compound 5 is working as expected: similar to the 2018 hyper-soft but with reduced graining from what we can see so far. However, Abu Dhabi is not a circuit that features particularly high-speed corners, so this is an important factor also to consider.”
Isola said that he wanted the tyres to be “the definitive 2019 tyres”, with any adjustments needed by very soon: “So far, we’re happy with what we’ve seen, and our intention is for these to be the definitive 2019 tyres. In theory we can still make some adjustments before the final homologation deadline on 1 December, but we hope not to do that. In the meantime, we’ll be studying the data carefully.”
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing