Date: 27th February 2013 at 10:29am
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When the Formula One circus arrives in Australia for the opening round of the new 2013 F1 season, the teams will not find the high levels of degradation that they’ve experienced during winter testing.

Pirelli’s 2013 brief was to create more tyre strategies with higher tyre wear in comparison to the end of 2012, but still providing drivers with a tyre that could be raced hard.

In essence they want to find a balance between the beginning of last season where Formula One almost became a lottery due to the tyre performance and the end of last season where the tyres offered little challenge to the teams.

From the first winter tests in Jerez and Barcelona, the new Pirelli compounds certainly appear to have higher degradation, which would provide plenty of pit stops, but have they gone too far again?

A lot of the drivers were critical of the tyres in Barcelona, claiming that they lost their peak performance levels after a single lap.

‘There is a lot of degradation. It’s massive for everybody, I don’t know if it’s because of the temperature and it being very cold. Hopefully so, because otherwise there are going to be a lot of pitstops in Melbourne.’ Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg told Autosport Magazine.

Former two-time Formula One World Champion Fernando Alonso added: ‘It’s maybe not the best option to test in the winter when you have a tyre that does one lap, because we have so much stuff to test and so many new things that we need to have clear and good information on.

‘And we only have only one lap to understand the car because then you are four to six seconds off the pace.’

McLaren driver Sergio Perez had similar concerns: ‘It’s extreme. It’s very, very difficult the degradation – it’s a big surprise, Normally we see in winter testing a lot of degradation, but never this much. We are going to have sometimes cold races like here, so it’s a bit of a worry.’

But Pirelli’s Director of Motorsport Paul Hembery played down the drivers concerns, blaming the high tyre wear on the colder conditions and teams still playing with their set-ups.

‘The teams experienced quite high degradation in Barcelona, and that was really down to the weather, The conditions we had in Barcelona are far from typical of the rest of the season, with much cooler ambient and track temperatures than we would normally race in, and even some rain on the final day. This put the tyres outside of their usual working ranges, which led to problems such as graining. Hembery said in a Pirelli statement quoted by Sky Sports.

‘The conditions were particularly unsuited to the supersoft tyre, due to the circuit layout and the roughness of the surface in addition to the cold temperatures. Coupled with the fact that teams are still making big set-up adjustments to their new cars and trying out our complete range of our tyres to optimise the package, we saw levels of degradation that are not typical.

‘Once we get to Melbourne the tyres should be much more within their intended working range, which will eliminate the unusual amount of degradation that some teams have experienced.’