Date: 16th February 2012 at 11:44am
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Formula One tyre manufacturer Pirelli have announced which compounds will be at the teams disposal during the opening three rounds of the 2012 F1 World Championship.

Pirelli have changed the design of their tyres for the 2012, with the new rubber set to be racier than the previous compounds used during the Italian manufactures first season in Formula One.

The new tyres have been designed to be ‘squarer’ which will improve grip and handling for the drivers, with some pundits already wondering if this will better suit drivers such as McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull’s Mark Webber, who often struggled with Pirelli tyres last season.

There have also been a few tweaks to the construction of the tyre, which will mean that plenty of teams will be working hard to work out the optimum tyre strategy over the course of the race weekend because the gap between the two compounds in use at each race weekend will now be smaller.

During 2011 some of the tyre compounds offered around 1.5 seconds per lap difference, which would often provide too much of a difference for teams to mix up their strategies and would often run the optimum compound for the majority of the race and use the other as little as possible.

But for 2012 Pirelli have shortened the gap to less than a second per lap between compounds, which depending on the difference between degradation will provide a variety of tyre strategies over the course of a race weekend.

For the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne, Pirelli will be giving teams six sets of the medium [white marked] compound and five sets of the soft [yellow] compound.

In Sepang for the Malaysian Grand Prix, the teams will have six sets of the hard [silver marked] tyres and five sets of the medium compound, while in Shanghai for the Chinese Grand Prix, the teams will have the same combination of tyres as they had in Australia.

Pirelli remain hopeful that races will see a mixture of two and three pit stop strategies during the races, but until the new cars begin testing next month, Pirelli cannot be certain.

‘In theory we should have some exciting racing ? but maybe we have been too conservative or maybe we have been too aggressive. That we will not know until we get racing.’ Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery stated last month.