We’ve talked about the new tires this season on our podcasts and how the teams are still trying to get on top of the time gaps between compounds as well as how much softer this season’s tires are. With the Ultrasoft, Supersoft, Soft and now Hypersoft, the teams have spent the first four races trying to get the tires in the right temperature windows for their 2018 cars.
Barcelona was recently resurfaced and with teams having difficulty in the form of graining during pre-season testing, Pirelli said they have brough a thinner treaded tire to Barcelona this weekend. As such, it would seem the time gaps between soft and supersoft tires isn’t as dramatic as the team may have expected as both Ferrari’s switched from Super’s to Softs for their final run for pole position on Saturday for the Spanish Grand Prix.
Kimi Raikkonen said he really had nothing to lose after a bobble on his first run on Supersofts. He rolled the dice and ran the soft compound and was half a second off pole. Sebastian Vettel said he didn’t have a good feeling on the supersofts for his first run in Q3 and also decided to change to soft compounds for his final run.
Kimi said that Barcelona, Silverstone and Paul Ricard will feature these tires but he says that the tire favors some cars over others…implication here is Mercedes.
For that, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says that’s rubbish and that the tires weren’t changed to favor his team after they struggled so much at Barcelona in testing.
“Is bollocks a bad word in English?” said Wolff. “Rubbish. All teams had blistering, very heavy blistering at the test in Barcelona.
“Red Bull, Ferrari, ourselves. McLaren have seen it I think also. The tyres wouldn’t have lasted in the race.
“And the ambient, and the track temperatures, were arctic, Baltic, and for that reason Pirelli changed the thickness of the tyre to prevent blistering, and they’ve been successful at preventing the blistering because we haven’t see it on any car today.
“So, I don’t know where suddenly this rumour comes out that we have been influencing Pirelli and the FIA to change any tyres.
“I have never seen anything working like that, why should they do it?
“When we haven’t performed well in the past we have taken ourselves by the nose and have looked for performance to be found on our car, and not go on the default mode, turn around and say ‘what are the others doing that is wrong?'”
Still, Kimi is curious how this qualifying may have gone on the normal tire instead of these Barcelona Specials.
“This has happened before,” said Raikkonen. “Obviously it’s only here, Silverstone and France [where Pirelli’s thinner tread will be used].
“Yes it’s the same for everybody but sometimes it works for one better than others. It depends on many small things.
“It’s a bit unknown when we start running, it’s not like we run hundreds of laps to figure out.
“We don’t have a say in it, it’s very difficult to say what would happen if we had the normal tyre.
“Would it be different? Maybe not, maybe yes.”