There’s nothing new about the notion of sandbagging during the first tests of 2017 because Formula 1 is a high-stakes endeavor and teams have always been keen to reserve their true pace for the first races of the season.
Pirelli reckons that won’t change when F1 goes testing in February.
“We really won’t know in Barcelona testing where the teams are as that’s a period where they won’t want to show their hand,” said Hembery at Autosport International.
“There will be a lot of people trying to hide their true performance level or maybe wondering what they need to do because they can’t even get close to some of the teams who are maybe sandbagging.”
“It’ll be more when we get to China and Bahrain before we see the true performance of the cars,” Hembery said.
That’s perfectly normal except I would suggest that Australia may tip the hat a little more than he’s suggesting regardless of attrition and strange results. What I found more revealing in the Autosport article is the very core of the Pirelli tire DNA over the past few season—namely the high degradation element.
As we headed in 2017 with a entirely new set of regulations, I was not sure what F1’s desire was for the tires going forward. I was interested to see if the initial impetus would be a standard racing tire of more artificially induced degradation at a higher rate than what would be normal.
If I’m parsing Pirelli boss Paul Hembery’s words properly, it seems that F1 was still looking for HD tires but according to him, if the teams miss the mark on what the performance levels of their new cars will be, the Pirelli compounds will most likely be more conservative and less degrading than previous season prompting fewer pit stops.
“The problem we have got is that we have been testing with cars that are five seconds slower than what we’re actually going to see in Barcelona,” he said.
“From a compounding aspect, it is a bit of a challenge for us because it’s a very small window we’re working with.
“If the numbers aren’t what we have been told they are going to be, then we might have been a bit too conservative.”
It prompts me to suggest that this season could be interesting indeed if not a serious challenge if it starts going pear-shaped quickly. I’m not expecting that but here’s my thought.
If the cars are heavier, tires wider and larger with more grip and less deg, aero is up 15-20%, fuel capacity increased—are four engines for the whole season enough given the new loads and full-throttle nature these regulations will demand? We could see some attrition on the engine allotment restrictions alone.
I’m on record of not liking DRS or HD tires and combined, I think they detract from F1. I would be much happier if they picked one of those constructs instead of both. If the tires are more conservative, you’ll get no argument from me. I’d rather see DRS go than HD tires but in my own private make-believe world, I’d like to see both go.
Hat Tip: Autosport