After a short winter break of just over two months, Formula One is back in action at Jerez in Spain this week, for the first of three four-day pre-season tests (with the following two tests scheduled for Bahrain, from 19-22 February and 27 February-2 March)
This will be the first appearance for many of the 2014 cars, as Formula One undergoes a technical revolution with 1.6-litre turbocharged engines and multiple energy recovery systems powering the 2014 challengers, which will have to operate within a drastically reduced fuel allocation and revised aerodynamic rules.
These important changes present a completely different set of vehicle dynamics, so Pirelli has developed a brand new 2014 tyre range to cater for these unique demands. All the 2014 slick tyres have a new construction and new compounds, with slightly increased weight. The wet tyre has a new tread pattern and a different compound.
Jerez, which has the roughest tarmac of any circuit visited by Formula One, will be the first opportunity for the teams to start integrating their new cars with the 2014 tyres, while the final day will be devoted to wet weather tyre testing on an artificially-watered track (unless it rains at any of the previous test days, in which case this will become the dedicated wet-weather test day).
“The Jerez test will be very interesting as we see the 2014 cars and engines on track for the first time and how they interact with our tyres. In particular, this first test is an opportunity to see how the new cars interact with our latest tyres, considering the differences between all the 2014 cars. Jerez will be an official test but also a learning experience for everyone.
The 2014 tyres are just as different to their predecessors as the 2014 cars, with the majority of our preparation work having been carried out by using advanced data simulation, as well as real on-track testing. Last year, the teams lost some pre-season running due to excessively cold conditions in Spain: we even saw some ice on the track at one point. In order to combat this, we have developed a special ‘winter’ version of the hard compound. This will be used for the Jerez test only and it is designed to work effectively even in cold conditions. Finally, the new regulations stipulate that one of the pre-season test days will be dedicated to wet weather testing of our new Cinturato intermediate and wet tyres. This is scheduled for the final day at Jerez, in order to give the teams experience of a wide range of conditions as soon as possible as they refine their 2014 cars.”
• Teams are allowed an overall maximum total of 135 sets of tyres for testing this year, including the in-season tests. The maximum total for the three pre-season tests is 85 sets of tyres: 25 sets for Jerez and 30 each for the two Bahrain tests.
• All four slick P Zero compounds plus the Cinturato intermediate and full wet will be available for pre-season testing. Pirelli is also bringing a special one-off ‘winter’ compound to Jerez, in order to minimize the effect of potentially low ambient temperatures on track time. This is a hard compound that has been optimized to work well even in low temperatures, reducing the risk of graining (which is a common characteristic of cold weather running).
• Teams will have a certain number of fixed compound choices totaling 18 sets per car, listed on the table below, which are best suited to the Jerez circuit. Included in that total are three sets of intermediates and three sets of wets. On top of that each team was also able to choose in advance seven more sets to try in Jerez, up to the maximum of 25 sets per car in total. The ‘base’ slick compounds – ‘winter’, hard and medium – have been selected by Pirelli in collaboration with the teams to reflect the characteristics of Jerez.
• The 2014 regulations state that one of the 12 pre-season test days will be dedicated to wet-weather tyre testing, with Pirelli arranging for the track to be watered. This is scheduled to take place on the final day of the Jerez test (January 31).
• The 4.428- kilometer southern Spanish track, which contains some slow corners as well as medium to fast bends, puts particular emphasis on the rear tyres, which have to work hard to provide traction over a wide range of usage conditions. It has been extensively utilized for testing in recent years but last hosted an actual grand prix in 1997.
What’s new for the 2014 tyres:
• Pirelli has developed its new 2014 tyre range using simulation technology and data supplied by teams, as well as real on-track testing results. On top of new compounds and new constructions, each rear tyre now weighs 250 grams more and each front tyre 200 grams more than last year.
• The front tyres have a new profile, while the rear profile remains largely unaltered.
• The new compounds are generally slightly harder than their 2013 equivalents to optimize grip.
• The full wet tyre has a new rear tread pattern in order to reduce aquaplaning by increasing how much water can be dispersed at full speed – now up to 65 litres per second from 60 litres per second previously. It also has a new compound that is able to work well in damp and/or drying conditions, in order to increase the crossover point to the intermediate tyre.