The Formula One teams have been able to complete more testing distance with Pirelli’s new 2014 range of tyres in Bahrain, as they begin to get a better picture of how the latest tyres interact with the radically different new cars. A number of teams were able to complete race simulations, as well as qualifying and pit stop practice, assessing every aspect of tyre usage.
Weather conditions remained dry and warm, in the region of 20 degrees centigrade or higher: temperatures that are much more representative of the season as a whole.
In accordance with the nominations they had made in advance, the teams were able to try out the entire 2014 range of P Zero tyres in Bahrain, as well as a special ‘winter’ hard compound, with a faster warm-up.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director:
“The teams were able to learn more about tyres over the four days in Bahrain than they could in Jerez two weeks ago, thanks to increased running time and optimal weather conditions. Although the teams are still at a comparatively early point on the development curve with their new cars, testing data so far indicates that the 2014 tyres are more consistent and durable than their predecessors. As a result, we are also seeing fewer ‘marbles’ on the circuit: one of our objectives at the start of this season. However, teams are likely to improve their performance and understanding of the car-tyre package still further in the test to come, which means that the lap time differences we have been seeing between the compounds are likely to come down: especially when the teams discover more downforce as the season goes on. We’ve collected plenty of useful data from this test, but of course we are still ready and able to change the specification of the tyres for the start of the season if this is shown to be necessary.”
Teams ramped up their distance considerably over the four days of the test. In total, 482 laps were completed on the first day of the test, with 676 laps on day two, 695 laps on day three and 469 laps on day four.
Teams had a maximum of 30 sets of tyres per car to test in Bahrain. Pirelli, in conjunction with the teams, chose 22 of those sets (plus an extra medium ‘prototype’ set – used to test the performance of tyres without tyre warmers, which is part of the 2015 regulations). The teams were then able to choose in advance the remaining eight sets, up to their maximum permitted total of 30. In total, 135 sets of tyres are allowed per team for testing purposes throughout 2014.
The performance differences in Bahrain between the compounds so far are approximately as follows: the supersoft is around 0.7s per lap faster than the soft, the soft is around 1.2s per lap quicker than the medium, and the medium is around 1.3s per lap quicker than the hard. These gaps should come down considerably as the cars evolve.
A total of 24 drivers took part in the Bahrain test, completing 2,322 laps and 12,566 kilometers. Last year, the second test of the year took place in Barcelona, over exactly the same four-day period, during which the drivers completed 16,006 kilometers.
The total testing distance completed so far this year, combining Jerez and Bahrain is 3,792 laps and 19,074 kilometers. This time last year, the teams had completed 6,970 laps and 31,640 kilometers of pre-season testing (Jerez and Barcelona 2013 combined).
Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg set the fastest time of the Bahrain test, with a time of 1m33.283s on Saturday with the P Zero Yellow soft. By way of comparison, the fastest race lap at the Bahrain Grand Prix last year was 1m36.961s, set by Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel. Pole position at the Bahrain Grand Prix last year was 1m32.330s: within a second of Rosberg’s fastest test time today. At the Bahrain race last year, pole was also set by Rosberg.
The highest number of total laps completed at this year’s Bahrain test by any one driver was 174 laps, from Nico Rosberg (Mercedes). Williams driver Valtteri Bottas set the second-highest total, 171 laps.