Formula One entered a fresh era with the debut of new tyre regulations for 2014 today. The first new rule affects free practice, with the teams now allowed an extra set of tyres to be used in the first 30 minutes of FP1 only: always of the harder compound from the two nominated.
Thanks to these new rules there was increased running, a total of 937 laps throughout both sessions today. The P Zero White medium and P Zero Yellow tyres that have been nominated for the Australian Grand Prix displayed no blistering or graining, with the performance gap between the two compounds currently in the region of two seconds.
The new tyre rules also include an extra set of softer compound tyres for all cars in qualifying. These can only be used in Q3, after which they have to be returned to Pirelli. But the teams that do not get through to Q3 can keep them to use for the race. So in total, all teams are now allocated 13 rather than 11 sets of slick tyres for every race this year.
During the first free practice session this morning the teams only used the medium tyre, before moving onto the soft tyre half an hour into the second session. With so many new aspects to the cars this year, teams concentrated on completing as much running as possible with both compounds on a variety of fuel loads, in order to assess their likely race pace.
Conditions remained dry and warm throughout both sessions, with a peak of 24 degrees ambient and 40 degrees of track temperature during FP2. There is a risk of rain though for tomorrow and Sunday, meaning that Cinturato Green intermediates and Cinturato Blue full wets may be seen for the first time.
Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery said: “From what we can see so far, we were satisfied with both the performance and degradation of the medium and soft compounds, both of which are completely new this year. The degradation on the medium tyre is very low, with degradation on the soft slightly higher. We’ve seen no blistering or graining at all today and also fewer marbles, so up to now we have met our objectives. The new tyre regulations seem to have worked well so far, with the fans able to see more of the cars out on track, which was exactly the intention.”
1.Alonso 1m31.840s Medium New 1. Hamilton 1m29.625s Soft New
2.Button 1m32.357s Medium Used 2. Rosberg 1m29.782s Soft New
3.Bottas 1m32.403s Medium Used 3. Alonso 1m30.132s Soft New