Pirelli begins new era at Australian Grand Prix
This year, the race is being held in Melbourne’s Albert Park for the 16th consecutive year, and marks race one of Pirelli’s three-season agreement with the FIA, the governing body of world motorsport. But there is likely to be just as much drama in Melbourne as there was last time in Adelaide.
Pirelli’s new P Zero rubber is designed to help promote overtaking, both on the track and in the pits, while KERS makes a return and the moveable rear wing is also introduced. The hard and the soft compounds will be brought to Australia, with the soft tires providing plenty of speed and grip while the hard tires are more biased towards durability.
Weather conditions are likely to be different to what was experienced so far in testing, which is why the teams will be given an extra set of prime tires for use during Friday free practice, bringing their total allocation up to 12 sets of dry-weather tires over the course of the weekend and allowing them to run more laps in free practice to finalize the set-up.
“This is the moment that we’ve been building up to for more than a year now and it’s very exciting for all of us,” said Paul Hembery, Pirelli Motorsport Director.
Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull Racing said, “None of us have ever driven around the Melbourne circuit on Pirelli tires before so we are all wondering what it’s going to be like. It’s the start of something brand new. I think the only thing that we can say for sure is that it’s going to be different and create a lot of interest. Normally, it is a tough track for tires, so I think that’s something that we are going to have to keep an eye on during the race. Melbourne has a few things to look out for: the track demands good braking stability and some of the corners are a bit bumpy. Getting good traction is typically quite difficult there, so that will be an important factor in the car set-up. We’ll be basing ourselves on the knowledge of the tires that we have acquired during winter testing – although the conditions in Australia are likely to be somewhat different. Everyone is looking forward to the start of the season and I hope it’s going to be a fascinating race, for the drivers and much as for the spectators.”