Pirelli tests in mixed weather at Barcelona
The circuit is used heavily for testing as it normally offers a warm climate all year, but temperatures were generally low throughout the Friday to Monday test, with overnight rain frequently making the track damp in the morning. The conditions also meant that it was hard for the track to rubber in.
Nonetheless, while not representative of the conditions that teams will typically face during the coming season, the mixed weather in Barcelona allowed the teams to sample a wide range of Pirelli tires: supersoft, soft, medium and hard compounds for dry weather, as well as the intermediate tire - which three teams used on runs in excess of 40 laps. Pirelli brought evolution versions of the supersoft and soft tire to Barcelona, as per the scheduled development program in the build-up to the first Grand Prix of the season.
In total each team had a maximum of 30 sets of tires at their disposal, split between the different compounds that they had each previously nominated to test. This meant that 360 of the new P Zero tires were available for use in Spain, allowing teams to acquire information that will be vital when it comes to formulating race strategies this year.
"After 11 days of official tests so far this year, the teams have understood a bit more about the characteristics of our tires and we have been able to gather an increased amount of data across the board," said Pirelli's motorsport director Paul Hembery. "We've seen quite a few of the teams heading out for long runs here in Barcelona, which has allowed them to assess our tires over a race distance and formulate a few ideas about strategy. Ambient temperatures were once again not what we hoped to see: we started off with six degrees centigrade (43 degrees Fahrenheit) in the morning here, whereas nearly all of the races we are going to this year start off with temperatures of at least 15 degrees centigrade (59 degrees Fahrenheit). That has resulted in some characteristics that have not matched up with what we previously found when we tested in Barcelona with much warmer conditions. One thing that everybody seems to agree on is that tires will be central to the action this year, offering new opportunities for overtaking - which I think everybody wants to see. Barcelona is a circuit that puts a lot of stress on the front-left tire in particular, so I'm very pleased with the integrity of the tire construction."
Overnight rain in Spain on Friday and Saturday allowed teams to sample Pirelli's intermediate tires over a distance for the first time, which received positive feedback for their durability and adaptability. The drying track also allowed the teams to assess the all-important crossover point: the zone during which the lap time improves by changing from intermediate tires to slicks.
Red Bull Racing driver and reigning World Champion Sebastian Vettel topped the times during the opening two days of the Barcelona test, with Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) setting fastest time on Sunday and Felipe Massa (Ferrari) going quickest on Monday. The fastest overall time of the test was clocked by Massa on Sunday with a benchmark of 1m22.625s.