Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery has predicted Formula One’s new cars will set a record-breaking pace.
After studying data from the first two days of tests at the Circuit de Catalunya, Hembery believes the new generation of cars could lap as low as one minute 17 seconds in qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix.
“We’re a long way off the performance levels we envisage when we come here in May,” he told F1 Fanatic.
“We’re lapping now under the pole of last year,” said Hembery. “We believe we’ll be close to 1’17 for pole this year when we come here. That’ll be close to five-and-a-half, six seconds [improvement].”
The fastest lap of the current configuration of the Circuit de Catalunya is a 1’19.954 set by Rubens Barrichello in 2009. The quickest time in testing at the track was a 1’18.483 by Fernando Alonso the year before.
As of yesterday, Kimi Raikkonen has posted the fastest time of the first test, lapping in 1’20.960.
Hembery said the move to wider tyres for the 2017 season was driven by a desire to improve performance as well as for aesthetic reasons.
“There was a description of how the car world be in terms of performance and what was being requested from us to provide in terms of the tyre aspect involved in the package they wanted,” he said.
“It’s always a combination, you’re given a lot of data and you come up with some simulations and go back and say for that type of application this is what we suggest.”
The new look is “definitely driven by performance”, Hembery continued. “The prime request is to reduce lap times by five seconds compared to Barcelona 2015.”
“The second aspect was to take away some of the thermal instability that we’d been asked to put in six years ago. So a step in another direction, with the objective of giving the drivers something they could push a little bit harder on.”
2017 F1 season
- Stripping Verstappen of 2017 US podium was “one of the toughest decisions” – steward
- Sepang pays Haas compensation for Grosjean’s 2017 crash
- Williams revenues rose in 2017 after Bottas deal with Mercedes
- New kerbs at COTA in response to Verstappen’s corner-cutting
- Australian Grand Prix cost government £56 million last year