Pirelli’s Motorsport Director Paul Hembery has confirmed that Lewis Hamilton’s dramatic failure during Free Practice Three was not due to a structural tyre failure, it was in fact down to a piece of debris on track.
Speaking in a statement from Pirelli he said “The problem seen on Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes during free practice was not the result of a structural tyre failure, but instead must have been down to a piece of debris on the track.”
Concerns had been raised over whether the problem was down to the Pirelli tyre but the confirmation from Hemberg has reassured teams that the problem was not down to the tyre itself.
Hembery had previous discussed the key factor for managing the tyres in Bahrain. “Unlike China, the key to managing the tyres here is going to be thermal degradation, with track temperatures well in excess of 40 degrees centigrade. With all the traction and braking events, this challenges the rear tyres in particular and that will be the limiting factor.”
The Italian firm noticed that the track was constantly evolving throughout the day which meant Nico Rosberg’s pole time was in fact faster than that set of Sebastian Vettel in 2012. “The track is evolving all the time so we should see the times getting faster and faster: even though this year’s pole time is already quicker than last year’s pole, which was set on a nominally softer compound.” He also noted that the difference between the medium and hard compound tyre is considerably less than it was in China. “The performance gap between the two compounds is much smaller than it was in China, around 0.6s per lap, which means that there are several different possibilities for strategy – as there isn’t one obvious way to go. This is something that we already saw in qualifying, with teams adopting different approaches in each session.”
The differing choices in strategy will certainly provide us with an interesting race, with Hembery predicting plenty of overtaking. “Overtaking is reasonably easy in Bahrain compared to many other tracks, and it’s looking like the hard tyre may be the preferred race tyre here with some teams going for the medium.”
Pirelli experts spoke about the smaller margins between the tyres and said that it will “open up” strategy choices for the team, with a three stop strategy being the fastest. They cited the best way to run the race was to “start on the hard, change to hard on lap 10, hard again on lap 25, and then medium on lap 41.”
They did note that a two stop strategy is possible but those who chose to take that route will need to be confident in their ability to preserve the tyres.
Image courtesy of Pirelli Media