Following the 2015 season opener in Melbourne, TJ13 produced some analysis predicting this year’s Pirelli tyres would be more conservative than previously. We pointed out that Pirelli would significantly miss their mandate to deliver tyres that degraded in such a manner that teams would be forced into an average of 2-3 pit stops.
Pirelli have indicated they will be attempting to return to producing tyres that degrade more for 2016, but also Paul Hembery has said he wants to see the return of ‘the cliff’.
“We’d love to bring back a proper ‘cliff'”, he told reporters in Interlagos. “If we can engineer that in – I don’t know if we’re going to have enough opportunity to get a solution that works perfectly during the Abu Dhabi test.”
Pirelli has repeatedly complained about the lack of opportunity to develop tyres through representative on track testing, and so have been offered a 12 hour test following the Abu Dhabi GP. The teams must provide one car each and Pirelli have requested they send race drivers to provide proper comparative feedback. The teams will not be allowed to try out parts during the test.
Ask Kimi Raikkonen for his thoughts on the 2012 Chinese GP, and be prepared to stand back and avoid a tongue-lashing. Having made what he hoped to be his second and final stop on lap 29, the Finn found himself in second place with just seven laps to go. However, from lap 49 in the space of just two laps, Kimi went from second to twelfth place as his tyres hit the ‘cliff’.
The ‘cliff’ was a tipping point close to the end of the life of the tyre, where the lap times suddenly went away from the driver, forcing them to pit or trundle round like a Manor F1 car.
Hembery explains why the ‘cliff’’ is a better solution for tyre degradation than is seen with the 2015 tyres. “The ideal situation would be to have a ‘cliff’ back so we can get back to two or three stops rather than pushing the stint lengths as we’ve had as a tendency of the last two years.
“It would be a compounding thing, something that we’re looking at,” Hembery added. “It’s things maybe we can do inside the tyre to try and create a kind of ‘cliff’ which could be a chemically-engineered one, so that it becomes unbeneficial to stay out for longer stints.
“If there’s one input we’ve had it’s that they [the teams] really want to get back to two or three stops rather than the predominant one stop racing we’ve had this year.”
In 2016 there will be a fourth dry tyre compound introduced, the ‘extreme soft’, and the teams will be choosing the two compounds in secret they wish to run weeks before the race weekend.
If the ‘cliff’ is to return, then safety is paramount and Hembery believes Pirelli have this covered. “We are continuing on further improvements in product integrity. The cars are going to get quicker next year so that’s obviously something you want to keep an eye on.”
Are you the TJ13 readers in favour of the return of the ‘cliff’?