Having admitted they overestimated the pace improvements the Formula One teams would make in 2015, Pirelli were left with dry weather tyre compounds which they admitted were too conservative in their wear. Their commercial director, Paul Hembery blames the lack of testing in 2014 for this state of affairs and explains there could be more of the same in 2016.
“Clearly some of the changes we made this year did lose some performance”, Hembery says. “They made the tyres run cooler and in an ideal world we probably would have revised our compound range for 2016 and changed all the compounds to regain some of the performance. But with one 12-hour test unfortunately you are very limited with what you can do.”
However, 2016 should look different from Pirelli’s perspective because Hembery believes the teams will find bigger performance gains over this winter and that combined with the new regulations allowing for three compounds during a race weekend, should help Pirelli spice up the on track action.
Yet, caution is never far from Paul Hembery’s predictions as he reveals the teams are beginning to deploy different engineering and aerodynamic solutions, which affect the performance of the tyres differently. “People were a little bit more aligned last year  and we’ve seen some things that the cars and the chassis are doing in combination with the tyres that have made us have to check, which is why we’ve changed some of the prescriptions that we’ve used this year.
“We need to be more aware of that next year and it is very difficult because there’s such a wide variety of performances that we’ve seen. It’s not actually just that the Mercedes has dominated, there are other teams further down that are also doing things differently to the vast majority of the field.
“So we need to be very attentive looking at the data next year when the cars come out. It seems people are talking very confidently of some strong performance improvements next year.”
Pirelli have finally gained approval for up to 12 days of tyre testing during the 2016 season, however none of this will affect next years racing because the tyre compound designs for next year are already locked down. Rubber is now being manufactured for the first three races of the 2016 season.
How do you see the teams going with their tyre selections for the first three races of 2016? The choices for each weekend are super soft, soft and medium compounds.
Also, do you think the teams will split the choice of compounds across their drivers?