Michael Delaney 12/10/2018 at 08:3212/10/2018 at 07:32
Pirelli's head of car racing Mario Isola has pronounced himself happy with how the company's compounds performed at the Japanese Grand Prix last weekend.
There had been concerns about abnormal tyre wear after Friday's practice session. At the time, Isola said this had been due to the existing rubber previously laid down on the Suzuka surface having been washed away by recent typhoons in the area
Ferrari in particular complained that they were suffering unusually high levels of blistering on the supersoft compound.
That was the fastest tyre available to the drivers in Japan. Pirelli also offered teams more durable soft and medium compounds to choose from.
Wet weather affected practice and qualifying on Saturday, meaning that teams were concerned about degradation on race day which saw much hotter conditions than the previous sessions.
But tyre wear didn't prove to be an issue, with Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas going on to claim convincing 1-2 for Mercedes over Red Bull's Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo.
“With temperatures being so much warmer than they had been, we knew that there would be some additional challenges at this very demanding track.” Isola explained after the race.
“This was indeed the case, especially in the closing stages of the race.
"But it did not compromise the action at all, as the many impressive fightbacks showed," he added.
Ricciardo had been forced to work his way back up from 15th place on the grid, while Sebastian Vettel needed to recover from dead last after spinning off during the early stage. He eventually finished in sixth place.
The longevity of the tyres was helped by a safety car period following a first lap collision between Kevin Magnussen and Charles Leclerc, and by a Virtual Safety Car later in the race when Leclerc suffered a technical failure.
“Thanks also to an early safety car most drivers were able to make just one stop," Isola noted. "We also saw some very long stints on all three compounds.
“Many chose to finish the Grand Prix on the medium, the equivalent of last year’s soft, despite the fact that this tyre wasn’t used extensively in free practice, and not at all in these warm conditions."
Pirelli stayed on at Suzuka after the race to hold tyre tests in collaboration with the Renault team.
Development drivers Jack Aitken and Artem Markelov were handed the opportunity to get more experience behind the wheel of the R.S.18.
Aitken completed 104 laps on the first day, which was hot and sunny. The Russian racked up a further 73 laps on day two which saw some rain, meaning that Pirelli got to try out its latest intermediates and full-wets.
Pirelli is currently bidding to win the 2020/23 contract to continue supplying tyres to Formula 1, but faces a rival bid from South Korean company Hankook.
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