Olivier Panis has revealed he does not believe Pirelli when F1’s new supplier said it designed its 2011 tyres to wear so rapidly.
“Pirelli is a good manufacturer but they’re new to formula one and it’s normal that it takes them some time to adapt,” Panis, a veteran of more than 150 grands prix who retired in 2004, told Le Monde.
A total of 1072 laps completed, using three sets of hard tyres and one set of soft tyres per car marked Pirelli’s opening day of the Melbourne Grand Prix weekend, with local hero Mark Webber setting a time of 1m26.831s in the first free practice session and Jenson Button setting a time of 1m25.854s in free practice two.
Panis said that the Italian marque is not being completely honest when it says the teams and Bernie Ecclestone specifically requested the behaviour of the 2011 tyres to enhance the spectacle.
“Their communication is a ‘bluff’, but in the end all the drivers will leave the grid with the same tyres,” said Panis. “And if it helps the show, I think it is good.”
Pirelli brought additional tyres to the circuit today to replace 20 tyres that had been damaged in transit by cold cracks: superficial splits in the rubber caused by cold ambient temperatures.
This is a well-known phenomenon for slick tyres when they are being transported all over the world but it is a purely aesthetic issue that has no bearing on performance or integrity. The total number of substitute tyres was 54, in order to guarantee a reserve supply.