Pirelli defends 2021 tires after criticism

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Mario Isola, head of racing at Pirelli, says he is not concerned about criticism of the Italian manufacturer’s 2021 components from drivers after testing at the Bahrain Grand Prix.The teams were given sets of next year’s C3 and C4 compounds to try out in practice on Friday, which allows for a direct comparison as they use the current C2, C3 and C4 this weekend for the race. However, several drivers criticized the new offering – saying the tires were much worse than the existing ones – but Isola says that feeling comes from the cars’ lack of development for the new compounds.

“I can understand this because I consider that these are cars that have been optimized on the current tire, for two years now,” said Isola. “These are the same tires that we used in 2019. So they have a level of confidence, of preparation, they are able to fit the current tire which is obviously at the end of its life cycle.

“Every time you come up with a new tire, there are criticisms, there is a change of balance. I heard a comment – I believe it was a team radio from (Max) Verstappen – that he was feeling understeer. We have warned crews that with the new construction they may have more understeer. We invited the teams to correct the settings in order to rebalance the car.

“This is obviously something they will do next year – I’m sure they will find a way to balance the car and extract performance from the 2021 tires. But today they focused mainly on collecting data rather than extracting tire performance.

“The driver feels the performance, not other elements. This morning was important for the teams to collect aeronautical data; we have seen teams with the (flo-viz mixture of pigments used in aerodynamic tests) to collect data because the front profile is different. We decided not to change the rear profile to avoid changes in the design of the floor. But the front profile is different and certainly requires some adaptation. They have to adapt the car a bit to the new product. “

Isola, who receives first-hand comments here from Alfa Romeo test driver Robert Kubica, believes Friday’s driver reviews of the 2021 tires don’t tell the whole story. Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Isola’s comments came after Sebastian Vettel made one of the most fervent critics of the new rubber, saying he didn’t want to drive with the 2021 tires next year.

“No, they weren’t a step forward – quite the opposite, pretty much,” Vettel said. “It’s probably worth it, but I hope we don’t see these tires again. They are probably much worse than the tires we are currently using.

“If this is the only option for 21, then absolutely I would love to stick with 19 tires. I think as long as we don’t have a tire that gives us something that the current tire doesn’t. – like less overheating, better chances of fighting – we shouldn’t get on a different tire. This one is worse for sure, and it will only make any problems we struggle with worse.

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