Pirelli suspects that bad weather from at least two typhoons that have swept through Japan recently has helped wash away any rubber from other track activities, and that has had an impact on grip and wear.
Speaking after Friday’s practice sessions in Japan, where Ferrari’s tyre blistering was one of the main talking points, Pirelli’s racing chief Mario Isola said there had been a significant change in the track surface: “In terms of asphalt roughness, we have quite a big step in macro roughness,” he said – “This is probably due to the weather condition because it looks like the heavy rain with the typhoons changed the asphalt. So, this is affecting mainly the grip and wear – increasing the wear.”
Although Ferrari had the most noticeable blisters on Friday, Isola said the team was not alone in facing issues, even though it affected only a handful of cars. Mario Isola is also confident Ferrari will be able to engineer its way out of its tyre situation, so should not face any undue dramas as the result of its aggressive choice to load up on supersoft tyres this weekend
“I think the tyres are manageable and for sure, from the data today, they will be able to react and find a set-up that is reducing or avoiding the blisters,” said Isola – “Don’t forget the fixed choice is made by the teams 14 weeks before, so a long time ago. They were probably targeting to have more runs on the supersoft in order to understand its behaviour here, while other teams are focusing on the soft and trying to get more data on that. The medium is the soft from last year so it is a compound that is well known to all the teams. They have numbers from last year, so there was no need to select a lot of mediums – unlike McLaren which selected four.”
Isola said a two-stop race is theoretically quicker based on Friday data, but suggested it may not be fast enough to tempt teams to run it: “One stop is still possible,” he explained. “I have to analyse the degradation and wear to understand if two stops is an advantage and by how much. We know it is an advantage but it should be at least 10-15 seconds difference or else everyone will target a one-stop race, because there is no reason to take the risk to stop twice and go back in traffic, or damage the race because you cannot overtake.” – he concluded.