McLaren: New tyres pose 'major challenge'
9 January 2017 – McLaren-Honda technical chief Tim Goss says that understanding Pirelli's much wider 2017 tyres will pose a "major challenge" to Formula 1 teams early in the season.
Pirelli carried out an extensive test programme through 2016, sampling 96 prototypes over 24 days of running, which involved Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull running mule cars.
Data from the tests have been given to all teams ahead of the new season, but Goss expects to "learn a lot" when the new cars hit the track next month.
"Understanding what the tyres are actually going to do has been a huge challenge," commented Goss in an interview for the McLaren website.
"The 2017 tyres are slightly larger in diameter, but, more significantly, they are wider. Imagine the old 2016 rear tyre now going on the front of the car, and a similar-sized increase on the rear tyre to accommodate.
"Pirelli ran a very intensive test programme during 2016 to develop the new tyres, with the support of three teams. They got lots of mileage under their belts, and all that data has been provided to all the other teams.
"But, from all of that testing, trying to piece together what we think the tyres are going to do in terms of performance, degradation, thermal stability etc, that's still quite challenging.
"And there's a couple of reasons for that: even nowadays, it's still quite difficult to understand tyre behaviour – even if you go track-testing.
"Additionally, the 2016 mule cars won't behave in the same way as the 2017 cars.
"What we're trying to do is identify which areas of performance are attached to the tyre and which to the mule car – that's a major challenge.
"We're pretty close to knowing what we're going to get from the tyres, but really understanding how they'll sync with the new regulations will be quite a challenge.
"In pre-season testing, we will learn a lot."
Barcelona will host two pre-season test sessions, from February 27 to March 2 and March 7 to 10, before the campaign gets under way in Australia on March 26.