Qualifying Malaysian GP report: Pirelli
Despite a rain-hit qualifying in Sepang, track and ambient temperatures remained high today with the asphalt between 27 and 30 degrees centigrade throughout the delayed sessions. Even though the surface in Malaysia is notoriously abrasive, the Cinturato Green intermediate and Cinturato Blue full wet tyres (which are both formed of a soft compound) exhibited very little wear.
For the second consecutive grand prix of 2014 there was a wet qualifying, but the monsoon-like downpour in Malaysia was heavy enough to delay the session for nearly an hour in very different conditions to Australia. Because of the wet qualifying, drivers will be able to choose to start the race tomorrow with either the P Zero Orange hard or P Zero White medium.
Pole position was set again by Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton using the new Cinturato Blue full wet tyre, which has been redesigned this year to increase its water dispersal capacity to 65 litres per second from 60 litres per second previously at full speed. These safety characteristics are reflected in Pirelli’s road car tyres as well, with the Cinturato P7 Blue – specifically developed for wet-weather performance – named after Pirelli’s rain tyre.
“Today was a good test for the intermediate and wet tyres in a very wide variety of conditions, on these very different 2014-specification cars. The wear on the rain tyre was low despite the high temperatures and roughness, meaning that we have seen a good improvement on the wear profile of this tyre as a result of the new design. The intermediate also continues to do the very good job in marginal conditions that it has always done, but the truth is that wear and degradation on these tyres is always so rain-dependent that it’s hard to draw too many firm conclusions. However, we haven’t heard any complaints about aquaplaning in these very extreme conditions, which is quite an achievement when you consider that the new wet tyre for these radical cars was developed in one test session with a 2010 Renault and an unplanned rainy day in Jerez during the pre-season test there. What our engineers have achieved is quite exceptional, really. Tomorrow we’re expecting between two and three pit stops if the weather stays dry: we’ll have to look at the data tonight to have a more accurate idea. However, with the drivers having saved plenty of slick tyres today, those who have the speed in the car to make three stops have the option to do so with a new stock of tyres.”
The Pirelli strategy predictor
Strategy will naturally depend on whether or not there is a wet race tomorrow, but rain in Malaysia rarely lasts for more than about an hour. Theoretically, the quickest strategy is three stops for the 56-lap race. Start on the medium, change to the medium again on lap 15, medium once more on lap 29 and a final stint on the hard from lap 43.