Worried Lewis Hamilton questions 'hardcore' Pirelli soft tyres for 2013 Chinese GP
Rosberg loses five seconds over just five laps in Practice
By Pete Gill. Last Updated: April 12, 2013 2:41pm
Lewis Hamilton says the Shanghai track is great fun to drive.
Lewis Hamilton has questioned whether Pirelli's soft tyres are an appropriate selection for this weekend's Chinese GP after suffering extreme degradation during Friday's practice sessions.
While Mercedes appear to boast frontrunning pace on the medium compound, the severe rate of tyre wear experienced by both Hamilton and Nico Rosberg - who had led a Mercedes one-two in Practice One - when using the softs threatens to wreck the team's hopes of repeating last year's victory at Shanghai.
Nico Rosberg's Soft-Tyre Stint
Lap One - 1:44.7
Lap Two - 1:43.7
Lap Three - 1:45.8
Lap Four - 1:48.7
Lap Five - 1:49.0
Lap Six - 1:49.0.n
"I did a couple of laps and the tyre just disintegrated," complained Hamilton to Sky Sports News after finishing Practice Two in seventh place. "The soft are hardcore, it just doesn't feel like the right type of tyre for this circuit."
The evidence of the lapsheets spoke equally eloquently about the struggles both Rosberg and Hamilton endured with the German losing five seconds in as many laps on his first soft-tyre run.
"I've never had tyres behave this way," lamented Hamilton over his car-to-pits radio.
Should the durability of the option tyre not improve as the track further rubbers in come qualifying, teams are certain to face a strategy dilemma over how they use their remaining allocation of tyres on Saturday afternoon.
Nonetheless, Hamilton's team boss, Ross Brawn, believes the battle for pole will still take place on the softer of the two compounds as usual, thus meaning the top runners will start Sunday's race on the yellow-marked tyres.
"I'm presuming pole position will be set on the soft tyre because it's over a second faster than the medium tyre, but it has quite a short life," Brawn said in Friday's FIA press conference.
"So you've got to work out your strategy for the whole weekend from qualifying onwards and there may well be people who chose in Q3 to conserve tyres or plan to start on the more durable tyre.
"But I think pole position will be set on the soft tyre because it's so much faster."
Yet while Mercedes struggled for consistent speed on the softs, the W04 looked formidably fast when using the medium compound.
"Mine and Nico's pace was quite competitive today," acknowledged Hamilton. "I think we are there or thereabouts."