Lotus's James Allison says Pirelli have gone 'conservative' for Spain & Canada

Technical Director suspects rivals' complaints influenced allocations

By James Galloway.   Last Updated: 06/05/13 12:11pm

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Lotus technical chief James Allison has said Pirelli have "gone a bit more conservative than we might have expected" in opting against bringing the soft tyre to the forthcoming grands prix in Spain and Canada.

While Formula 1's sole tyre supplier stopped some way short of overhauling their entire 2013 range for the start of the European season - instead announcing a tweak to the hardest slick compound - the Italian manufacturer's announcement did simultaneously reveal that the medium, rather than soft, tyre would be part of their allocations for Barcelona and Montreal.

It will be the first time since Pirelli's re-entry into F1 in 2011 - and in the case of the Spanish GP the first time since 2008 - that the yellow-marked compound will not appear at either event.

The controversy caused by the fast-wearing soft tyres' only hitherto appearance of the season in China last month had led some to call for that compound to be remoulded completely, although Allison's Lotus team were one of the outfits whose car was more suited to the softer rubber.

Asked during his appearance on The F1 Show whether Pirelli's decisions for Spain and Canada might work against Lotus, Allison replied: "I don't think it will hurt us.

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"Pirelli look a few races ahead at a time and give us the compound selections for the next few races based on what they've learnt so far in the year.

"So for Barcelona, for the first time in a long time, we're not taking hard and soft we're taking hard and medium. We're taking the same selection to Monaco that we normally do, soft and supersoft, but for Canada again we're getting a medium when previously we would have expected a soft.

"So it's going a bit more conservative. I think they've had a few people in their ear about maybe taking it a step too far and they've gone a bit more conservative than we might have expected."

Lotus's two standout race weekends so far this season, in Australia and Bahrain, were characterised - with Kimi Raikkonen in particular - by their E21's inherent nature to be kinder to its tyres than is the case with rival cars.

Raikkonen made one fewer pitstop than his nearest rivals to finish first and second in the two races respectively but Allison played down the suggestion that this characteristic was a crucial advantage for Lotus.

"I suspect that Sebastian [Vettel] could quite easily have done two stops [in Bahrain] - it was very close to being able to do a one-stop for us," he explained.

"But two, three, it's not really important. What's important is going quickly. A three-stop was the quickest way if you were in free air, but having qualified out of position for our car, two stops was a way of racing in a way that we weren't going to get caught up with all the cars in front that were quite a lot slower than us."

Nonetheless, with Raikkonen heading into the European season just ten points adrift of Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel at the top of the Drivers' Championship, the Lotus Technical Director is confident the Enstone team can keep the Finn in the hunt all year.

"Kimi will have a very strong season this year and we don't have to improve our car much to keep him properly in the title hunt all the way through the year," Allison predicted.

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