Formula 1 tyre supplier Pirelli has admitted its surprise at the vast performance gulf in the dry-weather tyres it has supplied for the Singapore Grand Prix, which amounted to almost 2.5 seconds in lap-time difference.
The Italian tyre maker has brought its SuperSoft and Soft compound rubber this weekend – identical to that used at Germany, Austria, Canada and Monaco – for the 61-lap race around the Marina Bay circuit, and the early evidence suggests that the outcome of Sunday’s race could well be determined by superior tyre management.
“The time difference between the two compounds was perhaps slightly bigger than we expected,” Pirelli Motorsport boss Paul Hembery said after Friday practice.
“With the high incidence of Safety Cars [during previous editions of the race] and the speed advantage of the Super Soft, strategy will be an important consideration right from the very start of qualifying. Strategies will have to be flexible, and we would expect to see three pit-stops.”
While the performance gap between the two compounds is significant, neither compound was showing significantly more degradation than the other.
“Thermal degradation will be the biggest challenge here, with the [actual] degradation levels of the Soft and the Super Soft tyre actually not so different,” he added. “We need to look at the data from tomorrow as well in order to have a more complete idea of the optimal race strategy, but tyre management will clearly play a significant role.”
Image via XPB Images