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Slow test times: tire pressure prevents fast laps

Slow test times
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N Usually racing cars get faster over the winter. The engines have gained between 20 and 40 hp. Aerodynamicists have told us that they have increased contact pressure by up to 10 percent. That alone would have to make the cars at least a second faster. In fact, they were slower in the first week of testing than in the previous year.

Sebastian Vettel achieved the best time of the week with 1.22.810 minutes. On the new ultrasoft tires. Last year, Mercedes set the fastest lap with 1.22.792 minutes. Nico Rosberg was on the road with soft tires in winter 2015. So 2 rubber compounds harder. That alone makes 1.5 seconds on the clock. In theory, the cars should be faster, but they are slower. How does that fit together?

Pirelli requires up to 24 PSI tire pressure

The reason lies in the tire pressure. Pirelli continues its security policy. Since the tire damage at Spa 2015, the Italian manufacturer has prescribed greatly increased tire pressures for the teams. This also continued during the test drives. You can hear from 23 to 24 PSI on the front axle and 20 PSI in the rear. This is around 5 PSI more than in the previous year.

The tires then no longer roll over the entire tread. This helps the top speeds because of the reduced rolling resistance, but lowers the cornering speeds. Especially in slow corners. The drivers are anything but enthusiastic. 'You drive like you are on raw eggs,' says someone who does not want to be named.

In the course of the discussions about the 2017 cars with up to 30 percent more downforce, the engineers wonder how Pirelli will do it . The wider tires will only be able to compensate for part of the higher forces. Many teams fear that tire pressures will then rise to over 25 PSI. And a large part of the theoretically gained lap time is lost again.


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