Tyres wear away at Merc
SEPANG, Malaysia - Mercedes aims to solve problems with excessive tyre wear by practicing in racing conditions for Malaysian Formula 1 GP.
The brand's motorsport chief, Norbert Haug, said after a disappointing start to the season in Australia that the team wanted to solve the problem as quickly as possible. "Our team is working on an analysis. In the practice sessions in Sepang on Friday and Saturday we'll be testing under racing conditions as much as possible."
Tests before the Australian race had shown times comparable to the competition in qualifying, he said.
Haug added: "It's possible that fine-tuning undertaken on Saturday wasn't going in the right direction."
The problem with the 2012 Mercedes F1 cars are their tyres. During the race in Melbourne they showed excessive wear even though drivers Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg exploited their potential to the full during qualification.
"We hadn't reckoned with this problem before the race," Haug said. "Many other teams dealt with the problem of tyre wear in Melbourne much better. After 29 laps Rosberg was fifth but almost 16sec behind second place and 13 behind third place. He was losing around a half-second a lap (because of tyre-wear) on times that would have put him on the podium."
Rosberg finished 12th; Schumacher dropped out with gearbox problems.
In Malaysia, where temperatures of up to 50 degrees are expected, Pirelli is equipping teams with so-called P Zero Silver tyres, "the hardest and longest-lasting tyres", there is, according to the Italian manufacturers.
Haug thinks bad weather could add another complication to the race in Sepang: "At the moment they're predicting storms and rain for Sunday's race and on the field - as we know from past races in Malaysia - that can mean changes in both directions, forwards as well as backwards."