Pirelli’s new intermediate and full wet compounds, branded as Cincurato’s, have come under heavy scrutiny following the wet qualifying session in Sepang.
As the drivers again had to deal with the tropical late afternoon downpours that are a constant threat in Malaysia Sauber’s Adrian Sutil blasted the new grooved tyres as “the worst he has every driven”.
The German’s stinging assessment comes after he was knocked out in the opening part of qualifying which was actually the driest part of a session that was delayed by 50 minutes because of the weather.
As a result he will start the race in a promoted 17th place after Valtteri Bottas’s penalty while his team-mate Esteban Gutierrez will start in 12th.
Talking to Autosport following his elimination, Sutil explained that the biggest problem he has with the new Pirelli wets is the harder compound used this year which takes away further grip from the cars already lacking around a quarter of the downforce than they had last year.
“It’s all over the place,” he said, “It’s not only us, you can see the on-board [videos] of other cars; it’s like rally driving.”
Also upset was Felipe Massa who, for the second straight race weekend, saw the promise of improved results in the dry hampered by rain in qualifying.
The Brazilian claimed the new wets were working very similarly to the dry weather rubber in that the best performance came over one quick lap before dropping off quite sharply later.
“You go out on the first lap and it’s the best, then you get slower because you lose grip,” he also told Autosport.
“The degradation in the wet, the way the wet behaves, is not good.”
Though the hotter conditions in Malaysia did help claw back some of the grip, Jenson Button warns the way the new tyres interact with a wet track surface could lead to greater problems at circuits where the ambient temperatures are not as high.
But the McLaren driver also believes some of the issues some are having could be put down to the much higher torque produced by the new V6 turbo power units, which some teams are still refining.
“It’s difficult when you have so much torque and you can’t get tyre temperature,” he said. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen cars snapping like today before.
“I think some of it is from the power of the engine, some of it is because we’re running less downforce; maybe because they haven’t had so much running on the circuit for some time, with the oils, but it was unusually snappy out there.
Perhaps proving Button’s point is Nico Rosberg, the German, driving for current pacesetters Mercedes, felt little difference between the wet tyres from last year as compared to those used now.
Indeed the Australian GP winner believes the challenge of controlling wheel spin with the new peakier engines are the main source for some teams wet-weather struggles.
Lotus’s Romain Grosjean added: ”We know that they are certainly not the best of wet tyres that we have driven, but I have not felt any big difference from the past.
“We drove inters and extreme, and didn’t have any big aquaplaning or anything, so they are safe.”
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