• Australian Grand Prix

Tyre life still an unknown - Red Bull

ESPN Staff
March 17, 2013 « Pole lap was not easy - Vettel | 'Disappointed' Hulkenberg misses race »

Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber are still unsure how long the tyres will last during Sunday's Australian Grand Prix after wet weather during final practice and qualifying limited running on the super-soft and medium compounds.

Throughout pre-season testing the tyres have experienced high levels of degradation, especially the super-soft compound which Pirelli said was acting like a qualifying tyre after Friday practice. The top ten will all have to start on the super-soft tyres they qualified on, but Vettel, who starts from pole position, said it was still not clear how far into the race they would last.

"I think it's unknown at this stage," he said. "What we can say is that it's surprisingly cool here today and probably cooler than we all expected, but also we have to see that it's a different circuit [to Barcelona]. All of us were struggling a lot to make the tyres last more than a lap or two in Barcelona, but this is not Barcelona. It's much easier on the tyres, but then again it's still pretty tricky to make our way round.

"We saw a little bit on Friday [what it will be like] when the temperatures were very different and I think the tyres weren't holding up too bad, but I think it will be all different this afternoon. I don't know what is realistic, it could be a couple of laps or it could be a couple of laps more - we have to go with what we have."

Webber added: "I think that it's a product that is very challenging for us," Webber said. "There are periods when the tyre isn't strong enough to handle the lap times a Formula One car can do. It was the same in Barcelona where we saw the tyre under incredible load and it struggled to finish a full lap in Barcelona. It's really is figuring out how we can get the most out of a short run and then a long run."

Both Vettel and Webber only put two laps on their tyres in qualifying, while third-place Lewis Hamilton and the Ferraris behind did three laps on theirs. On Friday Pirelli said the crossover point at which the super-softs' degradation means a set of fresh medium compounds is quicker is roughly after eight or nine laps and that could see some cars pitting very early for mediums.

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